Just got back from another great trip with a couple of good friends. I didn't write this for the forum, more of a travel journal and something to email to family in oz and the UK, but thought some of you might find it interesting. Warning it's a bit long.
Pretty uneventful trip to Bali with Jetstar today. N had managed to wangle business lounge access for us, which is certainly the best way to spend a bit of time at Perth airport, the capital of dullsville.
Just as we were approaching Bali airport we were told that we had to circle for 15 minutes to allow the airport to process a VIP. Is this the only place in the world that would stop planes full of people from landing so that one person can get through the airport unhindered? So as we land we were a little stressed about how big the immigration queue was going to be depending on how many planes had got out of the circling deal before us. Phew looks like we were first, so with a quick sprint from row 4 we were right at the front of the queue, so we had front row seats as the millions from the planes landing one behind another all banked up behind us.
We went to Three Monkeys in Ubud for something to eat as soon as we had settled into our villa as we were all starving and dying for our first ‘feed’ on Indo food. We were a little disappointed really. Food wasn’t bad but portion sizes ridiculously small, so much so that only a few hours later following a trip to the Bintang Supermarket we sought out a restaurant we wanted to try – Nomad, and had our second meal in quick succession, well me and J did anyway.
Had a terrible night with the worst migraine ever, full on vomiting, shakes, the most incredible pain, the full monty. Can’t work out what bought it on, but by 9ish the following morning I was feeling a little better if a little quiet and pale looking (apparently). My primary aim for the day was to get a massage. That had always been my plan but I was now desperate for a head and neck massage to ‘kill off’ the headache. We all ended up going to Verona Spa and had a massage. I had another plastic panties episode, having to give up trying to get them on when I couldn’t get them past my knees! (I reverted to my jocks in case you were wondering) It was a nice clean place, showing a little age admittedly, but I felt heaps better after an hour of acupressure massage and a facial (yes I had a facial, so what!). I apparently also came out looking not so pale. We had lunch at the Laughing Buddha, just a little place on the street but the food was fantastic. Unusual fellow dinners though, with a lady covered in tats, and I mean covered, they were mostly of a religious nature, with a cross on her forehead, CHRIST across her back, Jesus on her left breasty dumpling and Mary on her right breasty dumpling (it looked like they were in conversation when she walked – apparently). She really looked lost and in need of some help, which J was keen to make a start on, but he limited himself to pulling faces at her from behind when he headed off. After a swim, afternoon nap and cocktails (for all but me) we went back to Nomad for dinner. This time we decided to try ‘sitting’ in the lounge area which was a flat area with cushions that looked a lot more comfortable than it was in practice. Good food again though. We all finished off with a cooling dip in our pool before bed.
Woke up to what I was sure were Monkeys in the trees near our Villa this morning along with the local roosters. Feeling great this morning too, thankfully and looking forward to seeing a little more of Ubud. Even though this is the fourth time we have been to Ubud I still feel that I haven’t really seen all that much of it. We had a few restaurants/café’s that we had researched to check out, so that was our plan along with having a nosy at some of the shops. We heading up into Ubud and the first Café we wanted to look at was full, the second one Bali Buddha, which had sounded really good, it specialised in organic healthy food and was on the second storey of a building in what was now a fair walk from our hotel. We walked up the stairs and guess what it was full too and although we kind of hung around for a few minutes, no one looked in any hurry to move on. Oh well, I guess places that are well known on forums etc probably do end up being v busy.
We met up with J and N for lunch at Café Artistes. This was also a well known establishment but thankfully wasn’t full. Had a nice lunch, although J and I tried their Beef Rendang which was very tasty but very light on the Beef. I hate walking away feeling a little unsatisfied.
The last place Jo and I had really wanted to find was a place called Sari Organic but we knew it to be off the beaten track. We had been told to find a rice paddy field footpath that left the western side of Ubud. You can’t get there by car you have to walk. It’s famous for growing its own organic vegies etc. J and N bravely decided to come with us, we found the Aganon footpath and started to walk up a steep winding path out of town. It quickly became very rural and worked its way through the Balinese countryside alongside the rice fields with the occasional shack for the farmer to find shade. Lots of palm trees and a great view of Mount Kintamani ahead of us. The sign at the beginning of the footpath said ‘Sari Organic +/- 800 metres’. I guess that was a little vague and it did seem a heck of a trek along what was bizarrely one of the best footpaths in Bali. No holes, brokens drains and other various obstacles, just a nice flat concrete path!
