During our first week in Bali, we had dinner with Harry at Trattoria. He was talking about some of the islands near Bali and the subject of Komodo came up. I mentioned that I’d like to go (thinking it would be a day trip) and Harry gave me the name of a travel agent (Floressa Tours) that arranged trips to the island.
I emailed them the next day and found out that it would be a 2-day trip, possibly 3 days. It involved taking a flight to Flores island and then sailing for 2 to 3 hours to Komodo. I thought about dates, thinking I would go after my brother and sister had left as I would still have 10 days left in Bali. Emails went back and forth - I was very clear that I was just one person travelling and found the price expensive (approximately $550 not including the flight which would be $300+) but I didn’t think I’d get another chance to do this.
I happened to be going to the market in Denpasar one day and told Yuli at Floressa Tours that I’d come and pay the deposit. While I was at the market she emailed me to find out the names of all the travellers. I replied saying I’d already told her it would be just me travelling. She wrote back saying that I was one person only she could give me the ‘special price’ of $825 plus $305 for the flight. I told her that it was way over my budget and that I would have to skip it. I was annoyed.
The next day I decided to try a few other companies that did tours to Komodo. I emailed four of them saying I was a single traveller and would be happy to join any tours they had leaving between the 24th and 29th of August. Siska at Komodo The Edge replied in 4 minutes, saying she had a tour leaving on the 29th, returning on the 31st, and that the price would be $566 including the flight. Half the price! It included accommodation, all meals, mineral water, entrance to Komodo National Park, airport transfers to/from Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali. It didn’t include soft drinks/alcohol, tips, airport tax and the camera fee at Komodo National Park ($5). I was in. Siska collected the deposit from our villa (I could pay the balance on the day of departure) and gave me the itinerary. It consisted of:
- Day 1: Denpasar - Rinca Island - Flying Fox Island
- Day 2: Flying Fox Island - Komodo - Pink Beach - Labuan Bajo
- Day 3: Labuan Bajo - Mirror Stone Cave - Denpasar
I was collected at 6.30am on Wednesday morning and taken to the airport. I had packed lightly - gym bottoms, shorts, t-shirts, sunglasses, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, Wet Ones, Immodium (just in case), seasick tablets (just in case). I met a Japanese couple who were doing a one-day trip to Komodo and the Peruvian couple (whose tour I’d joined). Our flight was supposed to leave at 8.30am but at 8.45am we were still waiting for our flight to be announced. Just before 9am we boarded a bus to take us to the plane. As we drove towards a plane I was quite relieved to see it wasn’t a propeller plane. Unfortunately my relief was short-lived as we drove past the big white plane to the tiny plane waiting out of sight behind it.The passengers were mostly tourists, mostly European. There was also the tallest man I’d ever seen - he was easily 7 foot tall.
We landed in Labuan Bajo at about 10.30. It’s a tiny airport with two halls - arrivals and departures. There’s no baggage carousel - the bags are brought up to a window, you point at yours and they hand it over.
Our guide met us outside the airport and we got into the car (the Japanese couple had their own quick tour and had already left). Our guide told us that we were going to Batu Cermin (Mirror Stone Cave) first instead of on the last day.I’m not really a ‘cave’ person. OK, I’m not a ‘cave’ person at all. So when our cave guide told me I’d have to crawl through a hole to get to the other side I told him I couldn’t. I would be happy to just wait by the car until the others were done. He handed me a torch and told me to climb through and mind my head. As I crawled through this hole I suddenly realised I was doing the bear crawl I so dreaded in my sessions with Rama!
We eventually came out into a clearing. Our cave guide showed us the fossils of a sea turtle and some fish by torch light. I could see bats on the roof of the cave. Our cave guide then took us to another area which would have shown us why the cave is called Mirror Stone Cave had we been there between 9 and 10am. At this time, the sun shines into the canyon and is reflected on the limestone walls.
