Category: Indonesia

Club Med Bali

It was my fourth trip to Bali.

"Wh do you go Bali so many times?" exclaimed my mom. "Not sien one meh?"

It’s a question I get a lot. Like most who had been to Bali on a cookie-cutter group tour, she had made the assumption that Kuta is all that Bali has to offer. What a lot of people do not know know is, Bali is so big – it has a totally different vibe in depending on which part of the island you’re in.

There’s beautiful Ubud in the centre, laidback Padangbai in the East and dolphin-playground Lovina in the north, mega resorts and gorgeous luxury villas in the South.

So, unless you are a horny teen looking to get your first lay at Bounty Club, Kuta’s  permanently congested roads and cramped hotels is possibly the worst place to stay in Bali.

Bali is a whole lotta fun packed on a paradise island. It is, however, terribly unorganized. Figuring out where to stay, what to do, where to eat and how to getto these places can require a lot of advanced planning, and that can sometimes take the fun out of holidaying.

After all, the purpose of going on holidays to get away from stress. Obviously, the last thing I want when I go on a holiday have MORE stress.

This past January, I stayed at Club Med Bali for 4 glorious days.

The French resort chain is the pioneer of all-inclusive holidays, and Bali is one of their most popular resorts in South East Asia.

Staying here completely took the stress out of holiday planning.

All-inclusive means all the ingredients required to cook up a perfect holiday is included with the room. It means all the food, all the activities, all the entertainment and most importantly – all the alcohol are already taken care of for me.

I came out completely rejuvenated. It was such a fun and enjoyable trip that I distinctively recalled every moment of it.

All I needed to bring, really, is my body.


Our royal treatment started even before our arrival at the resort. At the Ngurah Rai airport arrival hall, surrounded by hundreds of hotel drivers holding up placards, we found our driver.

With our bags tagged and room numbers assigned, we were whisked away to the pristine Nusa Dua peninsular to the south, completely avoiding the crazy traffic in Kuta.

In less than 15 minutes, we arrived at the Club Med Bali lobby. It was there that I experienced the first of the many Club Med subculture that I have come to learn in the days ahead.

Club Meds from all around the world employ what they called Gentle Organizers or G.O.s.

Unlike at typical hotels where the staff are there just to serve the guests and nothing else, at Club Med their G.O.s eat and play together with guests. It may seem a little unfamiliar to the uninitiated, but the G.O.s are what made Club Med, well, Club Med.

At Club Med Bali, there are over 80 G.O.s each from different countries and each with their different specialties. One G.O. could possibly have many different roles.

One morning, Wayan would be my golf instructor.

In the afternoon, he would work at the main resort pool as a lifeguard.

Then at night, the same Wayan would don the white top hot and sequined glove, moonwalking across the stage as a Michael Jackson impersonator.

Every day these GOs are out there having fun with their hotel guests. And these are the very same people I would eat, play and grow very close to over the next few days.

When we arrived, we were taken on a tour around the expansive Club Med compound. Our jaws were dropping the entire time. There are definitely no shortage of things to do over here.

Most hotels have a swimming pool, a restaurant, maybe a spa and that’s it.

At Club Med Bali, the amount of facilities is like everything a hotel guest can dream of, and more. MUCH more.

They have 2 HUMUNGOUS restaurants, 2 swimming pools (including a quiet one next to the spa for adults only), a Mandara spa, fully-equipped gym, football field, volleyball court, basketball court, tennis court, archery range, windsurfing school, a theatre, a nightclub, a putting green, driving range, a full golf course and a CIRCUS TRAPEZE all housed within the compound of Club Med.

Yes, even a circus trapeze.

Club Med is like Disneyland for grown-ups, without the long queues of screaming kids, with the free flow of amazingly delicious good food and bottomless alcohol.

Best of all? Because Club Med is all inclusive, pretty much everything inside the resort is free.

We didn’t have to think about how much to spend, because meals, entertainment and activities are included in the room. Only the more premium stuff like champagne, spas and outside tours are chargeable.

We had arrived after the buffet lunch had closed. It didn’t matter because another restaurant was open for late lunch.

Normally when I stayed in hotels offering free breakfast, I skipped it because most of the time – they are crap. Usually free things are crap.

Not at Club Med.

The restaurant menu here reads like it’s from a posh restaurant in Changkat.


We’re talking about sirloin steak and grilled fish, and this ain’t even the main restaurant.

For about RM600 a night per person, the guest room itself – although clean and comfortable, isn’t necessary the most luxurious ones I have seen in Bali.

That’s okay, because there’s so much to do in Club Med that nobody really stays in the room. If you’re the travel type that stays in the hotel room watching TV, then Club Med is not for you.

Different activities run throughout Club Med from morning till night, each catering for different age groups. During day time, most of us opted for some sporting activity.

Between golf, tennis, archery basketball, windsurfing, snorkelling etc – we were spoilt for choice.

It didn’t matter that I couldn’t shoot an arrow straight or hit a golf ball to save my life. The G.O.s are happy to show me a few moves.

Look, I even shot my first bulls-eye in Archery!

Fine lah, I planted the arrow there.

Ei Ling wanted to play tennis because a cute Korean G.O. was instructing there. Too bad none of us can hit the ball well enough to go over the Net. Playing tennis with Ei Ling was more like playing "Run-And-Chase-The-Stray-Tennis-Ball".

