Bali: A brief introduction!

Bali was always on my mind. I used to see tons of images, read lots of stuff and used to go on a virtual tour via dreams. So, gathered some useful information before making-up my mind to where to stay in Bali. But before that, tell me which kind of travellers you are? Everyone has their own way of going on a vacation. Some are 'Tick-Tick' tourists and others are 'Easy going' tourists. I named them 'Tick-Tick' because the only task they do on holidays are to cover all the touristy spots, click photos and quickly move to another destination. They go to 20 places in 3 days without gaining the essence of the place. They take the vacations as an agenda to squeeze up all the attractions in a handful of days. They are ones, who go place, take selfies and sit in the car. Well, that's surely not us.

We are the 'Easy going tourists', why? Because first thing you need to keep in mind is quality over quantity. No matter how many places you go, end of the day, memories, lessons, visual treats are the things you carry in your heart which will stay forever. Absorb the nature, culture, local values to uplift your travel experience. And every country has the regions of your choice and Bali is no exception.

So, when I first started planning about Bali, I was confused about where to stay, what to eat as Bali has interesting and diverse places to choose from. I will be sharing my thoughts for you to decide easily. Those who are visiting Bali for the first time, this is for you.

Bali is divided into...
  • North
  • South 
  • East
  • West
  • Central
North Bali is not that popular. The regions are Lovina and Singaraja where black sand beaches can be explored. But still travellers like us like to go roads less travelled. It might seems to be secluded but have plethora of things to do like Dolphin watching, Hot springs, unexplored waterfalls.

South Bali is the most happening part of the island which includes Kuta, Seminayak, Uluwatu, Nusa Dua, Tanah Lot, Canggu beach to name a few. Mainly airport is in this area. These areas are flooded with tourists and loads of activities happens in this region. Everything from fancy galleries, stalls selling cheap souvenirs, surfing, temples, candle light dinner on the beach, water-activities, boozy dives in the fanciest club is in South Bali. It is also known for the nightlife. There are luxurious hotels with great offers for honeymooners. Private villas, spa, pools are included therein.

While East Bali holds laid back villages and volcano. Some of the areas under it are Kintamni, Klungkung, Mt.Agung, Tirtha Gangga. Some serene beaches, and volcano can be seen this side. The East Bali is a good escape from the crowded places. Wandering on the roads, biking, hiking on this side are the most pleasurable.

If you wish to visit East Java or Bali National Park, you need to go to the West Bali. Gilimanuk, Medewi Beach and Pemuteran are some of the beautiful unexplored locations. It is least populated and mostly under protected areas. A large chunk is the West Bali National Park still pristine beaches, surfing and culture can be seen.

And now comes the favourite location in Bali — The Central. Also known as the cultural hub, Ubud, Gianyar, Bedugul and Tabanan cover this area. I preferred to stay in Ubud because of the rich heritage, culture, lushgreen landscapes and waterfalls. Ubud is also known as the heart of the main island of Bali. Mystical lakes, archaeological sites, lush plantation, rice terraces, local dances are popular in this area.

Located on the South Eastern part of the Bali are the three quiet, offshore islands – Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida. They are quite popular for the diving activities. Will share about the islands in my another write-up.

You can choose the region as per your interest and plan accordingly. So, after the location is decided we need to plan where to stay. Us being the 'relaxed travellers' decided to stay all 3-weeks of our vacation (apart from 4 days in Nusa Islands) in Ubud only. We wanted to stay closer to the culture, waterfalls, beautiful panoramas, rice terraces hence Ubud.

One can find a lot of accommodation options ranging from private villas to luxurious hotels to economic home-stays with swimming pools and kitchen on Air BnB. Our personal preference was to book a property for the longer stay with attached kitchenette. It is easier and affordable to bring some healthy nibbles or tropical cut fruits from the supermarket and store them in the refrigerator. Sometimes when you are not in a mood to go out for a meal, you can cook ready meals or instant noodles. This way it is not only cheaper but saves your time as well.

