Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Bali 2015: Days 3 to 9

I woke up on Sunday and made it down to breakfast at about 10.45. Again, I was the only person in the restaurant. I ordered a cappuccino, a coconut water and the nasi goreng. The portion was huge and I couldn’t finish it. I asked for a 1pm checkout and went to my room to sort out my packing and read on the balcony for a while, waiting to be picked up for my yoga retreat. When I was in Jamaica, I was looking for yoga retreats in Bali as I was going to be there for my cousin’s wedding in December. And I found one – Bali Goddess Retreats in Seminyak.

I was collected from Luna2 Studiotel at about 1 pm and spent the whole week at the retreat. We were there for most of the time although Wednesday and Thursday were free evenings – dinner wasn’t provided at the villa and we were able to eat out on those two nights.

I’ve learned that people who live in Bali (and many of those visiting) are really into the healing side of the island – there are a lot of healers here and the retreat leaders had a list of all their favourites and offered to make appointments for us if we wanted them. I decided to see a psychic healer/tarot reader called Sam so on Tuesday morning, one of the girls (C) and I were taken to  Canggu where she lives for our appointments. My appointment was at noon so I was dropped off while C went to have a coffee or a wander around the town.

Before I’d even started shuffling the cards, she said to me, ‘I’m picking up that you’re quite psychic yourself’. It always interests me when people pick up on this because I don’t feel psychic most of the time. I told her that my intuition only works when I don’t have a vested interest in the outcome of a situation – the more important the outcome is to me, the less I can hear my intuition. She told me I really needed to focus on developing my psychic abilities because I had the power to be a great healer. Something to think about! She told me I needed to write as that’s how I express myself. She told me that my work wasn’t very challenging (it isn’t – meeting deadlines is the most challenging part of it) but that I’d be offered a new contract soon. I told her that I’d already been speaking to a new company based in the UK (and they’ve now told me I’d be a ‘valuable asset’ to their work). She also told me I’d been thinking about moving – and I had been thinking about it over the summer, but then Dad had a heart attack and now I don’t think I can leave. She said a lot of things which were relevant to me and I was glad I went to see her.

After my session, C was dropped off and I went to have a coffee at Kitchen Rustica, an Italian restaurant. While I was in there, a guy rode up on his scooter, no shirt, bare feet, just shorts – and ordered a pizza. Only in Bali!

On Wednesday night, we went to a restaurant in Jalan Petitenget called Sardine. I don’t remember it being there the last time I was in Bali three years ago. It’s a beautiful restaurant right next to a rice padi. Me and my fellow retreat-goers (four of us in total) shared a couple of starters: the bass and long-nosed emperor sashimi and the Papua crab tower. Both were interesting but I wouldn’t order either of them again. For my main course I ordered the barramundi steamed in banana leaf. Now that was excellent. For dessert we shared the black pepper ice cream – I’ve never tasted anything like that before! It started off a little sweet and then you could really taste the black pepper coming through.

On Thursday evening, we left the villa to see the sunset from Potato Head. I’ve never been a fan of Potato Head, much preferring Ku De Ta. Potato Head was crowded and we had to wait for a table even though we were there at 5.30pm. We sat at the bar and ordered some drinks (I had the Coco Loco mocktail).

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I’m sure the sunset was lovely but we couldn’t see it as a huge screen had been put up in front of the ocean. How ridiculous is that??

At 6.30pm we decided to go to Ku De Ta as we had a dinner reservation there for 8pm, but thought it would be more relaxing lounging around there for a while. We were right!

I was surprised to see that they’d installed a pool by the beach.

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It was so much nicer than Potato Head, much more sophisticated. And we were able to see what was left of the sunset.

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We decided to go to our table at 7.30pm as we were all quite hungry. Again, we shared two starters: the prawn and snapper tsiu mai dumplings and the grilled calamari. I loved the dumplings! I was tempted to order the barramundi again but I ended up sharing the roasted Balinese pork (for two people) with one of the other girls. It was fantastic – and such a huge portion that three of us could have eaten it (but we finished it!). I was so full by the end of our main course and couldn’t have dessert. The other three each ordered a homemade mini Magnum ice cream bar. I don’t know how they managed it!

Our retreat ended on Saturday and I was moving to the Sofitel Hotel in Nusa Dua. I had asked the hotel to arrange a car to collect me at 3pm but by 3.20pm there was no sign of the driver. And it had started pouring with rain – I’ve never heard thunder so loud! I called the hotel, they put me through to the transport department and I eventually got the mobile number for the driver who was totally lost (even though I’d send directions in Indonesian with the villa phone number to the hotel). Two minutes after speaking to him, a car pulled into the gang (lane). Finally! After much struggling with the umbrellas and the torrential rain and the luggage, I got into the car. ‘So, where are you going?’ the driver asked. That was weird. ‘To the Sofitel in Nusa Dua,’ I told him. ‘You booked the Uber?’ Erm. No, I didn’t. So, it turned out that a ‘Mr Nick’ had booked the Uber and was in Seminyak Square. So why the hell the car came to our villa I don’t know. A minute later, another car pulled into the gang and it was the car from the hotel. So we transferred the luggage (still in the pouring rain) from one car to the other and I was finally on my way to Nusa Dua.

The traffic in Bali is horrendous. I thought that once the underpass near Dijon Cafe had opened, the traffic would lessen considerably. If anything, it’s even worse now. And the fact that a part of Jalan Sunset Road has been reduced to one lane in each direction doesn’t help the situation. I eventually got to the Sofitel at about 4.30pm – thankfully the driver took the toll road over the water so we avoided some traffic. The driver had been hired by the hotel and gave me his business card in case I needed a car during my stay.

I checked in and went to my room.

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The rooms are spacious but the closet space is limited. There are only two drawers next to the wardrobe and my sister would be arriving in a few days so I had to make some space for her things too. I had a feeling this room was going to be very messy very soon! I unpacked my things and wedged my suitcase in between the sofa and the mini bar. I then called the spa to see if they could fit me in for a massage that evening.

According to the spa menu in the room, I could wear the gown in the bathroom to the spa so I did that, but then discovered I had to walk through either the crowded restaurant or the crowded lobby to get to the spa! I had a Balinese massage for one hour and stopped to check out the gym next door. I told them I’d join them for the 7am floating yoga class the next morning. From what the guy was saying I guessed that floating yoga is the same as swing yoga.

I had dinner in the Kwee Zeen restaurant that evening (and I’ve only just realised it’s pronounced ‘cuisine’). I ordered the pad thai with prawns and some water and went back to my room.

I love my life.

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.


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.


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


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).


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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


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.


I had the grilled prawn salad with spinach to start.


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


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.


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.


And Woobar is just as cool.


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


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.

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


And two boys put on a very entertaining skit.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


There were some interestingly dressed women there…


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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