My trip to Club Med Bali – Body and Soul: Four Colors in Four Days

club med bali

I just came back from Club Med Bali a couple of days ago. There was a really interesting event going on called Body and Soul: Four Colors in Four Days. I was there for 5 days for the Club Med experience and thought this was a great concept.

garden yoga

It was a lot like my Club Med Phuket trip in that everything is all inclusive and there are friendly GO’s who answers any questions you might have and even eats with you. The best thing about Club Med is that everything is all-inclusive and you can choose to do whatever you want…or nothing at all.

zoomba

Anyway, since the 4-day Body and Soul event was running, I went for each of the themed events. There’s a new color every day and that color denotes the “theme of the day” which encompasses everything from activities to food!

club med bali restaurant

  • Rejuvenation in Yellow
  • Energy in Red
  • Balance in Green
  • Revitalization in Purple

club med food

Body and Soul: Four Colors in Four Days is meant for people who want to immerse themselves in a health and wellness program. It’s a way to get away from the hectic city life and check into Club Med to awaken your spirit, heal your hearts and bodies and even your sense of well-being.

chi balls

I must say I was rejuvenated by the end of the program. :)

kayaking

It’s really quite interesting – for example, on Green Day: Balance – there’s kayaking to start the day…

yoga window

…followed by a session of yoga with Yin Yang Chi Balls by experts from the award winning Australian fitness company Physical BestLisa Westlake, the fitness instructor/owner/physiotherapist/presenter/author (there’s little she doesn’t do) and Lynley Gladdis (an international presenter in the area of mind and body fitness with degrees in Arts Dance and Remedial Massage)

aqua aerobics

There was a really upbeat class of aqua aerobics which I totally enjoyed – had a blast doing this, it’s a lot of fun! :)

I even had a video of me doing aqua aerobics – thanks Becky!

green day food

There’s also green themed food and special platters that highlights nutrition based on this color.

cucumber sushi

Cucumber sushi with fish roe

green tea macaroons

Green tea macaroons <3

cucumber olives

Cucumber with olives

spring rolls

It’s pretty amazing, eh? They even had pistachio ice cream on green day!

body soul club med

There are also kids programs with the similar theme and night entertainment (green party during green day). Thus, each day is broken down into several activities e.g. for Red Day: Energy:

red food

Main Program
Cherating Beach: Tree Top
Bali: Flying Trapeze
Fun Family Mini-Olympic

Expert Program
Tribal Rhythm
Zumba

Kids Program
Tie dye T-shirts

Night Entertainment
Latin night

cindy

If you think Club Med is fun, wait till you experience the Four Colors in Four Days event! I did things with my body that my girlfriend didn’t believe until I showed her the photos from yoga (that’s Cindy from Malaysia, who’s a yoga instructor on vacation at Club Med Bali).

tribal dance

Body and Soul: Four Colors in Four Days was held on Club Med Bali in March and will kick off in Club Med Cherating Beach from 7th – 14th April 2013! Yup, it’s coming to Malaysia right after Bali. It’s a health and wellness retreat to boost well-being through a series of 4 consecutive color themed days with the color included in everything from diet to parties!

yoga

You can also safely leave your kids in Club Med, that’s why I love the place so much. They’ll have stuff to do and be entertained while you go do your own stuff. Check out Club Med Cherating Beach if you’re interested to know more about the upcoming Body and Soul event in Malaysia! They have special packages for a 4D/3N stay!

Thanks for the invite Jisan! :)

Bakmi babi in Jakarta

bakmi pork indonesia

Bakmi literally means meat noodles and despite the Muslim majority capital of Indonesia, there are shops which caters for people who wants a dose of porcine goodness. One of these is located in Mangga Besar – a quirky name which means “big mango” (a tropical variant of the Big Apple ;)).

Bakmi Ahau claims to have been around since 1962 – that’s a good 50 years (!!!) of operation. It’s still situated in a dingy stall right by the roadside but that’s part of the appeal. If the claims are true (or if the date is based on the Muslim calendar, which produces its peculiar brand of irony) it means that they must serve a really good bowl of bakmi babi (pork noodles)…

bakmi ahau 1962

…and I can attest to that!

It has been around for a couple of years at least, a friend of mine brought me here to eat a very late supper when I was in Jakarta. The place was packed even though it was way past midnight.

bakmi jakarta

The bakso (that’s meatballs) accompanying the bakmi here is made with pork and it’s deep fried before being served, producing a crunchiness that goes very well with the juicy pork meatballs. They don’t skimp on the meat – there’s just a thin coating of batter on top. I reckon it’s the deep fried bakso that makes this stall stand out.

bakmi mangga besar

The noodles are also tossed with lard and there’s bit of char siew (barbecued pork) and deep fried pork skin to go with it. It’s also not fully “dry” – almost a quarter of the dish is filled with the seasoning gravy (or bumbu) which is a mixture of lard, soy sauce, and other things the workers are reluctant to divulge.

pork bakmi

However, it is 100% goodness! I have had a lot of pork noodle dishes and this is one of the times where it stood out in my mind. The bakmi in Mangga Besar is just one stall in a long chain but you can find it from the distinctive t-shirts that they wear.

bakmi jakarta me

A large bowl of pork bakmi with extra bakso with a glass of iced jeruk (local Mandarin orange juice) from the stall beside just cost under 20,000 rupiah (about RM 6) – a nice break if you want something other than chicken in Jakarta. A mean and delicious dish of authentic roadside bakmi at a price that’s hard to beat.

