Bali: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and the downright FUGLY

Bali: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and the downright FUGLY

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Joy Berries Kombucha at La Brisa 

After two glorious months in Bali, “The Land of the God’s”, we have finally reached the end of our time here.

Tomorrow, we travel onwards to Thailand “The Land of Smiles, where we will be spending another two months in Koh Samui and Chiang Mai.

So, what can I tell you about Bali?..

Well, I can tell you that it is a land of contradictions and immense natural beauty and I can also tell you that we have both enjoyed our time in Bali so much that if our families weren’t so far away we could happily live here.

Bali has recently been named by Tripadvisor as, and I quote “The best destination on earth” and now that we have been here for awhile we understand why.

Since we have lived in essentially 4 different areas in Bali, including Ubud, North Kuta/Seminyak, Legian and Canggu, I feel that we are both reasonably knowledgeable about what to expect in each of these places.

Ubud is Bali’s Spiritual Centre. A magical place with an abundance of ancient temples and ancient Balinese traditions. It is a place of staggering natural beauty – a land full of magic where you can see the most beautiful rice fields, rainforests and rolling green hills. Though it wasn’t the easiest to live there, the sense of peace and tranquillity I experienced there I will always remember fondly. People go there to experience it’s beauty of course, but also for it’s more laidback way of life – the pace is much slower there then in the other places we visited. It is also well renown for it’s yoga and wellbeing culture, which I could attest to after stumbling upon places such as Karsa Spa and Clear Cafe.

North Kuta/Seminyak where we lived for 3 terrifying nights in Uncle Tom’s Rotten Cabin was a horrendous experience all in all. To cross the road to get into Seminyak Village you were essentially gambling with your life as seemingly the whole of Seminyak was on a motorbike or scooter and with no foreseeable traffic lights or road safety period, it was truly an everyman for himself type of situation, including you if you were on foot. Timing and bravery was imperative just to survive.

Though Seminyak wasn’t a bad choice of areas to stay because it was close to lots of fancy restaurants, coffee and retail shops, it was perhaps a little too busy for us and unfortunately our accommodation there left alot to be desired. Uncle Toms Cabin was a bloody shambles. To think that he had succeeded in tricking us into booking his miserable establishment via Airbnb still vexes me. I knew as soon as the cab started meandering down a dark and narrow alleyway that something was amiss. And when we clapped eyes on the bedraggled Lena the Cleaner who didn’t so much as smile at us upon our arrival I knew that we had made a grave mistake. I will also remember the dead eyed expression on her face and her monotone answer when I enquired after information about the villa. She said: “No information”

What do you mean “No information” you abominable woman?! – we booked this villa on Airbnb and it was not cheap, yet you don’t seem to know fuck all about it and have had the audacity to try and lock us out of one of our own bedrooms!

What a bloody cheek.

This slovenly looking woman didn’t even know the WIFI password for goodness sake. Plus the pool was dirty with questionable looking things languishing on the bottom. Pray tell how she can be described as a cleaner or a villa manager?! What a joke.

I felt uncomfortable the entire time I was in that place. Dirty and uncomfortable. We literally had a family of gecko’s living in our villa. Now I have nothing against gecko’s per say but they are supposed to be seen and not heard yet these ghetto gecko’s were literally fighting for territory on our ceiling!

What on earth is going on?!

Initially the notion of having an outdoor kitchen and living area sounded great! We imagined that we would sit there in the afternoon having a leisurely lunch cooked by ourselves in our kitchen and then a dip in our pool buck nekkid. Oh yes. We were very much looking forward to the ultimate sense of privacy we would feel in our very own private garden and pool. But OH NO. I was scared in that bloody place! I honestly didn’t know what I was going to see next! In the 3 short days that we were there I had seen every conceivable creature one could imagine. I know that we were inundated with those bloody caterpillars in Ubud and they were really annoying but that is something you would kind of expect living near a jungle in the middle of the countryside but this villa was in a busy city!

Why on earth are there giant snails in the garden? a worm in the pool? a spider in the bathroom? a bat on the floor? a gecko on the ceiling? rabid dogs in the alley? cockroaches on the roadside?

I’M NOT INTO IT I TELL YOU!!

After our experience at Uncle Tom’s Rotten Cabin I do not recommend outdoor kitchens at all. They look nice in the pictures but in theory unless you are happy with creatures crawling around in your cornflakes then it’s not a good look. In our villa we had to keep the 4 doors in it closed so as to not invite creatures i.e mosquitoes into our bedrooms. It was not a user friendly experience at all.

According to the pictures online the villa looked brand spanking new, clean, stylish and modern. So what the bloody hell had happened?!

Josh reminded me of our first foray into town from Uncle Toms Cabin just last night  – he asked me if I remembered seeing a lump of dog poo on a patch of artificial grass on our way there. Now if that isn’t a sign that we needed to get the hell out of there then I don’t know what is!

Legian was the worst of all. When we arrived at our hotel The Akmani we initially thought that we had done bloody well. We hadn’t been happy with Uncle Tom’s Rotten Cabin and finally, through sheer determination and a little strategy we had found a way out of our contract to stay there for a month and move to a new place, but when we arrived at our new hotel it soon became abundantly clear that we were in the wrong area: AGAIN. Despite doing my research before we had come to Bali and identifying either Seminyak or Canggu as being the best areas to stay in we had somehow been tricked into booking this Legian nastiness.

In Legian, there only seemed to be one type of person there: Loud, drunken Australian’s. I simply could not identity any other type of person asides from the Indonesian’s themselves who compared to the ones we had experienced in Ubud, also left alot to be desired. In Legian, the streets were even busier then in Seminyak with an overwhelming amount of motorbikes, cars, taxi’s and scooters crowding the roads and lots and lots of market stalls selling cheap tatt to drunken barefooted Australians crowding the pavements. There was also suddenly lots of beggars which we never saw at all in Ubud.

I reached my lowest ebb the same night we arrived when we went for a meal at Mama’s German, which had been recommended to us by staff at our hotel, but which was literally one of the most foul restaurants I had had the misfortune to dine in. Coupled with the abominable German man in there with his German sausage and far too young Indonesian girlfriend and the American man who looked like he had just escaped from Iraq, also with an Indonesian girlfriend who he never spoke a word to, and the fact that almost everyone in the restaurant was smoking a cigarette with their dinner (yes, that is okay here), I simply could not deal. Needless to say the food matched the decor and the clientele: Horrendo.

Had we of left it just a little bit longer, had we of decided to give the Akmani, and Legian as a whole more of a chance, we would have found ourselves up shit’s creek without a paddle. In short: we would have been stuck in Legian. This is because we had booked the hotel on Booking.com, who had a policy of allowing you to cancel only up to midnight on the day you arrived to incur only a minimal charge and thank goodness we had had the sense to look into those terms when we arrived in order to make the decision on the same day that we were moving. Again.

Moving to Canggu was a no brainer. We had been looking at staying there initially but eventually had become tempted by this villa in North Kuta/Seminyak that turned out to be a nightmare. Since being in Canggu I haven’t seen not one cockroach. Compare this with just 4 nights of staying in Legian/Kuta where I saw on average around 7 cockroaches looking like they were very much at home there and you will understand what I mean when I use the word FILTH. Canggu reminds both Josh and I of Ubud here, and has confirmed what we already knew: we don’t like busy cities. We don’t particularly enjoy it when there are lots of people around, or when it’s too noisy and for us cleanliness is of paramount importance. We have had that here. And what we have also had is an abundance of healthy eateries, even more so then in Ubud infact. Because Canggu is the place for healthy bodies and minds. There are lots of Yoga studio’s here and a huge surfer lifestyle.

Infact if you don’t surf (like me), then you are in the minority. It is far more chilled here too, unlike in Legian and Kuta which I assume has lots of cheesy nightclubs. The music playing in the restaurants, cafes and coffee shops in Canggu has been nothing short of amazing.  The play better music here then in any other public place in any country that I’ve been to. And that includes London. How could this possibly be? you ask. Well I really haven’t got a clue but it is a fact. I know it because I’ve shazamed music more times here then anywhere else!

Finn’s Beachclub we visited a few days ago and we had the best of times. In part this is because it’s a really cool place to go during the day, partly because of the food (I had some crepes there and they were delicious!) and partly it’s because of the music that this particular DJ was playing there. Shazam was simply unable to return any matches for my searches.

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Delicious, fresh coconut!

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Another magical sunset at Finns

A country of wonderful contradictions

Stay away from Legian and Kuta unless you like frowsiness, traffic, dirt, beggars, cigarettes, fry ups, cockroaches, or drunken Australians and Europeans on the prowl for young Indonesian girls.

Seminyak remains a good choice if you want to stay in a fancy hotel close to the beach where you can still be in walking distance to all of the great Seminyak establishments such as Sisterfields and La Favela or do some retail shopping. They also have lots of amazing interior design shops there.

Canggu is for people who want a more laid back, quieter stay in Bali that’s close to the beach but in the middle of picturesque countryside. Though it is quite developed in some areas with fancy coffee shops and healthy food restaurants etc, it is still essentially a residential area that is mainly inhabited by Indonesians. We could easily live here and be happy.

Ubud is a remote area in the centre of Indonesia, famed for it’s tourism due to it’s infamous landscapes that it has in abundance but for us it ended up being a little too remote. It does however have a special kind of magic and is a perfect holiday destination for nature lovers. And thus of course, we will be back!

Burns Victim

I have been a victim of being burnt by a boiling hot kettle.

Living with a black woman, Josh has had to endure his fare share of afro haircare duties and trials and tribulations that at the time must have seemed completely alien to him, lol.  He has (albeit extremely reluctantly and with moaning and complaining throughout) helped me to remove my micro braids, my faux locs, and just recently, I asked him to help to dip my freshly twisted hair into a kettle of boiling water (which is a technique braid and locs hairdressers use to create waves or curls) as I couldn’t quite reach the back. Now before you (Mum!) tell me how dangerous this is, I was wearing a towell at the time, and we have done it before, but on this occasion I was sitting in an awkward position on the edge of the bath and as he was dipping the ends he started telling me that the towell wasn’t on properly so naturally I began to adjust it and as I done so he accidentally poured the boiling water down my back!

I let out a loud yelp!

He felt really bad about it afterwards and I used his guilt to good effect as I played patient and he played doctor for the rest of the day. Thankfully it didn’t burn my skin, it just irritated my mosquito bite is all, which is probably a good thing!

METIS

The restaurant we went to before our party was a fine dining French restaurant in Petitenget, which incidentally wasn’t too far away from our beloved Som Chai. Petitenget was renowned as having a “restaurant strip” with some of the best restaurants in Bali (including Som Chai, Merah Putih and METIS amongst others) within walking distance of one another. I had identified METIS as being somewhere that I wanted to go to because it wasn’t just a fine dining restaurant but a fine art gallery too!

The setting, understandably considering it was an art gallery also, was suitably refined, with lots of statues for you to peruse on your way into the restaurant and the gallery had many many beautiful pieces of art, including a particularly stunning collection of paintings featuring beautiful African women and children. Alot of what they had there was vintage and clearly extremely expensive. Obviously I’m no art collector but I could see that what they had there was rare and beautiful. The food was good, Josh thought it was just okay, but it was the setting was what it was really about. Clearly the owner wanted to showcase this wares and what better way to do it then to combine the two.

The gardens that the restaurant was built around was magnificent. While we waited for Josh’s souffle to be cooked we meandered around the gardens which was essentially a huge Japanese garden with a difference. It was beautiful and very well done! In it there were various water features, statues, flowers, trees and ponds. You couldn’t possibly be bored in this garden of wonders.

La Brisa Rave Up!

La Brisa had a party to celebrate the opening of their new expanding beachclub which I didn’t quite understand as trust me this place didn’t need to be expanded AT ALL. I don’t know how many people you could get into this place, but it surely had to be thousands! Looking at it from the beach it looked deceivingly small, but once you entered it it was like a neverending maze of a place, with multiple levels, a huge swimming pool, an area for hundreds of bean bags, hideouts, lounge areas, dining areas, and if you were really smart, sleeping areas! It was still our favourite place of all in Canggu so when they invited Josh and us to their upcoming party that was happening 2 days before we left Bali of course we said we’d go. As it was, we had been there, to Sisterfields and to Peloton enough times that the staff remembered us in each place. Not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing!

When we got to La Brisa it had just started to rain but that didn’t stop the people from arriving in their droves for the best party on the island! What I loved most about La Brisa was it’s mystery – it had so much magic to offer and most people didn’t even know it existed! But I had seen posters advertising this party as far as Seminyak so I knew that the place would be jumping. And it was. The DJ was playing some bangers, and for the first time since arriving in this sleepy part of the countryside I was about to really get down and it felt GOOD. By the end of it both Josh and I were sweating hard as La Brisa had the benefit of a good sound system and great house DJ playing.

