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.

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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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Kollecting Koordinates - Munduk Moding Plantation 20

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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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

The Ultimate Guide to Tikal National Park in GuatemalaKollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

Once a powerful empire with 120,000+ inhabitants at its peak, Tikal remains one of the largest and most iconic Maya ruins in Central America. Whether you’re a history junkie or Star Wars fan (or just an average Jane/Joe), I think it’s safe to say that nobody travels to Guatemala or mainland Belize without visiting Tikal.

Located in the Peten Region of Guatemala, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is very close to Belize. It made sense for Tikal to be our final stop in Guatemala before crossing the border.

Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

on top of Temple 4, which is the filming location for Yavin 4 in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope

What to bring when you’re visiting Tikal

  • Water
  • Comfortable closed-toe shoes
  • Flashlight
  • Mosquito repellent with DEET
  • Clothes with breathable fabric
  • Binoculars for wildlife

We visited our local travel clinic to consult a doctor regarding Zika risks and precautions.

Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

our 6am Avianca flight from GUA to FRS

Getting here; visiting Tikal from Guatemala City or mainland Belize

From Guatemala City

BY LAND: If you’re feeling adventurous, you can hop on a chicken bus (and pray that you’ll arrive in one piece after a rough 15hr+ ride). Otherwise, take the comfortable, air-conditioned buses operated by Linea Dorada. This journey will take you around 10 hours for $30USD+.

Tip: Take the ‘luxury’ overnight bus to save on a night’s accommodation.

BY AIR: We chose to fly instead because of my sciatica. Avianca and TAG offer daily hour-long flights from Guatemala City to Flores ($120USD+, one way). The airport is another hour, by car, to Tikal.

From Belize

BY LAND:  The easiest way is to ask tour operators in San Ignacio if you can catch a ride with their day tour groups to Tikal. We did the reverse; border crossing was easy peasy and the whole trip took 4 hours from our hotel in Tikal to San Ignacio town center. If you’re coming from Belize City, take the local bus to San Ignacio first.

Tip: There are tons of tour operators in San Ignacio and they’ll quote you anywhere from $25-45USD per person, one way. Shop around and haggle. We had a very pleasant experience with Sergio from Explore Inland Tours who bent backwards for us at the very last minute. 

BY AIR: You can fly to Flores from Belize City via Tropic Air ($190USD+, one way). This flight is 45 minutes and again, you’ll have to arrange a ride to Tikal once you land. Ask your guide to include this in your tour.

READ MORE: Eating like a local in Belize – cheap eats and where to find them

Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

Where to stay when visiting Tikal

Stay in the Park

To get the most out of your Tikal experience, stay in one of three ‘hotels’ located in the park: Jungle Lodge, Tikal Inn, and Jaguar Inn. Rates start at $40USD for something very basic and $120USD+ for nicer rooms. Chances are, you’ll hear howler monkeys and see coatimundi roaming around. You’ll also be the first ones to enter the park and the last to leave. Little to no crowds is always a bonus!

We stayed in one of the newly renovated rooms at Hotel Jungle Lodge. It was clean and spacious but service was nonexistent and the overpriced food sucked. My fettuccine alfredo was more like a noodle soup and AS’s steak was so rare that we could still smell the hay the cow fed on.

Tip: Food is slightly better at Jaguar Inn.

Electricity is only available from 7-10am and 5-9:30pm, but an emergency generator keeps the ceiling fan running through the night. Even though we were there in the dry season, it was hella humid and the sheets felt damp. Multiply this discomfort by over 9000 if you’re visiting Tikal outside of the December to February period.

Stay in Flores

If you want to save some money (who doesn’t!), there are lots of affordable options in Flores. Shared dorm rooms at hostels start at $10USD (80GTQ) per person and basic private rooms range between $30-70USD. A major setback is the travel time; it takes more than an hour by car to reach Tikal which complicates things if you’re interested in the sunrise tour.

Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

Visiting Tikal for the sunset vs sunrise

It’s rare to actually witness the sunrise. Because of the high humidity, a thick layer of fog usually covers the forest canopy. That said, the sunrise tour is still magical as you listen to the jungle wake up to the first light of day.

We opted for the sunset tour instead. We entered the park at around 1pm, visited all the temples and complexes, and ended our day at the Grand Plaza with a quiet, beautiful sunset. Dusk rolled in quickly and soon it became pitch black. There couldn’t have been more than 4 others with us at the time. It was a phenomenal experience!

