Komodo Liveaboard – A Bucketlist ExperienceKollecting Koordinates - Komodo liveaboard

We recently received our advanced diving certification on a Komodo liveaboard with Uber Scuba Komodo. I went from having nightmares about scuba diving to loving it. We fell in love with the underwater world while completing our Open Water Course in Bali last year. Our goal is to dive the Darwin and Wolf Islands in Galapagos one day, which means we need more XP to level up in this scuba game.

Kollecting Koordinates - Komodo liveaboard

Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re planning a Komodo liveaboard:

What is a liveaboard?

You live on a boat for a couple of days and follow this cycle: eat, sleep, dive, repeat.

Why should I choose liveaboards over day trips?

Liveaboards allow divers to explore dive sites that are difficult to reach on day trips. Divers have the advantage to get to sites before day trippers and see marine life that are only visible at certain hours (early mornings and late nights).

How do I even get to Komodo?

Komodo National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site made up of 29 islands. Labuan Bajo, a fishing town on the western tip of Flores, is the entry port to Komodo.

Tip: Wings and Garuda Indonesia are the recommended airlines. Flight time from Bali is just over 1.5 hour.

Kollecting Koordinates - Komodo liveaboard

Why Komodo and what kind of marine life will I see?

Komodo National Park is where the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean meet. The currents are intense, which means Komodo offers some of the richest marine biodiversity on Earth. It’s like being in a massive aquarium. On top of the bijillion species of fish that I can’t name, we also saw tons of sharks, mantas, turtles, stingrays, nudis, and cuttlefish… even a pygmy squid (the size of your fingernail) on our night dive!

How experienced do I have to be to join a Komodo liveaboard?

It’s recommended that divers have a minimum of Adventure Deep dive since most of these sites have strong currents and are deeper than 18m. If you are only Open Water certified, you can do your Advanced Course on board like we did.

If you don’t want to take the full Advanced Course you can opt for individual Deep and Night Adventure courses. You can simply sit out on these dives if you don’t want any training at all, but you’ll probably end up missing most of the fun stuff.

Just how strong are the currents in Komodo?

Pretty damn strong. Komodo has up and down, and even roller coaster type currents. We were exhausted after Tatawa Besar and had a difficult time hooking onto rocks at The Cauldron!

HOWEVER, the divemasters and crew know these dive sites like the back of their hands. They would jump into sea for a quick final check of currents before we all back-rolled in. Leave it to the pros to determine when to dive where.

What can I expect on a Komodo liveaboard?

If you choose a phenomenal dive operator like we did you’ll be in good hands. You’ll swim and dive in crystal clear waters, feast on gourmet meals, see Komodo dragons up close, and witness breathtaking sunrises and sunsets every day. An amazing crew will help with your heavy equipment and make sure you have dry fluffy towels after dives.

Oh yea, you get to befriend some pretty rad people along the way!

Kollecting Koordinates - Komodo liveaboard

Figgy prepping breakfast for us

Are there things to do other than diving on a Komodo liveaboard?

Yes! Our package included a trek on Rinca Island to see the famous lizards that can only be found in Komodo National Park: the Komodo Dragons. We also hiked up Gili Lawa Darat to catch the sunset one evening.

You can go snorkeling, swimming, or SUP-ing any time you want. On our last evening, the crew prepared a BBQ dinner on a secluded beach. They played music and sang for us, and even taught us some dance moves!

How do I choose the right operator for my Komodo liveaboard?

No one feels comfortable wiring such a large sum of money in advance, especially when shady boats and scams are all too common in Indonesia. Do your research; be wary of operators with sketchy reviews where the reviewer has only posted once (*cough* fake news).

I came across horror stories where people would pay up front, only to find that the dive center is nonexistent when they land in Labuan Bajo. Others end up in dirty and worst of all, unsafe boats.

Ask lots of questions: Is the dive centre PADI and/or SSI certified? What’s included/excluded from the total cost? Is the boat you paid for the actual boat you’re getting on?

After hours of scouring reviews and forums we decided on Uber Scuba, which proved to be the best decision ever! The staff were quick and helpful in responding my never-ending questions. Our boat, The Amalia, was exactly what we had expected.

Kollecting Koordinates - Komodo liveaboard

Our boat – The Amalia

What was The Amalia like?