When we got too hot we were able to go directly from the club onto the beach and watch the waves crash against the shore. It was a luxury I had never experienced in London and knew that I never would.

The Motorcycle Accident 

On our way back home following a great evening at METIS for dinner and then onto the party at La Brisa, we had a motorcycle accident and I injured my foot. This time, it was because Josh had misjudged the space between our scooter and the literally thousands of others that were parked on the beach, and when he went to drive through a very tight space at speed between the parked scooters he accidentally scraped my foot against one of the parked vehicles causing me to yelp loudly! again.

Josh has asked me not to report these abuses as he feels too awful and embarrassed by them but what good is the story to leave such scenarios out? lol. My foot is fine anyway, I just scraped it a little but the irony was not lost on either of us as we have literally had a scooter everyday for a whole 2 months driving it here, there and everywhere and we have never had an accident of any kind despite being in many hairy moments on the road! Josh is a very safe driver normally yet 2 days before we leave Bali we have an accident in the bloody car park! Typical.

 Unique Indonesia

At Clear Cafe, they have a restaurant and a spa.

At METIS, they have a fine dining restaurant and a fine art gallery.

At Deus Ex Machina, they have a motorbike shop, a cafe, a barbershop, a surfboard shop and a tattoo shop.

At Dandelion (which coincedentally had the friendlist staff I have encountered anywhere!), they have a restaurant and pet rabbits.

THIS is essentially what makes Bali unique – the ability to blend so many different concepts so effortlessly. For some reason all of the randomness works here, even better then that – it’s what makes Bali so special.

The choices at breakfast at Sense hotel haven’t been great. On our first morning here we went for the popular choice of sourdough bread with avocado and poached eggs though suspiciously it came with hollandaise sauce. When it arrived I was sickened to find that I couldn’t even SEE the poached eggs nor the avocado as it had been drenched in this hollandaise sauce and when I tasted it was FAR too buttery and salty and so completely drowned out the delicate flavour of the eggs and avocado. After two mouthfuls and literally feeling sick, I couldn’t continue. After that experience I didn’t order it again but there were other choices on the menu such as the continental breakfast option which consisted of toast (which was really bread as it was practically white in pallor), and dry croissants and fruit. It was clear that the pastries had been bought in bulk and had not been made freshly on the premises. How disappointing.

Another option was their American breakfast, which came with eggs,  sausage, bacon, tomato, toast (aka white bread), croissants, fruit, juice, tea or coffee and cheese. Or you could have what they liked to call a “Healthy Breakfast” which was just a small glass of Granola. Since I had tasted their American breakfast and found it wanting I went for their Granola Parfait instead, but because the portion was so tiny and there was no fruit following I asked for a croissant aswell (despite it being dry as a bone) but was told that no, I couldn’t have a croissant because I had “coconut flakes” in my granola, as if that was somehow comparable to having 3 full plates of food!!

Needless to say every morning I walked away from the breakfast table STARVING HUNGRY.

VROOM VROOM

Unfortunately, being in Bali for so long has made me yearn for the most dangerous of pastimes: Motorbike ownership. This is solely down to the sheer amount of BAD ASS MOTORBIKES I have seen whilst here, and more specifically about one particular instance when I saw a girl with two massive tattoo’s, one on each thigh whilst she was a top of her HUGE FAT WHEELED MOTORBIKE. She looked immensely cool and dare I say sexy as fuck! Now I’m not a lesbian but tis true – the girl was sexy! And I could tell that she didn’t know it and probably didn’t even care which was the best thing about it. She was just going about her business, but unfortunately, now I want one too, lol.

Now before you start to lecture me about the dangers of owning a motorbike: I am FULLY aware of them trust me. And currently I don’t even own a driving licence with which to pursue my motorbike dream BUT it has been on my mind ever since and should the situation present itself i.e when I am NOT LIVING IN LONDON, then there is a strong possibility of me getting one. I have even seen the type of motorbike I want!

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This one will do!

But, what’s wrong with a scooter I hear you ask? – No thanks. Scooters are lame. Sorry, obviously there’s nothing wrong with a scooter but it cannot be compared to a motorbike which looks HECTIC and sounds just as good! Also, I love the fact that a Motorbike is basically considered to be a vehicle for men. Well, I like them too! Especially the custom bikes like the ones by Deus Ex Machina and the Vintage Motorbikes. They are so cool!

Anyway for now I can’t drive so don’t worry yourself (Mum), lol. Josh has said that he is not keen on me getting one in London as it’s too dangerous and I’m inclined to agree with him there. But if/when we move to the South of France then it’s all on!!

There has been absolutely no indication of crime here. Josh has accidentally left his phone in the front of the scooter on too many times to mention and on all occasions it has either been returned to him by the staff of whichever cafe or restaurant we have gone into or he has gone back outside to get it and it has still been there. Apart from the danger on the roads because of the overwhelming amount of motorbikes and scooters, and the potential for a volcanic eruption, cyclone or earthquake (all which we have experienced since we’ve been here, lol), I have felt no danger posed by the people. This is rare in my experience. I have felt far more unsafe walking through Rome during the daytime then I would ever feel at night in Indonesia. This is despite them being far more poor economically then alot of countries, which lets face it is the main reason why people commit crimes in the firstplace.

Why is that? you wonder. Well, it’s a cultural thing. I don’t think they believe in doing harm to other beings, which is a concept that is severely lacking in many other countries despite what they claim.  They may not have much materially but they are far more rich in other ways which bring them a true sense of happiness and contentment. I know which I prefer!

These bloody dogs are so annoying. Why can’t these people sort out this dog situation? – they are taking over for goodness sake! Everywhere we go there are dogs on the roadside. Now because we are hardly on foot, and before you say we are lazy then please be aware that nobody else is on foot either! we don’t have the “special experience” of having to deal with these mutts directly but they do bark at you suddenly from the sides of the road, they do sit there scratching themselves raw, they do waltz into the road as if they own it causing you to have to swerve suddenly so as to avoid hitting them, they are on the streets all hours of night hanging about in dog gangs and some I assume do have rabies.

Also in some questionable restaurants (such as one called Monsieur Spoon for instance) which served nasty food and had a nasty waiter with zits on his face who felt no way to rub a stray dogs head in the middle of serving food in the restaurant!, dogs are allowed to just walk right on in! Nawsty.

Places of note:

Clear Cafe – a unique, vegetarian cafe with an onsite spa and beautiful decor. Ubud’s best kept secret!

Karsa Spa – heavenly spa treatments set in the middle of rice paddies, lily ponds and tropical gardens. Paradise discovered!

The Hanging Gardens of Bali – the world’s first 7 star boutique hotel and thus extortionately priced but worth it for the astounding views of the jungles it is set within with some really great spa treatments.

Jungle Fish – a really cool beach club, without the beach or the sea! Worth it just for the unique setting.

The Sayan House – a combination of Latin and Japanese food that works surprisingly well. Nestled in a dramatic position perched on the edge of a cliff face.

Peloton – a vegan cafe with a difference. Simply delicious food, great service and an original, healthy menu.

Sisterfields– Consistent food, great menu and the best burger I’ve ever had! (well worth giving up my vegetarianism temporarily for!)

La Mexicana – The perfect place to go when your really hungry as they do great, authentic Mexican food with HUGE portions.

La Brisa – what can I say about La Brisa? – well, it remained both mine and Josh’s favourite place in Canggu of all. Unique and absolutely stunning decor with an amazing attention to detail. Comfortable. Versatile! – so many seating areas to choose from we didn’t even touch the surface of what they had to offer there. Great service, definitely overstaffed rather then understaffed. A great place to watch surfers in the morning and to watch the sunset in the afternoon. The food was fresh and delicious – the seafood served is caught that same morning and you can really taste the difference. We particularly enjoyed the black cod croquettes! SO GOOD!

Finns –  though a really cool place in general, makes the list because the food (in particular their crepes with cinnamon, orange and lemon marmalade sauce) was to die for! And because of the DJ, who was playing a ridiculously high level of tuneage with an impressive degree of consistency.

Som Chai – Best meal we had in Indonesia. And in such beautiful and seductive surroundings. This restaurant could be anywhere in the world and receive rave reviews no doubt about it!

Btw, this is not an exhaustive list, just some of our favourites. There are infact many, many excellent places to be unearthed in Indonesia and I’m sure, many more to come!

The Good

The people – Friendly, respectful, open, happy, curious. Definitely the cool cats of Asia!

The place – Untouched in many places. Beautiful landscapes with the greenest grass you’ve ever seen, stunning sunsets and idyllic beaches (some idyllic beaches, though not Legian obviously!)

The Culture – Unique, interesting, sweetly scented and colourful!

Kombucha – a natural, non alcoholic fermented sparkling tea we discovered for the first time here. We particularly enjoyed the Joy Berries variety.

The Bad

Broken down dogs all about the place. Why on earth don’t they sort this bloody dog scenario out?! It’s nawsty. I saw one doo doo on the beach the other day with wanton abandon. What kind of thing is this?!

The traffic in Bali is INSANE. If you’re not lucky you could get yourself into some serious trouble as these people drive like loons. Indonesians start riding scooters from the tender age of 8 and everyone and their grandma (including their grandma and even their great grandma) is on one. They carry animals on there, farming equipment, luggage, sleeping children, newborns, trees, even entire families (I have seen up to 4 people on one scooter before) so these people aren’t here for games with this scooter and motorcycle business.

The Ugly and The Downright Fugly

Tanah Lot was ugly, disappointing and pretty pointless.

Our food at Sense was pretty shoddy but now that we are representatives of the hotel as we have been plastered all over their bloody website and promotional materials I feel it is my duty to give them a breakdown of where they are going wrong and urge them to fix it forthwith so as to not associate me or Josh with such questionable goings ons!

The chef at the restaurant needs to start again. Since it has become abundantly clear that he has never eaten western food in his life he needs to try some first and then perhaps go to cooking school to learn how to cook it. I would suggest that for now he sticks to cooking Indonesian food (though to be fair he’s no good at that either!)

Also, the clientele in Canggu are generally pretty health conscious so offering them a menu that is predominantly meat based is not a good idea. And for us, it was a challenge ordering from it as it seemed we could only have either Margherita Pizza, Chips or Pasta. Not the most original of offerings.

Legian is fugly beyond belief. No self-respecting person who like cleanliness, comfort and peace and quiet would wish to venture there. It is a place for dodgy individuals on the prowl for the cheapest beer they can find and nothing more. They are not interested in having a “cultural experience” or infact any kind of experience that doesn’t involve alcohol. In addition, though perhaps unsurprisingly the place is crawling with cockroaches. STAY AWAY or be it on your head!

In conclusion:

We have been happy here and travelling has brought us even closer together. We have had our fair share of trials and tribulations and alot of laughs but essentially travelling has confirmed that we are both looking for the same thing: To experience life. For the very first time for both of us, we have felt as though finally we are actually living, not just existing, and we like it and want to continue! Commuting to work day in and day out, spending most of my days with annoying individuals, living in a dreary grey country that’s soulless and only obsessed with making money and fleeting success, essentially living a mundane existence, is not for us. Should we somehow manage to find a way a way to make it happen where we can travel more often then this is how we would love to spend our time.

We finished watching Greenleaf finally and we are now onto Season 3 of Narco’s.

On our last night in Bali we had a choice of watching Narco’s or having a candlelit bath, and after much ponderation we finally decided to do both at the same time and it was wonderful!

Farmers, Craftsman, Surfers alike. For two months I lived among them and it was beautiful.

I will miss Bali but like Arnie said:

I’LL BE BACK!!!

(stay tuned for my upcoming Thai Adventures!)

STori x

 

 

Week 7 in Bali

Week 7 in Bali

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The photoshoot at our hotel that we were asked to participate in went pretty well in so far as it was quick and wasn’t too taxing.

We didn’t know it at the time (though perhaps we should have known judging by the dithering antics of the photographer) but the photographer was an amateur. He didn’t really give us any direction during the shoot and considering neither of us were professional models that wasn’t very cool. In the end we just done the best that we could to try to convince the camera that I enjoyed fooling around on the inflatable gold swan (I did not), and that we both found the food that was presented to us delicious (we didn’t).

Nonetheless, we looked forward to receiving the images to provide memories of our travels in Bali.

When we received the photo’s back we were a little disappointed with them as the quality of the images was poor. The resolution on the camera seemed very low – infact we could have taken much better images on our iphones! Considering these images are going to be used on their website and other promotional material (we even had to sign a waiver agreement), I don’t see why they didn’t employ someone with a better camera and better skills to take the pictures but hey ho. Of course, they’re not all bad.

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The Golden Swan and Me 

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Josh and me with our floating platter of food outside our Lagoon Pool Access Room

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Happiest on the beach 

We have had a few issues since staying/living at this hotel. My main one I have mentioned before: The food, which is questionable to say the least, but another pet peeve has been the inconsistency of service.

