Monday, November 18, 2013

Puri Bayu, Guesthouse, Ubud

I just got back from a week in Ubud, Bali *weeeee*

I am terribly happy because I finally, FINALLY get to visit the infamous Bali after last year's cancellation!! I think I've said this one too many times, but I am ALLERGIC to cancelled trips already *_* spare me the disappointment please T_T

I was NEVER thinking of visiting Kuta, Jimbaran, Nusa Dua, Legian or Seminyak, I had only Ubud in mind, like I was so focused to. And it's not because of Eat, Pray and Love it's because I've heard too many people talking Ubud being the central for everything arts, and that IS my thing. So I scuffled around online looking for the best places to stay in Ubud less than a week before (because I've been busy), and I finally found a gem that is Puri Bayu Guest House! Everything that was arranged in Puri Bayu Guest House is perfected, if there was only one thing for you to consider was the fact that it doesn't have a pool, or a private pool for that matter. But that's usually not a point taken, because Ubud is not by the beach so weather is relatively cool and mild all the time. Sometimes it even experiences light showers through the day :)

My Puri Bayu Guest House reservation had a rocky start which was neither mine nor their fault, since they required a 50% deposit for my booking confirmation, and because they don't accept credit cards I had to go to Western Union to do it so. So I did. While the whole booking confirmation wasn't a big deal, something had happened along the way of me banking money into the recipient's name that caused me the headache.

The bank had misspelled my name. The bank told me that it had been paid, but the owner insisted that he never received his money! So I was stuck in the middle of not knowing what exactly had happened, and not knowing who to trust (surely bank had a greater credit, but still). Emails were thrown back and forth, me taking photos of the receipt, fuh it was funny. Eventually, I told them that I will only settle the whole thing once I reach the hostel.

My flight was delayed for two hours, once I finally reached my hostel (bear in mind, Ubud is about 1.5 hours away from Denpasar airport) I rushed to the hostel hoping that they would still be opened (that was about 9pm) and GUESS WHAT, THE RECEPTION WAS CLOSED. Ah, I told myself. How could they, they could have at least waited for me or even informed me? Another scratch to the start, I decided to call them up and they were really surprised to hear me, as they thought I no longer needed the room because they say "most Malaysians would cancel our guesthouse and go to Kuta" -______________-" I knew she didn't meant the way I could've imagined it but both parties were just exhausted and she ended it with, "I actually gave your room to another guest". WHAT. Another scratch. I was a little pissed off by then, so were they, there were confusion after confusion and true enough they did sent me an email asking me what time exactly I will be reaching but I was already on the plane by then. Did they not get my email, I wasn't sure, but clearly there were some missing communication.

BUT. All turned 360 degree, when they said, "...but we can always move the other guest to our other place. This place is yours." I was halfheartedly guilty, because, true enough the commotion and the last minute arrangement was not their fault, and neither was it mine. It was just poor timing and mistakes of everything else but ours.

And everything went uphill after that :) :) :)

I stepped into a beautiful room with a large queen sized bed, complete with its romantic nostalgic mosquito repellent, a swan towel art, with flowers sprinkled on my bed, and then I walked into the bathroom... an open air bathroom that I can overlook the sky with, with fresh flowers sorted out by the corner!


..but before that, I walked out of Puri Bayu's to the nearest store (a pizza parlour) called Umah Pizza. I bought myself a Salmone Penne (YUM) and the bestest chocolate mousse EVER. I didn't take photo because I had left it charging ^_^

Upon reaching my room, I undressed and walked around buttnaked (JOY) and jumped into the shower for a really really hot bath. I could hear absolutely nothing but insects squeaking with one another. Everything about the bathroom was pleasant, and yes I was showering in nature :)

I decided to sleep off everything that night, and it was the best. Since I was from Kota Kinabalu - Jakarta - Jakarta - Bali had a time difference of about an hour. Though I really didn't think it made a difference, I did eventually woke up a few hours earlier than I had thought I did. I woke up at 5am! When I thought it was 8am .. so weird.