Our cave guide then told us that to get out of the cave we’d have to go back the way we came. I could not wait to get out of there. On my way back I whacked my knee on one of the stones - it’s hard to hold a flashlight and crawl through a small space at the same time!
I was glad to be out of there. We got into the car and drove to the harbour where our boat was waiting for us.It was better than I expected it to be. The Peruvians and I had the upper level as our personal space (where we also slept that night), the dining table and chairs were on the lower level. The toilet was also on the lower level. I have to admit the state of the loo had concerned me for a while and I’d even taken toilet paper with me (as had the Peruvians) but the loo wasn’t as bad as some of the ones I’d seen on various diving trips across Bali. There was just nowhere to wash your hands - so the hand sanitiser I brought along came in very useful!
Our crew members were the captain, the cook and another guy (co-captain, I guess). As we set sail we were given mango milkshakes while lunch was being prepared.We passed several islands on the way to Rinca island. We eventually got to Rinca island. It was about 1pm, the sun was beating down and it was hot. Our guide Samuel gave us the option of a short, medium or long trek. My travelling companions wanted to do the long trek and I didn’t mind as I’d prepared myself (mentally) for a 5k trek. What I hadn’t prepared myself for was the steep climb for the first 25 minutes in the intense afternoon heat. I didn’t think I’d make it to the top and was far behind the other three on the climb up. The hill was so steep I couldn’t even see the top of it when I looked up. My eyes started burning as my sunscreen was mingling with my sweat and dripping into my eyes! I eventually caught up with them… See that blue water in the photo above? In the middle on the right? That’s where our boat was. Yes, we climbed all the way up. And yes, I was done by the end of it. But the views were spectacular. And there was complete silence - all you could hear was the breeze blowing through the long grass. ‘Don’t worry,’ Samuel said to me as I joined them. ‘The other two are young.’
Gee, thanks. B*****d. He wasn’t wrong though - I later found out they were in their mid-20s. What’s scary is that I’m probably fitter now at 39 than I was in my mid-20s. But still, there is such a thing as tact.
I asked Samuel if the descent was as steep, because if it was he might have to hold my hand and help me down! I’ve mentioned my issues with walking downhill with nothing to hold on to before. He assured me that the descent would be easy and we’d be mostly in the shade. Thank goodness!
Up to this point the only wildlife we’d seen were some monkeys right at the beginning of the trek. After my experience in the monkey forest in Ubud, I avoided them. As we walked along, we spotted our first Komodo dragon (or ora) lurking in the grass under a tree.We almost missed it! We walked further and came across some water buffalo. As we carried on we saw a few more ora. I was hoping to see one moving around or feeding on water buffalo or something, but they were being lazy and didn’t really move apart from blinking and sometimes turning their heads.
It’s hard to believe that they can run up to 20km per hour and that they can smell blood from a distance of 5k. Samuel told us that if one were to attack us we wouldn’t be able to outrun it and would have to climb the nearest tree. Well, I was screwed then. Tree-climbing is not one of my strengths. He explained that if a Komodo dragon were to bite you, it wouldn’t be the blood loss that would kill you. The salive of Komodo dragons contains 60 bacteria in their mouths, some of them lethal. As there are no medical facilities on the island (why not??) the survival rate is low - by the time the victim were to reach Labuan Bajo, over 2 hours away, it would be too late. As we walked Samuel also pointed out the excrement of the Komodo dragon - it was white and powdery as their stomachs aren’t capable of digesting the calcium found in the bones of their prey.
Our trek took about 2.5 hours - and it was only towards the end that we encountered other visitors to the island. I think sensible people stayed out of the early afternoon sun and probably did the short and medium treks! As we got back to the rangers’ station we saw seven ora lazing around.Look at the claws on this one! ‘Why don’t you take a baby dragon home for your grandchildren?’ Samuel asked me.
My what? F***ing b*****d. How old did he think I was??
