Bali: Week 6

Time here seems to fly by!

We moved to our newer villa on Sunday. It had three full bedrooms (preferable to the converted pool house my sister (A) and her son and nanny had been sleeping in the two previous nights!).

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After we’d settled in, A and I went out for some shopping and lunch. A had been threatening to take me shopping for days (and you know I hate shopping). I was not terribly excited about it, to say the least. We left home just after 2pm and walked from shop to shop on Jl. Kayu Aya. I tried on several things and eventually picked up a pair of sandals from one shop and a black dress from another. I also saw a dark blue python handbag I quite liked but didn’t have enough cash with me. We ended up at Trattoria for lunch (no surprises there). After lunch we carried on walking to Seminyak Square and then took a cab home.

On Sunday night we went to Kuni’s, a Japanese restaurant on Jl. Kayu Aya, not far from Trattoria. We had the usual sushi and sashimi and sake. For my main course I ordered the grilled tuna – it was pretty good. We were enjoying our meal until my mum realised that the chopstick holders (pebbles) on each table were put into a box after they were used and then back on the table for the next customers – they weren’t washed after each use! Gross. But nothing here surprises me any more.

After dinner A and I went to Khaima, on the same street, for a much-needed drink (or two).

On Monday we splashed around in the pool for a while and had lunch at home. We then went back to the shop with the snakeskin handbags and I bought the dark blue python handbag I’d seen the day before. We then went to some more shops on Jl. Raya Seminyak with our mum and V. I bought another pair of sandals, and would have bought two more had they been available in my size.

That night we went to L’Entrecote, a French restaurant also on Jl. Kayu Aya (basically it’s where all the restaurants are!). I had the vol-au-vent with escargot to start. It was amazing. My main course (steak) was pathetic compared to the vol-au-vent. We didn’t have dessert and A and I went straight home as we had an early start the next day.

We were up at 3am on Tuesday morning as we were going to Lovina to see the dolphins. We were out all day. That night, Dad insisted we go to Furama for dinner. We thought we’d have an early dinner but there was so much traffic on the way there it took us almost an hour to get there. And when we did, the restaurant was busy due to the Eid holiday. The queue was out the door. We managed to get a cramped booth at the back and ordered our food. It was hot and crowded and I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

On Wednesday we all went to Discovery Mall (except Dad). A had some last-minute shopping to do, Mum needed a couple of suitcases, and I was looking for a backpack to take to Komodo. We were there forever. When we were finally done we decided to go to McDonald’s for lunch (A’s choice).

That night the four of us (our parents, A and me) went to Ultimo, an Italian restaurant just a couple of doors down from Trattoria. It was packed. We waited for a table at the bar and eventually got one about 15 minutes later. I was surprised at how big the restaurant was once you walk in. There was a live band playing all kinds of music – everything from The Eagles to Sade to Richie Valens. I had the goat cheese ravioli to start with and then grilled barramundi for my main course.

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For dessert I ordered the strawberry millefeuille – it didn’t look at all how I expected it to!

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After dinner A and I went to Hu’u Bar for a couple of drinks.

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It was quite empty.

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We had two drinks each and I also bought a bottle of their mosquito repellent Shu’u Off – it smells so good, much better than the citronella I’ve been using for the last few weeks.

On Thursday there was more splashing around in the pool. As it was A’s last lunch in Bali she got to decide where we had lunch. We went to Trattoria! After lunch the two of us walked to one of the shops she wanted to go to while our parents went back to the villa. Mum was back a few minutes later with V. A picked up a handbag and I unexpectedly bought a dress. Not a bad week for shopping and me at all!

That evening we all went to the airport to see off A, V and the nanny – they had a long 20-hour flight ahead of them. My parents and I went to Queen’s for dinner. I just fancied some Indian food – paneer and makhani dal, that was it.

Friday was relaxing – I didn’t do very much. I read by the pool, did some work and then we went out for dinner. We went to Sushi Tei – the service was as bad as ever. It seems to get worse each time I go there. We ordered what we usually do (sashimi salad, sushi rolls, chicken gyoza) – and I ordered a salmon with miso butter as well. I was the only one to eat that – and I woke up at 4am feeling really sick. I spent most of Saturday feeling nauseated.

