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:
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.
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