My Bed :)

My view from my Room :)

My Garden :)

My veranda where I would usually have my breakfast :)

So I decided to laze around until 8am, and Ketut came by with utensils and asked, me "macam mana tidur mba?". The first thing I had wanted to say was, I'M SO SORRY KETUT, DID YOU STAYED FOR ME YESTERDAY? Before I had even asked, he had already told me about how he was cleaning the place and had waited for me till 7pm? T_________________T I'm sorry Ketut.
 ...and everything goes uphill from there. They serve me great breakfast of coffees+ omelets+ special pan cakes every morning. And every morning the giddy Pom-Pom jumps up to me kissing, licking and biting me. Love that puppy.

The bill went up to about USD 28/ night only - so if that's not sooo affordable, I don't know what is!  Here's their contact:

Manager: Dewi

Ubud generally is a beautiful calmer alternative to the international village Kuta. It is definitely quieter, but that doesn't mean there aren't things to do. Just head to the Monkey Forest Road (which is about 5 - 10 minutes walk from Puri Bayu) and you'll be delighted to see all kinds of familiar tourists crashing their way in some local bar :)

Otherwise, I have coined Bali as the only cultural city in the world that I can jump into a traditional dance as and when I want every single night, plus, it's also probably is the only place in the world that has their faith's influence in every, single, thing. Their restaurants, their lingo, their clothes. They're so proud of their culture it's so refreshing! This is the original place of all things inspired Bali restaurants, hotels, knockoffs. They're effortlessly beautiful.

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dear Retno

I needed to meet you. Life would have been usually fantastic, but I wouldn't have that zest for life that I needed had I not met you. I needed to meet you.

I am living a very luxurious life as a 25 year old in Sabah. I've got an excellent job as a marketing personnel in a ginormous chain hotel, and there is a long list of promising adventures ahead of me. I've got a grand monthly income, no little kids to attend to, no car loan, just monthly apartment repayment and a small investment I've set aside to, so basically, I am earning and spending money for me and me alone. Comparing to some of my folks at my age working in thriving institutions (some are still searching), some are in between searching for what they're looking for - I am a very lucky lady in times like these.

Thank you for hosting me the night while I was in Jakarta. You told me about your humble place, but I didn't expect we were going to share a single bed together. Some folk wouldn't even consider bringing me around just because they "didn't have a car". And you... you so proudly, humbly introduced me to your room with the world's unconditional love. If you had met the "wrong" person, they would have walked out of the situation, but you see, I needed to meet you..

We talked about our reasons of why we are where we are.

I couldn't help but share about leaving the big city for mum and "her sickness". You slipped-out a story about your friend who left you over her struggle for a thyroid cancer. I asked you like I had no idea what it was, sorry, I meant had no idea how deadly it was to her and YOU. I was surprised one too many times on how innocently absent you seemed like when you told me the depressing story, it felt like, just another story.

I kept mum the entire time, I mean how do you forget having your bestfriend breath her last infront of you? How do you?

"I don't -- :) " "That's okaylah (you picked up lah by the end of the night) - I removed partially both of my breasts too -- it's okay now!" Saying it like giving up was not an option. "Life has these things, must go ahead with life."

I wanted to ask more, but then it sounded like what you had gone through was bad news (and I'm sure it wasn't, it's just something I could have never imagine to put on my shoulder for now maybe). Ever since mum, I was very cautious of things around me, and you, describing removing your breasts like part and parcel of life, was... I needed it. I have not met someone who have wanted to live their life as much as you do. You love life so much, I wanted to be rubbed off of you so much.

I sighed a relief thanks to your jovial spirit, like I was pardoned to be --okay at your best friend's passing and your previous predicament. That it was all no bad news, just part and parcel of life.