I even tried my hand on the circus trapeze. I was surprised the cables could hold my weight. Heck, I didn’t even know I’m capable of lifting my legs above my head while I’m swinging.

Damn. If I were gay, I would be damn good in bed.

For the less sports-inclined people, there are milder activities like Balinese cooking class, temple tours or the famed dual induction massage at the Club Med Spa.

Even babies and kids have free activities planned for them by the GOs.

Club Med has a particularly strong emphasis for children and families, so the kids could be holed up somewhere doing a fashion show, or making an art piece using recycled materials while the parents are windsurfing in the Indian Ocean.

For me, I prefer maximum adventure all the way, so I took the white-water rafting trip along Ayung River in Ubud.

So we ignored girl band TLC’s advice and went chasing after waterfalls, got ourselves soaking wet and smiles plastered all over our face.

White-water rafting along the Ayung River = definitely a must-do in Bali.

After tiring ourselves all day doing sports, it’s time for dinner. And I tell ya, dinner at Club Med is LEGEND…


Not only are the food during buffet dinner amazingly delicious, it’s also buffet style. Meaning, I put the words "ALL YOU CAN EAT" to test.

We’re talking the finest dishes from Western, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Indonesian cuisine being served each and every night. Again, these aren’t the cheap food you get at some buffets in cheap-ass hotels.

These are really yummy good tasting food I’d pay hundreds for at fine-dining restaurants, and they serve it buffet style at Club Med. Complete with free flow of drinks and alcohol.

We went crazy. No one blinked an eyelid when I returned to my table with sushi on one side of the plate, babi guling on the other and a glass of ice cold  beer on the side. It’s all included what!

I like it how there’s always a theme that goes along with our dinner. When our dinner invitation says "Elegant", this was how we dressed.

My interpretation of the word "elegant" vs the Expat Lifestyle‘s Ian Johnston’s interpretation of "elegant".

Dinner was brilliant, but the fun ain’t over.

Straight after dinner, the evening staged show begins.

Club Med does these staged shows every single night.

And every night is different theme. Just because the staged shows are free, doesn’t mean budget was spared either. Over the 3 nights that we stayed, we watched a Michael Jackson tribute show, a Vegas-style dance show and a circus show during our time there.

One show that stood up was this act where a single person sang both the male and female parts of a duet. So first, the male sang.

Then the female sang…



If you’re bisexual, congratulations – you found your soulmate.

Yea, the staged shows are done by amateurs and aren’t completely original. But who cares? The important thing is that it is very entertaining.

If you’re a lady from the fairer sex, don’t miss the circus show.

Ridiculously fit male bodies are on display. The Japanese girls love it. I bet alcohol was not the only thing that was dripping free flow that night.

I had to remind my lady friends that these guys are GOs. Not GROs.

Sorry lah. Cannot bring them back as souvenirs.

For me, my visual treat came when 200 Japanese girls from a bridal company checked into Club Med as part of their company’s incentive tour.

After 4 days free flow of good fun, great food and most importantly – a totally relaxed experience, it is unfortunately time to return to reality.

It is very difficult to leave Club Med. I normally don’t spend a lot of time in hotels when I travel, preferring to wander outside and explore on my own. This time round, I spent 4 days in Bali without leaving their resort compound, and still had lots of fun.

While most other hotels in Bali emphasize on delivering luxury, Club Med created a truly unforgettable holiday experience and having more than enough things to do.

It worked. The food at Club Med is already worth the price of the room itself. And the experience I had? Priceless.

I think I’ll be back sooner rather than later. 🙂

Got Michael Jackson to see, why not?

Villa Jajaliluna

In Bali, there’s one type of place to stay that’s rarely found elsewhere in the world.


You see, a lot of Malaysians go to Bali and stay in hotels.

Not because hotels are nice. It’s because we are so used to it, we don’t look out for other accommodation options.


There’s nothing wrong with hotels. The thing is, hotels can be found everywhere else in the world. After a while, they are just the boring same ol’ same ol’.

Seriously, who wants same ol’ same ol’ when you’re in Bali?

In Bali, the thing to do is to stay in a private villa.

This makes sense especially when you’re travelling with a group of six or more. Instead of booking 3 separate hotel rooms, it’s so much better to book a 3-bedroom private villa, and have the whole entire place to yourself!

For a wonderful 2 days, everything you see in these pictures belonged to us!

The tables, the lounge decks, the chairs, THE POOL!



It was like something straight up of an MTV rap star’s videos. We were in our own paradise and we didn’t have to share it with strangers we don’t know.

Not only that, we had our own butler, our own security guard and chef to cook for us whenever we felt hungry.

That means you can play the music as loud as legally allowed, swim in the pool naked, throw your own Playboy Mansion party if you wanna (but must BYO Playboy bunnies lah).


Can you swim naked in a hotel?

No you can’t.

Unless you don’t mind holidaying in Bali for a very long time in jail.


In Bali, there are literally hundreds of private villas in different shapes and sizes  throughout the island.

Almost all of them are extremely spacious, tastefully designed and amazingly well-equipped – all ready to rent alongside the services of an entire team of villa staff.

Because Bali is such a popular holiday spot, a lot of people invest their own private villas here on the island. During most parts of the year when they are not around, these villas are rented out to holidaymakers.