Uber Scuba uses Amalia for liveaboard trips. It has 5 sleeping cabins, an upper sun deck with comfy day beds, and a spacious outdoor dining area connected to an indoor saloon and kitchen. Juices, tea, coffee, and snacks are available throughout the day.

Note: The double en-suites are perfect for couples. We had a private bathroom (marine toilet!) in our small but clean cabin.

The crew does an amazing job in keeping the whole boat tidy, including the wet station. Each of us had a designated spot for our BCD’s, tanks, fins and weights. The only thing you have to be responsible for is to hang your wet suit up after every dive.

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How much does a Komodo liveaboard cost?

Our 3-night Komodo liveaboard in the en-suite cabin came to $890USD per person, plus an additional $200USD for the Advanced Course. This includes everything except for the Park fees and alcoholic drinks. Not bad at all, especially when liveaboards in the Galapagos or Palau are in the thousands!

Kollecting Koordinates - Komodo liveaboard Disclaimer: This post was done in partnership with Uber Scuba Komodo. As always, our opinions and experiences are honest and our own. We wouldn’t recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves!

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Heaven on Earth – Munduk Moding PlantationKollecting Koordinates - Munduk Moding Plantation

You’ve probably seen Munduk Moding Plantation’s award-winning infinity pool many times on social media, but there’s more to this resort than just its pool. Three days at MMP was the perfect end to our Bali adventures- except we wish we allocated more time here because there’s still so much we haven’t done!

ABOUT MUNDUK MODING PLANTATION

Escape the crowds of South Bali and enjoy the unspoiled natural beauty of North Bali. With Lovina Beach in the north and Menjangan in the northwest, Munduk Moding Plantation is surrounded by jungles, rice fields, and hidden waterfalls. It’s just a short drive to the Twin Lakes of Tamblingan and Buyan. Bedugul, where Ulun Danu Bratan Temple is located, is also close by.

MMP is not just a luxury resort- it’s an organic coffee plantation too. It is the only place in Bali offering luwak coffee harvested from the wild, unlike other plantations that inhumanely cage these animals. 

Apart from ethical farming practices, MMP gives back to the community by offering job opportunities to the local population. Most of their staff are recruited from the Gobleg and Munduk villages. In addition, MMP works with schools to get children involved in traditional dance, music, and crafts.

THE MUNDUK MODING PLANTATION EXPERIENCE

A chrysanthemum wreath, cold towel, and welcome drink await you in the lobby as you make your way through the garden path. After a swift check-in, you’re whisked away to your suite or villa in a golf cart. Make yourself at home and munch on fresh fruits while flipping through the MMP activity book.

Note: Every unit has a mobile phone for guests to call the front desk and to take on their adventures.

DAILY ACTIVITIES

Every evening, you’ll find a box of chocolates and a scroll in your villa. It contains a Balinese folklore (kind of like a bed time story!) along with a schedule of activities for the upcoming three days. These include yoga, bird watching, coffee roasting and cupping, kite making and flying, bamboo straw making, traditional Balinese dance performance, and traditional Balinese martial arts. You can even learn how to make towel animals and how to wear Balinese attire!

There’s an activity room on top of MiMPi Restaurant with a small gym, table tennis, and pool table. Still looking for more things to do? You can go riding around the plantation on one of four handsome horses.

SPA

We tried both the hot bamboo and hot stone Balinese massage. Unfortunately, there’s nothing to write home about in terms of the actual treatments- they felt a bit rushed. Nevertheless, it was still nice unwinding after a long day.

COMPLIMENTARY SHUTTLE

Munduk Moding Plantation offers free shuttle services to Munduk Waterfall and the Twin Lakes every morning at 9:30am. Shuttles to Bedugul leave at 12:30pm.

You can also request a driver for the day. Pricing is quite fair; it depends on the duration of your trip. For instance, a day tour (8hrs) costs 79USD.

Tip: Do not miss Banyumala Twin Falls!

DINING

A strong believer in sustainable agriculture, MMP grows their own fruits and veggies. MiMPi Restaurant serves Indonesian and fusion dishes, using organic, homegrown produce whenever possible.

Breakfast is served in the restaurant or in your own villa. Choose from Indonesian, Balinese, American, or Continental. Swing by at 4pm for afternoon tea- you can smell the freshly baked cookies from miles away!

