Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Bali in a weekend: Horse Riding and Shopping along Poppies Lane at Kuta

Relaxing in the late afternoon glow of the sun, I sat on this spot of Kuta, far from the madding crowd, enjoying a little isolation on the wet sands. A surfer in front of me had decided to do the exact same thing - he is nearer than he looks in this photo, because my camera was wide angled I looked to be quite far away. I think we both felt the same thing, that these 20 minutes or so (I had to get up after that duration, because I sunburn easily) that these 20 minutes was para, para Paradise. Oh oh oh oh oh-oh-oh!

Rawrr! Be very scared!

I'm so proud of myself for organizing this trip. =)

How this trip came about - my Dad had wanted to go to Bali - his first time - last year, as he had a Singaporean-Danish friend who asked him to visit. I had ridden a small horse for the first time last month at Mount Bromo and really enjoyed the experience, later asking our guide about good places to ride horses, he suggested Sanur, Bali. So already knowing we have free acommodation and local friends; we planned for this trip; knowing that the cost would not be too high. We also had budget tickets for a steal, going on airasia and coming back on tiger airways for about $200.

It's also the first trip for my father to do trekking in places other than Singapore and Malaysia so he was very excited. I have to add that I also sponsored his outfit, a sport jacket and track pants (though he did not feel as cold as me to put it on!)

Simply artistic decor for just a pina colada... I was so surprised at seeing this! And later putting the flower in my hair holiday style.

And with proper planning it is possible to go to so many places in a very short time.

Basically the rough itinerary:

Morning ride to horse-riding, back to friend's house
Went to Uluwatu, there is really an interesting row of shops and bars on the cliff. It was raining often so we hid at a cosy bar. 

2 am journey to the Batur Caldera area from Kuta - as you can see from the map it's not so close by
Started trek around 4:30 , 5 am, for sunrise usually happens at 6:20 am.
Went down and around the village to a hot spring for an hour.
Lunch overlooking padi fields and the journey back, able to stop at any place you wanted - we only stopped at a coffee plantation and I got to see the producers of Kopi Luwak, the civet cats!

After some rest I spent a nice late afternoon and evening, walked more than half of Kuta Beach, walked half of the shopping area around Kuta Beach.

Went to some outlet stores and ONLY bought two pairs of shorts (one red, one yellow), a miracle!
Walked the other half of Kuta... =) Went for a massage and pedicure (flower on my toes!) at Poppies Lane, it was less than US$10, amazing. Became a shopaholic after getting over my initial reluctance to bargaining.

From the map you can see we really did go to so many places in this short time!

Horse Riding at Pantai Saba (Saba Beach)


 Here at the Badung Strait in between the two temples, we did our horse-riding =)
I was amazed by the black sands of the beach which glittered in the sunlight. But it was also broiling hot and it made a deep tan on my shoulders!

Dad's first time on a horse, and first time to Bali!

 The horse smiled for the camera. So funny!

On the black volcanic ash sands of Pantai Saba. It WAS hot!

 My horse suddenly became camera-shy.

Map from Lonely Planet

From this map it's clear to see the two mountains, Mount Agung (Gunung Agung) and Mount Batur (Gunung Batur).

We did the Batur Caldera trekking which went up and around the Toya Bungkah Village and Caldera Lake area, to about 1000m - at cloud level we could see the sunrise and the peak of the two mountains.

Village chicks.

We also explored these places:

At Uluwatu

At Saba Beach

At Kuta Beach

It was a good idea to have a not-so-planned itinerary. Usually when I travel I try to stay with locals or ask strangers what is a good thing to do in the area. This way, I will often have some interesting experiences. In Chiangmai an old lady told me about the flower market and it was an amazing afternoon walking through the blooms. I loved the horse-riding last month at Bromo so much that I asked my guide where else would we be able to ride horses. He was from Bali and suggested Sanur, so it was through my independent research that I found this activity.

I didn't think that I would like Kuta as I have read so many unfavorable things about it, and it is true that most of the sales people along the beachfront will quote exorbitant prices like $10 for a bottle of mineral water and a chair, or $35 for a straw hat. (I managed to get the straw hat Dad wanted down to $5, after impressing upon them that I bought a hat the day before for that price. I lied, but I saved $30. Don't judge.)

However, there are some ways to get rid of the annoying and really very friendly guys who desired to teach you surfing, let you sit on their chair and offer you rides, drag you into their shop for a manicure (yes, it happens)

I wanted to get a more even tan as the horse-riding only browned my shoulders, so I took off my dress and walked the whole stretch in a bikini - the bikini bottom was shorts, and I felt disguised by a hat and sunglasses. None of the guys dared to have any more aggressive approach after seeing the bright color striped outfit of mine, they became shy, and so I walked the stretch in peace.

I enjoyed walking in Kuta actually, both at the long stretch of beach, and also at the long stretch of shops -  there's such a great range of shops to explore and so many interesting things to see. So having an unplanned last day on Bali I immediately wanted to go back again. If you managed to walk past the annoying stretch  and into St Poppies' Lane, you will love this part of Kuta. It's filled with many people also wearing nothing much, bunches of young backpackers, cheap beer, food, massages. A massage for an hour (or a pedicure or whatever you wanted) would set you back $5 (45,000), it's nice to tip the masseuse and see their happy faces. There's graffiti, great shops where you can do relaxed, undisturbed shopping and quote the price you think is fair. Some temples, beautiful and funny looking exteriors of shops and hotels. I could walk forever in this place.

For more on the trek read the earlier post:
Trekking up Batur Caldera

All photos taken by me and Dad.
Film: Lomography 400, Agfa Precisa CT 100, Kodak Ultramax 400.
Camera: Superheadz Vivitar UWS, Minolta Riva Zoom, Contax
 Special thanks to Dad's friend, Emil Gerecke who kindly hosted us for the weekend in Kuta!

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