Ubud Eats

Ubud is a foodie’s delight and part of the excitement of coming here and just walking the streets are discovering nice restaurants, quaint cafes, and cheap warungs.


It’s been four years since I was last here and it was good to see that my favorite haunts are still up and serving good food.

Warung Sandat

On my trip here in 2014, I stayed at Taman Mesari Homestay on the same street, Jl Sandat, which meant taking several meals there. It’s still as reliable as ever. Good food, low prices, and friendly service keeps me coming back. For such a simple warung, the couple that runs it still make some effort to plate the food quite nicely. Think of heart-shaped rice. The nasi campur is very good value.

Cafe Wayan

Skipped the famous Sunday buffet this time as I wasn’t to keen on stuffing myself. Just had the popular lime tart and tea. Yup, it still is good.

The garden is attractive and the staff evermore gracious. I actually felt honored being there even if all I had was the tart.

Caramel Ubud

I have fond memories of this place as I was one of their regular customers who visited almost everyday when they had just opened years ago. The only patisserie in Ubud that’s worth its name. Always delightful.


Warung Bernadette

Famous for its beef rendang (Rp 75) which comes in a set that includes rice, crackers, soup, vegetables, and a corn fritter. Tasty and filling. The place is decorated with whimsical metal decors that you can buy. If the wooden chairs were just a little more comfortable, I could have sat there forever.


Warung Kopi

It was my go to place whenever I was too lazy to go too far from my homestay at Jl Hanoman. Supposedly serves organic food. Prices are a little higher than your usual warung. Their gado gado was the best that I had. The vegetables were steamed nicely and there huge pieces of nicely-fried tofu and tempeh. The peanut sauce was also very good and more than enough. At Rp 40k, it was the most expensive gado gado I had but totally worth it.

Warung River View

I lunched here primarily because of its nice spot set back from Jl Rayad Ubud overlooking the river. Nothing special about the nasi goreng nor the kolombok (fried pork in pineapple sauce). The large plates only made the small servings even smaller. Will probably only go back to have a drink and sit on the small table by the corner.

Pizza Bagus

It had good reviews at Trip Advisor and in a place swarming with pizza places, it was the cheapest. I ordered a margherita pizza and a spaghetti limone which arrived close to 45 minutes later! You could fall asleep waiting for your order. The spaghetti was very good– al dente noodles and a light lemony sauce. The pizza, however, was disappointing. It was dry and tasted like something I just made at home. The tomatoes looked so dehydrated. The portions are filling, though. If you just wanna satisfy your pizza craving and not looking for a gourmet experience, it will do. But then again, is ir worth the loooong wait?


Unlike the other new discoveries, these ones deserve repeat visits.

Warung Ijo

This padang style eatery is good for stretching your budget while filling your tummy.


Stumbled on this coming from ARMMA. An upgraded padang style eatery with solid wooden tables and seats. The food is inside glass display cases and you point to the staff what you want. The dishes aren’t the usual curries and vegetables. There was sate lilit (Rp 3k) for one and delicious shredded chicken dish in a spicy reddish sauce. They also seem to cook new viands when one runs out as I saw piping hot dishes coming out from the kitchen. If it weren’t quite a distance from my homestay, I would have returned.

Kebun Bistro

My mouth waters just saying it. The interiors are cozy though the a/c could be turned-up a bit. My favorite spot inside is the corner table looking out the window. The dishes are heavenly and well-proportioned. Considering the quality of the food, the prices are reasonable. Besides, this is one restaurant you won’t feel bad spending on. I had an early dinner here on New Year’s Eve and I just wanted to stay and taste everything on the menu. The French pressed coffee is good.

Warung Pondok Madu

Why I only decided to check this out on my second to the last day in Ubud is something I will never forgive myself for because I could have had the grilled pork ribs on nasi goreng everyday. Large size (Rp 145). It’s that good. Perfect blend of spices enhanced by the delicous sambal.

Cafe Pomegranate

Mainly for the rice fields and to relax amidst the sound of ducks. The guacame which had a hint of coconut milk was good, though.


