Shannon Did What / Travel + Lifestyle Blog

what to do in bali

Take a Balinese Cooking Class

TravelShannon Guerrero1 Comment

One of the things I really wanted to do when I went to Bali was take a cooking class. I already love cooking and of course I love Asian style food, so this was kind of a no brainer.  Balinese food is very similar to other Asian foods like Chinese and Thai, but has some differences.  For example, Balinese fried rice is called Nasi Goreng.  I’d say one of the main differences is that it has different vegetables in it - cabbage and tomatoes instead of peas.  One thing is for sure, the food is always extremely fresh.  It’s generally farm to table - fresh spices, fresh vegetables and fresh meat.

Speaking of meat, here’s of fun fact.  Since the majority of the island is Hindu, almost 90% in fact, with only a small percentage being Muslim.  Which is a huge difference from the rest of the Indonesian islands, where the majority of people are actually Muslim.  Hindus do not eat beef and Muslims do not eat pork.  You very rarely see a cow in Bali and if you do (which we did), they will not be used for their meat.  

Here’s the menu that we cooked:

  • Bumbu Bali: This a a Balinese spice paste that is quite literally used as the base of every single Balinese food. It's a combination of about 20 spices that are ground down into a paste.

  • Sate Ayam: Sate is a skewer of meat. Ayam means chicken in Balinese.

  • Bumbu Kacang: The peanut sauce made to dip the chicken skewers in.

  • Tum Be Pasih: Ground fish steamed in a banana leaf.

  • Kare Tahu Dan Tempe: A light curry of tofu, baby corn and long beans.

  • Nasi Goreng: Fan favorite, Indonesian fried rice.

The cooking class didn’t start in the kitchen, but at a traditional market (pictured above).  I didn’t realize how much I would love this market.  Like everyone’s been to a farmers type market, right?  No. This place was like nothing else.  First off, it was like multiple football fields combined under one giant airplane hangar.  Just as you thought it was ending, you would see more stairs and walk down to discover a whole new section.  There was the fresh fruit section, vegetables, goods, prepared foods, spices, meats and everything else you could imagine.  

You don’t actually buy the ingredients for your class.  They already have all the supplies waiting for you when you get back, but they want you to experience their daily market.  And boy was it worth it.  I love traveling and seeing places as the locals see it.  Granted, our visit to the market was probably not a typical experience, as everyone was staring at us the whole time.  Aside from the fact that we’re foreigners, my friend was on crutches which baffled the locals and I seemed to confuse the people because they all thought I was actually Balinese.  What an experience!

After we returned from the market, we quickly got started in on our class.  It was a great surprise to find out our instructor was actually the head chef of the hotel restaurant, Chef Ridwan Hakim.  We felt super privileged to be taught by an accomplished chef.  He was really insightful and helpful.  

I really wish I could recreate some of the dishes we made.  The Bumbu Bali, for example, smells so delicious and tastes so delicious, I would seriously use it in everything, just like the cooks in Bali do, but I don't think I would be able to find all 20 ingredients or so needed to create it.  By far my favorite dish was the tofu curry.  Surprising to me since I thought I would prefer the Nasi Goreng. Maybe it's because I had Nasi Goreng almost every meal.  The curry was lighter than any curry I've ever had.  Full of more flavor, and thinner than I would normally like, but oh so good.  I can just taste it now.  Yum.

If you have a chance to take a cooking class in Bali, or really any place you travel especially in an Asian country, do it.  You won't regret it.  Don't worry, if you do not have that much experience in the kitchen that's ok!  They walk you through every step and are so helpful.  If anything take the class just to eat all of the delicious foods you will make.  Trust me.

Happy Cooking!

Yours Truly // Shannon

Bali: Ultimate Guide to Ubud

TravelShannon Guerrero2 Comments
Bali: Ultimate Guide to Ubud - Shannon Did What?

It's only been a week and a half since I got back from my trip to the beautiful island of Bali.  I had the time of my life, literally loving every second of being in such an incredible place.  My absolute favorite part of my trip to Bali was my time spent in Ubud.  Granted, this includes so many things.  Since I can’t actually pick just one favorite memory, I thought I could walk you through my Ubud highlights - what to see, where to eat, where to shop and what to do.  Ubud is a huge area with so many things to do.  I still didn't feel like I got to see all that it offers, but this was definitely a great start.  Be warned, I took so many pictures during this trip, I just could not find it possible to cut down the number of photos in this post.  They're all just too good.  Enjoy!