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POOL

And finally, the incredibly IG-worthy 18m award-winning infinity pool. We were graced by the most breathtaking sunrises and sunsets every day. If you’ve seen ‘Passengers’, remember that gorgeous scene where JLaw was swimming towards stars in that gravity-defying pool? Go for a swim at dawn- it’ll feel reminiscent of that scene as you glide towards the moon.

Kollecting Koordinates - Munduk Moding Plantation

Sunset at MMP’s infinity pool

VILLAS AND SUITES

With only a handful of villas and suites (Garden Suite, 1-Bedroom Villa, 1-Bedroom Pool Villa, 2-Bedroom Coffee Villa, and 2-Bedroom Pool Villa) on 5 acres of land, guests have absolute peace and privacy. The only time when we saw other guests was at the pool and MiMPi Restaurant.

Note: There aren’t many rooms so book in advance!

Our beautiful 1-Bedroom Villa had huge glass panel doors on all sides, letting in lots of natural light. The warm interior is finished with hardwood floors and furniture, as well as marble floors in the bathroom. We could see rolling hills of lush vegetation from our king-size poster bed. On a clear day, the views extend out to the Java and Bali seas.

The bathroom is complete with a hand finished terrazzo bathtub and shower stall. A separate outdoor rainshower is steps away in a private garden. We even had his and hers sinks!

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Kollecting Koordinates - Munduk Moding Plantation 7 Kollecting Koordinates - Munduk Moding Plantation

Other tips & Info

  • Rates start at $170USD+ for Garden Suites, $200USD+ for 1-Bedroom Villas, $290USD+ for 1-Bedroom Pool Villas, and $480USD+ for 2-Bedroom Pool Villas.
  • There’s also one 4-Bedroom Pool Villa for large groups or families.
  • Breakfast is included in the nightly rate.
  • Because of the high altitude it can get chilly at night- bring layers!
  • For more information and current promos, visit their official website, Facebook, and Instagram pages.

Kollecting Koordinates - Munduk Moding Plantation Disclaimer: Many thanks to Munduk Moding Plantation for hosting our incredible stay. As always, all opinions and experiences are honest and our own. We wouldn’t recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves!

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Kollecting Koordinates - Munduk Moding Plantation

Perfect base to explore Nusa Penida and Nusa LembonganKollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Just a short ferry ride from Sanur are the Nusa Islands. We missed out on this part of Bali last year so we were eager to cross it off our list this time! Deciding on where to stay in Nusa Lembongan and Penida was easy- a quick search using any hotel booking engine will show you Batu Karang Lembongan Resort & Day Spa sitting pretty at #1. It became clear to us that this ranking is no joke from the moment we landed in Denpasar.

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

4:30pm. Our driver, , had waited over an hour for us but we were still in the immigrations line. Worried we weren’t going to make our 5:30pm boat ride from Sanur we called Luca, the bar manager, who got in touch with Putu and Rocky Fast Boat. By the time we hopped on the car it was already 5pm. It was a bad day for traffic at DPS- it took us an hour just to get out of the airport!

6pm. Putu had spent the last hour driving as fast as he could through that crazy Bali traffic and begging the boat to wait for us. We were still on the road when the last boat sailed. Our hearts sank. The general manager called and said we’d have to stay in Sanur for the night before catching the earliest boat over to Lembongan the following day.

Then a miracle happened. “Lembongan! Lembongan!” Bursting with joy, Putu put the pedal to the metal and told us to get ready to run- a boat was waiting for us at Sanur! It was 6:11pm and we were the only 2 passengers on the way to Nusa Lembongan. By 7pm we were sipping on our welcome drinks at Batu Karang!

Where to stay in Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida

Location & Space

Batu Karang Lembongan Resort & Day Spa is footsteps away from the speedboat harbour, where Rocky and Scoot dock. The famous yellow bridge connecting Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan lies on the other side of the resort, just a short ride away. You can reach Nusa Penida within 15 minutes by speedboat from the yellow bridge. This makes Batu Karang the perfect home base for exploring the Nusa Islands.

Because the property sits on a slope, all villas and common grounds have a breathtaking view of crystal clear turquoise waters. Golf carts are available to transport guests who have rooms up the hill and those requiring mobility assistance.

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Batu Karang

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Villas at Batu Karang

Facilities & Amenities

Get pampered at the Lulur Spa after a long day of exploring the Nusa Islands, or chill by the pool. Two is better than one, but what about 3 pools, including one with a swim-up bar? Those looking to stay in shape on vacation can take advantage of the gym and steam room. A day lounge is also available to facilitate early arrivals and late departures. There’s even a mini movie theatre!