Yes, I do some work while on vacation as it’s one way for me to make sure that the holiday doesn’t get thrown out of the window by the sheer amount of work I’m faced with when I get home. Plus, one of my goals really is to work on my dissertation. Aside from the balcony of my homestay, Ubud has lots of fantastic cafes that were perfect— strong wifi, outlets, good coffee, and staff that won’t bother you.

Cafe Angsa

Just across my homestay. Nice corner table with a ricefield view. With Balinese coffee only at Rp 20k, it was my cheapest workspace. No outlets, however.

Monsieur Spoon

Added a French twist to my day with strong coffee and a butter croissant and a good crumbly raspberry tart. The place is quite busy, though.

Ary’s Book Cafe

This was such a delightful find. The frontage doesn’t look much but once you step inside, it’s spacious. There’s even a garden! The coffee is good and goes well with the lime tart. I really like this place as it’s a quiet oasis along tourist-choked Jl Rayan Ubud.

Categories: Indonesia, Indonesia, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Walking at Kajang

Except for the shrines, I could have been back home in the PH at any countryside.

I really just needed to walk my legs and see some greenery.

After seeing shop after shop, cafe after cafe, warung after warung, yoga studio after yoga studio, homestay after homestay at Jl Hanoman, Jl Raya Ubud, Jl.Monkey Forest, and all the little jalan in between, I needed to go where the green things are and the walk to the Kajeng rice fields fitted the bill. It was near the town center and was easy to go to. Simply follow Jl Kajeng to the very end where Luxe Villas is or veer of to the left to Sweet Orange Cafe. I chose the path more travelled by — straight ahead to the villas then backtracked my way back to Ubud center.

The rice fields aren’t really pretty as some are a bit rundown but it still makes for a nice walk.

Categories: Indonesia, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Happy Galungan

I had unknowingly arrived in Bali the day before Galungan, one of the most important religious celebrations in this Hindi island. Occuring every 210 days, the Galungan is on December 26 this year while Kuningan, the last day is on January 5. Being a holiday, many commercial establishments, mostly the family-run ones are either closed or open half of the day.

Yesterday, At the homestay where I am at, the family was busy making offerings. Out on the streets long bamboo poles decorated with offerings called “penjor” were being erected.

The statues that adorn many homes and temples also seemed to be wearing new or at least, newly-washed sarong.

Throught the day today, Ubud’s streets were made more colorful with the locals in their beautiful Balinese wear. Temples were filled with families making offerings. I had to buy a sarong at a shop near a temple just so I could enter the complex as it is customary even for foreigners to wear one.

Groups of children also paraded the streets playing gongs while the “barong” (a lion-like creature in Balinese mythology who represents good) “danced” (the “barong” used by the children is not the sacred one used in temple dances but the one used for practices).

In the evening, I chanced on this all-boy troop at the streets near my homestay.

They had two gongs (the large one played on the boss and the smaller one on the surface), a bamboo drum called “tawu-tawu,” a wooden drum called “khendang,” and pairs of cymbals called “ceng ceng.”

Two small boys held donation boxes for the barong. It was fun to watch them go down the streets sometimes stopping to rest.

Categories: Indonesia, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Visa Guide to Azerbaijan for Filipinos

There was very scant information on the internet on how to get a visa for Azerbaijan. The honorary consulate in the Philippines has no authority to grant visas which means you have to get it elsewhere.

One blogger used a visa service while another sent hers to the embassy in KL.

Since the nearest consulate is in Kuala Lumpur, I decided to apply there. I looked up their website ( http://kualalumpur.mfa.gov.az) and sent an email to the address in the contact page. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a quick reply from one of the consuls, Mr. Eldaniz Musayev. who not only gave me the instructions on visa application but gave his Whatsapp number too.

This is how my co-faculty and I applied for the visa as we were attending a conference in Baku:

1. We made photocopies of the ff. documents:

Information page of passport

Hotel booking

Flight reservation

Letter of invitation from the conference organizer

Employment certificate

Downloaded and signed visa application

2. I sent the above documents, 2 pcs of passport-size photos, and our passports to the Azerbaijan Embassy in KL via DHL. It was addressed to Consul Eldaniv Musayev. I inserted RM 400 (RM 200 for each of us) inside my passport.