We finally turn a corner and see a little Pagoda looking building in the middle of a field and wander in. Mmm a strange uncomfortable feeling swept over me. It was quickly apparent that the place was full of French hippies, where they had come from who only knows, well France probably. We had obviously missed the sign to tell you to leave your thongs and your bra at the entrance. Every one looked very ‘cool’ in the underdressed sense. We also got that ‘how dare you walk into our restaurant’ stare that only the French can pull off, which probably accounted for the uncomfortable feeling. J thought that he was in a scene from Deliverance and was looking for the canoe to escape in.
Thankfully it wasn’t full and we grabbed a table close to the exit and ordered drinks. The food would probably have been very good. We had just had lunch though. The place didn’t seem pristinely clean though and no one, not even Jo with her famously weak bladder felt inclined to try the loo. So after our organic fruit juices we escaped back down through the rice fields.
A brief interlude of Margaritas around the pool with the complimentary ‘afternoon tea’ provided by the hotel followed, which although it’s a nice touch is not in anyway near afternoon tea and could be better described as “afternoon miscellaneous Balinese snacks which are completely indescribable and barely edible tea.”
We then headed to Indus restaurant. I was feeling quite good about this as I felt that this trip we had seen much more of Ubud and had pretty much tried out the restaurants I’d heard of and had wanted to try. We were a little concerned about this choice as even though it’s very well known and had recently been recommended for its Ginger Fish and Beef Rendang, as we were booking, N looked up tripadvisor and it rated 37 in Ubud. Mind you the local french hippy hangout had rated number 3, so maybe we shouldn’t put too much store in this.
Our fears were justified though. It seemed like a nice enough restaurant and we sat out on the rear terrace which must have a great view in the daytime. Even by moonlight it was nice. There was a band on here this evening. Mmm Whitney Houston, Norah Jones etc in a peculiar Balinese stylee, do I need to say anymore? There were obviously some locals dragged in to do some dancing in order to encourage others to get up and dance. This did do the trick as more than a few nutters dragged themselves away from their average food to boogey on down. One couple in particular did an exceptional job. Were they drunk, high on drugs or just weirdo’s? We came to the conclusion it was the later. It was also a definite older crowd and as we were so stressed that the Balinese dancing encouragers might want to drag us up we literally ran out as soon as we had put our forks down.
A very entertaining evening, certainly the most bizarre. The food really wasn’t anything to write home about. N thought that maybe it had run on its long standing reputation for too long. Probably a spot on assessment. The Churros and the Chocolate and Banana Enchilladas at the Laughing Buddha before bed cheered us up a little. No sign of the religious tattoed lady this time, just a young guy who was so completely smashed it was quite amazing. A really sad looking chap actually who was swaying and muttering away to himself in the corner while scoffing a Margarita or three. I couldn’t believe that he managed not only to pay the bill but also fill in the feedback comments slip before leaving. People watching in Bali certainly adds some flavour to your holidays I reckon.
We had a slow start today and decided to skip the hotel breakfast as it wasn’t really all that hot, both literally and figuratively. Instead we went to Juice la Café, another place known for healthy organic food - which is a bit of an Ubud thing I guess. More hippies, more juices and a nice fruit salad with yoghurt and granola if I do say so.
We were transferring down to Seminyak today, so after checking out and trying to explain why we had skipped their breakfast without offending them, the hotel staff loaded up their car and we headed off on the hour-ish trip to the coast. It’s usually a pleasant ride, watching Balinese life go by as you wind your way through all the traffic. This time however we had to cope with a Balinese xmas mix cd that featured all your favourite xmas songs and carols in a peculiar combination of Balinglish, Italian and Japanese. The driver’s hopes of a singalong didn’t eventuate of course.
