Ubud and beyond…
By now the lazy part of my Bali trip had come to an end and I was moving home… No, no, no, not home as in Hillensberg but home as in Guci Guesthouses, Ubud. I was extremely thrilled to meet my friends Ulli and Nyoman and their son Daniel again. We had a lot of catching up to do and I needed to go shopping for a traditional Balinese outfit as Daniel was getting married on the 27th and I was lucky enough to be on the guest list.
Punctually 11 o’clock my
taxi arrived and we started our journey to Ubud. As soon as we left
Tanjuang Benoa we took the new toll road built over water and avoided
the congested roads surrounding the airport.
Once in Sanur we joined the
always present traffic jam and slowly made our way to Ubud. The closer
we came, the more my excitement started growing and it did not take long
before I recognized the route we were taking.
And then we approached
Ubud, once again it had spread out but finally I saw the welcoming sign
of Guci Guesthouses. For the 14th time I arrived home. I followed the
narrow path towards Guci and after the second corner I found myself in
my beloved garden. I rang the bell and not much later Ulli came to see
me with a big smile on her face. The bungalow could wait, it was time to
catch up. Not much later Nyoman and Daniel showed up and we were a
gaged in a vivid conversation. It did not seem like 5 years ago I was
last here. It felt so good!
Later that afternoon the
family of Ade, Daniels soon to be wife, came for the official
introduction so I decided to step back as I felt I should not be part of
this important meeting. Instead I went to Warung Enak and ordered a
Blue Mountain, my favorite cocktail from there. Not much later the
waitress returned and asked if I was mr. Marc… My jaws dropped, even
after such a long time they remembered my name.
The blue mountain was no
longer on the menu but fortunately enough other cocktails to choose from
so I made my choice and ordered something to eat as well. Not much
later the chef arrived to say hello and it was great to meet her again.
The rest of the evening I spent chatting with Ulli and Nyoman and as expected I should have gone to bed much earlier.
Next morning started with a refreshing shower in my private rainforest and the legendary Guci Guesthouses breakfast.
After a short chat with
Ulli and some German guests I headed towards Ubud which turned out to be
a a journey of new discoveries and surprises. Once again Ubud had
changed so much. So many new shops, so many new restaurants. I was blown
away. Best thing though was that the sidewalk at Jalan Pengosekan had
vastly improved. The potholes, in one of which I fell in years ago, had
disappeared and they actually looked rather fence now.
The market had extended
into a large “art” market, mainly targeted at tourists and there were
more restaurants than one could visit in a lifetime. This time I decided
to try out some new ones so I ended up at Nussantara, an up market
Indonesian restaurant that belonged to the same owners as Locavore,
where I had already booked a table for a couple of days later.
Still I loved the
atmosphere which was so typically Ubud, in pact nothing had changed. On
my way back I stopped to enjoy a cocktail after which I returned to the
Zen Spa for an hour and a half long massage. I could not have thought of
a better way to relax.
The rest of the day and
evening I spent with Ulli and Nyoman, after all, after five years there
was a lot of catching up to do…
Next morning, after
breakfast Ulli and I went out for a ride. She had to deliver wedding
invitation cards to her friends and for me it was a good chance to meet
them and see the stunning environment around Ubud. As soon as we left
the buzzing centre the roads became quiet and I was able to enjoy the
breathtaking rice fields. I was enjoying the ride at the back of Ulli’s
motorbike and the stops helped me to stretch a bit.
Expectedly not everybody
was home but on two occasions we were invited inside and had a nice
chat. Later in the afternoon we went to the Green Kubu, a nice
restaurant surrounded by even more rice fields. We had a lovely extended
lunch over there and the rest of the evening we spent at Guci
I did not sleep well that
night and was fully awake at 6 o’clock. After a refreshing shower I read
a bit on the patio and a bit later I decided to go to bad, it had been a
short night after all. When I woke up my stomach was upset, something
that lasted the rest of the day. I decided to stay home (not that I had
much choice) and mostly spent my time sleeping and visiting a certain
Late afternoon I went out
for a so to Adam (chicken soup) and boiled rice, picked up my laundry
and returned home. That evening I went to bed early. I felt much better
already and could only hope this setback only lasted one day.