A morning stroll at Kota Tua Jakarta

old batavia

Kota Tua is loosely translated as “Old Town” and it’s the old part of Jakarta. It’s also known as Old Batavia and you can still see the scars of the 1998 riots here – burned buildings are still around and refurbishment hasn’t touched most of it yet.

kota tua

We were staying at a hotel just nearby and one morning, Jazz woke me up to experience the place. The streets were closed on that day, due to a function that’s happening on the square.

kota tua no vehicles

It was the event itself that caused the closure of the streets – it’s called Hari Bebas Kenderaan Bermotor Kawasan Kota Tua 2012 which translates to “(Motorized) Vehicle Free Day (in) Kota Tua Area 2012”. Heh.

kali besar

Kota Tua is bordered by a canal called Kali Besar which is famous for its overpowering stench. I could smell it, but it wasn’t anywhere as bad as I was told.

buskers

The beauty of Kota Tua Jakarta lies in its vibrant community of stalls and buskers – there were people playing various musical instruments and I even saw an improvised percussion system made of glass bottles nestled on a wood frame!

pos indonesia

This is one of the refurbished buildings – their post office. It’s part of their efforts at making this historical town into a UNESCO heritage site.

kota tua stalls

It is primarily a tourist attraction with it’s souvenir stalls – there’s also a theater called Museum Wayang there that plays traditional Indonesian Wayang Kulit (a shadow play with puppets).

museum wayang

Several vendors also offers rides on pimped up (or rather dolled up) bicycles for two, complete with flowery hats.

old jakarta bicycles

However, it’s definitely worth a visit – you can catch a local puppet show or grab a snack from a roadside stall. I had Otak Otak Ikan which is completely different from the soggy fish paste we get here.

otak otak indonesia

The Indonesian version of otak otak is crispy and eaten with a chilli paste. It’s cheap street food, I think I paid less than RM 1 for this.

indonesian otak otak

Kota Tua Jakarta has something for everyone. It’s called Old Jakarta for a reason – a lot of history and heritage can be found in this area. I’ll allocate at least half a day for a proper visit, and a full day if you want to pop into all the museums and catch a wayang kulit show.

kota tua indonesia

…or you can just sit at one of the cafes and watch the vibrant scenes – families at play, people collecting discarded cans for recycling money, old men chatting animatedly while standing around in loose circles.

3 interesting things I saw while grocery shopping in Jakarta

1. Two feet long aloe vera

huge aloe vera

It’s called lidah buaya in the local parlance, except these monstrosities grow up to 2 feet long (!). The shortest one is easily 1 1/2 foot and the girth is pretty impressive too.

2. Sukkari dates

sukkari dates

The appearance of dates means the fasting month of Ramadan for Muslims is around the corner. Sukkari dates hails all the way from Medina in Saudi Arabia and it’s hard, dry and intensely sweet. The appearance is conical and Sukkari dates are considered a delicacy – premium items that’s very much in demand according to the people at Hero (a grocery store chain in Jakarta). It retails for IDR 35,000 (RM 12) for 100 grams and I ate a couple thanks to the person manning the place.

They also sell Anbara dates – the largest date species in the world, and the polar opposite to Sukkari dates texture-wise. I had Anbara dates a couple of years ago and it’s soft and chewy unlike the “grainy” mouthfeel of Sukkari dates.

3. Short bean sprouts

short bean sprouts

This is something I’ve never seen before despite trawling the specialty grocery stores back home. It’s simply called “short taugeh” and you can see the bean with just a hint of sprout. The unusual retarded sprouting process is pictured next to regular bean sprouts for comparison. It looks like an adolescent trying to grow facial hair. smirk

Posted: 1:55 am Jakarta time (GMT +7)

Couchsurfing in Jakarta – don’t forget your towel

couchsurfing

I’m currently staying in Taman Anggerek after one night at a hotel in Kota Tua which cost us IDR 420,000 (about RM 140). It was a really last minute decision, we headed out to Pantai Indah Kapuk (PIK) to meet with friends and it was suddenly decided that we’ll just crash at their place.

taman anggerek jakarta

It was about 12:30 pm (!) at that time. We rushed back to the hotel and checked out just in time before heading back to Condominium Taman Anggerek. I grabbed the toothbrush and shaver from the hotel before checking out and went to Matahari – a departmental store here – to get a towel for IDR 37,000 (RM 12).

