Feet up in Jogja

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Flying over Mount Merapi

Our start of 2017 travels was from the Indonesian island of Java. More specifically, Yogjakarta. We had booked the 3.5 days trip for late Jan well in advance as everything gets full due to Chinese New Year. Our main draw to the place were all the adventure activities but when we flew there, I didn’t really feel upto it perhaps due to all the excitement on our annual trip home to India in Dec. All I wanted to do was ‘chillax’ with a few non strenuous activities entwined. And that’s what we ended up doing 🙂

I’ll share the best things we experienced here …

1.The TemplesBorobudur for Sunrise and Prambanan for Sunset. While we are not temple people, we actually enjoyed these two. Borobudur’s unique feature is that it’s one giant lego. No mortar of any kind was used to bind the rocks together. They are just assembled on top of each other and locked in place. Besides, the sunrise from top of the temple with volcanic Mt. Merapi in the distance was quite refreshing for a night owl like me.

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Sunrise at Borobudur

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Sunrise at Borobudur

Prambanam was built in the 9th century AD  and is one huge temple complex. I was amazed to see such an old hindu temple complex in this part of the world. I couldn’t help wonder about the hindu empire back in the day. Both these temples happen to be UNESCO World Heritage sites and rightfully so.

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Prambanam Temple

2.The Cafes – We were pleasantly surprised by the cozy and unpretentious cafes/restaurants esp. along and around Prawirotaman street. Co-incidentally, our hotel was right on the street and we discovered some amazing places to hang out while strolling around on foot. From a cafe like Milas serving organic vegetarian to  ViaVia a great place for breakfast to Mediterranea for lunch and Move On cafe for a cup of Javanese coffee brew … and a couple more. We had our fair share of wonderful un-hurried breakfasts and lunches, followed by snoozes back at the hotel 😀

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Coffee at ViaVia Jogja

3.The Massage – Whenever you venture outside of Singapore anywhere in south east asia, a massage is a must. It makes so much economic sense! My favourite always is a back massage and so I surrendered myself to the trained kneads of the masseuse for an hour of foot and back massage. Pure bliss!

4. The Selfies – For some reason, the kids in Jogja are fascinated by the tourists and are often seen requesting for selfies. We found it to be very endearing and always agreed when approached. The kids will sort of hover, hestitating for a bit before one of them will step up and request for a picture with a bunch of their friends. To some extent, I can understand this behaviour as we see a lot of it in India as well when ‘foreigners’ visit. But the kids were just so happy and cheered and clapped when you agreed to have a photograph taken with them. I for one did not want to deprive them of such a simple pleasure 😀

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Selfie with the kids at Jogja

5. Trishaw Ride – It so happened that when we had to go back to the hotel one afternoon, the only mode of transport in sight was the Trishaw and we thought, ‘why not?’. I don’t even remember the last time I sat in one and it was just nice to hop-on one.

So that was Jogja for us. A couple of heritage sites, good food and loads of snoozing!

I hope this gives a few ideas to all the lazy bums. For the thrill seekers, you can read more about – Mt. Merapi trek, Goa Pindul Cave Tubing and Jomblang Cave Tour.

PS: I STILL have to post on my trip to Perth late last year … soon! Till then, bon voyage folks!

Soak up the sun, lighten up

Bali has always been good to us! Not satiated with Ubud on the last trip, we decided to go back to the incredible place for an extended weekend trip last week.

While Singapore has been engulfed by an intermittent haze, Bali was quite clear and we enjoyed our fair share of sunsets this time around. See for yourself 🙂

Sunset in Ubud, Bali in the midst of Padi fields

Sunset in Ubud, Bali in the midst of Padi fields

Sunset at the beach

Sunset at the beach

Sunset at Tanah Lot, Bali

Sunset at Tanah Lot, Bali

Sunset at Tanah Lot, Bali

Sunset at Tanah Lot, Bali

Sunset at Tanah Lot, Bali

Sunset at Tanah Lot, Bali

Dusk at Tanah Lot, Bali

Dusk at Tanah Lot, Bali

I wrote this post while listening to Shreyl Crow’s Soak Up The Sun and it’s just so apt for my mood today 🙂

And ofcourse, we are going back again!

Happy Weekend folks! TGIF!

Everything will be okay.

Everything will be okay.

Eating out Organic @Ubud, Bali

Ubud might just be the place place to both rejuvenate and detox your body. Read on for more … full post @ Mouthfuls from Jhakal

Mouthfuls from Jhakal

My recent trip to Ubud, Bali was just awesome! What made it all the more interesting were all the great cafes we visited.

Although Ubud is supposed to be a village but growing tourism has led to mushrooming of a great number of eateries, cafes and drinking holes. And there are a lot many serving organic food and/or vegetarian/vegan super healthy food and drinks. I treated this as a wonderful opportunity to detoxify and tank up on nutrients, vitamins and all the healthy stuff I would normally not even think of having back home in SG.

