Bali

Bali High…lights

As the last of the gang make it home tonight, a few highlights for those considering a visit to Bali (or not) and for those who have already been, a chance to reflect on their own special memories…

Speedy Visa Man – who for a small fee, whisked us through the arrival mayhem and into the warm night air and our Villa-driver within mere minutes.

Body Works – for the best manicures, pedicures, facials, body and hot stone massages and waxing gurus…No! Strike the last, she had a mean glint in her eye and a sadistic laugh!

The Offerings – the content so intriguing, from rice cakes and cigarettes to money and Oreo cookies; and the orange kitten at Ku De Ta who climbed the shrine daily to feast on them.

Surprise and Enthrallment – the expressions on a young Balinese girl’s face when she looked through Binoculars for the first time, thank you Bret for making her day so memorable.

Xmas Wrapping Compromises – creative pressies artfully hand decorated housing hours worth of giggles, thank you guys!

Blow up floating devices – kept us pool cool…though still not sure of the purpose for the large vagina like squishy hole in the tube ring.

Sunsets – now fully appreciate why it was Telly’s favourite time of day…a toast to you on the high seas my boy.

Nusa Dua – and our Komodian boat driver for calmly negotiating through an ocean thick with every conceivable water sport being carried out simultaneously within a 2 kilometer radius. A preference for airspace with 9 other Para-sailors or water space with multiple jet skis, banana boats, long boats, fly fish and the jet boats towing the Para-sailors?

Turtle Island – for the dear Hijab adorned tourists who insisted on having their photo taken with Bret and Steve who, for just a very small moment, fancied themselves rock stars.

The Balinese – every single one of them so very humble, so friendly, so gentle…beautiful people.

Dewa and Putu – our intrepid drivers who provided us with a deeper understanding of Caste differences and cultural ceremonies; and for their patience, humor and warmth.

Palm fruit – a new taste sensation, interesting!

Rock Bar – closed, but how magnificent I imagine it would be to sit sipping cocktails and viewing glorious sunsets while casually hanging off a cliff face. Or maybe wallowing in the cliff edge infinity pool just below. Ayana resort itself rather splendid too. Next time. And finally…

Our travel buddies – Miss Rynnie ‘n Mr Stephan, for being able to hang out sans makeup in our jammies, commiserate with one another over the state of our tums as well as explore the temples, the streets, the odd volcano, ocean floor and the bestest nosheries, all off the back of a daily gym workout! … love you both and thank you for your friendship and companionship.

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Girl’s gotta eat!

Seminyak plays host to some amazing nosheries and the gang, keen to let their taste buds do the talking, went exploring and here are our highlights…

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Sarong. A blend of complex yet pure Asian fusion flavours served in ambient Balinese luxe. Chilli, lime and honey Margherita, tender oysters bathed in a coriander and chilli lime dressing, a soft shell crab with green mango and tamarind chilli dressing…note a theme here? Cucumber sticks nested in ice and an intriguing coconut tapioca dessert provided a welcomed ‘chilli’ reprieve before taste buds deserted the building. BJ…Chef of few words thought this place was the ‘mut’s nuts’ (his words) and the gang concurred…hot ‘n spicy lovers rejoice!

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Le Lucciola. Thatch-roofed, bi-level, bumping up against palm studded beachfront, the Frangipani lounge the perfect place to sip an Appletini and graze on mud crab and lime sorbet while watching yet another spectacular Balinese sunset.

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Starfish Bloo at the W for sheer splendor, the suspended birdcage seating alone enticing one to climb in and swing, not to mention clean sensational flavors, my sashimi, miso prawn soup and lime sorbet topped off with special touches including ‘bugger off’ spray, magnifying glasses and torches to read the extensive menu. A pretty trippy bathroom too!

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Ku De Ta, trusty fave for long leisurely breakfasts on sprawling lounges while watching the beach venders ply their wares including the ever present black pirate kite, to the unwary; pumping chill out music and a pretty damn fine luncheon menu too, not to mention our fun and funky celebratory Xmas nosh. And another lux bathroom yea!

