Bali in 4 Days- Part 1

Bali, Day 1 (29 November 2016)– After a really early plane ride, we touched down at 8am in Bali. FINALLY. We could barely contain our excitement and couldn’t stop grinning and letting out small squeals of joy at our arrival!The last time I came to Bali was four years ago with my parents but it’s a place that you will definitely never get sick of because there’s just so much to explore!

First stop: Balinese Barong Dance

Our Bali adventure began at the airport where we booked a driver for the day from one of the booths. Honestly though, we had no plans, just a few places we were absolutely sure we wanted to go… so we pretty much went along with our driver’s first suggestion to stopover over  at a place to watch their traditional Balinese Barong dance which represents an eternal fight between good and evil spirits.The mythological animal which looks like a lion is the Barong, representing the good spirit which fights the Rangda, the evil spirit. Although I couldn’t understand what they were saying, you could roughly guess who is who and which act they were in, and they tried to interact with us audience from time to time, switching into English and adding some comical parts into the dance at one point.WhatsApp Image 2016-12-06 at 03.55.03.jpeg

Second Stop: Lunch

After the show we headed off to Nusa Dua but didn’t end up doing any water sports because we were really shocked by the high prices they offered us. Plus, it was really hard selling us and we didn’t felt like going for it either. We stopped over at a restaurant for lunch and tried their Iga (Pork ribs)  which was delicious!

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Mee Goreng (left) and Iga with Honey (right)

Third Stop: GWK Cultural Park

Then we made our way to the Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK) Cultural park where you see huge statues like the ones below. We paid  100 000 rupiah for entrance and it included the Barong dance which we saw previously, so actually we could’ve saved some money if our driver told us about it heh.

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Fourth Stop: Pandawa Beach

Headed off to Pandawa beach afterwards. The beach was not exactly stunning but it was nice to just wade in the water near shore. But what was really a funny experience was how locals came up to us asking for pictures. Some of them were students on a school trip who seemed to be on a lookout for tourists and asked us where we were from and how we liked Bali. I’m not sure how many photos we took but they just kept approaching when they see others talking to us… One guy even asked us to hold up a sign which we refused because we had no idea what it said except for the word “wife” which was err..kind of weird?

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Fifth Stop: Dreamland Beach

Then it was Dreamland beach! Been there last time with my parents years ago but it seemed so much less crowded this time round and we spent a lot more time here snapping pictures and frolicking around!Right across the main beach there was another more secluded one which we enjoyed so much because there wasn’t anyone there. IMG_7254.jpgIMG_7224.JPG

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Sixth Stop: Uluwatu Temple & Sunset

Finally, we headed off to our last stop Uluwatu Temple for sunset!Also the place where I had my first horrible experience with those notorious monkeys. I’ve heard stories about how they snatched belongings from unsuspecting tourists so I was pretty careful to make sure there wasn’t anything that they could steal from me. But while I was exclaiming how cute they were, one of the monkeys dashed towards me and jumped towards my bag, snatching away my dangling keychain. Ok it was no big deal, just a keychain soft toy, but it was a really cute one which I had for ages and the monkey just took that away from me and was brutally chewing its way through it? Another tourist tried to get it back for me but these smart little creatures were way too fast! I don’t know how long I stood there thinking of a way to get it back and watching that monkey slowly dissecting my poor elephant toy but then I realise that it was a goner, sadly, and reluctantly told the rest to go.  We saw the Kecek dance which followed another traditional story while a group of guys were chanting continuously in the background all the way through. We got quite distracted though halfway through by the sunset across the horizon , which we weren’t expecting because of the cloudy sky, but surprise! The highlight of the show came much later on when the sky got darker  and the monkey king put up a tiny fire performance. He first surrounded himself with balls of grass lighted on fire and began stamping on it and kicking them high into the sky towards the sea. Pretty impressive sight when you see the fireballs  flying around (not towards us of course) in the night.

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Bali, Day 2 (30 November 2016)- Our original plan was pretty much just to laze around the beach and relax because our next two days will be super intense. However, on the way to the beach, we passed by a tour booth and decided just to take a look, but ended up buying a package to do some water sports after bargaining to a price of 1500000 for two of us to do the seawalk, parasailing and jet ski.

