Travelling Solo to Ubud, Bali – Day 1 : Ibu Oka, Jangrik Homestay and Eve Spa

A few hours after countdown at Marina Bay, I went back home to do some last minute packing before I headed out again to Changi Airport. This time, I didn’t go jet setting with my family or friends. This time, I travelled alone to Bali, Indonesia.  

Not Exactly the First Solo Trip…

Well, it wasn’t my first time travelling on a plane alone but this is my first time travelling solo and exploring a place where I knew no one there. It certainly was a great way to spend the first day of 2013 in one of the most beautiful places on earth with an adventurous and crazy journey ahead of me. This marks my new beginning for the new year.

“Are you travelling alone?” The lady, probably in her late twenties, asked me. I was at immigration Check counter at Ngurah Rai Airport, waiting for my passport to be stamped.

I’ve been reading travel blogs lately and I’ve read so much about the freedom and adventure you get to enjoy while travelling solo. In addition to that, I was a big fan of the movie and book, “Eat, Pray, Love” which was written by Elizabeth Gilbert who visited Italy, India and Bali in Indonesia to embark on soul-searching and soul-discovering journey.

“You must be so brave to travel alone.” She further added.

“Please come back in one piece and have a pleasant trip in Bali!” She said with a smile. And I laughed, sheepishly.

I Found A Friend!

I could only say that it was nice to be engaging in a conversation with another fellow Singaporean at the start of this trip. Especially when I was feeling rather anxious about setting foot on my own and the fact that I realised I’ve forgotten to bring my memory card for the camera had got me feeling rather down, in the doldrums.

Imagine this: I’ve brought my bulky DSLR along during this trip in hope to take beautiful pictures of Bali and then at Changi Airport, I’ve come to the realisation that I’ve got no memory card to store the photos! Fortunately, my camera function in my phone works as well as any digital camera though I wish I had to use my DSLR to photograph that places I’ve visited during my Bali trip instead. Oh well, I just got to make do with what I already have.

Before this trip…

In preparation for this trip, I’ve made arrangements for transport from the airport to the guesthouse in Ubud which I would be staying for 3 nights. I managed to calm my nerves down and then prepare my heart to embrace this popular tourist destination, Bali, which was also listed as one of the top 10 places to visit on Tripadvisor. There must be something magical about this place which entices travellers to visit this place countless times.

My Balinese Driver

At the arrival hall, I spotted this man, dressed in T-shirts and Bermudas, with a sheet of paper that has my name written on it. Selamat Tahun Bahru and welcome to Bali.

First Stop: Ibu Oka

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It was about one and half hours ride from the airport at Denpasar to Ubud and during the long car ride, I had a friendly conversation with the driver who shared with me about his life and some cultural aspects of the Balinese. Since it was close to lunch time, he offered to drive me to Ibu Oka in Ubud for lunch before going to the guesthouse.

Ibu Oka was one of the places which I’ve included in my travel itinerary. This eatery, which serves the famous Babi Guling or suckling pork in Bali, was one of the must-go places for any tourist who is visiting Ubud, Bali. Others raved about their tender suckling pork while others simply said it was mediocre. Whether it’s delicious or not, I’ve at least go to try this Bali signature dish which is also the local’s favourite!

Second Stop: Ubud Palace

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Ubud Palace Ibu Oka is found a street across the Ubud Palace. Since it was rather crowded at Ibu Oka, I requested for a takeaway. I’ve ordered two packets of Babi Guling for myself and the driver. It costs me about 60,000 Rupiah, which was about SGD 8.  

The driver, Made, instantly become my tour guide for the afternoon as he brought me to the palace to take pictures and gave a brief explanation of the compound. He’s a really dedicated driver who is genuinely nice.

Made, is one of the many taxi drivers, working in Ubud, ferrying tourists within and outside of Ubud. He could speak Japanese very well as he has studied Japanese in school before and he picks up the English language from tourists. Currently, he is working under a company owned by Japanese batik artist.

My Homestay Experience At Jangkrik Home Stay

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I did extensive research on the various guesthouses in Ubud prior to this trip and I’m so glad that I’ve found a perfect guesthouse which is very affordable, clean and conveniently located near the various attractions in Bali.  

Since I will be out exploring Ubud most of the time, all I needed was a place where I could feel at home, rest and sleep comfortably in. And as a social media junkie and a blogger, I couldn’t live without the internet. I was worried that the Wifi connection here might be slow but I was amazed by how fast the Wifi connection works there. It works as fast as it is here in Singapore.  

For 150,000 RP a night, I got a double room with a queen size bed and free homemade breakfast. Kadek, the wife of the owner of the guesthouse prepares breakfasts for the guests.

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My Room

I’ve stayed here in Jangkrik for three nights, from 1 to 4 January 2013.