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Samaya’s ‘Breeze’ for late afternoon cocktails, corn fritters and mini burgers munched waters edge whilst watching the gorgeous sunsets, overwhelmingly friendly service, a mighty fine evening menu and a few quirky horns, random fireworks and an amusing countdown leading to one hell of a blast as we saw the New Year in.

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Sea Circus, for splendid coffee, tastebud heaven chilli prawn quesadillas and mighty fine avocado corn fritters, just around the corner from Body works, THE one stop body maintenance shop. A huge bunch of staff with no apparent strategy and ready to argue that you DID order the random coffee they’ve just delivered to your table. Bless ’em!

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Potato Head, currently the most uber cool place to hang, brilliant conical structure composed of recycled shutters housing a groovy bar, several restaurants and again splendid beach front sunsets. The place bordering on overrated and under-friendly and would have liked to dispel initial impression but sadly had to cancel much coveted dinner booking due to unhappy tummies. THE place to be seen NYE however a number of resulting drink spike reports.

Grocer and Grind for more excellent coffee and breakfasts, just don’t order a takeaway bacon ‘n egg muffin …runny yolk and white t-shirts don’t mix but hey that leads to just one final suggestion…wet wipes! Stock up on them. Lots ‘n lots of ’em.

I’m sure you have many more yum spots to share, please do.

A few zen moments…

Amazing what a rainy day can do for your spirit, your soul. New Years day in Bali…a day of enforced relaxation, a chance to read, create with fun iPad apps, watch old movies, reflect on the year that was and plan for the year ahead. Been reading ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchin Rubin, inspiration at its best and quite possibly a blueprint for my own project, meanwhile a few photographic highlights of our holiday thus far…

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To the top of the Volcano driver!

Well almost…more to the rim where we consume a third of our body weight in Indonesian smorgasbord having been on the road since 7am, sans Breakfast, and which almost immediately vacated said body but damn it tasted good while it lasted! But I digress…

Started with a quick exploration of a silver shop, a bypass of the wooden carvings, kites, metal and quartz specialists and on to a temple where our driver, the kind, sweet Dewa, helps us don sarongs in respect for the gods before letting us loose to wander amidst ancient monuments bathed in moss, marvel at the massive Koi in the lake, strike silly yoga poses and listen to the tinkle of laughter from children playing in one of the ponds.

All the result of a slight sugar high thanks to a visit to a farm specializing in Kopi Luwak coffee. For the unfamiliar, that’s a coffee originating from Mongoose (Palm Civet) poop. These little chappies (mean little buggers too!) carefully select the best cocoa beans, have a good old munch then poop them out, from which the now semi digested bean is harvested, husked and ground into the most rare and expensive coffee on the planet. Now what exactly was going through that ingenious farmer’s head when he hit upon that idea huh?

Well we tried some, along with eight other coffees, teas and chocolate mixes while admiring the rice paddys, the teas rather sweet and pleasant in lieu of that missing breakfast! A very special moment when our little 17yr. old Balinese guide looked through binoculars, kindly offered by BJ, for the very first time…her reaction and sheer delight at seeing the other side of the valley was palpable.

After lunching on Kintamani volcano’s lip, a downward drive to Ubud where we half heartedly wander the streets in heavy humidity, ducking for cover just as the skies burst, then join the throngs of people wading through the now deluged streets, a risky exercise indeed! Many of the deep drains are missing their covers, the water’s up to our knees and way too deep to see the path, the road, small drowning children (slight exaggeration there) but you get the picture, we giggle and slosh our way back to Dewa.

Continuing through the lush green of rice and fruit fields we smile at slender, silken sarong clad women carrying baskets on their heads, the beautiful locals, clusters of ducks in paddy fields and the many, many Mopeds piled high with families as we are finally thrust into the chaos of Denpasar’s traffic mayhem before arriving home, tired and satisfied, to our little hole in the wall in Seminyak.

