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: Week 7

I can’t believe I spent 7 weeks in Bali – the last 2 weeks we were there just flew by!

I woke up on Sunday feeling much better than I did the day before. While we were having breakfast, our butler Sucipta suggested we go to Echo Beach for lunch. My sister and I had passed a sign for Echo Beach on our way back from Tanah Lot – it sounded familiar to me because we had considered renting a villa there for part of our time in Bali. Sucipta also suggested having a look at the Canggu Club which was on the way. So we took his advice and left home at about 1pm.

It took about 15 minutes to get to the Canggu Club, a private members club – and it was definitely worth visiting. I asked the receptionist if we could have a quick look around as we were considering membership. As it was Sunday there were quite a few people around (mostly expats), and there was a game of cricket being played on one of the lawns. It was very colonial – it reminded me of the Ikoyi Club in Lagos when we were growing up – we spent our Sundays at the pool and eating suya. The Canggu Club also has villas available for rent so I’m going to suggest that the next time we go to Bali! It was really lovely.

Echo Beach was about 10 minutes away from Canggu. We walked up to the beach and chose a restaurant – there were several in a row. We went to one called… Echo Beach!

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I had the warm goat’s cheese salad to start with and pasta for my main course. They did have a big selection of barbecued seafood but after feeling so ill the day before I didn’t want to risk it. Mum ordered the snapper and Dad ordered a tuna steak. My food was great. Dad ended up sending his tuna steak back to the kitchen because… they’d forgotten to cook it! It was covered in the sauce but was ice cold. He was so upset. Mum and I looked at each other and burst out laughing as these things only ever seem to happen to him! The staff were very apologetic and brought him a new (cooked) one.

It was an overcast day and there were several surfers in the water.

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The sun did try to come out from time to time.

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Next to the strip of restaurants was a small temple. Mum and I walked over to have a look.

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That evening I had a massage and then Harry came over and we went to Potato Head Beach Club for a drink before dinner.

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We didn’t want to have dinner there and ended up at Rumours – on Jl. Kayu Aya, a few doors down from Trattoria. The music was loud and it was too noisy to talk in there. I ordered the Indonesian beef curry but the waitress told me they’d run out. I asked about the Indonesian chicken curry but they didn’t have that either. I ended up ordering a burger and not eating the bread. I wouldn’t go back there for dinner – but I would for drinks and a game of pool.

On Monday my parents were out running some errands so I had the place to myself. I sat by the pool and read my book. That night we went to Bali Nikmat in Kuta for dinner. The family had been there while I was in Phuket and had enjoyed it. The food was amazing – much better than Furama! Dad and I shared a hot and sour soup, and we had the chicken with dried chillies and black pepper beef. I thought the chicken was a bit too sweet but the beef was excellent.

On Tuesday my parents had more things to do so I sat by the pool and enjoyed the peace and quiet. Once they were back Mum and I went to Kuta Square to check out some of the sports shops. I’d been want
ing to get a new pair of running shoes but hadn’t seen anything I liked. The selection in each store was useless and the staff were no better. If I asked to see something in my size, they would bring me something two sizes smaller (or bigger) as they didn’t have my size. It was annoying and I soon gave up. I have little patience for shopping as it is! I went home and had a massage to relieve me of the stressful afternoon I’d had.

That night we went to Chat Cafe on Jl. Sunset Road for dinner. We’d driven past it so many times and wanted to try it. It turned out to be just OK – I don’t think I’d go back again although my pizza wasn’t bad.

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When we finished dinner we decided to walk home. The usually busy streets were deserted due to the Galungan ceremony/holiday that was taking place the following day.

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We stopped at a bookshop (I didn’t buy anything) and continued walking to Jl. Raya Seminyak where we stopped for ice cream and looked at a few shops. It would have taken us about 15 minutes to get home so we got into a cab. I finished packing and went to sleep.

On Wednesday morning I was picked up at 6.30  for my trip to Komodo. I got back on Friday morning in time for breakfast! We had lunch at Menega Cafe in Jimbaran – I wanted to go before we left. The food there is just out of this world.

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After lunch Mum and I went to Jl. Raya Seminyak to do some shopping. I picked up a couple of dresses and then rushed home. After trekking in Komodo my legs had been aching so I booked a massage for Friday evening. That night Dad said he wanted to have Chinese food, so we went back to Bali Nikmat. The food was still great.

I was up early on Saturday so decided to do some work before breakfast. I sunbathed, swam and then Mum and I went to Trattoria for lunch. I think I’d been there six times this holiday! After lunch we went to Discovery Mall in Kuta. I was still looking for new running shoes and flip-flops and Mum needed a couple of things too. I managed to find a pair of trainers I liked at Nike and the staff were more helpful than they were at Kuta Square (but that’s not difficult). The flip-flops I liked weren’t available in my size but I’m sure I can find a pair when I’m back in Dubai. On our way home we stopped at Gloria Jean’s Coffee. Apparently there are three in Bali, but I’ve only seen two so far.

Back at the villa I had another massage (wow, that’s four this week!) and then did some packing. Harry came over and we went to Warisan on Jl. Raya Kerobokan for dinner. What a beautiful restaurant!

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And the food was so good. I had the lobster ravioli to start followed by a steak (well, it was our last night there!). I skipped dessert!

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There were some musicians there too – a guitarist called Lianto and a vocalist who was his daughter. They were both brilliant and it turned out that Harry knew them so they came to meet us when they were finished. It was a lovely last evening in Bali.

