I guess 2017 has been one of the most significant years for me! I vowed to travel every month and look for places I have never been before and ended up driving, flying more than once to a place unexplored earlier. It was very fascinating for me to see Bali for past few months and finally in August after been refused by all my friends to fly this year, I booked a seat for myself and fly all the way to Indonesia in Diwali. When there is no one, plan one for yourself!
The trip was small and sweet but glamorous enough for creating awesome memories and experiences to share with everyone. I am ready to fly again…. Not because I am crazy but because I found the province worth visiting again!
My flight was from Hyderabad to Kuala Lumpur – 4 Hours with a layover of 2 hours at LCC Airport and three hours flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bali, Indonesia. The much controversy of whether we need transit visa at Malaysia…was finally resolved. If your connecting airline is leaving from the same airport, you just need to go through security twice and no visa is required. Incase your airports are different in Malaysia… you better have transit visa applied. Otherwise you need to pay a good amount of money for airport transfer and Transit Visa in Malaysia. My flight from LCC KLAI2 was decent enough. The airport has plenty of stores to scan and do window shopping, taste Malaysian cuisines and use free net, Wi-Fi and make calls, chat up with people etc. If you flight is in the morning between Malaysia and Bali… I bet you will love the blue and green ocean with island floating like lotus leaves and petals from the sky high above on the ocean below.
Immigration is the easiest part of travelling to Bali. All you need return ticket to the resident country, place you will stay in Bali and that’s it! No visa… required. You get stamped and you are in Bali. The airport is cute and nice! The immigration queue is big but it moves like wind…. Quick and fast. The Green channel has snipper dog going through your bag till you get it scanned and exit the airport. We had cab booked for the day. The transfer to airport was very easy. The airport is at Denpasar. From Denpasar we headed to Kuta. It took just 25 minutes for us!
Pictures on our way to Grand Inna
Bali believes in rich Hindu Culture.
Kuta is the place to be!
The place is known for parties, shopping, sea beach, night life, food and cafes. My residence was at Grand Inna Kuta. I recommend everyone, try this hotel out. On the left you have the biggest shopping mall facing the sea and on the right and back, lanes with café, pubs and restaurants. The local stores increase the charm of the place. Happy hours and free Wi Fi everywhere make the place easy to walk and learn more about the location. The hotel has its own happening private beach! Grab a seat next to the beach restaurant and enjoy the breeze, jump in one of the pools to kill the heat or swim and drink or just walk to the beach, sit and sip a drink under palm trees. Plenty of footfalls from Australia, France and Germany! It goes without saying, everyone walk and sit in the beach around sun rise and sunset with families and special ones to enjoy the breeze and the scenic beauty.
The color of the sea is deep blue and super clean! The waves are huge and froth are so white on the white sand… you will love to dip your legs in the sand at night and wash the feet in the water. The food at the Hotel was also quite good. We have tried quite a few cafes and restaurants locally. It’s worth eating and drinking at happy hours. The hotel also serve free complimentary breakfast which is a good spread next to the pool.
The room at the hotel was sea facing as well. There are two wings with four levels. One wing connects you to the garden and a big pool with Indonesian feelings. The other wing connects you to the garden beach and pool with modern look and feel. Both have its own charm. All you need is to select a room of your choice and preference. The attitude of every attendant at the hotel makes you feel humbled. The smile and the way they communicate, address and delight you every other way is quite impressive.
For phone connection, you can take a sim card which has a lot of options. I used 3G connectivity for outside Wi-Fi zone and WhatsApp. The network was pretty strong across all over Bali expect for few remote places. Just after the lunch, we headed towards a city trip by a cab. You can go for Blue bird taxi radio cab or you can book a cab on few hour basis. My target was to drive over Mandara Toll Bridge. It is five years old now. It connects you to all the island and area of Bali. For four wheelers, the cost of one side is 12,000 IDR and connects you to three important destinations – Jimbaran, Nusa Dua and Sanur.
The first night was at Jimbaran.
