Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

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.

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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 2

In the summer of 2010, my parents decided that they wanted to move to Bali. They even went so far as to get their retirement visas when we were here for my brother’s wedding. They asked me if I wanted to move with them. I told them I’d think about it.

I emailed Harry and asked him what he thought, what were job opportunities like, how easy would it be to find a job? He put me in touch with an English guy called Russell who had been in Bali for 5 years. I emailed Russell asking various questions – job market, living here, and so on, he replied (not very positively, if I’m honest), I replied, he wrote back. I told him I would let him know what I decided. This week I suddenly thought about him and wondered whether he was still here and what he was doing. I also remembered that I hadn’t told him what I’d decided – and that I now live in Dubai. (There is a point to this, I promise!)

I was home all day Sunday – I was feeling better than the past couple of days but didn’t want to do very much. Harry came over in the evening and the four of us went to Kat’s Kitchen for dinner. We walked into the restaurant and who should be sitting on the table next to us? Russell and his wife! Harry introduced us – in person. Russell remembered our brief correspondence and we talked about what he was doing, what I was doing, and so on. He still didn’t seem very thrilled about being in Bali – he said it was tough. But surely if he’s been here 7 years it can’t be that bad?

I have to say that being in Bali over the last few days I think we made the right choice by not moving here. Bali is overcrowded and it’s getting worse. I thought people in Dubai drove badly – but at least it’s organised bad driving. Over here I have no idea what the hell is going on half the time. Near our villa there’s a roundabout and traffic moves in both directions. Chaos! Not to mention the thousands of motorbikes that weave in and out of traffic fearlessly.

The other thing I don’t think I’d have been able to deal with is the amount of ‘wildlife’ you come face to face with. In the last few days I’ve experienced:

  • Bats flying into restaurants
  • A 4-inch slug in my shower
  • A frog on the pool deck
  • A frog in the pool
  • A lizard by the kitchen sink
  • A lizard in my bedroom
  • The biggest wasp/bee/hornet I’ve ever seen (I actually don’t even know what it was – I’m assuming it was one of those three things)
  • Ants and mosquitoes everywhere – I’m being eaten alive here and they don’t seem to be bothering anyone else!

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Thanks, but no thanks. 

But I digress… Back to dinner on Sunday night. We went to Kat’s Kitchen, a Thai restaurant in Jimbaran. Harry had never been there before, but seemed to know someone on every table. It was a cute friendly place and I’m sure we’ll go back there in the next few weeks. 

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We ordered a couple of salads to share for starters. We also had some tom yum soup. For my main course I ordered tuna curry steamed in banana leaves. It was something different and I didn’t feel like eating prawns or chicken…

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It was excellent and we were all too full for dessert!

On Monday Dad had an appointment with his physiotherapist in Kuta. He suggested we all go and have some lunch before and then Mum and I could have foot massages while we waited for him. It sounded like an awful lot of waiting around and I wasn’t all that keen on going but I went. What transpired was this:

  • It took over 1.5 hours to get to Kuta – the traffic was insane
  • We sat down to lunch in Dijon Cafe at 3.45pm – Dad’s appointment was at 4pm
  • The waitress told us the reflexology/massage place across the road from Dijon Cafe was closed due to roadworks (we later found out this wasn’t true)
  • Another waitress in the cafe didn’t wash her hands after going to the bathroom (she was there before me – and walked straight out – and we’d already eaten – gross)

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Dad and I ordered the Greek salad. I don’t know what’s with me and Greek salad these days but I can’t get enough of it.

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I also had my first shot of wheatgrass.

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It tasted like… freshly cut grass. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

Mum and I sat in Dijon Cafe until 5pm waiting for Dad. Luckily they had newspapers and magazines to flick through while we waited. I also had two flat whites while we were waiting. The bathroom had some interesting art work in it:

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After Dad was done we went to a DVD store in Kuta. Each DVD costs $1 and if you buy 10 DVDs you can choose five more for free. We bought quite a few and I’m not sure when we’ll have the time to watch them all. We’ll also have to leave them behind as they’re not original DVDs and we don’t want to get caught with them! For myself I picked up: Suits (Season 1), The Sopranos (Seasons 1 and 2), The Tudors (Seasons 1, 2 and 3) and a couple of other th
ings I can’t remember. 

We went home for a while after that – thankfully there was no traffic going back to Jimbaran!

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

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We ordered our food and 3 minutes later it was at our table. It was the quickest dinner we’ve ever had! Mum and I shared the ma po tofu and beans in garlic sauce. Dad orderd some noodles and beef. Last to arrive were the oiliest spring rolls I’ve ever seen. The food was good – I think it was better than Furama last week.

On Tuesday I went to the gym in the morning. It had been a week since I’d been and I was getting restless. That afternoon Mum and I went to Grocer & Grind for lunch while Dad lazed at home. After lunch we walked around Jimbaran Corner for a while, looking at the shops. After that we went to the Jenggala Keramik showroom on Jalan Uluwatu 2, just to have a quick look around. They had some nice stuff and if I had my own place I might have bought a couple of things! They even had a section where kids can paint their own pottery and take it home with them. 

