Bali: Week 2

In the summer of 2010, my parents decided that they wanted to move to Bali. They even went so far as to get their retirement visas when we were here for my brother’s wedding. They asked me if I wanted to move with them. I told them I’d think about it.

I emailed Harry and asked him what he thought, what were job opportunities like, how easy would it be to find a job? He put me in touch with an English guy called Russell who had been in Bali for 5 years. I emailed Russell asking various questions – job market, living here, and so on, he replied (not very positively, if I’m honest), I replied, he wrote back. I told him I would let him know what I decided. This week I suddenly thought about him and wondered whether he was still here and what he was doing. I also remembered that I hadn’t told him what I’d decided – and that I now live in Dubai. (There is a point to this, I promise!)

I was home all day Sunday – I was feeling better than the past couple of days but didn’t want to do very much. Harry came over in the evening and the four of us went to Kat’s Kitchen for dinner. We walked into the restaurant and who should be sitting on the table next to us? Russell and his wife! Harry introduced us – in person. Russell remembered our brief correspondence and we talked about what he was doing, what I was doing, and so on. He still didn’t seem very thrilled about being in Bali – he said it was tough. But surely if he’s been here 7 years it can’t be that bad?

I have to say that being in Bali over the last few days I think we made the right choice by not moving here. Bali is overcrowded and it’s getting worse. I thought people in Dubai drove badly – but at least it’s organised bad driving. Over here I have no idea what the hell is going on half the time. Near our villa there’s a roundabout and traffic moves in both directions. Chaos! Not to mention the thousands of motorbikes that weave in and out of traffic fearlessly.

The other thing I don’t think I’d have been able to deal with is the amount of ‘wildlife’ you come face to face with. In the last few days I’ve experienced:

  • Bats flying into restaurants
  • A 4-inch slug in my shower
  • A frog on the pool deck
  • A frog in the pool
  • A lizard by the kitchen sink
  • A lizard in my bedroom
  • The biggest wasp/bee/hornet I’ve ever seen (I actually don’t even know what it was – I’m assuming it was one of those three things)
  • Ants and mosquitoes everywhere – I’m being eaten alive here and they don’t seem to be bothering anyone else!


Thanks, but no thanks. 

But I digress… Back to dinner on Sunday night. We went to Kat’s Kitchen, a Thai restaurant in Jimbaran. Harry had never been there before, but seemed to know someone on every table. It was a cute friendly place and I’m sure we’ll go back there in the next few weeks. 


We ordered a couple of salads to share for starters. We also had some tom yum soup. For my main course I ordered tuna curry steamed in banana leaves. It was something different and I didn’t feel like eating prawns or chicken…


It was excellent and we were all too full for dessert!

On Monday Dad had an appointment with his physiotherapist in Kuta. He suggested we all go and have some lunch before and then Mum and I could have foot massages while we waited for him. It sounded like an awful lot of waiting around and I wasn’t all that keen on going but I went. What transpired was this:

  • It took over 1.5 hours to get to Kuta – the traffic was insane
  • We sat down to lunch in Dijon Cafe at 3.45pm – Dad’s appointment was at 4pm
  • The waitress told us the reflexology/massage place across the road from Dijon Cafe was closed due to roadworks (we later found out this wasn’t true)
  • Another waitress in the cafe didn’t wash her hands after going to the bathroom (she was there before me – and walked straight out – and we’d already eaten – gross)


Dad and I ordered the Greek salad. I don’t know what’s with me and Greek salad these days but I can’t get enough of it.


I also had my first shot of wheatgrass.


It tasted like… freshly cut grass. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

Mum and I sat in Dijon Cafe until 5pm waiting for Dad. Luckily they had newspapers and magazines to flick through while we waited. I also had two flat whites while we were waiting. The bathroom had some interesting art work in it:


After Dad was done we went to a DVD store in Kuta. Each DVD costs $1 and if you buy 10 DVDs you can choose five more for free. We bought quite a few and I’m not sure when we’ll have the time to watch them all. We’ll also have to leave them behind as they’re not original DVDs and we don’t want to get caught with them! For myself I picked up: Suits (Season 1), The Sopranos (Seasons 1 and 2), The Tudors (Seasons 1, 2 and 3) and a couple of other th
ings I can’t remember. 

We went home for a while after that – thankfully there was no traffic going back to Jimbaran!


That evening we went to Sungai Seafood in Tuban for dinner. It’s just a few doors down from Furama.


We ordered our food and 3 minutes later it was at our table. It was the quickest dinner we’ve ever had! Mum and I shared the ma po tofu and beans in garlic sauce. Dad orderd some noodles and beef. Last to arrive were the oiliest spring rolls I’ve ever seen. The food was good – I think it was better than Furama last week.