It is a place filled with beach restaurants. The night with start filled sky, beautiful sea and songs around, you feel good enough to sit and leisurely have your dinner looking at the sea. The beach is clean and also have waves high enough! The sunset is beautiful. Sea food is super cheap and very tasty! Local people come and sing awesome songs for you at your table. You can turn back and see the local dance performance as well. After dinner, we returned back to the hotel. In the mist of light and darkness, it was very beautiful and relaxing to sit in the beach and hear the waves till you feel you are ready to sleep.
The next day sunrise was so beautiful from the room, it automatically recharge your legs to step out of your cozy bed and walk to the beach! After the heavy breakfast, we headed for a walk around the shore! It’s pristine and beautiful! The place has so much to explore and so much to view the sea from different spots and restaurants and clean rock beds. Around 11 AM, we had our cab picked up to Banur for water sports! Nusa Dua and Jimbaran are two places known for water sports. The island do have many other places too but we selected Nusa Dua side. Mind you, you will have many agents conducting different water sports. We did snorkeling for one hour- it was an awesome experience, sea walk, Turtle Island to see the ways government is protecting the sea life and other creatures. Turtle Island has a small sanctuary. You can see turtles ages between few months to 400 years. They also have owl, parrots, macaw, and snakes. The sail was in glass bottom boat! The exploration was beautiful.
After water sports, we returned back to our Kuta beach and spend watching the sunset.
The night was to explore more of Kuta and visit number one pub –Sky garden. It ranks 88th in the world ranking and worth going if you are planning for great music, fireworks, laser show and world DJs... The crowd is quite good and decent! Try your lucky early for unlimited drink and buffet which can save your money in eating and drinking. 3000 people at one place with great screen and music, has its own charm. The street remains crowded till early morning! So there is no fear of walking back to the hotel or looking for a cab to another location.
Today was the day for us to check out of Kuta and move to Nusa Dua. Unlike Kuta, Nusa Dua has serene beach with all boutique hotels and resorts and spa. This place is primarily for people looking for water sports, tranquility, and peace. The beach has rich corals and water life. Every resort has its own shore and water sports arranged. One our way to Nusa Dua... we did visit one of the high end boutique resort for coffee and spa.
The walking area is high above the edge of the sea. The scenic beauty is breathe taking. The spa, infinity pool and Jacuzzi are all under the open sky facing the breath taking sea and hills. The glass boundary makes you feel to just close your eyes and enjoy relaxing for hours. The tranquility of the place is so so high, I bet you won’t feel like stepping out immediately.
Our Hotel was great enough to provide us free complimentary snacks and high tea every day during our stay. We also had few other complimentary services like spa and breakfast. At late afternoon, we decided to visit Uluwatu! Its 21 kms from Nusa Dua. Uluwatu has coffee plantation on both sides, amazing view from the Uluwatu temple on the sea. The place is big and have many visitors from across the globe to enjoy the sunset and local dance inside the temple next to the sea after the sunset. The ocean beauty is unparalleled coupled with the sunset. I have never seen, so many people at one place and still there is silence, peace, serenity across the place.
The local dance is very enriching. They play the story of Ramayana in two episodes. The first episodes bring the essence of Indonesian culture. The second episode is just hilarious! The performers, the artists go all across the open studio and pull up audience in different funny activities and performance. The beauty is when they address different countries and audience cheers up together for each country.
The day was over and it was our turn to visit coffee plantation. I have never been to a coffee plantation before. Though it was dark, it was an experience to walk down the alley in the plantation and taste over 15 varieties of coffee free of cost! The taste of every coffee is so unique and nice, if I had all the store and money, I would have buy all of them. It was not a bad expense. I bought few varieties of coffee worth tasting and drinking everyday.
One of the observations worth mentioning – Balinese follow traffic rules and queue. Just before the monsoon, Government has been very proactive in building up the roads and repair the pending work. Traffic is so smooth even in small lanes on hill region, everyone is patient, follow lanes and queue. I didn’t hear honking or experience potholes! We headed towards Jimbaran for some shopping and it was fantastic to experience the local handmade or manufactured items.
