Experiencing Traditional Korea

I was still in South Korea and got enough time to visit another tourist spots. I was already touring Seoul and its famous attractions and this time, I am experiencing traditional Korea. Since I explored the capital of the nation, I was looking on a place near the airport. I did the Incheon City Tour.

The first stop was in a traditional park or garden.

Wolmi Traditional Park was formed into natural eco-friendly park from historic park at the edge of neo-modern period. It has various facilities, traditional garden with Korean style houses, walking way surrounded with nature.

The entire park was wide that touring around the grounds took about an a hour or more added up with some major information about the park and the history of the country. Guests got the opportunity to wear hanbok or traditional clothes. We were strolling within the park showing the houses for rich and poor families back in old Joseon dynasty. It was like an immersion to old fashioned Korea.

The second stop was at an international market.

Sinpo International Open Market is famous for the unique foods of Incheon originated including fried chicken and many others which enable everyone to enjoy typical street Korean food.

The market was lively and full of flavors. Just by walking inside the market, I can smell delicious and really aromatic Korean dishes. It was great, guests even get free taste before purchasing them. Prices were affordable and when it comes to cleanliness, the market was tidy.

Experiencing Traditional Korea was a success. I got the best of both worlds, the modern and the traditional side of South Korea. It was amazing to sightsee and be informed about the history of the country. I am a traveler who is more of knowing the history and immerse on the culture and the city tour I got was able to meet both.

Check my YouTube channel and my vlog when I was exploring South Korea.

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Sparkling Korea! ‘Seoul’

South Korea has been on my favorite list of countries to travel. I’ve been dreaming about it for the main reason that I’ve been hooked with Korean drama series on TV way back before I left the Philippines. It even made to the point that I was studying their language and on how to write the Korean alphabet. I did a lot of research and back in 2013, I went to South Korea Consulate to ask if it’s allowed to submit a Visa application thru them but unfortunately, they don’t and it should be done thru South Korean Embassy which is in the capital city of the Philippines, Manila. But this time, I got the opportunity to visit the country  since I got a Korean entry visa easily using my permanent resident status in t he United States. Its travel slogan before was used to be Sparkling Korea which really stuck in my head but since it took me almost half a decade to get there, so, now, I am calling my trip, Sparkling Korea! Seoul.

Seoul is the capital of South Korea. Seoul is by far the country’s largest city and one of East Asia’s financial and cultural epicenters. The city has a fascinating blend of ancient traditions and cutting-edge technology. It is also home to endless street food vendors, lively vast nightlife districts, and extraordinarily high-pressure educational system and serene Buddhist temples. Indeed Seoul is a city filled with stark contrasts. With its contrasts, Seoul has a long history of dynasty. It is widely visible on well kept temples and infrastructures.

Seoul skyline

When I got the chance to set foot in Seoul, I made sure to visit the most famous tourist location and movie location too, the Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest royal palace built in 1935 and served as the main palace during Joseon Dynasty. It was built about 100 years before the Forbidden City in Beijing, China was built. But it was destroyed during Korea- Japan War in 1592 and restored in 1865. The palace is still considered as being the most beautiful and grandest of all palaces in South Korea.

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Gyeongbokgung palace is wide and huge. It may take almost  a day to totally tour the whole palace grounds but every halls and rooms are different and is assigned to different positions and royalties during the Joseon Dynasty. Geunjeongjeon is the main throne hall and the most photographed location of all the palace grounds and is also famous for movies and Korean TV dramas. We only stayed there for almost 2-3 hours but we were running just to cover the main history of South Korea and the said palace. The tour guide was helpful and informative but we skipped some minor details and still got the chance to ask questions. After we were done in Gyeongbukgong palace, the tour bus went to other popular destination, the Insa-dong.

Insa-dong

Insa-dong is a famous traditional street, lined with a large number of antique shops and folk art galleries. It is a neighborhood of the Jongno-gu district of Seoul. Insa-dong was the largest market for antiques and artworks in Korea and it is still now or probably one of the largest markets.

