This is the 3rd and final instalment of my JBR.
We left Alam Shanti and Ubud on 26/9 and headed to Kuta. We had prearranged a driver to pick us up and take us back to Kuta with a couple of stopoffs along the way. We wanted to go to a decent silver shop and we went to one that was somewhere along the Sanur bypass road. We had asked the driver to take us somewhere that wasn’t one of those big touristy places. So you can imagine my delight when we pulled up at one of those big touristy places. It was ridiculously expensive. It was dearer than some of the stuff my wife has chosen and I have paid for in Noosa and Byron. At least the owner had a couple of cute dogs for the girls to play with.
So after playing with the dogs and not buying any silver, it was off to Kuta for a 5 night stay at the Hard Rock Hotel. Once again, the traffic into Kuta was awful. I have mixed feelings about Kuta. For me it’s kind of like Surfers Paradise or Coolangatta. You want it to be like it was in the 70’s and 80’s but that’s never going to happen. But it still has a gaudy charm of its own. I understand it’s not for everyone. I first went to Kuta in the late 80’s with a bunch of mates on a 2 week bintangathon. We stayed at Bakungsari Cottages and drank at the pub, casablancas, the sari club and of course, peanuts. At the time it was great fun and a couple of my friends are married to girls that we met on that first trip 22 years ago.
But onto the present. We checked into the HRH with a minimum of fuss. We were shown to our room which was a kids suite. It was a fantastic room that must have been recently renovated. We had no problem with noise at night. The only issue I would raise is the lack of storage. For a stay of 5 days I would like to have unpacked but there was not enough drawer space. Everything else was great. Because we were staying in a suite the kids club was free. My kids only went the one time and seemed to enjoy themselves. I think they were a bit young. They made more friends around the pool anyway. Also as part of the deal when you get a suite, you get your breakfast down at the splash bistro by the pool instead of the big breakfast room. We didn’t realise this until the 3rd of our 5 days here. The main breakfast room was not to my liking. It was really crowded and they seemed to keep running out of the popular items like bacon. For me it wasn’t a problem as there was plenty of other stuff but some people really like to voice their displeasure at such a turn of events. Which they did. I also missed the memo to inform us that Bintang singlets were compulsory in the breakfast room. I know that probably sounds a bit snobby but it was quite incredible. Each to their own. The breakfast by the pool was much better. A combo of cold buffet and a choice of hot items off the menu. There was never more than 4 tables occupied on the days we had breakfast there so was a much more pleasant environment to start the day. Good staff down there as well.
We certainly got into holiday routine fairly quickly. I got up each morning and went for a walk. Back for breakfast, followed by a swim, followed by whatever, followed by a few beers across the road on the beach, followed by dinner somewhere. For me a perfect holiday routine. I managed to read a few books as well which I haven’t done since my last holiday. We also did a bit of shopping. I enjoyed the stalls and shops around Legian, mainly on garlic lane. My wife ended up buying a bit of silver jewellery from a few shops up there although there was a ridiculous routine before settlement. The jewellery would be weighed on some scales (which I’m sure are calibrated weekly) then some long winded algorithm was entered into a calculator only to arrive at a price that was normally double what we ended up paying. I’m sure an efficiency consultant would have a field day in Bali. We also did a bit of shopping around Kuta, down at the Discovery Mall, Matahari and Kuta Square. We went shopping up in Seminyak one morning and put the kids in the cubby house kids club which is at the semara resort. A friend had given me some free passes so it worked out quite cheap. My wife wanted to buy a dress for a wedding so it was decided that we had have a good look around the boutiques in Seminyak (oh goody). After stopping off for a cool drink at La Lucciola and working our way down to jl raya seminyak I think we looked in approximately 8000 shops and didn’t buy a thing. We could have done this at Chermside. I kept this thought to myself. At least for the first 5 minutes anyway. We ended up at a French deli on jl raya seminyak and for the life of me I cannot remember its name, but the food was beautiful. We also grabbed a couple of slices of cake to take away for afternoon tea with our daughters. They seemed to enjoy their stint in the cubby house so all things considered it was a successful expedition.