We headed back to our boat and set sail. As our trek had taken so long, our guide informed us that we didn’t have time to swim as we had to leave for the Flying Fox Island. It was a shame as I could really have done with a plunge into some cool water!
Our guide told us it would take about 2 hours to get to Flying Fox Island - and we’d need to be there before sunset to see the flying foxes (or fruit bats) leaving their nests. I’d seen photos of the sunset in Komodo National Park and couldn’t wait to see it for myself. It was going to be stunning.However, at about 5pm the wind picked up and the water started to get rough. Waves were crashing over the bow and the crew suggested we go to our upper deck so we wouldn’t get drenched. We had to hold on to the sides of the boat to get to the ladder as the boat was rocking so much. When we made it to our upper deck we were laughing so much because we were literally rolling around on the floor! It eventually calmed down a little, and the cook brought us some banana fritters to tide us over until dinner. A little while later, while the Peruvians napped I took some photos from the porthole upstairs. It wasn’t ideal, but it was still gorgeous.
It was getting darker in the cabin and the female Peruvian had woken up and we talked for a while. The lights all over the boat suddenly flickered on and we were no longer in darkness. The first thing I saw when the lights went on was a cockroach (a small one) scurrying from one end of the boat to the other, along the wall. As it climbed into its hiding place I saw another one creeping out of another hole in the wall. The female Peruvian saw me staring at them and said ‘Don’t look at them - you won’t be able to sleep tonight!’ There was nothing I could do abou them anyway…
I don’t know whether it was a coincidence but at this point my head was starting to pound and I was starting to feel a little queasy, similar to how I felt during my second day of diving. Dinner was served (stir-fried fish, rice, some very green vegetables, fruit) and I went downstairs but could only manage a little rice. I took one of the seasick tablets I’d brought with me and went back upstairs. While we were downstairs the crew had made up our mattresses for us - with sheets, pillows and blankets. I changed into my pajamas and got into bed. It was 9pm. I passed out, praying that no cockroaches would crawl over me in the night!
Day 2 to follow…
I’m heading home to Dubai today! Have a great week…
AriesThe Fool - beginning - entering a new phase, expanding horizons, beginning an adventure, heading into the unknown; being spontaneous - letting go of expectations, acting on impulse, surprising someone; having faith - staying open, feeling protected and loved, recapturing innocence; embracing folly - taking the ‘foolish’ path, being true to yourself, trusting your heart’s desire
TaurusPage of Pentacles - having an effect - making plans real, using your body, acting on your dreams; being practical - taking a realistic approach, using common sense, finding a solution that works; being prosperous - increasing your means, enriching yourself, becoming secure; being trusting/trustworthy - having faith in others, keeping your word, establishing credibility
Gemini6 of Cups - experiencing good will - doing a good turn for another, receiving a gift, feeling blessed; enjoying innocence - being acquitted, having a clear conscience, feeling simple contentment; focusing on childhood - feeling carefree, being taken care of, indulging in play
CancerThe Hierophant - getting an education - pursuing knowledge, seeking a deeper meaning; having a belief system - identifying a world view, knowing where to put your faith; conforming - fitting in, doing what’s expected; identifying with a group - devoting energy to a group, feeling loyal to others
LeoKnight of Pentacles - finding a balance between being unwavering and stubborn - staying fixed to a chosen course and refusing to listen to reason; being cautious and unadventurous - checking/double-checking and being too conservative; being thorough and obsessive - being meticulous and being too picky; being realistic and pessimistic - predicting problems in advance and dooming a project from the start; being hard-working and grinding - being tireless and unflagging and forgetting life should be fun
Virgo5 of Pentacles - experiencing hard times - running into material troubles, feeling insecure, struggling to make ends meet; suffering ill health - feeling run down and tired, getting medical attention, neglecting your body and its needs; being rejected - having the door slammed in your face, feeling excluded, lacking support
Libra6 of Wands - triumphing - having your day in the sun, coming out on top, achieving success; receiving acclaim - earning applause, achieving recognition, getting a pat on the back; feeling pride - strutting your stuff, holding your head up high, having a high opinion of yourself