In my next post, I will be sharing the details of things you need to keep in mind while booking a trip to Bali like currency, packing, flights and all.

Mojo Pizzas — A close competition to the existing brands! — Reviewed!

I love Mojo Pizzas and especially the cheese blast. My favourite one is the "Some Like it Hot" and recently I also tried Farm Fresh with extra toppings of olives and mushrooms. Loved it too. Sharing the photos...:) Tell me your favourite too!

Some like it hot with Cheese Blast base (don't judge me; who doesn't like cheese overload?)

Farm fresh pizza with extra topping of Black olives, Mushrooms and that too on the Cheese Blast base.

I wanted my order to be delivered at 1 pm and trust me it was exactly handed to me at 1. Kudos for the service. The pizzas served were super hot, fresh and delicious. The oozing out of the cheese was the best part. The base and the veggies were fresh and perfectly baked. One thing is you need to eat it immediately and if not then reheat in a microwave for 40 seconds and its as good as fresh.

Tarsh Gastronomia – Value for money lunch buffets and good Indian food! — Reviewed!

Tarsh Gastronomia was recently launched in the hub of Pune's IT scene — Hinjawadi. Located on the 8th floor, the restaurant features the illuminated bar, appealing fresh interiors, The speciality kitchen and bar delivers a memorable dining experience with the authentic traditional dishes, bold flavours and elegant presentation. One aspect that needs attention is the trained service staff.

The menu is quite elaborate and you will be spoiled by the choices they have to offer from Indian to Italian to Continental. The Sheesha famed consultant chef, Kadar Khan, specialises in the Indian cuisine and have done justice to the dishes on the menu. Some of the signatures are Dahi ke Kebab, Galouti Kebabs, Dumplings, Dal Bukhara and Jalebi-Rabri. Also, do not forget to try the Harvest Lunch Buffet which costs at Rs.589++for veg and Rs.689++ for non-veg including almost 10 starters of each veg and non-veg apart from the salads, main course and scrumptious Indian desserts. This is a steal deal! A La Carte options are also available costing approx. Rs.250 per dish

Here is what we tried from the lunch A La Carte:
  • Black Pepper Mushrooms (4/5)
  • Ginger Honey Potatoes and Shitake Mushrooms (4/5)
  • Thai Basil Cottage Cheese (3.5/5)
  • Dahi ke Kebabs (4/5)
  • Broccoli Galouti Kebabs (4/5)
  • Crispy Corn Schezwan style (4/5)
  • Tandoori Boat Aloo (3/5)
  • Veg Crystal Mushroom Dumpling (4/5)
  • Spicy Veg Coriander Dumpling (4/5)
  • Three Layer Milk Cake (3.5/5)
We started our lunch with couple of mocktails like watermelon based, 'Heaven on Earth' or Mango Bloom but the winner was the very refreshing "Orange Mojito". The orange zest added texture and taste to the drink. Highly Recommended!

Black Pepper Mushrooms and Ginger Honey Potatoes and Shitake Mushrooms
 both the dishes were scrumptious. The speciality chef made sure the spices are balanced and so was the taste. The perfect tangy, sweet, sour, crunchy and spicy dishes were a great choice for appetizers. People liking cantonese food will surely relish these.

Thai Basil Cottage Cheese was next. Tossed in medium spiced, found paneer (cottage cheese) to be bit chewy and it lacked the basil flavour. Otherwise, it was a nice starter.

Dahi ke Kebabs were succulent and melt in mouth. Crisp coating outside with soft and creamy inside. The deep fried dish was deliciously crisp and tasty. It is one of their signatures. Personally, I liked it but have had better than here.

Chef has done justice with the "Veg Galoutis" in the form of Broccoli Galouti Kebab. It is not only scrumptious but healthy too. Loved the perfect texture - just melt in mouth. Liked it!

The crispy fried corn (Indian) was an addictive nibble and paired well with the drink. You can munch it on while waiting for your mains. Corns were deep-fried and then tossed in the rich, sweet, tangy Cantonese sauce. Loved it!