SEE

RICE TERRACES
Almost everywhere you look you can see rice terraces and fields in Ubud.  And every single time, I literally had to pinch myself that I was actually seeing these beautiful scenes in person.  I had dreamed of visiting Rice fields every time I thought about traveling and trust me I think about traveling multiple times a day.  Taking a walk through the picturesque fields is an absolute must.  The Tegallalang Rice Terraces are the most famous.  They have that steep tiered look.

COFFEE PLANTATIONS
Taking a tea break in the middle of the rainforest is something that everyone should do once in their life.  Sitting there just listening to the sounds of the jungle is crazy.  The jungle is a very noisy, loud place which is oddly soothing.  You basically are hearing thousands of animals, if not more, at once - insects, frogs, monkeys and so many more.  Also, you’ll get to taste some of the best coffee (so I’m told - I’m not a coffee drinker) and great teas that you’ve never heard of before.  I was obsessed with a tea called Rosella.  Not sure what it is but boy was it delicious.  You can also learn the whole process of them growing the coffee beans, their brew process and even a unique kind of coffee made from crazy animal digestion (don’t ask).

EAT

IBU OKA
I had done a little bit of research about food to eat in Bali and Ibu Oka came up so many times.  Our tour guides even confirmed this was the place to go to get suckling pig.  Ibu Oka is the best when it comes to this dish as it literally was the only thing to get here (at least that I can remember).  They basically gut out a whole pig jam pack it with spices and roast it on a spit all day.  Since it is made before hand, once you order, it literally comes on in two minutes.  I think I had pork 5 different ways on my plate.  There is no describing it, you just have to experience it for yourself.  Don’t forget the Bintang!

CAFE WAYAN
Fun fact the Balinese have a system of nicknames for their families based on the birth order.  The typical amount of children is 4.  The first born is called Wayan, the second is called Made (pronounced ma-day), the third is Komang and the fourth Ketut.  So, Cafe Wayan, is the restaurant of a first born child.  Cafe Wayan is a great place to stop for a bite to eat, or just grab some water which is what we did since it was so humid that day.  They have a delicious menu and even the bathrooms are filled with colorful flowers and look like they could be part of a temple.

SHOP

UBUD MARKET
Ubud Market is the place to be if you want to shop while in Bali.  It is filled with the best kind of chaos in the form of bargaining.  You’ll find everything you could ever want from Bali at the Ubud Market.  You want a colorful sarong?  They have thousands.  You want a beautiful wood carving to take home?  They have wood carvings galore.  You want a penis shaped bottle opener?  Literally all the bottle openers were that shape.  No joke, they’re at almost every stall.  Just kidding do you really want a penis bottle opener?  Anyway, come here to get your souvenirs and goods and be ready to strike up a deal.  Always offer less than what you want to pay so there’s room to go up in price.  And always be ready to walk away.  They’ll run after you and give it to you at the price you want.  We loved this place so much that even after we left Ubud, we hired a car on our last day just to drive us back to shop more.

MONKEY FOREST DRIVE
If you visit the Monkey Forest first thing in the morning and then intend to shop the rest of the day - that's what we did - you'll have to head down Monkey Forest Drive to get to the Ubud Market.  It's a pretty long street with a good amount of uphill but if you're shopping along the way, it's not so bad.  Or you have the option to hop in a taxi to head up the street to maybe Cafe Wayan (on Monkey Forest Drive) or Ibu Oka near the temple for some food.  Regardless, there are a ton of cute shops and boutiques to hit up on this street.  Just know most of these places, the prices are fixed, so you'll have to hold onto your bargaining skills until you go to the marketplace.

DO

MONKEY FOREST
I will probably go further into detail on the Monkey Forest Sanctuary in a later post (here) because really I need to tell you in detail about the Monkey Forest.  But point is, add this to your must do list.  Those monkey are equal parts terrifying wild animals and so cute you just want to cuddle them at the same time that you have to see them for yourself.  Maybe you’ll make a new friend.  Also, please note how funny it was that my friend and I are literally matching in the photo above.  Out of all the different types of stripes that exist, we had on the EXACT same type on the same day on accident.

ELEPHANT RIDE
I’ve always wanted to take a ride on an elephant.  They are one of my two favorite animals.  Dolphins and Elephants, they’re just the cutest.  I feel like riding an elephant in Thailand is probably something you hear about more, but I think this is still something to add to the list while you’re in Bali.

 

I don't think you could find anything in Ubud that isn't super picturesque and awesome.  If this post makes you want to go to Bali asap, we're on the same page.  Sorting through my pictures made me miss this beautiful country so much.  If only I could have spent longer than a week there.  C'est la vie.

Yours truly // Shannon

 

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