On Saturday afternoon Mum and I went to Sukawati to see the art market there. We weren’t there for very long as I wasn’t feeling that great and started to feel worse the longer we stayed there. On our way back we stopped at the Bajra Sandhi Monument, a monument dedicated to the struggle of the Balinese people.

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When we got home I had a nap. When I woke up it was dark. I felt a bit better but not great. We stayed in that night and ordered room service. I was in bed again by 9.30pm. How’s that for a Saturday night?

I love my life.

To read more about Bali, click here.

Your week ahead (26 August – 1 September)

Have a great week!

Aries

Cups_page

Page of Cups – being emotional – being moved or touched, responding to beauty, letting your heart lead the way; being intuitive – acting on a hunch, trusting your gut reaction; being intimate – starting or renewing a love affair, meeting someone you’re attracted to, sharing something personal; being loving – making a thoughtful gesture, forgiving yourself, brightening someone’s day

Taurus

Swords_page

Page of Swords – using your mind – analysing the problem, using logic and reason; being truthful – acting honestly, exposing what is hidden; being just – acting ethically, righting a wrong; having fortitude – facing problems squarely, keeping a firm resolve

Gemini

Wands_2

2 of Wands – having personal power – commanding attention and respect, holding the world in your hands, having authority; being bold – daring to do what you want, speaking your mind, seizing the day; showing originality – taking a different approach, doing what no one else has done, marching to a different drummer

Cancer

Cups_7

7 of Cups – indulging in wishful thinking – creating fantasies, building castles in the air, lacking focus and commitment; having many options – looking at a wide open field, getting to pick and choose, being offered many alternatives; falling into dissipation – letting everything go, being lazy, procrastinating, eating/drinking/partying to excess

Leo

Pentacles_ace

Ace of Pentacles – using material force – working with the physical, improving the body/health, focusing on concrete results; prospering – having the means to reach a goal, seeing efforts rewarded, increasing assets; being practical – using common sense, being realistic, accepting the tools at hand; proceeding with trust – feeling safe and protected, having a support system, believing in the good faith of others

Virgo

Cups_4

4 of Cups – being self-absorbed – concentrating on your own feelings, seeing only your point of view, ignoring gifts and blessings; feeling apathetic – losing interest, finding life stale and flat, lacking motivation; going within – meditating, dreaming, withdrawing from involvement

Libra

4_emperor

The Emperor – fathering – protecting and defending, bringing security and comfort; emphasising structure – creating order out of chaos, being organised; exercising authority – taking a leadership role, representing the establishment; regulating – establishing law and order, setting standards of behaviour

Scorpio

Pentacles_page

Page of Pentacles – having an effect – making plans real, using your body, acting on your dreams; being practical – taking a realistic approach, using common sense, finding a solution that works; being prosperous – increasing your means, enriching yourself, becoming secure; being trusting/trustworthy – having faith in others, keeping your word, establishing credibility

Sagittarius

8_strength

Strength – showing strength – having stamina, being a rock; being patient – refusing to get angry, taking time, maintaining composure; being compassionate – understanding what others are feeling, giving others lots of space, being kind; achieving soft control – guiding indirectly, being able to influence, demonstrating the strength of love

Capricorn

Swords_8

8 of Swords – feeling restricted – feeling trapped by circumstances, experiencing few options, being fenced in by obstacles; feeling confused – being unsure which way to turn, not understanding what is happening, needing guidance and clarity; feeling powerless – doubting anything you do will help, looking for a white knight, avoiding responsibility

Aquarius

Cups_5

5 of Cups – suffering a loss – letting go of a hope, being defeated, saying goodbye; feeling bereft – breaking up a relationship, longing to be reunited, feeling sorrow; feeling regret – being disappointed by events, wanting to turn back the clock, believing you made the wrong choice, wishing for what might have been

Pisces

Cups_8

8 of Cups – seeking deeper meaning – leaving the rat race, finding out the facts, concentrating on what is important; moving on – abandoning a hopeless situation, starting on a trip of unknown length, finishing up and walking away; growing weary – dragging through the day, lacking energy, getting weighed down by worries

For your monthly readings, click here.