After leaving the DHL office, I sent a Whatsapp message to Mr. Eldaniv to inform him that the documents were on its way.

3. Our passports with the sticker visas were ready in 5 working days!

Unfortunately, I forgot to send an additional RM 25 with my documents so our passports could be couriered back to my address. Mr. Eldaniz sent me a Whatsapp message and I made arrangements for my co-faculty’s friend to just get the passports from him as she was heading back to Manila in a couple of days.

The entire process was very easy. Mr. Eldaniv was very responsive to my emails and Whatsapp messages. He updated me when he received our documents and when our passports were ready.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Istanbul Practicals

I stayed 9 days in Istanbul and still couldn’t get enough of this historic city. I really enjoyed myself and want to share how me and my colleague managed our trip.


To/From Airport

There is a metro line that connects Ataturk to the city center.

To save us the hassle of looking for our hotel at Sultanhamet, we just booked transport from one of the numerous kiosks at the arrivals area of Ataturk airport. Cost was 25 USD.

When we transferred hotel to Taksim, we hailed a cab off the street for 35 lira. We could have taken the tram to Kabatas then the funicular to Taksim but we worried how we would manage the narrow turnstiles with our luggages.

From our hotel in Taksim to Atatur k, we booked transport with our hotel for 90 lira.

Around the City

Of course, the Istanbulkart is the way to go. Rides are cheaper with the card rather than paying per route. We bought our cards at the magazine kiosk near the Serciki station for 10 lira. Much cheaper to buy direct from the machine at 6 lira. We never took the bus but we used the card for both tram, metro, and boat.

The tram and metro have stops that connect with each other. We mostly used the tram.

Useful stations are:

Kabatas – Funicular to Taksim

Karakoy – Funicular to Tunel for Galata Tower

Eminonu – Bosphorous boat tours, ferry to Uskudar

Gulhane – Topkapi Palace, National Archaeological Museum

Sultanahmet – Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque

Beyazit – Grand Bazaar


Sultanhamet or Beyoglu? I too asked that when deciding where to stay. Since we were staying 9 nights, we decide to spend 4 at Sultanhamet and 5 at Beyoglu. Good decision.

Staying at Sultanhamet allowed us to just walk or take the tram (if we were tired) to the main sights such as Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sofia, and the Blue Mosque.

At Beyoglu, specifically at Taksim, we were able to shop and shop and enjoy the vibe of Istikal street with its crowds, shops, street musicians, cafes, and restaurants.

You can say that by staying at both areas, we experienced two sides of Istanbul — the historical at Sultanhamet and the modern at Beyoglu.


The Sultanhamet area seems to have the monopoly on kebab and doner meals.

I enjoyed eating more at Taksim as there were more varied choices and there were places that were like fastfoods with main meals on display. There are many along Istikal Caddesi.

Much cheaper are those on the streets away from Istikal. We found this place at a narrow street just opposite the street of our hotel. We ate here many times.

The price is much lower and the food is much better than the one we had along Istikal.

All of these plus a small bottle of Sprite is only 20.50 lira. The desserts here such as sutlac are also much cheaper. I didn’t notice anything different from the 3 lira version I had here to the more expensive one at a cafe along Istikal.

The fact that many locals eat here says a lot.


Typical tourist souvenirs such as magnets, carpet-design pouches, and keychains were cheapest at the old city than at the Grand Bazaar or at Taksim. If you want to buy the cloth used for scrubs in the hamam, you can get them at shops along Galip Dede Caddesi at the end of Istikal. They’re just 5 lira compared to the 10 lira I got at a small convenience store in the old city. At the Grand Bazaar, it was 20 lira. I also bought a pestemal at the same street for 10 lira. It’s similar to the ones I used in the hamam.

Take note that the Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays.

