Finding Myself in Bali Part 1/2: Road to the Top at Handara Golf Resort

October 07, 2017

I'll be straight and honest. I've hit another road block in my life this year and I wasn't sure if Style Blogging is still my thing. I have a closet full of clothes but none of them really matter to me now when I look at them. 

It came to a point where I finally said to myself "They're just a bunch of stuff."

Wonder what Miranda Priestly will say to that? lol!

I still do enjoy Style Blogging but I've been doing it for more than 5 years now and I'm now seeking for a different challenge.

And then it hit me. I'm sure you've seen from the start of this year that I have been sharing my UAE experience on Instagram. I've posted photos of food, hotels, new and hip places in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and I'm really enjoying doing that.

Then I realised what's missing. I remember back in College, I wrote a bucket list of things to do and one of them was to save up, quit my job when I'm 30 and explore the world. I want to be realistic and when I thought about it, it's really far from happening now.

But that doesn't mean I should not travel. 

I'm very embarrassed to admit that at the age of 28, I have never been to any other countries aside from the Philippines and UAE. I also haven't tried travelling alone, I'm always surrounded with friends and family whenever I go to road trips and it's just now I realised that its about time. 

Get ready, this will be a long blogpost! 

So one boring hour at work back in July I decided to look for wonderful places around the world that offers cheap packages and Bali caught my attention. Without a second thought, I impulsively bought a 7 day Bali trip with Flight Tickets + Bed & Breakfast + Airline Pickup/ Drop Off. It was an awesome deal and it only cost me roughly $750!

I did not plan anything, this trip didn't even sinked in until the week before my departure!

So gracefully panicking, I randomly looked for interesting places around Bali on IG and what first caught my attention was the gate of Handara Golf Resort. Looking at the photos I so badly wanted to be there so I sent them a message and told them I would love to visit and they generously invited me in!

Alright I think I'm going around too much so lets start from the beginning.

A R R I V A L   D A Y

I spent a whole day of packing and repacking preparing for this trip. I even had to change my luggage just to I can fit all my stuff (I'm such a noob!). What's even funnier is that I was so excited buying stuff for this trip that I badly sprained my ankle! 

But that didn't stop me. Limping with a swollen left ankle, a huge luggage and lack of sleep, I was  determined and ready to go for my adventure in Bali.

I flew through Royal Brunei which means I would have to stop over at the Brunei International Airport for a 3hr stopover and fly next to Ngurah Rai International Airport. Apologies for being a very lousy travel blogger 'cause I wasn't able to take photos of the airport, but I was so impressed! This airport is so HUGE! I did not expect it to be that big, very clean and so organised!

I arrived at around 10:30PM and the weather was amazing. Not too hot and not to cool.

I met a good friend of mine living in South Korea from the airport who stayed with me during the 1st half of this trip. We were met by the friendly driver of the hotel I'll be staying in, the Champlung Mas Hotel located in Legian near Kuta Beach. Nothing much to say about this hotel except that they're quite consistent with room cleaning and breakfast was okay. 

When we arrived at the hotel, we decided to go for a short walk and find something to eat. The area ultimately reminded me of Boracay. But the prevailing and noticeable difference is that at 11PM, most of the shops and restaurants are closed and the streets are quiet BUT I felt so safe! I did not feel this safe sometimes when I travelled in Boracay, and Bali in general I would say is a very secured and a safe place.

We ate at McDonalds (so typical hahaha) because we were already so tired and fast food at that time made sense. Prices were okay but the serving amount of food was quite poor (I expected this though cause it's the same in the Philippines). My friend ordered a 1-pc chicken meal and was given a cute wing part which is not a good for a price of roughly IRD40,000 ($3).

Which reminds me. I'm so poor at math that it took me three days to find a system to understand how Indonesian Rupiah works. $1 = IRD 13,000 or AED1 = IRD 3675 both in my standard estimation. 

I'm telling you now though, everything in Bali is cheap with the exception of McDonalds and other alcoholic beverages. Side note: If you're a beer lover, definitely try Bintang, the local beer in Indonesia and the cheapest drink in Bali. I always go for the lemon flavoured one.

I suggest you get your money exchanged inside the mall rather than the small, sort of sketchy money exchange shops. I've read and heard a lot of bad experience with them from other tourists.

Anyway, after our short walk we decided to rest and continue everything the next day.

D A Y   1

We decided to wake up early and discover the surrounding areas. There were a lot of cool looking restaurants, coffee shops, bars, souvenir shops etc. The place is very touristic. Be careful and note that the roads are narrow, make sure you look back before you cross the roads. The main mode of transportation in Bali are those cute and small motorbikes that you can rent a day for around IRD40,000 ($3).

We walked passed Kuta Beach where you can rent surfboards and get surfing classes. Don't ignore the locals asking you if you want to have a seat on their chairs for drinks or offering the surf classes, they won't stop bothering you so the earlier you politely say no the less they become annoying.

