Tuesday, February 3, 2009

5D4Ns in Amazing Bali

28 January 2009 (Wednesday)

We took the first flight (940am) out to Bali Denpasar airport via Air Asia (cheap cheap). For once, the flight was not delayed... Hey, it was even early!! *faint*

Our arrival at the airport was 1240pm (a whopping 3hour flight) and we were greeted by the Alila Hotel attendant and driver enthusiastically. The drive to Alila Hotel in Ubud was another 1+hour but it was eventful.

Our driver, Tara, was very accomodating and we stopped a couple of times at art galleries (we bought a picture of a Balinese gal today), to change money, to have lunch (overlooking the lovely scenary) etc.

When we finally arrived at Alila Ubud, it was already 5pm. The hotel was beautiful and the staff did whatever they could to make us feel very welcome. We checked into room 101, just next to the restaurant and swimming pool.

As it was low peak season, the hotel was almost empty and the solitude and quiet it offered was a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of our recent trip to Singapore. The room was huge and spacious and very new and there was even an open air bath where one can shower and be accompanied by staring lizards. ahahaha.

I liked the little details which the hotel provided which made its guests feel very special - there was an ipod dock and an ipod, complete with 700+ stored songs to create a relaxing and peaceful ambiance. They even provided a little bag for guests to bring on their mini travels outside the hotel if needed. Very thoughtful!

Alan and I took a quick dip in the nearby infinity pool which overlooked the gorgeous mountains. Ahhhh this is the life! Then we showered and napped before hopping over to the hotel massage parlour for a traditional Balinese massage of a lifetime! After the decadent treatment, we were treated to a peach sorbet. :)

Dinner was at the hotel restaurant and Alan and I savoured delicious gourmet in our stupor (from the massage). hahaha.

29th January 2009 (Thursday)

We got up pretty early to enjoy our breakfast. I chose the bubur ayam and Alan chose nasi goreng. We then headed to the lobby to be picked up by Tara.

The journey to Ubud city area was uneventful and my eyelids dropped. Once I opened my eyes again, we had already arrived at an art gallery. This time, we spent approximately 2hours there and emerged victorious with 3 pieces of art which we had successfully bargained to become a steal. We visited other galleries as well...This is all in anticipation of the new house we are buying.. hahaha.. Yeah yeah.. I know we are weird... We buy artifacts / ornaments first before buying the house. :P

Anyway, we ended up at Dirty Duck -a popular restaurant with tourists and rich locals and tried their crispy duck. The duck was anorexic and not very fulfilling and I wondered why it was widely recommended.

Next came an exciting 5hours shopping spree in Ubud shopping area (Seminyak). There was lots to see - clothes, art , etc. We walked and walked and walked and bought 2 wooden artifacts, 1 beautiful ID light, clothes (for us and our doggies) etc etc. And by the time we headed back to the car, Tara had thought we had gotten lost. hahaha.

Even though it was drizzling, we headed to Jimbaran for a nice seafood dinner. What a pity that the weather was wet, if not we could have enjoyed our dinner on the sandy beaches. But the good food made up for it. We had sweet and spicy crabs, grilled sotong, grilled fish and also garlic n butter prawns. oooolala. We invited Tara to share our meal as well and as he put it, "surprised his stomach". haha

By the time we got back to the hotel, it was around 11pm and we were absolutely exhausted.

30th January 2009 (Friday)
We had a late breakfast and lazed around in the hotel till around 1130 when we checked out and transferred hotel from Alila Ubud to Alila Mangis. We had taken the "Two Faces of Bali" package and was to spend 2nights in the mountains (Ubud) and 2 in the beach (Mangis).

Along the way, we tried to buy more art pieces (we needed one for the master bedroom in our new place) but whatever we saw didn't catch our eyes. In the end, we decided to give up the chase and have lunch.

We arrived exhausted in the new hotel at around 4pm, enjoyed our welcome drink and some Balinese sweets and herbal tea and then retreated to the bedroom to rest. Our massage had been booked for 7pm and we this time enjoyed an hour of Indian head massage. Glorious! The more exciting part was that after our massage, we were given 2 USD20 vouchers that can be claimed for another massage or two in the hotel on a subsequent visit. *drools*

We enjoyed our dinner (inclusive in the package) at the renowned restaurant in the middle of a lotus pond. The chef was very obliging and change our set dinner's main course to beef steaks instead of chicken. Apparently, this restaurant was voted one of the top 50 in the world. *smack lips*

31st January 2009 ( Saturday)

We had a huge breakfast spread under a pavilion just next to the beach. I think the food tasted better with the sea breeze ruffling our hair and the smell of salt in the air. We were approached by another Kertut (Mr fisherman) who offered us his services for a fishing expedition the next day for a mere Rp300,000 (approx SGD30+). We agreed heartily as I had been itching to go deep sea fishing again since my experience in Pangkor Laut.

