Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Bali 2015: Days 10 to 14

I was up early on Sunday. I’d missed the swing yoga class but decided to go to the gym anyway. On my way back to my room I stopped in the restaurant, Kwee Zeen, for breakfast. I have to say I hate the name of the restaurant! I just wanted some eggs so I didn’t go for the whole buffet breakfast. I was seated next to some screaming children and the restaurant felt like a zoo. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. I had my book but couldn’t focus on it and left as soon as I’d eaten.

I went to the concierge to find out about renting a car and driver, but in the end decided to use the driver who had brought me to the Sofitel the day before. His rate was much more reasonable and he seemed like a decent guy.

I did a bit of work and then went to Nikki Beach, which is at the Sofitel itself. It was before noon when I got there so it was quite empty. I didn’t sit right inside the restaurant, but out on the beach.

I ordered some coconut water and started to read.

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And then it started to rain. Thankfully, it was just a light drizzle, nothing like the day before, so I stayed under my umbrella and continued reading. It cleared up pretty quickly but I could see the clouds heading over to Kuta and Seminyak. There was such a distinct line between the grey clouds and the blue sky!

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I had a massage that afternoon at 4pm – the hotel were offering 50% off massages between 1 and 4pm so I booked a 90-minute massage! I was feeling really lazy after that so I went back to my room and got into bed. I ordered room service that evening and passed out.

I was up early on Monday morning and went to the 7am floating/swing yoga class at the gym.

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I had a pretty busy day ahead of me, with two appointments – one in the morning and one in the afternoon, so I hired the car and driver for the day. Pak Wayan picked me up at 9.15am and I left for my 10.30 appointment near Seminyak. I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to get there and I got there shortly after 10. The lady I was seeing was busy with her client to I told her I’d come back in a little while. The driver took me to get a fresh juice (I hadn’t had breakfast) and by the time we did that and braved the traffic again, I was on time.

The lady I was seeing was called Dafne and she works with flower essences to heal people. The leaders at the Bali Goddess Retreat highly recommended her and one of the girls had been to see her last week but was fully booked after that. Dafne was a lovely woman from Chile – I couldn’t tell how old she was, but she’s been in Bali for many years. So what does she do? We made small talk for a little while as she prepared her work space, organising boxes of flower essences, and then she closed her eyes and took out a crystal which was on a chain. She circled it over her head several times and then explained she was getting in touch with my spirit guides. She then told me to do whatever I wanted while she carried on (I had my book). She continued swinging the crystal over each box one at a time, pulling out various bottles of essences and putting them on one side. By the time she had finished, she had put aside nine bottles.

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She explained what each one represented and how they would help various aspects of my life. I hadn’t told her anything about me before she’d started but when she told me about all the things I was experiencing or needed, she was on the money. She then took out a little bottle with a dropper, filled half of it with vodka (I had been wondering why there was an open bottle of vodka on the table at 10.30am!) and then proceeded to put drops of each of the essences into the bottle. She told me that I was doing well on my journey as some people need as many as twenty to thirty different essences the first time they go see her, and I only needed nine. When she was done, she blessed the bottle and gave it to me. She told me to take a few drops right then, so I did. She told me to take four drops four times a day to start with and then see how I feel as time goes on.

After I left Dafne’s, I had a few hours to kill so I went to Seminyak Square, had an early lunch at Bali Bakery and then walked around for a while.

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I then went to Galleria Mall – I really didn’t know what else to do with myself for two hours. I looked at the bookshop and organised SIM cards for my parents and sister who would be arriving the next day. I then headed to my appointment with Jim in Umalas.

The other three girls on the yoga retreat had all been to Jim and they all said it should be compulsory to see him for anyone visiting the island. So I was curious to see what he was about. I got there on time (one hour in traffic!) and we talked for about 20 minutes – he told me what he did, that he pinpoints areas of pain/tension in the body and links them to emotional situations from the past and present. I knew this was going to hurt – physically and emotionally. I’d made a list beforehand of all the areas on my body that hurt – toes, soles of my feet, knees, left inner thigh, left shoulder, nosebleeds from my left nostril – because I was bound to forget something when he asked. We talked about a few things, some very personal, and then he told me to get undressed and lie on the massage table. I had no idea how much it would hurt when he pressed various pressure points and when he told me what each one was connected to emotionally, it all made sense. When he pressed my right ankle, I almost kicked him. My left hip – Jesus. He said our bodies are like hard drives – you think you’ve erased all the old files and emptied the wastepaper basket, but there’s still a trace of something left behind. He told me that because I was so sensitive to my environment I should protect my chakras when I’m around negative people/situations by putting my tongue on the roof of my mouth – this would close off my throat chakra and the others below it. I’m sure that will come in useful! When he was finished, I felt so much… lighter. And I felt happier than I’d felt in a long time. I asked him how often people go to him and he said he sees some people once a week and others he never sees again. I’d definitely see him again if I had the time!

I went back to the hotel after that (which took another hour) and really fancied a cup of tea.