Since we are still the only couple at this hotel (well we had a family here for 2 days and another couple have just arrived), it seems to me that we should receive exceptional and consistent service the whole time we’re here, but while the manager skives off, he has left us with a whole host of staff who it seems, are on their first jobs straight out of catering college. They are eager and friendly but what they aren’t is efficient. And they don’t seem to employ the gift of common sense particularly either.

Some days at breakfast we will receive a pot of tea, other days just a cup. Some days magically pool towels will appear rolled up on the sunbeds, other times we won’t get a sausage.

Occasionally we will receive a food menu to choose from at breakfast, or our waiter will write our order down, other times a piece of paper with multiple choice food options will be presented with a pen for us to indicate what we wish to eat.

Most times the pool bar isn’t open for business (despite the huge sign indicating that it is). But what IS consistent, and infact highly predictable, is the question asked every morning of us by the waiter who it seems simply must know where we are going that day. This is despite us repeating the same answer each and everyday of “we don’t know yet, we will decide later”. Guaranteed, this simple answer does not suffice and it does not dissuade him from asking us with a highly predictable regularity and sense of urgency it seems.

Our answer, given to him every morning without fail does not indicate to him AT ALL that a) it’s none of his business and perhaps we don’t want to tell him or b) we are quite spontaneous and do what we want as and when the mood takes us or depending on the weather. None of this occurs to the man. He just stands there with an urgent look on his face as if our answer has the meaning of life or death to him. It is VERY odd and EXTREMELY annoying.

Another thing that is consistent is the music played at breakfast every morning. It is Bob. And by Bob I don’t mean Dylan, I mean Marley. These people rinse out Bob Marley’s album like there’s no tomorrow. Initially, when the distinctive drum beat for “Is this Love” made it’s entrance on cue whilst I was raising my granola parfait heaped spoon to my mouth I assumed it was some kind of announcement of my presence at breakfast. Really.  Well you’d be surprised what simple minded ways people find to try to let you know that they’re feeling your culture and I remember in Thailand that they were obsessed with my braids and with Bob Marley in particular.

So it didn’t offend me, I just found it a little amusing is all. But after about the 11th day in a row of hearing the album playing it was starting to jarr a little bit. Thankfully that Bob Marley album is a classic so it didn’t jarr too much but why on earth must they rinse the same album over and over again??

Well I was left speechless this morning when at breakfast there was two car loads of Indonesian officers wearing their uniform also at breakfast and I was convinced that the staff wouldn’t be brave enough to take off their traditional Indonesian music to put on Bob Marley but they did! And the funniest thing of all was one of the officials started singing along to it, tapping his feet! Well I never!

Because of the poor standard of food at our hotel I’m ashamed to admit that we go out for food every afternoon and every night without fail. We do not want to find ourselves in a position where we have to eat the food at the hotel as it is a woeful affair. The only meals we eat here is breakfast and even then I only have granola.

Shopping in Seminyak

We went for brunch in Seminyak for a change. There’s so many great, healthy cafe’s around Canggu that we really haven’t had a reason to leave it but we thought it would be nice to go back to Sisterfields as we had been really impressed with the food the last time we went there. Seminyak wasn’t as busy as we remembered it being, undoubtedly this was because of the volcano situation that was still ongoing. The reports of this volcano which thus far hadn’t done any damage at all, was scaring people off the island, an island which depends almost exclusively on tourism.

For them, this natural disaster was an absolute disaster and even though they had taken all of the necessary precautions to make sure there would be no fatalities this time, somehow the media had taken the opportunity to make it seem as though everywhere in Bali was in imminent danger. The exclusion zone and surrounding area this applied to yes,  but not here.  Nonetheless, it had been successful in keeping literally thousands of people away potentially crippling small business owners and guaranteeing that we had this brand new hotel to ourselves.

Josh and I thought back to Pumpkin Village and Jihwa, who had been a wonderful host, we wondered how she was faring considering she was running a boutique hotel, with only 5 villa’s in it and being in Ubud, was closer to the volcano site then we were. I hoped her business wasn’t being affected by all of this because she had only been open for 5 months! – No idea what it is with us and newly opened hotels!

We had brunch at Sisterfields which was really nice and then I went off on my own to see what I could find in the shops while Josh stayed there working. Technically, apart from short forays to coffee shops and the like, this was our first time apart. We are always better together! lol. Alas, I wanted to shop and he did not so I went on my own and before I had even turned the corner I heard a group of fairly old Indonesian men call me out of my name, trying to get my attention by calling out “Blackie”

Now I did not have the luxury nor the desire to find out whether this was meant to be an insult or said in fondness, but I did not appreciate being yelled at across the road and I found the name “Blackie” ignorant if not insulting. Nonetheless, I very much enjoy being a “Blackie” and since it was clear that they really wanted to get my attention I could only take it as a compliment. On the way back from shopping during which I picked up 2 dresses from Bamboo Blonde they were sitting in the same exact spot yelling at a bunch of white girls who were across the road too so they clearly had nothing better to do but chat nonsense allday! FOOLS.

Overall, my experience here as a black woman in Indonesia has been pleasant. I get the occasional looks but as a people they seem very tolerant and not as ignorant as other nations I have come across in my travels and of course there is the thing about me modelling to advertise a Balinese hotel! It is a different experience being a single woman walking on her own though, and I’m sure that Josh has shielded me from that just with his presence on a few occasions, but still, I would say that it is very safe to be a woman here, a woman of colour and a woman travelling on her own. Safer then even Thailand perhaps.

We decided that it would be a beach day so we took ourselves down to La Brisa to work. The tunes were pumping, the surfers surfing, and we got talking to a couple from Las Vegas who had just arrived the night before and began telling us about their life in Las Vegas and about their travel plans. They were nice but the girl was pretty much telling us her whole life story and in the end she was draining both of our energy resources with her nonstop chat. Even her boyfriend left her to it, and after 30 minutes of it we decided to do the same!

When we got back to our hotel we spotted the beginnings of a stupendously beautiful sunset so we jumped on the scooter and took it the short 30 second ride down to the beach! That was the benefit of being where we were – being surrounded by miles of emerald green rice paddies, hills and valleys but with a view of the sea being only walkable distance. When we were living in Ubud I never thought that being by the sea would be that big of a deal for me since I am more a lover of countryside, vast green pastures and vibrantly coloured flowers but having the best of both worlds here really was a treat. And I really couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d been before that was quite like it.

When we arrived at the beach we were left simply astounded at what we saw before us.

“Honeymooners Santorini” had nothing on this sunset and I had been pretty impressed with Santorini, but this, well this was just off the chart!

The colours of the sunset were like an exploding rainbow, with the primary colours of blue and red on the scene aswell as purples, oranges, pinks underlit by a luminous gold and yellow sky. I honestly was in shock by the magnificent beauty of the sky. And I could see that many other people were too. People began to gather. It was the most beautiful sky I have ever seen in my life, brought together by a culmination of a setting sun and underlit by the fluffy white clouds. Devastatingly romantic. Of course I made an exception and took LOTS of pics for this one!

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Sunset on Echo Beach

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The view from our hotel

Tanah Lot

We haven’t done many touristy things since being in Canggu because we haven’t really felt that inclined to. Being in Ubud gave us access to the “real Bali” which provided us with a taste and feel of living there. Without having to seek them out we got to see the temples, and the beautiful, dramatic landscapes that Ubud was famous for. The sheer abundance of temples on offer on a casual walk down the road meant that you really didn’t need to bother visiting one, but in Canggu, religion and temples was a lot more understated.

Tanah Lot was considered to be one of Bali’s most sacred sites. Essentially a Hindu temple in the middle of the sea, Tanah Lot, which means “Land in the Sea”  was supposedly so sacred that people from all of the world regularly done pilgrimages there. To access it you had to cross a group of large rock formations when the tide was low but once there you were treated to a view of an old temple dating back to the 16th century that provided stunning sunset views and a dramatic panorama of the surrounding coastline that stretched for miles.

To enter the temple you had to dress conservatively – women had to wear a sarong covering their arms, shoulders, knees and below. Also, women (these types of things are always directed at women aren’t they?!) were forbidden from entering if they were pregnant or menstruating. So that was me out then! But the curse of the period was a personal thing, known by me alone, how could they possibly know if I was on my period or not?

It was simple: they could not.

So, disrespectful though it may have been, I thought that it would be far more disrespectful if I didn’t bother going at all or completely ignored their dress code then not enter because I had the misfortune of being in my time of the month!

So I put on a sarong and off we went. The weather was glorious and the ride pleasant. It was only about a 30 minute ride away so we got there on the bike in no time. When we arrived we expected to see lots of signage giving us directions to the temple and general information about the site but it just seemed to be one huge barren area that was poorly signed and it looked very disorganised and rundown. We had to pay to get in and the lady at the kiosk didn’t seem to be particularly concerned with what we were wearing and already I could see plenty of other “Westerners” and others wearing casual shorts exposing their knees and more. Meanwhile I was sitting there in full garb sweating like there was no tomorrow! In addition we weren’t given any pamphlets or any directions as to where this temple was.

We began to get annoyed as we couldn’t find any signs for parking or anything. Also, we were beginning to understand why the woman at the kiosk seemingly couldn’t care what people were wearing to visit the temple, as we were soon starting to see that the entire area was teaming with cheap and nasty looking market stalls selling cheap and nasty looking tat. There were loads of them! I found it really hard to believe that here they were marketing this as some kind of sacred site when they are allowing cheap clothing sellers onto the site to sell their nasty wears. And there was nothing of quality – it was all just bargain basement t-shirts and print dresses that had absolutely nothing to do with Tanah Lot or anything within it. They had succeeded in cheapening their own offering, and it was very disappointing to see.

We hoped and prayed that this wasn’t a sign of things to come!

After parking we stumbled our way around the huge, dusty complex, which was very confusing to say the least with no adequate signage whatsoever, and came out to a clearing where finally we could see this temple. By now there were lots of other tourists in the area (lots with professional photographers following in their wake), taking pictures of the scene before them and as if on cue I too was asked to take a picture with an Asian lady who clearly hadn’t seen a black person before. But this phenomena is pretty normal for me when I travel so I agreed with pleasure.

The temple did indeed look impressive, standing tall and grand in it’s majestic position in the middle of the sea but Josh and I began to wonder just how we would get there as to us it seemed that there was no way to cross – the tide was in. Alas, there was no information as to an alternative way of viewing this famed temple and no information telling us the most appropriate time to view the temple and soon it became abundantly clear that we weren’t going to be able to. It seemed that the entrance was not the only area littered with these “retail” businesses either – there were hawkers everywhere trying desperately to sell their abominable wears and it was starting to get ridiculous. Everywhere we walked we were inundated with offers from various people trying to sell us things that were completely unrelated to the thing we had come there to see.

It was not only disheartening but for me, disappointing. In Ubud, Bali’s Spiritual Centre, it was easy to experience what it was Bali was most known for: their spirituality and wellness traditions but for some reason coming here I was experiencing quite the opposite.

This place wasn’t sacred at all – it was consumerism all the way and for a non religious person like myself, perhaps this shouldn’t have bothered me, but it did. If a sight is sacred, then let it remain so. Bali: Respect and uphold your traditions for goodness sake.

On the way outside of the main area where people were gathering on land to watch the temple from afar, we were again surprised to find that Tanah Lot had an entire road dedicated to retail stores selling absolutely anything and everything to unsuspecting tourists who had to pass by. It was in very bad taste. I went into one of them though as they were claiming to have Agarwood for sale, which is a very expensive and very rare Absolute. Infact it was so rare and pricey that I hadn’t even smelt the pure essence yet. Ony dilutions or imitations of the real thing. Since I had picked up some rare and beautiful Lotus Essential Oil in Ubud I felt it was my duty to find out whether I could smell and perhaps even buy some Agarwood here in Tanah Lot. But after smelling it I could tell immediately that it wasn’t pure, and the shop assistants in the shop were trying a little too hard to get me to buy something. It was coming over a little desperate to be honest so in the end I thanked them and went on my way without the essences.

The next shop I walked into was another branch for a women’s clothes shop that I had remembered seeing in Ubud but hadn’t had the chance to go into. The clothes there had a distinctly bohemian feel with beautiful hand embroidery and jewelled flourishes that gave the summery, floaty dresses a bit of glamorous sparkle.

We were met at the door by a middle aged Indonesian woman who greeted us into the air conditioned, well stocked shop to take our time and peruse the aisles of brightly coloured clothes. Already, without even looking through the racks I could clearly see that there was at least 3 frocks that should belong to me. Considering I had already identified this shop in Ubud as being somewhere that I wished to shop it was pretty obvious to me that I was going to find something here that I would love. However Josh did not agree with this shopping spree, particularly since he was already peed off about wasting an afternoon in the grossly underwhelming tourist trap that was Tanah Lot. In theory I was in agreement with him, but I also knew that I wasn’t going to be going back to Ubud anytime soon so the chances of me being able to go to the shop again were slim to none.