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Batu Karang

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Batu Karang

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Villas & Suites

Whether it’s a double room or a 3-bedroom villa, all 6 different room categories capture the essence of being home away from home. The villas and suites are luxurious and spacious; designs reflect traditional Balinese architecture with a modern flair.

We stayed in the air-conditioned 1 bedroom villa, furnished with a comfy king size bed with mosquito net, personal safe, workstation, and plush robes. The large balcony was perfect for yoga morning sessions and relaxation on the daybed. On top of a fully stocked mini bar and coffee/tea-maker, complimentary bottles of drinking water are replenished daily. Our favourite part was the private outdoor shower and beautifully hand carved bathtub.

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Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Batu Karang

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Batu Karang

Drink & Eat

Muntigs Bar & Restaurant, The Deck Cafe & Bar, The Howff, The Balcony- all of Batu Karang’s on-site bars and restaurants offer a stunning view of the beach and Mount Agung in the distance. Grab a seat and enjoy a beautiful sunset over delicious food and drinks. Luca and his staff will take care of your dining experience; Wiran and Ray really stood out as fantastic servers.

Breakfast is complimentary at Muntigs or The Deck- the Islander Bowl was so good that I had it every morning! Muntigs also offers fine dining in a gorgeous setting. The seafood laksa and beef rendang set the standards high for the rest of our trip.

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Muntigs Restaurant at Batu Karang

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa 8

Our personal favourite were the drinks and tapas at The Howff Whisky, Gin, & Wine Bar, a romantic speakeasy tucked away from the island bustle.

For a more laidback meal head to The Deck; their burgers are finger-lickin’ good! Happy Hour is from 5 – 6:30pm every day with 25% off selected cocktails and beers. There’s also live music with DJ’s spinning from 5-8pm at Sunday Sunset Sessions.

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Lembongan – Batu Karang

Other tips & Info

  • Rates start at $260CAD+ for Twin Rooms, $290CAD+ for Double Rooms, and $325CAD+ for 1 Bedroom Villas.
  • Breakfast is included in the nightly rate.
  • WiFi signal is strong throughout the whole resort!
  • Rocky Fast Boat is the recommended boat service from Sanur; 500,000IDR for a round-trip transfer. The resort can arrange this for you.
  • Pickup/drop-off in mainland Bali is available for a fee.
  • For more information and current promos, visit their official website, Facebook, and Instagram pages.

Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa
Disclaimer: Many thanks to Batu Karang Lembongan Resort & Day Spa for hosting us. All opinions and experiences are honest and our own- we wouldn’t recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves!

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Kollecting Koordinates - where to stay in Nusa

20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido in Palawan

Hurricane Hagupit swept across the Philippines days before our flight to El Nido in 2014. We shrugged off the sunk costs and tried our luck again in 2016. When we arrived at Mactan-Cebu Airport to check in for our flight, we were told our flight was canceled. Dammit, what does it freaking take to visit this place?! We eventually made it there the following day and realized it was all worth it! Here are 20 photos to inspire you to visit El Nido in Palawan, Philippines.

READ MORE: 8 Reasons to convince you to visit Cebu in the Philippines

20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Island hopping is a must!

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Town proper from the sea

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Marvel at the countless islands and rock formations

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

The ocean has never been so inviting!

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Have breakfast with views overlooking the Corong Corong Bay

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Indulge in views like this from the Taraw Peak

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

And this

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Sun tan on this soft white sand beach

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

…as long as you bring sunscreen!

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Go island hopping on your own private banca and avoid crowds

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Explore this natural aquarium

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Enjoy sunsets while swinging in a hammock on your balcony

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Dive into crystal clear turquoise waters

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

The snorkeling conditions here are pristine!

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Live among trees in a cottage with an infinity pool

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Motorbike to the famous twin beaches of Nacpan and Calitang

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

The Twin Beaches of El Nido: Nacpan and Calitang

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Go kayaking in the Big and Small Lagoons

Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Get your hair fried and skin burnt…. worth it!

Still not convinced? Check out our Youtube video:

Stay tuned for our guide to visiting El Nido comfortably and efficiently without breaking your bank!