Today was the day to visit –Nusa Lembongan .One of the most popular islands of Bali. Incase you want to visit coral reef and jump from the edge on natural bathtubs in the sea, you can go to Nusa Penida as well. Nusa Lembongan swift boats leave by 9.30 AM. Every day. You need to buy tickets or book before through an agent for your trip. You will be allocated with a time line to return and check out from the island. The arrangements are awesome for passengers. You hold two tickets with you. Upon your check in, you will be given a band to wear all day.
The band colors are different for different people or group. People going for water sports like scuba diving will have band color different from people going on exploring the land of Nusa Lembongan. They collect your footwear before you board the boat. Over the blue sea and high waves as go towards the coral island, your eyes do have the cucumber effect by the beauty! Nusa Lembongan has a lot of places to explore. Yellow bridge, devil’s tears, dream beach, under house, panoramic view, mango groove boating, kayaking. The day is so engaging and super-fast, you won’t realize its 4 PM and you would love to hold back yourself on the island. The beauty of the coral, sea, waves, oceanic color is so so like a dream …. It brings back a lot of peace and happiness in you.
The panoramic view is from the top of the mountain which looks like Spain! The blue green Coral Sea – stretched across the white sand with red tiled casa and trees around
The Devil tears spot have massive water blows and waves that can sweep people out in seconds. However nothing stop mankind to sit on the rock beds and shoot the water blow and giant waves and roar of waves every second. It’s like a tub on a swing moving right to left over a pendulum.
You can befriend quite a few travelers or fellow passengers on this trip either during complimentary breakfast or over lunch or transfer to island. It’s like everyone is in consensus with - how beautiful Bali is –whether you are an Australian, French, German, Malaysian or another Indian.
Indonesian people are very friendly and open. They would often greet you on roads and in hotels and shopping outlets. They would often try to impress you with singing a Hindi song or speaking some festivals of India. It’s very common for men to come and flirt with a girl in a very healthy way. Please don’t take offence. They have no bad intention. It’s just a way to appreciate you are beautiful, my lady. Always smile back to someone talking to you or asking you a simple question. Balinese are very close to their roots and religion. They offer food to souls and spirits every day. They often can ask you –Are you Hindu? Don’t get offended. You can simply smile and say yes or just in a friendly way say no. They don’t take the conversation any further even if you say “Yes”.
I did enjoy the Balinese cuisines. Nusa Goreng rice or noodles is now one of my favorites. They also serve you chicken with peanut butter sauce. Try them out.
The best season for visiting Bali is June to October. The season after October is very humid and have heavy rainfalls. After April, the location takes time to bring back the beauty till end of May. August and September are two pick seasons with beautiful weather and season around.
Incase you love mountains, you can visit Ubud! It is not only beautiful, its breath taking. The slow life, followed with scenibeauty of rice
terrace farming and facing of the hotels and villas to waterfalls and sea can take your breath away. If you want to experience volcanic activity, you can go to Batur. They come and pick you up at 1 in the morning and you can walk on the slope till 4.30 in the morning for the beautiful sunrise by 6 AM. You can see the fumes and feel the heat over the hill which brings a kind of a different experience of seeing the volcanic readiness in the hill.
The most memorable journey into the magical mountain range of North East
Booking for Sikkim Gangtok Darjeeling - 8 Days & 7 Nights | Cities : Lachen
Day 1 (07 May 2017)
Arrival at IXB (Airport) NJP (Railway Station) and Transfer to Darjeeling
(Duration: 3 ½ hours Approx) (Distance: 69 kms)
Arrive & Meet Our Official Representative at New Jalpaiguri Railway Station (NJP) / Bagdogra Airport (IXB)–He will be assisting for the transfer - Darjeeling - Check into hotel – Evening free to roam around Mall or local Shopping centre - Over Night stay at Darjeeling.