The villa we stayed at – Villa Jajaliluna, is one such private villa.

Villa Jajaliluna is owned by an Australian family. It is a quiet sanctuary hidden inside a narrow alley, just off the main street of Seminyak.

The location is what made this villa such a winner. While most villas are located in the middle of nowhere, this one is literally just around the corner from KuDeTa bar, which means it is walking distances to all the conveniences.

The villa compound is ridiculously HUGE.

As soon as we enter, we were greeted by this large T-shaped swimming pool flanked by 3 separate pavilions.

To the left is a dining pavilion and a lounge area to chill at.

To the right is a two-storey building with 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms and 2 separate lounging area.

There were soooo much space to move around/play hide-and-seek/do cartwheels in.

We couldn’t believe we had so much space. It’s mindboggling.

So mindboggling that I saw Taka hugging a beach ball, drifting aimlessly in the pool.

I think he was still in awe.

My room alone have a grand total of two standing showers and one outdoor bathtub.

I didn’t have the chance to use the outdoor bathtub, but I let the girls have fun in it. They enjoyed bathing under the stars.

I had to resist the urge not to peek. I was scared they might smack me over the head, THEN I’ll be seeing stars.

But the good looks of the villa is just one thing. The fantastic staff is what made staying here all the difference.

Just about anything you want them to do, they’d do it willingly.

During our stay, we had our clothes cleaned, our massages arranged and our private chef cooking us a FEAST from the groceries he bought for us from the markets.

It was the very definition of bliss. We were living like kings.

Why go all the way to Ubud to have Babi Guling when our private chef can make it fresh from our kitchen?


Villa Jajaliluna is just one of the many, many private villas in Bali available for rent by BHM Villas. It is great for family holidays, company trips and even buck/hen nights.


At US$825 a night, it seems a little expensive at first, but when shared among 10 people, that works out about the same as staying in 5-star hotels – except we get to have EVERYTHING.

Now you know why I go to Bali every single year.

Ubud Hanging Gardens & Anantara Seminyak

It is a tradition to travel to Bali every year.

There’s a lot of reasons why Bali is the place I go to do my retreat every year: cheap flights, friendly people, amazingly good food. The biggest attraction for me is the fact that Bali is the only place I know where the range of accommodation options is virtually limitless.


In Bali, you can do home stays for RM15 a night, or rent a luxurious multi-bedroom private villas with your own swimming pool, chef and butler.

I write this blog entry especially for those who had partied through Kuta, done Bali on the cheap before, and are now returning to look for something a bit more.

Although luxury in Bali does come with a hefty price tag, it is not completely out of reach for most people. On average, a very well-serviced, luxurious high-end hotel here would cost around USD200 (RM650) per person per night.

But I think about it this way. Instead of flying to Paris for a supposed romantic holiday then stuffing myself inside a cramped 3-star shoebox hotel, I’d rather fly to Bali, splurge on a beach-front suite and be treated like a king.

Truth is, there not many places in the world that gives as good a bang for buck as the hotels and villas in The Island of Gods. During my most recent trip to Bali  2 weeks ago, I had the privilege of being hosted at some of the most beautiful hotels I have ever experienced personally.

The first was Ubud Hanging Gardens.

If I were a girl and my boyfriend wants to propose to me, this is the place I’d want him to do it. Otherwise, not only would I not accept his proposal, I’ll probably throw the ring back at my boyfriend, scream “YOU THINK I SO CHEAP AH!?” before hurrily taking off and leaving him alone in the dark.

But I digress.

Ubud Hanging Gardens is an absolutely fucking stunning hotel.

Pardon my language, but there’s just no other way to describe it. The road heading towards the resort was narrow, bumpy and ridiculously difficult to find. I spent 4 hours circling the entire Bali island in my rental car and cannot find it. In the end we gave up and requested for hotel pickup.

But once we arrived, it was like clouds have parted and we arrived heaven on Earth.

Words cannot do it any justice.

Ubud Hanging Gardens is one of two Balinese resorts by luxury hotel group Orient Express. It’s called “hanging” because when we looked out into the distance from our room, we literally felt like we were hanging in the air. We were so high up that all we could see were the tops of the trees below.

The view here gotta be seen to be believed.

Despite what its name suggest, the resort is not actually located inside the intensely crowded and touristy Ubud town, but quietly tucked away on top of the hill in the middle of the forest, about 30 minutes away. There was literally nothing at all within the vicinity of the resort.

What they offer instead, is the ultimate in serenity and luxury.

The villa units themselves aren’t particularly huge, but they are well-designed to take advantage of the breathtaking surrounding views, and make us feel as close to nature as possible.

Each unit is located on the hill slope. So instead of taking the lift from the lobby, we have to go to our rooms using this cute little funicular train.

It was the best place in Bali to recharge and rejuvenate. On top of it all they got free internet access, outdoor bathtub and my favourite – the heated infinity private pool.

I LOVE the private pool!

All of them are built in such a way to resemble Bali’s cascading rice paddy fields. It was very relaxing and very romantic.

But the private pool wasn’t the best thing about Ubud Hanging Gardens.

Just outside the restaurant, overlooking the forest, is the resort’s most jaw-dropping feature: the double-storey freeform infinity pool.

It was breathtakingly AMAZING.

