Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bali - Part 1

Australia still celebrates Easter as a public holiday.  This means that each year, we get a long weekend with a Friday and a Monday off.  This year, the ANZAC holiday fell on the same day as Easter Monday.  Australia was good enough to give a five day weekend.  When we realized this, a number of us decided it would be an ideal time to take a trip.  We came up with a list of places we'd like to visit - all of them international.  From there, we looked at how much each trip would cost and how long each flight would take.  After all this deliberation, we decided on Bali.

We left for Bali on Thursday bright and early on a 6:30 am flight which worked out nicely cause then we arrived in Denpasar in the early afternoon.  We were met by our driver at the airport and shuttled to our villa.  Once at the villa we were met by our housekeeper, Made, who showed us around the house and then how to get to the beach and town.  She handed us our welcome drinks and then discreetly left us.

Our villa was very nice.  When I booked it, there were no reviews anywhere on the web so we were going into it completely blind.  It ended up being a good choice.

Our pool area - each of the rooms led directly to the pool except for the master which was upstairs.

Our entrance - if we didn't lock the door, the local dog would stick its head in and drink from the pond.

Our living room
We spent the first afternoon in the pool and then headed into town for dinner.  None of us had done much research on the area so we picked the first restaurant we came to which happened to be an Italian place.  Yes, Italian in Bali.  It wasn't fantastic but it was ok.  From there, half of the group went home as we were tired and the other half went out for drinks.  We had a massive storm that night.  The thunder was so loud that it shook the house.

Day two we woke up and the housekeeper, Made, cooked us up a real nice breakfast and ordered the car for us.  It was a rainy day so we decided to head to Ubud for the afternoon.  Our car driver, Johnny, took us on the 20km drive which took over an hour.  While we were there, we went to the Monkey Sanctuary which is also an active temple.  A couple of pictures are below:

This is who greeted us

The littlest monkey that we saw

The temple inside the sanctuary
From the Monkey Sanctuary, we then wanted to get lunch so Johnny took us to really nice restaurant that was in a rice patty.  The food was Indonesian, though I suspect a very westernized Indonesian.  Once we were done with lunch, Johnny took us back into town to the markets.  The Indonesians are very in your face at the markets.  Constantly trying to get you to look at things and if you showed any sort of interest, they didn't want to let you leave.  It was a bit much for me and I think most of the group was not in the mood to haggle so we quickly got out of there and headed back home.

We spent the rest of the evening in the pool and then had a very late dinner at Cafe Bali in Seminyak.  The best Mi Goreng I had the whole time I was there was at Cafe Bali.  The quote of the night was "Bintangs for everyone!"  For those of you unfamiliar with Bintang, its the local beer for Bali and it wasn't too bad.

For Day three, we choose to go down to the beach.  We spent most of our time on the beach in front of Ku De Ta, which is one of the prime beach clubs in Bali.  The beach was much like the markets though, in that there were people walking up and down the beach trying to sell you stuff and if you showed any sort of interest, you were locked in.
Lunch at the Ku De Ta was actually really, really good.  I had the burger and chips and it was fantastic.

After the day at the beach, we made reservations at a restaurant called Delicious Onion which is supposed to be really yummy.  Notice I said "supposed to be".  This is because Saturday night was a bit of a debacle.  We had 8 people and, in Bali, you can't get a big taxi - you have to get two taxi's.  So, myself, HA, GOM (aka Grumpy Old Man), and Mrs. GOM, hopped in a taxi and the rest of the group hopped into another.

We all thought the drive would take about five minutes.  About ten minutes into the drive, we realize we're not in Seminyak any longer and we're seeing signs to Kuta (which is known for it's night clubs).  We finally get to a populated road and the driver tells us that the restaurant is just up the street but he can't take us because the traffic.  We fight with him for a bit but finally get tired of it and start walking up the street.  We're not seeing the restaurant so HA asks a police officer who says it's just up the street to the left.  So we keep walking...and walking.....and walking.  Finally we stop again and realize we're no where near the restaurant.  HA again asks another police officer who looks at him like he's crazy and proceeds to tell us we're about an hour away due to the traffic.  We're flabbergasted.  I pull out my iphone, turn on the data roaming and look at the map and sure enough, we're nowhere near where we need to be.  The traffic is at a complete standstill and there's no way we're getting there.

We text our other group and tell them that we're not going to make it anytime soon and they should start dinner without us.  We, in the meantime, find a bar which is showing the Liverpool soccer match for GOM.  We proceed to have pub food for dinner which was absolutely disgusting, but on the bright side, very, very cheap.  We had four dinners and about 12 Bintangs for $440k rupiah (about $44). 

We finish up watching the game and decide to head back out on the street.  We came across a bar which was playing some hip hop so we decided to go in. We have a few Bintangs and start people watching.  This is my first exposure to the hookers of Asia.  Maybe I'm assuming but there were a number of attractive, young, unhappy Asian women with frumpy, older white men.  I made an assumption that they were hookers.  There was one young woman in particular that broke my heart.  The man she was hanging out with was drunk and loud and she looked like she hated life.  I decided I wanted to buy her.  This made the group crack up laughing - and here's why:  before the start of the trip, I had told all the boys that they were not allowed to have working hookers in the house - yet here I was wanting to buy the woman for the night to save her from having to deal with the annoying Australian.  Needless to say, I'd had a few drinks by this point but HA was able to talk me into leaving the woman alone.  Please be aware that everything I've said here is an assumption - I don't know for sure that she was a hooker.

Me with a Bintang

Outside trying to catch a taxi
That sums up the first three days in Bali.  Check out my next post to find out how we spent our last four days!

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