READ MORE: Chasing sunrise at Lake Atitlan in Guatemala

Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

Choosing a tour guide

Because anybody with a highschool diploma can become a National Tour Guide in Guatemala, you’ll find that many tour guides lack proper knowledge and/or are only in it for the money (see below: the ugly side of Tikal).

Two names stood out when we scoured the net for reputable guides: Roxy Ortiz and Marlon Diaz. The former was unresponsive but communication with Marlon was excellent. Having done this for 18 years now, he is very well educated and extremely passionate about Tikal. His English is near perfect and we were able to appreciate not only Tikal, but also Guatemala and Maya history that much more because of his wealth of knowledge.

Marlon’s the real MVP- he’s pretty much a walking encyclopedia. We tip our hats to this dude for recognizing the importance of sustainable tourism and striving for the preservation of these ruins. He’s the owner of EM Guatemala Travel and we highly recommend his service!

The ugly side of Tikal National Park

Bribery and corruption. Some tour guides collude with guards to let big groups into the park without paying the proper amount and taking a cut. Others bribe park rangers to enter restricted areas (i.e. the Great Pyramid).

Ignorance and disrespect. We saw people, tourists and incompetent guides included, feeding animals, climbing restricted areas, and being obnoxiously loud. These actions were even encouraged by so-called ‘licensed guides’!

Please don’t be like these idiots. Respect the ruins as well as the animals that live in the park.

Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

brontosaurus or coatimundi?

Kollecting Koordinates - Visiting Tikal

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12 Must-Do’s for first-timers in Bali, IndonesiaKollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali - Kintamani

Some people say Bali is overrated and that it’s lost its magic over the years. I say those people must be on something 😛 The list of things to do in Bali for first-timers can go on forever, you’ll never run out of things to do! We spent a week in Bali and only scratched the surface of this paradise- there’s still so much left to be explored.

Bali’s one of those places that made us go “Okay, we’re definitely coming back”… and we are! We loved it so much that we just booked our flights to revisit this fall. There’s still so much we want to accomplish but first, here are 12 of many, many things to do in Bali for first-timers.

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali - Kintamani

12 things to do in Bali for first-timers

1. DON’T try the Kopi Luwak, or cat poo coffee

Known to be the most expensive coffee in the world, it’s actually brewed from the feces of an Indonesian cat-like animal called the civet. They feed on coffee cherries, magic happens in their digestive system, and out comes these ridiculously priced coffee beans. However, most coffee plantations in Bali force feed these animals and cage them up in appalling conditions. Perhaps it’s not as intense as the making of foie gras but still pretty damn inhumane.

2. Visit rice terraces and rice fields

One of the main things to do in Bali for first-timers is to visit rice paddies, and Tegalalang is the obvious choice. If you want to avoid the crowds, head to Jatiluwih instead. But really, there are rice fields everywhere! We saw so many driving through the rural areas of Bali.

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali for first-timers - Rice Fields

Tegalallang Rice Terraces

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali for first-timers - Rice Fields

rice fields outside Karsa Spa Ubud

3. Stay at a villa, live like a king

You can live like a king for the price of a 3-star hotel in metropolitan cities (i.e. Vancouver, New York). Ours at The Amala came with a private plunge pool, outdoor jacuzzi tub, and a steam room- all within our own suite! You can easily spend a day just relaxing, doing absolutely nothing.

Kollecting Koordinates - The Amala

breakfast at our private pool at The Amala

4. Make friends with monkeys

Or not, they might have rabies and most likely carry other diseases. Remembering what our travel doctor said, we tried our best to keep our distance. It was awesome seeing so many monkeys monkeying around because they’re so smart. A baby monkey tried to steal my clutch while another little dude tried to pickpocket AS!

We only visited the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, but our driver said that the ones at Uluwatu Temple are a lot more feisty. Regardless, keep your hands to yourself and your personal belongings close or hidden.

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali - Monkey Forest

little thief

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali - Monkey Forest

5. Chill out at infinity pools

Do you like infinity pools overlooking the jungle or do you prefer listening to the ocean while you sip on a tropical drink? The choice is yours depending on where you stay. You can still find stunning infinity pools at reasonably priced resorts even if you don’t have a fat wallet to afford the Hanging Gardens. If your resort or villa doesn’t come with an infinity pool, you can simply spend a day at Jungle Fish.

Kollecting Koordinates - Puri Gangga Resort

infinity pool at Puri Gangga Resort Bali

infinity pool at Bisma Eight Ubud

6. Go temple hopping

Visiting temples is one of the top things to do in Bali for first-timers. While Indonesia has a Muslim-majority population, the predominant religion in Bali is Balinese Hinduism, which is a fusion of Buddhism and Shivaism. Pura, or Balinese temples, integrate core beliefs of Hinduism and Indian spiritual ideas.