For your weekly readings, click here.

For a personal tarot reading, please contact me.

Dolphins at dawn

A couple of weeks ago my sister (A) and I decided that after N, S and T left, we’d do a dolphin tour.

We’d seen a dolphin tour advertised when we went to Turtle Island and it sounded like fun. We saw it advertised again when we moved into our villa in Seminyak. When I spoke to the receptionist at our villa complex he told me that the price quoted in their brochure ($65) covered just the transport to the dolphin tour and not the tour itself (which made no sense to me). I asked Harry if he could recommend something for us and he told me to speak to the Puri Bagus Hotel in Lovina (on Bali’s north coast). I called them and they said their dolphin tours left daily at 6am from the beach and cost $15. Great – could they arrange to have us picked up and dropped back home? Yes, he said, but it would cost $65 each way. Thanks, but I don’t think so.

I searched the internet and found a Lovina Dolphin Tour which seemed reasonable. I called up the company and confirmed our tour. For $65 each, we would get:

  • transport to Lovina
  • the dolphin tour
  • snorkelling at Lovina Beach
  • breakfast
  • a visit to Gitgit waterfall
  • a visit to Ulun Danu Temple
  • lunch at a local restaurant
  • a visit to Tanah Lot Temple
  • transport back to our villa

So we decided to make a day of it. We took our swimsuits, change of clothes, towels, sunscreen, sunglasses, camera.

Our driver for the day, Gede (pronounced ‘G’day’), picked us up at 3.30am. I thought that once we were in the car I’d fall asleep as there would be nothing to see during the drive in the dark to Lovina. About an hour into the journey I opened my eyes and looked up at the sky – I’d never seen so many stars (‘Look at the stars, Look how they shine for you…’). I spent the rest of the drive mesmerised by the night sky.

At about 5.40am we pulled into Mandhara Chico Bungalows in Lovina. There were about 10 other people on the tour with us, all Chinese. It was quite chilly at that time of the morning and I ended up putting on my zip-up top before putting on my life jacket. I knew the sand would be cold and I was dreading putting my feet in the water. There were two traditional outrigger boats for all of us. I hesitated at the water’s edge but the ‘captain’ told me the water was warm. I stepped in – he was right! The water was much warmer than it was out of the water…

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A and I got in the second boat – she was right at the front and I was behind her. The boats are narrow – there’s just enough space for one person per seat. I had my bag on my lap as the floor of the boat was wet and my bag wasn’t waterproof. We set off into the mist just as dawn was breaking.

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I knew there was no guarantee we’d see any dolphins, but the early start was worth it just to see the sun rise.

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It was breathtaking!

As it got lighter and the mist cleared, we soon realised how many boats were out there! It reminded me of the Thames during the Queen’s Jubilee weekend!

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‘If I were a dolphin, I wouldn’t want to be here,’ I said to A. At that point I really did wonder whether we’d see any dolphins at all. There were at least 50 other boats out there, waiting.

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While waiting for the dolphins to show up, I tried to stay awake by taking photos of anything that seemed remotely interesting. I became fixated on the reflection of the boat as it glided through the water.

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The sun was higher now and it was finally starting to get warmer.

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And then we saw movement.

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Unfortunately, as soon as one boat spotted any dolphins, all the other boats would come racing up to the area the dolphins were in and they would soon disappear.

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For a while there was nothing again, and then they re-appeared but were too quick for me and my camera!

We got back to the Bungalows at about 8am. We were just about to get off the boat when the ‘captain’ told us to stay on as we were doing snorkelling as well. A wasn’t very keen as she had never snorkelled before, and I was just too tired to think about getting into the water. All I wanted to do was go back to bed. So we told them we were going to skip it.

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Back at the Bungalows we were given breakfast – we had a choice of tea, coffee or hot chocolate, and toast or banana pancake. I chose the banana pancake while A had toast with pineapple jam.

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We sat in the sun for a while and then left with Gede for the rest of our tour.

Our next stop was Gitgit waterfall. Our guide Nyoman asked us whether we wanted to see one or two waterfalls. I asked how long each one would take – one waterfall would take about an hour, and two waterfalls would take two hours. Neither of us was in the mood for a two-hour trek so we opted for just the one waterfall.

