Okay, so I took this trip a few months ago, and I am just now getting around to writing about it. Though it was super fun, we packed so much into the schedule, that by time the trip was over I was too exhausted to think about writing about it. Also, there were a couple extra factors that contributed to my apprehension to write. But...it's a new year and I'm in a good mood now, so...
First thing's first, I found a flight deal to Kuala Lumpur from NYC that was about $650. Though I usually get deals for a lot cheaper, there's about one trip per year where I pay a little more to go to a place I really want to visit. Earlier in 2016, I went to South Africa for about the same amount, and the year before, I hit up Egypt. So, I booked the trip and then posted about it on Facebook at like 1AM. My friend, Faith responded and said she wanted to go, so she sent her info over to me and I booked her ticket as well. I texted a few other friends the next day, and BAM...issa trip! I was nervous, because I'm not one who loves group trips, but eh...I was just looking forward to having fun.
So, I started working on an itinerary, and then ran it by my group to see what they thought. For the most part, no one had any objections, and everyone trusted my judgement.
So, let's get to the trip...
Leaving from New York with me, was Justin and Faith. Shev and Erin were coming in to Kuala Lumpur a day or so later. We landed pretty late (like 11 PM), so after we checked into our Airbnb, we had to figure out what we wanted to eat. We were too hungry to google places, so we just went downstairs and asked the concierge. We ended up going to the Arabic spot called Restaurant Layalina for some kabobs and shisha. Mind you, I don't smoke hookah/shisha because I know how bad it is for your body...but when I'm abroad, ehh...I don't think too much about it. We chose the grape/mint as our flavor of choice. Also, the only reason we had so much energy was because we were still on US time...
The next morning, Justin, Faith and I woke up and headed straight to the rooftop for the infamous infinity pool. The view up there is awesome, and honestly, I suggest visiting it during the day and in the evening (we'll get to that later). There are certain landmarks in the world that I am infatuated with. The Patronas Towers are one of those landmarks. Obsessed! The night before, when we arrived in KL, it was after midnight so the lights were turned off. So, when we stepped foot onto the rooftop, that was the first time I got a glimpse of them in all of their glory.
After Shev arrived later that afternoon, we all headed out into the city to grab some lunch. ProTip: Uber is available in KL...use it. It makes navigating to your desired locations that much easier. We went to Sri Nirwana Maju for lunch, which came highly recommended by one of my friends. This was our first time having our meals on banana leaves, and it certainly wasn't our last. It should be noted that in Malaysia, they season their food so well, that it's very easy to have meals that don't even have meat in them, and you don't even miss it. Also, be prepared to eat a LOT (they keep coming back to the table to refill your leaf) and pay very little. Food was so good, and CHEAP!
After lunch, we went right next door for drinks. We ordered a big ass bottle of sake (full disclosure: there was a language barrier and we didn't know how big the bottle was going to be), and by time we were finished with it, we were all a bit lit...yet still jet-lagged, so we headed back to our pad for naps...translation: We were in for the night, LOL.
When we got back to the Airbnb, we all took naps and waited for the sun to set. Once it was dark, Justin, Shev and I headed back up to the rooftop to chill at the pool and get a couple snaps of the beautiful skyline at night. We let Faith continue her nap because...well, a well-rested Faith is a happy Faith!
The rooftop pool closes at about 10PM, so if you're going, make sure you give yourself enough time to relax, get all the pictures you want, and just take in the scenery. Hopefully your experience won't be ruined by too many ambitious tourists. The good thing is that only people who are staying at the Face Studios can get access to the roof!
The next day, we took our first excursion to the Batu Caves. Such an awesome experience! When you go, wear comfortable clothes! You will be climbing a lot of stairs. It's nothing that will kill you, but certainly not something you want to do in good shoes or tight jeans. This is where we got our first experiences with the monkeys in person. They're everywhere, but they don't bother you. It was pouring raining when we arrived, so we just found shelter at one of the nearby restaurants and had lunch and sipped some coffee (the coffee was less than $0.50) until the rain let up.
That evening, we all got dressed up and headed out in the city for drinks and fun. We had 7:00 reservations at Marini's on 57. This fancy bar is the highest restaurant/bar in the city, with craft cocktails and an awesome view of the towers. We just had a few drinks and an appetizer before leaving and heading to get our money shots in front of the Patronas Towers. Note: There will be people out there trying to sell you a fish bowl lens for your phone so that you can get a picture of the towers in all their glory...it's worth it! Spend the $7 or $8.
I told y'all I was obsessed with the towers, right?
We hit up a Chinese restaurant later that night, and then headed back to the pad to wait for Erin to finally arrive. Yeah, she was late as hell. It's a long story...
First thing in the morning, we headed to the airport and hopped on our flight to the main event...Bali! Once we landed in Bali, our driver met us and took us to our villa. We were all still very tired from being jet-lagged and getting little rest the night before waking up for our flights. So, we decided to chill out. Our spot was super dope. We all had our own private villas and rooms, and the pool was just for us.
We were planning to leave the villas and get some massages that evening, but we were all so tired. The groundskeepers heard us discussing this, and suggested that we just order massages through them, and the staff would hire massage therapists to come to us. Awesome idea! We all ordered our massages, and only spent about $25-30 each for two hour sessions. Mind you, half us us fell asleep during our massages, so we don't quite remember them. But...$25???? Win! We had the staff hire a driver to take us to downtown Ubud for dinner later that night, and then it was a wrap.
The next morning, our driver picked us up and we started our day of fun!
