If you plan to go to Bali and buy local souvenirs, then a town called Ubud is a place to go.
Ubud is known for artworks like wood carvings and paintings as shown in major roads as a group of Filipino journalists and bloggers traveled all the way from Kuta in Bali, Indonesia last March 1.
The trip was part of a five-day familiarization tour organized by AirAsia Philippines, which has recently started its daily flights from Manila to Jakarta.
“As you will see, there are a lot of arts to see… especially wood carvings,” Stephan Faessler, general manager of Element by Westin, said as he welcomed the group in the newly-opened four-star hotel located along Raya Andong in Ubud.
“That’s why we have a lot of tourists here in Ubud,” Faessler added.
The sound of nature from the water fountains and a huge bamboo artwork at the lobby were just a few of the many wonderful sights welcoming the group. At one side of the lobby are rows of mountain bikes that Faessler said guests can use for free in exploring the town.
The hotel, which is surrounded by trees, also features outdoor swimming pools, a wellness center, spa and buffet services among others. The group was among the first visitors to enjoy the hotel’s amenities even before it officially opens to the public.
While in Ubud, the group made a short trip to Goa Gajah or the Elephant Cave, spent an afternoon tea at Tegallalang Rice Terrace, and experienced a ritual purifying bath at Pura Tirta Empul.
Just outside Tirta Empul is a long-winding market that challenged the group’s bargaining powers.
Racing against time, each went on their own to find the cheapest buy they could get. As the bargain hunting ended, the group gathered back together and while inside the bus heading for the next destination, the tourists had the chance to compare their best buy.
Haggling turns out to be a men’s thing, at least for this group, as some of them managed to get three printed polo shirts or three Balenese shorts or pants for only 100,000 Rupiah or (P350-P400 depending on the exchange rates) while others, including this reporter, got the pants for 50,000 to 60,000 Rupiah each.
But when you are staying at Element by Westin, you don’t have to go far to buy souvenirs for your loved ones and friends as stores and stalls selling wood crafts, surf boards, tea cup sets, jewelry, are just a few steps away from the hotel.
The whole-day tour—from the rice terrace to Tirta temple and to Goa Gajah last March 2—was organized by KKday, an online travel platform that specializes in local in-destination tours and guides.
KKday has created an app, which is downloadable for both Apple and android phones, to aid travelers build and organize their entire itineraries right at their fingertips.
“KKday’s sheer amount of options makes it a one-stop-shop for every kind of traveler. Adrenaline junkies can browse through the ice-skiing tours in Japan, or the mountain climbing adventures in Malaysia. Foodies can have their fill at Taiwan’s night market walking tours, or delight in a wine and cheese lunch in Paris,” it said in a statement released to the group.
“For the shopaholics? KKday can take you on a shopping spree to the biggest outlet stores in the US. Everything you see is highly curated by KKday’s team of travelers for fellow travelers, aiming to help you discover the world in an instant,” it added. /jpv