After 10 hours of sleep I
woke up again, this time feeling much better. I enjoyed a coffee and
some bananas after which I was picked up for cooking class. Our first
stop, as usual, was the Ubud market. It had become much smaller over the
years but was still very enjoyable.
We were informed about the
several vegetables, fruits and spices used in Balinese cooking and spent
some time enjoying the activities. Then it was time to go on.
Next stop was at the rice
fields where we got a clear explanation about the several types from
rice and how they were grown. The views, once again, were breathtaking.
And then we went to Paon
Bali, where cooking classes were held. We were a rather big group but
there were enough dishes to be prepared so there was work enough for
everyone. Actually everybody had to make each dish so no lack of hands
on. The class was delivered with lots of humor and passion and it was
Finally it was time to eat
the dishes that we cooked ourselves. Thanks to the guidance we had they
all tasted wonderful. A big selection of chicken, tuna and vegetable
dishes ensured I had eaten enough for the day. Dessert just fitted and
after we received our recipes for the day we were brought back home.
I decided to get out in the
centre and slowly strolled back home. Passing Warung Enak I could not
resist some cocktails and was offered some more bites to accompany them.
That definitely meant no dinner for me tonight. By now I was afraid I
would not fit in the plane anymore, but on the other hand I might have
lost quite some weight the previous day.
Back at Guci I relaxed a
bit at the patio and updated my journal. Later that evening I returned
the White Ginger Restaurant to enjoy the vibe and have another cocktail.
Next morning it was time to
pack. After breakfast I jumped on the back of Ulli’s motorbike and we
drove to the Amarta Beach Cottages south of Candi Dasa for a two day
break away. Traffic was fine and I enjoyed the route that I had driven
so many times myself.
It took just over an hour
after we checked in at our bungalow witch had a view over the pool and
the sea. The place was absolutely perfect, a good recommend idea from
Ulli. Far away from the noisy street this place was true paradise. The
bungalows were simple but perfect, the view… To die for! I could not
have wanted anything better and immediately I loved this place as much
as the Brothers Bungalows in Balangan.
We changed into our
swimming gear for a quick jump in the pool after which we enjoyed a
light lunch. After that we returned to the pool to enjoy the sun, some
cocktails and chatting to each other. There was so much laughter and
fun, what a good time!
Next to the pool was a
massage parlor and obviously we could not resist that. Ulli had chosen
an aromatherapy massage of 90 minutes after which it was my turn for a
hot stone massage. It was an extremely relaxing experience and the hot
stones did me well.
With such fun time was
going by too quickly and sun started setting. Time to get changed and go
to the restaurant for a lovely dinner. We still kept on talking and
talking and it did not come as a surprise we were the last ones to
leave. The end of a lovely day.
Next morning we woke up
early. Ulli was already outside reading a magazine on the patio. After a
refreshing shower we enjoyed breakfast at the beach after which we
returned to the pool. Another morning in paradise. Ulli decided for a
nap whilst I listened to some music.
After lunch we packed and
left Amarta Beach Cottages, but I already knew, I would be back! We
stopped at Iris her place, another good friend of Ulli, to deliver the
wedding invite after which we drove back to Guci Guesthouses.
There we finished of our
fantastic breakaway with a beer and Daniel joined us to hear all the
stories. Later that evening I returned to White Ginger for a cocktail
and a small bite to eat. Around eight all lights in Ubud went out and we
were left in the dark.
As the blackout did not
seem to be resolved soon I paid my bill and returned in the pitch black
to Guci Guesthouses. There was not much to do so an early night was
Next morning electricity
was up and running again, I updated my journal and enjoyed a light
breakfast. Today was another day I had been looking forward to. Since a
couple of years Locavore had been a rising star in Ubud and by now it is
known as the best restaurant in town. Unfortunately dinner is booked
out months ahead but I was still able to book lunch over there as I
simply could not leave Ubud without this culinary highlight!
I enjoyed a short stroll through town after which I went to Locavore, full of expectations.