On Tuesday I went to the gym in the morning. It had been a week since I’d been and I was getting restless. That afternoon Mum and I went to Grocer & Grind for lunch while Dad lazed at home. After lunch we walked around Jimbaran Corner for a while, looking at the shops. After that we went to the Jenggala Keramik showroom on Jalan Uluwatu 2, just to have a quick look around. They had some nice stuff and if I had my own place I might have bought a couple of things! They even had a section where kids can paint their own pottery and take it home with them. 

That evening we had dinner at Made’s Warung in Kuta. It’s been around for over 40 years and is somewhere we go every time we’re in Bali. The last time we went in 2010 half the restaurant was under construction – and this time I could see why. It had more or less doubled in size and as a result didn’t seem as crowded as it used to. We ordered chicken satays and red snapper but I thought the food was disappointing this time. 

Wednesday was quite uneventful – I was at the villa all day, relaxing and doing some work. We had dinner at Sushi Tei on Jalan Sunset Road that night. 


I’ve noticed that people eat early in Bali. By the time we get to restaurants at about 8.30pm people are usually finishing up and most restaurants close by 10pm. We ordered some edamame, sushi, sashimi salads and told the waitress we’d order our main course later. It’s just as well we did that because all the food came at once! For main course I had the grilled salmon bento box. 


The food was really good – and I hadn’t had sushi in ages. 

On Thursday I was up early as I was finally continuing my open water diving course from the week before. I spent the morning doing my confined dives at a pool in Tanjung Benoa and did two open water dives in Nusa Dua that afternoon.

It was about 4pm by the time I got back to the villa and my parents were out. I sat by the pool for a while and by 5pm I was struggling to keep my eyes open. Made, my diving instructor, had told me that the nitrogen in my blood would make me very sleepy. He wasn’t kidding! 

We decided to go to Queen’s, an Indian restaurant in Kuta, for dinner that night.


We hadn’t had Indian food in ages – makhani dal, palak paneer, papad. The food was good, but I’ve never been to a restaurant where the waiters are so clumsy – every 5 minutes a spoon or fork was dropped! It was ridiculous. 

I was up early on Friday as I was doing the last two dives of my diving certificate. While waiting for my fellow divers at the Keraton Jimbaran Resort (for 45 minutes – unacceptable) I decided to walk around and take some photos. This is the main entrance.


And part of the garden…


I stumbled across a hot yoga studio as well! It’s right next to the hotel. I walked in
hoping to get some information but there was nobody there. I picked up a brochure and saw these little figurines on the wall – fat women in various yoga poses. I love them!


After finishing our dives in Padang Bay, we stopped at Pura Goa Lawah, or Bat Cave Temple.


It is exactly what its name suggests. On our way in to the temple, we were given beaded necklaces. I told the woman I didn’t want it. ‘It’s free,’ she said. (I’m embarrassed to say that when I left the villa that morning I’d forgotten to take any money with me so Made paid for my $1 entry to the temple.) Anyway, I took the necklace and put it on. After paying the entrance to the temple, we were given sarongs and sashes to wear and were then allowed to enter.


You can smell the bats before you see them. It’s very… pungent.


Can you see them?


There’s a good description of the temple and the story behind it here.


On our way out we saw dozens of young girls practising a traditional Balinese dance.


As we were leaving the temple, the woman who had given me the beaded necklace asked me to buy some postcards. ‘I have no money,’ I told her. She said she would come to our car and I explained again I had no money. ‘Spoil you,’ she said. Eh? Made told me she was wishing me bad luck. Great! Just what I need – some stupid cow putting a curse on me! I took off the necklace and gave it back to her. ‘Thanks,’ I said. ‘Spoil you,’ she said again. I ignored her and walked away. 

Driving back to the south of Bali I noticed a Korean restaurant called Arirang! Arirang in London is one of my favourite restaurants and all I could think about having for dinner was Korean food.

Harry recommended a Korean restaurant called Onni’s House in Plaza Amata, GWK (Garuda Wisnu Kencana) – he said it was popular with his Korean colleagues. We got there at 8pm and were their only customers. In fact the whole arcade was deserted and the waitresses looked shocked to see us. We met the owner (Onni) and in our broken Indonesian and her broken English we communicated. She’s been in Bali for 13 years and her restaurant has been open since the end of June, so a little over a month.  


We had some kim chee, beef bulgogi, spicy stir-fried pork, chap che and a few other things (omelette rolls, seaweed, etc.). There wasn’t any pajeon, which was disappointing. The food was very good – and our bill was $25 for the three of us!

I couldn’t wait to get into bed that night. I was exhausted.

I spent most of Saturday at home. I had breakfast for the first time in two days, read by the pool, did a few lengths and did some work. Mum and I went to Grocer & Grind for a late lunch and then to the supermarket to pick up some things before my sister and her family arrived. 