Our villa in Seminyak is great. It’s not huge, but there are two separate bedrooms, each with an outdoor bathroom, which I reckon is great, Jo reckons is just wrong. A lounge/kitchen area with all the gear. A garden with a couple of loungers, a day bed, a nice pool (if a little hot) and some lovely frangipani’s. It’s in a great spot too, very near to some of our fave places and only a short walk to the beach.
We headed straight for something to eat, well it had been at least two hours since our late breakfast! We had a nice lunch at Grocer and Grind, I always appreciate a good chilli con carne for lunch. It’s a really western place with air con, good coffee, meat pies etc. Ie if you just can’t take another nasi goreng it’s a good spot.
J and I then went to hire scooters for our 11 days on the coast. Phew it was hot walking around looking for the right place to get our bikes from, J knew what he was after, which was a couple of Honda Vario’s with low km’s that didn’t look thrashed. We headed for someone from whom he had rented before and after some nifty bargaining on J’s part (I’m just not that good at it!) we left with two scooters for 30,000RP each per day ($2.50). Can’t go wrong with that.
I was a little nervous about riding in Bali, knowing that it would be quite different to tanking up Canning Hwy on my Vespa. Actually is was good fun once you get used to avoiding the holes, the foot high drains in the middle of the road, the ambling dogs, zig zagging tourists, the constant merging of traffic (no one waits until there is a gap, they just go) etc.
So later that night with the girls on the back we zoomed/tootled (J zoomed, I tootled) to JP’s for our favourite beef rending and maybe live music. The Rendang (local spicy of course) was good as usual and the band not bad too. The band was called the ‘Sistas’ and comprised of some Balinese musicians, a Balinese female lead singer and a western girl on the electric violin. They did a rock medley and were pretty good. Although take away the girl on the electric violin and they would have just been fairly average.
Woke up to a tropical rainstorm this morning but during a break in the rain we went up to the Corner Store which was a good breakfast spot that J and N had found during their last visit. It’s on a busy bend in the road on Jl Laksama or ‘eat’ street as it’s known locally. Inside though it was almost Perthish being a combination of shop and café. The food was excellent too, good scrambled eggs and Tangerine and Blueberry juice.
After picking up our enormous pile of laundry, which was now clean, ironed and shrink wrapped into a package that Jo could have got into her handbag – I kid you not - we rode down to the Discovery Mall in Tuban. This seemed like a good plan as the rain looked persistent. Good idea that was until we got hopelessly lost. We knew where we were going but got stymied by a sneaky one-way system which sent us up back up to Bemo Corner from Kuta Square. No problem thought I, found the road I was looking for to continue south, but missed the right hand turn I now know I should have spotted. So we kept tootling south looking for familiar landmarks and the first one we saw was the tail of Garuda Indonesia 724 from Perth taxiing to the terminal. So we spun around and wandered back towards the beach and North with a bit of help from some friendly fellow scooter riders at the traffic lights. We finally met up with J and T at Discovery, a little sheepish and suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.
I don’t like Discovery Mall. A it’s full of shops, B it’s dark and mostly un-air conditioned, C it’s full of shops. The only reason in my books to go to Discovery is to get Krispy Kreme donuts and they have now closed down. Typically the weather was great now too. My day improved when we hit Swells in Poppies I for lunch and I got to watch some football highlights including the Stoke Arsenal game I’d missed from the night before. It didn’t look like a good game from our point of view and I feel a little sorry for Ryan Shawcross as he’s not an aggressive player and can’t have meant to have caused such a gruesome injury.
We did our first bit of haggling in Poppies and picked up some Billabong t-shirts. The shop owner tried gamely to explain that the larger the size of the t-shirt the more expensive, nice one. He started off at 130,000 each and I ended up getting 6 for 45,000 each, which was still probably a bit high, but I could still be there now trying to get him down 5,000, you have to call it quits at some point.
Ultimo’s for tea tonight. We’ve always liked the Italian food here although I must admit the shrimp cocktail which only contained two shrimp cut in half and some lettuce was a bit of a joke.
After a couple of margaritas around the pool earlier I was bombed and we all hit the sack early.
