Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

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!

2012

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. 

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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…

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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)

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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.

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I also had my first shot of wheatgrass.

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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:

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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!

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

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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And part of the garden…

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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!

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

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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.

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

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Can you see them?

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

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

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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.  

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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.

To
read more about Bali, click here.

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