Setting out on an adventure to Bali

My travels have mostly taken me to the West – in terms of residence or academics- but I got my first opportunity to travel to the East rather South East when Bali came to be on my travel charts. The Island of Bali, in Indonesia, reverberates scenes of romantic holidays in the first go, but it is much more than that. During my initial research, I found almost all kinds of geographical landscapes (except deserts) to be present in Bali. From pristine beaches to freezing volcano; from mesmerizing waterfalls to trekking ridges – you name a place and it is there! Being an international destination, and one which cannot be visited very often (call it time restraints or financial), it needs good research and planning before actually laying foot on this scenic terrain.

Research Essentials:

  • Dates
  • Flight options
  • Visa Formalities
  • To check the Weather and pack your luggage accordingly (Cannot be 100% accurate but we can always go with an idea)
  • Hotels/ homestays booking
  • Exchange rates and convert some INR to Indonesian Rupiah
  • International SIM cards
  • In-land transport options
  • A bucket list of places you really want to visit, their timings, entrance fee etc.
  • To check the local Traditions and Rituals and dress code if any
  • To make a list of Emergency Contact Numbers (including embassy etc.)

Planning your visit:

With a hectic work schedule in events, I hardly get time for holidaying around. But October being a festive month with a large number of holidays was my chance to sneak away to a much-needed vacation. Settling for 25th – 31st October 2019, the next immediate step was to scout for budget flight options. For this, Malindo Air was chosen. We had a 12-hour halt in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur International airport before catching the connecting flight to Denpasar, Bali. The best part was since it was only a journey of 6 days; I did not require a Visa with an Indian Passport. Clearing immigration was enough.

Malindo Plane

Photo courtesy: Wikimedia commons

Accommodation and In-Land Transportation:

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Sekhar Bali Homestay

The weather in Bali during October would be hot and dry during the day but cool during the night. Surrounded by water bodies on all sides gives Bali a pleasant climate throughout the year.  This was a complete budget trip; the best in the lowest was my motto. After checking many options which at one-time included a villa I opted for Sekhar Bali Homestay, in downtown Kuta. Kuta is the most happening place in Bali, two-minutes from the beaches and the most envious nightlife you could ever imagine. The best exchange rate was from Dollar to Indonesian Rupiah and hence I converted the INR to USD to IR. Exchange Rates differ and it is best to check right before you are planning the trip so that you can get the best returns.  Like every place you have the options of hiring cabs and taxis- Grab and Blue Bird; but what most individuals prefer is to hire a bike that is available from 60,000 IR to 75,000 IR a day (oil on the individual).

Making a Bucket List:

Bali is a country to be geographically lauded for. From rice fields to forests; to palaces to islands; from volcanoes to museums; to beaches and waterfalls to temples – such diverse scenic landscapes to see everywhere. I jotted down quite a few places to visit but then not everything was physically possible nevertheless I have seen at least one tourist place from every category- from the famous Bali Swing to Ubud Palace; from Kuta Beach to traveling on the toll bridge; from Goh Gajah Temple to Monkey Park. Bali is a country steeped in rituals and hence in all religious places women are expected to cover their bodies and wear a Sarong.

Setting out on an adventure:

The common notion is that an adventure begins when you reach your destination; I believe the real adventure is during the planning phase, it just culminates when you reach your destination. Thus on a rain-washed evening, I set out with my back-pack to the Kolkata airport to catch a flight to this unknown destination. International flights are often scheduled in the evenings to post-midnight- a trend which I have generally seen. My flight was at 12:05 IST with Malindo Air. This was my first time with them and they were truly hospitable. In fact, they upgraded my seat to a Window seat with more leg space and a fine view. What More, they even added a meal to it!  The first leg of my 4 hours journey from Kolkata to Malaysia was smooth and without any turbulence. I reached Malaysia at around 8 in the morning (remember time zones change). Since I did not have a transit visa I had to wait for the connecting flight at the airport.

Malaysia Truly Asia to Bali:

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Model Planes at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 

Kuala Lumpur International airport like most international airports is cosmopolitan. With branded shopping arcade to clean toilets and huge waiting areas, especially for transit passengers – the airport provided all facilities to the visitors. After almost a 12-hour wait and several cuppa noodles later I caught the connecting flight – again a Malindo Air – to Denpasar.

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Ngurah Rai International Airport, Denpasar

A three-hour journey later I reached Ngurah Rai International Airport, Denpasar well past midnight. The view from the window was beautiful- twinkling lights and risings waves in the high tide! Of course, it was too dark to see anything properly but I did have the next four days to explore. After clearing the immigration and booking a Grab through the Free WIFI at the airport I reached Sekhar Bali homestay – my home for the next five nights. It was indeed a long journey and it was best to sleep it off to reenergize for a new day where many adventures await.

Lastly, I give glimpses of my travels ahead but would talk about them in greater detail in the subsequent blog posts.

 

‘United We Stand’ Featured Special Attractions for Calcuttans This Holi

Orchid Gardens was colored with the aroma and various hues of Holi colors on the 13th of March. The United We Stand, an initiative of the United Music Festival, a property of a2z events saw a gathering of around three thousand people at the venue. Prior to the event, United had hosted a Whatsapp Holi themed photography and Dubsmash contest. Some of the best videos were screened at the event. Furthermore, Calcuttans made their City of Joy proud by making it to the Limca and India book of records. This was done by a hundred and eighty people who consumed 1500 jalebis at the same time within 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

Upon entering the venue, the first thing which hit me was the typical aroma of Holi colours. They were herbal and were smooth on the skin. Apart from colors, I saw the people, especially the children and the youngsters grooving to the dance beats of songs like ‘ Balam Pichkari’  or ‘Lets Naacho’ played by the DJ’s. A star attraction of the event was the folk fusion dance Troupe Bawalia. Interestingly, the members of the group themselves came down from the stage and danced with the audience making the atmosphere very homely and enjoyable.

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The crowd enjoys themselves Photo Courtesy: Mr Sagnik Karmakar

The centre stage made out of recyclable materials appealed to the audience a lot. It was the first time that an event had created a stage out of recyclable materials. It was here that famous DJ’s like DJ Akash Rohira, DJ Girish, DJ Felix and others played Bollywood, Fusion and Special Holi Mixes for the enthusiastic crowd. Co-organiser, Aparajita Chowdury from a2z events said, “We like to offer something different all the time and contribute to society in our own small way. Apart from using recycling products for UNITED stage, we have ensured a minimal water usage in our event. . “

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The DJ’s play grooving tracks on the stage. Photo Courtesy: Mr Sagnik Karmakar

Foam blasts, colour blasts, paint ball, flower shower etc. were the major activities one could take part in. According to me, there were a few highlights of the event. I loved the idea of mobile phone cases to protect the phone from damage. The stall selling masquerade masks, Rajasthani pagdis and other little tit- bits was my favourite. The unlimited Thandai glasses gave a fresh respite to those weary with dancing and playing colours for a long time.

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At one of the games corner. Photo Courtesy: Mr Sagnik Karmakar
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Thanks to the Food Partners of the Event: Pugalia Photo Courtesy: Mr Sagnik Karmakar

United We Stand was a really fun way to celebrate Holi with friends and family. It was an opportunity to have fun, enjoy, make new friends and of course create innumerable selfie memories with your near and dear ones.

Kolkata Bloggers have been the proud online partners of this event. A big shout out to the organisers for having organised such a successful event! 

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Friends having fun at the event. Photo Courtesy: Mr Sagnik Karmakar