Thursday, January 8, 2015

My Paper Wedding Anniversary - Bali

Do you know? The first wedding anniversary is commonly known as the "Paper Wedding Anniversary" in the US? I didn't know until I'm in the wedding business and one of my ex partner told me about it, we learn something everyday! So from paper to diamond (60th), it shows how the loves between two lovely souls strengthen over time, and gets tougher as the marriage age gracefully like fine wine. I gonna do something worth remembering along this journey, or at least try:)

It got kinda busy doing the wedding stuffs that this space went into hiatus. And whatever happened to my Bangkok, Vietnam and Sipadan posts *insert the laughing while crying face* lol! I need to write them down one day so I can remember all the awesome details and places in time to come. So what did I do for my paper wedding anniversary? Well, we went to Bali to CLIMB A VOLCANO and caught sunrise on the dawn of our wedding anniversary! Sounds totally #YOLO but we were crying in our hearts while we were descending from the mountain. More to it below!

Do let me quickly jot down the accommodation, mountain trekking and restaurant hopping experience below.

Accommodation - Berry Amour Villas

My dear friend found this villa some time ago and highly recommended them for couples. So we did no further research on other villas and plunge right in to Berry Amour. To our pleasure, they deliver absolutely no disappointment to our visit at all! From service to F&B to hospitality, our senses were well taken care of. 

They possess 3 different themed villas namely Desire, Temptation and Mystique. Maximum staying capacity per villa is capped at 2. Totally set for honeymooners! 

So right before our arrival, they tried fishing the purpose of stay which we didn't really reveal, I was kinda surprise and perplex at the same time as this is the ever first time that I got posted such question. After which, I didn't think much about it anymore.  

Upon arrival, I was given a nice flora head wreath that was only given to female guests, how sweet! Similar to other hotels, a welcome drink was served with a small bite, but what made our eyes widened was the freshly squeezed juices that taste really natural and heavenly! We could even chew on the strawberry flesh while we sip away, unlike the lemongrass drinks we used to have at other places. Thumbs up!

Look quite tired as previous night we had worked till wee hours for a wedding

The staff was picking something from the cabana, the holding area is pretty isn't it
So we finished our drinks and proceeded to our villa, led by one of the staff. The villa was reaaaalllllyy beautiful and most importantly, cosy! I'm glad to have chosen "Desire" as the light coloured furnishings did not attract any insects (smth we read from reviewers on their experience). A short video on how the place look like:
*Video taken after my climbing trip, pardon us the messy shoes at the door*

I was totally thrilled when the door swung open! Blame it on Singapore's small flat, but that makes holiday a whole lot better heh! The pool was what greeted us first, with the splashing sound made from the mini waterfall at the brick. We were then shown to our room, not much a big surprise to see the usual swan towels with red petals forming a heart, but it totally WOWed us when we saw our WEDDING PHOTO by the bed!! I must admit, we went dumbfounded but just kept WOWing away hahaha 

So we were led to the left side of our room, where the TV and a huge sofa/bed (similar to that of the olden day emperor would rest and play chess on) were. We just recovered from the surprise photo when the next wave of surprise came again! Quite a handful of our photos were looped in the TV slides and that really caught us by surprise! It was very pleasant knowing that the staff put in efforts to stalk our Facebook public profiles and grab what little pictures they could find. Some may say that it's creepy, but we thought it's still within our comfort level. Well, it's a public profile anyway, not much personal details were revealed;) 

Let the pictures speak hereon:

Can you see the heart we formed with our feet, on the deck, heh!

Breakfast order will be taken a day before, with a widespread of choices ranging from variety of bread, cereals, juices, coffee/tea, mains and fruits, or ALL OF THE ABOVE! Afternoon high tea was included as well, with different snacks being served everyday (though some were repeated). You may choose to dine in the kitchen, in that emperor sofa/bed or the pool cabana. We usually have our breakfast in the kitchen as per the photo, to enjoy a sunny morning lovely brekkie, and afternoon tea in the room. Days in villa = Swim, eat, suntan, swim, rest, repeat!