Day 2 (08 May 2017)
Darjeeling Local Sight-Seeing (Including Tiger Hill)
Go for the early morning 3-point tour at 3:45 am which covers famous sunrise from Tiger Hill, Old Ghoom Monastery and Batasia Loop where the toy train takes a dramatic loop and negotiates an Altitude of 140ft. You will be back to your hotel by 7:30am. Relax for a while and After Breakfast later take the 7-point local tour which includes Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Zoological Park, Ropeway, Tibetan Self Help Refugee Center, Lebong Race Course, Happy Valley Tea Estate etc. This tour will take about 4 hours.
Day 3 (09 May 2017)
Darjeeling to Gangtok& Gangtok Local Sightseeing:-
(Duration: 3 ½ hours Approx) (Distance: 135 kms )
Morning breakfast – Transfer to Gangtok –– Check into Hotel – After taking rest - Drive flora half day sightseeing and visit to Directorate of Handicrafts & Handloom, Research Institute of Tibetology, Do Drul Chorten (Stupa), Enchey Monastery, White Hall, Flower Show, one , etc. – Back to hotel – Evening free - Over Night stay at Gangtok.
Day 4 (10 May 2017)
Gangtok to Lachen:-
(Duration: 5–6 hours Approx) (Distance: 135 kms )
Early morning breakfast –Lunch at Chungthang – Lachen is 35 kilometers from Chungthang Reach Lachen late afternoon / early evening - Gurudongmar Lake, Chopta Valley, Tshangu are the major attraction– Like a Shangri - La – Check into a hotel - Welcome Tea – Evening free to stroll and visit the Lepcha Village – Overnight stay at Hotel in Lachen.
Day 5 (11 May 2017)
Excursion To Gurudongmar Lake And Transfer To Lachung:-
(Duration:2 ½ - 3 ½ hours Approx) (Distance: 85kms )
Early morning breakfast – Visit to Gurudongmar Lake through which Lachen Chu flows, generally covered with snow from December to April or even more is known as the Holy / Sacred Lake - Next drive through the cold desert till Tibet / China back to Resort for Lunch – After lunch drive to Lachung - Back to hotel for lunch - After lunch proceed to Lachung -Check into hotel at Lachung - Evening free to visit Lachung Monastery - Overnight stay at Hotel at Lachung.
Day 6 (12 May 2017)
Sightseeing AtYumthang Valley + ZeroPoint (Optional) & Transfer To Gangtok:-
After breakfast drive towards Yumthang situated at an elevation of nearly 11800 feet - On the way you may visit the famous hot spring which is known for its curative properties of skin diseases - Yumthang is a valley near the river Lachung Chu surrounded by mountains where the tree line ends - In spring the valley erupts in riots of colors as Primulae, Rhododendrons and many other Alpine flowers in full bloom along with snow covered valley except in autumn - During winter Yumthang is somber with snow all around and the snow clad mountains adding to the ethereal beauty.
Optional Zero point(Additional Cost) is the last outpost of civilization. The road ends here. Peaceful valley and is quite windy - there was not much to hear but just stay here for some time to enjoy the beauty. With the majestic mountains and ice around - it was like being the only people in the world. Calm, quiet and a sense of insignificance - time seems to stand still here.... like nothing ever changes.Return to resort at Lachung for Lunch – Transfer to Gangtok – Reach Gangtok in the evening – Check into hotel – Night stay at Gangtok.
Day 7 (13 May 2017)
Excursion To Tsomgo Lake& Baba Mandir:-
Morning breakfast at hotel – Excursion to Tsomgo Lake & Baba Mandir nearly 40 kilometers - The Lake is oval shaped lake nearly 50 feet deep - Generally covered in snow for most of the year – This lake is home to the Brahmini ducks & many migratory birds – Nearby is the sacred Baba Mandir known to be a very holy site for all - Nathula Pass to Republic of China is nearly 20 kilometers and is optional tour - Back to Gangtok - Evening free to roam around M G Road (Mall) or local Shopping center - Over Night stay at Gangtok (In case of Landslide or due to any other reasons if Tshangu Lake is closed then an alternate sightseeing will be provided).