Since years Locavore is
known as Ubud’s culinary hotspot. Needless to say I wanted to visit this
extraordinary place whilst in Bali. As it is fully booked weeks ahead I
could only secure a seat for lunch which offers the same experience as
dinner. So was it worth it? Absolutely!
I was welcomed by one of
the friendly hosts (they are so much more than just waitresses and made
sure I enjoyed every single moment of my stay) and brought to the chef’s
table directly facing the kitchen. The perfect spot for a serious
foodie like myself as I could see how the dishes were prepared by the
chef himself and the large team of sous chef’s. Every dish was assembled
with passion and loving care, with enormous detail for presentation.
I started with a heavenly
cocktail and then opted for the seven course, non-vegetarian menu with
beverage pairing. It started with countless amuses, one even better than
the other and my tastebuds were brought to attention and pleased by the
taste explosions that filled my mouth. Each amuse was explained by my
host and even her descriptions were mouthwatering.
Although each and every
amuse was totally amazing but the one that really got me emotional were
the different preparations of tomato, something that I can not describe
but you have to experience yourself. A tomato broth, a cured slice of
tomato and a tomato sorbet. Heaven is a flavor on earth!
And then the first course
was brought. Each time one of the sous chef’s came to the table to
explain the creation which was paired with a cocktail that perfectly
matched the food and even enhanced it’s flavors. Several times I had
goosebumps and shook my head in disbelief of the imaginative
presentation and beautiful flavors. I even got some extra courses off
the menu and was enjoying every single moment of this extraordinary
Three hours, 11 amuses, 7
courses and 3 extra courses from the chef later I left Locavore, totally
satisfied and extremely pleased with the experience. There was no doubt
possible, Locavore had easily entered my top three of culinary
experiences. Together with the Fat Duck and Restaurant One it was in
very good company.
I made my way back to
Warung Enak and sat down for a while just to let the experience sink in,
after that I returned to Guci Guesthouses where Ulli was waiting for my
full report. We spent quite a while chatting but that evening I decided
to go to bed early.
The next day was a
productive one. I spent most of the time with Ulli working on the
website and had a refreshing nap in theatre on when it start raining.
The first time during my trip. That evening Nyoman had cooked and as I
knew from previous times it was gong to be very special.
We started of with a
delicious fish soup followed by fried tuna, shrimps, mango and rice,
accompanied by snail sate. Nyoman remembered from our last visit to
Warung Enak I loved them so he especially made them for me. What can I
say, it was finger licking good!
Time was flying by quickly
so the next day Nyoman and myself went on of trip. First stop was
Kendaran to see the progress on Villa Unggul. A lot of work had been
done since I last saw it but still plenty to do. I loved it’s location
and the atmosphere. Once opened this will be another paradise on Bali.
Next was a shop for
traditional men’s clothing where I bought my outfit for Daniel’s
wedding. It looked nice but we drove back to Ubud in order to get a
matching linen shirt. Then we continued to Nyoman’s favorite Warung in
North Ubud for lunch.
It had been a great morning
and we laughed a lot, still it had been trying so as soon as we
returned to Guci Guesthouses I went for another nap. Later that evening I
returned to Warung Enak for dinner.
Next morning I went to the
local market. Prices for vanilla went sky rocket high so I did not buy
as much as I initially wanted. The previous day’s I had seen some other
things and after a morning of shopping my list was empty. Mission
accomplished and I thought I deserved a massage.
So I returned to the Zen
spa and enjoyed an extremely relaxing massage for an hour and a half. On
my way back to Guci Guesthouses I stopped at the white ginger for a
light lunch and a cocktail, after which I enjoyed another afternoon nap.
Later I joined up with
Ulli again to finish of some business. By the time we were done sun had
already set and I returned to White Ginger, another day had come to an
The next day was a very
relaxing one as I wanted to save my energy for the wedding of Daniel and
Ade. I listened to some music, chatted with Ulli and Nyoman and that
was about all. In the evening I went to Warung Enak for my final
cocktails and dinner after which I spent a while with Ulli.
Continue to the Wedding of Ade and Daniel