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Kollecting Koordinates - 20 Photos to inspire you to visit El Nido

Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort & SpaKollecting Koordinates - Shangri-la Mactan

Ah, Shangri-La Mactan. This gorgeous resort in Cebu served as my sanctuary on our last night in the Philippines. We knew we were in good hands from the moment our airport shuttle pulled up to the security check. Our time in the Philippines was going to end on a good note after all.

A nasty flu slapped me in the face towards the end of our Philippines journey. When I finally saw my GP after week 3 of nonstop coughing, he said I would’ve gotten pneumonia if I didn’t recover from laryngitis by week 4 (yikes!). Anyway, after suffering from high fevers for 3 days straight in El Nido, I was relieved when we landed in Cebu. We were to stay here for one night before flying back to Taiwan.

First Impressions

Similar to other Shangri-La properties, this one is grand; it was like walking into a palace. We were welcomed by staff in gorgeous uniforms (that’s right, even their outfits are spot on!) and sipped on yummy welcome drinks while checking in. A bell boy, full of smiles, then walked us to our room. We don’t know his name, but he picked us out from the crowd the next morning to say bye to us!

Kollecting Koordinates - Shangri-la Mactan

Room

Perched on the 9th floor, our massive room offered a beautiful view of the coastline. The king-sized bed is the most comfortable bed we slept on this entire Asia trip.

The staff even surprised us with fresh fruits, wine, chocolates, and a cake to celebrate both our birthdays! We had reservations at Cowrie Cove, one of Shangri-La’s onsite restaurants, but had to cancel because I was just too weak. When we ordered room service later in the evening, they surprised us with 2 more cakes! That was such a sweet gesture. The service and attention to detail here is just impeccable!

Kollecting Koordinates - Shangri-la Mactan

Food

To be honest, I’m not a big fan of Filipino food. I don’t like rice nor do I eat meat, so I didn’t have many options in the Philippines. The food at Shangri-La Mactan, however, is a different story. The vegetarian bibimbap I had for lunch was and the breakfast buffet was the best thing I ate that whole week. The cuisines they offered included Filipino, Western, Japanese, and Korean. There was a fruit bar, salad bar, dessert bar, and even a gluten-free zone! There were also plenty of vegetarian options too- I was in heaven.

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Amenities

With its own private beach and onsite spa facility, Shangri-La Mactan has something for everyone. Fitness training, snorkeling, beach volleyball, jet ski, tennis, yoga… the list goes on and you’ll never run out of things to do. It’s the perfect place not only for couples on a romantic getaway, but also families with small children. They even offer nail art and hair braiding for kids!

Kollecting Koordinates - Shangri-la Mactan

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Thoughts

It’s a shame that we weren’t able to indulge in everything the resort has to offer. We would’ve loved to have a romantic candlelit dinner or try some water sports, but I just wasn’t physically able to do anything. Thanks to Shangri-La Mactan’s luxurious comfort and service, though, I was finally able to rest up and recharge my body.

We’ll be coming back- and next time, we’ll be treating ourselves to a spa treatment after cruising on jet skis!

Kollecting Koordinates - Shangri-la Mactan
Disclaimer: We received a discounted rate for our experience at Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort & Spa. However, these are our own honest opinions and we wouldn’t recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves! 

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Kollecting Koordinates - Shangri-La Mactan

Unforgettable jungle stay – Bisma Eight UbudKollecting Koordinates - Bisma Eight

We had the pleasure of indulging in one of Bisma Eight’s 38 suites. This is a fairly new luxury boutique hotel (opened in early 2015) that’s very close to Ubud Centre. Surrounded by a lush jungle and rice fields, it only takes 10-15 minutes to walk to Ubud Market and the Monkey Forest. The location is unbeatable!

Kollecting Koordinates - Bisma Eight

From the moment our cab pulled up to Bisma Eight we were treated like royalty. Staff with huge smiles rushed over to greet us and carry our bags. Welcome drinks were served promptly and we were each given canang sari to offer to Ganesha, the God of knowledge and wisdom, at a small shrine in the lobby.

Bisma Eight prides itself in being more than just a hotel- it is a community that embraces even the smallest act, ensuring a unique experience for both their guests and staff. We were immersed in a relaxing atmosphere right from the get-go. The property takes on a minimalist, yet classy design. This bamboo path leading from the lobby to our building blends in seamlessly with the gorgeous architecture and grounds.