No, this was the time to purchase some wares!

I tried on about 6 different outfits and chose 2 but noticed that one of them had a stain on it so we told the shop owner that we would take it provided she give us some money off. This is standard practice in any clothes shop I’ve ever gone to and these dresses were not cheap. Neither of us anticipated that we would essentially have to argue with this woman to tell her that we qualified for a discount because the clothes she was selling as new were grubby. Not only that but the table where the till was situated had one of their traditional basket of Balinese flower offerings on it along with other food items including bars of chocolates and biscuits which we had regularly seen stray dogs eating when they came across it on their travels. Because there was food in this basket it had attracted flies. Lots and lots of flies both big and small and they were literally swarming the thing. It was DISGUSTING.

How this woman could sit there whilst flies were swarming her customers and her face while she is trying to sell boutique clothing is beyond me! How she could bare standing there whilst flies were swarming the place was beyond me. It was pure nastiness. Clearly this thing had been sitting on her desk for a very long time for it to have attracted so many of them but more importantly, this feisty woman was trying to tell us to WASH THE DRESS she was trying to sell to us rather then give us a discount! AND to make matters worse, the friendly and helpful attitude that she had employed earlier had now gone and was replaced with a stank face while she repeating the request for us to wash this garment without acknowledging that she was trying to sell us dirty wares like a robot.  Moreover, she didn’t even try to give us a reason as to why she was unable to give us a discount and wouldn’t answer our question as to why she was selling dirty clothes in the firstplace. The woman was FEISTY I tell you and I could see that Josh’s patience was wearing thin and he was about to blow!

In the end he asked me whether I still wanted the dress and I said yes, because of course I did but when we pondered on it later we both agreed that out of principle we both should have done the right thing and walked out without it.

As we were leaving the miserable place that was Tanah Lot I told Josh that I needed to go to the toilet so before we walked out of the exit I went towards the toilet sign which had the word MANDI and price 6,000 rupiah written on it and another word with the price 3,000 rupiah written on it. Unsurprisingly as with everything in this bloody place, they wanted money for the pleasure of going to the toilet but I never quite understood what exactly “Mandi” meant. The old lady who was guarding the entrance to the toilets said to Josh and I:

“If you want pee pee, 3,000 rupiah”

“If you want doo doo, 6, 000 rupiah”

Yes, MANDI meant DOO DOO in Indonesian and if you needed to do one then you would have to pay this woman 6,000 rupiah to do it! How they could possibly know what you done once you were in there I did not know but I wasn’t even going to bother trying to find out. I certainly had no intention of telling this woman my toilet plans or any other.

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Merah Puriah

We went to this restaurant in Petitenget and had a wonderful evening. The decor in this place was stunning and the food was great. The appetiser they gave us was particuarly memorable – they said it was a fish soup but it tasted far more amazing then that!

The Jamiroquai Concert

Back in March I had purchased some tickets for the Jamiroquai concert that was due to happen in June. The tickets were EXTREMELY difficult to get ahold of and infact on the first attempt of getting some tickets they completely sold out and had to release additional dates because of the overwhelming demand. Both myself, my 3 brothers and sister was brought up listening to Jamiroquai and none of us had seen him perform live before so this concert was a pretty big deal for us. In the end I managed to get 3 tickets: 1 for myself, one for my brother and 1 for my sister. My youngest brother already had tickets for himself and his girlfriend. But before the concert had arrived I received an email from AXS the company who I purchased the tickets from notifiying me that the concert had been rescheduled until December as Jay Kay had suddenly become ill. Now knowing what I do about his habitual drug habit I was immediately suspicious but when I did further investigation it did indeed appear that the man was ill in hospital with back problems. I checked the new date of the concert and was horrified to find that it fell on a date that I could not do because I would be here, in Bali, then.

So I contacted AXS and requested a refund. There was nobody else I knew who was keen on paying £60 to pay Jamiroquai so it made sense. AXS processed my refund and told me to just destroy the ticket I had got a refund for as it would no longer be valid. So I forwarded on the original tickets to my brother and sister who would still be going. Since they didn’t issue me with any new tickets these tickets were clearly still valid but just to be sure I also sent the email from AXS confirming the cancellation of my ticket.

9 months later and the day of the concert came around. Being in Bali I was none the wiser about the concert and had already gotten over the fact that I would no longer be able to attend it, I was just happy that at least my brothers and sister would be able to experience what could possibly be his last concert ever (if he persisted in his druggery exploits). The following morning I looked at my phone to see multiple missed voice calls and Facetimes from my brother, sister and Mum who had been desperately trying to get hold of me as my brother had been refused entry to the concert.

Frantically and with an overwhelming sense of guilt as I hadn’t heard the phone (I was 8 hours ahead so they had been calling me at 3:30 am in the morning) I opened my messages to find the horrific situation reveal itself before me. My brother didn’t get in. He was denied entrance because I, as the named person on the ticket, wasn’t there. But how could I possibly be there when I wasn’t in the country I fumed!

I had already provided proof of my refund so why were they harassing my brother when he had a perfectly valid ticket?! I was absolutely SEETHING. I was so angry that I found it very hard to formulate the words to adequately convey to Josh how furious I was. How dare they?! I fumed. My poor brother!! I felt utterly awful. He had waited 9 months to see Jamiroquai, almost an entire year, paid £60 for the pleasure AND the date had been rescheduled. How could he have possibly been happy about this? I could just imagine his shock as he presented them with tickets but was still told that he wasn’t getting in. I felt sick to my stomach at the thought. I was powerless to change the current situation but I was determined to at least get his money back. I contacted AXS and a feisty woman called Agnes who was supposedly their senior adviser responded saying that “unfortunately she was unable to help”. What does she mean she is unable to help? – Of COURSE she can help – she can give me my fucking money back!!

This duncebreed woman was basically trying to tell me to contact the O2 but as far as I was concerned it had nothing to do with the O2 since they couldn’t process refunds on their behalf. She clearly thought I was stupid. I purchased 3 tickets from AXS and got a refund for one of them but the remaining tickets essentially became null and void as soon as I done that as they wouldn’t let the other ticket holders enter because I wasn’t present! Since it was impossible for me to be present as I was out of the country I failed to see how any of this could have been avoided by us in any way and I was most certainly not going to let them just get away with it!!

My brother had been left embarrassed by the whole episode and there was absolutely no excuse for it. He had the PDF of the tickets therefore they should have let him in. End of. The tickets make absolutely no mention of the fact that the named person on the ticket needed to be present in order to validate the tickets and their idea of calling me when I was 8 hours ahead was ridiculous. I had not been informed by AXS that there might be an issue when I refunded my ticket and if there was going to be one then they should have changed the names on the tickets to my brothers name.

No, I was going to WAR with these people. After weeks of back and fourth emailing this abominable Agnes woman I haven’t got much further. She has a strategy of not answering questions, being sugary sweet with her responses (which could be conveyed as sarcasm), taking absolutely no responsibility and trying to pass the buck over to the O2. She hasn’t bothered to give me a reason as to why I’m not due a refund. I’m sure it was an overly excited doorman at the O2 who blocked my brother from entering but since I didn’t purchase my tickets from there I fail to see how they can help.

Abominable Agnes has got me so mad with her non responses that I have had no choice but to demand the email address of her manager. Furthermore I am also in talks with the O2 to admit their fault in all this and additionally I am going to complain about abominable Agnes to an independant complaints company for AXS. Kind of like the Ombudsman.

If someone doesn’t apologise and pay up soon all hell’s going to break loose because I’m not having it!!!

In one more week we’ll be gone from this wonderful paradise which we have spent such wonderful, memorable moments.

Legian Beach

We decided that we would drive down to Legian Beach as we had never been to that beach before and it was supposedly one of the most picturesque of the Balinese beaches. Down at Echo beach where we were, the sand was dark, in some places even black due the volcanic ash that was naturally a part of Indonesia. Did you know that they have 76 active volcanoes?! They have more active volcanoes then any other country in the world!

When we got to the beach we parked up and walked down to a very wide and sandy stretch of beach where we were immediately approached by a man asking us if we wanted a sunbed. We said we did and chose two close to the shore. The beach was massive and clearly well prepared to accomodating thousands of tourists but due to the volcano unfortunately there weren’t thousands there. I really felt sorry for them. This must be excruciatingly bad for some of these business owners and considering how calm and sunny it was it was hard to contemplate that people would be scared to come here. Alas, for now, this was Bali’s reality and as we had never been before, it was no different to us anyway.

The bed, though a little well worn was actually REALLY comfortable. It was so thick it was almost like a mattress! The beach itself however left alot to be desired. If this was one of the best beaches in Bali then I was seriously underwhelmed. Yes the sand was lighter then at Echo beach but it still wasn’t white. It was like a dirty brown. Hardly picture postcard perfect. And of course you still couldn’t swim, it was far too rough here. But it was infact the sea itself that was the problem. It was spewing out all kinds of rubbish onto the beach and there was literally a TRACTOR on the beach going around clearing it all up. It was a mammoth task. The beach was positively filthy, with everything from seaweed, tree bark, discarded clothes and lots and lots of articles of plastic strewn about the place. Obviously it was coming from the sea and being washed up here but I was astonished by the scale of it.

When I went for a dip hoping that I could at least get to splash some water on my overheated body I literally couldn’t go in such was the level of filth that I was seeing before me. The water was brown and there were unidentified objects floating about the sea that I didn’t want touching my bare skin. In addition, because there was so much plastic in the water I knew that I would probably freak out and mistake a floating bottle for a floating box jellyfish and that would never do. We fell out of love with that beach after that. Even though our beach had black sand the water was MUCH cleaner, and there was much less hawking going on- we literally couldn’t relax for touts trying to sell us their cheap and nasty wares on this beach. One woman even started picking at my toe nails such was her desire to paint my nails. Funny thing was her feet were horrendous – crusty with uneven nails. Not a good selling strategy if you ask me.

No, our beach was much better. It was FAR less touristy, with absolutely no hawkers whatsoever, the sand was strangely beautiful, with luxurious black sand with bits of silver shimmering in it, and aside from the occasional natural debris that swept onto beaches naturally, there was nothing nasty floating about in it. Plus, our favourite beach club La Brisa and all of the really good surfers were down here!

Som Chai 

Bali is fast becoming the foodie capital of the world and I’m not in the least bit surprised. We have had so many great meals here and been to some utterly stunning restaurants that rival many that we have frequented in the UK. We passed Som Chai on the bike on our way home from the beach. We didn’t know what it was but it immediately caught BOTH of our eyes when we passed it and we were wondering what it was. Mysterious and dark the only thing we could see were the lit up words Som Chai but even that was done well enough to get our attention.

When we got home we were looking for somewhere to go for dinner when Josh came across a Thai restaurant that had been highly rated on The Bali Bible. He didn’t know at the time that it was the same restaurant that we had been ogling earlier that day but when he told me the name of it I knew it was the same place immediately. I don’t believe in fate but this was a fate of some kind.

When we arrived at the restaurant a huge iron door opened without us even touching it to open into a devastatingly dark and sumptuous room with luxurious furnishings, including even a swing and mood lighting throughout. Then we were taken for a walk through this area which I had assumed was the restaurant (it turned out to be a bar and a very nice bar it was too!) through another absolutely HUGE gold door, which again opened by someone automatically operating it from the other side into the restaurant where both of us almost dropped our jars in amazement. It was AMAZING. Beautiful lantern like lampshades swung delicately from the highest ceiling in a restaurant I think I’d ever seen. It was also very dark and seductive, with a waterfall and pond providing the simple, magical sounds of nature.

Rather then giving us a normal wooden chair at a table I could see that ALL of the chairs in this illustrious restaurant were actually sofa’s.  One seaters and two seater sofa’s in luxurious velvet fabrics. These people weren’t here for games. Comfort was clearly their number 1 priority.  I also really appreciated the pearlescent table mat that was before me. It’s the little details that make all the difference and that done it for me. That and the music which to this day I would say was the best compilation of music I have ever heard in a restaurant. There have been alot of firsts for this trip but the musical consistency has been the most surprising of all. These tunes were SERIOUS. I began to Shazam them because they were so good but then decided against it since I realised that we were basically in a fine dining restaurant. It was not appropriate to Shazam in a fine dining establishment, but honestly I had never had to use it in such a place before. These people were playing Robert Glasper for goodness sake!

First we ordered some cocktails – I had one called Siem Julip, which sounded very sophisticated. It was a combination of honey, nutmeg, rum and other delights and I was curious to see how it might taste and was left surprised by the freshness, the strength of the alcohol (it was VERY strong), and the complex yet tantalising flavours. Josh was suitably impressed with his so I knew that this place was going to be a winner.