My sister, her husband and their son were home by 8pm. We chatted for a while and decided to go to Furama for dinner. I wasn’t very keen as we had some communication issues with the waiter the last time we went – and I would have rather gone back to Sungai Seafood. We ended up at Furama as it was closer to home (but only by a few minutes).

We ordered hot and sour soup, crispy noodles with prawns, beef in black pepper sauce and chicken with dried red chillies. I have to say the food was so good, better than it was the week before. We did have some language problems this time as well, but there wasn’t much we could do about it! 

We were home by 10.30 and everyone fell into bed. 

I love my life.

read more about Bali, click here.


The final few: Week 13

I took it easy on Sunday and Monday as I still wasn’t feeling 100%, but by Tuesday I really needed to do something as I was starting to feel like a moose. I decided to go to the gym but to take it easy(ish).

I walked 3k on the treadmill, some lower body exercises, a 45-second plank, some hamstring curls and pelvic raises with the Swiss ball and two sets of tricep dips. OK, maybe that wasn’t taking it so easy but at least there was no running involved. I felt better after doing that so perhaps I just needed to get my system going again. 

I planned to go back to the gym on Wednesday but when I woke up I decided to have a lie-in instead!

On Thursday and Friday I was busy doing my open water diving course so I didn’t make it to the gym then either. And on Saturday I took it easy – I was exhausted from the two days of diving and my left ear was still blocked after the two dives I did on Friday. I did do a few lengths of the pool though – partly in an attempt to unblock my ear (but it didn’t work).

Low point of the week? Not feeling 100%. Only making it to the gym once. Eating badly – I’m definitely in holiday mode. I had three croissants this week, and a burger (with half the bread). I need to snap out of this.

High point of the week? Getting my open water diving certificate! I still can’t believe I did it… 


Read more updates here.


Your week ahead (29 July – 4 August)

Have a good week, everyone!



5 of Pentacles – experiencing hard times – running into material troubles, feeling insecure, struggling to make ends meet; suffering ill health – feeling run down and tired, getting medical attention, neglecting your body and its needs; being rejected – having the door slammed in your face, feeling excluded, lacking support



The Hierophant – getting an education – pursuing knowledge, seeking a deeper meaning; having a belief system – identifying a world view, knowing where to put your faith; conforming – fitting in, doing what’s expected; identifying with a group – devoting energy to a group, feeling loyal to others



10 of Swords – bottoming out – having nowhere to go but up, knowing it’s darkest before dawn, being at the lowest point; feeling like a victim – bemoaning your fate, seeing life as hostile, suffering from an attack; being a martyr – putting your own interests last, being self-deprecating, feeling like a doormat



Judgement – making a judgement – having a day of reckoning, taking a stand, getting off the fence; feeling reborn – awakening to possibilities, making a fresh start, discovering joy; hearing a call – feeling drawn to a new direction, answering a need, recognising your true vocation; finding absolution – feeling cleansed and refreshed, atoning for past mistakes, feeling sins washed away



3 of Swords – feeling heartbreak – having your feelings hurt, getting some unsettling news, being disappointed; feeling lonely – feeling lost, being separated, wandering far from home; experiencing betrayal – being let down, breaking your word, finding your trust misplaced 



Knight of Wands – finding a balance between being charming/superficial – being physically attractive/focusing on style and appearance; being self-confident/cocky – totally lacking self-doubt/overestimating abilities; being daring/foolhardy – risking anything without fear/being reckless and rash; being adventurous/restless – loving travel and new experiences/never being content to sit still; being passionate/hot-tempered – taking a vocal stand/acting without thinking



King of Wands – being creative – having natural artistic ability, being original and inventive; being inspiring – setting an example others want to follow; being forceful – carrying authority naturally; being charismatic – magnetically attracting others, naturally becoming the focus of attention; being bold – being intrepid, daring to stand and be different



9 of Cups – having your wish fulfilled – obtaining your goal, having your dream come true; feeling satisfied – feeling pleased as punch, indulging in a little smugness; enjoying sensual pleasure – relaxing, making love, appreciating the arts



The Magician – taking action – doing what needs to be done, producing magical results; acting consciously – acknowledging your motivations, examining the known situation; concentrating – feeling centred, being totally committed; experiencing power – having vitality, feeling vigorous, being creative



King of Cups – being wise – giving good advice, understanding many levels of experience; being calm – keeping your head in a crisis, never seeming nervous or tense; being diplomatic – balancing the needs of many people, being able to diffuse a tense situation; being caring – feeling compassion for the less fortunate, doing volunteer and charity work; being tolerant – allowing others their freedom, being patient in trying circumstances



Ace of Cups – using emotional force – getting in touch with your feelings, expressing deep feelings, empathising with others; developing intuition – going with your gut reaction, enhancing your psychic awareness, trusting your inner voice; experiencing intimacy – falling in love, getting close to someone, going to a deeper level; proceeding with love – expressing affection, giving to those in need, getting rid of negativity



Ace of Wands – using creative force – inventing a better way, expressing yourself, allowing a talent to unfold; showing enthusiasm – feeling fired up and eager, creating an aura of excitement, giving 110%; having confidence – believing in yourself, having high self-esteem, knowing things will work out; proceeding with courage – being true to your beliefs, daring to take a stand, facing your fears

For previous readings, see Notes by Nectar.