Scorpio8 of Swords - feeling restricted - feeling trapped by circumstances, experiencing few options, being fenced in by obstacles; feeling confused - being unsure which way to turn, not understanding what is happening, needing guidance and clarity; feeling powerless - doubting anything you do will help, looking for a white knight, avoiding responsibility
Sagittarius8 of Wands - taking quick action - making your move, putting plans into action, rushing into a new area; coming to a conclusion - closing out an activity, completing unfinished business, having all elements come together; receiving news - getting an important message, finding the missing puzzle piece, having a meaningful conversation
Capricorn3 of Pentacles - working as a team - finding all the needed elements, functioning as a team, cooperating; planning - organising resources, reviewing beforehand, being prepared; being competent - getting the job done, meeting your goals, being up to the job
AquariusQueen of Pentacles - being nurturing - giving love and support, making people feel better; being big-hearted - giving freely and abundantly; being down-to-earth - handling problems matter-of-factly, taking a simple and sensible approach; being resourceful - making a little go a long way, being handy and versatile; being trustworthy - being loyal and steadfast, keeping confidences and secrets
Pisces8 of Pentacles - showing diligence - making an effort, plugging away, producing steady results; increasing knowledge - taking a course, researching, increasing expertise; paying attention to detail - being painstaking, checking and re-checking, noticing the fine points
For previous readings, see Notes by Nectar.
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!).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.For dessert I ordered the strawberry millefeuille - it didn’t look at all how I expected it to!
After dinner A and I went to Hu’u Bar for a couple of drinks.It was quite empty. 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.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.
Have a great week! (Sorry about the images - I’ll sort them out later!)
AriesPage of Cups - being emotional - being moved or touched, responding to beauty, letting your heart lead the way; being intuitive - acting on a hunch, trusting your gut reaction; being intimate - starting or renewing a love affair, meeting someone you’re attracted to, sharing something personal; being loving - making a thoughtful gesture, forgiving yourself, brightening someone’s day
Page of Swords - using your mind - analysing the problem, using logic and reason; being truthful - acting honestly, exposing what is hidden; being just - acting ethically, righting a wrong; having fortitude - facing problems squarely, keeping a firm resolve
2 of Wands - having personal power - commanding attention and respect, holding the world in your hands, having authority; being bold - daring to do what you want, speaking your mind, seizing the day; showing originality - taking a different approach, doing what no one else has done, marching to a different drummer
7 of Cups - indulging in wishful thinking - creating fantasies, building castles in the air, lacking focus and commitment; having many options - looking at a wide open field, getting to pick and choose, being offered many alternatives; falling into dissipation - letting everything go, being lazy, procrastinating, eating/drinking/partying to excess
Ace of Pentacles - using material force - working with the physical, improving the body/health, focusing on concrete results; prospering - having the means to reach a goal, seeing efforts rewarded, increasing assets; being practical - using common sense, being realistic, accepting the tools at hand; proceeding with trust - feeling safe and protected, having a support system, believing in the good faith of others
4 of Cups - being self-absorbed - concentrating on your own feelings, seeing only your point of view, ignoring gifts and blessings; feeling apathetic - losing interest, finding life stale and flat, lacking motivation; going within - meditating, dreaming, withdrawing from involvement
The Emperor - fathering - protecting and defending, bringing security and comfort; emphasising structure - creating order out of chaos, being organised; exercising authority - taking a leadership role, representing the establishment; regulating - establishing law and order, setting standards of behaviour
Page of Pentacles - having an effect - making plans real, using your body, acting on your dreams; being practical - taking a realistic approach, using common sense, finding a solution that works; being prosperous - increasing your means, enriching yourself, becoming secure; being trusting/trustworthy - having faith in others, keeping your word, establishing credibility