While we were Insa-dong, we were introduced to this traditional Korean restaurant. The food choices were unfamiliar to me but I chose the beef bulgogi which is a  made up of thin sliced, marinated beef grilled on a barbecue or stir-fried in a pan in home cooking. I selected it coz I have tried it before and it was delicious but that beef bulgogi I got in that Korean restaurant was amazing and more tasty and delicious. I did enjoy dining over there. After we had lunch, we went to do some souvenir shopping. It was fun and I felt the Korean vibe.

As a conclusion of my Sparkling Korea! Seoul experience, it was one of the best trips I had. It was memorable not because of the location but because one of my dreams came to reality. I didn’t expect too much when I got to Seoul, I was only wishing to set foot in one of the progressive countries of East Asia, South Korea.

Check my YouTube channel and my vlog when I was exploring South Korea.

AirAsia ASEAN Pass Review

This is my review entry of my recent ASEAN trip using the AirAsia ASEAN Pass. It has been launched way back 2014. Before I left for the United States, I was eyeing to do an ASEAN tour and has been very interested to use the pass. I’ve been reading a lot of reviews and most of them were negatives so, I am making my own review based on the experiences I had.

AirAsia ASEAN Pass has two different kind of passes, the 10- and 20-credit passes. I bought the AirASEAN Pass for 10 credits costing USD160. Once I purchased the pass, it is valid for 1 year from the date I bought it or 30 days from the day I made my first redemption and 60 days for the 20-credit pass. Since I’ve been to Thailand, VietNam and Cambodia, the choices of countries to visit are cut in half. Thus, making it easier for me to decide since I also have a list of nation that I would love to see. I chose to visit Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore for these reasons;

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Closer image of Petronas Twin Towers

Malaysia – due to the fact that it is the centerpoint of every flight and also the main hub for AirAsia. So, I can get really good flights spending only 1 credit.

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Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

Indonesia – for the main reason that my cousin wants to visit the famous tourist attraction, Bali, and;

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Merlion Park

Singapore – because I’ve been wanting to visit this place when I was still working back in the Philippines as a customer service representative.

This is how I allotted my credits to travel those countries.klI flew from Manila to Kuala Lumpur via different airlines since I got a really good deal with Cebu Pacific Air. Once I got to Kuala Lumpur, I spent my 3 credits to get to Bali then 3 credits to Singapore and the last 3 credits back to Cebu, making a total of 9 credits. I just made sure to check my flights early so I can have more choices to choose from. Seats are really limited so the earlier the booking, the better. After I chose my flights, I just pinned my bought credits to the chosen time and date of my flight and it’s automatically booked. The sad thing about it is the credits only pays the airfare so, other fees like travel tax, airline tax and airport fees are not included and it’ll be out of pocket expenses. But those fees are not that expensive.

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I still have 1 credit for AirAsia ASEAN Pass.

As as summary, the pass is really great if you plan your trip ahead of time like 2-3 months. If you’re flexible with changing itineraries, your budget, your accommodation or places to stay then, you can save and have fun traveling the ASEAN countries. It is all about planning. So for my AirAsia ASEAN pass review, it was worth it and I got to save some money while having the trip of my life. Instead of spending those hard earned cash to airline fares and transportation, I got to spend it to tours, souvenirs, foods and etc. and of course, I got to take a photo of these picturesque places.

For full details, check AirAsia website at https://www.airasia.com/en/home.page?cid=1

Migrated to my new site at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/11/16/my-airasia-asean-pass-review/

My Days in Your Singapore

This blog article has been migrated to my new site at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/11/09/my-days-in-your-singapore/

The last leg of my ASEAN trip was in Singapore. Singapore is one of the well developed countries in Southeast Asia. I only have limited time staying in the Merlion country but my trip was great. It sure was a memorable time during my days in Your Singapore. The nation is also on the sixth spot on my list of counties that I would love to visit.

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Updated List of Countries That I Would Love to Visit

My tour in Singapore started after leaving the plane and took the SkyTrain from Singapore Changi Airport to city centre. Since I had a little spare time before check-in hour in the hotel, I went to Raffles City Mall for lunch. It was an embarrasing moment for me that day for being a clumsy person. I dropped my food tray before even trying to eat it. The good food attendant and server just looked at me and fixed another plate of the same food I ordered and he didn’t charge me for that. The cleaners went to help clean the mess I’ve made and they were pleasant and courteous. After I had my lunch, I went directly to my hotel which was just a few blocks away from Raffles City Mall. I checked in at Peninsula Excelsoir Hotel and was amazed with the view. It sure got the nicest sight in the city.