I was told that Jangkrik in Bahasa Indonesia meant cricket. But not to worry, it isn’t a house full of crickets. I don’t even think I ever saw one here.

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It’s clean and tidy.

What’s in the room?

Double bed, bedside cabinet, wardrobe, ceiling fan, toilet with shower, towels and a bamboo rack. Life’s simple and peaceful here. It felt like you’re living in a Balinese home.   

The typical Balinese home compound is rather big and Jangrik guesthouse is located right deep inside the compound. When you first step into the compound, you will be greeted by other Balinese families who were living in the same compound and as you walk further in, that’s where you will find the guesthouse which is guarding by this dog which barks at strangers.

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According to the staff at Jangkrik, it wouldn’t bite but it just barks. It’s one fierce doggie that sometimes I got a little scared but at least, I know that it’s safe to live here. With that doggie, I’m certain there will be no intruders or thieves trying to come in.

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The view from my balcony

Right outside my room, there’s a coffee table with chairs, a rubbish bin and clothes rack for you to hang your laundry.

At around 7 am, they will place a thermos flask with hot water and a teacup on the coffee table outside my room. I love their breakfast and Kakek serves a different breakfast set every morning.

Read my next post for pictures of the breakfast meals served there!

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I love the intricate wood carving designs on the door.

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Stepping on the cold marble floorings made me really felt at home.

Well, I’m not going to lie that there are bugs here especially mosquitoes. I had a few mosquito bites on the first day so I had to apply some mosquito repellent before I go to bed.

The temperature drops in the evening and it was very cooling even with the windows closed. The room is generally well-ventilated.

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My Ibu Oka Lunch

It’s lovely sitting outside at the balcony while having my packed lunch.

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The portion was huge! I could only finish eating half a packet. I’m not a meat lover but I like the spices and sauce which was served with the pork meat and rice. There’s also a slice of pork blood sausage which I didn’t really like the taste of it. I wouldn’t say it was delicious but I essentially had an authentic taste of Balinese food. The experience of eating some new and different is what matters to me as a traveller and foodie, not much of how tasty or delicious it is.  

Eve Spa Bali

After lunch and an afternoon nap, the driver from the spa picked me up from the guesthouse to drove me over to Eve Spa. I’ve made a booking online which includes two-way free transport from the guesthouse to Eve Spa Bali.    

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I had the 2 hour body scrub and flower bath spa treatment which costs Rp. 180,000.  

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First, I had a one-hour Balinese massage, then a green tea body scrub which smells really good! The scrub used here is nothing like the usual body scrub sold in the market. It’s like body clay mask combines with salt scrub.

The masseuse will apply a layer of the body scrub mask and you will need to leave the mask on the skin for about 10 minutes before the masseuse will rub in the salt to scrub away the dead skin cells.

Then this is followed by a shower to rinse the body and after which the masseuse will apply yoghurt on your body.

Finally, you will get to enjoy a flower bath where you get to enjoy a cup of ginger tea and a plate of tropical fruits as you soak in the tub for about 15 to 20 minutes.  

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Red, pink and purple flower petals with a couple of frangipanis.  

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I wish I could soak in longer! But 2 hours is up and I had to leave as the driver comes to pick me up.

On my way back to Jangrik Homestay, I noticed these tiny leaf-constructed boxes placed along the corridors of the Balinese houses.

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Balinese offerings – Canang Sari  

Apparently, these little baskets of flowers or ‘Canang Sari’ are offerings to the Hindu God. The Balinese often placed them at sidewalks or entrances.

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The picture above shows the steps leading to the second floor of the guesthouse.  

I was the only guests staying at Jangrik then so I had the liberty to choose which rooms I want to stay.  

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If you’re a quiet sleeper, you will find these roosters irritating. It is a common sight in most Balinese homes as the Balinese rear chickens for eggs.

At around 5 am, when the sky starts to brighten, they will go crowing non-stop. It didn’t really bother me as it surprisingly didn’t sound irritating or noisy to my ears. In fact, I find it quite soothing to hear them crows along with the sweet chirpings from the birds, which signal the start of a brand new day.

In the Vicinity…

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This hypermart is about 10 minutes walk from Jangkrik homestay, which is also very close to Bengil Bebek restaurant which sells the famous roasted duck.  

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There’s a rice paddy adjacent to the supermarket. Ubud is an art and cultural centre in Bali and in addition to that, it is also a place where you get to see terraced rice fields. It just gives you this rural but peaceful feel.  

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Have you tried Bali’s Luwak coffee?   You could get almost everything from this supermarket- from their local product, fresh vegetables, bath amenities to clothes and shoes.   

After doing some grocery shopping, I headed back to the guest house to rest for the night.  

Read about the second day of my trip in the next post 🙂  

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