First Stop: Sea Walking

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Second Stop: Parasailing

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The water sports were pretty fun! Personally my favourite was definitely parasailing and it was pretty cool floating up there in the air with a parachute! I really liked the jet ski one too since we got to ride it ourselves too and going at full speed! The seawalk was honestly nothing special for me since I’ve done diving before and you see so much more, but it was still an interesting experience going underwater yet not getting your hair wet at all.

Fourth Stop: Exploring Kuta

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So we ended the day walking along the beach from our hotel at Legian to Kuta to take a look. We didn’t get to see any sunset though unfortunately due to the cloudy weather but it was still a nice evening stroll. Plus, guess what we found! Matcha ice cream from Mcdonalds! Of course the matcha addict in me had to try it out. Actually it was vanilla cone ice cream coated with matcha, but I was still really satisfied!

So that marked the end of our two days spent chilling around in Bali because the next two days will be crazy waking up at 2am to catch the sunrise.

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Starstrucked in Santorini

Santorini, Greece (20 May 2016)– Picture perfect from every angle, my initial skepticism completely vanished when I caught sight of those white washed houses and blue domed churches finally in REALITY. Santorini has always been my idea of the perfect Greek summer dream,  a place on my bucket list of places to go, and sure enough it didn’t disappoint!

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Exploring Fira
Fira was the place where we stayed at for the entire trip. Our accommodation was a nice and cozy family house with really hospitable owners. We decided to go for a free walking tour on the first day and the guide brought us around Fira without of course, forgetting to bring us to see the famous blue dome and church bells. Actually that was the first question I asked him, typical tourist move heh.  We hiked all the way up to Imerovigli where he said we would see the best view and it was spectacular indeed. Once you reach a high vantage point and looked back, you can see the entire coastline with the white buildings along the cliff. There are a lot of paid tours on the island but they were the ones who started the first free tour despite the disapproving attitude the rest have towards them for disrupting the tourist business. Our guide was no expert but he just volunteered out of interest to show us tourists places that he consider worth going and sharing a little knowledge about what he knew.

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Journey up the volcano
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View from the top!
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Volcano Hike
On the next day we took a whole day tour which included a boat trip to the volcano and a swim at the hot spring, a visit to a tiny island called Thirassia and ending at Oia to catch the sunset. Honestly, we were feeling a little lazy so we just felt like following a tour without having to plan anything by ourselves. It cost 38 euros per person which we found pretty decent considering that it included transportation to and from the place we stayed at too.

Our first stop was the volcano and we hiked up to the highest point where we could see the crater and the entire sea view from the top. The wind was blowing so crazily hard and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so afraid of actually being blown away? Sounds stupid but the fear was real. The entire walk up and back down took around an hour before we depart for the hot spring. Such a shame that I didn’t bring my swimming suit because the water was so clear and blue that I would’ve loved to jump in. It turned out that the swim to the inner part of the hot spring was a pretty long one and many people didn’t even reach before they had to call for help to bring them back to the boat. So…swimming skills are still a must!

Thirassia
Our next stop was the island of Thirassia. Honestly, there is nothing much on this island. But being a Greek island, it still had that old greek charm and amazing view of the Aegean Sea that made it worth spending a few hours there. We hiked all the way up in search of food. There were many restaurants near to the sea but we decided that those were probably tourist traps and were likely more expensive. The hike up was tedious, especially since it was sweltering hot but the tavern we went to, and the view, was well worth the sweat and effort. The food was not too pricey and delicious, especially the freshly made Moussaka!We had one later on at Fira but it didn’t taste half as good as this. So definitely recommended to hike up for some great food!

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Sunset at Oia
Finally, the highlight of the tour was of course the sunset at Oia. Known as the second best sunset in the world, it’s not hard to see why. We spent some time wandering around  the alleys in search for the postcard perfect blue domes. When it was almost sunset, we went to the tip of the island where everybody is, and waited for the sun to set below the horizon. It would’ve been a nicer experience if we didn’t have to squeeze through the crowd just to get a peak of the view, but you know…all great things have to be shared.