PADI Open Water course

I’d been wanting to do this for a while, and it’s not as though I haven’t had the opportunity. I thought about it when I was in Bali in 2010 and I thought about doing it in Dubai earlier this year. The two questions I had were:

  • Am I fit enough?
  • Will I fit into a wetsuit?

I think (hope) the answer to those two questions now is ‘yes’!

When I found out I was going to be in Bali for the whole summer I decided this was the time to do it. I asked Harry to recommend somewhere and he booked me on a course with YOS Marine Adventures in Tanjung Benoa. 

Day 1
I was told the driver from YOS would pick me up on Wednesday at 9am – and he was at our villa at exactly 9am. I got to their centre at about 9.20am and waited in the entrance for my instructor, Made Antari, to arrive.


We talked about any health concerns I had (none) and I asked him how long he’d been diving. He said he started diving in 1999, got his Master Scuba Diver certificate in 2002 and became a qualified instructor in 2007. He told me as I was the only person doing the course over the next few days we could do it in 3 days instead of over 4 days. Great! I was also asked what I wanted for lunch – I had the choice of nasi goreng, mie goreng or a club sandwich. I asked for nasi goreng.

The morning consisted of watching three videos on various aspects of diving. After each section Made gave me a questionnaire to fill in about what I had just learnt. If I got an answer wrong he would explain the correct answer to me. If there was anything I didn’t understand I could ask him. This is where other people would have come in useful as people usually ask questions about things I would never have thought of. At noon my lunch arrived and then there was one more video. Made gave me my Open Water Diver manual, Recreational Dive Planner (RDP) and the exam to do at home and I was done by 1pm.

Day 2
I did my second day of the course a week after I should have. I went to bed after the first day and wasn’t feeling very well. I felt even worse when I woke up on Thursday morning and called them to postpone the rest of my diving course. I told them I’d call them when I was better and they were fine with that. I eventually re-scheduled for the following Thursday. Made picked me up at 8am and we drove to the YOS centre. I was given a buoyancy control device (BCD), wetsuit, wetsuit boots, mask, snorkel, regulator, a weight belt and fins. Wetsuits must be the most uncomfortable things to get into (and out of)! But it fit! From the centre we drove to the public pool at Tanjung Benoa. I understand it is used by several diving centres but luckily we had the pool to ourselves that day. Made told me to do a couple of lengths of the pool, just so he could be sure I could swim. It was disgusting. There were so many dead insects floating on the surface I didn’t even want to get into it. But of course I had to. When I was done, I got out and he showed me how to assemble my equipment and get into the BCD. I put the regulator in my mouth and put my head in the water. I could breathe! We went through a series of exercises – taking the regulator out of my mouth while under water, finding the regulator under water, how to indicate you have no air and you need your buddy’s alternate, how to stretch if you have cramp under water, and so on. I did most of them without any trouble – at one point I panicked and thought it would be a good idea to take my mask off. I don’t know what I was thinking – that is clearly not the thing to do in any situation!

The air in the tank is actually very drying and my throat was parched each time I surfaced. Diving is thirsty work! 

At about noon Made decided I was ready for the open water. I was excited but terrified at the same time. 

We got on a boat with all our equipment and were driven out to sea for about 10 minutes. We got to our dive site and got into the water. I didn’t have to plunge in backwards, I sat on the edge of the boat and eased myself in, turning so I was facing the boat. And then we descended. About 5 minutes into the first dive I had to tell myself to just keep calm and not to panic because I realised I was at the bottom of the ocean and suddenly thought ‘What the f*** are you doing?? Why are you doing this??’ And then all of a sudden: ‘What if I have a nosebleed?’ Thankfully I didn’t have to find out. We did the same practice exercises we did in the pool, swam around for a bit and did some more practice exercises. 

It was amazing. When I got to the bottom I was surrounded by fish! I felt like I was in ‘Finding Nemo’. Made had warned me that when we first get to the bottom the fish would approach us as they would think we were food. Colourful coral, colourful fish, sponges – all around us. 

We spent 30 minutes at 11 metres before we surfaced for a break. We went back down again for 22 minutes (at 9 metres) and then called it a day. We went back to the centre, had some lunch and Made dropped me off at our villa. 

