Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Bali 2015: Days 18 and 19

My sister and I were up early on Monday as I’d booked Pak Wayan to take us to Seminyak (yes, again). We were ready by 9.30 but by the time we’d said goodbye to our grandmother and some other relatives who were leaving straight after the wedding, it was closer to 10.30 by the time we left.

We decided to go to Jalan Seminyak this time instead of Jalan Laksmana. We walked for a little while, tried on some shoes in Kat Sweet (a shoe shop we’d been to in 2012 – the shoes are the same!), and then decided to go to Warung Made for lunch. It was noon by this time and we were hungry! We ordered chicken satays, spring rolls and mie goreng.

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It was so good. The spring rolls were just average but the the other two dishes were yum.

We walked around a little longer but then I had to leave as I had another appointment with Jim in Umalas (I still think he’s amazing). While I was at my appointment, my sister had a massage at Kaiana Spa, in the same complex as Warung Made. When I got back to Seminyak, she was in a shop buying gifts and I ended up buying an incense holder and enough incense sticks to last me six months!

It was about 4.30pm by this time and we were feeling peckish again. We decided we couldn’t leave Seminyak and not go to our favourite place, Trattoria. We shared the beef carpaccio and a pizza David (mozzarella, mushrooms, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil-infused olive oil). Oh. My. God. I could have eaten that pizza twice.

We got back to the Sofitel at about 7pm and had to get ready as we were having dinner with Harry at 7.30. After much debating we ended up going to Bali Nikmat in Kuta – one of my favourites. We were back at the hotel by 11pm.

On Tuesday morning, my sister left for the airport at about 11.30am. I had lunch with my parents before they left for the airport a little while later. I had until 9pm to entertain myself. I was able to get a late checkout at 6pm (but had to pay for it). I decided to go back to the Ritz-Carlton to do the perfume workshop. I got there at around 2pm and was seated in front of dozens of little bottles.

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The lady explained base notes, middle notes and top notes to me and I then got to choosing the scents I liked. My eventual choices were: base notes – Oriental, Chypre, Smoky and Massoia; middle notes – Ylang-ylang, Champaka, Tuberose and Frangipani; and top notes – Herbaceous, Aquatic and Bergamot.

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I then got to play around with creating a perfume – I made three different samples, and then had to decide whether I preferred a light perfume or something a bit heavier. When I’d decided, they made me a bottle of perfume and packaged it for me.

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They also kept my perfume on file so that if I ever want to reorder it, they’ll know what to create.

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The lady told me I shouldn’t open the perfume for three weeks, to give the molecules time to settle.

After I was finished, I tried to find Harry (he works at the Ritz-Carlton) but it took ages to get hold of him, and by the time I managed he was just going into a meeting. In the 10 minutes that I waited in the lobby of the hotel trying to call him, I was bitten at least eight times on my lower legs by mosquitoes!

I got back to the Sofitel and finished off my packing, convinced that my suitcase weighed more than my luggage allowance of 30 kg. I checked out of my room at 6pm and went to sit with my aunt and uncle in their room.

I left for the airport at around 9pm. Luckily there was no traffic and I was there in about 20 minutes. I checked in – my bag weighed exactly 30 kg! And then I had time to kill and didn’t really know what to do with myself. So I went to the bookshop and browsed, and then decided to get some food at Last Wave – a restaurant/bar near the departure gates.

And finally it was time to board. I hoped the flight would be as empty as the one I flew in on, but no such luck. I couldn’t believe my holiday was already over and I was heading home to Dubai! I had an amazing time though – and Bali, I’ll be back 🙂

I love my life.

To read more about Bali, click here.

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Bali 2015: Days 15 to 17 (and a fairy tale wedding)

When I found out my cousin had decided to have her wedding in Bali, I decided to go a few days earlier and have some time to myself. I was on a yoga retreat for a week and then moved to the Sofitel in Nusa Dua for the wedding. So, I’d been in Bali for two weeks by the time the wedding started…

It was a fairy tale wedding, quite literally. The invitations, parties, do not disturb signs and even key holders all had a fairy tale theme to them!

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On Friday morning there were a couple of pujas (prayers) followed by lunch. After lunch we relaxed in our room for a while and then eventually had to get ready for the dinner.

The first night was a costume party where we had to go dressed as a fictional character. I’d ordered a ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ set from the USA, but by the time I left for Bali it still hadn’t arrived (and a month later, it still hasn’t). It would have been perfect – with long black gloves, tiara, cigarette holder, pearl necklace… but it would have also been perfect if the damn thing had arrived. Instead I wore a pink dress with butterflies on it (there actually is a Hans Christian Andersen story called ‘The Butterfly’, who knew?) but was amazed at the lengths other wedding guests had gone to. The bride and her fiance were Guinevere and Lancelot, there was a Storm Trooper, there was a V (from ‘V for Vendetta’), there were a couple of Maleficents, a Queen of Hearts, a few Tinkerbells, a Zorro and so many others. My dad said he saw someone in ‘just his hotel dressing gown’ but when I spotted the same person later on, I realised he was supposed to be Luke Skywalker. There was a Snow White, and a couple of Cruella de Vils too.

The entrance to the venue was stunning – it was like an enchanted forest. There were even little speakers in the trees with birds singing!

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Once dinner had been served, it was ‘Shots O’Clock’ every half an hour…

We left just before 3am, but I believe the party went on until breakfast was served.

On Saturday afternoon, there was pool party at Nikki Beach.

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We didn’t stay too long though.

On Saturday night was the sangeet. The way the hall was decorated was incredible. I have never seen anything like it before. It had an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ theme, and you even had to go through a maze to get into the ballroom.

