Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Bus from Bali to Central Java

Previously I blogged about transportation in Bali which can be found here.

If you want to head to Java from Bali, the best way to go from Ubung bus Terminal which is located outside the Kuta and Seminyak. For us, we hired a driver from Ubud to Ubung bus terminal for 200k rupiah.

There are actually two bus terminals in Bali, Ubung Terminal and Mengwi.  Most of the locals only talked about the Ubung terminal. I googled up the Mengwi Terminal and I'm thankful that we didn't choose to go there. Here is why and why .

Ubung Terminal. Don't expect much, just a shelter to rest. No ticket counters present. 

Our initial plan was to catch a 9am bus from Ubung Terminal to Probolinggo (10 hour bus ride) but we only found out that there are actually no specific timings for buses leaving Ubung Terminal. The officers at the counter were not helpful and we were skeptical ourselves hence we asked the local people around the terminal before committing to the ticket.

It costed us 175k rupiah each , including the ferry ride and a crappy meal at some roadside restaurant in Situbondo town. Our bus final destination was actually Surabaya but the buses here will wait for the bus to be filled up with people going to other destinations along the way. We waited for 2 hours, 11am, before departing to Probolinggo.

While waiting for our bus to depart, I took the opportunity to talk to the other passengers. We were relieved that a few other people were also heading to Probolinggo town and they mentioned that this was the only way to get to Java island.

Some tips/things to note :

  • Bus ticket fares are fixed. Do make sure to ask them to show you the ticket cost price instead of them quoting you. We were shown 175k rupiah by one of the vendors but after walking around to source for information, another lady from the same vendor told us the ticket price is 200k rupiah. Spotted the discrepancy and asked why is there a difference. 
  • No toilet breaks. However, you can use the toilets at the Ketapang ferry.  The bus will take the ferry across, reducing the hassle of buying separate ferry tickets. You can buy food on the ferry as well. 
  • People are helpful! Guess all the other passengers were equally lost as us on the bus ride and we got tips for our Bromo Trip from a good samaritan. He even asked the bus driver to stop us directly in front of our hotel. 
  • You can stop at Bayuwangi town to go to Ijen Crater. A number of passengers on our bus did that
  • Ubung - Gilimanuk (Ketapang Ferry) - 3 hours
  • Ferry ride across to Java - 1 hour
  • Bayuwangi to Probolinggo town ( Mt Bromo) - 6 hours
  • Probolinggo to Surabaya (Final Destination) - 2.5 hours
I'll continue to write about travelling up to Mt Bromo later! 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Transportation in Bali.

Just got back from Bali and would like to blog about how to get around Bali.

Airport to City Center (Kuta/Seminyak)
The Bali International Airport is called Ngurah Rai International Airport (Denpasar). The moment we arrived at the airport, we were quickly greeted by eager cab drivers to ferry us to our hotel. The first cab driver quoted us 300k rupiah to bring us to our hotel at Seminyak. After fishing for the best deal, we paid 100k rupiah for a 15 minute ride which was quite pricey.

Our 'cab driver' flashed us an unofficial taxi license which we initially believed but I soon realized he wasn't an official cab driver because he called his friend during our trip to ask for directions.

This link here are the rates from the airport to any destination in Bali, which I only found out after my trip ;/

Do take note that there are no metered cabs from the airport to city center.

What could you do to save more/better?

  • Ask your hotel if they provide free airport pickups. From my experience, most of them only do free airport shuttles from the hotel to airport, not the other way round. Makes more sense for them in terms of logistics.
  • Walk out of the airport and flag a BlueBird Cab. This will get a metered taxi and potentially save your some extra cash. This was suggested by a BlueBird taxi driver on one of our cab rides. He even told us that we paid a bomb for our taxi ride from the airport to our hotel. Oh well, lesson learnt. 
Took a couple of cabs and majority of Blue Bird drivers are honest and used meters.

Around Bali 
There are many modes of transportation here ranging from walking to renting a private car. This is quite straightforward.
  • Walking.
  • Bus. You can take the Kura-kura around. More details can be found here. Below is the route map as of Dec 2014.
  • Taxi. Do remember to always ask for a metered taxi.
  • Car/ Motorbike
Kuta to Ubud
Majority of people will spend a few nights at Kuta then head to Ubud, vice versa. We hired a driver + tour around Ubud after spending our first few nights at Kuta. It costed 500k rupiah (10 hours), with the driver picking us up at our hotel in Kuta and ending up at our hotel in Ubud. 