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Red Beach
On our last day, we pretty much spent half the day at the Red Beach, soaking in the sunshine and ocean breeze. Honestly, the beach was nothing particularly spectacular except for the soil tinted with a slight reddish brown, but it was a nice place to just chill and relax about!

Still can’t believe that I’ve finally experienced the paradise island of my dreams, and I get the reason for the hype over this place. There’s something dreamy and surreal about this place, a place where you can dump all your troubles away into the foamy sea and just live in the moment itself.

 

 

 

 

Enchanting Chania

Chania, Cretes (23 May 2016) – Gorgeous place stumbled upon because of crazy expensive tickets that forced me to do a detour. Who would’ve expected that?
After spending a night at Athens airport because of the 5 hours transfer, I finally landed at Chania airport early in the morning at 6am. Getting to the hostel went pretty smoothly but being way to early, the hostel wasn’t opened for check in yet. I wondered around and decided to make my way towards the direction of the sea and found a bench facing the sea.

So there i spent a few hours, nibbling on some chips saved (luckily) along the way and spent the rest of the time dozing off or reading a book.

When I finally checked in, I was told that breakfast was available and it was great to see a proper kitchen and ingredients for you to make your own breakfast. Awesome!

Having breakfast, a guy from the hostel told me that they are organising a trip to Balos Beach which I have never even heard of. Well I didn’t do any research , just planned on going to the old harbour and walk around, not much of a plan really. I would gladly go with them but it cost 25 euros, pretty expensive for someone who’s crazy on budgeting so i was really hesitant about it. And then I decided to google it and read amazing reviews about the beach which really got me tempted. With a bit more prompting from the hostel owner  who told me about the cute little goats you would see there (Yup, goats, that’s all it took to get me persuaded) I decided to go with them.

The bus ride there was looong. We had to go through a crazy rocky winding road before reaching the beach. It was a really scary ride and the bus was practically on the edge of the cliff. One wrong move and…gosh don’t even want to think about it. When we finally reached, oh my there were really  GOATS everywhere! They came up to us blatantly asking for food and totally unafraid. After a few quick snaps with the camera and squealing over their cuteness, we made our way down a rocky path to the beach. It was another long winding road walking between the valley and for the first time after Iceland I could feel the grandness of mother nature that made me feel so insignificant. Suddenly, the hills began to slope away and there right before my eyes was the blue sea, stretched out in front of me, shimmering in different shades of blue. I was speechless. It was not your average beach I’m telling you. There were patches of white in between the sea where the water was more shallow and the water was a crystal clear baby blue shade.

The excitement to get to the beach was real. When I finally reached and turned back to see how far we came, I was pretty surprised at how high the cliff was. But it was amazing to be surrounded by pristine blue waters , and the waves were the gentle kind that lap gently at the soft white sand in a steady rhythm. I wadded around in the water since I forgot to bring my swimsuit, but it was more than satisfying. I felt lucky and grateful enough to be there, with some lovely people from the hostel, just chilling and enjoying the precious short time we have at paradise.

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The time to go back came way too soon but we had no choice, the tide was already rising and the sandy white path which we came from was already submerged in water. Lucky for us it was still shallow enough to wade through.

After reaching our hostel, I took a quick shower and went out to check out the old harbour. Yes I was tired, especially from the lack of sleep the previous night at the airport but I guess sheer determination got me going. The sun was already setting and it was a really nice walk to the harbour with the sky painted in hues of pink, orange and yellow. There’s something about the Old venetian harbour that made me fell totally in love with it. The quaint narrow alleys and mixture of architecture from the Ottoman and Venetians were nothing I have ever encountered before.  I just felt a tinge of regret at not being able to see this place during the day, especially during sunrise.

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The town was already buzzing with life from the cafes and restaurants that lined the port on one side. I had dinner later on at one of the restaurants near the port with some people from the hostel and we had pizza to share and a huge bowl of salad each. Even found out that the girl from Italy was flying to Rome tomorrow morning just like me!What a coincidence!Was pretty glad that I’ll have some company on the plane the next day. Our meal ended with a bottle of free alcohol, ice cream and cake (which I was obviously more interested in haha) thanks to our lovely waiter.

It’s such a shame I couldn’t stay here for a few more days but Chania you can be sure I’ll be back.