Sunday, January 27, 2013

Touring Bali

 Caslin arranged for us to use her regular driver to take us around on our touring. Neurah proved to be a knowledgable guide and a fearless driver in the crazy traffic.

There is a major road project underway that will provide a direct route from the airport to the many tourist areas along the coast. At this point in time it is literally a giant ditch running where the road will be with traffic skirting it and crossing it and sometimes driving through it. Beyond the beach areas Bali is all two lane roads through villages and mountains.

Imagine a jar filled with large stones. Then imagine pouring sand into it which fills in all of the open spaces until it is packed solid. That is what it is like to be stopped at a traffic light in Bali. The cars and trucks are the large stones and motorbikes are the sand. 

It take a little getting used to and we were all thankful we were not behind the wheel. Once we left the main tourist areas things got a bit less hectic but still crazy. It was impossible to get a good shot (no slowing down for photos and not very good angles), but the rotaries had these magnificent statues in the center that towered over the roadway. Several of the roads also had statues of Balinese dancers gracing the intersections.

One of the first things we noticed was the incredible detail in the architecture. I could spend a month with my camera just photographing doorways and entrance gates. Merely pulling up to an intersection could bring about a surprising sight.

We drove up into the mountains to an area called Ubud. Most of our day was spent touring Ubud and we barely scratched the surface. Our first stop was Semar Kuning I Artist Co-operative and school. The site looks to be a former temple with dozens of galleries. The art ranged from traditional Balinese to contemporary abstract. We found a few small traditional pieces to bring home. The parts of the compound not used as galleries were so beautiful and serene.

Over the back fence were rice fields.

This was a bit of a preview for our next stop. Bali is known for its terraced rice fields. Photos do not do them justice. We all marveled at the beauty and ingenuity of these creations by the Balinese farmers.

Our next stop was lunch. Neurah had the perfect place in mind. We traveled up into the mountains to Kintamani and our destination restaurant overlooking Mt. Batur volcano and Lake Batur, the largest lake in Bali. 

Lunch was a buffet of traditional Balinese dishes and each and every one was delicious.

The drinks were quite impressive as well.

Sitting on an open air balcony overlooking the volcano and the lake was beyond special. It was an experience we all will treasure.

After filling our eyes and our tummies, we were ready to head our for our afternoon of exploring.

Spa Time and Dinner

After getting settled into our villa, we all decided that a visit to the spa was in order. Our helpful staff found a wonderful spa very nearby and set up appointments for us. Part of the service is pick-up from the villas. It took longer to turn out into traffic than it did to drive to the spa.

Once we arrived we decided on our services (two hours of massage, body exfoliation and mask, and a soak in a floral bath). We were then led into the courtyard from which all of the treatment rooms were accessed. It brought on immediate relaxation. 

The massages were wonderful and the prices incredibly low (US$60). We had such a wonderful experience that Shayne and I went back for a different package before leaving.

After getting all relaxed, we were ready for dinner. La Laciola is an Italian restaurant that sits right on the beach. When we arrived we went to the bar for a tropical cocktail after walking to the water's edge for our first view of the Indian Ocean. It was very dark and very beautiful.

While enjoying our drinks the heavens opened and the rains came. We ate dinner with the rain falling all around providing a tropical soundtrack for our dining enjoyment. After dinner a member of the restaurant staff drove us back to our villa so we could rest up for the next day's adventures.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hello Bali

Upon our arrival in Bali we were greeted by sunshine, warm temperatures and Balinese gods.

May Lene arrived a short while after we did so we met up in an outdoor cafe at the arrival area.

After a taxi ride over some of the worst road construction imaginable we arrived at the Club Villas. We stayed in the Semenyak area of Bali and our resort was just off a main shopping and dining street. Once we turned into our property, all of the hustle and bustle melted away. We stopped at the lobby building and received a warm greeting and some nice views.

There is a long path with walled sides and doorways to each private villa.

When we reached our doorway we were in for a wonderful surprise. The gate opened onto our own little slice of heaven.

We had a tiny sitting room and a full kitchen.

The bedrooms were the only completely walled in areas (and air conditioned) and each had a bathroom that opened onto a garden.

It didn't take Shayne long to start enjoying the amenities including our first taste of snake fruit.

Each morning two lovely things happened. The staff arrived at a time of our choosing to prepare a huge breakfast. We opted for the Balinese breakfast of fried noodles with veggies and egg. We also had pastries and fruit plates and the staff even made our coffee and tea.

The other lovely thing was having a beautiful offering of flowers just outside our door.