There’s a grocery called Ucler just across the Uskudar pier on the Asian side. I bought my olive oil soaps there for just 8.90 lira for a pack of 5 soaps. Much cheaper than the 5 lira soaps at souvenir shops. The bakeshop there also sells bahklava at a much lower price– 54 lira/kilo for hazelnut compared to 68 lira at the fancier shops.

July seems to be sale season (“indirim” means sale) as all the shops at Istikal and at the Forum Mall were on sale and prices were really slashed down.

My favorite shop was LC Waikiki which seemed to be the Turkish version of H & M. Clothes and shoes were really cheap.

Even items that weren’t on sale were quite cheap (39.95 for shirts, for example).

Istanbul is a city that demands to be discovered and explored. I never felt that the 9 days spent there was too much.

Categories: Turkey, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Trip to the Asia Side: Uskudar

Took the ferry boat from Eminonu pier to Uskudar. I was surprised how big and nice the ferry was. There were two large air-conditioned cabins with nice cushioned seats and an open upper deck with wooden benches where I stayed.

The 12:30 trip didnt have too many passengers. I boarded the ferry just as it was about to pull-out and there were still empty seats at the often full upper deck. The ferry was definitely much better than the one we boarded for the Bosphorous tour a few days back. The 15-minute trip across the strait was very relaxing. The weather was just right.

It had been showering in the morning the past few days but the sky was clear today.

Disembarked the ferry and headed to the two mosques just across.

It was time for Friday prayers and the mosques were filled with men doing their Friday obligations.

Outside the prayer hall, women waited. It was atmospheric just sitting in one of the wooden benches and listening to the Imam’s voice blaring out of the speakers.

Had a soup break at an outdoor cafe just outside the mosque. The soup for the day was a creamy rice and vegetable chowder which had a strong minty flavor — a taste I have gotten quite used to since having an oily meat soup in Baku.

Nearby was a narrow cobbled street lined with fish shops and restaurants, spice shops, and a stall selling fried sweets.

Snacks of fried dough.

This fried dough drenched in honey is called citir halka (2.50 lira). It’s delicious and every bite sends honey drooling down your chin. Definitely not for those watching their sugar intake.

Unlike the European side of Istanbul, Uskudar has a more local feel.

This used to be a bath house designed by the famous architect, Sinan. It has been restored to house shops, a cafe, and a restaurant.

How to get there from Taksim

1. Take the Taksim – Kabatas funicular. Upon arrival in Kabatas, follow the sign that points to the Taksim tram stop. Go up the stairs and you’ll find yourself at the Kabatas tram station. This is the last stop of the tram.

2. Ride the tram to Eminonu.

3. Exit the Eminonu tram ststion and cross the road. You’ll see the ferry station to Uskandar. Use yoir Istanbulkart to pay.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

How I Ended Up with 7 shirts, 2 sports shirts, 3 pairs of shorts, 1 joggers, and 3 pairs of shoes

I never imagined I would go on a shopping spree for Western clothes in Istanbul. Perhaps, in one of those other cities where retail reigns such as Bangkok or Hongkong; but Istanbul? Nah! Istanbul is culture, objects d’ art, and carpets not H&M style clothes.

We headed to the Grand Bazaar in the morning with high expectations. I had envisioned a souk with curios and treasures. Unfortunately, except for the music instrument shops, I was a bit disappointed. Tourist trinkets such as magnets, bookmarks, wallets, and key chains were more expensive than those at the shops near our hotel. Or perhaps, we weren’t really looking as Madame P was more oriented towards Western consumer goods and seemed disinterested. I did get a few small music instruments such as a thin flute and some finger cymbals. Had to bargain really well and stand my ground to lower it to half price. Also bought some of those metallic kebab skewers from a nice shop with a seller who wasn’t pushy. He had nice shiny things that Aladdin would probably go crazy for.

I did enjoy the bazaar interiors with its colorful ceilings and arches.

I can’t recall how many times I said, “Filipino” to merchants beckoning at doorways who think I’m Malaysian. One carpet guy even thought we were from Columbia! Hahaha!

