Denpasar Ngurah Rai International Airport – Premier Lounge

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I was given access to the Premier Lounge at Denpasar Ngurah Rai International Airport as a Thai Airways Silk Passenger. Once you pass through immigration screening you can locate the lounge with its large red sign to go one floor up. There were two pleasant receptionists that welcomed us and gave us a wi-fi log-in code upon arrival. Sweet!

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It was a spacious lounge with plenty of seating and a wraparound terrace outside. The terrace overlooked the entrance to the departure terminal. I’m glad I was able to relax in a space away from the general crowd of passengers but unfortunately the lounge was also crowded and the wi-fi was sporadic and unreliable! Thankfully our wait for our departing flight was short.

The food was mediocre and often took a while to get replenished. I got excited seeing passengers getting massages in the small spa area. I couldn’t think of a better way to kill time since I couldn’t get connected to the internet. Sadly I was disappointed again to find out they were charging for spa services at a crazy price – no thank you! The cost of their 15-minute hand massage could have gotten me a 60-minute full body massage back in Seminyak!

We couldn’t wait to board our flight so we could get pampered and fed on the exceptional Thai Airways (See my review on Thai Airways in my next post!) We now know what to expect the next time we’re traveling through Denpasar Airport.

Watercress Cafe, UBUD

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Watercress Ubud opens for breakfast at 7:30 am, lunch starting 12 Noon and dinner at 5pm The cute two story Cafe is  located in close proximity to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary.  It’s a short walk down the road and perfect place to stop for some thirst quenching teas or fresh coconuts after visiting the hungry monkeys.   My friends and I kept finding ourselves back at Watercress over the three days we were in Ubud.

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They have healthy sandwiches, salads, scrumptious entrees and desserts and amazing chilled juices, teas and Happy Kombucha! I’m absolutely in love with the Acai Bowl. They have one of the best I have tasted so far!  It’s topped with fresh fruits, coconut flakes and chewy Goji berries but the best ingredients are hidden inside the Acai mixture – crispy Quinoa and Bee Pollen.  Another favorite of mine was the Coconut Chia Seed Cream Pudding and Southern Peach Iced Tea with Homemade Lemon Lime Sorbet! My mouth’s watering as I’m writing this.

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The dinner options were also great but to be honest, we came here each day for the Acai Bowl, Iced Teas, fresh whole coconuts and Chia Seed Pudding.  We just couldn’t stop thinking about Watercress, especially when we were exploring Bali under the hot sun.  The service was great and each day the servers would welcome us back with a huge smiles.  It’s hard to believe this particular Watercress Cafe opened only weeks before we arrived!  We will be sure to visit one or two of the Watercress Cafe locations in Bali again and suggest you run over there to see what all the buzz is about!

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Watercress UBUD

Goa Gajah Bedulu (Elephant Cave)

Goa Gajah also known as Elephant Cave is a very easy place to find and get to if you’re in the Ubud area. If you see buses in the parking lot when you arrive expect to be surrounded by tourists.  IMG_1238

It’s a good thing Goa Gajah has many different areas to explore, if one is swarming with visitors you can visit a different section.  There’s a large garden, bathing pools, the Elephant Cave, Buddhist Temples, rock carvings along a cliffside pathway and a very large,  impressive tree that is said to be sacred.

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At the end of the downhill pathway you’ll immediately see a bunch of stones stacked on the left.  These were some of the original stones that were part of carvings and temples at the Goa Gajah site.  They are said to still contain spirits.

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DCIM100GOPROGOPR2528.IMG_1248I continued my exploration to the two bathing pools located in front of the sacred tree.  The stairs to the pools were scattered and worn, some with moss so be careful if the stones are wet. The six female statues have water streaming into the shallow bathing pools. The holy water is now used for purification purposes not bathing.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR2531.The Elephant Cave is to the left of the bathing pools. The distinct carvings outside of the cave are noticeable from a distance and don’t resemble an elephant, in fact the face is a bit scary.