Strength - showing strength - having stamina, being a rock; being patient - refusing to get angry, taking time, maintaining composure; being compassionate - understanding what others are feeling, giving others lots of space, being kind; achieving soft control - guiding indirectly, being able to influence, demonstrating the strength of love
8 of Swords - feeling restricted - feeling trapped by circumstances, experiencing few options, being fenced in by obstacles; feeling confused - being unsure which way to turn, not understanding what is happening, needing guidance and clarity; feeling powerless - doubting anything you do will help, looking for a white knight, avoiding responsibility
5 of Cups - suffering a loss - letting go of a hope, being defeated, saying goodbye; feeling bereft - breaking up a relationship, longing to be reunited, feeling sorrow; feeling regret - being disappointed by events, wanting to turn back the clock, believing you made the wrong choice, wishing for what might have been
8 of Cups - seeking deeper meaning - leaving the rat race, finding out the facts, concentrating on what is important; moving on - abandoning a hopeless situation, starting on a trip of unknown length, finishing up and walking away; growing weary - dragging through the day, lacking energy, getting weighed down by worries
For previous readings, see Notes by Nectar.
A couple of weeks ago my sister (A) and I decided that after N, S and T left, we’d do a dolphin tour.
We’d seen a dolphin tour advertised when we went to Turtle Island and it sounded like fun. We saw it advertised again when we moved into our villa in Seminyak. When I spoke to the receptionist at our villa complex he told me that the price quoted in their brochure ($65) covered just the transport to the dolphin tour and not the tour itself (which made no sense to me). I asked Harry if he could recommend something for us and he told me to speak to the Puri Bagus Hotel in Lovina (on Bali’s north coast). I called them and they said their dolphin tours left daily at 6am from the beach and cost $15. Great - could they arrange to have us picked up and dropped back home? Yes, he said, but it would cost $65 each way. Thanks, but I don’t think so.
I searched the internet and found a Lovina Dolphin Tour which seemed reasonable. I called up the company and confirmed our tour. For $65 each, we would get:
- transport to Lovina
- the dolphin tour
- snorkelling at Lovina Beach
- a visit to Gitgit waterfall
- a visit to Ulun Danu Temple
- lunch at a local restaurant
- a visit to Tanah Lot Temple
- transport back to our villa
So we decided to make a day of it. We took our swimsuits, change of clothes, towels, sunscreen, sunglasses, camera.
Our driver for the day, Gede (pronounced ‘G’day’), picked us up at 3.30am. I thought that once we were in the car I’d fall asleep as there would be nothing to see during the drive in the dark to Lovina. About an hour into the journey I opened my eyes and looked up at the sky - I’d never seen so many stars (‘Look at the stars, Look how they shine for you…’). I spent the rest of the journey mesmerised by the night sky.
At about 5.40am we pulled into Mandhara Chico Bungalows in Lovina. There were about 10 other people on the tour with us, all Chinese. It was quite chilly at that time of the morning and I ended up putting on my zip-up top before putting on my life jacket. I knew the sand would be cold and I was dreading putting my feet in the water. There were two traditional outrigger boats for all of us.A and I got in the second boat - she was right at the front and I was behind her. The boats are narrow - there’s just enough space for one person per seat. I had my bag on my lap as the floor of the boat was wet and my bag wasn’t waterproof. We set off into the mist just as dawn was breaking. I knew there was no guarantee we’d see any dolphins, but the early start was worth it just to see the sun rise. It was breathtaking!
As it got lighter and the mist cleared, we soon realised how many boats were out there! It reminded me of the Thames during the Queen’s Jubilee weekend!‘If I were a dolphin, I wouldn’t want to be here,’ I said to A. At that point I really did wonder whether we’d see any dolphins at all. There were at least 50 other boats out there, waiting. While waiting for the dolphins to show up, I tried to stay awake by taking photos of anything that seemed remotely interesting. I became fixated on the reflection of the boat as it glided through the water. The sun was higher now and it was finally starting to get warmer. And then we saw movement. Unfortunately, as soon as one boat had spotted any dolphins, all the other boats would come racing up to the area the dolphins were in and they would soon disappear.