We spent less than two hours just walking around then heid off to a nearby cafe to rest a bit. Madame P was really bent on going to a mall. Since the entire day was really allotted for shopping, might as well. Google came up with Forum Mall as the nearest and most accessible via tram and metro.

While at the tram, we sat across a young lady who smiled and waved her hand in greeting. Turns out she’s a Pinay from Bulacan whose been working as a nanny in Istanbul for 4 months. She seemed fine working so far from home. She says she’s fortunate to have good employers who even brought her to Canada with them. We bade her goodbye as we exited at our stop to change to the metro.

Madame P and I went our separate ways at the large mall and agreed to meet after two hours. I saw a Decathlon billboard outside the mall and went looking for the store. It seems to be sale season now as all the shops were on sale, just like in Baku. Checked out a shop called LC Waikiki which looked like a Turkic version of H&M. Indeed it was. Clothes were at 19.95 – 49.95 L and shoes at 39.95! That’s less than Php 500! Really cheap. The clothes were really nice, too. I especially liked the light cotton shirts. The best thing is they have large sizes! I spent the next 2 hours hoarding stuff. One local looks at my basket and jokingly asks: “Where’s one for me?”

I’ve never shopped so much in my life. By the time Madame P and I caught up with each other at our meeting point, we were both loaded with bags. The Madame had also gone panic buying at Collezione which had 10 L shirts. Stuff was really cheap at the shops. I had to stop myself from buying more stuff at the other stores. We took the metro and the tram back to the hotel just before rush hour began.

Categories: Turkey, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Luxury at the Cagaloglu Hamami

After my pleasant hamam experience at the Baku Old City, I was ready for more and Istanbul is the place for it. After all, Turkey = Turkish bath.

There are a few distinct hamam at the Sultanahamet area being the old district of Istanbul. Galatasaray, Sultanhayime, AyaSofya, and Cemberlitas are just a few.

I chose Cagaloglu Hamami as it was just 10 minutes walk up hill from our hotel in Sultanahamet. I was supposed to head to another, cheaper one, but two recent reviews at TripAdvisor mentioned being robbed of their stuff at the lockers. I didn’t want to take the risk. Cagaloglu had excellent reviews that mentioned how clean it was and how pleasant the staff were (the other hamam had rude staff as reviewed by others).

The hamami is one of the oldest in Istanbul having been built in 1741 and have just been renovated. According to its pamphlet, Franz Liszt was believed to have visited! Perhaps, to unwind after a concert?

I descended the marble to steps to the entrance hall where a friendly English-speaking male receptionist explained the prices to me. Behind him was the lounging area and the private changing cabins which I mistook for massage rooms (how naive of me).

I would have wanted to have the grandiose-sounding Ottoman Luxury Service, a 2- hour treatment that includes a 45-m aromatherapy massage; but at 120 Euros, it was waaay off my budget. I got the Istanbul Dream (50 Euros) instead which was a 15-minute hot room rest followed by a 10-minute scrub and finished with a 20-minute bubble bath.

I was led to my small private cabin by my kese (scrubber) where I put on my pestemel and rubber slippers.

He then led me to the toilet then to the baths, a large mable room dominated by the large marble plinth where the scrubbing takes place. We walked past the plinth and into the steam room where a dad and his son, Europeans, were “steaming.” A few minutes later, they were called by their kese for their scrubbing. Mine soon came after and I was led to the marble plinth. I then had the most wonderful scrub and bath. What made it even better was it included a msssage that no matter how brief, hit all the right points on my back and my legs. The best part was yet to come. When he released the bubble “bag.” An enormous cloud of bubbles exploded on my body and it felt so good as it cascaded down. I never knew bubbles could caress. Staring up at the domed star ceiling, it felt like I had gone to bubble heaven. I love oil massages but getting massaged with soap suds is even better. My kese had very good hands and it really felt like he knew what he was doing and doing it so well. I could cry from pleasure.