A good tip is to use the hotel tour rates (600k rupiah for 6 hours) as a benchmark for your tour prices. Also take note that everyone in Bali is practically a tour guide/driver. So open your mouth and ask around for good deals. 

Their primary vocation are mainly supermarket assistants, taxi drivers, hoteliers and masseurs and their average monthly wage is 1.4 million rupiah. This means that if they work 3 days as a driver, they probably don't have to work for the month and often they are more desperate for your service. 

Hope this helps as I had a hard time consolidating all the info I needed so I figured that I should write a post. Next up, Getting from Bali to Java Island :) 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Shave shave

I'm always a big fan of small changes/tweaks, my previous post can be found here, which always somehow manage to amplify the satisfaction.

Now let me begin my story :)

For the past few shaving encounters, I was struggling to get a good shave with my shaver. This was perhaps that I got quite lazy in my shaving duties resulting in rougher shaving encounters. FYI, I'm not a very hairy person and the best I can grow is just a few long whiskers.

If you are wondering, my old shaver was the cheap disposable with two bladed with a small lubricant strip attached to it. I didn't need those fancy electrical shavers or triple bladed Gillette due to my inability to grow a moustache.
My shaver, Gillette two bladed 

So, I embarked on the adventure to find that perfect shaver. I started of by changing my current shaver more frequently but I didn't work out. I resorted to investing in a low end triple bladed one with extra strip of lubricant to get a more pleasant shave. It turned out that it was better.

Triple bladed

However, it just struck me that if I 'downgraded' back to my two bladed shaver, I would have just gone back to my initial shaving routine which was shaving every 2-3 days instead of being lazier i.e 4-5 days :D

Yohan Blake said this because he was constantly Usain Bolt's shadow

Looks like I found my solution and I'm back to my good shaves again!

Laziness can really cost us more without us realizing that some of us as far better off initially.

Ps: This solution is probably for the 'less hairy' men like myself.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Pulau Ubin

I spent my weekend at Ubin with my kids and some thoughts came to me during my short stay there. At times it felt as if I was suppose to clock in the hours as there was minimal reception aka away from civilization.

1) What we do with time, defines us.
The stay there felt like a mini sabbatical/getaway/torture for all of us. Some felt that it was redundant to carry out certain activities and the duration of it should be shorten so we could have our longer weekends. Some brought their intended work/markings to do but did not have the discipline to see through it. Other decided to spend time bonding with other colleagues. Some took a run around the campsite and to our surprise we found wild rambutan trees,grab a ladder and quickly got their hands dirty with the sweet delights. My decision to follow a new found friend to catch sunrise ended up with a surprise as we spotted ...
Photo: Spotted a family of hornbills at ubin!
wild hornbills! about 12-15 of them were flying tree to tree to steal some eggs from nests. What a sight it was!

2) It's nice to feel young again
Surround yourself with young people is one way to feel young at heart again. I had the privilege to watch their campfire where they will come together to perform skits and cheers to round off the camp. Brings back memories of my scouting days, where we were so shameless to perform in front of our peers.

Photo: Campfire!
Campfire. Regulated campfire :P

3)We never truly know how to appreciate something until we have lost it forever.
Nah, take out the forever part behind. Oh yes I appreciate my sweet bed and infact after the camp, I bought two new pillows to replace my old ones :) What a spoilt kid I am. Good to have some back to basics style nights. My dinner was plain white rice with two miserable pieces of chicken. I'm pretty sure the kids had it better than us for their dinner, they were lavished with tuna and baked beans! but then again, I rather have my 'crappy' dinner than sleeping on the hard floor. hehe

Ps : Kinda ignite my dream retirement homestay :) Maybe i'll blog about it soon.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Taxi Uncle

There's a saying that goes that if you want to know what's happening on the streets, just take a cab and engage small talk with the local cabbies. They will most likely rant out all their frustrated feelings about the government.

Initially I did not want to write about this incident because it was a small matter to me but somehow it stayed with me a while.

It all happened when I flagged down a cab at about 4.45 pm on a working Monday. I have a very close cab driver friend and I knew normally cab driver switch shift at 5pm, hence it is normally very difficult to grab a cab. I knew about the switching of shifts of cabs and I decided to go a little earlier just to avoid the peak hour surcharge. Several cabs actually zoomed passed me with their labels indicating 'change shift' and I thought that I was never going to grab a cab before the peak hour starts (5pm)

Thankfully there was this passenger that stopped where I was about to alight and I quickly asked the uncle if I could hop on. He was hesitant as I knew he was changing shifts but thankfully where I wanted to go was in his direction. So I hopped on and told the uncle I wanted to go to Merlin Mansion which was perpendicular to East Coast Road and Still Road. I asked him if he knew the direction and he clearly said that he know where it was.