Uluwatu, Tanah Lot, Tirta Gangga, Goa Gajah, Ulun Danu Beratan, and Besakih are some of the most popular ones. Because these temples are scattered throughout Bali, you’ll have to group them by region and plan your itinerary accordingly so you’re not wasting the whole day on the road. 

Pura Lempuyang is by far our favourite one. It’s waaay out in the east but the scenery at the ‘Gateway to Heaven’ is second to none.

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali for first-timers - Pura Lempuyang

Gateway to Heaven at Pura Lempuyang

7. Pig out on healthy delicious food

Using a variety of spices, fresh veggies, and meats, there’s a hint of Indonesian, Chinese, and Indian flair in Balinese food. Our favourite dish is probably the glass noodles at Bambu Restaurant in Seminyak.

Because it’s a tropical island, Bali is loaded with tons of fresh fruits and veggies. Lots of restaurants serve organic cuisine using only fresh local ingredients, making healthy eating very easy. Earth Cafe and Kafe Ubud are perfect examples!

8. Always chase waterfalls

Home to many stunning waterfalls, Bali is the place to prove those TLC girls wrong. Some waterfalls you can swim in, some you can slide down, and others you can only watch from afar. Just look at how many there are!

Our favourite is the Nungnung Waterfall. We had to descend down around 500 steps to reach this oasis, which means it was a strenuous hike back up. It was totally worth it though, because we had this all to ourselves!

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali - Nungnung Waterfall

9. Take a cooking class

Learn how to make local cuisines from scratch! We learned how to cook a 3-course Balinese meal at The Amala: lawar salad, tum ikan, and dadar gulung.

10. Get pampered, treat yoself

Massages are dirt cheap here- without losing quality! Most resorts have an on-site spa. Many also offer a complimentary 30min massage when you book a stay with them.

Our favourite is Karsa Spa in Ubud. Surrounded by rice fields, its idyllic location is perfect for some R&R. The best part? A 60min massage is only 160,000IDR, which is around $15CAD! A flower bath can be added for an additional 160,000IDR.

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali for first-timers - Spa

flower bath at Karsa Spa in Ubud

11. Go scuba diving

I legit thought I was going to drown when I went diving the first time in Oahu but I’m so glad I gave it another shot in Bali. We got PADI certified last spring with Bali Aqua and it was one of the most surreal experiences ever. I’d have to say that diving is one of the best things to do in Bali for first-timers.

We checked out the USS Liberty Shipwreck in Tulamben, swam with manta rays in Nusa Penida, and were carried by the currents through a giant aquarium while drift diving in Nusa Lembongan.

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali - Manta Point

mantas in Nusa Penida

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali - Shipwreck

shipwreck dive in Tulamben

12. Catch the Mount Batur sunrise

If you can wake up at 2am for a hike, you’ll be rewarded with a majestic 360-degree view of the sunrise on the summit of Mount Batur. Or if you’re lazy like us, just ask a driver to take you to Kintamani. The sunrise seen from here is still gorgeous, no?

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali - Sunrise

Kollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Bali - Sunrise

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8 Reasons to convince you to visit Cebu in the PhilippinesKollecting Koordinates - Things to do in Cebu - Sunset

Ahhh, the Philippines… Where the sun’s so hot that it hurts and the water’s so clear it looks like the pool. The first choice that comes to mind when people are picking a destination in the Philippines is usually Boracay or Palawan. While Cebu doesn’t have the white sandy beaches of Boracay nor the limestone cliffs and islands of Palawan, there are still plenty of reasons to visit this amazing island. With so many things to do in Cebu, you’ll never want to leave once you get there.

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Chasing Sunrise at Lake Atitlan in GuatemalaKollecting Koordinates - Indian Nose sunrise hike

The Indian Nose sunrise hike is an absolute must when visiting Lake Atitlan. I hear ya, who the hell wants to wake up at 4am for a leg workout while on vacation?! Trust me, this one’s worth your time. Plus, the hike ain’t even bad!

It’s named ‘Indian Nose’ because it’s shaped like a side profile facing the sky. You can cheat and end your hike at the mouth (like we did), or you can continue for another 10min to go all the way up to the nose. We hired a guide to take us because we weren’t comfortable navigating in the dark alone, especially after hearing stories about armed robberies in the area. This doesn’t mean a guide will protect you from these situations!

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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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