Bali Trip - Ayam Tulang Lunak & Pura Ulun Batur

Finally got my butt in gear to blog about the most amazing trip I had so here goes! Warning though...This will be a long, LONG post; photos are in abundance and don't be surprised to read lots of adjectives like 'amazing', 'fabulous' or 'incredible' every few words...LOL!

Our trip started none too smoothly...I had previously booked the tickets for myself and Mom almost 8 months prior. Sis decided to join us but she's taking a different flight from us. Her flight was just slightly later than ours so the plan was we'd arrive in Bali and wait for her with the driver before heading to the hotel. Turns out that our flight was delayed for more than 2 friggin' hours, and we arrived much MUCH later than expected. It was a good thing that Peter (our driver / tour guide for the whole trip) checks his email very frequently. I'd emailed him prior to us boarding the flight and letting him know that Sis is arriving earlier than us and to get him to look for her first....=) And so, we kind of wasted almost half a day's worth because of 'technical issues' with the plane...bleh, what can be done right? 

Anyways, when we'd arrived, we met up with Peter and Sis and headed off for the hotel...but Mom wanted to have dinner early as we had not taken our lunch prior to the flight. Plus, the hotel was almost one and a half hour's drive from the airport, so Peter dropped us at this restaurant:

For those not in the know, "Ayam Tulang Lunak" means "soft-boned chicken". I'd heard about this delicacy from a colleague who had previously been here, so I thought we'd give it a try...=) Basically, like what the sign says, the chicken is pressure-cooked until the bones are very soft and edible. It is then fried and served with different sauces.

 For drinks, I asked the waitress what is their special drink and she pointed to a drink called "Soda gembira" which means "Happy Soda". LOL! What it was was a bottle of soda (I think this was Sprite / 7-Up) that is poured into the glass that's pre-filled with condensed milk and pink syrup. What you get (second photo on the right) is a drink that's akin to a fizzy bandung drink, which is quite nice!

Our main dishes came soon after...of course, we had to have the Ayam Tulang Lunak. In fact, we over estimated the size of the chicken (no thanks to the waitress' clever ploy of 'size estimation'!) and ordered 2 halves for 3 people. >.<" The first is their recommended salted egg sauce, and the other is the 'ayam penyet' version. I much preferred the salted egg one as it has better texture and taste. The other one was only spicy, spicy and MORE spicy! Only attempt that if you have strong taste buds...LOL!

This peculiar-looking dish was named "Tauhu Telur" which translated means egg tofu. While the Chinese have actually tofu made from eggs, this particular dish is nowhere like that. It's actually an omelette that's topped with a peanut sauce. I think because of the way the omelette was shaped, it looked like tofu? But the taste was scrumptious! It has just the right blend of savory, spicy and sweet in it. This was polished off real fast by the three of us =)

Sis LOVES kangkung (or water spinach, according to Wikipedia) so she ordered the pechal kangkung which is simple blanched vegetables with the chillies on top. Kinda like the ulam thingy we have in Malaysia, but the sambal featured here is amazing! Mouth-watering and very appetizing, we couldn't stop having this with the rice that was served *grins*

So, that was about it for Day One...we headed back to the hotel after dinner, and rested for the night. We stayed at the Raffles Holiday Hotel in Ubud....well, it wasn't exactly in the heart of Ubud, but more like the far north of Ubud, so we're pretty far away from the tourist-y places. On the one hand, it's very nice and peaceful but on the other, because it's so far from those places, it's hard for us to go anywhere without Peter. So, if you're the kind who likes to go around to shop, this is not really the place to go. But if you're looking for a getaway from the busy-ness of the city, this is one of the more affordable yet cool places to stay at =)
Some views of the's a small-ish hotel. The one we stayed at was called a Royal Suite. The first photo is the outside of our room....the other is a photo of the other suites opposite ours. =)

View of the swimming pool (which we never did get to swim in....we were too busy going around! By the time we got back, we're too tired. LOL!)

The view inside our room...there's a double bed (Mom and I shared it) and a single bed (for my Sis). At first glance, I thought...Hmm, not too shabby. Basic amenities are there, it's clean and there's no weird smell. For about RM150 a night, it is not bad at all. Up until I heard a commotion coming from the bathroom. My Mom was almost wailing for me to get in there...I thought what weird animal was inside, and then:

THIS was what greeted me...o.O Now we know why it's called a Royal Suite. LOL! I think they got their priorities the other way round though, coz the bathroom was bigger than the room itself. Wahahaha! It would have been awesome for a honeymooning couple though. That jacuzzi just screams 'alone time with my partner / spouse'! 