Imagine being able to swim right up towards the edge of the pool and do this.

It was pure magic. This is the closest thing to swimming above the skies.

You can see in the picture that there’s a Balinese temple perched on top of the hill in the distance. At night, they light up the temple so it looks as if it was floating in the air.


Overlooking the edge of the infinity pool. Don’t worry, I won’t jump.

After our stay at the Ubud Hanging Gardens, we returned to Seminyak where all the restaurants, shops and parties are located. This time round, we stayed at another equally stunning hotel called Anantara Seminyak.

This hotel is not located high on the hill nor in the middle of a dense forest.

I came to Anantara Seminyak for jaw-dropping ocean views like these.

It’s less “green”, more “gold”. In fact, there’s a million-dollar view right from the balcony of every beach-facing Ocean Suite. I thought sunset at Ku De Ta was amazing. I obviously ain’t seen nothing yet.

Anantara Seminyak is targeted towards honeymooners and those seeking for a stylish romantic getaway.

This is not where you’d come if you want some quiet “alone time” in the forest to meditate. For that, stick to Ubud.

If you wanna impress a date, this is perfect.

Start the evening with a romantic candle-light dinner by the beach.

As night falls and temperature drops, take her in to your hotel suite for something a little bit more cozy.

She will be impressed as soon as she opened the door.

First, she sees a nice walk-in wardrobe.

Further down the marble corridor, she sees a spacious bathroom area, complete with aromatherapy soaps, a Jacuzzi bathtub and a rainshower with three different options for massage.

You can’t help but to grin…

…because you know the bathroom is see-through.

Next, THE BEDROOM (oh yeah, baby).

The bed is built-in, oversized, sexy and extremely comfortable.

She’s in awe. She knows she wanna spend the night here.

So you put on some music on the Bose Sound System.

Hopefully something more Barry White instead of Owl City.

And the rest… is up to your imagination. Heh.

The suites at Anantara Seminyak is my idea of the ultimate bachelor pad.

It’s not exactly where I’d bring my mother to, because let’s face it, who wants to see their mother in the see-through bathroom?

The suites at Anantara may not have their own private pool, but who needs one when you can sit in the outdoor jacuzzi soaking in the ocean view?

A night’s stay here cost USD450 so it’s really for those who have a bit more in their pockets.

Without spending that much to sleep a night at Anantara, it’s still possible also to enjoy the famous sunset over Seminyak at their stylish rooftop lounge. Lots of jet-setting, mojito-sipping, good-looking people to see here.

You can’t help but to be one of them.

Besides, there’s nothing quite like sitting on a plush daybed, sipping designer cocktail, listening to cool chill out music playing in the background while watching the sky changes colour as the sun goes down.

It’s my third trip to Bali, and still it ranks as my favourite holiday destination in the world.

Yea, it’s true that Bali can be done very cheaply. A lot of first timers stay in Kuta because it is cheap. But Kuta is possibly the worst possible place to stay in Bali.

The problem with Kuta is that the dodgy nightclubs, the drunken Australians, the overpriced souvenir shops, the traffic jam and the drug pushers all ended up making me more stressed than I was before I left for holidays.

I go to Bali to recharge my batteries and to forget about work for a while. Places like Ubud and Seminyak did the trick for me.

Last year, I stayed in this hotel in Kuta. We arrived so late that the reception counter was closed. In the end, the person checking us in was actually the hotel’s security guards.

These two muscular guys were not just the hotel’s security guard and receptionist, they were also the hotel’s housekeeper.

When we called the reception and asked to put in an extra bed for us, guess who came to our rescue?

Yes, the same two security guards.

Made my Bali holiday looked like an episode of CSI.

In-Car Shopping

Question: What is one thing Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Jakarta have in common?


Answer: They are all big, noisy, smoky and the traffic is a real bitch.

However, I did notice one thing special about Jakarta that other places don’t. It is perhaps the only place I know of in this part of the world, where people take advantage of the ridiculous traffic jams on the road, and turn it into a profit-making opportunity.

Everyone’s heard of in-flight shopping.


In Jakarta, you can do in-car shopping.

Traffic in the Indonesian capital is so bad that during peak hours, it could take up to 30 minutes just to travel a short 2km journey. And the Jakarta people are wise enough to take advantage of that. Often times, there will be throngs of people standing by the roadside and as soon as the vehicles to stop, these people pounce on them selling all sorts of mumbo jumbo that they’re carrying.


Travelling from North to South Jakarta, I was approached by so many of these roadside peddlers that if I were to buy just ONE item from each of them, I could open up a 7-Eleven store by the time I get off my cab.

Seriously, these people sell all sorts of things.


From books…


To tiny Indonesian flags…


To toy helicopters…


To peanuts…


To porno…

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The Food In Bali

The food in Bali is awesome.

Throughout our one week stay in the Island of Gods, the four of us pretty much stuffed our faces crazy with some of the best authentic Indonesian food we have ever eaten.

The great about thing eating in Bali is that it doesn’t matter whether it’s the lavish RM50 seafood feast by the beach, or the 20 sen pork satays by the roadside in the middle of the mountains, delicious food is everywhere to be found in Bali.
In fact, I might even say there’s no such thing as bad food in Bali.