Kollecting Koordinates - Bisma Eight

Kollecting Koordinates - Bisma Eight

We stayed one night at a Forest Suite, located at the west end of the property. All the Forest Suites offer a jungle view from a private balcony (from the bed too, actually!). Because our suite was on the ground floor, we could only see the base of the trees. Don’t get me wrong, it was still lush and beautiful. But I’d imagine the higher floors would offer a better sweeping panoramic view of the jungle from the treetops.

Our suite was MASSIVE; it came with all the essentials plus more. There were more than enough outlets (always a problem when we have so many electronics to charge) and the WiFi signal was very strong (wasn’t always the case in Bali). Not only did we get our own living room with tons of space for luggage storage and a huge bed with a forest view, but also a Japanese inspired soaking tub in our bathroom! I adored the interior design- the minimalist approach with a wooden touch was so chic and luxurious.

Kollecting Koordinates - Bisma Eight

After we settled in, we got a knock on our door with afternoon tea. Each individual treat was a burst of flavour, leaving us wanting more.

Kollecting Koordinates - Bisma Eight

Copper Kitchen & Bar

Bisma Eight’s rooftop restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor seating. We dined here for both lunch and dinner- it gave off a different vibe in the day vs. night. During the day, you can see the fields of greens and volcanoes in the distance while you enjoy your food. AS devoured his Focaccia Club while I munched on my healthy vegetarian Bisma Eight Bowl. Only fresh, local ingredients are used and they even have their own organic garden where they grow their own produce!

Kollecting Koordinates - Bisma Eight

After dark, the restaurant comes to life with romantic lights and candles. The ambience is perfect for a dinner date with beautifully presented fusion dishes. Both our entrees were delicious, but the star of the meal was this dragon fruit tart with milk rocks and meringue. It’s so pretty. And it was as yummy as it looks- tangy with just the right amount of sweetness.

Kollecting Koordinates - Bisma Eight

We chose to have our breakfast served on our private balcony. With 11 options to choose from (western, Balinese, Japanese, and Korean), there’s something for everyone. The pastries were full of buttery goodness and both our mains were cooked to perfection. I love how the fruits were served with a piece of lime- the tiny bit of sourness makes them much sweeter.

Kollecting Koordinates - Bisma Eight

wellness

There are also yoga classes every morning that take place on the roof top. AS tried yoga for the first time and he loved it! Although there is no spa facility at Bisma Eight, there is a stunning infinity pool and a well-equipped gym. We were finally able to burn off some of the fat we’ve gained, hah. Nothing feels better than letting loose and relaxing after a workout. That was exactly what we did- we went back to our suite for a soak.

Kollecting Koordinates - Bisma Eight

It takes around 45 minutes to fill up the tub but trust me, it’s worth the wait!

Kollecting Koordinates - Bisma Eight

There are both daybeds and cabanas by the infinity pool, along with a rooftop pool bar with an equally gorgeous jungle view. The pool is even heated at night. Daybeds get filled up quickly but we never had an issue with finding a spot. This was the perfect place to unwind and get your tan on.

tips:

  • Rates start at 330CAD a night (before taxes), breakfast inclusive.
  • It’s just a little over an hour from the airport by car, which costs around 300-350K IDR (~$30-35).
  • Stay in a Forest Suite and request a room on the 3rd floor.
  • All the suites are equipped with a Japanese onsen tub, regardless of room type.
  • For more information and current promos, check out their official websiteInstagramFacebook, and Twitter pages.

Kollecting Koordinates - Bisma Eight

Disclaimer: AS and I were invited guests at Bisma Eight. However, all opinions are our own and we wouldn’t recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves! 

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Kollecting Koordinates - Bisma Eight

Indulge in luxury and zen at The AmalaKollecting Koordinates - The Amala

Our 10 days in Bali were so packed with activities that we were drained by the end of the trip. Looking back, AS and I agree that the day we liked most was our first day in Bali. With so much Bali has to offer, we’re a little embarrassed to admit that we really enjoyed being cooped up in our villa at The Amala.

Kollecting Koordinates - The Amala

After landing at Denpasar Airport, we were picked up and transported to an adults-only sanctuary tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Seminyak. One of 6 Lifestyle Retreats’ properties in Bali, The Amala is ideal for wellness retreats offering both luxury and zen. Amelie and her team greeted us with huge smiles and welcome drinks upon arrival. A swift check-in ensued, then we were led to our very own Spa Villa through a lush bamboo path.