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We walked downhill most of the way to the waterfall.

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And uphill on the way back. We stopped to have a look at some sarongs on our way back up but didn’t negotiate very well.

After the waterfall, Gede drove us to the temple on the lake, Ulun Danu Bratan. The Shivaite and water temple complex is located on the shores of Lake Bratan in the mountains, 1200 metres above sea level – the difference in climate was astonishing. It was still sunny but much cooler than it had been in Lovina. The temple was built in 1663 and is used for offering ceremonies to the Balinese water, lake and river goddess Dewi Danu.

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There is also a Buddha statue at the temple.

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We walked around for a while – it was quite crowded being the Eid holidays.

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We then stopped for lunch at Kamandathu Resto – it’s not worth mentioning.

As we hadn’t done the snorkelling part of our morning, we were running ahead of schedule. Gede took us to a coffee plantation, where they showed us how they make kopi luwak, one of the world’s most expensive and low-production varieties of coffee.

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Our guide told us that the animal was a mongoose but it’s actually an Asian palm civet.

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The process sounds vile, doesn’t it? How did they even discover it? I have to say, however, that it tastes pretty good! A and I both had a cup of it.

Gede then took us to Pura Tanah Lot. I’d been there before, in 1993, and it was much more crowded than I remember. It’s a popular spot to watch the sun set but we were there at about 2.30pm.

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To get to the temple, you have to walk through a market selling almost everything under the sun – from sarongs to paintings to coffee.

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And then we finally got to the temple.

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We spotted a golf course on the next cliff! I’m quite sure it wasn’t there in 1993.

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On our way out we had to walk through the market again, but didn’t stop to look at anything.

It took us about half an hour to get home – it was an excellent day out and we saw all the sights we wanted to…

To read more about Bali, click here.

Bali: Week 5

A busy week!

I was still in Phuket on Sunday and woke up at about 2pm after a really late night/early morning. I could barely function all day. We got ready and went to the wedding ceremony. It was outdoors and we’d seen the stage being set up since the day before. It was absolutely beautiful. It was also absolutely boiling, even at 6pm. About 20 minutes later, a friend and I decided to get a couple of drinks at the bar in the lobby – we thought it would be cooler there. We were there until the ceremony finished, and we went to get changed for the reception. I also had to pack as my flight was early the next day. We got to the reception just after 9.30pm.

Champagne was being served outside the ballroom so we joined the rest of our friends and had a couple of glasses before we were asked to find seats and sit down. It was 10pm at this point. The reception started with the couple making their entrance, cutting the cake, and then the speeches – father of the bride, father of the groom, friend of the groom, friend of the bride, another friend of the groom, a friend of the bride and groom, and finally the groom himself. We didn’t get to the buffet until 11.45pm! You could tell that people were tired that evening as there were only about 30 people left in the ballroom at 3.30am when I had to leave. I went to my room, changed, finished packing and headed to the airport.

I was at the airport by 4.45am and was shocked to see the queue to check-in at the Air Asia counter. There were two flights leaving within 5 minutes of each other – the first to Bali, the next to Bangkok. It took me an hour to check in. When I was done I saw some friends in the baggage drop queue and they told me they’d been there for 45 minutes as well. Ridiculous! I went through passport control and thought I’d get a cup of tea but nothing was open. If I thought Ngurah Rai Airport was boring, Phuket was a thousand times worse. I made my way to the gate and found a seat. A few minutes later I decided to walk around as I was falling asleep and didn’t want to miss the flight. I got on the plane and I had an empty seat next to me again but it was so cold I couldn’t get to sleep. I was exhausted when I landed in Bali.

After the long queues at the visa-on-arrival and immigration counters when I landed in July, Harry had arranged for someone to take me through immigration. He was waiting for me when I landed, took my passport and told me to wait for him at the luggage carousel. I was out of the airport in 10 minutes! My parents and nephew were waiting for me outside and 20 minutes later I was in the pool with the rest of the family.