For a while there was nothing again, and then they re-appeared but were too quick for me and my camera!
We got back to the Bungalows at about 8am. We were just about to get off the boat when the ‘captain’ told us to stay on as we were doing snorkelling as well. A wasn’t very keen as she had never snorkelled before, and I was just too tired to think about getting into the water. All I wanted to do was go back to bed. So we told them we were going to skip it.Back at the Bungalows we were given breakfast - we had a choice of tea, coffee or hot chocolate, and toast or banana pancake. I chose the banana pancake while A had toast with pineapple jam. We sat in the sun for a while and then left with Gede for the rest of our tour.
Our next stop was Gitgit waterfall. Our guide Nyoman asked us whether we wanted to see one or two waterfalls. I asked how long each one would take - one waterfall would take about an hour, and two waterfalls would take two hours. Neither of us was in the mood for a two-hour trek so we opted for just the one waterfall.We walked downhill most of the way to the waterfall. And uphill on the way back. We stopped to have a look at some sarongs on our way back up but didn’t negotiate very well.
After the waterfall, Gede drove us to the temple on the lake, Ulun Danu Bratan. The Shivaite and water temple complex is located on the shores of Lake Bratan in the mountains, 1200 metres above sea level - the difference in climate was astonishing. It was still sunny but much cooler than it had been in Lovina. The temple was built in 1663 and is used for offering ceremonies to the Balinese water, lake and river goddess Dewi Danu.There is also a Buddha statue at the temple. We walked around for a while - it was quite crowded being the Eid holidays. We then stopped for lunch at Kamandathu Resto - it’s not worth mentioning.
As we hadn’t done the snorkelling part of our morning, we were running ahead of schedule. Gede took us to a coffee plantation, where they showed us how they make kopi luwak, one of the world’s most expensive and low-production varieties of coffee.Our guide told us that the animal was a mongoose but it’s actually an Asian palm civet. The process sounds vile, doesn’t it? How did they even discover it? I have to say, however, that it tastes pretty good! A and I both had a cup of it.
Gede then took us to Pura Tanah Lot. I’d been there before, in 1993, and it was much more crowded than I remember. It’s a popular sunset spot but we were there at about 2.30pm.To get to the temple, you have to walk through a market selling almost everything under the sun - from sarongs to paintings to coffee. And then we finally got to the temple. We spotted a golf course on the next cliff! I’m quite sure it wasn’t there in 1993. On our way out we had to walk through the market again, but didn’t stop to look at anything.
It took us about half an hour to get home - it was an excellent day out and we saw all the sights we wanted to…
To read more about Bali, click here.
A busy week!
I was still in Phuket on Sunday and woke up at about 2pm after a really late night/early morning. I could barely function all day. We got ready and went to the wedding ceremony. It was outdoors and we’d seen the stage being set up since the day before. It was absolutely beautiful. It was also absolutely boiling, even at 6pm. About 20 minutes later, a friend and I decided to get a couple of drinks at the bar in the lobby - we thought it would be cooler there. We were there until the ceremony finished, and we went to get changed for the reception. I also had to pack as my flight was early the next day. We got to the reception just after 9.30pm.
Champagne was being served outside the ballroom so we joined the rest of our friends and had a couple of glasses before we were asked to find seats and sit down. It was 10pm at this point. The reception started with the couple making their entrance, cutting the cake, and then the speeches - father of the bride, father of the groom, friend of the groom, friend of the bride, another friend of the groom, a friend of the bride and groom, and finally the groom himself. We didn’t get to the buffet until 11.45pm! You could tell that people were tired that evening as there were only about 30 people left in the ballroom at 3.30am when I had to leave. I went to my room, changed, finished packing and headed to the airport.