Optional Nathula(Additional Cost)(14140 Ft / 4310 Mts / 20 Kms in 1Hrs one way from Tshangu Lake) Baba Mandir (13100Ft / 3994 Mts / 16Kms in 1Hrs one way from Tshangu Lake) is an Indo China border, controlled by the Indian Army & is situated approx 20 Kms ahead of Tshangu Lake at an height of 14140 Ft / 4310 At this point the right arm of the “V” which is 4 Kms takes one to Baba Mandir & left arm of the “V” which is 4 Kms takes one to Nathula.
One can opt for Nathula Excursion by paying a supplement cost which varies from month to month. Nathula permit gets confirmed 24 hrs prior to the journey date & it is subjected to permit availability as it is allotted as per lottery. Nathula is closed on Monday & Tuesday for tourist. Organising the permit at the last moment is not possible & a clear window of 72 Hrs with proper documents is required to process the permit. To process the permit we would require 04 Passport Size Photograph & photo proof identity card such as Voter Id / Passport / Driving License. Pan card is not accepted as identity proof by authorities. There is no refund, in case the permit is confirmed by Sikkim tourism & due to whatsoever reason (Land slide, Heavy rain fall, VIP Movement, Health issue etc) one is not able to visit.
Day 8 (14 May 2017)
DepartureAt Airport (IXB) / Railway Station (NJP) :-
(Duration:4-5hours Approx) (Distance: 135kms )
After breakfast transfer to Siliguri / New Jalpaiguri Railway Station (NJP) / Bagdogra Airport (IXB) Guest are advised to start early and not to rush - Forwarding Journey.
Day 1 -
Hyderabad - Bhagdogara - Darjeeling
Day 2 -
State - West Bengal
Elevation - 6,700ft / 2,042.2m
Tourist Attractions - Tea estates, Tiger Hill, Toy train, Japanese temple, Rock garden, Spectacular views of Kangchenjunga - the world's third-highest mountain
Day 3 -
Darjeeling - Gangtok
On the way - Teesta river - River rafting
State - Sikkim
Elevation - 5,410ft / 1,600m
Tourist Attractions - A centre of Tibetan Buddhist culture and learning - Several monasteries, religious educational institutions, and centres for Tibetology, Spectacular views of Kangchenjunga - the world's third-highest mountain
Day 4 -
Gangtok - Lachen
State - Sikkim
Elevation - 9,000ft / 2,750m
Tourist Attaractions - It's the base for Chopta valley and Gurudongmar lake
Chopta valley - Located at an altitude of 13,000ft / 4,000m
Day 5 -
Lachen - Gurudongmar lake - Located at an altitude of 17,800ft / 5,430m
Lachen - Lachung
State - Sikkim
Elevation - 9,600ft / 2,900m
Tourist Attractions - It's the base for Yumthang valley and Zero point
Day 6 -
Lachung - Yumthang valley - 11,693ft /3,564m
Yumthang valley - Zero point - 15,300ft / 4,664m
Zero point - Lachung - Gangtok
Day 7 -
Nathu La pass:
Elevation - 14,140ft / 4,301m
About - It's one of the three open trading border posts between China and India, It is also one of the four officially agreed BPM (Border Personnel Meeting) points between the Indian Army and People's Liberation Army of China for regular consultations and interactions between the two armies
Elevation - 12,300ft / 3,753m
About - It's located 35kms from Gangtok town and on the steep route known as Jawaharlal Nehru Road which leads all the way to Nathula Pass
Day 8 -
Gangtok - Bhagdogara - Hyderabad
***Please carry AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) medicine along
'Hyderabad to Mahabaleshwar , Panchgani' - Monsoon Drive Meetup
Hyderabad to Koilsagar - Overnight BBQ camp under the stars - Report