That afternoon, my sister (A), her husband (N), my brother (S) and his wife (T) went shopping. I went to bed. I woke up at about 7pm and decided I was done for the day. My parents went out for dinner on their own and brought us back a takeaway. I thought I’d sleep well that night but I woke up at 4am feeling queasy. I was awake until 6am and then decided I’d try and get back to sleep.

It was Dad’s birthday on Tuesday so we all had a late breakfast together. I did some work after that (I had over 100 work emails in my inbox when I got back from the weekend!) while the others splashed around in the pool for a while. We all went to Dijon Cafe for lunch later that afternoon. After lunch, A, N, S and T went shopping and my parents and I went to the reflexology place across the road from Dijon Cafe.

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My mum had been the day before and had been raving about it. We walked in and were led into a dark room with 40-50 reclining chairs in four rows. Each chair had a TV and headphones you could use while you were having your feet massaged. There were only two or three other people in the room and I could hear snoring coming from one corner! We sat together and our massages began.

My feet were put into a tub of hot water while the masseur massaged my back. It was more like prodding and I didn’t enjoy it at all. Then he moved to my feet. I’ve decided I don’t like having my feet massaged – I couldn’t wait for it to be over. When we were finally done after what felt like the longest hour ever, we headed home and I did some work.

At 7pm the villa staff and a few people from the Temple Hill office came in with a cake for Dad and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ for him – it was most unexpected! We decided we’d take some family photos that evening so we met in the living room of our villa at 8pm, opened a bottle of champagne, cut a cake for Dad, and took some photos. Harry joined us as well. We had a table booked for 9.30pm at Sarong in Seminyak. My parents and T had been there but the rest of us hadn’t. What a beautiful restaurant!

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I had the black bean encrusted chargrilled barramundi – I’d never had barramundi before and it was fantastic. It was a lovely evening and N and S treated us to dinner.

I decided to go to Denpasar Market with Mum, A and N on Wednesday – we left home soon after 11am and it didn’t take long to get there.

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A and N were looking at paintings for their home and picked up some beautiful ones.

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I asked whether they had a smaller version of the orange padi fields but the man said he’d just sold them an hour before and only had the smaller version in green (I hate green).

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Every kind of painting was in this shop – Balinese, African, abstract, Disney, it was all there.

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I’d never seen so many paintings!

After that we went to another store, looking at incense sticks and other pointless junk. We spent far too much time there.

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We were hungry by this time so on our way back home we went to the Bali Bakery for lunch. I had fettucine with smoked salmon and strawberry cheesecake for dessert.

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I was told I wasn’t allowed to take photos in the Bali Bakery (and, no, I hadn’t seen the sign on the door as I went in).

That night we went to Sakala in Tanjung Benoa for dinner – we’d driven past it several times and had also seen it from the water while in a boat and had been wanting to go there.

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It was the last night in Bali for S, T and N. The restaurant is stunning but unfortunately there was nobody else there.

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I had the foie gras to start with, followed by the rack of lamb.

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When we’d finished our main course the manager came over to us. He told us that as our starters had taken so long to arrive, dessert was on the house! None of us had particularly wanted dessert but we each ended up ordering something. I had the cheese platter.

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We were all so full by the end of dinner!

On Thursday S and T left at 1pm. They had a long journey back to Jamaica – via Hong Kong, Vancouver, New York and Miami! I didn’t envy them. I joined A and N for a late lunch at Menega Cafe.

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They’d put in a new aquarium since we had last been there.

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We had a kilo of jumbo prawns and a red snapper.

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Amazing, as always.

We got back to the villa and I decided to have a massage. I’d been telling myself every day that I’d have one the following day but never got round to it. It was so good.

N left that night and my parents, A and I went to Kat’s Kitchen for dinner. After dinner we went back home and started packing as we were moving villas the following day.

Friday was busy! We had breakfast, played around in the pool for a while, finished packing and left Temple Hill at 1.30pm. It took us about 45 minutes to get to our new villa in Seminyak.

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It was actually just a temporary villa for two nights until the villa we wanted to stay in originally became available.

After dropping our stuff off, A and I decided we needed to get away for a while so we walked down the long drive to the main road.

We walked for a while and came across Superman Pizzeria.