Well when the food arrived it was a winner, and coupled with the cocktail which I decided was my best yet, I was absolutely loving the place. The food was AMAZING. The drinks were amazing and the decor was amazing. What wasn’t to like?

Turns out for me and Josh: nothing. We loved the place and thus Som Chai has made it’s way to our top recommendations list, where it sits in it’s rightful place.

INSTA FOOLS

There has been a strange phenomena circling the internet lately and that is IDIOTS (and usually women afterall as they are the most vein/insecure), who have gone to the exclusion zone near Mount Agung and taken pictures of their scantily clad bodies striking various poses with the steaming mountain in the background. I have a few problems with this. Partly, haven’t you got anything better to do is a question I would LOVE to have an answer to. And then there’s the issue of them being so up their own asses that they would think it’s okay (or more likely not bother thinking at all), to make a mockery of people who had lost loved ones in the last big volcano explosion that killed literally hundreds of people OR the ones who were currently displaced because of it, losing their homes and livelihoods. You would think that that would override their instafoolishness, but no.

Unfortunately, the rise of selfies has in many ways been the worst thing to happen to civilisation as suddenly it has bred a different, less self aware, more selfish and far more self absorbed and hideously vein type of person. All they want to do is receive “likes” on their Instagram pages for pathetically staged photo’s, mocking other people and cultures shamelessly in pure ignorance and who they haven’t cared to help or care the slightest about in the process. I find it utterly abhorrent.

Week 6 in “Ubud by the Sea” Bali

Week 6 in “Ubud by the Sea” Bali

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First there was an earthquake, then there was a volcanic eruption and then came the cyclone!

Unbelievably, we are still the only guests in this hotel. Events have conspired to keep it this way and we are more then happy with the outcome.

The volcano finally DID erupt, months after flirting with the idea, and it ended up being so bad as to close the airport as Josh predicted it would. This gave us the much needed leverage with Airbnb to get our refund as it was all over the news, both local and international, and thousands of people were stranded in Bali unable get home for days, leading to mass panic. Luckily for us we still have another 2 and a half weeks here so we don’t need to worry about the flight situation just yet.

After days of not hearing anything from the stupid Airbnb woman who initially promised Josh a refund and then tried to backtrack on her offer, he escalated the issue to her superiors and was immediately offered a refund by Airbnb for our entire stay, not just the remainder of our stay as was offered initially. FOOLS.

In the current situation where the airport was closing and then reopening every other couple of days due to the ash cloud, it was a completely unpredictable situation, and one that only mother nature was in control of. Thousands of Indonesian people had been displaced because of it, and thousands of holidaymakers were stranded on the island because it wasn’t deemed safe enough for them to leave. The airports were in chaos. Tourism, which makes up to 60% of Indonesia’s GDP was at risk.

They knew that they could no longer deny us what we were due. They had to pay up!

Even though technically we were not affected by the volcano at all because a) we were too far away from it to be affected by it and we were not leaving Bali for another couple of weeks (though they didn’t know that, they thought we had already left and were currently in Thailand, lol), it no longer mattered. Bali’s volcano, potentially the biggest one they had had in over 50 years was erupting, and it was all over the news in all of it’s sensationalised splendour. Even people back home had been messaging me frantically demanding news of our safety, but most days we were lounging poolside in bliss. Though we heard about the cyclone, we honestly couldn’t be none the wiser about it’s presence. Again, we were too far away from it to be affected.

When we moved to Sense Canggu Beach we had no idea that it was a brand new hotel that had only just opened. We didn’t realise that we would be only the second people to ever stay there when we booked it, or that we would essentially have the place to ourselves. And when we were welcomed into the hotel like long lost friends by the general manager and introduced to the staff, we still had no knowledge that our experience there would feel much more like we were millionaires in our own villa with an army of staff looking after us. But it did feel a lot like I would imagine a private villa with staff to feel like because not only did we have the run of the place with no other person in sight in a brand new luxury hotel with all of the fixtures and fittings you would expect from such an establishment, but the constant presence from the staff was a constant reminder that they wished to make our stay there as good as it could possibly be.

And is it right to complain about such a thing? Should we bother to complain at all? Even when we love the sense of peace and quiet and privacy that such a place provides? Especially since we moved TWICE to escape the dirty, noisy, polluted concrete jungle that is Kuta and Legian?

Perhaps not BUT what I will say is that I don’t particularly like to have people breathing down my neck all the time, trying to get all in up in my business, to find out where we’ve been or where we’re going. What I do want is to be left alone sometimes. On the very first day that we arrived at Sense we had no less then 7 knocks on our door from different members of staff trying to see if we needed anything. From the pool towel boy, to the boy who picks up the dry cleaning, to the general manager, room service and cleaners, we had them all. And it was really beginning to jarr. There is no mistaking the fact that we’ve lucked out here, that much is obvious, but I just wish they would chill out a little is all.

Soo Santai

The beanbag at our hotel is very comfortable. It is made with a special kind of material that is flame resistant aswell as waterproof and resistent to UV rays. Not that we go around sampling hotel pool furniture or anything but this thing is seriously impressive. It floats, but you can also use it as garden furniture, or indoors if you wish – it doesn’t retain water so it doesn’t stay wet, it can take 2 fully grown people (and some who don’t act grown like Josh on occasion), and it is so sturdy and wellmade that you can literally stand on it without it even wobbling. It is without a doubt the most comfortable beanbag ever. So what? your asking . WELL we were both so impressed with it that we looked on the label to see what the brand name was and when we found out (it is called Soo Santai – silly name I know) Josh emailed them to enquire about wholesale opportunities! They got back to him too, lol, and have practically offered him a part of the business so that he can expand it in different territories. He has been even been sent a copy of the contract! Just like that! Things move fast here in Indonesia presumably because there isn’t as much beaurocracy.  Alas, they obviously don’t know him like I do so they weren’t to know that the ease in which they offered the opportunity that he sought has only managed to put him off!

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Hard at work on the Santai floating beanbag!

Our room here is stunning. We are very comfortable and would happily stay here for the month and beyond iuf the airport situation doesn’t improve! The materials used is of a very high quality throughout, with candlelit nights spent soaking in the luxurious tub the highlight for me. The marble floors, walls and table tops are a delight and I appreciate the generously appointed storage, which is a rarity in most hotels of this size. The bed is one of the most comfortable beds I have ever slept in, and Josh, who suffers from a bad back agrees. But of course the piece de resistance is the “lagoon” pool access which delights everytime because a) there is never anyone in it, plus it is vast, clean and the water warm. The hotel is located a short stroll from the beach and is nestled amongst rice fields with cows grazing contentedly. Birds tweet, butterflies flutter, cicada’s call. We  are in the middle of the countryside here and it is both beautiful and peaceful.

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Love my Bathtub

In Canggu, which unsurprisingly is nicknamed “Ubud by the sea”, we have discovered 2 specific places that are worthy of note. One is called La Brisa, a stunning and uniquely themed beach club and the second is Peloton, a fantastic vegan cafe. Like Clear Cafe and Karsa Spa in Ubud, these places are the ones we have returned to time and time again and we have yet to be disappointed with their offerings.

La Brisa is the sister to La Sicilia, La Favela and La Laguna, that other unique beach club that Aunty Jac took us to on our day with her in Canggu. Despite the “La” preluding it I had no idea at the time that they were all linked despite being VERY impressed with the unique decor in all of these places when visiting them. And once I found out that they were all designed by the same husband and wife team it immediately made sense. They were all themed – La Favela was fashioned off the favela’s in Brazil and even had a Jesus Christ the redeemer statue that looked scarily similar to the original one, La Laguna, felt like some kind of shipwreck, with vintage artefacts scattered everywhere. La Sicilia, was a stunning multi storied restaurant, cocktail bar, club, with a uniquely Sicilian/Italian Vintage feel and La Brisa was a seafood beach club, in a HUGE ship, the scale and intention to detail the likes of which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. During the day it acts as a beach club, with a perfect position on Echo Beach which overlooks some of the best surfing spots and framing a stunningly beautiful sunset in the afternoon.

The food is fresh seafood that is caught daily and it really is some of the freshest and tastiest seafood I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. The DJ that was playing when Josh and I went there just in time to watch the sunset was AMAZING, playing a mixture of tunes that I could only describe as super soul. I couldn’t name any of the artists and I couldn’t place the time in history that they came from (though I would hazard a guess at the 70’s), but it was so chilled, so cool, so random, so head bumpingly good that I just had to give the guy props. It’s so rare to find a DJ (who incidentally was a local Indonesian man), who can consistently play good music and introduce you to artists who you’ve never heard of before, and for which you cannot quite describe but he was good! And I have to say, the music in general in Indonesia has been exceptional. I’m not referring to their local music I’m afraid because I haven’t been impressed with this cymbal banging music they keep on carrying on with but the music they play in the cafes and restaurants is so good I have shazamed more times then I care to mention and alot of the time nothing has come up! (and to me that’s a sign of good music right there!).

Anyway, I digress. To describe this place is to test one’s vocabulary because it is so varied, with such a staggering array of trinkets sourced from near and far and such an attention to detail that I hesitate to even try as I really want to do it justice – to give you the sense of scale and ambience that this place possesses and to share with you the magic they have somehow managed to conjure up.

This husband and wife team are something else. Most people, when they decide to offer “themes” for restaurants just come across as tacky or not very well executed but not so with these guys. When they say they are going to do a fisherman’s domain then that is exactly what they do. By creating a supersized wooden boat structure with multiple levels, and using trees, bark, rope, lights, shells, fishing nets, buoys and swings, all made out of natural materials conjuring up a feeling of a wizened old fisherman’s abode in it’s perfect location in the sea they have created something very unique that simply cannot be replicated. Even the staff walk around dressed up in sailors outfits. The consistency is so awe inspiring. Sitting at the front of the beach club overlooking the beach feels like you are at the helm of a very large ship with the waves of the Indian Ocean crashing before you. Sometimes words are not enough to aptly convey an experience and this is definitely one of those times.

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Josh and I after a lovely evening at La Sicilia in Seminyak

Peloton, a bicyle themed restaurant, offers great food, great ambience and is totally guilt free since it is a healthy food cafe, offering a menu that is exclusively vegan. And the food is better then average – the food is amazing. They do healthy salads, smoothies, and deconstructed meals using purely plants and no diary (such as their vegan hot dog and “tricken” burger for instance), that will blow your mind away with it’s tastiness and again, consistency. We have gone there to work on numerous occasions and have found both the service, the food and drinks great.

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Healthy Salad at Cafe Vida 

Indonesian Culture & Temples

There are temples everywhere. Infact I have never seen so many temples before in my life and these people are not joking with their worship – they even have mini temples in their homes and they are in almost every restaurant and hotel too. They are amazingly varied and intricate – mostly made out of stone. The Indonesian’s stonework is legendary. They regularly leave “offerings” to the God’s on the roadside and outside their homes and businesses and burn sweet incense constantly. I love the smell of the incense but can’t take the thick smoky air particularly as we are travelling exclusively by scooter. But I’m impressed by their dedication.

The Indonesian People are such peaceful, happy people. Living amongst them for almost 2 months has been an absolute pleasure. Humble, light-hearted yet deeply religious (most are Hindu’s), they seem to be very tolerant, open and recipient to other cultures and people. I have been pleasantly surprised at how welcoming they are to black travellers (which I have seen a few of, though not many and they are mainly women), which is much more then I can say for other nations who see black people regularly (Italy comes to mind!) yet insist on treating them despicably. They seem to be comfortable with who they are as a people and are very serious about but are relaxed with their traditions and customs.

Country Bumpkins 

Now that we are here in Canggu we have finally relaxed. We feel very much at home here and being here is such a complete contrast to the horror’s of Kuta and Legian it’s almost as if that was in another life. In a completely different place. We have realised that we really don’t like the busy, dirty, noisy parts of Bali – we much prefer the peace and tranquility of living in the countryside even if it means we have to commute for just a little further. Not much apart from the beach and a few local restaurants are in walking distance here but that’s okay. Waking up each day to fresh air, vast countryside and the smell and sound of the sea is perfectly okay with me!

Greenleaf

Josh brought his Apple TV with him so of course we have been keeping up to date with the relevant Netflix programmes, namely Billions when we were staying at Pumpkin Village and now Greenleaf now that we’ve moved to Sense. If you haven’t already heard of Greenleaf it is a fabulous series with an entirely black cast (which I personally cannot remember having ever seen before), about a rich and powerful family of the church. There is scandal, there is dirty deeds and there is excellent acting. We absolutely love it and watch one every night. We finished watching the first series back in the UK so are onto the second series now which we both agree is even better then the first. If you haven’t seen it already “Netflix and Chill” it now!