The better part of our Saturday was spent in Ubud area again. We rented a car and driver and visited one art gallery where we rubbed shoulders with a talented artist, Huda, whose works have been displayed at various places around the world. We bought two paintings from him - one for our bedroom (which depicts a man and woman just after their lovemaking and still covered in red sheets) and another of a lady in a white gown not unsimilar to a ballerina's costume who is sitting by the window with a wistful look on her face. Huda's drawings mainly are of people and he can really capture expressions of them which he conjures up from his imagination. What we like is that no two of his drawings are the same - unlike some "mass produced" art by local artists which you can in one too many art galleries.

After the purchase (in which we ask Huda to pen a message on his painting to us), we had lunch at the nearby restaurant which overlooked the Ayung River. What a lovely view! You can see people , mostly bulehs (white) enjoying exhilarating ventures on the rafts and screaming at the top of their lungs. hahahaa. Because it was still off-peak season, the restaurant was empty except for Alan, Kertut (our driver) and myself.

Kertut is the Bahasa Indonesian name for "fourth child in family" and interesting, our two drivers, and fisherman (whom I will mention later) and even a Master massage therapist (whose skills were bragged about online) were all called kertut! What a coincidence!!

After the lunch, we decided to do some shopping in the Ubud shopping village. However, there was unfortunately nothing really much to buy. I did manage to get two sarongs (to wear over my swim suits) and two pairs of interesting 3/4s.

A delicious "comfort tea" (it was so-named) beckoned next at Casa Luna- a restaurant and cafe nearby. Alan had a cookie to last him till dinner as well. We also shopped for display pieces for our new house in the artsy shop nextdoor.

A third massage beckoned and we decided to try Ubud Bodyworks Healing Centre (listed as top 5 attractions in the tripadvisor website). We were roughly (I am not kidding) massaged and then scrubbed with a herbal scrube before being coated with a thick (and cold) layer of yoghurt until we smelt good enough to be eaten for dessert. Then, we soaked in a bathtub full of spices and flowers. The weird thing about this treatment was that we had to strip buck naked and Alan had a male massage assistant come in to coat him in herbs and yoghurt. So not only did my female therapist see Alan's bits, Alan's male therapist saw mine!!! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. *faint*

We were hurried out of the healing centre at 8pm (as it was closing) and then proceeded back to Casa Luna for dinner. That place was a buleh place and there were many people there and we had to wait a long long time to be served our dinner. After we treated the driver to dinner, we also bought Apple Cheesecake slices for him to bring back to his Mrs and his 10month old son.

Apparently, the people in Indonesia practise shortgun weddings quite a fair bit. The fertility of the women must be tested in order for the man to want to marry his mate. She MUST be able to bear him children (especially SONS!). If not, the man would not want to venture into such a losing deal (of marriage). YucKs. I would HATE to be part of such a sexist society. :P

We arrived exhausted once again in our hotel at 11+pm and crashed almost immediately.

1st February 2009 (Sunday)
Ahhhh how time flies and it was soon the last day of our trip in Bali. Thank heavens we had booked the last flight out !!

We met up with our fisherman who introduced us to our fishing guide (guess his name?) and we set sail at 7am on the calm sea. At the end of 3.5hours, Alan had caught many colourful fish and I added to his lot with four very very small, insignificant fishes (only suitable to be used as bait) haahha.

We donated the smaller fishes to the fishermen and then took 3 bigger ones back for the chef to transform them into ingredients for bubur (porridge). They turned out delicious!!! And it was free!!! We ate that and our breakfast spread at one seating. ahhahaha.

We then booked ourselves on our fourth and last massage of our trip and had it at the Pavilions by the beach. Wahhhhhh. The experience was surreal. I fought to keep my eyes open to enjoy each and every moment whilst it lasted but I surrended to dreamland almost immediately. This was by FAR the BEST spa experience I have had in my life. hhaahhaha. and THAT says ALOT!

After our treatment, we lazed around in our balconey overlooking the swimming pool and beach and watched fat angmohs frolicking in the cholorine soaked pool. After our shower, we enjoyed the complimentary Balinese herbal tea (ingredients: lemon grass, grated ginger, lime, honey, cinnamon and of cos hot water) and some sweet cakes before almost tearfully bidding goodbye to Alila Mangis, promising almost all the staff who bade us goodbye that we would come again soon.

Our reckless driver took us to the airport speeding like a madman and we were thankful when our feet finally touched solid ground when we got outta the car. Unfortunately and to our dismay (again) , we found out that our flight had been delayed an hour till 940pm. *sigh*

We decided to enjoy Jap food in a quaint lil restaurant and sat in their private room. ahhahaha. We ate and ate and played cards and just as we left the restaurant , they announced for air asia's passengers to enter the waiting room.... How timely..

That marked the end of my first trip in 2009, 3rd trip to Bali and a fantastic birthday celebration. :D

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