Category Archives: Bali

The Mantas of Nusa Penida, Bali

There are a reason on why the specific dive point in Nusa Penida is named Manta Point. It is no other than the frequent Manta encounter in this dive site.

The bottom of the dive site itself is barren. Not so many corals to be seen, as this part of Nusa Penida is facing the Indian Ocean with its strong current. However, it is the currents that make it perfect for Manta to dwell.

The Manta is available almost all year long. But, if you are here at the right time of the year, and with some luck, you won’t need to chase the Manta. It will be the Manta coming to your way, while you are hoping that you won’t get hit by sea creature 3 meters wide.

Two Shared Bunk Compared: Ubud Market Hostel and Hostel Ubud

In the last couple of trips for business, I choose to stay at room with shared bunk. In this kind of room, I basically rent a bed instead of whole room, and got to share the room with some other people. Because of this, the price per night is very cheap. Both hostel compared here cost around 100.000 rupiah (Less than US$ 10 with today’s rate).

Both are basically pretty good, clean, and could be alternative in case the other is full. Read on to see more detail on how Ubud Market Hostel and Hostel Ubud compared to each other, or scroll to the bottom for short summary.


Both Ubud Market Hostel and Hostel Ubud are located close to each other. Both are also right at the heard of Ubud, some 5 minutes walking from Ubud Palace and Ubud Market

Hostel Ubud is easier to find, as it is located on Jalan Dewi Sita, right across the soccer field. The Bamboo Restaurant which is located at the ground floor also help to find the place.

Hostel Ubud Signage
Bamboo Restaurant at Jalan Dewi Sita. Hostel Ubud is located at the 2nd floor

In comparison, Ubud Market Hostel is located slightly into the small road in front of Tut Mak. They also have small marker situated high above the road that make it even more challenging to spot.

Ubud Market Hostel Signage
Ubud Market Hostel, with the signage on the top right corner

Hostel Reception

Reception Area
Cozy reception area of Hostel Ubud

I arrived at Ubud Market Hostel around 11pm at night. Tired after a long day, it took me a while to find the reception, as the desk is not manned.

In contrast, I arrived at Hostel Ubud at 1am due to flight delays. The reception is well manned, and they set me up pretty quick.  Hostel Ubud did better than Ubud Market Hostel.

Hostel Ubud also has a more comfortable reception area, as shown in the picture.


Hostel Ubud has only 1 bedroom for 20 people. The room is not equipped with Air Conditioner. If you are prone to feel hot at night, pick the top bed to be closer to ceiling fan

Two Hostel Compared
The bunk compared. To the left is Hostel Ubud, and to the right is Ubud Market Hostel

Ubud Market Hostel perform better in this aspect. Its room cater for 6 people, with full wall between beds to ensure privacy. The room is also equipped with Air Conditioner, cloth hanger, and extra space to put your stuff and charge your electronics.

Both hostel have lockable storage available free of charge.  Both require Rp. 50.000 deposit, which will be refunded when you returned the locker’s key

Bathroom and Toilet

Both hostel provide separate area for shower, toilet and wash room. The showers in both hostel are also equipped with hot water. In term of cleanliness, both hostel showers and toilets are clean enough.

Hostel Ubud provide 2 shower areas, 3 toilets and 2 wash sink to be shared with 20 people. Ubud Market Hostel provide 1 shower, 1 toilets and 1 wash sink to be shared with 6 people. Despite the difference in the ratio, I didn’t ever need to queue while staying at both places.


With the location within few meters, and price range around Rp. 100.000, both Hostel Ubud and Ubud Market Hostel are good value for money. However, I’m like Hostel Ubud a little bit more than Ubud Market Hostel for the following reasons:

  • Hostel Ubud is easier to find at night. Due to location on the main road, it also has more parking space for motorcycle
  • Hostel Ubud reception staff was ready at 1am to receive me
  • Bamboo restaurant at the 1st floor is handy for breakfast
  • Better view from 2nd floor to the football field

Have you stayed in any or both of the hostel? Share your experience in the comment section below.

