Friday, November 21, 2014

Bali, Seminyak - Land of Taxi touts and a mini vegetarian paradise for me.

It's day 2 of my first 3 lone days in Bali before the hub joins me over the weekend. Great so far, the meals have been fantastic, coffee aromatic and people generally warm and kind, except the tout drivers who are kind of a nuisance and give a really not-so-great first impression to tourist who just land at the airport.

It was still a relatively smooth and quick journey from the airport to the hotel, Bali Ginger Suites, in Seminyak. Bali Ginger is located in a small road very near to the main street of Jl. Raya Seminyak where the line of shops/eateries seem never-ending. It's not easy to find initially but the taxi driver got out to ask neighbouring shops (first show of kindness in many to come!) and waited for me while I verified with the teeny arrival area of the hotel.

Cannot say enough of the good service in Bali Ginger and their helpfulness. Checking in was easy and the lady helped answered many of my questions; one of the staff drove me out on their motorbikes and accompanied me to a shop to purchase a sim card, ensuring that I got the right one. The honest kind-hearted man even refused my tip to him! My room was the standard room on the 2nd level which is a basic but big room; has a huge and comfortable bed, a balcony and a big tank of Aqua water. The rooms on the first level opens up right to the small pool which is really cosy. Nice for a few days where you will probably spend most of the days out.

Started my first meal at Warung Ocha, just 5 min away from the hotel, where you can also get the Sim card at a shop on the same row, but behind the warung. (Refer to below for more notes.) It was a Mediterranean salad with pesto sauce and a Orange/Apple/Carrot/Ginger Juice. It was a good start but after trying out a few more places, I would now consider Ocha a mediocre place, but has a wide variety of both Western and Indonesian meals.

Found myself at Jl. Raya Seminyak and thinking that I've plenty of time before the 5.30pm yoga class on the same road, I roamed around a fair bit. Left side after leaving Ocha leads to the Bintang Supermarket and right side leads to Made Warung, a very famous warung in the vicinity. Seminyak Yoga Shala was where I was headed and oh man, it was the start of my 45min walk whereby it was only probably 15 min from Ocha. I guess most people already knew that my sense of direction is quite bad! On the positive side of things, I now recognise and know most of the small roads that breaks away from this road and can identify where a lot of the trip advisor recommended restaurants are. Anyhow, I will compile on another post the yoga places and their directions, as well as my experiences. 

Dinner was at this vegetarian restaurant that's very near Bali Ginger, called Zula Vegetarian. Its the first time I had a vegan burger and I was blown away. 2 days later now, I'm still thinking about that burger. It's the chickpea burger, with the oven-baked chickpea patty on a really soft whole-meal bun, and filled with a huge serve of crunchy raw veggies, avocado and a sweet yummy tomato relish. The best thing about this burger - the smashed tofu dressing. I thought it was cashew butter initially but I read the menu again and indeed tofu it was. I've never had tofu that has that smooth creaminess, made more addictive with the incorporation of fresh herbs. Wish I know how to make that!

It's a cafe owned by the same owner of Earth Cafe, and besides boasting a big variety of vegetarian / organic / gluten-free items, they sell a lot of packaged items too, like honeys/nuts/flour/chocolate etc. Got myself a bottle of organic tahini (RP 70K) and organic peanut butter (RP 30K) to go. Oh, and a raw oatmeal, cashew and date cookie - not bad but not something I would repeat. Did also pass by Earth cafe on the 2nd day and got their Raw Pumpkin Pie to go; not sure if it was due to the immense heat but it melted really fast and at room temperature, it was like a simple pumpkin puree on a dates/nuts/coconut oil crust. Guess my memory of superb vegan cakes in Austria didn't help the impression one bit. On a side note, special mention to the excellent service and warmth of the staff. When I asked for directions, one of the staff offered to take me on his motorbike to where I want to go. So sweet, reminded me of all the nice and helpful people I met in Taiwan too!

I am rather surprised by the number of vegan/vegetarian places in Seminyak. Besides Zulu, Earth Cafe, there's also a Divine Earth (which I later read to be a collaboration with the owner of Zulu). Had their smoothie for a breakfast meal and it was really good. Was a blend of banana, dates, strawberries, maca, chia and tahini. Not as good as those in Chiangmai but much better than what I do on my own at home. Enjoyed it fully! 

More in the next post!


Prepaid Internet:
Total cost was 174K - Sim card cost 50K, Internet 120K for 30 days, 7mbps, 3.5G and 4K for some phone call credit. Cheaper than the deal at the airport which was offering a $200K as a minimum package. Wifi is available at most places too so always ask for the passwords.

Getting out from the airport:
Go to the taxi counter on the front left when you exit the immigration, a very small area right in front of a small take-away coffee place. Easily missed so look out for it. Get a receipt, follow the assigned driver and pay upon arrival, took me 135K RP to Seminyak, Drupadi area.

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