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Deluxe Twin Room in Peninsula Excelsoir Hotel with amazing view of Singapore Skyline

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Singapore Skyline

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Your Singapore skyline

I went to lie on the bed, took a nap for an hour or two and then, started to do sightseeing the streets of Singapore. Since the hotel is situated in the center of the city. Buses and other modes of transportation are everywhere. I walked just the opposite of the street and I was already at St. Andrew’s Cathedral.

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St. Andrew’s Cathedral

St. Andrew’s Cathedral is one of the hop-on, hop-off bus stops. I rode the bus red line. The red line has stops at Sri Mariamman Temple, Chinatown, and Speaker’s Corner but main agenda was Singapore Marina so, I skipped most of the stops. I stepped out of the bus in Marina Boulevard. Then started walking on Marina. It was picture perfect location where I can see most of the popular sights in Singapore. I was able to see Marina Bay Sands, the ArtScience Museum, the Esplanade – Theaters on the Bay, Singapore Flyer, and the Singapore skyline.

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Singapore Flyer, the ArtScience Museum, and Marina Bay Sands

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The ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands, and the Singapore Marina

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Singapore Bay and skyline

The Esplanade – Theaters on the Bay is also known as the Esplanade Theater which is a performing arts center located in the bay near the Singapore River. It has a concert hall that can accommodate 1,600 viewers and 2,000 audiences in the performing arts.

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The Esplanade – Theaters on the Bay

Marina Bay Sands is an integrated resort fronting Marina Bay in Singapore. The resort includes a lot of hotel rooms, a huge convention-exhibition center, The Shoppes mall, a museum, two large theaters, ‘celebrity chef’ restaurants, a skating rink, floating Crystal Pavilions, and the largest casino atrium.

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Marina Bay Sands

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ArtScience Museum is within the integrated resort of the Marina Bay Sands in the downtown core of the Central Area in Singapore. It has permanent exhibition, ArtScience Gallery, the ArtScience Museum mainly hosts touring exhibitions by other museums.

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ArtScience Museum

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Singapore Flyer is a giant Ferris wheel which is also an observation wheel. It used to be the world’s tallest Ferris wheel before the High Roller in Las Vegas Strip on 2014.

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Singapore Flyer

It was surreal for me since I have dreamt of going to Singapore like 5 years ago and now, I’m here. I headed to the Merlion Park since Singapore is famous for the Merlion statue. It was short walk and when I got there, the park was jam-packed with tourists taking decent pictures.

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Merlion statue

Merlion Park is a landmark and a major tourist attraction located at One Fullerton near the Central Business District. The Merlion is a mythical creature with a lion’s head and the body of a fish that is widely used as a national personification of Singapore. It also spouts water out of its mouth. It was a majestic view.

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Merlion Park packed with tourists

After touring around the Marina Bay area, I tried to snap some more random shots of the Marina Bay Sands, the Esplanade, Singapore Flyer and the ArtScience Museum. Then I hopped back on to the bus to go back to the hotel. Little did I know that the bus tours have parking spot and that is in the Suntec City Mall. Good thing I was able to take pictures of the Fountain of Wealth. It took about an hour to get back to the hotel. The bus passed through Little India, Malay Heritage Center and back to City Hall.

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Fountain of Wealth

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Duck and Hippo Sightseeing Bus Parking Area in Suntec City

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Little India

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Little India Welcome Sign

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Little India Arcade

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Little India street

It was a humid and warm day in Singapore that I have to take like 3 showers. I was soaked with sweat that I have to change my clothes and freshen up more often. Late that noon, my close friend from High School who is working in Singapore for years has invited me to meet her. She told me to meet her in the Gardens by the Bay. Since the park is widely popular with night and light shows. I just rode a taxi from the hotel and it took about half an hour to get there.