The Weather

The weather here is quite predictable. We are in the rainy season so despite the first couple of weeks of our arrival not having hardly any rain at all we were not so naive as to think that would continue to be the case. It has rained consistently everyday almost every afternoon. The weather is sunny, with cloudless blue skies in the morning but then in the afternoon it almost always rains for a bit. When this has happened and we have been on the bike we have just ducked into the nearest cafe and we also have some pretty heavy duty waterproof jackets that we carry with us.

Surfing and Motorbikes 

Deus Ex Machina is a Custom Motorbike Shop/Barbershop/Surfboard Shop/Cafe/Live Music Venue, it might even have a Tattoo Shop – basically an everything cool shop! We went there for lunch, and then later on Josh got his hair cut there whilst I popped into the local spa Spring Spa to get my eyebrows did and have another massage whilst I was at it. Not that I’m counting anymore (well I’m trying not to anyway), but that massage was like my 7th in Bali!

Canggu is the home of surfing and motorbikes. When I came to Indonesia I had no idea this was the case but being here has opened my eyes to a completely new lifestyle. One that revolves around eating healthy and being healthy. There is such an abundance of healthy eating restaurants and cafes here that it would blow your mind and people look great – toned and tanned. We have not struggled AT ALL to find vegan and vegetarian food here and the ease at which healthy food is available is incomparable to anywhere else we’ve been in the world. Similarly to Ubud (afterall this is Ubud by the sea), they also have spa’s and yoga studio’s galore, but unlike Ubud, Canggu has the unique benefit of being by the sea. And for us staying at Sense, the sea is just a short stroll away. Here you can watch surfers of all abilities surf from dusk til dawn honing their skills in the formidable Indian Ocean. The sea here is rough, made for playing in and surfing in not for swimming in, but the crashing waves and the surfers riding the waves at sunset is utterly mesmerising. There is definitely something magical about the sea, which draws me into a deep sense of peace and relaxation whenever I am near it. The smell of it is unique and magical and reminds me of holidays past. The Indonesian’s not only surf, but they are really into their motorbikes too (both men and women), and Josh and I have seen some truly enviable custom motorbikes being here, and alot of them have been carrying their surfboards with them as they ride. So cool!

In my opinion, Indonesian’s are the coolest Asian’s on the planet. They have something of a swagger about them that reminds me a little of Jamaican’s and they always seem really relaxed and happy. They are like the cool cats of Asia!

Models R US

The manager of the hotel we are staying at approached us the other day about being models for the hotels promotional material. I’m not kidding. He asked us if we would model for them, and the pictures are to be used on the website and other promotional material! I tell you, Josh and I really do have a VERY unconventional life! The things that happen to us, situations we get ourselves into, and the occasional fantastic strokes of luck we get sometime never ceases to amaze me. Our life is never dull!

Of course we agreed, in part because we found it hilarious, and partly because we didn’t feel that we could say no considering we were staying in their most expensive suite for no additional cost for an entire month, but also, we wanted the pics! The manager also offered us a complimentary candlelit dinner at the hotel after the shoot. In our travels we almost never have any pictures, either of ourselves or of the amazing places we’ve been/experiences we’ve had. This is in part because we are far too busy enjoying ourselves and partly because we find it a bit of an effort to take them. Getting pictures of ourselves together hardly ever happens because we don’t like the idea of constantly asking people to take pictures of us. Neither of us are that vein. Sometimes I wish we had more pictures of us together but being together is always better then wasting precious time showing that we are.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Dogs are a plenty here. Stray ones and pet ones, but the difference between them in alot of cases is very slight. This is because they look similar – most are big dogs, they hang around in “dog gangs”  together on the streets or sleep in the middle of the road and there’s LOADS of them.  For some strange reason that I haven’t yet been able to work out people, (to be fair mostly Australians who come to Bali to live) own AT LEAST 5 dogs each. One night we passed about 30 dogs in 2 big groups on a residential road. Since they just stroll into the road like they own it without any concern for being run over Josh had to swerve in and out of them in order to avoid hitting one of them. It wasn’t a pleasant experience particularly since I’m not a big fan of dogs anyway, half expecting them to bite me and the lighting out here in the countryside is almost nonexistent. And on another occasion we saw one man with 10 dogs! 10 dogs!! And he wasn’t a dog minder trust me.

Potatohead Club

We went here after trying to go to the beachclub Ku De Ta but after finding out that there pool was undergoing maintenance we made a swift exit. How can you run a beach club without a pool?? Potatohead Club was our next choice in our beach club adventures but it turned out to be better then we expected, perhaps even better then Ku De Ta?

Firstly, it was HUGE. Spread out on a magnificent beachfront, it had multi-levels and multiple restaurants serving both Indonesian and Western food, bars, lounge areas, not to mention sunbeds for rent, and even a retail shop. There was no charge to hire the beds, but they did have a minimum spend. The pool was massive and included a compulsory swim up bar serving magnificent cocktails that was impressive in their inventiveness not to mention their size! Spending the day there was somewhat of a luxury as the beds were super comfy and if you didn’t fancy eating there then you could just take a quick stroll to one of the 3 restaurants on site, and the food was GOOD. Josh and I ordered a deconstructed Banoffee Pie and it was AMAZING! Best I’ve had. Watching the sun go down was really lovely and there were playing some serious tunes too, of all genres, I even heard West African music up in there. Hi-Life all the way!

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Potatohead Beachclub

Bali Hotel’s Next Top Models! 

Lol. Today we did our “photoshoot” at our hotel.

The day before the shoot we met with the owner of the hotel and two of the girls directing the shoot who gave us a rundown on the locations of the shoot and what we should wear.

We were initially told that we would be required for a full 4 and a half hours but then they changed it to 2 hours at the lastminute (likely because they were afraid that it would rain). This worked for us as I for one didn’t have any idea what they wanted from us and despite initially losing weight on this holiday when we first arrived I have put it back on and then some, lol. We have frequented a Mexican restaurant called La Mexicana on a few occasions and had a real blow out each time because the food is SUPER!! It’s the best Mexican food I’ve ever had and they even do good guacamole! So good!

Anyway my belly isn’t the flattest at present and I haven’t done any modelling for years and Josh hasn’t done any before period, lol. I wonder whether they even know his age? He looks so good for his age that people regularly think that he’s about 10 years younger then he is. I’m always telling him that “black don’t crack” and that he must cream his skin accordingly and thankfully he has listened to me and thus his skin continues to look great. Mind you I do think his good looks is partly hereditary as his whole family look far younger then they are.

We were told that we would be doing a photoshoot beside the pool, then at the bar and then at the beach. When we had gone to the beach the other day we had been openly laughing at all of the people who pathetically were posing it up and doing mini photoshoots on the beach like as if they were in there final days. We thought they were bloody ridiculous but now we were being told that we’d be doing the same with a camera crew in tow! Great. At least, I reasoned, we are going to actually get some professional pictures of us and it’s going on their website – it’s not just for us to use on our bloody Instagram feeds!

The first shoot I had to be in a bikini and as soon as I turned up to begin modelling they directed me to a HUGE inflatable swan that Josh and I had been mucking about with in the pool the day before. I was mortified as this thing was lethal! It took 2 guys to hold it for me to get on it without falling in and then it was really wobbly. I did like it though – it was the one I had been considering buying on Asos but it was £50 and I really could not justify spending £50 on an inflatable gold swan when I didn’t even own a pool. We took some pictures of me “swanning about” on it, lol. Afterwards Josh and I had to pretend to eat some snacks at the swim up bar. It did feel very fakery as we had to smile and laugh like a pair of fools whilst pretending to eat the questionable looking meat based dishes placed in front of us. And it wasn’t just the fact that it had meat in it that was the problem, it was the fact that the food at this hotel didn’t leave alot to be desired.

Unfortunately for us we were on a photoshoot and had to pretend the hell out of it plus the chef was there standing there watching us expectantly as was the entire hotel’s staff. It wasn’t the most relaxing experience but at least it didn’t take that long – 30 minutes tops. Afterwards we had to pretend again to eat breakfast (another shoddy variety of food – they really do need to do better with that!) with a floating tray outside one of the lagoon pool rooms. The tray looked amazing though – the food DID look good but being here for almost 2 weeks already we knew different.

Afterwards we went down to the beach which was my favourite part because it didn’t require us to cackle away and give each other googly eyes, it just required us to be our natural selves walking along the beach in the surf which we could most certainly do with no issues at all. Needless to say they were my favourite pictures of the day.

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Our “Modelling” schedule

IMG_0445Candlelit Dinner at our hotel

We are now taking bookings for further modelling opportunites in exotic locales if anyone is interested! lol

Week’s 4 & 5 in Bali (Ubud, Kuta, Legian & Canggu)

Week’s 4 & 5 in Bali (Ubud, Kuta, Legian & Canggu)

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It has been a funny couple of weeks and BY FAR the most challenging in our travels thus far.

Infact, the very reason why I’m writing about weeks 4 and 5 in the same post is because I literally haven’t had the chance to breathe much less to write!

Our last few days in Ubud went by in a flurry – we visited our beloved Clear Cafe for the last time, where I topped up on my fifth massage since arriving in Bali. I chose the massage entitled “Lomi-Lomi” and had a Balinese Pedicure too. Whilst we were there we  tasted Kombucha for the first time, which is a traditional non alcoholic fermented tea that the Indonesian’s call “Champagne of the Gods” for its sparkly fruitiness. It reminded us of a mixture between cider and shandy. Josh and I really liked it!

That evening I had booked a dinner/show for us at the Kayon Resort, a beautiful five star resort in the middle of deep jungle which we accessed by bike in the pouring rain whilst I was dressed up in my fineries (not very glamorous).

During dinner (which to be honest was average at best) we watched a performance of Balinese dancers in beautiful, vibrantly colourful traditional costume. They were excellent –  I particularly enjoyed the male solo dancer who had some cool, intricate footwork going on. He was wearing a terrifyingly scary mask which looked like a mixture of a clown and a dragon and you couldn’t see his eyes. He also had some kind of Edward scissor hands thing going on with long talon like nails on each finger. But the music he danced to, though repetitive and used lots of symbols and clarinets, was strangely hypnotic as his moves encompassed intricate hand, foot and head movements that had been timed to perfection. I was found that I was mesmerised by his scary perfection and in awe of his dramatic costume which looked bulky and uncomfortable but that he seemed to move in with ease, but what I loved most of all was seeing traditional Balinese dancers dancing to traditional Balinese music. It was fantastic!

Of course the dancing looked easy enough, but even I wasn’t so naive as to think that I would be able to copy their dance moves so when I was invited on stage by one of the female dancers to dance with her I walked towards the stage with a mixture of terror, excitement and dismay..

During the dance, where I tried in earnest to keep up with her graceful hand and arm movements, I realised that I looked a bloody fool but I was enjoying it immensely so I decided that I did not care. Afterwards Josh and I took a picture with the entire cast of dancers on the stage. It was a night I’ll never forget.

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Josh and I with the dancers 

Jungle Fish

We visited the legendary Jungle Fish the following day – a unique beach club in the jungle (with no beach and no sea). Odd it may sound but the effect of having a beach club in the middle of the jungle was very original, not to mention brave of whomever came up with the concept. Upon entering the resort, we were greeted by 3 huge bronze statues of naked animal like women in various poses. The effect was striking.

Similarly to Hanging Gardens of Bali, the resort was a hotel aswell as a beach club and it was huge, with beautifully manicured gardens that meandered down past ponds filled with giant carpe, waterfalls, flowers, trees and plants before opening up into an area which looked very beach clubby, amongst the staggeringly lush jungle. Even then, I was still astounded and left in awe by the sheer health and vitality of the natural environment in Bali.

The infinity pool was cool and inviting and overlooked the jungle so of course it demanded further investigation. We reserved ourselves some beds, which came complete with a swinging beach chair, and spent the afternoon sunbathing and just whiling the day away in peace and harmony, with tunes bumping from the heavy duty speaker. Had the weather not suddenly turned we certainly would have stayed much longer but there was no way that we were going to sit around in our swimwear whilst it pelted it down. We would definitely return though!

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Jungle Fish

The Sayan House 

On our last night in Ubud we went to The Sayan House for dinner. The restaurant described their food as being a Japanese and Latin fusion and tbh we were both a little confused about what that might be, or whether they would even be able to pull it off but when we got there we were pretty much blown away with their unique food offerings not to mention the position of the restaurant, which is on the precipice of a cliff with views of the surrounding hills for miles and miles.  Original, with exquisite flavours, textures and presented beautifully, I was so impressed with the food at Sayan House that I decided that it was definitely my favourite restaurant of our trip so far.

We had really enjoyed our stay at Pumpkin Village but after a month there we were ready to move onto the next chapter in our travel adventures. I was keen to move on to more civilised territory (and by that I mean LESS BUGS), somewhere that was perhaps a little less remote, where maybe we could commute to the various cafes, coffee shops and restaurants on foot rather then 20 minutes on the bike, somewhere where I wouldn’t be constantly be inundated with bedraggled stray dogs waltzing into my path. This is what I was hoping.

