2010 Asia – Bali

Something old…

Our journey to Bali started with a bit of a sleep in. We enjoyed breakfast and then took the shuttle bus to the airport. We checked in, strolled a bit around by the tax-free shops after which we boarded our flight to Bali. Three hours after take-off we landed in Denpasar. Although there was a long queue before customs it did not take long. Once luggage was picked up Paul headed off to a shop to buy our first Djarum Black whilst I arranged a taxi.

The way to Ubud was something we really had been looking forward to. Whilst we enjoyed our kretek (clove cigarette) we watched the landscape passing by, a landscape that was so familiar to us. Finally we arrived in Ubud and we could not wait to get our luggage out of the booth and rush down the small path that lead to Guci Guesthouses.

Ulli had already heard us coming and was waiting for us. We dropped all our luggage for this long awaited hug. Not much later both Nyoman and Daniel showed up. It was a warm welcome and we had a lot to tell. Not only about our travel adventures but more important the progress on Villa Unggul, Daniels project to start a new business for his own, a wonderful villa to rent out. The stories we heard made us feel to go there straight away but unfortunately we had to wait until the morning.

Ulli arranged two motorbikes for us for the next day and time passed by far to quick whilst we’re happily were exchanging the latest news. We decided to have dinner in Warung Enak and both Ulli and Daniel joined us. Nyoman had to stay at the house in to be there in case the other guests had any needs.

The first blue mountain (Cocktail) tasted fantastic, we had been waiting for this so long. The Nasi Campur was in one word fantastic. It was amazing we even had time to eat as we were almost talking non-stop; there was so much to tell. What a fantastic evening. Before we realized it was time to go home again. We made a reservation for our final night at Warung Enak so our traditional farewell dinner was already taken care off. Back at our house we had a quick shower after which we went to bed an enjoyed the sound of the gecko’s and the frogs. They sang us into a deep and happy sleep. Finally we were back at our second home… It was going to be a fantastic week and a half, we could not have wished for a better final of our holiday.

As the geckos and frogs had sung us to sleep it was the cockerels that woke us up again. A day in Bali would not be the same without the traditional Guci Guesthouse breakfast. Our motorbikes had been delivered although Paul was not too happy with his pink helmet so that had to be changed.

After that it was time for what we had anticipated for a long, long time, the first sight of Villa Unggul. The ride itself was already worth it. As soon as we left the hustle and bustle of Ubud we found ourselves surrounded by rice fields. We passed a small typical Balinese village where it seemed nothing had changed over the years.  And then, only 10-15 minutes after we left we saw the villa Ulli, Nyoman and Daniel had been talking about for the very first time…

We were blown away by it! A beautiful 2 story building, which blended in perfectly into the surroundings because of the soft earthy tones that were used in the design. It was still a building site but as we had gone through the process ourselves when our house was built, we could see its beauty. The main villa was finished from the outside and many workers were busy with the reception area, office and utility rooms that were built in front of the villa and sheltered it from the quiet village lane. At both sides of the villa there was a view over rice fields, which seemed to have come just out of a picture book. From it’s elevated position the villa was in the middle of a dreamscape. Wow!

As soon as we entered the spacious living room we were overwhelmed by its design, but more even so the view. Through the large French sliding doors we enjoyed an amazing view over the rice fields. A private pool is planned in the garden. On the ground floor there was an open design kitchen and also a large bathroom with both bathtub and shower. Of course a small garden was part of the bathroom to enhance the Balinese feeling. Upstairs there were three spacious bedrooms and another bathroom. From the balcony we had a birds eye view over the rice fields and further away we could even see Sanur and the Street of Badung. What a place to build a villa! We walked a bit further over the property that has space for two more villas, something which will be realized in the future once the first villa is up and running.

As we still had a long way ahead of us we left Villa Unggul and returned to Guci Guesthouses, there we said goodbye to Ulli, Nyoman and Daniel and we were once again on the road to Pemuteran in the North West of Bali. As we were not used to driving a motorbike it did not take us long before we could feel every part of our bumps. The beautiful landscape made us forget that though and soon we started to go up into the mountains. From there it started raining like there was no tomorrow. Within minutes the both of us were soaking wet, in spite of our raincoats. As there was no escaping the rain we went on and on until we finally reached Git Git, a small place close to Singaraja. By now I was shivering and cold to the bone. We had lunch in a restaurant and recovered a bit..

The rain did not stop, instead it became even heavier. Still we were enjoying the experience. During all our previous trips to Bali we had rented a car and exactly now, when we opted for a different type of transport it was raining. How hilarious! From Singaraja we had still 60 kilometers to go. The water was pouring down from the nearby mountains and more than once we had water up to our ankles whilst we were maneuvering our motorbikes through the flooded streets. Finally, 5 ½ hours after we left Ubud we arrived at Addi Assri, what a ride it had been. We signed in at the reception ‘complaining’ in a joking way that this kind of weather was not advertised in their brochure after which we were brought to our room. A warm shower and dry clothes made us feel much better so we headed for the bar to have our first cocktail. 