Next was the Tandoori Boat Aloo. The name seemed appealing so thought of giving it a try. Half cut, par-boiled, scooped potatoes were filled with dry-fruits, spiced mashed potatoes and topped with sesame seeds. Loved the concept of the dish but somehow it lacked the marination, smokey flavour and were bit undercooked. If it would have done, the whole dish would have tasted super delicious.

From the Chinese section, we tried Veg Crystal Mushroom Dumpling and Spicy Veg Coriander Dumpling and both were equally scrumptious. The thin outer layer of crystal dumpling was perfectly cooked and the stuffing was delicious too. A must try!

For the desserts, Tarsh has really varied option for Indian desserts ranging from Jalebi, Halwa to Kulfi apart from the regular western dessert. We tried the signature Three Layer Milk Cake but unfortunately it did not hit the mark. Bit too sweet and heavy for my palate. It tasted like kulfi and cake because of the rabri texture. Presentation was on point though. I tried Gulabjamun, Moong Dal Halwa and Jalebi from the buffet and trust me they were super yummy. Nicely made with just the right amount of sweetness.

Overall, it is a nice place for parties, meetings, family lunches or dinner. The Buffet is only for lunch and is total value for money. Do visit and share your experiences in the comment below.

Tarsh Gastronomia Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Real Green Cafe – New Additions! — Reviewed!

My love for Vegan food is undying. Have been trying the vegan food at so many places lately be it Zest Ubud or Yellow Flower in Bali or The Real Green Cafe in Pune. Being Maharashtra's first vegan cafe, The Green Cafe, was and is always on my list. Have been there a couple of times and glad to see them growing. Led by the animal-lover and hard-core vegan herself, Aishwarya Vishwanath, the cafe is quite popular amongst punekars. It is not only a space to eat or drink but to share your innovative ideas, have a chit-chat or even discuss some thoughts to contribute to the society. Apart from serving Vegan Food, sustainable living, use of organic products, clean eating and conserving nature including animals are the motives behind starting the Real Green Cafe.
One can contribute in any form be it giving your time, money, energy or ideas! The orange wall with hand painted owl graffiti, open kitchen, reused glass bottles, messages over the pillar is some of the features of the cafe.

Recently, I was there for taste some of the new additions to the menu. Glad to see the cafe has extended the menu to healthy filling meals, along with the pizzas, pasta, wraps, juice, smoothies, milkshakes and most popular the in-house dairy-free Ice-creams. Following are the dishes I tried...
  • Sweet 'n' Chilli Stir Fry Veggies and Brown Rice (Rs.350)
  • 'Meaty' Balls with Spaghetti (Rs.300)
  • Cheesy Spinach Mushroom Sandwich (Rs.150)
  • Butterscotch and Chocolate Ice-cream scoop
Started our lunch with the Sweet Chilli tossed Veggies including bell peppers, baby corn, broccoli and mushrooms with the crunch of cashew nuts served with the wholesome brown rice. Found it a bit sweet as per my palate. We were told that the dish was prepared according to the tolerance of foreigners but can be customised as per the choice. So, if you are planning to order this, make sure to give your preference, beforehand. I had the Hazenut Frappuccino which was as good as the regular one.

A nice filling plus visually appealing meal made it to our table and that was "Meaty Balls" with Whole wheat spaghetti. Great tasting mushroom and tofu no-meat balls are served with rich red tomato sauce. Loved the texture of 'meat-balls' as it was made with mushroom and tofu. You won't feel its vegan! Delicious.

Sandwiches are the all-time favourite so tried Cheesy Spinach and Mushroom Sandwich. The loaded sandwich in brown bread was healthy indeed but I wish it was toasted on the grill with some vegan butter or fat. The filling was good and quite cheesy.

To my wonder the best sellers homemade ice-creams were exceptional. You won't be able to differentiate it with the dairy one. So creamy and flavourful. A must try is the butterscotch. Super delicious and refreshing. You can also grab the family pack of it.

Overall, it was a nice experience and always a pleasure meeting with Aishwarya. Will be visiting soon again!