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Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay is a nature park spanning 101 hectares of reclaimed land. It is right next to Marina reservoir and consists of three waterfront gardens. The aim of the country is to raise quality of life by enhancing greenery and flora in the city. Gardens by the Bay was intended to be Singapore’s premier urban outdoor recreation space, and also a national icon.sin48sin49sin46sin51sin47

It was magical when the sun set. The lights of the supertrees were lit. The music and lights show begun. The show ran about an hour. Songs mostly from famous soundtrack of movies were used while the lights flickered and lit in unison. It was memorable. There was a view deck accentuated to have a good view of the area.sin45

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Singapore Marina at night

The following day, we went to Burgis which is a famous place for souvenirs as well as inexpensive products. The items they’re selling are good and durable. The location was used to be a nightly gathering are for trans women in 1950s which made it one of Singapore’s top tourist destinations during that period.

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Burgis Street Market cr. alamy.com

After I got my souvenirs, I headed back to the hotel for it was almost time to check-out. It was just a quick trip and when I got to the hotel, I packed my bag, walked to Raffles City Mall for the nearest train station to the airport.

My days in Your Singapore was remarkable. The country is small that I got to see some of the major sights but not everything. It is indeed a must-visit place and it is not that expensive. Singapore was the last country of my ASEAN tour. It was short but it was worth the time.

Check my YouTube vlog at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ag5wGfBerXA&t=110s

IATA Code: SIN – Singapore Changi Airport

This blog article has been migrated to my new site at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/11/03/iata-code-sin-singapore-changi-airport/

International Air Transport Association (IATALocation Identifier uses a 3-letter code to identify locations of airports throughout the world.

Singapore Changi Airport or simply called Changi Airport is the primary civilian airport for Singapore. It is one of the largest transportation hubs in Southeast Asia and is currently ranked as the World’s Best Airport by Skytrax for five consecutive years. SIN is one of the world’s busiest airports by international passengers and is the home base of Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, Scoot and JetStar.

My expectation before I got to Changi Airport was really high because of all the positive feedback I’ve heard from other travelers who utilized the airport, the reviews from airport organizations, and also the advertisements I’ve seen in the worldwide web. So, upon deplaning, I saw how tidy the airport was. We arrived at Terminal 1 of Singapore Changi Airport.

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SIN – Singapore Changi Airport Arrival Area

Signs and directions are everywhere. The immigration counters are well organised and modern.

Welcome to Singapore

Terminal 1 Arrival Immigration Counters

Like other airports, after passing thru immigration counters is the baggage claim. Baggage claim signage directs every passenger to the right location.

Baggage Claim Signage

Shops

Baggage Claim Carousel

After getting the passenger’s luggages, customs counters will be next. There are two counters. One is for goods to declare and the other for nothing to declare.

Customs Counters

Once cleared with customs, I went to find a way to get to downtown Singapore. It is quite convenient if you are in Singapore Changi Airport. You have access to your banks whatever country you have them. ATMs can be found near the information desk and accept cards that have VISA, Mastercard and other bank logos. I’m just grateful that they have them because I was running out of cash. Of course, they also have money changers. The airport is also accessible to different modes of transportation from taxi to trains to private car services to buses.

Information Desk

Money Changer and ATMs

Directions to Buses, SkyTrain and etc.

I took the SkyTrain to Terminal 3 since the train station to the city is over there. The SkyTrain was neat, fast, and comfortable. We passed thru the view of the air control tower and the construction of a new terminal.

Way to the SkyTrain

SkyTrain to T3

Construction of a new terminal.

Air Control Tower

It took few minutes to get to Terminal 3. But the terminal was simply beautiful. I was in awe. I want to spend more time in the terminal but I got to go to the city and explore the Merlion country.

T3 Public Areas Map

Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Departure area of the Singapore Changi Airport is so huge. They have lots of airline counters to accommodate all of their customers. That is also the reason that the airport is constructing a new terminal for the growing travelers. My airline carrier was situated in Terminal 2. Since I flew thru AirAsia, they have self check-in counter to get the boarding passes. When I got my boarding pass, I was shocked to see that Changi Airport is already doing the fast check-in for immigration. You don’t have to see the immigration officer. The passengers just need to scan their passports and do the bioscan thru fingerprint and clear to go. No more hassle of waiting for the immigration officer to see you and stamp your passport. It is also somehow a bummer since I travel coz I want to collect stamps of other countries I’ve visited but if that is the future of flying and crossing countries, then I’ll just embrace it.