That evening we had dinner at Made’s Warung in Kuta. It’s been around for over 40 years and is somewhere we go every time we’re in Bali. The last time we went in 2010 half the restaurant was under construction – and this time I could see why. It had more or less doubled in size and as a result didn’t seem as crowded as it used to. We ordered chicken satays and red snapper but I thought the food was disappointing this time. 

Wednesday was quite uneventful – I was at the villa all day, relaxing and doing some work. We had dinner at Sushi Tei on Jalan Sunset Road that night. 

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I’ve noticed that people eat early in Bali. By the time we get to restaurants at about 8.30pm people are usually finishing up and most restaurants close by 10pm. We ordered some edamame, sushi, sashimi salads and told the waitress we’d order our main course later. It’s just as well we did that because all the food came at once! For main course I had the grilled salmon bento box. 

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The food was really good – and I hadn’t had sushi in ages. 

On Thursday I was up early as I was finally continuing my open water diving course from the week before. I spent the morning doing my confined dives at a pool in Tanjung Benoa and did two open water dives in Nusa Dua that afternoon.

It was about 4pm by the time I got back to the villa and my parents were out. I sat by the pool for a while and by 5pm I was struggling to keep my eyes open. Made, my diving instructor, had told me that the nitrogen in my blood would make me very sleepy. He wasn’t kidding! 

We decided to go to Queen’s, an Indian restaurant in Kuta, for dinner that night.

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We hadn’t had Indian food in ages – makhani dal, palak paneer, papad. The food was good, but I’ve never been to a restaurant where the waiters are so clumsy – every 5 minutes a spoon or fork was dropped! It was ridiculous. 

I was up early on Friday as I was doing the last two dives of my diving certificate. While waiting for my fellow divers at the Keraton Jimbaran Resort (for 45 minutes – unacceptable) I decided to walk around and take some photos. This is the main entrance.

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And part of the garden…

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I stumbled across a hot yoga studio as well! It’s right next to the hotel. I walked in
hoping to get some information but there was nobody there. I picked up a brochure and saw these little figurines on the wall – fat women in various yoga poses. I love them!

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

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It is exactly what its name suggests. On our way in to the temple, we were given beaded necklaces. I told the woman I didn’t want it. ‘It’s free,’ she said. (I’m embarrassed to say that when I left the villa that morning I’d forgotten to take any money with me so Made paid for my $1 entry to the temple.) Anyway, I took the necklace and put it on. After paying the entrance to the temple, we were given sarongs and sashes to wear and were then allowed to enter.

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

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Can you see them?

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

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

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As we were leaving the temple, the woman who had given me the beaded necklace asked me to buy some postcards. ‘I have no money,’ I told her. She said she would come to our car and I explained again I had no money. ‘Spoil you,’ she said. Eh? Made told me she was wishing me bad luck. Great! Just what I need – some stupid cow putting a curse on me! I took off the necklace and gave it back to her. ‘Thanks,’ I said. ‘Spoil you,’ she said again. I ignored her and walked away. 

Driving back to the south of Bali I noticed a Korean restaurant called Arirang! Arirang in London is one of my favourite restaurants and all I could think about having for dinner was Korean food.

Harry recommended a Korean restaurant called Onni’s House in Plaza Amata, GWK (Garuda Wisnu Kencana) – he said it was popular with his Korean colleagues. We got there at 8pm and were their only customers. In fact the whole arcade was deserted and the waitresses looked shocked to see us. We met the owner (Onni) and in our broken Indonesian and her broken English we communicated. She’s been in Bali for 13 years and her restaurant has been open since the end of June, so a little over a month.  

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We had some kim chee, beef bulgogi, spicy stir-fried pork, chap che and a few other things (omelette rolls, seaweed, etc.). There wasn’t any pajeon, which was disappointing. The food was very good – and our bill was $25 for the three of us!

I couldn’t wait to get into bed that night. I was exhausted.

I spent most of Saturday at home. I had breakfast for the first time in two days, read by the pool, did a few lengths and did some work. Mum and I went to Grocer & Grind for a late lunch and then to the supermarket to pick up some things before my sister and her family arrived. 

My sister, her husband and their son were home by 8pm. We chatted for a while and decided to go to Furama for dinner. I wasn’t very keen as we had some communication issues with the waiter the last time we went – and I would have rather gone back to Sungai Seafood. We ended up at Furama as it was closer to home (but only by a few minutes).

We ordered hot and sour soup, crispy noodles with prawns, beef in black pepper sauce and chicken with dried red chillies. I have to say the food was so good, better than it was the week before. We did have some language problems this time as well, but there wasn’t much we could do about it! 

We were home by 10.30 and everyone fell into bed. 

I love my life.

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read more about Bali, click here.

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