We had picked our next destination Seminyak as we knew that it was a complete contrast to our current place, which offered beautiful countryside and nature, a relaxed, spiritual, healthy way of life and traditional Balinese culture. Seminyak was the place with a happening nightlife scene, high end restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques. It was far busier there, and far less “natural” but what it didn’t have in beautiful landscapes it more then made up for in glamorous establishments and after a month of not wearing a single fancy frock, I was more then ready to get my glad rags on!

Our new home in Seminyak. Or is it North Kuta?

The following day we were picked up at Pumpkin Village by the driver of the guy who owned the villa in Seminyak that we would be moving into. When he arrived it had just started to rain and the rain just got heavier and heavier and heavier until all of a sudden it was torrential. In order to get our luggage into the car we had to drag it through deep puddles of muddy water and in the effort of pulling my 30 kg worth of clothes, shoes and toiletries the handle on my Amazon suitcase came right off! Yes, it was only cheap, but it promised to be able to hold at least 50 kg so I was vexed!

The drive down to Seminyak wasn’t particularly memorable. To my eyes it just seemed to get more and more heavily conjested, with more traffic, more dirty fumes, more people and less and less countryside. However, I was excited about our new start in Seminyak and confident that we would enjoy our elegant 2 bedroom villa with it’s private pool and sweet little garden for leisurely nekkid midnight swims.

I don’t know what it was that I was expecting but I was a little surprised when we pulled off of a busy main road into what I would essentially consider a dark and dingy alleyway where our driver cheerily informed us that we would soon be there. Soon be there I thought? – I certainly hope not!

By this time it had still not stopped raining, so things that perhaps once would have looked good, looked pretty shit, but still, when we pulled up outside a crumbly looking property with a rickety wooden door where upon a small tired looking Indonesian woman emerged, I became increasingly more alarmed. I was guessing that this was our cleaner, Lena, (aka Lena and Cleaner), who was supposed to be our host aswell as our cleaner, who was responsible for giving us the keys on the behalf of the owner who lived in Paris. But Lena looked tired and miserable, and as far from being the representative of a luxury villa as you could get dressed in a tatty, baggy t-shirt and pants. Rather then coming out and greeting us with a smile and perhaps a nice cold drink or towell (okay perhaps that’s going a little far), she kind of just half stepped out as if she had something to hide.

Did she??

When we walked inside I got the shock of my life!

This WAS the villa in the pictures we saw online, but it was almost as if it wasn’t the same place as this place was very rundown and shoddy looking. I wasn’t feeling it at all.

Considering we had arrived almost 2 hours late I was expecting the place to be ultra clean and immaculate. But it wasn’t. Even the pool looked dodgy, with odds and sods floating on the top and languishing at the bottom. And did I just see a floating worm??

The cleanliness of the villa was average at best, and this woman Lena just seemed odd. She wasn’t rushing forward to give us the keys to the villa or to explain anything about the place or how to work the appliances, infact she looked both slovenly and not particularly bothered at all. What kind of establishment is this? I wondered out loud to Josh.

Perhaps the villa was nice at some stage, but those days were long gone and I began to feel the unmistakably cold and icky feeling of trickery running down my neck back.

Had we been tricked into booking this shoddy establishment on Airbnb that was in need of refurbishment? Was this tired looking woman standing before me a representation of it? Were the pictures of this place taken 10 years ago with no repair/refurbishment since? And was this woman even an actual cleaner? – as her cleaning skills didn’t seem very advanced to me.  These were the questions that I was asking myself as I walked around the villa with distaste when I realised that the grass in the garden was overgrown and could go with being mown, the kitchen was so open as to invite all sorts of beasts into it. The two bedrooms were located off the open plan living area, and overlooked the dirty swimming pool – which despite being described as being a swimming pool was infact more like a plunge pool as you could easily do one breastroke and reach the end of it. And when I went to open one of the bedroom doors (mysteriously they both had keys lodged into them), one of the bedroom doors was locked. So I asked this miserable woman (who couldn’t seem to string two words together!) why the bedroom door was locked , and then she told me via the Google Translate app that I thrust into her hand, that the boss told her that she should lock it!

What a bloody cheek! Locking us out of our own bedroom?! I don’t think so love.

Josh got right onto Airbnb and messaged the owner to ask him why we were being locked out of one of the bedrooms  when we had paid for use of the whole villa and he got a reply back pretty much straightaway telling him that he had infact not told Lena the Cleaner to lock the room but to just make up the bed in one of the bedrooms as we were a couple so would only be using one.

But that’s not for you to say! I fumed. In theory, I could understand that there was no point in her making up two beds if there was only 2 people staying since it’s a 4 person villa but as far as I’m concerned, that’s her job as cleaner. Who is she to assume which bedroom we would want? Or that we’d only want one? Once we had booked the whole villa as far as I was concerned nowhere in it was off limits to us, even though alot of it should have been because of it shoddyness. I really wasn’t impressed. Soon enough Josh got the owner to tell Lena and Cleaner to open the door and make the bed. FOOLS.

Soon it became clear that this woman didn’t have a scooby doo what she was doing, she clearly was no good at cleaning and she couldn’t speak a word of english, and I do mean A WORD. So how on earth this woman was responsible for inviting people into the home and showing them how everything worked was beyond me. After trying in earnest to communicate with her in English to no avail, it soon became clear to me that I would clearly have to rely on Google Translate and communicate with her in Indonesian. Thankfully for me, Google have updated their app and it now works extremely well and can translate lots of languages accurately. And even better then that, you can translate offline if you download the translations beforehand. Genius. And crucial in this particular instance.

It turns out as I suspected when I first clapped eyes on her sweaty face, that Lena the Cleaner didn’t know a bloody thing. Didn’t know a thing about how to get the wifi activated (not even the password for the wifi), didn’t know a thing about pool cleaning, didn’t know where the coffee machine was, didn’t know how to lock the front door properly – not a single thing. When I asked her (via Google translate of course), whether she had an information pamphlet about the villa to give us, she typed back “no, no information”. This woman really was a BIG FOOL. We didn’t like her at all but we were both determined to get as much information out of her as possible before she left. I couldn’t tell what cleaning she had actually done, but apparently she came to clean everyday at 12:00 pm. Worse, she didn’t even know that we were going to be staying there for a month! Pretty rubbish considering she is the so called “villa manager”. Shoddy.

That night, in the midst of the torrential rain in the questionable looking apartment down the dark, dirty, crumbly alleyway, Josh’s laptop wouldn’t turn on. We spent the next couple of hours, before we had even had a chance to unpack, trying to fix it but it wouldn’t turn on for love nor money and then we both began to really panic.

We had spent a glorious month in sunny Ubud, in the middle of rice paddie fields, getting massaged to within an inch of our lives, in clean and luxurious surroundings and pampered to perfection.

WHAT ON EARTH HAS GONE WRONG??

This miserable establishment was not somewhere that I could see us living as happily as we lived at Pumpkin Village for though we had our own place, with our own private pool living at Pumpkin Village it was almost as if we had our own place there anyway as we pretty much had the place to ourselves, including the pool, which was far bigger, and far cleaner then this. I was furious when I thought about the lovely pictures advertising the place online which made the villa look as if it was stylish, clean and comfortable. This place was not. And the location, far from being in Seminyak as had been advertised, was actually in North Kuta, and though it was only around a 10 minute walk from Seminyak it was not in Seminyak at all. Trickery at it’s finest.

With the combination of the horrendous weather, the open air living area which seemed far more luxurious then it was before flies and mosquitoes began landing on you, and Josh’s laptop suddenly deciding to give up the ghost, this trip was turning into an absolute nightmare.

The following morning we got up and went for breakfast at a local cafe, which I could tell was new because of how much the owner was hovering over us, desperate for us to enjoy our breakfast. It was not enjoyable.

Afterwards we walked into Seminyak village, which was only supposed to be a few minutes walk away, but because of the intense amount of traffic (it seems Ubud was not the only place to go into scooter overdrive!), it took us much longer, and was far more dangerous then I would have liked. Good looking people dressed in a surfer-chic rode scooters and custom motorbikes like it was going out of fashion and as we walked we saw lots and lots of great looking interior design shops with the kind of style we liked boho balinese and to me, the most amount of retail shops that appealed to me that I’d seen anywhere else. This was because the boutique shops here had a distinctly glamorous but laid back style that I really liked. They had lots of floaty dresses, pashmina’s and bohemian summer dresses. It was my favourite fashion style but living in cold England, with no access to California or Australia nobody designed like that where I was from simply because nobody could wear this kind of clothing there. Simply put, it was wasted on us. But here, here it made sense. And my eyeballs were literally popping out of their sockets seeing all of this splendour. So many dresses, so many dresses!!!! And so beautiful. So unique! But since I didn’t come travelling to shop I just tried my best to ignore them. Seminyak had lots of great looking restaurants and cafes, so it was clear that we would have no issues finding new places to eat here.

On our way back it suddenly started raining and then it wouldn’t stop. It was miserable in Bali when it rained. Partly because you were nearly always never dressed for the occasion and partly because the rain was cold and the droplets big. If it rained for a sustained amount of time then you would get soaked, it’s as simple as that.

And we did get completely soaked. That was despite us both wearing waterproof jackets. Unfortunately for us, unlike Pumpkin Village which provided a genuine feeling of homeliness and comfort to come home to, our new villa did not fill me with a feeling of relaxation, even after it had been cleaned by Lena the Cleaner. Infact, I was beginning to dislike the place more and more. The fact was that the bathrooms did not have a bath, which for a bath lover such as me put it at an automatic disadvantage, but also, the bathrooms were partially open and again, unlike at Pumpkin they were actually partially open with no netting to protect you from the elements, or the creatures that lived within it, and it was dark. In theory, I have nothing against a dark bathroom, so long as it has adequate lighting. But this dark bathroom had a few things wrong with it – partly, I did not like the design, it was too dark (there were only 2 lights in there and against the dark concrete you could hardly see a thing), and lastly, it was partially open and you know what that meant: Creatures were coming on in. Therefore when I was on the loo in the middle of the night, with the sounds of the various nature surrounding, I could not relax for I wasn’t sure whether a mosquito would feast on me, a spider would crawl on me or god forbid, a rat would scurry over me. I was not at ease.

Due to my disappointment with the description of this villa and it’s boasty declarations of being in Seminyak when it was infact in far less glamorous North Kuta, coupled with the dirty pool where I had confirmed that there was indeed a worm languishing in the depths of it, Lena the Cleaner who was rubbish at cleaning and not particularly friendly, the villas location down a dark alleyway with stray dogs lurking on it, and the fact that any and every creature could come flying into it due to it’s more then partially open design (the kitchen, living room and bathroom areas were all open), and was overrun with gecko’s fighting for position on our ceiling, I was ready to move. I did not feel comfortable there.

Since we had booked on Airbnb I began looking into ways for us to get out of our month long stay in this villa and found that if we complained within 24 hours of arriving and our complaints were considered valid by Airbnb then we could get refunded. But after discussing with Josh, he didn’t feel as though our claims were valid enough to get a refund so he said we should try and make the most of it.

When we arrived home, sodden from the rain after being barked at by dogs sitting underneath cars as we walked down our own dark alleyway, after Josh had accidentally trod on a HUGE frog who died instantly underneath the weight of his size 11’s, we opened the door to be greeted with 2 giant snails on our patio floor – they’d just walked (or rather slithered), right on it. This was unacceptable. Josh used the metal dustpan with a long handle to scoop them up and then he chucked them over our wall into our next door neighbours garden, lol.

Gecko’s were running up and down the walls (yes, I know they kill mossies and spiders but it doesn’t mean that I want a whole family of them living with me), I could still see the worm in the bottom of the pool and because of the poor standard of Lena the Cleaners cleaning I couldn’t be certain that we weren’t living in a cockroach infested environment. We were practically living in our air conditioned bedroom since anytime we ventured out of it it we were under seige by all manner of creatures who were living happily in our open kitchen.

We jumped in the pool after Josh removed the worm using the trusty metal dustpan again. Since we were completely surrounded in our own private gardens that was when having the villa came into it’s own, since we could easily sunbathe and indeed swim naked so we had a little night swim which was nice but I still couldn’t shake the feeling of us being in decidedly average facilities. I realised that for most people on holiday this would be fine. More then fine. A two bed villa with a garden and private pool a few minutes walk from one of the most glamorous areas of Bali? And we were travelling! Surely we didn’t have to have the same standard of living as when we went on holiday, but there are a few things I cannot do, and that is FROWSINESS and UNCLEANLINESS. And in my opinion this place was both. No, it wasn’t terrible, and I’m sure for the area it was very nice in alot of respects, far more then adequate and perhaps even luxurious to some, but for us it just wasn’t up to scratch. Alas what could we do??