Here are the places I tried and loved ALL of these:

Soma Cafe: really liked the whole set-up – wooden benches with comfy cushions, bare bricks walls, a tree in the middle and small fish pond. Tried the Wana Wrap and Shitake Mushroom Patty on Radish base + belly juice and immunity booster…

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What’s so good about Ubud, Bali

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Ubud Palace

This Oct was my second trip to Bali and we decided to spend more time in Ubud and I’m glad we did. Ubud is about 40 km from Kuta and door-to-door should take about 60 mins but traffic can be crazy sometimes. It’s better to keep a margin when you plan.

Ubud is actually supposed to be a village but its getting more touristy with each passing day. Even so its more laid back compared to Kuta, weather is nicer and there are loads of cafes dotted around. We tried 4-5 different cafes serving healthy organic/vegetarian dishes. They all also serve a selection of health drinks to wash it down. Read more about some cafes here. Another good experience was coffee and tea sampling at this place called Alam Sari. We even tried the famous coffee Luwak here …

At Ubud local market

At Ubud local market

Then there is the whole art & culture element to it. In fact the whole town is drenched in it with artistic buildings and statues cropping up in all nooks and crannies. I also enjoyed strolling around in the local market picking up odds and ends. We even visited the ARMA art museum to get to know the painting styles and influences. I really liked the ones from a German Artist called Walter Spies. One of the evenings we attended the traditional Barong and Legong dance performed in the backdrop of the Ubud palace. While it was nice to watch, it did become too long … so you can actually attend it for the first 30 mins or so and its okay to leave after that.

Traditional dance performance at Ubud palace

Traditional dance performance at Ubud palace

Lastly, it was a lot of fun driving around on a two wheeler in Ubud. It’s very simple to rent one there. You just need to provide a copy of your passport and fill a form asking for name, contact details, DL number etc. We were staying away from central Ubud, at a resort called ‘Tanah Merah’ and so we got to drive alongside rice paddies and some hilly slopes. It was really fun and made roaming around very cost-effective and convenient. See our zipping around Ubud here.

There is still lots to be explored, more cafes to try, some rice paddy walks and white water rafting. Can’t wait for my next trip to Ubud … 😀

Paragliding at Timbis, Bali

As you float off the cliff at Timbis

As you float off the cliff at Timbis

My first paragliding experience! yay 😀

I did tandem paragliding recently in Timbis, Bali. If you book a tour (approx. USD 95) it will include hotel pick-up and drop from certain areas, which was a good deal in my opinion. The site is actually on a cliff and basically you run off the cliff and float in the air. The landing is back on the cliff and not the beach down below.

Its was a great first time experience with nice views of the sea/beach, sea-weed farming and beach houses and all the activity going on down below. But, I understand for people who have done this before, it might not be the best experience you can get.

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You can carry your own camera or cell phone for shooting videos. Just ensure its secured properly to avoid dropping your device. Tandem is totally safe and when you become at ease after a few minutes, I’m sure you would want to take pictures! Your pilot can also shoot videos/photos for you at an additional USD 25.

That’s one more tick on my bucket list! Looking forward to more adventures in store … 🙂

Zipping Around in Ubud, Bali

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Recently we traveled to Bali and it was one of the most relaxing holidays we’ve had. This was actually my second visit. While last time we were mostly in Kuta, this time we decided to explore Ubud and thank god we did!

Unlike Kuta, the place is less crowded. Weather is much nicer in the mornings and evenings through the night. Ubud is becoming touristy but compared to Kuta much less so at this point.

The thing I really enjoyed was driving around on a two wheeler we had rented out. It’s really simple to rent a vehicle there. Unlike Kuta, where its a bit of a nightmare to drive in the crazy traffic, in Ubud it was a pleasure! More so, since we were staying away from central Ubud and got to drive along the rice paddies and hills. Once we stopped at this cafe called ‘padi organic’ in the middle of a rice paddy field. It was just so nice to sit there and cool off over some snacks and coffee. That’s the thing with your own vehicle. You can stop wherever and whenever you want! Town driving wasn’t too bad either.

Here is a video of some of our zipping around 😀

Eating it out @ Bali

Another one of our food adventures! This time at Bali! 😀

Mouthfuls from Jhakal

Location: Bali, Indonesia

We visited Bali this September and I have to say the trip was great. We had good fun and it was a nice break from routine. The trip was of course highlighted with some great eating joints we tried. And yes, there WAS mouthwatering vegetarian available.
  Here are three places I most enjoyed:
The Earth Cafe
The Earth Café:  This one is located in Seminyak and serves only vegetarian food. The menu is also complimented with super healthy drinks; classified as tonics, antioxidants, energy boosters etc.. The place is cheerful and has this earthy rustic feel, thus justifying its name. Several foreigners throng the place indicating a growing consciousness and preference towards vegetarianism. We went here twice and tried several items from their menu. Falafel with hummus was brilliant. Planet Platter was just okay but the stir crazy noodles was great. Black beans burrito was…

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