Of an evening we would try out a few different restaurants. We were a bit constrained as we had to find stuff our kids would like, but luckily we didn’t seem to have any problems. One evening we met up with some friends that live in Bali. We met up at the Canggu Club, which is sort of like a country club for expats. Our friends sons were having soccer training so we sat by the pool and had a few drinks. We decided to go to La Barca in Batu Belig for dinner. I think it might be owned by the same people that own La Plancha in Seminyak. It has the same sort of set up with the big bean bags on the sand, a big deck area with tables and chairs, an enclosed bar/dining area and a nice area on top of the dining/bar area. It has the rustic/nautical theme which I thought was great. The food and drinks seemed reasonably priced and the kids had a ball there. One other night we were able to get out without the kids we went for drinks at ku de ta. On our last trip we went to a wedding here and really enjoyed it. This time we sat upstairs in their “beer garden.” I really enjoyed it there watching the sunset. It had a great relaxed vibe and didn’t seem as “sceney” as downstairs on the loungers. After drinks we headed up to Chandi for dinner. Great food and service at a reasonable price. I think we paid about $50 for the 2 of us which included entree, main, a round of cocktails and a few beers. Luckily our dining partners brought along a few bottles of Chilean wine which kept the price down. Other restaurants we went to included TJ’s Mexican in Poppys 1, Poppy’s (an old fave), Bubba Gumps which was packed (a bit expensive but the kids liked it).
The sting in the tail: on our 2nd last day my wife answered the door to a man from housekeeping at the HRH. He said we wanted to come in as something in the room had been broken. My wife asked if he could come back later as I was out and she didn’t feel comfortable letting him in without me being there. He insisted on entering as he said the Playstation had been broken. (My daughter told me that she had dropped the guitar controller on the tiled floor and it had broken) My wife reluctantly let him in. He came in and told my wife that the guitar controller for the PS2 had been broken and that we had to pay for it. My wife said OK as she just wanted him out of the room. On my return my wife was a bit upset about all this but I said not to worry about it. I should have taken it up with management then and there but didn’t ( I was a bit upset about it myself). The next day I went to settle the account. On the bill was an item for broken controller at Rp 3 500 000 (roughly $400). I queried it but was told I had to pay it. I asked to speak to the manager but was told they weren’t available. I ended up paying the total account and noted on the invoice that I wanted to dispute the charge and wrote my contact details down and asked if someone could contact me. After 3 emails to them (in a week and a half since returning) to different addresses I finally got a response from the assistant manager stating as per our welcome (lol) letter any breakages must be paid for. I responded that I accept that, but charging 10 times market value is deceptive and they should take into account reasonable wear and tear, and that the way the staff member insisted on entering the room was unprofessional at best. I am still awaiting their response. You will be pleased to know that I have not died from asphyxiation whilst holding my breath.
So you can imagine my mindset as we headed out for a final lunch before flying home. I was determined not to let it spoil anything but that just didn’t happen. It was also AFL grand final day and I wasn’t going to get to watch the game because of the time of our departing flight. If Collingwood had have won I fear I would have shot someone. The flight home on Strategic was quite good although the rigmarole at the airport wears a bit thin with all the check points. I was hoping to be able to sit in one of the lounges and watch a bit of the footy but we just didn’t get time. I ended up watching a few good movies once on board (Red Dog & Senna) and the time seemed to fly by. We arrived home to an empty Brisbane Airport and got out reasonably quickly. Nobody from customs even wanted to look in our bags.
So that was our holiday. We are hoping to be able to get back next year. I would like to stay in Sanur for a bit and my wife is keen to check out Lombok. Here’s hoping.
Any questions I am happy to answer.