Kollecting Koordinates - The Amala

There are only 14 guest units at The Amala, giving guests complete intimacy. Each unit utilizes an open-air concept that is absolutely stunning. Our spa villa came with a private plunge pool with jacuzzi jets, daybeds, an outdoor bathtub, and a shower that doubles as a steam room. The steam shower can be scented with either ginger green tea or spiced citrus depending on your mood. Our bed was even decorated with swan towels and bamboo leaves, congratulating our wedding anniversary!

A complimentary shuttle will take you anywhere in Seminyak, given that it is available at the time of request. We weren’t so lucky in getting a ride to our dinner reservation, but it only cost us around $3 to get there by cab so it wasn’t a big deal. Free yoga is also available at 8am every morning- you can also sign up for additional wellness sessions and classes at an extra cost.

Kollecting Koordinates - The Amala

Breakfast was served right by our plunge pool. Not only do they have Western and Indonesian options, but also Japanese!

cooking class

When we were in Bangkok we had a blast at a cooking class so we wanted to sign up for one in Bali. However, we found that most cooking classes in Bali are only offered in big classes where you have to share workstations with others (not our thing). The one offered at The Amala is completely private! We signed up for Menu 1 with Chef Wayan, who was very patient with my husband who doesn’t have any culinary knowledge. The staff also noticed the number of bug bites we had and set up mosquito repellent without us having to ask.

We learned how to make a 3-course Indonesian meal, including a spicy chilli paste from scratch that’s highly addictive. We present to you: lawar salad, tum ikan, and dadar gulung! This was definitely the best lunch we had in Bali.

Kollecting Koordinates - The Amala

spa

After the cooking class came our couples massage at their Spa & Wellness Studio. I booked us a Balinese Exotic Fruit package, which is a 2hr treatment beginning with a foot bath/scrub, followed by a traditional full body massage, a scrub and wrap, and finally a flower bath. The drinks – freshly pressed juice and hot ginger tea- were the cherry on top. Our masseuses, Rassmi and Vidya, were gentle with great technique and power. They were so good that I fell asleep and drooled!

We really loved the peace and tranquillity The Amala. The service was next level- Amelie and her team pride themselves on a personal level of service that is second to none. Because it was our first stay in Bali, it set the bar extremely high. AS still can’t stop talking about our experience here. We wish we had stayed longer!

Kollecting Koordinates - The Amala

Disclaimer: We received a discounted rate for our experience at The Amala. However, all opinions are our own and we wouldn’t recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves! 

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Kollecting Koordinates - The Amala

Bai Tu Long Bay cruise with Indochina JunkKollecting Koordinates - Bai Tu Long Bay

We originally wanted to sign up for the 3d2n cruise around Halong Bay. Unfortunately the sail schedule didn’t work with our dates. Instead, we did the Bai Tu Long Bay cruise on a newer, more luxurious boat: the Dragon Legend. Out of all the cruise companies, we chose Indochina Junk based on their reviews. It’s slightly more expensive but you get what you pay for.

It was cold and gloomy when we visited in December. While we didn’t get to swim in the bay, we got to see this beautiful UNESCO site in another light. The limestone formations were extra serene against the  breeze and drizzle.

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the itinerary

Day 1: pickup from hotel – embark and check in at Hon Gai harbor – set menu lunch on board – cruise to Vung Dang / Cong Dam area – kayak (it was too cold to swim in December) – dinner – relax

Day 2: Tai Chi on the sun-deck – breakfast – explore Thien Canh Son Cave – kayak – check out – lunch – disembark – puppet show at Yen Duc village (we slept on the van) – arrive in Hanoi

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Approaching the Dragon Legend from the smaller boat

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Set-menu lunch with a view

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Beautiful cabins with a in-suite jacuzzi tub

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Delicious set-menu dinner

pho with squid we caught ourselves

Pho for breakfast of course! With squid we caught the previous night!

