a long long but quite comfy flight we finally arrived in Bali, the
island of the Gods. Some of you might remember our trouble last time,
arriving there at Denpasar airport with 16 bottles of wine in our
luggage. Being used to a spectacular arrival we topped it this year
though… Paul’s passport expired in January 2008 but according to
Indonesian regulations it should still be valid 6 months after
arrival… That issue created lots of stress with the threat of Paul
being deported from Bali on the first plane available. Like last year we
had to go to an ‘official’ office where entry ‘negotiations’ started.
As the mistake was clearly made on our side there was no much room for
negotiations and we we’re asked for 400$ ‘under the table’ to get Paul a
visa. Patiently I managed to bargain it down to 200 Euro and once
agreed upon Paul’s passport was issued with the much-desired visa and
relieved we could continue to pick up our luggage. An hour by taxi later
we arrived at Guci Guesthouse and a heartwarming welcome awaited us
there by Uli. After a nice long chat we went to bed, completely
exhausted from the long trip and the arrival problems we encountered.
next day we contacted the British Consulate to enquire about applying
for a new passport. An appointment was made for the next day and after
that went to explore Ubud, which once again has changed a lot since our
last visit, now a year and a half ago. The construction of new places
seems to find no end. It was good to see however that tourism finally
caught up after the bombings in 2002 and 2005; people seemed to be
happier and the shops were well stocked up with new merchandise as well.
We finished of the day in our favorite restaurant, Warung Enak, and the
food and cocktails did not disappoint!
Tuesday we rented a driver for a day and the first stop was the British
Consulate in Sanur to apply for a new passport for Paul, another 200
Euros down the drain, but we did not want to go through similar problems
on arrival in Malaysia where the same rules apply. It is not that easy
over there to bribe your way in…. After the consulate we drove to the
very south of Bali and visited Ulu Watu. The temple itself is not that
spectacular but its location, on top of the cliffs is amazing. Monkeys
were begging for food, the sun was shining and both of us were in the
best of moods. Our next stop was the beach of Jimbaran where we had a
fresh seafood lunch on the beach. Amazing! There was a small band
playing music while we enjoyed our food and beer. What an atmosphere!!!
Jimbaran we continued our trip to Kuta in order to visit the Bali
Memorial. Kuta is the most horrible of places and we were waiting for
our driver half an hour before we had agreed to meet. The Memorial was
impressive and both of us were silent when we read the names of the more
than 200 people who died in the bomb attack of 2002. The only noise we
heard was from a woman offering us a massage, it was horrible so we left
the memorial for what it was.
last stop of the day was the temple of Tanah Lot where we witnessed a
fantastic sunset while having yet another beer at the terrace
overlooking Tanah Lot. By the time we returned at Guci Guesthouse both
of us were tired but felt extremely pleased since we had a fantastic
not totally adjusted to the time zone we decided the next day to take
it easy and went to Bali Spirit Hotel for a lazy day at the pool. The
setting was absolutely fantastic and we were looking out over the river
meandering deep below us. A lovely lazy day with plenty of cocktails at
the pool bar, lots of sun, some music and reading. Absolutely relaxing!
We spent the evening with Uli and Nyoman and time went by quickly.
next morning was an early rise. At 7.00 we had to be at warung enak
from were we were brought to the Ubud pasar (market) where all local
products like vegetables, spices, fish etc were explained to us. After
that we had a coffee at warung enak where the rest of the day was
explained, we put on our new aprons and headed towards the kitchen. The
rest of the morning we spent cooking fabulous dishes, needless to say
the two foodaholics enjoyed this tremendously. Last year we did also a
cookery course but this one definitely had the most style. Fabulous
recipes with a lot of attention for presentation, exactly the way we
enjoy our food! After the cooking we were treated with a fabulous lunch,
with all the food we prepared ourselves. It was an awesome experience!
The rest of the evening we spent again with Uli, Nyoman and the guests
in the other house half. It turned out to be a real party and six
bottles of Balinese wine later we finally went to bed…
was another shopping day. We explored Ubud and surroundings, frequented
a lot of shops and enjoyed once again cocktails at several restaurants.
The highlight of the day was for sure lunch at Nomads where we enjoyed a
fabulous Balinese tappas. That was in one word amazing, twelve
different dishes, one even better than the other.
Saturday we had an early rise again and visited a Barong dance
performance in Batubulan. It was 20 years ago since I saw this and it
was new to Paul, both of us enjoyed the performance a lot.
the afternoon we went to a lovely spa where I had a royal Javanese
treat. A massage with essential oils followed by a turmeric scrub and a
yoghurt pampering (and I was not allowed to drink the yoghurt but it was
used to pamper the skin). I finished of in a bath covered with flower
petals zipping green ginger tea and enjoying a fresh fruit salad. How
more relaxing can it get? Paul had a facial treatment in the mean time
and looked years younger once that was done 😉 Totally relaxed we had a
small lunch, a cocktail of course and strolled a bit through Ubud.
the evening we visited Indonesia’s best restaurant, the Mozaic just
outside of Ubud. And what a treat that was. After an airport like
security check at the entrance we were welcomed to the smoking lounge
for a nice kretek cigarette and a glass of port. The welcome was
heartwarming and not much later we were escorted to our table in the
middle of a lush garden, which was tastefully decorated with statues.