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We sat down and ordered a large bottle of Bintang – A had the margarita pizza and I had spaghetti with chilli and garlic. I’ve never had so much garlic in anything before!

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Our meal cost us $11 in total.

We walked back to the villa, dodging traffic on one side and open drains on the other. The street is filled with little art galleries, shops, restaurants and villa complexes.

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When I got to my room, there were at least eight mosquitoes waiting for a piece of me. I sprayed the room hoping they would have disappeared by the time I was done in the (outdoor) shower.

I have to say I hate outdoor showers in Bali. The first time I experienced one was in our villa in August 2006. I quickly learned that the most peaceful way to shower was while it was still daylight – the first couple of days I showered at night and was constantly swatting away insects attracted to the light. It’s not easy to do while washing your hair!

I did some work after that (the internet is so much faster than at Temple Hill!) and then got ready for dinner. As I was getting ready, I opened the door to the bathroom and some thing scurried into the room and out under the door into the living room. It was too quick for me to see what it was – which is probably a good thing!

That night my parents, A and I had dinner at Mannekepis (‘Little Pissing Man’, I’m guessing), a Belgian restaurant which had a live jazz band.

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Being a Friday, most restaurants on the street were crowded. We had some steaks and dessert.

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A and I went to Ku De Ta for a couple of drinks after dinner – they were setting up for their annual ‘white’ party which was the following night. We had thought about going when we found out we were going to be in Bali at that time, but were having second thoughts. The set-up looked pretty damn cool though, I have to say.

On Saturday we spent the day at the Bali Safari & Marine Park. When we got home I found the doors between the outdoor bathroom and my bedroom wide open. No wonder the place was full of mosquitoes! I’m so sick of the damn creatures!

That night I finally got to try Black Pepper, a restaurant we’d driven past at least 20 times but hadn’t been to yet. It wasn’t very crowded but had only been open just over a month.

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I had the grilled prawn salad with spinach to start.

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For my main course I had the ‘Pancho Villa’ crepe – grilled chicken, sour cream, guacamole, and some other Mexican-type ingredients.

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Dessert was disappointing. I’d ordered the lemon tart but what came looked nothing like I expected it to. I had a couple of bites and left the rest.

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After dinner, A and I decided to skip the white party and go somewhere new for a drink. We ended up at Woobar at the W Hotel. The hotel is just… so cool.

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And Woobar is just as cool.

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Each table even has a bottle of mosquito repellent (similar to Hu’u Bar’s ‘Shu’u Off’).

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The music was good and it wasn’t too crowded. We had a couple of drinks and called it a night.

I love my life.

To read more about Bali, click here.

Bali Safari & Marine Park

After N, S and T left Bali we decided to take V to the Bali Safari & Marine Park one day. We all went – my parents, A, V, his nanny and me.

We left home at about 12.30 and it took an hour to get there. There were three packages on offer – we took the cheapest one at $45 each (there was no charge for V).

Like Bali Zoo, the park was very Balinese – lots of carved stone statues – and it was very pretty.

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The first exhibit we saw was a replica temple.

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V got to have his photo taken with an orangutan.

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Unlike traditional safari parks, you don’t go in your own car and drive through the park. There are air-conditioned buses that come along every few minutes with guides pointing out the animals. V was very excited to be in the bus and we were lucky to be sitting in the front. We went on a journey through Indonesia…

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… through India…

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… and through Africa…

The hippo submerged itself for a while and popped up a few seconds later at my window.

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After the safari tour, we went to see the Komodo dragons. (You can read about my trip to Komodo here.)

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(That last one isn’t a real dragon!)

And then we saw this interesting sign.

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The last line made me laugh – who wouldn’t wear pants??

We then stopped to have some lunch.

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After lunch we went to see the white tigers.

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There were pythons in the same enclosure.

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On our way out we spotted some parrots playing hide and seek with each other.

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As we left I saw an exhibit I missed completely on the way in: the false gharial and the cougar…

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I had been looking forward to the Marine Park but we discovered it wasn’t open yet! They did have a freshwater aquarium though (but we didn’t venture all the way in).

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It took us about an hour to get home – and most of us dozed off on the journey home!

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To read more about Bali, click here.