Day 3
Made picked me up at 7.45am on Friday. He was with another dive master and a driver as there were three other people joining us for the day (a German man and his two teenage daughters) and we went to pick them up from the Keraton Jimbaran Resort. They kept us waiting for 45 minutes – and no apology when they eventually showed up! While waiting for them I walked around and took some photos. The father and younger daughter had already done their open diving certificate so they were going to be on one boat. Made was taking me and the older daughter on another boat and we would both complete our certificate. I got the impression that the older daughter didn’t really want to be there at all… 

Anyway, we headed off to Padang Bay almost an hour behind schedule. We got to Manggala Restaurant at about 10am. We assembled our diving equipment and had a coffee. We then got into our wetsuits, left our stuff at the restaurant and walked down to the beach where we got into two outrigger canoes. Made told us that Padang Bay was the main harbour for the island and ferries left from there for various other islands, including Lombok. It was pretty busy! We were driven to a spot about 10 minutes away from the main harbour, a place called Blue Lagoon. We did our first dive here. Made told us we would have to put on our weight belts, fins and masks and then put on our BCDs in the water. Was he joking? I could barely manage to get myself into it out of the water! I eased myself into the water, holding on to the edge. I eventually got into my BCD, put my regulator in my mouth and we descended. We spent 45 minutes at 15 metres. We did a couple of the exercises from the day before (breathing without the regulator, breathing without the mask – I hate that one, and a couple of others). I saw my first stingray! And those tiny electric blue fish that dart all over the place… The water was so clear. 

When we ascended, the water was very choppy. It was difficult to hold on to the boat, remove my weight belt, BCD and fins – it seemed to take forever and my left ear was blocked. Once I was back on the boat, we relaxed and had some water while we were driven to our second dive spot, Jepun. After about 10 minutes I started feeling sick.
Made started talking to us about our second dive – we would have to use a compass and swim to a point he would choose – and then swim back. He looked at me. ‘Are you feeling OK?’ 

‘I feel a bit… sick.’

He told me it was the rough water and once we were back under water I’d feel better. Really? Because the last thing I felt like doing was getting back in the water. I was glad I hadn’t had any breakfast and the coffee was starting to seem like a really bad idea. He told me I could descend, do the navigation exercise and if I still felt sick he’d take me back up to the boat. I agreed because I wanted to finish off this final exercise! We got back in the water, put on our BCDs and descended. He let me do the exercise first – I swam 20 metres following the compass and then back again. ‘OK?’ he signalled. ‘OK,’ I replied. I was feeling a bit better. He left me in one spot while he carried out the same exercise with the German girl. By the time they got back I was feeling almost normal. We swam around for a while – I saw my second stingray, lots of parrotfish, and many other things. We spent 43 minutes at 14 metres. 

When we ascended the water was even rougher than before. We ascended further along the shore and the boat was supposed to be there to meet us. It wasn’t. We waited about 15 minutes while Made tried to get the driver’s attention – and eventually we got back on the boat.

I think, for me, the worst part is getting on and off the boat! Actually being under water is fine… Back on the boat, I had some water but had to close my eyes and focus on my breathing as the drive back to the beach was very rough and I was feeling sick again. And my left ear was still blocked which didn’t help.

Back on land, we walked back to Manggala. The waiter told me there was a shower at the front so I could take off my wetsuit and wetsuit boots.


There was also a rack to hang our wetsuits on. It was surreal showering in the middle of the street (practically) but nobody seemed to care. We were two of the first divers back that day and I soon realised that it’s quite normal to shower outside the restaurant and then have some lunch! While we were waiting for lunch I ended up chatting to an Australian guy who was also waiting for lunch. He seemed to know everyone and I thought he might actually live in the area (but he lived in Athens). Made and I had our lunch and he gave me my temporary PADI card (hurrah!) and log book while we waited for the other boat to return. 


As I was sitting there, watching people coming back from their various dives, I thought that a year ago I really wouldn’t have been able to do this. I was nowhere near fit enough then – and I’d have really struggled getting on to the ladder to get back into the boat! As I was thinking this, a huge man walked into the restaurant in his wetsuit. He was easily triple my size at my heaviest weight last year and I really wondered how he managed it. 

The others from the second boat finally arrived and they had their lunch. I walked around for a little while taking photos. If you’re ever looking for Manggala, it’s right opposite the Kinky Reggae Bar!


It was a gorgeous day.


On our way back to Jimbaran, we stopped at a temple called Pura Goa Lawah (or Bat Cave Temple). 

The minibus was quiet on the way back – most people fell asleep – and I eventually got home at 6pm (with my left ear still blocked).

It was an incredible experience – and Made told me that if he takes any people to different sites over the next few weeks he’d give me a call and I could join them. I can’t wait! 

