Last weekend we were approached by a super nice receptionist from our hotel who told us that we are invited for a FREE cooking class and dinner. We were really stunned since we have seen those being offered for IDR300000. Being exhausted from all day adventures on Saturday we decided to cut our day short on Sunday and join the class.
The dishes we made were
Pepes Ikan (my favourite, fish wrapped in banana leaves)
Ayam Bakar Sambal Chicken (way too complex for us to attend on our own, requires a sequence of boiling, marinating, boiling again, and so on)
Last weekend we took a chance and did some road tripping in Bali. You can read from Markus’s blog what driving is like in Bali, pretty adventurous I would say. Anyway, on to the actual sights we saw.
We started our day by visiting Batuan village that is home of the Trinity Temple apparently build in 1040. Without understanding more about Hindu mythology, to us it looked like pretty much any other temple we have seen here. But hey, it had a free entry so we enjoyed a leisurely stroll through it.
One of the most fundamental examples you study in game theory is the Chicken Game: two players (or drivers) head towards each other, and you win the game if your opponent yields while you don’t. Of course, if no-one yields there’s only losers. Over the weekend, I could see the game being played in practice – on Bali’s roads.
We decided we would like to be independent, so we rented a car for a bargain IDR200000 a day. The rental company would send someone in the morning to our hotel, we would fill in the form, give the guy some cash, and off we went. No questions asked, no license or ID checked, no insurance – and no way to enforce liability for any damage we would cause. But maybe we’re all just overly cautious and too paranoid.
Anyways, we got quite a nice car and were good to go!
You might remember how annoying we found the porters on Boracay who will essentially just take your bags, load them into your vehicle, extend their hand, and demand “Tips, tips!” On arrival to Bali, we had an even more annoying experience of that kind.
We greeted our driver, made our way to his car, and were immediately joined by no less than three guys, who would not ask, but just take our suitcases and roll them for us. It’s more effort to argue than to just let them do their thing, so whatever. After a short walk, no more than 3 minutes, all smooth and level, we arrived at the car park. Inevitably, the guys would drop the polite small talk and ask for money (they didn’t even bother waiting for the car to do some actual lifting). We just withdrew money from the machine, and the smallest note we had was IDR100000, which really would be too much by Western standards (like I said, I could have perfectly managed all suitcases just by myself), but with a feeling of generosity I handed it over anyways. Instead of a thank you and gratitude, they indeed asked for more! They said it’s the three of them and they need to feed their families, but I just said, so do I (seriously, how many people have their hourly rate, it would be some IDR600000). To give you a context, our driver would get IDR200000 for driving us half an hour (Uber is even cheaper), for IDR20000-40000 you get a main course, and for IDR50000-100000 you get an hour’s massage. So, I really did not feel like their children went starving that night. Do they think tourists who just arrived cannot handle all those zeros or don’t understand the price level? Read More »
The Turtle Conservation and Education Center (do not mix it up with Turtle Island) is located in Serangan Island, about 20 min drive from Sanur. This great place was opened in 2006 by the Governor of Bali and it’s purpose is to conserve sea turtles and provide education about the dangers the turtles face.
We were shocked to learn what a big business trading turtles is (for food, decoration, pets). No wonder some species are critically endangered. One of the first things we saw when we arrived was a big tank of turtles rescued from an illegal trade boat. They seemed to be well and we were told that in couple of days they will be released back to the sea.
One of the nicest experiences on our trip was definitely a visit to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud. This forest is home to some 600 (though estimates vary) macaque monkeys that are totally tame and used to humans. What a great pleasure it was to observe our distant relatives play and interact with each other up close.
Our favourites were kids/teenager monkeys that were also very curious of us. At the same time they were not quite as big as the alpha males so we were not scared when they jumped all over us. Here is me in a total bliss being explored by monkeys.
The big irony is that while Malaysia is a muslim country with pork and alcohol hard to come by, we had one of the nicest meals with pork here and a tower of beer on the house – more of that to follow. First though I should mention that food in Malaysia is certainly ticking the box of the nicest countries on our travels. I am not sure what it is exactly that makes even the simplest food so delicious – I think it is a combination of spices. And it is so cheap.
On our first day we had lunch from the street stall (we could sit down and everything) for MYR7.50 per person. It was spicy chicken, tofu, rice and a glass of ice tea. So much tastier than any street food we had in the Philippines for example.
Malaysia is a majority muslim country with about 61% of population being Muslim. I decided to write a blog post dedicated to my experiences with Islam here since I was surprised how well functioning the society is here. I must have been brainwashed by our mass media and unwillingly associate Islam with terrorism, oppression and economic repression. In a way, I am glad that this was the case as it proves how travelling and meeting people can open one’s eyes, not just to unconscious prejudices we hold but to the real state of things.
Kuala Lumpur is a vibrant city that feels very well developed, better so than what I saw in Manila for example. People are super friendly and food is amazing (this deserves its own post later).