What a rich tapestry this country presents? And now we understand why people are drawn back time and again. Quite magic indeed!

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And so this is Christmas…

There’s a Christmas tree in the foyer, it looks a tad forlorn but testament to how caring and considerate the Balinese are toward those who celebrate this tradition. We’ve ‘temporarily borrowed’ a few baubles and despite the lack of wrapping paper and ribbon for our presents, created our own shrine to Christmas consumerism.

On the pressie front Bret’s most enchanted with his Justin Bieber in 3D book, I’ve yet to find ‘Wally’, Steve’s glitter, sparkle ball is still working it’s magic under the sofa and Lynnie’s still pondering on what wish 69 in her Wish Book might involve. Serious pressies as well, lots of laughter and a tear or two as we chat to family back home.

Follow up the morning’s festivities with a French Martini before frocking up to indulge in a local take on traditional Christmas luncheon fare at Ku De Ta, later chilling on the grass to observe Santa and various elves in curious costumes weave their magic with the kiddies before tuning in to the reggaesque (nice word…made it up!) tones of Michael Franti who quickly whipped the crowd into a noisy, bouncy frenzy. Just cause for heaving our hot, tired, sticky selves back to the Villa for a cool swim followed by a walk on the beach and Pizza…the perfect conclusion to a Christmas day in Bali.

A very special thank you to Janine, Alan & Gabe, Steve & Lyn and of course Mr Brettles…you collectively made this day perfect!

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It’s getting hot in here…

The folks here seem so laid back! So said one of the posse here in Bali sharing a well deserved break from our respective Aussie routines. Laid back indeed…even the Koi in their prolific ponds are napping. We’ve discovered why…it’s too damned hot to do anything else but lie in water, sip fruit imbibed concoctions and…well…wallow! The act of simply moving from A to B is a hot, sweaty and exhaustive business and definitely not for the faint hearted!

Easy business avoiding the Christmas tree with an ominous sign attached warning ‘high voltage, do not touch’. Learnt the art of tip toeing around that nasty hybrid sausage dog in our lane determined to take an ankle as trophy to justify his own napping on the job. But there are only so many ways a girl can pretend to look chic in her cotton shift while waddling, legs apart in the hope of capturing a small breeze sufficient to pry her sweat infused thighs from their embrace while discreetly mopping the waterfall cascading down her back before it trickles all the way to her thongs and creates an embarrassing squelch, squelch; at the same time deftly dodging the many small offerings left for the gods and gaping holes that make up the footpaths.

Yup! ‘Tis hot here and the streets fraught with danger but all I care about is finding the shop with the strongest air conditioning. That shop wins! Hands down! Every time! Therefore am afraid your all getting t-shirts for gifts so get over it ok? Now to hit the pool…preferably filled with ice! And something containing alcohol, fruit and…ice. Lots and lots of ice.

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Ah! Beautiful Bali…

Beautiful Bali…balmy, lush green, frangipani scented…and raining. But that’s ok, today requires a wind down and regroup, it’s been a long drought ‘tween holidays.

Our Villa, tucked away in a tiny Seminyak back street behind high bamboo camouflaged walls is expansive….open to let the cool breezes in, subtly lit, abutting the warmest pool and spa…ambience personified. A good choice Lynnie ‘n Steve who, by the way, have just toddled off to a Gym! Tough Mudder competition just 4 weeks away and they’re now in panic mode. Bless!

BJ’s wallowing with coffee and newspapers on the day bed, chortling at the fact he’s currently a millionaire (in Rupee) and trying to prioritise…Coffee? Shops? Another swim? TV?

Me? Well my six leisurely paddles up and down the pool should do it. Enough to work up an appetite for the big tropical breakfast about to be delivered.

Later…..
Long leisurely swim, dinner at Samaya ‘Breeze’, a glorious sunset…sleep. Terribly hedonistic yes…and loving it!

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