As weather did not improve we spent the rest of the day in the bar. We received a message from Yus and Sri, our driver and guide two years ago when I visited Java and Bali with my father, and who were coming to visit us. They got stuck in Java, also due to the bad weather conditions, to let us know they would be arriving much later as planned. The evening was lovely and we ended up with the barmen who played guitar and sang for us. Time passed by quickly and just after one the bar was closed. We walked back to the bungalow, intending to go to sleep but just when we came there Yus and Sri arrived. It was fantastic to see them again, after two years during the trip with my father, and Paul, Yus and Sri were very happy to finally meet after their numerous facebook chats. Some more drinks and even more talking. Yus and Sri had brought us two beautiful presents, a reproduction of carvings on the Borobudur and a hand made cigar box with Javanese cigars. It was really nice to be together again. Finally, it had been three o’clock already a while ago, we decided to go to sleep.

The next day I felt I had caught a cold but the weather was much better; the sun was shining so after breakfast we headed to the pool for a lazy day. Yus and Sri had been working almost non-stop lately so it was good for them to have a little mini-holiday.

All of us were enjoying the good weather and each other’s company. We had so many stories to exchange and time flew by. In the afternoon there was a wedding ceremony in the garden of the hotel after which we had lunch. Back at the pool we had our first cocktails of the day and by the end of the afternoon we returned to our bungalow to refresh.

I had arranged a table for four on the beach so we had an al fresco dinner. The atmosphere was absolutely brilliant, especially as we were spending our evening with two good friends. Yus and Sri had to go all the way back to Solo the day after and also Paul and I were a bit tired so we did not make it very late this night.

Our last shared breakfast after which it was unfortunately time to say goodbye to Yus and Sri. They had a 700 km drive ahead of them and we were returning to Ubud. Of course it started raining again not long after we left so we had to unpack our raincoats once again.

Lunch was enjoyed at the same restaurant we stayed on the way up to Adi Assri and then we had to go up again in the cold, rainy mountains. The roads were meandering through the landscape and we needed all our skills to drive safely and avoid the other traffic. Fortunately, as soon as we left the mountains behind us, it became dry and we could get rid of our raincoats. The way back took us an hour less than the way up so mid afternoon we returned to Guci Guesthouses. We did not make it far as we got stuck in the reception area, chatting with Ulli, Nyoman and Daniel. Of course it started to rain again, weather had been really strange in Bali this year, it rained much more than usual and the rainy season was officially still a month away…

During the night we were woken up several times by torrential rainfall, it was as if the skies had opened. I woke up with some idea’s for the website of Villa Unggul in my mind, got out of bed and started working on them. My cold had not improved; I had a sour throat and was coughing a lot. Oh joy. It kept on raining the whole day, the perfect excuse to work together with Ulli and Daniel on a concept for the website.

Late afternoon Paul and I went for a short stroll through Ubud (It had finally stopped raining) and we bought two runners for our new furniture, which arrives two days after our homecoming, and had a cocktail accompanied by canapés in Ary’s Warung. Heaven still existed 😉 Slowly we headed back to Guci Guesthouses where we went to bed early.

The next morning I did not feel well at all, I had been woken up several times by the rain, and when I wanted to say good morning to Paul my voice had completely gone. After breakfast we decided to take it easy and have a stroll into Ubud. Two more table runners and some anti flu medicine were bought and we even made it to Ubud Main Street. The goal was to go to the market but as I did not feel well we stopped at Nomad’s where we had lunch and some healthy ginger, lemon and honey drinks.

After that I had a wonderful hot stone massage that made me feel a bit better. After a stop in Warung Enak for the mandatory ‘Blue Mountain’ we returned to Guci Guesthouses for some more chatting with Uli and Nyoman. Even though we’re here now for a couple of days the chatting seems to find no end 😉 I put some tiger balm on my chest, which burned like hell. My voice was an absolute disaster; some high pitch squeaking was the only thing I managed to get out and as I was exhausted I went to bed early. I did not even notice it when Paul came to bed later.

On waking up again I felt much better, my voice had returned more or less and my chest didn’t hurt that much. We enjoyed breakfast after we and Daniel went back to Villa Unggul for some photo sessions. Although it was dry the sky was a bit dull, at least now we have some material to work with for the website and we can always go back in case the weather is better the next couple of days.