More water splashes then he led me to one of the marble water basins and doused me with water. He then led me out to a room where I was given a new pestemel and a towel. I gestured to him that I wanted to use the baths some more. I went back in and stayed in one of the coves just enjoying the heat and the water. Two other people (another father and son pair) came in and had a scrub. After half an hour, I felt I had enough so I went to the changing area. I didn’t see my kese but I saw a new pestemal and two towels on the marble bench. I changed into the new pestemal just as an attendant came in, draped the large towel over my shoulders then covered my head with a smaller towel, wrapping its ends together at the back of my hand like an Arabian head gear. I felt like I was ready to conquer the world. He then led me back to the entrance hall where I was served hot tea, juice, and turkish delight.

I rested a bit on the narrow bed at my cabin before heading out.

I really enjoyed my stay at the baths. It was clean and I like having that private cabin. I wonder how long you could stay? Perhaps, sleep at the cabin then go back to the baths again. I could easily have spent half a day there.

Categories: Turkey, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Hagia Sofia

Aaaah…. I truly enjoyed myself at amazing Hagia Sofia, one of the jewelled crowns of Istanbul.

I have always loved Byzantine churches with their icons, mosaics, and vaults. Unfortunately, my only opportunity to visit some were during a trip to Bethlehem and Jerusalem a couple of years ago and my experience was not very good. We were on a private tour and our guide was rushing things. Unfortunately, none of my companions seemed to care about art and architecture so the guide’s really bad narratives were ignored. It went something like this, “This church was built on so-so. Around it are Byzantine icons. Look. Ok? Let’s go.” I was so disappointed. I couldn’t even take pictures as we were really rushing. So at the Hagia Sofia, I took my time enjoying every bit of the place in spite of the crowds.

The church was under restoration so certain parts were not open and a huge scaffolding was at the centre. Fortunately, the apse was visible.

The Virgin Mary on the dome above the apse.

Of course, the beautiful ceilings.

On the rear are stone ramps that climb to the second level. It’s a bit claustrophobic as it’s like walking through a tunnel. If it weren’t for all the people all going up, I would have liked to walk slowly, imagining myself as a medieval monk or a Muslim cleric back in those ancient days.

Seeing the church from the second level, you get a clearer sense of its enormity and its layout.


As expected, there were long lines at the ticket counter. Make sure you have the Museum Pass. It allowed us to simply head to the entrance.

Categories: Turkey, Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

From Baku to Istanbul

We arrived from Baku at past 8 am. The immigration lines were quite long in spite of many open counters for foreigners. Fortunately, the one manning the lines beckoned to me and a few others behind to an empty counter for Turks. The officer didn’t seem too happy about it as he was busy fiddling on his phone. He perused my passport for quite a bit of time, holding-up the page with my visa up to the light, most probably checking the hologram. He even did the same to my Azerbaijan visa. I just stood quietly but in my mind was like, “what the hell?” He finally stamped me in. Whew!

Collected our luggages and went out to the arrivals area. Our hotel didn’t answer my email asking for a hotel transfer so we were at the mercy of dozens of counters offering transportation. We went to the counter that was the least aggressive and paid USD 25 to bring us to Gulhane Corner Hotel at Sultanahmet.

After the peace and quiet of Baku, Istanbul came as a shock. The Sultanahmet area was choking with traffic as cars, people, and trams competed for space in its narrow streets. Our driver parked the car, took out our luggage and walked us down a side street to our hotel. It was too early to check-in so we just left our luggage. We headed down the street and stumbled on a branch of Golluogloo which my sister highly recommended for bakhlava.

Very good, indeed, especially when served with ice cream and thick Turkish coffee.

Our initial introduction to Turkey was via our taste buds! I’ve always loved bakhlava and finally I got to eat it at its home ground.

The guy manning the store was extremely friendly and chatty and said he wanted to go to the beaches in the Philippines. He was also nice enough to book tickets for us at the Hodjapashah for the 7pm “show” featuring Dervish spinning.

Spent the rest of the morning at the Topkapi Palace which was full of people being a weekend.

TIP: Buy the Museum Pass (125 TL) at the Archaeology Museum where there’s a shorter line. It’s enroute to the palace anyway.

Categories: Azerbaijan, Turkey, Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.