The cave itself is surprisingly smaller then I expected it to be.  It’s very dark and filled with incense smoke which made it difficult for me to explore, my allergies instantly kicked in as I entered.  The T-shaped cave has small altars, two with three rocks symbolizing the God Shiva and a statue of Lord Ganesha.

IMG_1267IMG_1272DCIM100GOPROGOPR2544.IMG_1269I loved wandering around the gardens and area around the Buddhist temple. There are large stone pieces of a carved statue that separated from the upper cliffside and fell into what looks like a small waterfall.

We were told not to enter the area so it’s a bit hard to describe the natural water source.  One can walk through the large forest area, stroll around the pond or sit under the huge trees with amazing roots!

It’s quite amazing to know that Goa Gajah was discovered less than a hundred years ago.  The cave and bathing pools were buried underground, covered with leaves and hidden by trees.  The archeologists did an amazing job reconstructing and displaying what it once was.IMG_1252DCIM100GOPROGOPR2526.

Pura Gunung Kawi Tampaksiring

Gunung Kawi TampaksiringOne of my favorite temples in Bali is Pura Gungung Kawi Tampaksiring.  Despite the fact that no one warned or prepared me for the hundreds of steps one needs to walk to get to this magical area, I still rate this one of the most memorable attractions in Bali.

The path was very scenic so we stopped a few times to take some pictures or cool off under a tree overlooking the valley and rice terraces. On my way down, I passed other visitors dripping with perspiration and walking out of breath.  I thought the blazing sun was the reason for their exhaustion but that was only part of the reason.

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It felt like forever before I reached the end but after 20 minutes, I finally arrived at the temple entrance lined by tall carved rock walls. A bowl of water and plumeria flowers stand at the front entrance. It is used to cleanse yourself before entering the temple.

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I couldn’t decide where I wanted to explore first.  There were towering carved statues in the cliff walls, waterfalls, a beautiful river and tropical foliage everywhere!  4 carved shrines stood on the left path near the path entrance so I checked them out first.  I can’t even describe how impressed I was with the rock carvings, I was speechless!

Gunung Kawi Tampaksiring

Gunung Kawi Tampaksiring

I could see a small waterfall on the other side of the Pakerisan River and quickly crossed the bridge to head over there.  I discovered a path to the river and passed 5 more shrines to the waterfall.

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Gunung Kawi TampaksiringI saw a really cool tunnel carved in the wall, but was told I couldn’t explore it because it was sacred. Darn! I love caves and tunnels.

Gunung Kawi Tampaksiring

Gunung Kawi Tampaksiring

According to some legends the 11th Century statues were carved out of the rock face in one hard-working night by the fingernails of Kebo Iwa, a strong giant that could’ve accomplished the deed with his size and strength. It remains a mystery of what the statues were actually used for and what happened in this sacred temple hidden deep in the valley.

Gunung Kawi Tampaksiring

Gunung Kawi Tampaksiring

There are lots of small vendors on the path to the temple, selling water, food and souvenirs.  Here’s a tip, grab some bottled water to keep hydrated for your trip to the temple and back, and check out what kind of food and snacks you may want while walking down to the temple. Purchase souvenirs on your way up!

Gunung Kawi Tampaksiring

Gunung Kawi Tampaksiring

I’ll definitely return for a second visit and will be better prepared to enjoy this beautiful oasis. I plan to bring lunch, some chilled beverages and swimwear too.  I will devote more time to spend as well, there are so much more to explore and experience. If you’re in the Ubud area make some time to hike down to the Valley of the Kings!

Entrance Fee – 15000 idr (approximately $1.50 USD) per Adult

Nalu Bowls and Shelter Cafe Seminyak

Nalu Bowls

Nalu Bowls is my favorite place to visit in Seminyak, Bali for delicious fruit bowls. There are two other locations in Bali – Single Fin Restaurant & Bar in Uluwatu and Echo Beach Canggu which just opened a few weeks ago.  This is great news for Nalu Bowl lovers, with three locations spread across South Bali it makes it easier to get your hands on these chilled, yummy, healthy treats.  They have Acai, Pitaya, a green superfood, protein peanut butter, Pina Colada and tart sorbet-like bowls covered with fresh sliced tropical fruits and berries. I’m an Acai lover so always order the Maverick but also tried the superfood Teahupoo and Pina Colado Pipeline bowls.

