M double U

2008 Bali

Disembarking took a while but then we could continue our journey to Ubud. As Yus and Sri had heard there were corrupt police posts on the shorter south route who were charging Javanese drivers absurd amounts we decided to take the slightly longer but extremely scenic route which brought us through the northwest, mountains of Bali. You who have been here know how spectacular this is and both of us were enjoying the ride a lot. Next time I’ll be here I have to do this tour with Paul as it is a fantastic ride! We had a short stop for lunch, while enjoying the spectacular beauty, after we slowly descended to the lower centre of Bali. I had no idea of how we were approaching Ubud but suddenly I recognized the road when we passed Mozaic, a fancy restaurant where we had dinner last year (oh well, 6 months ago…), and from there on it was a feast of recognition. Soon we drove over the Ubud main street, a quick stop at an ATM and then straight on to Guci Guesthouse where a warm welcome awaited us. It was fantastic to see Ulli and Nyoman again only 6 months after my last visit and it seemed just a week or so was passed by. Less nice was that we now had to say goodbye to Yus and Sri, who in less than two week times became very good friends. Dad was a bit tired as we had been travelling all day so he went for a refreshing nap after which he joined the happy chatting club once again for a nice and cozy evening.

The next 2 days we decided to do nothing at all, I walked a bit through the centre of Ubud where once again a lot has changed. The most impact had the fact that the most favorite ‘cocktail hangout place’ from Paul and me was torn down to the ground. What a blast, so many nice memories, so many hopes to return once again (or twice…) gone within months, it was almost devastating. Fortunately most of the other places we liked were still intact so we did not have to be bored. One afternoon I went for a relaxing massage at a simple but rather nice place and it did my aching muscles well. As said, dad read, relaxed and slept for two days in which he totally recovered from the strains of travel. In Nyoman’s gallery I found two nice paintings which will be carried as hand luggage home 😉 In the evening we went out for dinner, a glass of beer, and lots of talking with Ulli and Nyoman and an early night. Cindy and Vincent, a nice French couple who we met on the Bromo found their way to Guci as well and they joined.

The next morning I had to wake up early as together with Cindy and Vincent we went to Warung Enak (our ab fab favorite restaurant in Ubud) to do a cooking class together. Paul and I had already done this last year and as it was so nice I decided to do it again, with a new choice of menu. First a visit to the local market where a lot of local vegetables, spices and other food were explained and then we went back to warung enak for some serious cooking.

Dad was picked up at Guci at 10.00 and joined into the cooking experience. Yes, believe it or not but he has been cutting vegetables, making spice pastes and did some serious cooking as well, he has the certificate and pictures to prove it but has already stated that hopes should not be risen at home that people expect him to prepare a meal as well (unless it is a meal existing out of boiled eggs or a fried steak 😉 After we had prepared 8 different dishes we went up to the restaurant to enjoy a fabulous lunch of everything we had prepared ourselves. (And yes, it was accompanied by something called ‘blue mountain’, very very nice….). Back at Guci we rested a bit and then booked a massage in a fancy spa. We were picked up and enjoyed a relaxing flower foot bath after which dad had an aroma therapy massage and I had a hot stone massage. Totally relaxed we returned at Guci where we did some more chatting and then a long deep sleep, feeling absolutely relaxed and satisfied after nice day.

The next morning I rented a car (oh well, something which was supposed to be a car but was rattling everywhere) and Ulli, dad and I drove to Klung Kung to visit the pasar and buy some fabric. Last year we had some tableware made for us and as that was really nice we got two orders in from friends for some more and I decided to have one additional set for us as well. After a successful shopping trip we drove on the north east coast of Bali to visit a renovated water palace which was worth the visit indeed. On the way back we had a belated lunch in Candi Dasa after which we returned to Ubud.