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I did a bit of work and went to the restaurant for dinner. I was working till after 1am and slept really badly.

On Tuesday my alarm went off at 6am and I thought about cancelling the floating yoga class and sleeping in. I felt like I hadn’t slept at all. But I dragged myself out of bed and went anyway. I couldn’t face breakfast in the restaurant again so I ordered room service. I don’t know what I was thinking but I ordered an American breakfast – which was far too much for me to eat. In the end, I didn’t even touch the cereal or the croissants, just the omelette – and the coffee was delicious.

I did some work in the lobby bar, overlooking the lush greenery while my room was being cleaned.

That afternoon, my parents, sister and grandmother all arrived together. A little while later, some cousins and their mum arrived. The relaxing part of my trip was definitely over as everyone had started arriving for my cousin’s wedding. That evening, we all went to Bumbu Bali in Nusa Dua for dinner. I was tired as I’d slept badly the night before, everyone else was jetlagged and hungry. We ordered loads of food – satays, ribs, prawns. It was an early night for everyone.

The next day my sister and I were up early. I’d asked Pak Wayan to pick us up at 9.30am and take us to Seminyak. I wanted to leave early to avoid the traffic – and we were there by 10.15 or so. We went to Sisterfields for breakfast. I ordered a juice and the eggs Benedict with smoked salmon – it was delicious!

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My sister had the brioche French toast and said that was amazing too.

We walked around Seminyak Village and Seminyak Square and to Indigo Kids, where I bought this T-shirt for one of my nephews:

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We then went to the other end of Jalan Laksmana and walked back down to the Seminyak Square end. I picked up a dress, two handbags, two pairs of Havaianas… I think that was it? After walking around Seminyak for a while we went to Galleria Mall, but that was just a waste of time.

We were both peckish on the way home and got stuck in terrible traffic. We stopped at McDonald’s for a quick bite and in the end it took us almost two hours to get back to the hotel. The roundabout at the airport had been closed (no idea why), and the traffic on the toll road was out of control!

That evening a few of my cousins wanted to go out for dinner and suggested a couple of places in Seminyak, but there was no way I was heading back there again. In the end, my sister, cousin and I had dinner at Kwee Zeen (ugh) and then met up with the others in the Lobby Bar – it turned out that they didn’t go out either in the end. I sat with them until about 11pm and then went to my room.

On Thursday, my parents, sister and grandmother were going to Discovery Mall in Kuta while I stayed behind to do some work. That evening there was an ‘early bird’ dinner at Bejana at the Ritz-Carlton. It’s a huge property which has only been open a few months, but it was pretty quiet. On the way to the restaurant, we passed a Perfume Workshop where you could make your own perfume.

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It wasn’t a late night as we knew the next three days would be hectic with the wedding and family, etc.

I love my life.

To read more about Bali, click here.

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Bali: Week 3

It feels like all I’ve done this week is eat and drink!

Sunday and Monday were quiet during the day. My sister and her family arrived on Saturday evening so we spent Sunday relaxing at home. My brother and his wife arrived late Sunday night/early Monday morning so we didn’t do much on Monday either.

On Sunday evening Harry came over to say hello with his son Timothy. After that five of us and Harry (Timothy was dropped home) went back to Trattoria for dinner. I had my first slice of pizza since September! I couldn’t decide what to eat – I didn’t feel like fish or steak so I ordered chicken stuffed with emmental, mushrooms and spinach. It was excellent! I don’t usually order chicken when I go out but I think I should reconsider that. We shared tiramisu for dessert.

On Monday night we went to La Scala for dinner. I ordered a soup to start with and tacos for my main course. Nothing really appealed to me that evening – I don’t know why! And thankfully there were no bats that night.

We spent Tuesday afternoon at Bali Zoo. That night we went to Sushi Tei for dinner. My parents went home after dinner and the five of us went to Hu’u Bar for some drinks.

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It was quiet but we stayed on until they closed.

On Wednesday my parents and I went to Jenggala Keramik for lunch (the others had all gone to Seminyak). I ordered a hot dog – it was the best hot dog I’d had in a long time.

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After lunch my mum and I went to Le Salon des Coiffures in Jimbaran. I really needed a mani/pedi and wanted to get my hair coloured before going to Phuket. The mani/pedi, colour and blowdry cost $65. Bargain!

That night we went to Mama San in Seminyak to celebrate my brother and sister-in-law’s second anniversary. Harry joined us as well. We got there and had a drink at the bar upstairs while waiting for our table. I had the passion fruit and vanilla martini – it was pretty good but not something I could drink all night.

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We sat down at our table and ordered. To start with we had: Peking duck with hoisin sauce, char sui pork with five spiced sauce, beef and bamboo dumplings with chilli and hot bean sauce, pork and prawn siu mai, crispy salmon with green mango salad and sweet fish sauce. For our main course we had: crispy lemongrass chicken with sweet chilli sauce, clay pot snapper braised in soy with Szechuan shitake mushrooms, Massaman curry with duck, stir-fried black pepper beef with asparagus, crispy whole fish with three-flavour sauce, pad thai, roti canai, steamed rice. We shared everything. We finished almost everything.