I love my life.

To read more about Bali, click here.

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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 4

What a hectic week!

My brother-in-law (N) and sister-in-law (T) started their diving certificate on Sunday. That afternoon my parents, brother (S), sister (A) and I went to Grocer & Grind for lunch. When N and T were done the five of us headed to the beach at Jimbaran Bay. We got some sunbeds and relaxed for a couple of hours. I bought a red and white sarong for $4 from one of the shops on the beach. It was a nice afternoon… On Sunday night we went back to Furama for dinner. The food keeps getting better and better and we ended up ordering four portions of the chicken with dried red chillis!

On Monday morning I went to the gym. N and T were diving, my mum and A were shopping in Seminyak so Dad, S and I ended up at Grocer & Grind again for lunch. I decided not to have the penne with salmon for a change and had the rosemary chicken salad. After lunch Dad took us to Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK), a cultural park in Jimbaran, about 10 minutes away from our villa.

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The park is devoted to the Hindu God Vishnu and his mount, Garuda. When it is finished, the statue will be 150 metres high. At the moment, parts of it have been placed in temporary locations within the park.

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The statue of Vishnu is 23 metres high.

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The grounds are beautiful and the view is quite something!

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On our way out we managed to catch some of the Barong dance that had already started.

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There were many other statues dotted around the park.

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On our way out of the grounds, we saw ‘the hands of Vishnu’.

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I asked my brother to stand next to the hands to show how big the sculpture really is.

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That night we ended up at Trattoria for dinner (again) and Harry joined us. He must think we don’t go anywhere else!

On Tuesday, N, T and I went diving at Tulamben. It was an early start and a long day out. We’d told my parents we’d be too tired to do much when we got back so Dad arranged for a barbecue dinner at home. We got home at 7pm to find the villa staff in formal uniforms setting up a dining table by the pool. They had lined the pool with lanterns and there were floating candles in the pool. It was a lovely dinner and we all enjoyed it thoroughly.

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On Wednesay, A, N and I were up early as we were going white water rafting in Ubud. The others were going to join us after lunch for the visit to the Monkey Forest. It was another full day out and when we got back we decided to order pizzas from Dominoes and take it easy rather than going out.

Thursday was fairly quiet. I spent most of the afternoon working as I knew I wouldn’t get anything done over the next few days. That evening I was working on my bed when I felt the bed starting to shake. It was just for a few seconds and I wondered whether my nephew or someone was running around upstairs. It stopped for a second and then I felt the tremor again, but stronger the second time. It was an earthquake! It went on for a few seconds and I wondered what I would do if it got worse – should I stay where I was? Should I go find the others? I texted my sister to ask whether she felt it but she said she didn’t. Nobody else in the villa did apart from my mum. It was so weird! We found out soon after that there had been an earthquake in Lombok, about 250 km away.

That night we went to Kat’s Kitchen, the new branch on Jalan Uluwatu. The interior is very similar to the other branch but the restaurant was more than double the size of the original restaurant. The food was just as good as the other place: spring rolls, money bags, pandang prawn curry, green chicken curry, stir-fried chicken with basil. It was an early night and I ended up packing for Phuket and finishing off some work.

My flight on Friday was at 11.30am and S dropped me at the airport. It didn’t take long to check-in or go through passport control so I had lots of time to kill. Unfortunately Ngurah Rai Airport isn’t very interesting and there’s not much to do while waiting to board. We left on time and I luckily had an empty seat next to me.

We landed in Phuket just before 3pm – the view while descending was gorgeous. I could see clear blue water dotted with little islands. It made me wish I was staying longer than a weeked!

I was greeted by the wedding hospitality team when I passed through customs and put on a minibus with a couple from Dubai and their two young girls. My cousin had checked in to the JW Marriott a few days previously so I just had to collect a key from reception. I unpacked, got into my swimsuit and went straight to the pool to meet her and a couple of friends. At about 5pm we decided to get our hair done at a salon close to the hotel. It was in a place called Turtle Village and a shuttle left the hotel every 15 minutes.

Turtle Village isn’t much of a village. It’s more a hamlet, if anything. There’s a supermarket, a hairdresser, a couple of clothing shops, a coffee place. I suppose it’s somewhere to go to escape the hotel! As soon as we left the salon, I knew there was no way my hair would stay straight for long, especially as the dinner was outdoors on the beach! I thought Bali was humid, but Phuket was much, much worse. If I ever decide to get married, it’s going to have to be somewhere with 0% humidity.

The first evening was nice – dinner and drinks at the Blue Bar Beachfront. It was very hot and the vodkas were going down very quickly. A bit too quickly. I also had my first shot of Patron which was followed by more shots. A few of my friends from London were there, and three of my cousins with their husbands/wives. And then we moved indoors into the Blue Bar. It was a heavy night. I think I left at about 3.30am – the hotel is huge and I’d have been wandering around looking for my room if one of my cousins hadn’t escorted me back!

I woke up on Saturday with a splitting headache. I spent the afternoon at the pool with a couple of friends, had some lunch and then went to the villa where one of my friends was staying. It had its own pool with a view of the beach…

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That night was the sangeet – we didn’t get there until after 10.30pm. I didn’t think I’d last the night but after a few vodkas (and no shots) I was one of the last people to leave at 5.30am. It was a ridiculously late 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 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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