The hunt for good food didn’t start off quite as smoothly though.
Our first night in Bali, we went to this gorgeous restaurant named Nasi Bali in the middle of Kuta.
Because we’re all in a foreign country, we all wanna try something special and not commonly found back home. Luckily, the restaurant menu was easy enough to read. After all, Bahasa Indonesia shares many similarities to our own Bahasa Malaysia.

My dish

So I ordered this delicious Seafood Nasi Goreng while Chris Tock and Cheesie opted for the sumptuous Balinese Feast.

Chris and Cheesie’s feast

Icy on the other hand, decided to experiment with something a bit more exotic and picked a curiously sounding item from the menu called Cap Cay, eventhough she had no clue what Cap Cay is and what Cap Cay looks like.
Good for her. I always applaud people willing to try new things.
It wasn’t when her meal finally arrived that she came to the sudden realisation that “Cap Cay” was actually not pronounced “CHAP CHAY”.

Cap Cay!

Cap Cay is really just a boring old vegetable dish, more commonly known to us as “ZHAP CHAI”.
So much for trying something new.
Now that we know not to order something from the menu we don’t understand, we wisened up and our lunches and dinners since then were nothing but a real treat.

One of my most memorably meal was in Jimbaran, a small coastal town 30 minutes south of Kuta.
At close to 140K Rupiah (RM50) per head, our dinner at Jimbaran was easily the most expensive throughout our entire Bali trip. That said, I gotta say it was worth every cent of it because it was the best grilled seafood feast I’ve ever had in the longest time.

There’s nothing quite like savouring the freshest catch from the ocean, dining underneath the stars on candle lit tables set up by the beach, hair swept by the sea breeze, toes digging into the sand, listening to the crashing of waves, chit-chatting with friends while enjoying the vocals from the group of roving musicians serenading you with a love songs.
It was incredibly romantic.

So romantic that at one point Icy wept uncontrollably during a song.
I don’t know why she got so emotional cried. But I assumed she was hoping to share that magical moment with some hot half-naked hunk.
Instead what she got was Chris Tock.

The food at Jimbaran Bay are one of a kind. Outside the typical tourist traps, food in Bali are all very reasonably priced.

Warung Indonesia, located in the backlanes of Kuta, for example, serves generous portions of Padang food for around 13K Rupiah (RM5) each.

The dirty bakso pushcart at the Ubud Market also sells fabulous meatball soup for an equally dirt cheap price of 5K Rupiah (RM1.50) per serving. Notice that the meehoon they use here are blue in colour.
Bakso to Indonesians are like Kolo Mee to Kuchingnites.

You can never say you’ve been to Indonesia until you’ve had the experience of squating over some strangers’ doorsteps, eating by the roadside with one hand holding the bowl of bakso and the other hand holding utensils washed so carelessly that you could still taste the previous customer’s saliva in it.
As unhygenic as it may sound, the bakso served is always mouthwatering and pack a punch full of flavour.

Just across the road from the Ubud Market is the most famous Babi Guling Ibu Oka.
Babi means pig, Guling means rolling, and Ibu Oka is presumably the Auntie Oka who runs the shop. Babi Guling is Bali’s famous traditional dish and a must-try for any visitor to the island.

Ibu Oka’s warung is like an institution over here. Locals and tourists have been raving about it since the day we touched down in Bali.
Despite being such a huge crowd favourite, Ibu Oka has maintained a modest price of 25K Rupiah (RM9) for a large bowl of spit roasted pig on a bed of rice, pickled veggies and fried pork skin.

We dined at many beautiful restaurants in Bali, and all of them were fantastic.
But if you ask me which dining experience I remembered most fondly of, I’d say it’s at the crappy roadside stall where we had our very authentic local version of pork satays.

We stopped by this insignificant roadside stall after 2 hours of butt-thumping journey driving through pothole-filled mountain roads of central Bali.
I can’t tell you where this stall is located because I don’t even know. We were so far away from the tourist radar that the place we were in was not even depicted on my GPS map.

All our backache were forgotten as soon as we sat down on the wooden benches, eating freshly barbequed pork satays on a mountain village some 1,000m above sea level. An order of 10 sticks cost us just 5K Rupiah (RM1.60), and we liked it so much that as soon as we finished, we ordered another 10 more.
There’s something about pork that conjures a whole new level of taste when they’re done as satays.

One drink I can never get enough of everytime I travel to Indonesia is this concoction they called Soda Gembira which I discovered during my last trip to Jakarta. Essentially, it’s just syrup and condensed milk mixed with iced soda.
Somehow the mixture worked really well together, and I love it so much that I ordered it on almost every meal.
Soda Gembira, translated to English, means Happy Soda. And everytime I drink Soda Gembira, I become very happy. Soda.

A word of warning though when you dine in Bali.
Indonesian food can be very, very spicy.

We were at a restaurant called Bebek Bengil (Dirty Duck Diner), a lovely restaurant located in the middle of the rice paddy fields in Ubud.

Give their signature crispy duck a pass. Go straight for BBQ pork ribs which are absolutely to-die-for.
On our night at Bebek Bengil, it was their traditional Indonesian Gado-gado that stole the show.

Specifically, it’s the tiny little chilli on the dish that made quite an “explosive” impact on one of our posse.
Something I’m sure Christopher Tock will agree.

Don’t be fooled by his serious face. He actually really liked the chilli.

