We got home last night totally exhausted. The house was freezing as NZ is having it's coldest weather in living memory! Dog cuddles soon warmed us up though.
Bali is not a particularly easy place to get to from new Zealand and by the time we got home we'd been on the go for over 40 straight hours. We got home about midnight, exhausted, and woke up this morning at 1/4 to 10!!
Anyway, more about Bali.
I did no research at all before we went. Lloyd had been before so I was just going with the flow. However, in my head Bali was all tropical jungle with monkeys jumping around, inland and lovely beaches on the coast. It was unspoiled, quiet and had little fishing villages dotted around the place. This was what I thought Bali was like before I went, so I got a bit of a shock!
First thing to hit me when we got off the plane was the humidity and heat. This wasn't a surprise and I had been expecting it. The second thing was the amount of people, cars and mopeds. Everywhere. I wasn't expecting that.
We were driven to Ubud. This is a town in the centre of Bali and is often regarded as the cultural capital. It's a very artsy crafty place and has some amazing architecture. It's actually 14 little villages all joined together with lots of rice paddy fields round the edges. The main part is very busy, and even though there is a lot of traffic on the small narrow roads it does feel laid back and somewhat serene! This may have something to do with the Balinese people who are totally lovely and all the incense burning everywhere.
We had booked a lovely villa to stay in, there were four of us travelling together, Lloyd, me, Lloyd's friend of many years, Chris and Dan, so we thought the villa way would be nicer than hotels. I think we made the right decision.
The villa in Ubud was stunning. When we got there our first thought was "why are we only staying here for three nights?"
If anyone is interested we stayed in Villa Di Abing
And it was gorgeous.
We now had a few days of exploring Ubud. First stop was the spa next door. Massages are quite the thing in Bali, so when in Bali... It was rather excellent.
After that we were relaxed and up for anything.
Everything is walking distance, but it is hot so it's a slow walking pace - well for me it was.
One of my highlights was the Monkey forest where there are, quite literally, monkeys everywhere, and it was brilliant.
( I couldn't get the baby one to keep still)
We spent a lot of time just wandering the streets and exploring. Obviously we had to stop and eat sometimes and one place we wanted to go was Bu-Oka
Rick Stein and Anthony Bourdain have both eaten here and said it was the best pork and crackling ever - I tend to agree.
We went to Tegallalang to see the rice terraces and this was another highlight.
Also drank some Kopi Luwak coffee, it's the one that's made from beans that a civet has eaten, supposedly choosing only the best beans, then pooped out!
Well it just tasted like coffee to me.
We had one 'blow out' meal - it was the birthday clebration meal, so we booked a restaurant called Mozaic. It's a multi award winning restaurant and I could see why. It was amazing and amazingly expensive.
But what an experience.
So, I loved Ubud.
Next we were off to Lombok for three nights. Lombok is an island off the coast of Bali and is about an hour and a half by boat. ( but a day of travelling!)
We were staying at Santai in incredibly basic, grass huts. No hot water, no shower, just a pitcher of freezing water which was placed above head height and to get a shower you simply removed a stopper and the water gushed out... freezing. Got used to it pretty quickly. ( and it is so, so inexpensive!)
Nice view, though!
There were communal meals at night and the food was lovely. It was also nice sitting with all the other guests and getting to chat, some sampled rather a lot of the local home made pineapple wine, supposedly it's rather nice!
The huts were small and dark, so we didn't spend that much time in them. What we did however, was take a day trip both days we were there over to the Gili Islands. Which are simply beautiful and unspoiled. The snorkelling was amazing and we spent hours and hours doing this ( too many hours as I actually burnt my back which was stupid) but it was worth it as we swam with turtles!!
This was the wee boat we hired to take us over. Chris named her Francine.
I should point out that this wasn't a beach filled with sun loungers and umbrellas, these were it!
Final destination of the holiday was Seminyak, back on Bali.
Up until about 10 years ago Seminyak was a bit of a backwater but it's fairly exploded now, and was as far removed from my 'pre-Bali idea of Bali' as could be. Even more busy than Ubud, but much sleeker. No hippy, crafty markets here, but lots of expensive boutiques. I have no idea how these shops survive as I almost never saw anyone in them, beautiful as they looked.
We were staying in another stunning villa, probably made all the more luxurious in our minds after the grass huts of Lombok!
It was one of the Chimera Villas and again I would highly recommend it. I spent a lot of time in this pool, reading with the odd bit of swimming thrown in ( but not much)
I'm probably not quite cool enough for Seminyak, but I did go out for cocktails to a couple of the ultra trendy places, Cu De Ta and Potato Head! Possibly the most uber cool places I have ever been to have a drink in!
We ate out well here too, but the foody highlight of the holiday was a street stall selling Soto Bakso - thats noodle soup with dumplings, to me and you, and it was amazing.
On our last day we had to leave our villa by 11am but our flight wasn't until 10pm, as Dan was staying for an extra week ( lucky thing!) we booked a hotel for the day/night that he could stay in and the rest of us could use until it was time to leave. It made sense for it to be near the airport, so it was in Kuta. Kuta is full of people, FULL of people. A lot of people love it. I'm not one of them.
Give me Ubud any day.
Cu De Ta
One of our Balinese meals - Siam Sally's
I loved the frangipanis all over the place
Lloyd and I on the ferry back to Bali, from Lombok
Lloyd, Chris and Dan at Potato Head
I like this as I am all 'holiday'
Final night, Bali sunset
I loved Bali, I loved that if you changed $100 to rupiah you were a millionaire for a few days, that was funny!
I loved the people, I loved the smell.