Bali: Week 1

I have been to Bali many times in the last few years but I have never seen the airport as crowded as it was on Sunday morning. The queues to pay for visa on arrival were long, and the queues at immigration were even longer (because they weren’t moving as fast). I did have a laugh (silently) at the sign above immigration: ‘One at a time or be deported’. That’s a bit harsh, isn’t it? It took me close to an hour to get out of there. On the positive side, my parents already had visas so they went straight through, met our friend Harry who had come in to receive us, and collected our luggage (yes, it all arrived). I didn’t have to deal with any of that. 

I asked Harry what was going on? The last time I was in Bali was July 2010 and it was nowhere near as crowded as this. He said that over the last two years there were millions of tourists coming in (apparently 3 million in 2011). I told him the other thing I’d noticed while waiting was the amount of signs and tourist brochures in Russian. He said flights come in several times a week from Moscow, Kiev and other ex-USSR cities, and they’re all full. While walking to the car I noticed construction taking place at one end of the airport – it was being extended to accommodate all us tourists.

We got to our villa at Temple Hill about half an hour later – most of that time was spent getting out of the airport! Harry joined us, gave us our SIM cards for our mobiles and stayed for a little while.

My parents first met Harry when he organised my sister’s wedding in 2006 and since then they have kind of adopted him. He also organised my brother’s wedding in 2010. He keeps threatening to organise mine and I keep telling him I’m going to elope.


The villa is lovely.


There are three bedrooms on the pool level, and on the first floor are the master bedroom, living and dining rooms and kitchen. There are also two ‘butlers’ who make breakfast, clean, sort out laundry, et cetera – they are on call from 8am to 8pm. This is the pool area:



My bedroom…


The view from my bed…


My bathroom (half of it). There’s a statue on the other side of the frosted glass and every time I walk into the bathroom it makes me jump as I think someone’s standing there.


The view from the balcony upstairs.


 After unpacking I sat by the pool for a while. At about 7pm we decided we’d have an early dinner and call it a night. We went to Bumbu Bali in Tanjung Benoa, about 15 minutes from our villa. We’d been here many times and it’s one of our favourite places in Bali. We ordered chicken satay, nasi goreng, prawns with chilli and lime in coconut sauce, and marinated diced fish grilled in banana leaf. It was all excellent.


We were home by 9.30 and I was passed out by 10.30!

On Monday morning I went to the gym at Karma Spa across the road. When I got back my parents and I went to Jimbaran Corner to have a look around and get some lunch. It’s a new complex with shops and restaurants – and it wasn’t there the last time we were here 2 years ago. We ended up at Grocer & Grind, a deli/cafe concept (similar to Jones the Grocer). I ordered the penne with salmon, caramelised onions and capers.


My parents had prawn risotto and pad thai, and we ordered a Greek salad to share. After lunch we went to check out the Body Star Fitness Centre (which I joined). We then went to Discovery Shopping Mall for a wander. Dad and I had a coffee at Starbucks (we couldn’t find anywhere else) and I bought some flip flops. We stopped at a supermarket on the way back to the hotel just to pick up a few things we needed for the villa – soft drinks, toiletries, water – and headed back home. 

After being in Dubai where people are (mostly) conservatively dressed, seeing people walking around in just shorts and bikini tops or just swimming trunks is quite a shock to the system! I almost want to say ‘Put some clothes on – you can’t walk around like that!’ And then I remember I’m not in Kansas anymore…

That night we asked Ranuh (our driver) to take us to a Chinese restaurant close by. He took us to a place called Furama in Tuban. As soon as we walked in I realised we’d been there before – on my dad’s 60th birthday a few years ago. To start, Dad and I ordered a hot and sour soup to share – it turned out to be a huge portion, at least five people could have shared it! For our main course, we had the mapo tofu, beef on a hot plate, steamed garoupa (grouper – which I had to pick out of the fish tank) and pak choi. I forgot to take pictures of the food but remembered to take photos of the spelling mistakes in the menu!

Tuesday was a quiet day. I went to the gym and spent the afternoon at the pool. We had a late lunch at the villa and I had a massage in my room at 5pm. I didn’t feel like doing much after that. At 7pm we went to Bali Collection in Nusa Dua – a collection of shops, restaurants, spas and outdoor entertainment. Because we’d had such a late lunch, we walked around the shops for a while – there are several surf shops, sports shops, a Sogo department store, art galleries. Again, I noticed lots of signs and menus in Russian. I would go back for a proper look around. While wandering around we came across a seafood restaurant and I saw this:


A baby shark!

We eventually had dinner at an Italian place called Uno. Dad had the tom yum soup to start (who orders tom yum soup in an Italian restaurant??) and Mum and I shared a Caesar salad. I had the grilled tuna for my main course, Dad had the chicken steak and Mum had a mushroom pizza. 