Well, what should I say about the meal? It was a six-course dinner with
exquisite dishes. A Seafood plate with scallops, squid, fish and king
prawn in a spicy broth. Lobster tail infused with oyster, crispy seared
foie grass (goose liver) which was the best we ever had, Australian
beef, a cheese platter, and the finishing touch was a perfect chocolate
mouse with raspberries. Each course came with a glass of wine and the
service was as friendly and professional as one could expect at this
level. A superb evening which both of us enjoyed a lot! A short taxi
ride later we rolled into bed and very quickly were of in the land of
dreams, wonderful dreams…
next morning we were being picked up by Dewa, a driver we met a couple
of days before. He drove us to the area of Mengwi to visit a small
family cremation. First we went to buy a sash and traditional Balinese
hat to match our sarong so we looked respectful; we wanted to go in
traditional Balinese clothing, as we did not want to look like ignorant
tourists. When we arrived the procession had already started and soon we
merged into a group of hundreds of villagers on our way to the
cremation grounds. Once there we were invited to sit down with a group
of men and we had an ice conversation with some of them. It’s strange in
a way as Balinese cremations are a happy event and show no tears, it is
part of a series of rituals where soul and spirit prepare for the next
reincarnation. Though it was a simple ceremony it was impressive
nevertheless, as was the warming reception we received by the locals.
the cremation we visited the Mengwi mother temple, which is situated in
beautiful gardens. From there on the trip went northwards towards lake
Bratan and the floating temple over there. Once again we were lucky and
witnessed a small ceremony over there. It was fantastic to see that next
to the temple a Budhist pagoda was erected, in Bali religions merge so
also noticed that a bit further on during a visit to the local fruit
market, over here there were predominantly Muslims which merged
perfectly with the Hindu population; life can be so nice if there is a
bit of respect to other religions and people.
the way back to Ubud we once again had to stop in a little village
where a procession for a temple ceremony took place. September is a very
important month for Balinese people and one can see processions and
ceremonies in every village.
back at Guci Guesthouse we took a refreshing shower and then went out
for a Legong Performance in Ubud Palace. It was a fantastic performance
but unfortunately we sat beside the stage which was not optimal for
making pictures. Guess we have to take this performance back in
memories. The evening was finished of an Nomad restaurant, another
culinary oasis in Ubud.
little sleep in, some breakfast and we were on the road again wandering
through Ubud, we did some shopping, rented a car for the next couple of
days and then went back to Bali Spirit Hotel for a relaxing day at the
pool. It was a bit cloudy but the cocktails were nice as ever as was the
food. The evening we spent again with Uli and Nyoman and all of us were
getting very excited about our 20th anniversary of friendship coming up
in a couple of days.
of the things that we do very well is sleeping in Bali, I cannot
remember having such deep sleeps night after night after night… Paul
has really problems waking me up each morning but both of us feel
extremely happy and relaxed! On Tuesday our car was delivered and
we went together with Uli to Klungkung market in order to buy fabric for
tableware we wanted to have made. There was so much choice it was
difficult to make a decision but we managed to select material from two
sets of tablecloth, runners and napkins. Very pleased we left toko tika
tika with a bag full of material.
Klung Kung on we drove towards Padang bay where we went to our own
‘secret’ bay. We had to climb a hill in order to fin it but the reward
was fantastic, small bay, super clear water and only a couple of warungs
to order food and drinks. There were no more than 10 people on the
beach so we were really enjoying our own almost private beach. The waves
were high, and so was the undertow. Sitting on my knees I was dragged
towards the waves and I did not realize the sand reacted as sandpaper on
my feet leaving a big bruise, but what fun we had! A simple luncheon,
fresh coconut, is this paradise? Guess it must be, unfortunately some
Korean investors had thought the same as they bought the land and were
preparing it for expensive villas with beach. Guess this will be one of
the last times we have been able to go here as the locals will be bought
out and the small warungs will have to make place for a cocktail bar
and luxurious beach beds, the price of progression….
the road to Ubud we lost a mirror of the car, which was wobbly from the
beginning. We recovered it and brought the car back to the renter for
repair. Walking back to Guci Guesthouse we made a ‘mandatory’ stop at
Barandi restaurant for enjoying the happy hour with lovely cocktails
like dragon breath, Tropical wave, Cajun moon and so on. It was lovely
to sit there with Uli and catch up on so many things. Our final stop was
a fantastic Japanese restaurant. The bad thing of Ubud is that there is
such an overwhelming choice of restaurants that it is difficult to make
a choice; one could stay here for a month without visiting a single
restaurant twice. Once back in Guci Guesthouse we had another drink
together with Nyoman after which a lovely bed was waiting for us for a
next morning our repaired car was delivered We had a nice slow start of
the day and in the afternoon we decided to go for a ride without a
particular destination. We drove northward towards Kintamani and on our
way back in Tampaksiring we ended up in an organic farm where spices,
herbs, fruit and all sorts of other vegetables were grown. It was a
lovely place and we ended up drinking local grown and roasted coffee.