Just watch his “review” above.

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Kenny Learns How To Surf

It’s a disgrace that I lived 8 years in Australia, and during that time never did I learn from those surf-crazy Aussies how to surf.

I knew when I booked my AirAsia flights to Bali that on the top of my To-Do list is to know how to stand on a surfboard.
After all, every holiday is a chance to try something new. My last holiday in Hanoi, I gobbled down a beating snake heart along with its blood.
This time round, I’m gonna ride the waves.

Call me Kenny Sia, the surfer.
Our first night in Bali, we put up at the delightful Un’s Hotel not far away from Kuta Beach and all the action.
It’s clean, it’s quiet, it’s Balinese and best of all, at just US$18 (RM60) a night per person, it is dirt cheap.

Together with my travel mates Chris, IcyQueenGoddess and Cheesie, the four of us booked our surfing lessons through our cheerful hotel receptionist.
Surfing lessons at Odyssey Surf School cost USD$30 (RM96) per day. They aren’t the cheapest, but they are reputable.

That also was when our silly “surfing” conversation with Cheesie took place.
Kenny: Hey, you guys wanna try surfing?
Chris + IcyQueenGoddess: Ok!
Kenny: Cheesie, you wanna go surfing?
Cheesie: Ya, sure!
Chris: What? You’re gonna do surfing? But I thought you can’t swim!
Cheesie: What? SURFING!? No no no! Don’t want, don’t want! I thought you meant internet surfing!

Next morning, we were picked up from the hotel and whizzed straight to Kuta Beach for our surfing lessons.
Kuta Beach is the most famous but arguably the ugliest tourist beach in Bali.

The beach is not suitable for swimming but is there purely for surfing only.
The reason for that is because Kuta Beach’s waves are strong.

And I do mean…

VERY strong!

Kuta Beach is also extremely crowded with a lot of sunbaking tourists, which could be “a good thing” or “a bad thing” depending on how you look at it.
For instance, this is what we call “a good thing”

This is an example of “a bad thing”

Now back to our surfing lesson.
We were given some very basic instructions on dry land.

When our instructor showed us, it appeared pretty easy alright. The basic moves are really simple to do.
There are only 3 steps to remember, which I shall demonstrate to you in this video as follows.

Of course, those moves are a lot easier to do on land than in water.
After 10 minutes of practising, we were asked to jump into the sea and that’s when the fun began!

I want to learn surfing because surfers are often synonymous with the word ‘cool’.
You watch Cameron Diaz surf in Charlie’s Angels. She’s cool.
You watch Kate Bosworth surf in Blue Crush. She’s cool.

Even the penguins surfing in Surf’s Up are cool.
But for some strange reasons, when I surf…

…I didn’t even come anywhere close to cool!
Maybe I’m too fat to surf.
To my credit, at least I did managed to at least stand on the surfboard.
Watch this.


Hands off.

Standing up.


Wahey, I got it!

Clap for me! Clap for me!


Oh shit.

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Jakarta’s Nightlife

As soon as the sun goes down on Friday night, I hopped on a Lam Jiao taxi to check out Jakarta’s famed nightlife.

Always a fan of the clubs when I’m out travelling, I’ve heard about how Jakarta has the best nightspots in the region. Friends who have partied their nights away in the best of Singapore, KL, Bangkok all returned to say that none of those places beats the nightlife in Jakarta.
I was skeptical, especially since I was under the impression that Indonesia is after all a very religious and conservative country. Oh boy, how wrong was I.
I arrived at my first stop: Blok M.
My eyes nearly popped out when I walked in and saw this.

OMG. This isn’t Indonesia. This is Thailand, man!
I mean, I’ve seen “shows” when I was in Phuket, but even those girls at the supposed “sex-capital of South-East Asia” looks like innocent kindegarten kids compared to what these vixens had to offer.
At least in Thailand, you expected these things to happen. But in INDONESIA?

What kinda pole dance is this?!

What’s even more incredible is that these girls are NOT employed by the bar. Just your average sarong party girls who took a cab to Blok M, putting on these shows to lure rich white men to bring them back to their hotel rooms.

It’s a sad state of affair, really. Everywhere I’ve travelled to in Asia, it’s the same old story. As long as there are old white married men willing to pay, there will be cash-strapped young girls willing to bare.
I guess when you’re all out of money and when push comes to shove, dignity goes out the window.

Another dodgy nightspot I visited was Stadium nightclub.
Stadium was HUGE but very, very dodgy. This place was so dodgy that I spooted lots of dodgy people wearing dodgy sunglasses dodgily as they danced the night away. But it was already so dark inside the club, why were they still wearing sunglasses?!

When I made my way through the dodgy crowd, some dodgy old man tapped me on my shoulder wanting to sell me something dodgy . He spoke to me but I couldn’t understand him because he was speaking Indon, and all I could hear was that prolonged “Rrrrr” sound of his Indonesian accent. “Allo misterrrrr. MISTERRRRRRRRRR!”
Then I turned around and this teenage girl in sunglasses was shaking her head left and right non-stop. I figured she probably meant to tell me not to buy from this guy, so I politely declined the dodgy old man and walked away.
Then when I returned to thank the girl, she was still shaking her head left and right uncontrollably! Why lah, I just want to say thank you, you still shake your head at me!