However, after a few minutes he started asking me where exactly it was and I showed him on google maps to clarify the location but he kept complaining that he couldn't see as it was too small for him. To cut the long story short, we actually took a huge detour and I ended up guiding him to my intended location which I felt was not my fault because he said he knew where it was.

So as I was about to alight, he charged me the exact amount displayed on the meter and I was a little disappointed because he took me on an unnecessary detour.

I said to him, "Oh how 6.50?"  
Uncle, " Ya, my fault is it if you don't know the place. Not happy is it?"
Me, " Ermm, but"
Uncle, " Not happy ah? want discount is it? 50 cents? You think i'm cheating you?"
Me, " -.- I didn't say that, just wondering only." I paid him the cash and took my stuff from the boot
Uncle, *rambles on and on*

Oh well, I don't know why he felt so touchy when I was hesitant to pay and asked an innocent question.He probably forgot that I was his 'momentum customer' and probably his last ditch of income aka bonus before handing over his shift.

What say you?

Ps: An incident during lunch today where a customer raged at the counter girl triggered the above.

Taxi Taxi!

Monday, July 7, 2014

USB Cables

For the past week, I had some major problems charging my handphone and tablet all because I was using a lower grade micro USB cable.

Ya, you know those that they sell at the night markets and they come in many colours to cheat you

Well, the thing was I knew it was not going to be as good/sturdy as the original cable but yet I decided to buy it. In fact it was my first time a 'fake' cable and if you know how I take care of my stuff, things rarely get spoilt or missing. hehe.

I did go to several shops before purchasing my 'fake' cable asking the shop keeper on the difference. They mentioned that fake cables are obviously cheaper but they tend to charge slower. I knew that but I didn't expect it to be so slow. I took 20 min to charge 1% of my battery. Funny thing was my brother's phone was charging as per normal. He owns a zero dollar phone while I decided to jump on the upper end of the handphone hierarchy.

In the end, I gave up on the 'fake' USB cable and bought the original cable and my phone is charging so much faster :D

And oh, original cables in singapore are way much cheaper compared to johor. Orignal or fake after this incident? * I still like cheap replicas :P*

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Small Tweaks

I've been using the June holidays to do some small tweaks in certain areas. Here are some of the tweaks which I can recall,

1) Exercising 'more regularly'
I had a little more time to exercise during the holidays and I also had an exercise buddy, E and my brother, to help me get going. Some small tweaks I did was to eat a little earlier so that I could go for night jogs which I soon realized that I got hungry after my run and ate even more :D Fail max.

2) Review of accounts
Sounds very old man-ish but this was what I did. I took a day to consolidate my monthly expenditure and soon realized that if I did switch to the OCBC 360 account, I could soon 'feel richer'. Well that minor switch was quite a hassle for me but I'm thankful for helpful people at work to get the necessary admin done for me. I basically bazooka-ed all my spendings into one account which actually simplifies things for myself. Well done Nik! *pats my own shoulder*

3) Got hooked onto Young Justice.
All it took was just a visit to E's place which I came across this cartoon. With just that small tweak/click of the play button, I ended up watching the entire season 1 & 2 in 3 days :P I must say that show is really addictive or I'm just a super-hero kinda guy. If you want, I can share with you the site I watched online. Too bad that there won't be season 3, else I'll probably be blogging less.

So, from the above, I guess not all small tweaks are the best tweaks right?

What are some of your small tweaks that you have done recently and how well/bad did it turn out?

hehe, a picture of my Young Justice won't hurt right? 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Kick that coin!

I was on my way home from work yesterday and I took my usual bus back. Upon entering the bus, I noticed a twenty cent coin shining brightly on the floor near the entrance.

My first instinct was that I noticed many people around me look at that coin but chose not to pick it up. I to decided not to pick it up but sat nearby so that I could do some observations. These are some of the things I noticed.

1) A few people did their normal routine upon entering the bus. They tapped in walked by that coin and took a seat.