Fast Check-In Immigration Counter

Immigration Counter ran by machines

After passing thru immigration, you just have to go to your boarding gate while waiting for your flight or you could spend your time playing, swimming and many more. There are a lot of activities you can do while in Changi Airport. To know more, just visit their site here.

You could also dine in with their wide array of restaurants

Changi Airport’s Social Tree

At the end of my stay in Singapore Changi Airport, I could definitely attest that it is the best airport I have gone to. It has lot of services offered to all the guests and it even beats other hotels or amusement parks. It is one extraordinary airport. Kudos and I hope to land to Singapore again one of these days.

Terima Kasih Wonderful Indonesia

This blog article has been migrated to my new site at http://www.thelonetravelercarl.com/2017/10/27/terima-kasih-wonderful-indonesia/

newlist countries

Updated List of Countries That I Would Love to Visit

Fifth on my list of countries that I would love to visit is Indonesia. After my trip in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I headed to another ASEAN country. This time it is touristy and near the beach. The place is also famous to a lot of beach and surf lovers but it is widely popular to most Australians. I went to Bali, Indonesia and I am so grateful that I have decided to come over. It was a great time when I was there and terima kasih wonderful Indonesia.

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Indonesia’s Travel Logo

Indonesia is a Southeast Asian nation made up of an archipelago. It is the world’s largest island country with numerous volcanoes. The capital of the country is Jakarta. Indonesia shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and the eastern part of Malaysia. Other neighboring countries include Singapore, VietNam, Australia, Palau and the Philippines. It has 34 provinces and Bali is one of those. Bali is the most popular island holiday destination in the country. It has iconic rice paddies, beaches, temples and forested volcanic mountains.

Flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Bali, Indonesia took about 3 hours. I arrived in Bali at 2230H almost midnight. I went directly to the beach resort which I booked in advance. I was staying in Legian Beach area. The trip from the airport to Legian was about 30 minutes. When I got to the resort, finished with check-in procedure at about 2AM. Then, I called it a day and let my feet rest and shut my eyes. I checked-in Fourteen Roses Beach Hotel.

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Fourteen Roses Beach Hotel Street Logo cr. agoda

I woke up early at 0500H even though I only slept for 3 hours but I got to see the sunrise in Bali. It was just a 5-min walk from the beach hotel to Legian Beach. I could say that I’m in Asia because I got to see the same sunrise I used to witness when I was still in the Philippines. The sea breeze was refreshing, the sand were fine to touch, the water was cold to the feet, the waves were relaxing, the view was splendid. It was a well deserved vacation.

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Legian Beach

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Kuta Beach

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Sunrise at the beach

After the watching the sun rising, I headed back to the hotel for a free Indonesian breakfast. I took a rest in my room after that delectable breakfast and after an hour, I went out to explore the place. I was looking for a pair of slippers so, I decided to go to the nearest mall which is the Beachwalk. The Beachwalk was still closed when I got there. They opened at 1000H. To kill the time, I sat and ordered some delicious dessert and drink in Starbucks.

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Purple yam cheesecake and green matcha frappe

Few minutes, the Beachwalk opened and I strolled around. It was a decent mall but what caught my attention were the stores just across the mall. They were a lot of stalls selling Indonesian and Balinese products. Since I am a frugal traveler, I bought some unique Indonesian souvenirs.

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The Beachwalk

After I was done doing my business at the stores, I walked back to the hotel and took a nap. The weather in Bali was humid and warm, it makes you sweat like a dog and makes you tired easily. An hour after I had a nap, I took a dip in their enticing swimming pool.

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Fourteen Roses swimming pool

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Swimming Pool

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Swimming Pool with Bar

I enjoyed swimming that I didn’t notice the time that I forgot about dinner, so, I just had room service sent my supper. Then, I got some zzzs. The next day, I got my tour to the northern part of the island province of Bali. The driver/ tour guide picked us up at 0830H. It was an hour or two drive to Bedugul from Legian.