For dessert, we had home-made banana cake with cinnamon and cardamom with coconut ice cream – it was fantastic.

After dinner my parents went home and five of us went to Ku De Ta for a drink. Again, it was quiet, but not as quiet as Hu’u Bar the night before. We had one drink and called it a night.

Thursday was an uneventful day. We woke up late and lounged by the pool all afternoon. I did a few lengths of the pool and passed out on a sunbed for an hour.

We had dinner at Queen’s of India that night, at their branch in Tanjung Benoa.

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It was full of Indians. The chef told us they had all been attending a wedding at one of the hotels nearby. We sat outside – there was a live band playing Indian music. The singer was Indian, the tabla player was Italian and the guitarist was Danish. At one point everyone from the wedding party got up to dance and I felt like I was gatecrashing a sangeet. It was weird. I ordered a dosa for my dinner. It was average – I don’t think I’d order that again.

Friday was a busy day! I was up early(ish), went to the gym, came back and had breakfast. We splashed around in the pool for a while and then five of us decided to have lunch at Menega Cafe in Jimbaran Bay.

We ordered the prawns, red snapper and lobster.

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It was excellent. And the restaurant was a lot more relaxed compared to what it’s like at night. They only had a few tables out and some sunbeds and umbrellas too. After lunch I was too full to move.

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We stayed at the beach for a little while and then headed home.

Early that evening four of us (my mum, brother, sister-in-law and me) went to the National Deaf School (or ‘National the Deaf School’ as the sign outside said) to feed the children. On our birthdays and anniversaries my mum always feeds the poor – if she’s in India she’ll do it herself and if she’s elsewhere she’ll arrange for it to happen. This year, for my brother and sister-in-law’s anniversary, Harry arranged for us to feed the children at the deaf school. He arranged for all the food (KFC) to be delivered and the kids were so excited.

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They put on some entertainment for us. Three girls did a dance…

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And two boys put on a very entertaining skit.

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Harry explained to us that it was a state-funded school and they didn’t get many treats. He said that the age range of the school was 8 to 28 years. They stayed until they graduated, no matter how long it took them to get their high school diploma. He said a couple of the hotels employed a few high school graduates from the school as well. We asked how often they saw their parents – and he said that several of the boarders (all the kids we served were boarders – there were about 50 of them) were from neighbouring islands and rarely saw their parents. He said sometimes their parents couldn’t afford to make the journey or that the trip would take days to make and they couldn’t take that much time off work. He said the school runs mainly on donations – several local companies donate things, such as 50 kg of rice each month. I’m so glad I went – the kids were so happy.

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That night we had dinner at a Korean Restaurant on Jalan Sunset Road called The Grill House. We ordered way too much food – beef, pork, chicken, kim chee – the portions were huge and the waitress really should have told us that! After dinner we weren’t sure whether to go out as we stank of Korean barbecue. My parents, brother and sister-in-law decided to go home, and my sister, brother-in-law and I went to Hu’u Bar for a couple of drinks. We got there before 11pm and managed to get a sofa outside – but inside the club was heaving. We left just after 1am.

On Saturday we hung out at the pool in the morning.

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We then decided we’d go to Turtle Island (Dad stayed home). We spent an hour there, and then came back and had lunch at Bumbu Bali. I can’t decide whether it’s prettier in the day or at night!

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That night my parents went out for dinner on their own and the five of us decided to go to Potato Head Beach Club. Harry had told us it’s the new place to go and was similar to Ku De Ta. We got there a little before 10pm and didn’t have a reservation. The woman at the desk told us all the beds by the beach/pool were booked but that we could have a table in the restaurant (none of us were keen). Luckily we saw some guys paying their bill and managed to get their table.

It’s a gorgeous space, but it didn’t feel as cosy as Ku De Ta – there was a large unused space in the middle of the ‘amphitheatre’ which made the club seem too big.

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We ordered our drinks first and then looked at the food menu. That first round of drinks took forever to get to us. We decided we’d have to order our next round when we were halfway through our first! We ordered a cheese platter, a cold cuts platter and some smoked salmon to share. I was so excited when the cheese platter came that I forgot to take photos of the other food.

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At midnight we decided to move on to somewhere else and ended up at Hu’u Bar. Because we’d arrived after midnight we
had to pay the entrance fee ($10), which included one free drink.

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There were some interestingly dressed women there…

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We took a cab home at about 2.30, stopping at the McDonald’s drive-thru near the villa. We were laughing so hard about something (the Australian guy that walked up to the drive-thru window – ‘Where’s your dingo, mate?’) that my sister had tears running down her cheeks. I’m not even going to explain what we were laughing at because it won’t seem remotely funny now.

We got home, scoffed our food and went to bed.

I love my life.

To read more about Bali, click here.

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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.

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The villa is lovely.

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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:

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My bedroom…

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The view from my bed…

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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.

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The view from the balcony upstairs.

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 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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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