Not to mention, the service staff were really polite and hospitable. What impressed us further was their spontaneous communication with one another, to make sure everyone knew that the villa guests were out for dinner, went trekking or back from dinner etc. Everyone was able to start some small talk with us, asked us how did the trekking go and all. It was really cosy staying with the villa people. 

If you would ask me, I would recommend Berry Amour to you without a doubt too. I think muscleman and I will be back! :)

Paper Anniversary Activity - Mount Agung Summit Climb
Mountain guide: Wayan Dartha, mobile: +6285237008513,

To be honest, we didn't really set such high aim to conquer Bali's highest mountain, which inevitably make it the hardest mountain among 2 other mountains - Mt Batur and Mt Rinjani. What we wanted was really just to catch a sunrise on our wedding anniversary. I've yet attempted the other 2, but hopefully there would be friendlier heh! 

According to the mountain guide and Wikipedia, Mount Agung last erupted in 1963 and is still active. There is a large crater that is 600m deep (approx.) and it occasionally belches smoke and ash. From a distance, the mountain appears to be perfectly conical. 

From the peak of the mountain, we could see the peak of Mount Rinjani on the island of Lombok,  as well as Mt Batur on the other end, although both mountains are frequently covered in clouds. We were lucky enough to catch both during our ascent.

We always thought that being able to conquer Mt KK, twice, meant that nothing is more difficult than that. We were quite wrong and we'll tell you why in a bit. 

Tripadvisor is really an informative ground where we found out that reaching local mountain guides can save us a heap from going through the agents, who will also get the same local guides. If you are reading the tripadvisor threads, you'll find that Wayan is highly recommended. You're right, but you gotta check which Wayan you wanna engage yo! We chose Wayan Dartha as our guide, and he is really friendly throughout. You can definitely sense his passion about the mountain, where he'll tell you all the facts and information you wish to know about it. He also told us that "Wayan" is a common name that Balinese eldest sibling adopt and hence, there are a lot of Wayans on street. We paid 850,000IDR + 650,000IDR for 2 pax, including 2-way transport from Seminyak-mountain-Seminyak, guide service and breakfast on mountain. I chanced upon some website that charges more than 100USD/pax for almost the same thing. Really did save a heap lol!

Before departing from our beautiful villa, the excited couple demand a wefie at our spacious toilet! 

It was a 2hour ride from Seminyak to Agung, and we started climbing at 12am. There were 3 routes to choose from, 1 that will reach crater rim at 2,827m, the other one being the longest route to the summit of 3,142m but quite popular, and the last one that reach the summit at 3,142m but with a route that the local guide discovered quite a while ago (or probably long time ago as many should have used it by now). Of course, we chose the last option since it reach the summit and not being the longest route. 

We started off from a temple for a simple ceremony to bless all of us during the climb, and set off to the sandy climb that lasted to 2.5km mark. The climb was a breeze and we could always peek at the Bali town lights under our feet, it was really beautiful and serene. We couldn't take photos due to bad lighting (tried and failed), but the slopes were still manageable, not as relentless as Mount KK. 

The real challenge comes when we moved on from 2.5km. The rocky surface created by the cooled off lava were steep and uneven. We didn't ascend in one straight path (i.e. turning to the left at some point, going down a bit then up again etc) and steep was an understatement. Description on how we turn our head and only see a short distance of rocks before the rest of the rock disappearing beneath shows how steep the climb was. I was a scaredey cat at this point and slowed down by 200%. Muscleman and I were super frightened by the thought of slip and fall to the unknown, or losing either of us because of our self-proclaim meaningful celebration. That instance, I really wanna give up but yet didn't wanna be the spoiler of the intended celebration. We bit our lips and moved on, slowly but steadily. Poor Wayan, had to stop many times just to help me cross hurdles over hurdles. 