Corner Store for breakfast again today, followed by a longish ride down Sunset Road (main road with lots of traffic) to the Mall Galleria shopping centre specifically to go to Charles and Keith shoe store (big in Singapore) and to get some Jco donuts (also big in Singapore). Negotiating a major roundabout on a scooter in Bali is kind of fun. Everyone is moving at the time, but slowly and you kind of give way to bigger vehicles than you no matter where you or they are on the road.
Jo got shoes, J and I got donuts, so far so good. It was majorly hot today though and I am getting so sweaty with the humidity it’s not true. We headed back to the villa for a swim and an explore around Seminyak. So with a take away flat white from Grocer and Grind in hand we had a wander around the Bodyworks block - for those that know where this is. I particularly wanted to find Wah Wah, a new burger bar joint that had opened recently. We found it and quickly passed. Burgers were 300,000 ($30) they may be Waygu beef patties but still in Bali that’s a very expensive snack. The menu also referred to the burgers as being ‘an orgasmic saxual experience’ (and yes I can spell btw). Mmmm. Needless to say the joint was empty.
We had decided to do sunset at Ku De Ta tonight (great, trendy bar/restaurant with dj right on the beach). So after we caught up with J and N we sauntered down at 4:30 in order to bags a front row lounge bed, which we duly did, much to the chagrin of those that turned up later expecting a prime spot for sunset, who Jo felt somewhat sorry for. We had a few very expensive and very weak cocktails, they have really dropped the ball here. Having said that it’s a great spot to spend a few hours as the suns drops over the Indian Ocean, so I wasn’t complaining. Jo and I thought we’d stick to the iced tea next time, or just bring our own cocktails down to the beach from the villa. When we left Ku De Ta, as there were so many waiting to grab a lounge bed, we decided to have a conflab about who we would leave our bed too. We opted for a European family who had their grandma with them, who seemed very appreciative that we gave them ‘the heads up’.
As we had seriously blown our budget we opted for take out tonight. So J took off to Mini’s in Kuta for a take away Nasi Goreng (apparently the best in Bali?) and I went to Warung Asia, just off Double Six for some Thai food (we found this place last trip).
Night finished off with a swim in the rain. Highly recommended if never tried before. It seems wrong but is quite right.
Seems like a beautiful day today. J and N are up and out to Grocer and Grind. Jo and I drag ourselves out of bed to catch up with them. Not having breakfast included in your accommodation is quite good in a way as it does get you out and about before the day is gone. Stuck with toast this morning though in order to keep my stomach happy.
Might be time for a quick ‘poo post’ – Bali Belly is notoriously easy to pick up and difficult to get rid of’ – all good, I’m happy and proud of my morning movements, although it is a bit weird getting a sun tan as you sit on the loo in the morning. (we have an outdoor ensuite to our room).
Anyway after breaky we book in for spa treatments later in the day, do some shopping along Jl Seminyak and then head back to Bali Spa for an awesome hour of reflexology massage while Jo gets a pedicure with flowers on her toes (another Bali thing).
It’s now gone 2 and I’ve only had toast all day, this is majorly wrong. So N suggests afternoon tea at Biku – a newish tea house in Seminyak – Whooo we’ve hit pay dirt here. The menu has a decidedly Indian feel to it and once J and I were past our initial disappointment that the Indian Lamb Curry with Dall and Naan bread had ‘ran out’, J loved his beef rendang and I had some lovely samoosas (yes I can still spell) and Kashmir fish curry. I also had the Darjeeling 2nd blush ‘Thurbo Estate’ tea, which was one of the many premium teas available. Jo and N shared a very nice afternoon tea. Will definitely be returning here!
So we are right now chilling out around the pool. The others are all in or near the pool drinking bourbon and coke (J), cosmopolitan’s (N) and Margy’s (Jo and I). I’m in the day bed slowly getting eaten alive by hungry mossies. We’re off to Rumours for dinner tonight, looking forward to what should be a good (and cheap) steak meal. I apologise in advance for all this talk about food, but it is kind of a feature to my holidays in Bali I’m afraid.