Big Tree Farm Chocolate Factory Tour

Who doesn’t love chocolate? Men and women, old and toddler, Asian or Caucasian, everybody love chocolate. So, when Grace mentioned about a Chocolate Factory tour at Big Tree Farm, we are all excited. What else that make us excited than a possibility of chocolate tasting?

Big Tree Waroong
The warm hall of Big Tree Farms Chocolate Factory. It is full of sunlight.

Big Tree Farm’s office & factory is at the northern part of Denpasar, around 1 hour from the downtown of Denpasar. At the end of a small road, a big bamboo building appear from the corner. Yes, Big Tree Farm’s office is entirely made from Bamboo.

We arrived a bit late to Big Tree Farm’s factory. The knowledge sharing has started for few minutes, and in the big hall on the third floor, we join a group of teenager from French. I think they are the sons and daughters of French living in Bali.

Chocolate Knowledge
Open air hall at Big Tree Farm’s Factory. This is where we have our chocolate knowledge sharing session

The knowledge sharing session shares about the process of Chocolate production. First, Chocolate Pods were plucked from the trees. The pods then cut in half, and the beans extracted and fermented. The results are dark hard shell chocolate beans.

Once hardened, the beans are roasted and peeled. Big Tree Farms use cold roasting process, which roast the beans at lower temperature than other factory. The cold roasting process took longer time, but produce beans that is richer in taste, and less bitter from burnt beans. To me, the roasted beans taste much like coffee mixed with chocolate.

The various stages of Chocolate Processing
The various stages of Chocolate Processing

Big Tree Farms packed and sold some of the roasted and peeled beans. Other roasted beans are further crushed into nibs. When mixed with cashew nut, the chocolate nibs become what our guide said as “The most dangerous snacks in the world”. Once you eat it, you will never stop. And she is right.

Chocolate Cashew Nibs
A handful of Chocolate Nibs, mixed with Cashews. Once you eat this, you will never stop.

Some of the Chocolate Nibs goes into packaging to be sold, and other goes to the next production stage: milling. In this process, the Chocolate Nibs is further crushed with heavy wheels. This process extracts the essential oil in the beans, resulting in paste-like chocolate. During the tour, we are shown with the gigantic milling machine.

Chocolate Mill
Chocolate Milling Machine, crushing Chocolate Nibs and producing Chocolate Paste

The Chocolate Paste from milling process is then packed and sold, or further separated into two product: Chocolate Powder, and Chocolate Butter.

At the end of knowledge sharing, we went for a tour through the factory. We can see the part of factory where they roast the chocolate, mill, or even further process the chocolate paste into finished product, such as chocolate bar. Unfortunately, the production was pretty much done for the day

Don’t forget to buy some finished Chocolate Product to take home. The whole knowledge sharing and tour took close to 2 hours. And we think that, those 2 hours are well spent for a different kind of experience in Bali.

For more info, please visit Big Tree Farms's Website.

Getting Healthy at Komune Gianyar

Staying at Komune Resorts & Beach Lounge Gianyar, it is easy to get healthy. It is the matter of will instead of how.

My first choice of exercise is, of course, a morning run at the beach. Running is the simplest form of exercise, and running on the beach make it even simpler by not requiring any shoes.

Sunrise at Pantai Keramas
Catching the Power of Sunrise at Pantai Keramas, Gianyar, Bali

But, if running is not your cup of tea, Komune has a nice lap pool for exercise. Be careful though, since the lap pool also has a nice bed that make it more interesting to just lay around.

Lap Pool

Even if outdoor exercise is not for you, Komune Resort’s in-house gym offers the most complete hotel’s gym that I have found to date. It has a pull up bar, few sets of barbel, weight machines, and an Indo Board, something that I have never seen before.

Indo Board Balance Trainer

Once I done with the exercise, hunger will follow. Thankfully, Komune also cater for healthy foodie. Take a look at the selection of food at the pool. The menu is dominated with vegetarian food, some also  gluten-free food. I wish the food is also grown in organic farming within the complex.

Watch the video below for a complete tour of Komune Resorts Gianyar health facilities.