Our first stop was to the Bali Batuan Temple. Everyone (men and women) need to wear a wrap. They have them there for you to rent if you don't have your own.
Then we headed to the water sports spot. We all opted to do the ocean floor walking excursion. We didn't take our phones out there, so here's a photo I snagged from google...
After that, our driver took us to a beautiful beach, and we chilled out there for a few hours, soaked up some sun.
Next, we headed to this dope place called Rock Bar (literally a fancy bar carved into the side of a mountain) to watch the sun set and enjoy some drinks. If for nothing else, the view was totally worth it. Also, we would have never thought about this place had it not been for our driver. He knows everything!
Though we were all super exhausted from the full day of activities, our driver took us to one last destination...dinner. This was a special dinner, though. We went to a restaurant on the beach, where you hand-pick your fish to be cooked for you. It was pretty awesome to be listening to the waves crash on the beach while eating the freshest fish I've ever had. However, I think we were all too exhausted to fully enjoy it. We ate our food and immediately called our driver to come pick us up. We were already dreading the fact that we were only going to get a couple hours of sleep before we had to be picked up again for the huge excursion the next day.
Okay, so here goes. The event that I was really excited about...until I actually did it. Our driver picked us up at 2:30 AM (right...torture) to take us to Mt. Batur, where we were going to do our "sunrise trek." In order to make it to the top by sunrise, we had to start walking up the volcano by 4AM. This was not a trek at all, however! It was a damn mountain climb! I felt so bamboozled! We were all given flashlights, and the large groups of people started walking up. At first, it was just a trail...and since it was still dark outside, we couldn't quite see the journey that was ahead of us. Though it was a little challenging, I was still pretty excited about what was to come. Then...breh! The incline started getting steeper and steeper! I was like, "Now, wait a got damn minute! This is legit climbing. This aint no damn trek! Da hell do these people define as a trek??" I started to slow down, and I insisted my group go on ahead and I'd catch up. I wanted to tackle this feat on my own terms and in my own time. It was so hard, though. The damn Trip Advisor reviews do NOT let you know just how much work it is to get to the top! There were many times when I would just find a small boulder to sit on and contemplate whether I wanted to finish or not. By time I wanted to quit, I was too far along to change my mind and walk back down. My friends would text me in the group chat (shout out to T-Mobile for having service all the way up in a Balinese volcano...) to see if I was okay and to encourage me, and I responded with, "Man, F&%$ THIS!" That's how upset I was. Justin came back and found me, and finished the climb with me. Note: Justin was wearing jeans and chucks...I guess he wasn't expecting this to be a full-on mountain climb, either. We made it to the top just in time to see the sun rising over the clouds, and we got a couple great shots before the clouds covered us.
When I got to the top, I was offered a boiled egg and a banana sandwich...I guess to replenish everything we burned while climbing. I politely declined, because I was too tired, and because yuck! In reality, I wanted to take the food and chuck it over the damn cliff! Five minutes after I got to the top, a huge group of monkeys arrived and raided everyone's food! Literally, they ran up on us, and stole everyone's sandwiches, eggs, and whatever else was left out, and then left! That is what lifted my mood! It was hilarious to see everyone screaming and laughing, because it was obvious that the monkeys planed this, and they know that every morning at sunrise, humans show up at the top of the mountain with food!
Also...it takes approximately two hours to climb to the top of Mt. Batur, and another two to climb down. So, there's that...
Glad I accomplished it...but never again.
So what do you do after you've been beaten, bruised and scraped all up and down a volcano in the middle of Bali? You mend your body by spending the rest of the day at the Toya Devasya Hot Springs! Listen here...all the pisstivity I had in my body was shocked into happiness when I turned the corner and saw this beautiful place, after check-in! All of our pain was soothed away as soon as we stepped foot in the hot water! Let the photos and video below speak for themselves. ProTip: You have the option of buying the breakfast buffet or a la carte lunch while at the springs...go for the breakfast!
We originally planned to hit the Sacred Monkey Forrest afterward, but I could tell the girls were over it and ready to go back to the villas, so we skipped it. I regret that I didn't just choose to go on my own. That was one of the things I was looking forward to doing most. I'll visit it once I go back.
We dedicated our final day in Bali to relaxing. Spa day! We scheduled a 4-hour full body massage at Bali Green Spa. After that, we headed over to Potato Head Beach Club at the suggestion of our driver, and had our final dinner in Bali while waiting to see the sun set. Mind you, I was not feeling well at all on this day. Apparently, I was suffering from something called "Bali Belly" and I didn't know it. I didn't want to ruin anyone else's time, though, so I didn't make a big deal of it. I was just anxious to get back to my bed and rest for an extended amount of time.
After that, we stopped by a place to taste a bunch of coffees and teas, purchased the ones we liked, and headed back to the villas.
The next day, we caught our flight back to Kuala Lumpur, spent the night there and then started our journey home. All-in-all, it was an awesome trip. I'll share a few more ProTips below.
- Though you can pay a lot of things with your credit cards, it really is way more convenient to pay things with cash. Visit the ATMs after you land in Malaysia and Indonesia. And please...stop trying to use American dollars abroad. Not everyone accepts our money.
- Even though it's pretty obvious that you should avoid drinking the water in Bali, you should also brush your teeth using bottled water. I believe that is where I went wrong. I got so sick on my last day and a half in Bali, and my flight home was pretty rough. "Bali Belly" is a real thing!
- The driver that I have listed on my itinerary, Loys...he's awesome! Also, trust his judgement! He knows all the great spots to take you too!
- In Kuala Lumpur, you can rely on Uber. In Bali, hire a driver. It makes things much easier.