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the verdict

the not-so-good:

  • our driver on the way there wasn’t very friendly
  • WiFi wasn’t working in our van on the way there (the cruise manager made an effort to correct this and put us on a van that does have working wifi on the way back, so kudos!)
  • the shower drain doesn’t really drain. Water collects at the opposite end and makes a little flood outside because there’s barely an edge. We had to turn the water off every few minutes (mid shower so it’s freezing!) to kick the water over to the side with the drain. That really didn’t do anything because it’d start to flood as soon as we turned the shower back on.

the good:

  • There were literally no other boats in sight on our route along Bai Tu Long Bay. This made the whole experience extra special and intimate
  • I hate long drives, but the 3hr ride to the port and back wasn’t even bad! Their luxury vans are very comfortable and are equipped with WiFi
  • Excellent service by all the crew members!
  • The cabins on the Dragon Legend are massive and beautiful, there’s even an in-suite jacuzzi tub
  • Wide variety of delicious food and drinks; everything is super fresh
  • Squid fishing wasn’t included in the itinerary but our crew invited us to do this at night. This was so much fun!

The 2d1n cruise on Indochina Junk’s Dragon Legend was an unforgettable experience. Bai Tu Long Bay is much quieter; we recommend it over the more well-known and popular Ha Long Bay. Hopefully they’ve fixed the shower drain problem by now!

Bai Tu Long Bay

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post; these are my own honest opinions:)

 

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Kollecting Koordinates - Bai Tu Long Bay

 

Guide – 3 Days in Siem ReapKollecting Koordinates - Angkor Wat

About a year ago, I brought AS to visit my hometown in Taiwan. It was his first time in Asia so we decided to make it a 3-week trip to check out 4 destinations in Southeast Asia! (well, 3, El Nido didn’t work out because a hurricane risked hitting the Philippines) To get from Taipei to Siem Reap we had to first catch a connecting flight from Shanghai. Not only was our flight from Taipei to Shanghai delayed by over an hour, the airplane reeked of cigarette smoke. China Eastern Airlines, folks! An airline we will never fly again.

Getting Around

If you’re not planning on hiring a private guide (who will take you around in an air-conditioned van), count on tuktuks! We used it to get to and from the airport. Zipping around in it was so much fun!

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Where to Stay

Accommodation is ridiculously cheap in this part of the world so even 5-star resorts are very affordable. Since we were going to be out all day anyway, I figured there wasn’t a point in splurging. We stayed at the Golden Butterfly Villa. For 30 bucks a night we got complimentary airport pickup, a big clean room, impeccable service, daily breakfast, and a free massage during our stay.

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What to Do

3-day Angkor Pass (40USD)

Temples and ruins and more temples and ruins! What else is there to do in Siem Reap?

We hired a private tour guide to take us around the temples and ruins. This was the best idea ever- Mr. Chet is amazing and so full of knowledge. I wouldn’t recommend doing temple runs in Angkor without one. You’ll be able to learn so much more about the history of the Khmer empire! It’s also nice to go temple to temple in an air-conditioned van with ice cold water in that weather. We were there in December (their ‘winter’) but it was still very hot.

Entering through the south gate of Angkor Thom to check out Preah Khan, our first stop.

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Banteay Srei after lunch, also known as citadel of women or beauty. It was built using red sandstone which carved like wood. Look at the intricate details!

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Banteay Samre was my favourite. Because it’s further away in the east, we had this temple to ourselves.

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Pre Rup literally means ‘turning of the body’. It was thought to have been a crematorium.

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We woke up at 4am to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat the next day. So worth it.

Angkor Wat COMING SOON

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Bayon Temple- home of the 216 smiling Buddha faces.

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Our last stop- Ta Prohm. Also known as the Tomb Raider temple!

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Pub Street

This place is bumpin’ with expats and tourists after dark. There are many restaurants, pubs, street food stalls, massage places, and souvenir stands. We spent our evenings here strolling up and down the alleys, checking out the market and haggling for elephant pants!

Try some bugs!

While you’re on Pub Street, head over to a food stall and try some bugs! AS tried a cricket. Neither of us dared putting a tarantula in our mouths… my goodness.

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What to Eat

Apart from insects and snakes, there are other local delicacies you should try. The banana desserts, curries, fish amok, and lok lak are all delicious. Food is inexpensive in Siem Reap- you can get a 2-course meal for around 5-6USD.

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Genevieve’s

We came across this cute little place close by our hotel called Genevieve’s. We loved their fish amok and lok lak, and it’s all for a good cause! The Australian owner supports locals and gives back to the Cambodian community. Just did a quick search on Tripadvisor; it’s now rated #1 in Siem Reap!

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Kollecting Koordinates - Siem Reap

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