2) Many like myself, tapped in, looked at the coin (probably hesitated) and quickly act as if they did not see it

3) An uncle noticed the coin, sat as close as he could get to the coin but still did not pick it up. Instead he was constantly looking at the coin throughout the journey. Guess what that uncle did when he exited the bus? He gave the coin a hard kick and stormed off.

I still find myself pondering over that observation I made yesterday. What if we took that coin as an opportunity in our lives? After all, the coin has only two sides , mathematically by the law of large numbers the probability of obtaining heads or tails is always half, which also means that we could either choose to seize the coin (opportunity) or just let it pass by and get kicked by someone else.

Hehe :)

Taiwanese coins, to show how much I missed the people and culture there. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Running out of ideas for my blog posts or maybe I just have a few things to say to myself.

Couple of things I want to be thankful for
1) My new slipper
2) Good consecutive evening runs with E (hopefully I get to hit my goal of 65kg XD)

Somethings I need to improve on
1) Water my new baby plant more often. Leaves are starting to grow but then the soil tends to dry up quickly.
2) Cut down on sweet drinks. Feel thirsty too often (could be the weather?) which makes me keep buying teh peng, etc. @.@

That's all for now, new week, new month.  Oh I feel life is getting mundane :/

Nights Chongx

Friday, March 21, 2014

It's been a while

It's been a while since I sat down and wrote to you. Neglecting you but always knowing that you are there when I need you.

The past few weeks was crazy for me. How crazy was it? Well I poked my eye and ended up in an A&E for the first time. Don't ask me how I injured my eye but thankfully it was all okay now just that I'm literally scarred for the next few years.

Some takeaways/reflections I learnt during that freak accident.
1. Was showered with extreme care and concern by people.
Yeap. I was quite surprised honestly when I my brother took a cab to pick me up from the clinic to send me to the hospital with me groping in the dark. haha. E was also extremely caring towards me. She probably held my hand so tight fearing that I could not navigate myself around. Also thankful for her sis and yq for being there when I was on the wheel chair :P

2. Life goes on no matter what. 
Sad to say but while I was out 'injured', things will still go on. Got me thinking that how replaceable we actually are.

3. The thought of losing my vision permanently was scary
I was practically blind for 12 hours I think? I could only peep through my other proper eye but with my eyes shut most of the time, I could sense my other sensory much more.

Okay, just some updates!    

Sunday, January 26, 2014

It only takes a Spark

I like the morning devotions in my school a lot. Really gets me started for the day. Just want to share a song that we sang earlier this week.

On the side note, I received a couple of surprises as well. Yesterday I was informed by OCBC that I was one of the lucky winners for the overdraft account I opened last year. Well, I actually closed it a month ago but yet I got the SMS asking me to claim my Kenneth Cole watch. Oh well, that settles my 20th month-evasary with E :) Glad that she liked it! 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hedonic Treadmill

Came across this term when I was reading an article today. What does it mean?

"The hedonic treadmill is a theory that people return to a relatively stationary level of happiness, sometimes considered a happiness “set point.” Although efforts or interventions to improve happiness have a transient effect, individuals inevitably return to their original happiness set point after a short period of time."


I do run quite a bit on the treadmill :/

Hedonic Treadmill
A great example they quoted, went online to read up a little, was the lottery effect. The level of happiness of a lottery winner only lasts for a few days after which they return to their normal levels again.

On the lighter note, CNY is coming soon :) 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Bicycle Uncle

I got an answered prayer today! I've been wanting to get my bicycle fixed as it was punctured a few days ago. Also my other bicycle was starting to give me a bit of a problem, mainly the gears. My brother and I actually resorted to salvage the seat and throw the bike away and but a brand new one from Giant.

I bumped into the bike uncle at my place after having my dinner with E today. I quickly greeted him and asked if I was too late to get my bike fixed.

To cut the long story short (also I'm super sleepy now) I was amazed by his sheer determination and willingness to go the extra mile to fix my bicycle problem. He shared with me that he collects bicycle spare parts, basically salvages whatever parts from unwanted bicycles and somehow magically reassembles them into brand new bikes. 

He went to the extend of salvaging ball-bearings from the bicycle shaft from another bicycle, replacing them with mine @.@ It was fun watching him work and of course I took this opportunity to brush up my rusty Hokkien. 

Yipee, now I can roll around my place with my new bicycle :D vroom. You won't believe how much it costed me to repair and replace quite a number of parts for both my bicycle.

For those who don't know how does a ball-bearing look like. My first time dissecting the bicycle shaft :/

Now I want to repair all the bicycles in the world! :D