The following day I first went to the tailor to bring the fabric and my designs for the tableware after which I took dad to the center of Ubud for some shopping (I could not imagine so many new DVD’s came out in 6 months time that I enjoyed), a visit to the pasar and a little bite at Ary’s warung. After that we headed north and visited the Ubud hanging gardens, a tremendously luxurious resort with fantastic views over the Ayung River, two amazing ‘infinity pools, an area to die for. With private villas starting at 270$ per night we decided to limit ourselves to a nice drink (which already costed more than a complete dinner in Ubud) and enjoy the surroundings that way. It started to rain a bit so we returned to Ubud, relaxed and read in our beautiful house and in the evening returned to Warung enak for a joyful dinner.

The next day we had a nice slow start while in the afternoon Ulli joined us for a trip to Bali’s most beautiful rice terraces. The rice was ready to be harvested so we were treated on a beautiful pallet of deep yellow rice plants and green green surroundings from the padi’s and coconut trees which were cluttered around. It was a view to die for and while we were enjoying a drink and a light lunch we were just amazed by the natural beauty around us.

After a long break we continued our trip further into to heart of Bali. Instead of taking the main road we opted for a small road, straight through the rice fields, little villages and farms. Everywhere people were working on the land and needless to say we were enjoying every minute of it. We drove for a couple of hours through hilly area and were amazed after every corner about the beauty that surrounded us. Back in Ubud we went to Ary’s warung for a cocktail and some delightful hors d’houvres. What a way to end a beautiful day.

The following day I spent some time helping Ulli out with some computer problems after dad and I made a long walk to Ubud and back. There were numerous shops to look at and by nice souvenirs and of course I had to stop at the local music shop to get some more DVD’s for our collection. More shops, more breaks and of course we enjoyed more drinks and food at the numerous restaurants you can find in Ubud. As we were in Bali we were surprised with a procession which we took our time for to enjoy. It was a welcome break of our walk. We did the whole ‘Ubud’ circle, which was quite tiring for my dad, guess we walked more than 6 km so in the evening we just had a nice conversation with Ulli and Nyoman and took things easy.

Being refreshed from a good night sleep we went out for a ride again. This time went up north to Mount Batur, a giant volcano with a big crater lake. We drove all the way into the crater to a small temple and passed several small villages and plantations on this fertile, but still dangerous area. Hope the people will not be harmed during a new eruption, though the Batur has been relatively quiet lately. On our way back we passed a small village where school had just ended. Hundreds of children in their typical red white school uniform walked back home and enthusiastically waved when we slowly passed by. It was a great experience! On the way back to Ubud we once more decided to use small roads which after a while became rather bad so we had to backtrack since we were not sure whether our little rattling Suzuki jimmy would cope with the road conditions. O well, we arrived safe and sound back in Ubud where we still had a big smile on our face while we talked about this, once again, very special day.

A good sleep, good breakfast and we were ready to go on the road again. This time we drove to the west to find Mengwi and its majestic temple. As a couple of years ago with Paul I totally lost my way but after a couple of stops to ask direction (maaf, dimana jalan ke Mengwi?) we found the temple. It was surrounded by a channel and although we were not allowed to enter the temple we got a good impression of its grandeur. A drink at a small warung opposite the temple later we continued to Tanah Lot. This was an easy find and as we arrived way before sunset we avoided the masses of tourists coming over for this spectacular event. We spent some time and enjoyed the relative quietness after which we had to return to Ubud.

Nyoman was taking us for a special night out and after we had refreshed we drove to Denpasar, the main city on Bali. Normally this is a place avoided by tourists but Nyoman wanted to show us something special. We had dinner at a great restaurant after which we visited the pasar malam. Fresh fish, meat, vegetables, everything you needed for everyday’s life was present in all sorts and varieties. As it was now dark numerous lights lit up the goods and created a beautiful atmosphere. It was the first time I had been to an evening market and we enjoyed it a lot while Nyoman was buying fresh Merlin fish and vegetables for the day after. Although the traffic in Denpasar can be heretic at times we returned safely back to Ubud, which was a miracle by itself.