The real deal comes when we were ALMOST at the summit and the sun came out, Wayan was so excited that he held my hand, and got me to RUN all the way up that vertical slope! I'm still quite perplex on how i did it, but I just did it by running almost vertically. JJ was steadier, and joined us quite soon! It was yet another rewarding view, with us risking our lives to it. Seriously, happy first anniversary my muscleman =)

From the video, what you see behind us diagonally where the higher rocks were, showed the type of steepness that I have been talking about. Running up such steep slope? I think it was a miracle! Thanks to Dartha making it possible :) 
Wayan Dartha, and his barangs so as to prepare breakfast for us. There was a stove, a pan, hot water, snacks and food his wife prepared! He is da man, carrying such many things up for the guests! Actually, even if it's just a sandwich, we would be happy too, at least he need not carry so many things. Nevertheless, thanks!

Our "I think this is crazy" face, I was too chui to take full face so just smile it off 
The sunrise (bad framings everywhere, it was VERY cold and we were extremely tired. Taking perfect picture was a numb instinct so bear with it k! At least the sunrise is pretty on its own;D )

Catch Mount Rinjani on top right behind the clouds! (Above the white dot against the black mountain, there is a faint mountain peak shadow! It was clearer in reality)

Tried zooming in using iphone5 camera

The 600m deep crater, that only has some puddle of water in it that day. Oh we captured natural bends of rainbow from the refraction of lights!! (or is it not refraction? I'm sorry Mrs Har -_-||)

I wasn't all brave and tough when come to descending, and the guide had to bear with the not so cheery me haha all I wanted was to reach the bottom and end the journey in a blink of an eye lol! Descent was more difficult due to the slope, and you may easily lose control of your balance if you're careless. Wayan Dartha held my hands throughout the descent till we reached 2.5km mark, where I started to use walking stick on the terrain that I'm more confident of. 

What's very nice about Wayan Dartha is that he made sure he help us capture lots of photos en route down (since we were half dead and won't be taking selfies anymore). Those that have us walking in the clouds/fog, those that have one large portion of the plateau with white flowers sprouting from the fertile ground thanks to volcano, those hoax that show how relax we were attempting the mountain and many more, just so we could have something to admire back home:)

If you notice, in all these pictures, we need to find some anchor point to stop ourselves from sliding down the rocks *shudders thinking back* It was "Rock Climbing" to its best at these rocky terrains where we used all 4s to maneuver. 

Some Tips
- Ask the guide on weather prediction and avoid being caught in a storm
- If you're tired, by all means rest, but not too long. Resting too long will zap your energies 
- Mind over body
- Trim your toe nails, if not, they will hit against the front of your shoes while descending, can be real painful
- Sip water, don't gulp. Latter may give stitches
- Use walking sticks till 2.5km, while use all 4s after 2.5km
- Pack light to minimize burdens
- Things guide provide: walking sticks, headlights, breakfast, snacks
- Things to bring: light backpack, 1.5L water for each pax, energy bars, a pair of good grip shoes, 2 heat packs per pax for summit rest, hand sanitizer (to clean ur hands before breakfast)
- Attire: Uniqlo heat tech top and bottom, wind breaker/warm jacket, Daiso glove (for climbing on all 4s to prevent cuts) to use and throw, beanie. Don't over clothe yourself as the climb is mainly warm, it's until the summit where you stop climbing and feel a little cold, otherwise, it's quite warm.

At the end of the journey, I'm always thankful to have Mr. muscleman alongside all ups and downs, sometimes literally:) While he is proud of me to complete Mt Agung, I'm proud of you for who you are and what you've achieved too <3

Seminyak Stroll
We didn't really do much thing in Seminyak. Over the span of 2 days, we only visited Seminyak Beach, Potato Head and chanced upon few restaurants with one of it (Nirvana) shouting "Winner of Tripadvisor 2014" and decided to give it a try on our anniversary night.