I was at the airport by 4.45am and was shocked to see the queue to check in at the Air Asia counter. There were two flights leaving within 5 minutes of each other - the first to Bali, the next to Bangkok. It took me an hour to check in. When I was done I saw some friends in the baggage drop queue and they told me they’d been there for 45 minutes as well. Ridiculous! I went through passport control and thought I’d get a cup of tea but nothing was open. If I thought Ngurah Rai Airport was boring, Phuket was a thousand times worse. I made my way to the gate and found a seat. A few minutes later I decided to walk around as I was falling asleep and didn’t want to miss the flight. I got on the plane and I had an empty seat next to me again but it was so cold I couldn’t get to sleep. I was exhausted when I landed in Bali.
After the long queues at the visa-on-arrival and immigration counters when I landed in July, Harry had arranged for someone to take me through immigration. He was waiting for me when I landed, took my passport and told me to wait for him at the luggage carousel. I was out of the airport in 10 minutes! My parents and nephew were waiting for me outside and 20 minutes later I was in the pool with the rest of the family.
That afternoon, my sister (A), her husband (N), my brother (S) and his wife (T) went shopping. I went to bed. I woke up at about 7pm and decided I was done for the day. My parents went out for dinner on their own and brought us back a takeaway. I thought I’d sleep well that night but I woke up at 4am feeling queasy. I was awake until 6am and then decided I’d try and get back to sleep.
It was Dad’s birthday on Tuesday so we all had a late breakfast together. I did some work after that (I had over 100 work emails in my inbox when I got back from the weekend!) while the others splashed around in the pool for a while. We all went to Dijon Cafe for lunch later that afternoon. After lunch, A, N, S and T went shopping and my parents and I went to the reflexology place across the road from Dijon Cafe.My mum had been the day before and had been raving about it. We walked in and were led into a dark room with 40-50 reclining chairs in four rows. Each chair had a TV and headphones you could use while you were having your feet massaged. There were only two or three other people in the room and I could hear snoring coming from one corner! We sat together and our massages began.
My feet were put into a tub of hot water while the masseur massaged my back. It was more like prodding and I didn’t enjoy it at all. Then he moved to my feet. I’ve decided I don’t like having my feet massaged - I couldn’t wait for it to be over. When we were finally done after what felt like the longest hour ever, we headed home and I did some work.
At 7pm the villa staff and a few people from the Temple Hill office came in with a cake for Dad and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ for him - it was most unexpected! We decided we’d take some family photos that evening so we met in the living room of our villa at 8pm, opened a bottle of champagne, cut a cake for Dad, and took some photos. Harry joined us as well. We had a table booked for 9.30pm at Sarong in Seminyak. My parents and T had been there but the rest of us hadn’t. What a beautiful restaurant!I had the black bean encrusted chargrilled barramundi - I’d never had barramundi before and it was fantastic. It was a lovely evening and N and S treated us to dinner.
I decided to go to Denpasar Market with Mum, A and N on Wednesday - we left home soon after 11am and it didn’t take long to get there.A and N were looking at paintings for their home and picked up some beautiful ones. I asked whether they had a smaller version of the orange padi fields but the man said he’d just sold them an hour before and only had the smaller version in green (I hate green). Every kind of painting was in this shop - Balinese, African, abstract, Disney, it was all there. I’d never seen so many paintings!
After that we went to another store, looking at incense sticks and other pointless junk. We spent far too much time there.We were hungry by this time so on our way back home we went to the Bali Bakery for lunch. I had fettucine with smoked salmon and strawberry cheesecake for dessert. I was told I wasn’t allowed to take photos in the Bali Bakery (and, no, I hadn’t seen the sign on the door as I went in).