After that disappointing and dodgy outing on Friday night, the next evening I had better luck when I followed some readers advice and checked out this club called Blowfish.
Blowfish is an upmarket sushi bar by day, but converted into dance club for the rich and idle by night.

I gotta say, I am impressed! This must be the “in” place to go in Jakarta. Blowfish’s Zen-inspired venue was beautifully decorated from top to bottom while the DJ flawlessly spinned out hit after hit.
Not only that, those Indon-Chinese girls in the club were all glammed up damn pretty like that. I swear, I scanned across the room and spotted at least ten Dawn Yang lookalikes in there.

Note: not an actual photo. 😛

I reckon Indon-Chinese girls are really really pretty.
They look different from our average Chinese girls in Malaysia or Singapore that’s for sure. Christien New (who’s half-Indon himself) told me that it’s because most Indonesian-Chinese have a hint of Dutch blood in them. And I have this thing for girls with like 10% of white blood in them.

Sipping my vodka in Blowfish, suddenly I was transformed back to my high-school days in Perth when I was this ugly fat kid having a huge crush on this hot Indon-Chinese girl in school. Despite my many attempts to hook up a conversation with her, I ultimately failed because I could only speak English with her, and her English was half-baked at best.
On our school’s prom night I saw her slow-dancing with another Indon guy, and I was heartbroken.

Suddenly I was jolted back into present day when this cute girl with an angelic face smiled at me from across my table. I don’t know her, but she was probably wondering why I was sitting there alone. So I smiled back.
But then as soon as she opened her mouth and started speaking in that heavy Indonesian accent, I was turned off immediately.
“Misterrrrr seorrrrang peerrrrrrgi clabbing kerrrr, misterrrrrrrrrrrr?”

What a pity.
Face of an angel, mouth of a machine-gun.

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Cultural Learnings of Jakarta for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Malaysia

I didn’t like Jakarta at all when I first touched down at their airport.

Worst. Welcome Sign. Ever.

My flight was delayed; the immigration officer was giving me trouble; and to top it off, I waited nearly 2 hours for a taxi at the airport. There were virtually no taxis operating that day because of a flash flood happening in Jakarta city.
Those opportunistic taxi touts were cheating me by charging double the normal rates. They kept saying “Mai jiet! Mai jiet!” (traffic jam)
The only form of entertainment I got at the airport is the very funny Official Jakarta Shopping Guide brochure.

It is Indonesian Engrish at its best.

Dunno whether to laugh or cry at whoever was paid to write this.
“This place is really spoil our eyes!”

I stayed at the pretty reasonably-priced Ibis Acardia Hotel in the Jalan Jaksa area. Jakarta is a huge old city so choosing a hotel location that is central to everywhere could save me a lotta money.
First thing I did in Jakarta? Walk straight outta my hotel for some yummy Indonesian street food!

This is Nasi Goreng Ayam Spesial (special chicken fried rice) next to plate of Ayam Bakar (chargrilled chicken). I’m not a fan of fried rice, but I must admit, those Indonesian fried rice kicks our Malaysian version’s arse anytime.
Nothing says “Welcome to Indonesia” better than a good dose deliciously unhygenic streetside food. It is so unhygenic, they wash their plates simply by dunking them into a bucket of brownish water repeatedly. Guess that adds to the flavour.
No wonder I fell sick lah.

This is Soda Susu (milk soda). Apart from having a really fun name to pronounce, it is also a damn addictive drink.
Essentially just soda mixed with condensed milk, it’s so simple I wonder why Malaysia hasn’t caught up with it over here. I must have like 10 cups of those in Jakarta alone.
Dining by the streetside of Jakarta is a damn interesting experience. The presence of young buskers who roam around asking money adds colour to the scene. I’m not talking about kids who walk around with a stupid guitar asking for money.

These kids are so organised and passionate, they even had a portable drum set going around with them!

One thing I appreciate about Jakarta is their large shopping malls that could rival KL and Singapore’s best at anytime.

Jakarta is doughnut city.
There are doughnut shops inside shopping malls. Along the streets. Inside train stations. Airports. And virtually behind every little nook and corner of Jakarta.
I don’t think there’s another Asian city so donut-crazy before. Homer Simpson would have been proud to move to Jakarta.

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. I’ve heard that they are so good that people don’t even call them “Krispy Kreme” anymore.
They call them “KRISPY KREMEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Jakarta is the only city in the whole of South-East Asia to have a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts chain. But the only thing KL and Singapore have are crappy Funkin’ Dunkin’ Donuts. Why ah?
I wasted no time and order a half-dozen of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. With anticipation, I took my first bite into an original glazed doughnut and…

My whole life flashed before me and suddenly everything slowed down to a crawl. This is what I’ve been missing in my whole life!
No wonder people raved about them so much. The trip to a Krispy Kreme store is worth the air tickets to Jakarta alone.

Almost equally as good as Krispy Kreme is a local homegrown doughnut chain store J.Co
I thought I was kiasu enough to bring 4 boxes of Krispy Kreme on my flight back home to my loved ones.
Then I saw one couple carrying almost 20 BOXES of J.Co donuts! Even more kiasu!

But having tasted the offerings from both chains, I still prefer the taste of Krispy Kreme’s doughnuts lah.
What I like about J.Co’s doughnuts is that they have a lot more varieties of flavour, such as green tea and the deliciously crunchy chocolate doughnut.