Nirvana Restaurant / Nirvana Burger Bar
Jl Laksmana 50 B, Seminyak, Bali 80361, Indonesia

We patronized the massage parlour above the restaurant before deciding to get a seat for dinner. I zonked out during massage (the same day that we descended from Mt Agung overnight trekking) so couldn't really comment much on the massage, but the food was really good! 

They specialize in western food, and the alfresco seats were filled with caucasians. Once seated, we were given cold towel, on the house mini spring roll to snack on + a shot glass of frozen margarita each. I was sold for the margarita, the tequila was strong and nice, and we got each of us a glass of flavoured margarita at only 50,000IDR! (That's approximately SGD5 ONLY!) The mains were good, I had pork ribs while muscleman had ... I forgot. hahah well, at least we remembered the anniversary dinner was good. We also ordered Satay, something that Balinese adore as well, and their peanut sauce was different but tasty. There were performances at intervals, the fire dancers definitely light up the dining experience, especially for the kids. 

We returned the next day for the burger bar, which is just next to the restaurant. Overall, the food was good, booze was cheap and money well spent, and worthwhile. Worth a try next time you're in Seminyak Square!

"I forgot the restaurant's name!"
We seriously chanced upon this while waiting for the sunset at Seminyak beach, when we decided to grab late lunch at late 4pm. We were famished by then and couldn't get ourselves a seat at other restaurants as they were preparing for dinner service. 

Exit Seminyak beach and turn left, away from the bustling street that is on the right, towards Potato Head direction, take a 10min walk, when you cross the first or second small road, lift your head and the restaurant is right opposite. They were the first restaurant we saw.

Their burger and laksa were good, just that there were lots of flies surrounding us. A trick we learned from Malaysia trips, light a candle in the center and the flies would naturally disperse a little due to the heat.

Random Ice Cream Booth
Found inside an Indian Cuisine Bistro

Exit Seminyak beach, turn right to the bustling street. Keep walking and there will be one Indian cuisine Bistro on your left, decors are in black and white.

It was a sweltering afternoon when we saw the Ice Cream booth, and decided to give them a try. I had Guava Sorbet while Muscleman had something chocolatey. The Ice Cream tasted extremely good under such weather, until I saw a frozen fly inside my ice cream towards the end of savouring :( I was quite disturbed but I thought to myself, I survived eating breakfast on Mt agung with dirty hands (I forgot to wear my gloves at first) and so this too shall pass. 

Seminyak Beach

It wasn't dirty when we visited, though I do read about the cleanliness issues online. I've been to Kuta Beach back in 2011 during the Dive trip's no dive day, the waves are pretty much similar. STILL IMPRESSIVE! It was calming looking at the badass waves storming onto the shore, though it can be quite traumatizing if they turn into tsunamis. Okay, drifted, here comes the pictures!

Act yi ge

It was also a trip to realise Muscleman can't do the "heart' thing lol!
Attempt 1 with half the heart by him
Demo once for him
Left to Right: Bat Man, Dracula's Bat, drumstick? hahahah 

Add on tips:
- Hail cab from "Blue Bird", typically blue taxi that runs by meter instead of sky high prices calling
- Prepare small notes for cabbing. ALL taxi drivers we met, including blue birds, refuse to give back changes from large notes and demand for tips that way. 

Lastly, the impressive waves, with us running away at the back cos we didn't want the sand to stick onto the feet when wet.

It is a happy recap while writing this entry away, of all entries that I procrastinated, this must not be forgotten. Happy anniversary to us!

1 comment:

  1. I didn’t know that first wedding anniversary is known as the "Paper Wedding Anniversary" in US, until I read your post! Thanks for the information. Well I am also going to celebrate my first wedding anniversary at a traditional vow renewal location.