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There were women on stilts with trays of shots, and there were even people dressed as pawns moving around the chessboard – and they joined in with the dancing later on in the night. It was basically like a very large zumba class, but a lot more fun! (Sorry, the sound quality in the video is terrible.)

I was back in my room before 3am, but again the party went on all night.

We were woken up at about 11am on Sunday as we had to attend another puja. I thought I could have a nap after that, but we were told that the bride couldn’t be on her own until the wedding at 4.30pm and that we had to be ready by 2.30pm to collect the groom and bring him to her. It was going to a be long day. So, my sister and I were ready by 2.30pm, but of course nobody else was. We eventually went to collect the groom and his friends and family, and they did the baraat (groom’s wedding procession) to where the bride was waiting. Luckily it had stopped raining, but they moved the wedding ceremony indoors just in case.

The ceremony seemed to go on forever. The bride’s family and the groom’s family had each brought their own priest, so they both were trying to conduct the ceremony.

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People were coming and going, getting tea and snacks, and I don’t think anyone would have noticed if I’d slipped out, but I was needed towards the end of the ceremony to shower the couple with rose petals as they walked around the fire.

That evening was the wedding reception. Once again, the ballroom had been completely transformed.

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I was really struggling with my dress though. I’d bought it over the summer when I was in London and thought I’d lose some weight before wearing it at the wedding, and I had, but it was SO tight. I put it on while I was getting ready, then realised that I couldn’t sit down to put my shoes on. So I took it off again, put my shoes on and then put the dress back on. I then realised that I wouldn’t be able to lift it up if I needed the loo and would have to take the whole thing off again! Good Lord. I decided that if I did need the loo later on, I’d just go back to my room and change before coming back to the reception…

Luckily, it didn’t get to that stage. My sister and I left when our parents did, as we intended to be up early the next morning to go into Seminyak.

So, congratulations to the beautiful bride and groom – and here’s hoping their marriage is every bit the fairy tale as their wedding was!

I love my life.

To read more about Bali, click here.

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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 2015: Days 1 and 2

My flight from Dubai landed at Denpasar airport about 20 minutes ahead of schedule (which was 10pm). We taxied down the runway and then we stopped. It was dark outside so there wasn’t much to see. About 10 minutes later there was an announcement to say that we’d stopped because there was a large snake blocking the runway – so they were waiting for someone to come and move it off the tarmac. So we waited. Another 10 minutes later there was another announcement to say that they’d only just managed to explain to the control tower what the problem was. The front view camera had been switched off so I couldn’t see what was going on. When we finally started moving again (we’d been stuck there for 30 minutes), I could see all the security personnel, police cars and even an ambulance involved in this situation – there were at least three emergency vehicles there. I wondered how big this snake was??

As I got into the new airport, there was a man waiting for me with my name on a signboard. I’d asked the hotel if they could arrange a car for me – they said they could and that they also offered a fast-track immigration service. Yes, please! So there he was. He took my passport and took me to the diplomatic queue (there was no queue at all). I didn’t know that UK passport holders no longer had to pay $25 – the 30-day visa on arrival is free now. He then took me to collect my luggage and through customs. I was stopped at customs – they opened my suitcase and rummaged around. I don’t even know what they were looking for as I had nothing even remotely interesting in there.

The immigration man then took me to my car and driver. I was offered a cold towel and some cold water. It took about half an hour to get to the hotel and on the drive I could see how many new hotels and restaurants had opened since my last trip three years ago.

I was spending two nights at the Luna2 Studiotel in Seminyak before heading to my yoga retreat, also in Seminyak. I checked in and was taken to my room on the first floor. All the rooms are named after places on the London Monopoly board – mine was called Picadilly on One:

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All the rooms are studios – and even the basic option (like mine) is pretty big.

While the curtains are pretty funky, they don’t really keep the light out – as I discovered in the morning. From my balcony I had a view of the pool:

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The sunbeds are covered as it was drizzling.

I made it to breakfast at the restaurant, Orbit, just before 11am – I had some scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, fresh coconut water and a cappuccino. After that, I walked up to the main road, about 10 minutes away, dodging a couple of motorbikes, to change some money and get a SIM card for my phone. It was overcast and muggy and I went into the first Circle K and asked where I could get a SIM card. One of the guys said he’d take me to one of the shops nearby to get one. Once I’d sorted that out (and I’m pretty sure I got seriously ripped off), I started to walk back to the hotel – and it started raining again. I suppose it is the rainy season! But half an hour later, it had cleared up again.

I relaxed in my room for a while and then went down to the pool at about 2.30pm.

I read for a while and then ended up chatting to an Australian lady. She was using the sunbed next to mine and we just struck up a conversation. She was there with her husband and little girl so I ended up meeting them too. She went in at about 5pm and I couldn’t decide whether I was hungry or not – in the end I decided to go for a fresh juice.

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I had the Green Machine and then went back to my room. I ordered an in-room massage for 6.30pm which I thoroughly enjoyed! I felt like passing out after that but it wasn’t even 8pm.

I went down to Orbit for dinner. I was the only person there! Just as well I had my book with me. I skipped the starters and went straight for the ‘scaled’ gold band snapper with zucchini ribbons and cherry tomatoes.

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It was excellent. I decided to have dessert: truffled Brie with walnut crackers and truffle honey. Wow – it was amazing. The food and the service at this hotel are outstanding, I have to say.

I was back in my room by 10pm but didn’t get to sleep until much later.

I love my life.

To read more about Bali, click here.