Gotta love their quirky sense of humour too.

Bandung is a small town 3 hours by train from Jakarta and it is a great place to shop.
The main mode of public transport here is the angkot.

It’s basically a Toyota Econovan modified into a minibus. The fare to any destination along the angkot’s route is filthy cheap at a flat 2,000 rupiah (RM0.80) only.

It’s easy to tell the driver when to stop. All you gotta do is shout out “kiri! kiri!”. In English, that means “to the left! to the left!”.
Someone like Beyonce is really gonna have a lot of trouble travelling around in Bandung.

Most people think of shopping holidays, and they immediately think Hong Kong, or Taiwan, or Singapore, or KL. Not many of us ever really thought of Bandung as a great shopping destination.
I’m telling you, you are really missing out. Bandung is the best kept shopping secret of South East Asia.

Jalan Riau in Bandung has one huge row of factory outlet stores selling designer clothing at ridiculously discounted prices. Authentic Burberry jeans at RM35, anyone? How about a sexy Bebe top for the ladies at just RM42?
Another great product to buy here in Bandung are the brownies. I bought some back home for my family and they absolutely love it.

Anybody wanna taste my Brownies Kukus?

The transportation options around the Jakarta is an eye-opener alright. Aside from the usual buses and taxis, you also have the choice of travelling on motorcycles. Helmets optional.
Otherwise, you can ride on one of these lean mean orange machines known as the Ojek Bajaj.

At less than RM2 for a 5-minute journey, it’s a real bargain.

I can’t help it. But those Bajajs actually reminded me a lot of our sexist bocor Jasin MP.
Slow. Loud. And very, very ugly.

Travelling by taxis in Indonesia can be quite risky. At the advice of readers, I was told only to travel in those blue “Blue Bird” taxis in Jakarta.
Terrible name. If this were in Kuching, no chance in hell is a taxi called “Blue Bird” is ever gonna last long.
I mean seriously, not a lot of Kuching folks would feel comfortable sitting in some Lam Jiao taxi right!?

“Blue Bird” may be a horrible name for a taxi, but they are the only one with a good safety record around here.
They are so good that some of their competitors had even painted their vehicles blue to confuse people.
Yea, nowadays you can even get pirated Lam Jiao taxis.

I really enjoyed scuba diving at North Jakarta’s Thousand Islands.
The place. Not the salad sauce.
The water is so clear here you could see millions of fish swimming right by the dock.

Saw some weird-looking corals too.

A lot of people in Jakarta live in extreme poverty. Some of these people are so poor they don’t even have a shelter over their head.

To them, their bed is the cold hard floor. Even more amazing is that people around them thinks sleeping in public places is a seemingly normal thing to do.

Unlike in Malaysia, homeless people aren’t just sleeping around in train stations or park benches. They fall asleep just about everywhere in the big city. And there are so many of them.

2,500 Rupiah or RM1, for a 1-hour train journey. Cheap.

I had a taste of poverty when I took an economy train from a town called Bogor back to Jakarta. I realised that in Jakarta, their definition of “Economy” is no where close to Malaysia Airline’s definition of “Economy”.

The economy train I took was so bad and run-down that it didn’t even have a functioning air-conditioner. Every few minutes salesmen shuffles their way through the crowded train, selling everything from fruits and drinks to toys and lightbulbs.

The most amazing thing was that the train doors were left open deliberately, while the train was running at full speed.
Some may say doing so is a safety hazard. Some may say this is a complete disregard of human life, but people here actually appreciate it. They like it ‘cos they can enjoy free “natural air-conditioning” by hanging off the train’s sidebars.

It was truly a sight to behold. During rush hours, you could even see young men sitting on the rooftop. Like it’s a perfectly normal place to sit during a train ride.

KL’s train may be slow and inefficient, but having gotten used to air-conditioned transports in Malaysia and Singapore, I was really quite amazed that there are trains in such a bad condition in Indonesia.
One train I saw was so old, it still had the words “Osaka to Fukuoka” printed on the side.

Chess is a favourite pass time among the street vendors in Jakarta.
You could challenge them for a game, but it’ll cost you 1,000 Rupiah (RM0.38)

Jakarta is a city with many statues and monuments. Like every great leader, Indonesia’s first President Sukarno enjoys building a lot of those bloody things to commemorate his legacy.
The most famous of all is its national landmark – Monas.

This 137m tall structure was commissioned by President Sukarno when he was at the height of his power, but too bad the fella was overthrown before he could finished it. As a result, the Monas was also affectionately known as Sukarno’s Last Erection.
Why do great country leaders always build huge, phallic symbols during their reign? To show off their manhood?
Of course, Sukarno wasn’t the only country leader who erected a big giant penis-like structure for his people. Not wanting to be outdone by our neighbour, Malaysia too, had a great leader who erected something even bigger.

Gotta wonder the hidden meaning behind that structure eh? 😉

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Stupid Escalators

Spotted this outside Senayan City Mall – one of the many upmarket shopping centres in Jakarta catered towards the rich tai tais.
Is this even necessary?

C’mon guys, it’s just five steps. FIVE!
Not like we’re asking you to climb Mount Kinabalu, ok?

Apparently in Indonesia, escalators need to wear high heels too.

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