Once Ulli arrived at Villa Unggul we continued our trip a bit further north through what must be easily one of the most sensational areas of Bali. Little villages, schoolchildren coming out of school and enthusiastically waving at us, it was phenomenal. We visited another plot of land that had been considered for Villa Unggul. It was indeed spectacular, overlooking a valley but on the flat area there was only place for one villa and not for three. The piece of land where the villa is build now is of the same beauty and far more suitable for Daniel’s plans.

We drove on through extremely beautiful landscape and returned to the main road coming from Ubud. Still a bit further north we visited a restaurant overlooking the rice paddies, it was the same place I visited with my father and Ulli 2 years ago and I was pleased that now Paul could also see this spectacular place. Whilst enjoying lunch we looked out over the rice terraces that Bali is so famous for. At the other side of the valley a small temple ceremony took place; it was a total out of this world experience.

Of course it started raining again and as it looked like this was going to last a while we decided to return to Guci Guesthouses where we took a warm shower and changed into dry clothes once again. In the afternoon Paul relaxed and read a book whilst Ulli and I did some more work for the website. In the evening we invited Nyoman for an evening out with the boyz. This time it was Ulli’s turn to take care of the guesthouse. We choose Nuriani, a brand new restaurant for our dinner and spent a couple of hours enjoying dinner and each other’s company.

By now you might already have noticed that this time our trip to Bali has a total different character than the previous trips but the both of us are enjoying it a lot and are having a great relaxing times with our friends, just as we had hoped it to be.

Next morning we visited Ubud market in order to stock up on vanilla and spices again. We strolled around Ubud Center in order to see whether we could find something else to buy but were not very successful in that. It was nice though to see that business was flourishing and a lot of people were around. This time the sun was shining and immediately the temperature had risen. We spend a couple of hours in Ubud after which we had a lovely lunch. Back at Guci Guesthouses I slept the rest of the afternoon, still catching up from my cold and tiredness. Late afternoon we once more spent time chatting with Ulli, Nyoman and some other guests. We did not even bother to go out for dinner, as it was such a cozy time. Later in the evening two Egyptian girls joined, we opened a bottle of wine and had a wonderful evening.

Our last full day in Bali, unbelievable that time flies by so quickly. We woke up early and the sun was shining. It was going to be a nice day. After breakfast I one more time went back to Villa Unggul, this time to make some pictures of the scenic road which leads there. On my way back I spotted two beautiful sandstone statues and I decided to come back with Paul later to see whether he liked them to. Back at Guci Guesthouse we enjoyed breakfast after which we did a photo session with the staff and a family photo of Ulli, Nyoman and Daniel. We just finished in time before it started raining again. We chatted a while after which Paul and I went to pick up the table runners we had ordered and to check out the statues I had seen earlier. Oh well I guess there’s no need to explain that they will be in our luggage home, as well as another statue we liked.

The next stop was another shop that sold traditional Balinese umbrellas and banners that we wanted for our garden. More luggage 😉 The afternoon we spent at Guci Guesthouses chatting with Ulli and time went by far to quick.

Before we realized we had to get changed for our traditional farewell dinner at Warung Enak with Ulli and Nyoman. We were warmly welcomed over there and started off the evening with mega Blue Mountains… Rai, the cook we knew from our cookery lessons during our last visits had prepared a special starter for us, snail sate which was absolutely yummie! I think it goes without saying we had a fabulous evening, the food was perfect and all four of us enjoyed the atmosphere and chatting with each other. At the end of the evening Rai joined us for a drink but we could not make it two late as we had another party to go to….

The two Egyptian girls at Guci had invited the four of us for a glass of wine and some nibbles, as it was also their last evening at Guci Guesthouses. When we arrived at their bungalow they had already prepared everything including soft music in the background. We spent some wonderful couple of hours with them and felt guilty we stayed that long as they had to be ready by 06.30 in the morning for their trip to the Gilli islands.

Not long after Paul and I returned to our house we were vast asleep, the last time for this trip to Bali. Next morning we had a bit of a sleep in, after which it was time to get sorted and pack luggage for the way home and enjoy our last breakfast. Yes, we felt a bit sad but are also looking forward going home again.

Our last Guci Guesthouse breakfast and then it was time to pack. Surprisingly id did not take us that long. We properly wrapped the gift of Yus and Sri so we could take it along as hand luggage and the last couple of hours we hang around with Ulli, Nyoman and Daniel. It were our last hours together and memories came back from previous occasions waiting for the taxi to pick us up… Time was up, it had been a nice time as we both agreed.

In less than 24 hours we would be back home and we can start looking forward to our new furniture, which will arrive on Tuesday. Als0 we need to get our heads around to our normal, day-to-day life. But first, 15 hours of flying lay ahead of us so it was time to say good-bye.

Fly fly fly, bye bye, until our next adventure!

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