The next day we opted for another quiet day so we drove to Ubud and strolled a bit around. In the evening we joined Ulli and Nyoman, who had cooked a fantastic meal for us. Great Balinese home cooking in it’s best style. Nyoman is a fantastic cook and has already treated us on fantastic meals over the years; this time was no exception to that!

As we only had the car for one more day we decided to make one more big tour and drove all the way to Besakih, the mother temple in Bali. Numerous ‘guides’, sellers and touts were trying to offer their services and goods so we got a bit annoyed with it. Finally we were able to walk by ourselves and once again dad did very well with the long walk and numerous steps which let us around the temple. Once back at the car we drove to the coast where we visited Goa Lawah, the bat cave, where we were lucky to witness a small ceremony. The smell of the bat poo was not as bad as last year in Borneo but still strongly around!

On the way back to Ubud I got a bit agitated by the hectic traffic, motorbikes were passing left and right, cars behind us almost touching the bumper, chaos all over. I realized it was good to return the car now. Having driven almost 500 km over Bali was costing its prize on my nerves…. So the car was returned in one piece and we immediately went to warung  enak for a giant monster cocktail. Gosh did I need that one… In the evening we returned to Ary’s warung for an elegant 7 course dinner: pumpkin peanut soup, a tuna parfait, lobster won ton, passion fruit sorbet, roasted duck, lamb, veal, and a lovely desert. Two glasses of wine each, do I need to explain we were having a blast? The food was perfect and I must say I enjoyed this as much as last year when Paul and I went to the very exclusive Mozaic restaurant. Yes, over there the food was more refined but that was also reflected in the price which was more than double than this evening. This evening was just perfect for my dad and me and after a taxi has brought us back to Guci guesthouse we fell into a long, deep and satisfied sleep.

Friday, our last full day on Bali and we opted for a lazy day by the pool at Bali Spirit Hotel. The weather was fine so it was a perfect day to relax and prepare for the long trip home. Yes we had some cocktails, (ok I had some cocktails, dad opted for the alcohol free version), enjoyed a light lunch at the bar while we were seated in the water and enjoyed a nice stress less day at the pool topping up our tans a bit. Back in Guci we took a refreshing shower and joined Ulli and Nyoman for a pre dinner drink. At that time we were surprised when Vincent and Cindy from France came to say goodbye. They are a lovely couple so we invited them to join to warung enak for a farewell cocktail. Another surprise came before we left, Yus and Sri, our Javanese drivers called to wish us a safe trip home. Who had expected that! Really really nice. Once Daniel arrived back home we walked to Warung Enak for our traditional farewell dinner. I cannot explain what a wonderful evening we had, great company, and fantastic food so what else could we wish for. Cindy was crying when they said goodbye but we were also invited to visit them in Paris. Guess that’s another trip coming up 😉  The evening went by far too quickly so we said goodbye to the staff at warung enak and had one more beer at Ulli and Nyoman to finish of a brilliant evening. By now I was really excited to go home back to Paul who I had called earlier. It’s been 4 weeks now without him and both of us are really looking forward being together again!

The last morning both of us woke up early, guess it must be the excitement of going home. The suitcases are packed by now and we are ready to come home. What a trip it has been. My father has enjoyed every moment of it and so did I. It was great to see him enjoying himself so much on this very special trip. We had a really good father-son time and I think that the theme of this trip has really succeeded. Two worlds are united and we can really look forward bringing back memories of this adventure when all pictures are processed and sorted.

4 weeks, a long time to be away from Paul but I am glad things worked out so well and I was able to make my father so happy. It’s been a fantastic trip; the only thing left is to take a taxi to the airport, a 2 ½ hour flight to Kuala Lumpur and then the final stretch of 12 hours to Amsterdam. Pick up the luggage, pass through customs, and wait until the double door slides open and to get a first glimpse of Paul and ma. What a trip this has been!!!!

Note: the pictures on this page are unedited RAW material, Due to a system crash I lost all edited work for this trip. Time permitting I will rework those pictures and present them in the brilliance they deserve, due to emotional value of this journey I decided to temporary publish the unedited material.