So I skipped a chapter, after college, I asked her -- why did you decided to stay in Jakarta? I mean, the city? Don't you miss your mum? What do you like about it? Doesn't it tire you? She smiled at me like I had no idea what I was assuming about. I think I do, but maybe not enough? She described the city to me, eyes sparkled, hair flowing, I needed the money. I needed to be happy. Jobs are here.

We laughed and exchanged jokes about the big cities, about getting stuck in jams, about how awkward people are in a bigger place, and how I enjoy my birds instead of gossips. Hah come to think about it, happiness is relative to you and me.

"I removed my headscarf, because I wanted to not be obligated with any ideology of the society's. Because I'm pretty sure my religion is as good as everyone else's. Society makes us assume one person has to be like this when they look like this. I need to learn to do more things myself, especially when everyone else doesn't want to do what I wanted to do. I can't stop from doing what I plan to do because people didn't agree or want to follow me (traveling). I needed to meet you. And learn from you."

Dear Retno, you've inspired me to live and optimize my life. You inspire me to never include the idea of giving up in my vocab. Not in people, not in my culture, not in my hopes. You inspire me to be kind to people, even at the most unsparing times or situations because you will always have more.

Thank you Retno, I can't wait to see you for our next festival together :)

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Halloween in KK, 2013 (CrackoArtGroup)

I've decided to make full use of what few clicks I get from my blog to support my friends and family on their humanitarian, environmental, artistic (and more) efforts that are happening around Kota Kinabalu (or at least I try). That said, a couple of weeks back our friends at CrackArtGroup launched an exhibition by Andy based on the renown 7 deadly sins and Stephie had invited me over.

These bunch of artists are really talented and hardworking. They have had their artworks sold nationwide, and Egan has even had his paintings bought by Publika in KL. This is a fairly small group but with the most ambitious of ideas and activities, as a result, they host their own opening, closings and even exhibitions at their own space, called the Asylum.

These were the opening night's photos by Srap Design, unfortunately!!! I had lost track of days and nights and also missed on informing you about the exhibition way earlier because the Halloween night we were invited to was actually for the exhibition's closing already :/

All these photos are rightfully owned by Srap Dsign

Artist, Andy Romeo

More photos from the exhibition

As for Halloween! I came as Mario... hahahahahaha (still enjoying the humor) over it. Especially the part when I won the best costume by them and won an incredible original piece by Adam :] Kim came as Joker and it was really spooky to talk to Kim the whole night especially when she's sitting at the passenger's seat behind in my car looking like Walking Dead :O

I really like this bunch because the girls weren't pulling any sexy, they were pulling scary!! And they even played Evil Dead with projector so we were basically watching crazy scary movie under the stars :)

There was a KISS singer, Waldo, a policewoman, that shufflin' box from party rock, a druggie, a Robin, a drag, myself as Mario and a lot more. Gotta love them.

Srap who took our photos is a proffesional photographer so you would understand why everything looks pretty awesome from his perspective here. I actually thought his photos were so good. Like it could almost be high fashion, if you see the first photo. If you're thinking of engaging him for photos that you see here and you like them, contact him personally from the link.

More photos from Halloween from Srap Dsign  

Where's Wally?? Hehehehe that was too cute :)

Till next year!

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Friday, November 01, 2013

White Water Rafting at Kiulu, Poturidong Tengah Bundu Camping Site

A couple of weeks back, Kim told us about a white water rafting deal via Kiulu on Groupon Malaysia (this is my first ever purchase) by Poturidong Tengah Bundu Camping Site. It's been a while since we've hung out and do outdoorsy stuff, besides some camping and Kudat sometime last year and this year. Now that Kim is back for a bit, we decided to jump to it. Tricky part was, while I was busy arranging for a weekend trip, I was told last minute that I had a campaign that I needed to be part of that same weekend. So I had to cancel my reservations with the guys at Poturidong and brought it forward to a Friday instead. Even if it means I had to apply for annual leave, because I had enough and I didn't mind! :)

Rafting is a great activity, something you'd do as a team, helps remind us how rivers can be so undermentioned. Truly is. I've always thought rivers are impossible to get acquainted with until I tried rafting! They're so oddly located, there's less charm underwater compared to the sea. Getting tamed by the river waters and having to be right smack of the action and having just unbeatable view of the forest and the greens, with just the freshest of water. Really nothing like it!