The staff at both Nalu Bowls and Shelter Cafe are all quick, attentive, friendly, and helpful.  The management at both establishments have done a fabulous job training the staff and creating a fabulous menu.  I’ve already referred and brought some of our friends to enjoy my favorite spot in Seminyak.  I’ll be back soon!

Shelter Cafe Bali

Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan

The Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan is one of my favorite resorts by far!  That is saying something since I’ve traveled to over 20 Four Seasons properties around the world. Their service is phenomenal and the ambiance is simply serene!  The staff is quick and friendly in every department. They make great recommendations for dining and activities and almost every staff member knew me by name by the second day.  It’s awesome!

Four Seasons Bali Sayan

I’ll be honest.  I was not impressed when we approached the property.  I whispered under my breath, “Where the hell am I and why is the driver turning into a small, dark alley?” Once we got through the two security gates (three if you want to count the dog), my view on the property changed for the better. The short drive to the front entrance was very winding and narrow, enough room for just one car or two golf carts.

I was immediately greeted by two bellmen and a woman beautifully dressed in Balinese clothing  She bowed her head with palms pressed together in a prayer-like way.  She splashed water around me, wiped water on my forehead, wrapped a colorful sash around my waist and placed a Plumeria flower in my ear.  She led me down a set of stairs and over a wooden bridge to the reception area. I literally stepped into a dream and was awed by my surroundings. There were rice fields across the valley, a lily pond that looked like it was floating, a river flowing below, all totally surrounded by lush tropical landscapes.  All hidden by a dark alley! Who would know?

I reserved a one bedroom duplex suite and loved it.  The upper level was the living area which included a sitting room, small office, mini bar, a half bathroom and a cozy balcony with an incredible view of the property. The lower level included the bedroom, a master bathroom with a walk-in closet and balcony that ran the length of the room.  The bedside tables included outlets in the drawers that made it convenient to charge all my electronic devices after a whole day of exploring.  The walk-in closet had tons of storage space to fit my 3 huge luggage rollers and carry-on and to spread out and organize my clothes, shoes and accessories. The resort provides all the necessities I was looking for – bug repellent, shavers and shaving cream, bath salts, toothbrushes, bottled water and a fulled stocked coffee station.  They made sure we had enough OFF mosquito spray and bottle water to last each day!

The resort also offers one bedroom suites and family suites in the main building, as well as one, two and three bedroom villas scattered around the property.  The villas are great for large parties or for those who want more privacy with their own plunge pool and outdoor living space.  Villas start at approximately 2500 sf and go up to 11,000 sf. in the Royal Villa.

Upper living area

Upper living area

Downstairs Bed

Bath tub and sink

There is one swimming pool, located next to the Riverside Café.  It’s a double level pool that overlooks the river with plenty of lounging areas. I was a bit concerned the pool would always be crowded but each time I went there were more than enough seats to pick from and lots of room to swim.  Sadly the pool closed quite early because the restaurant next door opens for dinner. I wished it stayed open all day because it’s a great way to spend time in Bali’s hot and muggy weather.  A second pool on the property would definitely help.

I chose to order lunch poolside and enjoyed an juicy burger.  Pool staff brought frozen yogurt and coconut water shots to keep loungers cool. My favorite part of the pool is listening to the river flowing below. The soothing sound of the running water was relaxing and therapeutic.

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The huge fitness center and the spa open every day until 9 p.m.  Right outside of the fitness center are three plunge pools, all set at different temperatures and open 24 hours.  Perhaps these pools are the reason there are no complaints about having just one swimming pool.  There are no attendants after 9 p.m. but that worked out perfectly for me. I visited the plunge pools in the early mornings and late evenings for my daily water therapy – listening to the wildlife and running river is so soothing.