It rained heavily all night that night. I was up early on Wednesday. I’d asked Harry to recommend a dive centre where I could do a PADI Open Water course. He said he had a contact at YOS Marine Adventures in Tanjung Benoa and even got me a good discount. Their driver picked me up at 9am and took me to the dive centre for a morning of classroom-based diving theory. 

When I got back to the villa it was 1.30pm and my parents had already left for lunch in Seminyak. My phone battery had died halfway through the morning so I wasn’t able to tell my parents what time I’d finish. It was quite miserable outside so I managed to get some work done and enjoy the peace! My throat was also starting to hurt and I wanted to take it easy.

I wanted an early night so we headed out for dinner at 7.30pm. We decided to go to La Scala in Tanjung Benoa – the last time I’d been there was in 2006, and I remembered the food being good. We eventually found the restaurant – there are so many new ones on the same road I wondered whether it still existed. We eventually found it a lot further down the street than I remember. 

The food is a mixture of cuisines – pizzas, pastas, local favourites, grilled seafood, steaks, a bit of everything really. It sounds weird but I had the chicken and sweetcorn soup to start with followed by a steak. Mum and Dad had the calamari to start with, Dad then had the beef strogannoff and Mum had the ‘tasty pepper prawns’. I did take some photos but they didn’t come out very well! There was a singer in the corner playing an electronic keyboard – he looked bored out of his brains. There was a man and his family sitting on the table behind us – my mum was convinced it was Russell Crowe (it wasn’t). I even Googled him and showed her a photo of him and she was still convinced it was him. 

Halfway through dinner a bat flew into the restaurant, swooping over several people’s heads, including mine. It flew out again but flew back in a few minutes later, staying for longer. I just wanted to get the hell out of there. I couldn’t relax knowing there was a flying rat in the vicinity. We got home at 9.45 and I was in bed soon after.

I woke up on Thursday with a sore throat and temperature. I had to postpone my first day of diving – I had so been looking forward to it! I spent the morning in bed and the afternoon working (still in bed).

Harry joined us for dinner on Thursday night – we went to Trattoria in Seminyak.


Trattoria is one of our favourite places – every time we’ve been to B
ali we’ve come here at least once. It seems to be at the top of everyone’s list. You can’t book a table after 7pm so there’s always a queue outside. In the last couple of years they’ve ‘expanded’ by putting up a few tables across the road and serving there, and there’s also a ‘branch’ a couple of doors down from the original (but I’m not sure whether they have their own kitchen). I had the antipasto platter to start with and the grilled tuna with sauteed spinach and cherry tomatoes for my main course. I also shared a tiramisu with my mum for dessert. I tried to take some photos but it was too dark and the photos didn’t do the food justice. I’m sure we’ll be back there soon so I’ll try again.

On Friday I stayed home the whole day – my sore throat had developed into a cough and I just wanted to take it easy. My parents were out most of the day so I sat by the pool reading my book. That night Harry recommended we try a seafood place in Jimbaran Bay called Menega Cafe. The area consists of several seafood restaurants in a row and they didn’t look particularly exciting.


But once you’re inside, past the kitchen and fish tanks, the restaurant is huge. There’s an indoor seating area (which was a bit too smoky with the kitchens being right there) and the outdoor seating area which was where most people were sitting. The waiter showed us to a table which was just one table away from the water’s edge. There were a few times during dinner where the waves just missed our table! We could still smell the smoke from the barbecue and our table was on a slope which wasn’t very comfortable. We ordered the king prawns, a red snapper, mussels and calamari.


I didn’t have the mussels or the calamari but the prawns and fish were excellent. Steamed white rice and vegetables were also served with each dish. The restaurant seemed popular with both tourists and locals. Interestingly, the restaurants on either side of Menega Cafe were empty. I would definitely go back, but would request a table further away from the water, just in case! While looking at the sky after dinner (the stars shine so brightly here) I saw my first shooting star!

I woke up on Saturday feeling terrible. My cough was worse and I had a fever. I thought it would be best if I saw a doctor before it got any worse. Harry called to say he’d made me an appointment with his GP for that evening, and 45 minutes later, while we were having breakfast, he showed up with what seemed to be the entire contents of the chemist. Vitamin C tablets, four bottles of lemon water infused with vitamin C, Panadol, an antiseptic throat spray, and a thermometer for his ‘little sister’. I was touched. I took some vitamin C and started drinking some lemon water and a couple of hours later I did feel a bit better. I took it easy the rest of the day.