Bedugul is famous for its picturesque location. Much more added fame to the world is its water temple surrounded by mountains that has been advertised worldwide. Bedugul is a mountain lake resort area in the province. It is located near Lake Bratan and enjoys the mild mountain weather which is cool. Major site in Bedugul is the water temple I was talking about. It is the Pura Ulun Danu Bratan.

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Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan or Pura Beratan is a major Shaivite water temple. Shaivite or Shaivism is one of the major and oldest Hinduism sect that reveres Shiva as the Supreme Being. Pura Beratan serves the entire region and the complex is situated on the shores of Lake Bratan. This water temples were built to used as a site for offerings ceremony to the Balinese water, lake and river goddess Dewi Danu due to the importance of the lake as a main source of irrigation in Central Bali. Lake Bratan is known as the Lake of Holy Mountain due to its fertile land.

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Within Pura Beratan’s grounds

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Closed gate in Pura Beratan

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The Most Photographed View in Indonesia

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Pura Beratan showing 11 pelinggih meru as the principal shrine of the Balinese temple.

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Pura Ulun Danu Bratan in Bedugul

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Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

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Pura Beratan’s own mouse deer, I guess lol

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Before entering Pura Beratan’s gate

We were in Pura Beratan for an hour. It was an amazing vista. Not only that, the coolness and freshness of the air were awesome. It was the main point of my visit in Bali. After getting some great photos of the water temple, we headed to this restaurant with the view of rice paddies. It was an all-Indonesian food buffet. The name of the restaurant is Pacung Restaurant in Tabanan-Baturiti in Bali.

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Rice Terraces view while dining in Pacung Restaurant

After we had a delectable lunch, our tour guide/ driver sent us to another temple. This temple is situated in Ubud, Gianyar Regency of Bali. It is the Ubud Palace or officially called as Puri Saren Agung which is a historical complex. The palace is the official residence of the royal family. Unfortunately when we were there, the palace was under renovation. We left a little bit early since they were doing some remodeling. The palace usually hosts Balinese dances in the afternoon but Ubud is somehow distant to my hotel and there are more locations to visit so we can’t stay til the cultural dance.

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Under renovation

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Inside Ubud Royal Palace

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Ginormous Gate in Ubud Royal Palace

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Another huge gate in Puri Saren Agung

The next stop was another temple. The temple is located in Batuan. Batuan is a village and is noted for its artwork and style of painting and has since emerged as the major Balinese artistic style known as the Batuan painting. The village is known as the major painting center and contains a number of galleries and cooperative art societies which have played a key role in promoting Batuan art. There are two major temples in the village, the Pura Puseh and Pura Dasar. These temples are built in classical Balinese temple architecture style with elaborate carvings.

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Batuan Temple

The Batuan temple area consists of a meeting hall called Wantilan where visitors can borrow from local people for ‘kamben’ which is a traditional Balinese costume. Every guests has to wear kamben to show respect and honor about the holiness of Puseh Temple of the Batuan village. The entrance is for free but they accept donation for the maintenance of the temple. There are many stunning ancient relics from prehistoric sites that will show how Hindu culture influences Bali and these temples have been a place of worship both to their ancestors and worshiped Hindu Deities.

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Batuan Temple grounds

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Batuan Temple grounds with tourists

Few minutes to almost an hour of touring the temple, we left the temple. We traveled on the road again and we had a few stops while trying to get back to our hotel.

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Stores near Ubud Royal Palace

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Balinese Souvenirs

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The strongest and famous Luwak coffee comes from this furry animal, Luwak.

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Pretty and intricate sculpture statue in the discount store in Kuta

My Bali adventure was outstanding. I got enough rest and relaxation and on top of that, I also got to explore some part of the island. My temple experience was memorable and I took a lot of nice memories while I was there. One thing I can say is terima kasih Wonderful Indonesia. It was indeed a wonderful vacation I got.

Check my YouTube vlog for my Bali adventure at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7bnqMTg3A8