Before we left we bought some spices in the shop and slowly made our way
to Ubud. It will not come as a surprise we had to stop again in a
village where a big wedding procession took place. When in a hurry this
might be a bit of a nuisance having to stop all the time but for us it
was yet another treat, another possibility to witness every day Balinese
life, a life that is so soaked in traditional ceremonies, processions
in Guci Guesthouse Nyoman brought us fantastic news as the British
Consul had called that Paul’s passport had arrived from Jakarta. It was a
big relief for the both of us. In the evening we visited the kecak and
fire dance in Ubud, a strange, almost hypnotic experience but how
fantastic it was.
days first destination was of course the British Consul. It was
surprising we made our way through the hectic traffic in Denpasar and
Sanur but we arrived safe and sound and only 10 minutes later we left
with a valid passport for Paul, nothing stood in the way now to continue
our journey to Malaysia. We drove on to Jimbaran where we spent the
afternoon on the beach. The local band passed by again and while having
our 1.3 kilo of fried Squid (it was the smallest one available) we were
treated by lovely tunes accompanied by a sometimes bit out of tune
voice. Neither of us cared as it was the atmosphere which was most
important. A bit sunburned we left Jimbaran beach and merged in the now
even more hectic traffic around Denpassar. We did very well though and
by now we are getting very good in finding our way through the south.
Back in Guci we met Daniel, Uli’s and Nyoman’s son, and had a great chat
with him. The last year and a half he has totally changed. He turned
from a nice and playful boy into a determined and focused adolescent. He
is now visiting a business university, where he was selected out of
hundreds of applicants, and he is very determined to finish this and
become a successful businessman. It is great to see how he realized the
lucky situation he is in while most of his former schoolmates just have
the change the raise a family and work from month to month to pay the
cost of living. Daniel has great potential!
went back to Barandi for some more dragonbreaths, a simple dinner (we
are getting in the stage now we are not hungry anymore, as we had so
much food it’s unbelievable). The rest of the evening we spent with Uli,
Nyoman joined us a bit later.
the 21st of September, exactly 20 years ago Charl and I knocked on Guci
Guesthouse door, looking for a place to spend the night. It became more
than that, it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship that already
lasts 20 years! A big hug to both Uli and Nyoman to start the day,
followed by breakfast and then off to Ubud again. First stop was to
check out how the tailor was doing with our tableware. A short stroll
through Ubud and then slowly headed back for a lazy, relaxing afternoon.
In the evening we had a fantastic dinner with Uli and Nyoman in order
to celebrate 20 years of friendship. We had 2 bottles of champagne,
Nyoman had cooked an amazing dinner and we finished the evening with a
special ’20 years of friendship’ cake that we had ordered a couple of
days before. It was a fantastic and very cozy evening which all of us
enjoyed a lot.
next day Paul and I drove off to the east of Bali where we visited
small salt factories on the beach, it was an interesting process to see
and the locals invited us to walk around wherever we wanted. It was
clearly a place where that not gets many overseas visitors. After a walk
on the beach we continued further north to go to mount Batur. It does
not matter how often you’ve been here, it remains an overwhelming
experience. The original plan was to drive around the volcano to show
Paul the huge lava walls but due to lack of time we had to shorten it to
a ride through the lava fields which was very nice nevertheless.
in Ubud we brought the car back, picked up beautiful tableware (2 sets
of tablecloths, runners and napkins) that we had ordered before. We were
very pleased with the result. We also picked up some other things we
had ordered for dining purposes and returned to Guci Guesthouse for a
refreshing shower. We could not believe that it was already time to
prepare for our final dinner with Uli, Nyoman and Daniel, a tradition
that started 20 years ago. But whether we liked it or not, this was our
final night in Bali, halfway through our holiday and time to go on. As
we like warung Enak so much we had booked a table over there, just like
last year. The staff was great and so were the cocktails 😉 The meal
was fabulous and the atmosphere superb. What a lovely evening!
The next day I did not want to get up but leaving was the only option. Guess the good thing is that you have to leave in order to come back and that will already be in 7 months time when I’ll visit Java and Bali with my father. After breakfast we had another chat with Uli and Nyoman and the driver showed up far too early for our liking. One final hug, one final kiss and then we were off; needless to say both of us were extremely sad.
Continue the journey to Malaysia at Mulu National Park