I went to see Dr Chandra on Saturday evening. His office was just above the pharmacy I’d been to a couple of days before and was about the size of my bathroom. But at least it was clean. I was there for less than 10 minutes – he took my temperature, looked into my throat and ears, and listened to my chest. He said I had a throat infection and prescribed antibiotics and a cough syrup. The pharmacy under his clinic didn’t have what I needed so they called another pharmacy who would deliver it to our villa. Sure enough, an hour later they arrived.

I didn’t really feel like going anywhere on Saturday night but my parents didn’t want to leave me home alone either. We compromised by going to Pepenero, an Italian restaurant just next to our villa. I’d been past it many times on my last trip to Bali and had always wanted to try it. We sat down and they brought us some bread, balsamic vinegar and bruschetta while we perused the menu.


I had considered having just soup but all I’d eaten that day was a fruit platter for breakfast, a croissant (bad) and McDonald’s French fries (very bad). I ended up going for one of the specials.


I ordered the black ravioli with salmon. I don’t usually eat pasta at night but I just felt like it that evening. I also had some of the sauteed spinach my mum ordered.


The portions aren’t huge at Pepenero, but they’re adequate. I would go back – and I can see us going there at least two more times when the rest of the family get here, even if it’s just for the sake of convenience! 

I was home by 9.30, took my medicine and went to bed.

I love my life.

To read more about Bali, click here.

The final few: Week 12

Before we got to Bali I wondered whether the Temple Hill complex had a gym which they’d just forgotten to mention on their website. It turned out there wasn’t a gym on the property.

On Sunday evening the receptionist sent me a brochure for a gym which was a 5-minute drive away. It was called Body Star Fitness Centre. The brochure was in Indonesian but I could make out the cost per month ($20) and what they offered. I wasn’t planning on doing anything on Sunday itself apart from unpacking and sitting by the pool – I hadn’t slept on the flight the night before and managed an hour on the flight from Singapore to Bali.

On Monday morning I asked the receptionist if there was a car free to take me to the gym. She said that there was a gym closer by which she recommended as Body Star was more for the locals. So why didn’t she tell me that the day before? She spoke to someone at Karma Spa and told them I was on my way there. I got in the car and as soon as we left I saw the sign for the spa. It was literally across the road. But instead of dropping me at the spa, Ranuh (the driver) took me all the way down to the main reception area of Karma Hotel. He asked if he should wait for me but I told him I’d walk back. One of the receptionists took me to the spa in a buggy, and showed me the way out to the main road (and our villa) on our way to the spa. The receptionist was helpful – I told her I was going to be in Jimbaran for a month and wanted to use their gym. She spoke to her manager and came back to me with a fee of $150 per month, $10 per day, or if I booked a spa treatment I could use the gym for free. I didn’t want to commit to the month without having checked out the other gym so I told her I’d just use it for that day and get back to her.

The gym at Karma Spa is tiny, less than half the size of the gym in Dubai. And it was quite dark too. It had one treadmill, one cross-trainer, one bike, various weights machines, a Swiss ball, kettlebells, and some free weights. Towels and bottled water were also available. When I got there there was already someone on the treadmill so I started with my warm-up on the cross-trainer. Luckily by the time I’d finished the guy on the treadmill had left. So I moved over to the treadmill, did my 3k walk/run and then did some abs and lower body exercises on a mat. 


I walked back to our villa – it took 5 minutes and it was all uphill. 

That afternoon I went to check out Body Star. It was quite empty at 3pm – there were two people working out. There was one treadmill, several bikes, two rowing machines, a stepping machine, weights machines and free weights. Towels could be hired and water could be bought. There were aerobics classes four times a week (free to members) and yoga twice ($3 per class, $4 for non-members). The drawback? No air-conditioning, although there were huge windows all the way down the gym and there was a strong breeze. I decided to join.


On Tuesday morning Darta (another driver) dropped me off at the gym just before 11am. There was one other guy there. I managed just 2k on the treadmill that day – it was so hot in the gym. I don’t think the breeze extends to the corner where the treadmill is placed! To make up for doing just 2k on the treadmill I did 5k on the bike as well. I then did some weights and lower body exercises on a mat. By the time I left at noon, there was one woman on the treadmill and three guys in the weights area. 

I had an early start on Wednesday as I was starting my PADI Open Water course. The driver from YOS Marine Adventures picked me up at 9am and when we drove past the gym the cark park was full. I thought about going to the gym after my diving course as my parents were out but I was tired and my throat was feeling a bit scratchy.

To cut a long story short, I got sick and didn’t do anything for the rest of the week. I even had to postpone the rest of my diving course. I’d been looking forward to it for ages!

Low point of the week? Getting sick and not doing very much at all. Not eating very well – I had a croissant and French fries on Saturday… 

High point of the week? Finding a gym in Bali. At least starting my diving course… 

Weight loss? No idea – I probably won’t weigh myself until I get back to Dubai!


Read more updates here.