Jokes aside though...the bathroom is really splendid. My only qualm with it was the hot water supply...not sure whether it's a technical glitch or that people never shower with hot water in that area, but the hot water supply is quite inconsistent =( At times when we thought we would soak our tired feet in the jacuzzi, we filled it up about 2 inches deep with warm water only to find that there is no more hot water for us to shower! O.O" If the weather was warm enough, this would be fine but for us we had to get up extra early every morning and shower before we head out for our tours. Imagine taking a cold shower at 6am in the morning (!!!) and the temperature outside was such that we didn't need to turn on the air-conditioning the whole time we were there...>.<" And imagine showering at night when we're all tired and dusty from a whole day of sight-seeing. We ended up never really using the jacuzzi coz we wanted to conserve the precious hot water for our showers =(

Day Two started relatively late...Peter said he would pick us up at about 10am, so we took our time to head for our breakfast at the hotel. When I booked the room, it was written that the breakfasts served would be a Continental breakfast. Works for me, so it was no surprise to see the usual spread: bread (served in cute containers like this), cereal, milk, jam, butter, cheese, juice...

As we were eating, the staff came up serving stacks of what looked like dimsum containers...when we opened the covers, we were told that they serve local food as well for breakfast. First thought was, 'Cool! I get to sample local food too =)' There was (from top, anti clock-wise) kangkung again, some assorted fried snacks, chicken and fried noodles. A little like Malaysian food...until they brought out a pot of rice. o.O" They eat rice in the morning and apparently the noodles are a dish to be taken WITH the rice. Probably not a big deal to other people I guess, but I am a person who doesn't really take rice unless it's for lunch / dinner...and noodles are like rice to me (carbs!), so it was a little culture shock for me. 

Dessert for that was a bread pudding / jelly with some guava flavor. Quite unique =)

After breakfast, we headed down to our first destination...Kintamani to see an active volcano! Along the way, there were a lot of these huge decorated poles with ornaments dangling at the roadside. Some were simple, and others were really elaborate. Peter mentioned that it was the festival of Galungan & Kuningan, one of the biggest festivals in Bali and they erect these poles in front of every home. All the poles are handmade by the people themselves, so it's very cool. Every time we pass by a house, it's hard not to marvel at the creativity of the people here.

As we were driving along, Peter asked if we would like to try the mandarin oranges in Bali. It's different from the ones we used to get during Chinese New Year, so of course we stopped to buy some. This little boy was playing on his bike when he spotted our car stopping next to the stall and helped us out...

Fresh mandarin oranges! They are not sweet like the ones from China, but they are very juicy and refreshing as we drove up the hill =)

I heart this photo for some gives me the feeling of a tranquil forest, though on second look it does kinda look a little creepy. Wahahaha!

Before we went to the volcano, we stopped by here. Pura Ulun Danu Batur is one of the many temples in Bali...we were told that Danu means lake, and Batur is the name of the area. Most of the temples are named after the places here, so it's pretty straightforward.

The entrance of the temple....there were quite a few entrances to go through before you get to the prayer courtyard (which we were not allowed in, but we did get to view the courtyard from the gate entrances) and each entrance is as elaborate as the next. Peter told us that there are 2 different types of gates in the temples here: a 'closed' one like this one here...

And an 'open' one like this one here...all the entrances have very intricate carvings on it, and it was breathtaking to view it all when we first entered it.

This was a bell tower that the monks used as a means of communications as well as to signal the start of a ceremony in the temple.

Of course we had to have our group photo...this was taken by Peter. Everyone had to wear the customary sarong in order to enter the temple. Yes, even the guys need to!

More photos of the entrances in the courtyards...

This was me trying to be 'artistic'. LOL! I loved the blue of the sky contrasted with the entrance's dark shadow. It would be even nicer if I could get a lens glare but meh...I'm not that good yet =P

There were about 2 different courtyards to go through before we reached the prayer courtyard. These were some photos of the buildings inside the courtyards....they look so much like pagodas from afar! Peter explained that the rooftops in the temples are made from the fibers of a certain kind of tree in Bali. Only temples and altars can use the fibers for the roofs, and upclose, the fibers look like human hair! Seriously, does it not look like those neatly trimmed 'bad hairdos' to you? It is pretty incredible though to learn that they last for close to 20 years before being replaced with a new roof =)

Finally, we reached the prayer courtyard, and I peeked from the gates to take a photo. A prayer ceremony was taking place at the was a very quiet and solemn affair, with chimes from bells every now and then. I remember feeling so much at peace there...even though I am not a Hindu (as most Balinese people are), it is so soothing to feel at peace especially when I was in a rather 'odd place' in terms of emotions. Watching them meditate and pray, I said a quick prayer myself that I would be in a better place soon...

Well, that's about it for now....loads more to come as we were there for 4 days *wink* Stay tuned!
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