There are a few levels of rafting. Level 1 - 2 are evidently for amateurs which what Kiulu (located up north of Sabah and is just about an hour's drive from the city) was. It's good to try out amateur levels first, just to understand and put into place how rafting can be. As the grades go higher, the waters of said rafting area is more aggressive. In Sabah, the highest level of Level 3 - 4 is the Padas River.

The deal went up to about RM 72 per person, which is heaps of discount compared to its usual price that goes around RM 100 - 150 including transportation. We decided to buy for four of us without transportation since we didn't mind doing the hour's drive anyway (it's always great fun) because we get to stop at the local towns on its way. The four persons' package eventually stooped down much cheaper to about RM 55 per person. YAY for outdoorsy deals!

I really recommend these guys because the person I have been in contact with, which was Alson I think, was just really helpful and down to earth! He was really patient with my never-ending first-timer's questions, always willing to help me out with my reservations and stuff. Their guide, was pretty cool too, an old lad maybe in his 50s holding onto the boat like a boss equipped with his red skull drawn headgear.

From Kota Kinabalu,

We started off our day around 7am, driving up to Kiulu can be quite unpredictable because there is a random jam on the way to Sepanggar. So we decided to leave early and expected to reach the site at just about 10am. We reached there way earlier than we have given ourselves, at about 9plus, so we decided to visit Tamparuli town so and do abit of shopping :D

Afterleaving Tamparuli, we started driving up hill to Kiulu only to realise that our starting point / camping site is actually a little farther than we thought o.O luckily, we still enjoyed some allowance of a time, so when we reached the site, we reached there just in the nick of time!

After much briefing, we were brought to our starting point, and our rafting began! Let me know if you had noticed something funny about the pictures (we actually bought these pictures for about RM 10 per person),

Chris was probably the most emotionless person we have ever met. Going through hundreds of these photos, he was not even grinning, stressed, or taken aback by the littlest bit. He had this face >> :| the entire time! It was a bit of a pain to go through the photos having him right in front covering most of us.

While I.....

Smile so ridonkulously big every single time! WTF. I didn't realised I had that much of a smile all the time, until we actually went through hundreds of the photos plus video! I was :D the entire freaking time wtf.

I mean seriously,

There was one point when we were swirled around, we were actually heading towards a massive rock, because we didn't know what to do, it felt like we secretly wanted to succumb to it, and we eventually did hit the rock face front and that poor guy from the camp site flew out from the raft.

While Chris remain expressionless.

Kim happily rowing her boat, seconds before she ....

*after falling into the river* Kim: Okay now I got my money's worth!

When the folks told me that they "do" body rafting as well, I wasn't sure what to expect. Basically they would just let you off from one part of the river floating through the stream till you reach a calmer area and you have to swim back ashore. I was so doped with the idea, until I actually got let off and I was like "shit, this is a little scary". I was panicking at one point, because I couldn't feel my legs. Even though I knew how to swim in wide open sea (but sea had a different density) it still freaked me out. Eventually everyone had some pretty kickass time body rafting.

Including Xanne who told us that she doesn't know how to swim. Asked her what did she do to avoid panic she replied, "I was laughing too much, I forgot I didn't know to swim".

Halfway through it started raining so heavily, our vision was VERY blurry. Well at least for me, especially with my astigmatisme. But it FELT so good to raft in the rain! Drenched, beating through the waters. So good!

Ahhh I should do the next levels! Let me know if you need some insights, I'll be more than willing to help you :)

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.