taman anggerek

Here’s the view from the 26th floor – the view of Jakarta Barat (West Jakarta) is quite polluted but it looks like it’s going to be an awesome place to stay. I haven’t couch surfed in a while.

couchsurfing jakarta

Thanks for having us Eric + wife and Yong Ming! :)

Posted: 9:40 pm Jakarta time (GMT +7)

Kuta beach in Bali

kuta

Much has been said about Kuta beach. It’s not exactly the uncharted 3K’s of backpacking these days. Nowadays, you’re more likely to be bugged by people offering massages, hair braiding, Bintang beer and all sorts of random stuff…like a handmade “magic” cigarette dispenser that is really quite nifty, but that was at Legian.

kuta beach bali

We stayed right opposite Kuta beach so it’s literally right in front when we walked out. Come to think of it, we did a lot of walking in Kuta – and let me tell you, these flip flops are *not* made for walking. It’s really hot during the afternoon – mostly Caucasians catching a tan/recovering from hangovers go there at that hour…

kuta bali

…but it’s really nice during sunset.

kuta beach sunset

You see people start streaming in and picking a good spot around 4:30 pm or so – the beachfront vendors are mostly gone by then so you can sit unmolested, without someone asking you if you want something you don’t need and just…

kuta sunset

…chill there, watching the waves roll in, breathing in the sea salt and immersing yourself in the Zen of it all. It feels very serene, especially if you sit right in front. We stayed until 7:30 pm and I think we were the only ones there at that time. Heh.

kuta beach hb

It should be noted that if any eateries offer to add in some mushrooms into your food, they’re not really talking about ye olde regular mushrooms.

Kopi Luwak

luwak coffee

Kopi Luwak or Luwak Coffee is the infamously extravagant coffee that comes out of a civet. Well, you know what I mean.

civet cat

Civet cats like this one eats the coffee beans, supposedly these felines have a taste so refined that they’ll only go for the good ones. They’ll crap it out and people dig the coffee beans (which isn’t digested by the civet cat) from the dung and roast it.

kopi luwak

It’s surprisingly aromatic and very smooth coffee. I liked it, although we paid quite a bit for that small cup. How much?

luwak coffee price

That’s about RM 20. We went to this place quite far from the touristy areas too, we saw it go for IDR 150,000 (RM 50) in airports. Yes, that’s the price for just one cup.

kopi luwak bali

Very expensive coffee, one sip will set you back a couple of dollars. :)

Bebek betutu in Tekor Bali

bebek betutu tekor bali

Bebek betutu literally means spiced duck. It’s one of the more well known dishes in Balinese cuisine. After listening to a frowning, disapproving local tell us that bakso is not Balinese in origin, and redirecting us to an awesome babi guling place, it was good to add another check mark to a classical Bali dish.

tekor bali legian

However, we had bebek betutu at the rather dubious beachfront restaurant in Legian called Tekor Bali. It was clean, nice and it came recommended from one of the travel websites. I was a bit hesitant since it didn’t “look” authentic but hey, I have since become a convert. A place does not need to be dingy and dirty to serve up great bebek betutu. :)

tekor bali bread

…it can even serve delicious, warm bread with garlic spread as an appetizer if it does its bebek betutu well. smirk

bebek betutu

The bebek betutu at Tekor Bali costs IDR 59,500 (about RM 20) and it’s ½ a roast duck stuffed with spices…and I do mean stuffed. There’s delicious spices everywhere you look (and even some places you don’t).

bebek betutu duck

The duck meat is tender, slightly juicy and extremely well flavored by the spices. The oily dark meat of the duck contrasts perfectly with the spicy packed marinade and it’s delicious with rice.

bebek betutu bali

I picked the bones of the bebek betutu clean. That’s half a duck, which is quite a bit more than I usually eat.

bintang beer

Tekor Bali is perfect for a couple of bottles of Bintang Beer too – it sells it at a comparable price to the Circle-K beside and you have an awesome shaded seat with the wind blowing in from Legian beach. :)

Babi Guling in Bali

babi guling bali

This is probably the most famous Balinese cuisine – babi guling.

babi guling denpasar

It’s suckling pig cooked over a fire with herbs and spices and contrary to popular belief, the best and freshest babi guling can only be found in the morning since that’s when it’s prepared.

babi guling stall

I wanted to go somewhere that isn’t commercialized like Ibu Oka so I asked to go where the locals went.

babi guling queue

This turned out to be somewhere in working-class Denpasar, far from the touristy areas and full of people in bikes waiting their turn to take away a packet of pork goodness.

babi guling

A full babi guling meal comes served with several pieces of pork, crispy pork skin, pork crackling, pork sausage, pork satay, deep fried pork liver and a side of bird’s eye chilli. There’s also a bowl of hearty soup that contains huge chunks of pork fat.

bali guling me

I loved it! We had this in the morning and it was so good that I finished everything. It costs IDR 30,000 which works out to about RM 10. It’s the most satisfying meal I had in Bali. Goes very well with a bottle of Bintang beer. :D

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