Fitness Center

Upstairs Pool

Hot Tub

The Ayung Terrace, Jati Bar and Riverside Cafe all have beautiful views and friendly staff.  On day one I was adjusting to the time zone change and woke up extra early (or really late coming from Hawaii). I took a stroll around the property and surprisingly found a coffee and pastry station already set up at the Jati Bar. It was perfect since the restaurant wasn’t open for breakfast yet.  I walked over to the seating areas behind the Jati Bar and watched the dark sky turn blue as I sipped on my latte.

Breakfast is served in Ayung Terrace.  It is located a floor down from the main lobby.  Breakfast was my main meal on the property since I spent most of my day exploring the island.  The buffet selection was huge and I had no problem starting off with fresh fruit and pastries.  My second course was made-to-order omelets and waffles.  Each day the buffet served different Balinese and American food selections so I didn’t get tired of eating the same offerings.  At first I was hesitant to try the Balinese food and get “Bali belly” at the beginning of my trip.  Thankfully I tried it and ended up loving Balinese food for breakfast!  Each day my breakfast plate consisted of more Balinese food than traditional American offerings.

The large property is situated on a hill and unfortunately there are no elevators – just stairs and pathways.  Don’t worry, if you prefer not to walk around the property you can call the Concierge to schedule a bellmen to pick you up in a golf cart.  I suggest walking around the property. I found a temple, lush gardens and many quiet places to soak in the serenity of Sayan.

The resort offers a wide range of activities like cooking, fitness classes, garden tours, rice field experiences, biking, etc. Some are free.  I didn’t partake in any of the activities since I was out exploring Ubud’s many attractions.

Ubud is about a 20-minute drive from Four Seasons Bali at Sayan.  There are complimentary scheduled shuttles to and from Ubud town and the resort.  I used a taxi to Ubud which was very inexpensive (To date around 70,000 IDR = $5 USD).

My favorite part of the Four Seasons Sayan is waking up to a spectacular view of a tropical PARADISE! Everything here is perfect – the lush green grounds, pristine hotel facilities, yummy food and phenomenal service.  I love this place so much that I’ve visited the Four Season Bali at Sayan twice in the last three months! You should too!

U Paasha Seminyak Bali

The U paasha Seminyak Bali is a part of the U Hotels and Resorts and my first boutique hotel I’ve stayed at outside of Hawaii.  It was difficult to make a decision on where to stay with so many hotel options in Seminyak.  I made a good choice since Upaasha is located in the heart of town, surrounded by restaurants, shops, beauty salons and local vendors. If you want to have access to all of these things and be in the middle of the night life, this is the perfect place to stay!

They have two different Room options: the Suite and the Penthouse. I was unfortunately unable to book the Penthouse but was surprised when we entered the Suite that we confirmed.  The Suite was bright, sleek, modern and very spacious. Complimentary bottled water, coffee and Tea were offered as room amenities along with free wifi. There was no bathtub which didn’t bother me since I didn’t have time to relax in the room anyways. The Coffee maker, hot water kettle, outlet adapters, ipod dock/clock and bath amenities all came in handy.

Located on the roof top is the Pool, Rooftop Bar & Restaurant and Fitness Center. Each one of these facilities had fabulous views! The gym is conveniently open 24 hours a day and offers yoga instruction.  Each time I went to the pool right before sunset it was empty with about 5 -10 people. Most guests were sunbathing, getting spa treatments or just lounging on the pool deck, not a person in the pool!

Our room rate also included breakfast. The breakfast buffet was served at the Alcove right off the main lobby and had a wide variety of food and beverages.  The servers would offer specialty coffees and a waffle and crepe station were also available.  I went straight for the fresh fruit, fried noodles, fried rice, sushi, cereals and Iced Mocha Lattes!