Our footwear were not designed for Bali so we went first to Discovery Mall. A mall with a classic architecture overlooking the beach. We bought our Havaianas there then get money exchanged.

Continuing our Kuta Beach adventure we decided to go to the Hardrock Hotel. The place has a cool design but the real winner here is the spa! We got a good deal for two for a 1 hour Balinese Massage at IRD750,000 ($55). You can never get that deal in UAE so of course we dived in!

After that we had our lunch at Jamie Oliver's restaurant: Jamie's Italian. Food and presentation is good generally. Prices are okay and the amount of serving is good. What stood out for me is the design of the place which looked cozy and fun. Food for two with 1 starters, 2 mains and 2 drinks is around IRD700,000 ($50).

We then decided to go back to Kuta Beach and sit in one of the chairs and have a few drinks. Was a fun and relaxing time and the sunset was nice. I really loved the kites with exotic designs flying around.

We went back to the hotel, had a short rest, showered and ended the day with a dinner buffet back in Hard Rock Cafe which is sadly underwhelming. There wasn't really a lot of things to choose from especially the desserts which were all so basic. Thats probably why it was in promo and priced at AED175000 ($13) per person.

Went straight home after, had a few drinks again and excited for next day's main event.

D A Y   2

Here's the exciting part: When we woke up its cloudy and drizzling a little bit not that I'm complaining, I missed the rain so much!

We were picked up by the Handara Golf Resort team at 7AM ready for the Bedugul trip. The thing though is that I didn't know that the hotel and the destination we were heading to was a mountain so we packed shorts and short sleeves shirts for this trip.

The trip to Bedugul was so wonderful. Being away from trees and mountains from quite a while, you can just imagine my eyes glittering at the sight of the Bedugul Botanical Garden .

When we reached Botanical Garden the weather was of course cooler, waaaaaaay cooler! lol!

Entering the area, you will be welcomed by a lot of stunning and incredible Hindu statues! Which btw most of all the places of Bali features statues of Ganesh, Shiva etc. you'll never get tired of blasting your camera shutter off.

I visited the picturesque Cactus Greenhouse in the Botanical Garden. You'll see a variety if cacti of different sizes and heights I didn't know existed.

We then went to Lake Beratan, one of Bali's water temples. It was quite a sight to see. The main thing I liked about this area is of course the temple seemingly floating in a small island. I know I've seen these type of places around instagram in the internet but being actually there still feels out of this world. Like I'm a character from a video game trying to find ancient relics and treasures.

After Lake Beratan, you've guessed it. We finally drove straight to Handara Golf Resort.

When we reached the place we are of course welcomed by the amazing gate structure which is the main purpose of this trip. I was quite pleased that finally after weeks long of dreaming to visit this place and Bali in general, I am now here taking this really cool picture that completes half of my Bali journey.

It was quite cloudy and a drizzle of rain is starting to stir up but of course that didn't stop me from taking a photo of the gate.

After the quick shoot we went straight to the hotel. Few things to note about the place is of course its a Golf Resort. There's a lot of greens and its surrounded with trees and mountains and you can also see a lake down below.

Handara Gold Resort is know as one of the "Top 50 Greatest Golf Courses in The World" by the Golf Magazine selection Committee. It is one of Bali’s highest golf club and was one of the first clubs in Bali that opened in 1974.

I was actually surprised that it is nested in crater of a dormant volcano given that not so far away (but far away enough from tourists and locals), Mount Agung was about to erupt. During my trip though, fortunately it didn't explode and all of the people were already safely evacuated from the area so don't believe whatever you've read on the news. Media has a way to really stir up some funny and baseless stories sadly.

Moving on, its really a quiet and relaxing place with a 18-hole layout. I don't play much golf but from what I've seen, it looks like its quite a challenging course surely all golf lovers will enjoy.

The weather is always beautiful and often sunny, but please don't be like us. lol! Bring clothes that are warm enough to cover you. But to be honest though, during my visit even if it was cold I was wearing shorts and a shirt it was still good and very pleasant.

We checked in a Deluxe Room and after lunch we were given a chance to see their beautiful cabins.

I really really love cabins! I feel like I'm in Tagaytay, a mountainous place in the Philippines that seriously is identical to everything that is Handara Golf Resort.

The cabins looks really comfy and there's even a fireplace where you can warm yourself up. I could picture this area also as a beautiful wedding venue which they actually do.

We ended the day with a nice barbecue dinner complete with a lovely bonfire.

More of my Bali trip next week! It's going to be a long joyride next. I'm doing one final activity at Bedugul, visit Ubud and 2 other temples in Bali. Can't wait to share more of it with you!

Always have fun!

M O R E   P H O T O S   H E R E:

D A Y   1

📍 L E G I A N   -   K U T A   B E A C H

📍 J A M I E   O L I V E R   I N   B A L I

D A Y   2

📍 B E D U G U L   B O T A N I C A L   G A R D E N

📍 L A K E   B E R A T A N

📍 H A N D A R A   G O L F   R E S O R T

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