That night we went to Sakala in Tanjung Benoa for dinner - we’d driven past it several times and had also seen it from the water while in a boat and had been wanting to go there.It was the last night in Bali for S, T and N. The restaurant is stunning but unfortunately there was nobody else there. I had the foie gras to start with, followed by the rack of lamb. When we’d finished our main course the manager came over to us. He told us that as our starters had taken so long to arrive, dessert was on the house! None of us had particularly wanted dessert but we each ended up ordering something. I had the cheese platter. We were all so full by the end of dinner!
On Thursday S and T left at 1pm. They had a long journey back to Jamaica - via Hong Kong, Vancouver, New York and Miami! I didn’t envy them. I joined A and N for a late lunch at Menega Cafe.They’d put in a new aquarium since we had last been there. We had a kilo of jumbo prawns and a red snapper. Amazing, as always.
We got back to the villa and I decided to have a massage. I’d been telling myself every day that I’d have one the following day but never got round to it. It was so good.
N left that night and my parents, A and I went to Kat’s Kitchen for dinner. After dinner we went back home and started packing as we were moving villas the following day.
Friday was busy! We had breakfast, played around in the pool for a while, finished packing and left Temple Hill at 1.30pm. It took us about 45 minutes to get to our new villa in Seminyak.It was actually just a temporary villa for two nights until the villa we wanted to stay in originally became available.
After dropping our stuff off, A and I decided we needed to get away for a while so we walked down the long drive to the main road.
We walked for a while and came across Superman Pizzeria.We sat down and ordered a large bottle of Bintang - A had the margarita pizza and I had spaghetti with chilli and garlic. I’ve never had so much garlic in anything before! Our meal cost us $11 in total.
We walked back to the villa, dodging traffic on one side and open drains on the other. The street is filled with little art galleries, shops, restaurants and villa complexes.When I got to my room, there were at least eight mosquitoes waiting for a piece of me. I sprayed the room hoping they would have disappeared by the time I was done in the (outdoor) shower.
I have to say I hate outdoor showers in Bali. The first time I experienced one was in our villa in August 2006. I quickly learned that the most peaceful way to shower was while it was still daylight - the first couple of days I showered at night and was constantly swatting away insects attracted to the light. It’s not easy to do while washing your hair!
I did some work after that (the internet is so much faster than at Temple Hill!) and then got ready for dinner. As I was getting ready, I opened the door to the bathroom and some thing scurried into the room and out under the door into the living room. It was too quick for me to see what it was - which is probably a good thing!
That night my parents, A and I had dinner at Mennakapis, a Belgian restaurant which had a live jazz band.Being a Friday, most restaurants on the street were crowded. We had some steaks and dessert. A and I went to Ku De Ta for a couple of drinks after dinner - they were setting up for their annual ‘white’ party which was the following night. We had thought about going when we found out we were going to be in Bali at that time, but were having second thoughts. The set-up looked pretty damn cool though, I have to say.
On Saturday we spent the day at the Bali Safari & Marine Park. When we got home I found the doors between the outdoor bathroom and my bedroom wide open. No wonder the place was full of mosquitoes! I’m so sick of the damn creatures!
That night I finally got to try Black Pepper, a restaurant we’d driven past at least 20 times but hadn’t been to yet. It wasn’t very crowded but had only been open just over a month.I had the grilled prawn salad with spinach to start. For my main course I had the ‘Pancho Villa’ crepe - grilled chicken, sour cream, guacamole, and some other Mexican-type ingredients. Dessert was disappointing. I’d ordered the lemon tart but what came looked nothing like I expected it to. I had a couple of bites and left the rest. After dinner, A and I decided to skip the white party and go somewhere new for a drink. We ended up at Woobar at the W Hotel. The hotel is just… so cool. And Woobar is just as cool. Each table even has a bottle of mosquito repellent (similar to Hu’u Bar’s ‘Shu’u Away’). The music was good and it wasn’t too crowded. We had a couple of drinks and called it a night.
I love my life.
To read more about Bali, click here.