We did not have a chance to enjoy the Rooftop Bar & Restaurant or Alibi (ground level) but both restaurants looked modern and comfortable.

The service at U paasha was great, it took some time to get some orders in at breakfast but I knew it was because they were jammed packed with guests.  Everyone tried their best to assist you with your requests.  I’d definitely stay here again and recommend it to others, the price you pay daily is well worth the amenities, accommodations and location is PRIME!  You can find their promotions and room rates on their online reservations.

Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay

Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay was an absolutely wonderful getaway. As soon as we drove through the gates and down driveway towards the resort the excitement started stirring up in my belly.  The colorful, nicely manicured flowers and landscaping along side the pathways and buildings lead us to the main lobby with breathtaking views of Jimbaran Bay.

We were taken to our Villa on a golf cart, luggage handled and set in the dressing room area, doors opened and delicious amenity treats ready for our arrival.  The villas are private and large inside and out.  The outdoor area had a private plunge pool, lounge area, open air shower and living area with lots of seating.

The room had me speechless and gave me the feeling of “home” as soon as you entered.  The vaulted ceilings, poster bed with netting and open concept had me giggling inside that this was my home for the last three days of my Bali vacation.  I continued roaming through the room and found the deep tub with plumeria flowers on the neck pillows.  There were large windows lining the bath area with a clear view of the beautiful landscaping and outdoor shower.  There was a door that led to the shower area making it easy for us to rinse off before heading into the indoor shower or tub.  The room amenities were as usual plentiful and always stocked daily.

There are three dining options on property:  Sundara is a beach club during the day and ocean front restaurant and bar at night.  We had dinner at Sundara the first evening we were there and couldn’t get enough of the jaw dropping sunset views.  The food was fantastic, service attentive and creme brûlée so creatively done.  I absolutely love creme brûlée and order it each time we go to a different restaurant, this particular one had fresh berries on the bottom which made it even more scrumptious!

The Pool Terrace Cafe serves lunch next to the infinity pool, just down the stairs from the main lobby area. We didn’t dine here but did enjoy the views and dipping our feet in the pool. Instead we went back down to Sundara for lunch so we could stroll the beach for shells, eat sushi and nachos, and jump in the pool!

Breakfast and Dinner is served at Taman Wantilan with two large open air Balinese designed structures overlooking the property.  We had breakfast here each morning and enjoyed the selection of Balinese food.  The breakfast buffet was HUGE and had lots of options to chose from, my belly was filled to the limit each morning.  The staff was very prompt in taking away our plates and also assisting us with figuring out what each dish was. The fried rice, noodles, eggplant, banana fritters and other Balinese offerings were so darn good. I was already excited to see what their menu was going to be like the next morning!

With three pools spread out around the property there was more then enough space for everyone.  The large infinity pool is located next to the Pool Terrace Cafe. There were covered tables, lounge chairs and stunning views of the ocean.  Right below the infinity pool was another pool which looked like the family pool with a large waterfall wall and two hot tubs across from the pool.  The Sundara pool is steps away from the beach and the best place to watch the sunset. We spent most of our time at this pool since it was closest to the beach.

I had plans to use one of the resort’s paddle boards but ended up curling up in bed instead.  There are first-come- non-motorized water equipment, some free some with fees. Having the option to enjoy these water activities were great, it’s unfortunate that I didn’t have the energy to make use of them.

There was no need for me to visit the Fitness Center while we were there since a lot of walking was done getting around the huge property.  We could’ve used the complimentary golf cart service but decided to walk around the property so we could see as much as we could. The property is situated on the hill so we got our daily leg workout!

Even though my stay here wasn’t very long I enjoyed every second of it. I’m always wanting to explore and see new things, this resort made me want to stay put.  I couldn’t get myself to leave the property, that means this was one of my favorite places I’ve been to yet.  I can’t stop thinking about our gorgeous villa, the fabulous pools and yummy food at Four Seasons Bali at Jimbaran Bay and hope to visit again in the future!