Lena the Cleaner actually had the audacity to ask us 2 days in a row when she saw us whether we wanted our room cleaned. WHAT KIND OF QUESTION IS THAT FROM A CLEANER?? I was struggling with this woman I tell you.

Today was the day of errands for Josh’s laptop still wasn’t turning on and he was getting increasingly more stressed out about it. It was a perfectly good DELL laptop that he had only had for a year and a half and we hadn’t dropped it or anything – it had been working perfectly fine before it just decided to cease working! So today, despite the third day of torrential rain (which was now starting to get quite depressing), we were off on a mission to get it fixed. I had found somewhere online in Denpaser that had come highly rated but as it was quite a drive away Josh had found somewhere else that was about a 20 minute or so drive away.  We picked up a new scooter from an overweight woman with a sweaty top lip who rented scooters on the highroad and off we went. The sweaty lipped woman couldn’t believe her luck when we told her that we wanted to rent the bike for a whole month and she even accompanied us to the bank to make sure that she got her money! lol

Since we didn’t have wifi (as neither of us had bothered to get any data before we left the UK and we didn’t think there was any point getting an international sim), when we went anywhere we had to plan our route first using wifi on Google Maps. It wasn’t a very reliable way of getting about but it was the only option we had since we didn’t intend on paying extortionate fees in data whilst we were travelling. And it had worked reasonably well, until now.

I was in charge of reading the map, which didn’t actually give any directions – just showed us where we were in relation to where we were trying to get to. But it was difficult to read and the relentless rain was making it almost impossible to see, plus I was trying not to get the phone wet, and then there was the issue of us simply not being able to find the bloody place. In the end we were getting so lost and so wet that we just parked up and decided to try and find the place on foot instead. We were both pretty miserable at this point. It seemed as though everything was a bloody shambles and the locals were looking at us like they’d never seen the likes of us ever before in their lives, likely because wherever we were, no westener had ever ventured. But we desperately needed to get Josh’s laptop fixed, it was critical since he needed to work whilst we were here and he had already lost a couple of days whilst it was out of action.

According to the map we needed to go down what looked an alleyway filled with residential homes to get to the shop. It didn’t look right and it certainly didn’t FEEL right. Plus it had all of the elements to make me utterly miserable: I didn’t know where on earth I was going, I was cold, I was soaking wet as it was STILL raining heavily, I felt dirty and then worse of all I saw a rat the size of a cat squashed into the pavement. I COULD NOT DEAL. However, Josh I could see, was at his very lowest ebb, so I decided not to point the squashed rodent out to him which I think in hindsight was a good idea.

We passed what looked like a laundrette or something (though I couldn’t say for sure as the place looked positively FILTHY), and we asked the locals in there where this computer repair place was. The guy with the best English, who incidentally also had the blackest, most horrendous teeth I’d ever seen, told us that the shop was in someones house. “In someones house?” we ask him again. Yes, he said. We didn’t go any further.

On the way back, in the wet and rain as we tried to navigate our way home, our map, which we had sneakily tried to download via wifi before we had left home, also gave up the ghost, which meant that now we really didn’t know where we were going or how to get home. And then Josh’s phone, unsurprisingly after getting wet as I tried desperately to use it repeatedly for navigation, just stopped working. Finally, we both had reached our limit. For us, we just couldn’t see how it could possibly get much worse then this.

After driving around trying to find somewhere where a) we could get Josh’s laptop repaired and b) get some shelter and wifi so that we could navigate our way home, we found a place that said they did laptop repairs so in we went. The guys in there said they would try and fix it and let Josh know if they couldn’t in a few days time so we left it with them and after sorting out our map situation we went home.

We went to Le Bistrot for dinner that night, a french inspired, vintage restaurant. I loved the decor and the food was good too. We also passed by a open air drinks spot, and had some cocktails there. It was like an open air platform with seats you could sit and have a drink on where you could watch the world go by. Very cool.

The next morning there was a spider in the shower. Of course I loved being in nature, but I was beginning to realise that there was such a thing as being too exposed to it, and it was never more evident here.

I had heard about an Australian allday Brunch restaurant called Sisterfields that had opened a branch here in Seminyak so Josh and I went down to check it out. It was lovely. Such good (and healthy!) food.

That morning we received an email from Airbnb to inform us of the impending Mount Agung’s volcano eruption which had happened that morning. We checked it out on the news and found out that it had indeed erupted and it was serious enough to even have been featured on BBC News. Airbnb informed us that if it affected us since we were staying in Bali then we should contact them straightaway.

Well, this was our golden opportunity to move we thought immediately!

Josh set about sending them an email telling them that due to the volcano risk (we were nowhere near the volcano so there was no chance of it affecting us whatsoever), we needed to leave our current property immediately due to the fact that flights may be disrupted and we couldn’t be stranded in Bali. It was genius! Cleverly, he wasn’t claiming to have any issues with the property itself (even though of course he did), but that we were terrified that we could get stranded. He sent the email to 3 seperate Airbnb addresses and almost immediately he received the following response from one of the Airbnb representatives:

“The situation in Bali is considered an Extenuating Circumstance so if you would like to leave your current property then you would be entitled to a full refund. Please let us know if you would like to leave. Your safety is of course of our highest concern”

Well I can tell you we whooped and we hollered for joy. FOR JOY I tell you! What on earth were the chances? I had been desperate the leave that miserable villa and there didn’t seem a way out of it but now it seemed that we were basically being offered the perfect opportunity to leave and they weren’t to know that it wasn’t just because we didn’t like it. We used the volcano as a cover and they had completely bought it! RESULT.

YES! WE ARE LEAVING!!!

I was bloody ecstatic I tell you.

The rest of the day went by in a flurry of activity as we packed and began looking for alternative accomodation that we could move into the following day. Josh was busy “negotiating” with Airbnb and the owner of the villa, who needless to say wasn’t too keen on us leaving and tried in earnest to convince us that the threat in Bali wasn’t severe and thus, would be unlikely to affect us at all. However what Josh cleverly tried to maintain with both Airbnb and the owner whose name was Tom, was that he wasn’t concerned about the volcanoes affect on us directly per-say, but he was concerned about the impact it might have on flights going in and out of the island and since we were travelling onto Thailand to attend a wedding, he didn’t want us to be stuck there.

He maintained that he was happy with the current accomodation (of course he wasn’t), but since the Airbnb rep had already offered us a full refund he wanted to claim it and move as planned the following day instead of in a months time. As far as I was concerned it had already been agreed so I found a 4 start hotel with very good reviews in nearby Legian (that I didn’t know too much about but I had heard that it could be a little on the noisy side), and we booked the remainder of our stay there.

Alas, the situation with Airbnb suddenly became a concern when the lady Josh was communicating with suddenly started to insinuate that Josh’s refund would be dependant on the host being happy to refund our stay. This was not what she said before.  She said we could get a full refund, which according to their terms meant that Airbnb would override any decision from the host and provide the refund for the remainder of our stay. So why is this bitch face now trying to renegade on her offer? Why is she trying it?? OF COURSE the owner is not going to want to miss out on a months earnings! So why is this bitch face asking us to try to negotiate directly with him to ask him to do so? Why is she trying her bits?!

Airbnb were starting to vex us, and moreover, the situation has just got real since at this point we had already gone ahead and booked our month long stay at our next place.

That night I was restless. Restless not only because I was unsure about what might happen with Airbnb and whether or not Josh would get his money back (alot of money I hasten to add considering we were meant to be staying in a 2 bed villa for an entire month!), and I still could not relax in this place. The shoddyness, not to mention the lack of cleanliness, creatures crawling all over the place in the open living room area, kitchen and bathroom and when we were trying to relax A BAT, yes you heard me, A BLACK BAT came a flying in and landed right outside our bedroom on the floor. Now at this point Josh had already killed the spider in the bathroom, 2 giant snails on our patio floor, the worm in our swimming pool, the frog in the alleyway, and now, he had to deal with the black bat. The bat was so black that you couldn’t even see it’s face (which was probably a good thing as bats are hideously ugly.) I had never seen a bat so up close before and it was bloody terrifying (these things have rabies you know!), so I hid behind the dining room table whilst he set about getting rid of it. His chosen strategy was to throw his heavy shoe at it and it died instantly. He then used the dustpan (which was becoming a really handy tool!), to scoop it up and chuck it into next doors garden, lol.  I thought that was the end of our bat attacks but less then 5 minutes after that another bat (this time a brown one) came flying into our villa and back out again, twice. What is this bat attack business all about?!

Finally the day had come where I could leave this god forsaken place. I had been utterly miserable there and I felt relieved that such a well judged get out had been successfully staged by us.

 A Rude Awakening

Miserable faced Lena the Cleaner turned up at her usual time, no doubt after being briefed by Tom about our impending evacuation and as usual she was as unfriendly as ever as she sullenly watched us drag our suitcases out to the front to await our driver. We didn’t bother saying goodbye. Since we had no data we had to rely on Uber to do this which thankfully worked well whilst we were still connected to the villa’s wifi. We still had the scooter we had rented from the fat woman with the sweaty top lip so after loading up the vehicle with our luggage, Josh followed the car on the scooter.

When we arrived at our new hotel we expected it to be in pristine condition with elegant decor but it was very far from looking pristine. It was rundown and filthy dirty and the people who were walking around the area looked questionable to say the least. I didn’t know much about the area Legian, but what I could see of it I didn’t like much at all. It looked dirty, conjested, busy and noisy.

I chose the hotel because it had been rated very highly on Tripadvisor and would give us the santuary that we so desperately needed. After our experience with the shoddy villa, we could no longer afford to stay in another one, not when there was the possibility of the pictures not matching the reality. So we made the decision to stay in a hotel, where at least we figured the hotels standards would remain consistent and we could demand it if it wasn’t.

When I arrived with the luggage Josh was already there and along with the driver and various members of hotel staff we finally managed to get my oversized suitcase (minus it’s handle) out of the vehicle and into the hotel. I don’t know what exactly I was expecting from this hotel, but I did expect it to at least be in good condition. According to the pictures online, and other people’s reviews, it was. But both Josh and I were less then impressed with the standard of the foyer of the hotel in particular. Similarly to our villa, it looked tired. Since the foyer was so tired looking, which was unacceptable in my opinion since that was the place that most people walked through, did that also mean that our room was? – I bloody well hoped not!

The staff were nice enough, and were clearly very happy that we had decided to stay with them for a whole month but there was something about the manager, perhaps a whiff of desperation that I could sense coming from her, which coupled with the tired furniture in the lobby, with a dusty looking table and cigarette butted chairs, gave me cause for concern.

When we got our our room we were relieved to find that that at least was perfectly clean and reasonably spacious. It was a hotel room so we weren’t expecting miracles but well, the bathroom was spacious anyway. Since we didn’t have a bath in our last villa I had made sure that our next accomodation had one, and this one was both spacious and well designed. All of the rooms in the hotel overlooked the huge pool on the ground floor. Online it had looked classy, here, it looked tired. Overweight Australians who were dying to have a beer gaffawed and belly flopped into the pool like it was going out of business, and unfortunately the design that once looked California inspired, now looked seedy Las Vegas. The sound from the pool area carried all the way up and into our room and because the building was surrounded on all sides, not only did it carry people’s voices, it amplified them and echoed them too. It was really quite unbareable. We decided to leave our luggage where it was (we didn’t want to unpack just yet), so that we could have a peruse around the hotel and check out the area.

The thing we first noticed was that the shoddyness continued. These people must have taken the photo’s for this hotel years ago, but since then it had fallen into disrepair (similar to the villa). It was a shame, since I liked the design and could clearly see how at one point it might have been lovely, but that time was past. These people clearly didn’t know that hotels required maintenance, but at least our room was clean I thought, and would be cleaned by a cleaner who I’m sure had better cleaning skills then Lena the Cleaner and at this stage that was good enough for me. Despite the fact that we would have to share the pools (there were 2 pools in the hotel) with other guests, at least the pools looked clean. And there was a spa here, breakfast was included and it was close enough to the shops for us to just be able to walk and get food whenever we needed. These things were the bonuses of staying in a big hotel such as this. It did mean that we wouldn’t be able to sunbathe or swim naked, or have the place to ourselves but I was willing to trade that in for a bit of comfort and cleanliness  as after last nights black bat encounter, I decided that I really couldn’t take much more of these constant creature attacks. I needed to be shielded from the beasts and big hotels such as this could provide such shelter.

The first thing we did was go back down to reception to check out one of the restaurants but when I saw the state of the food being displayed on the counter my level of horror began to steadily increase. Worse yet, the staff in there seemed shocked to see us. It was as if nobody ever went in there. Well, I could take a hint! – the food looked vile. They wouldn’t catch me or Josh eating in there.

Afterwards, we went downstairs to see the gym which also looked like it had seen better days. Even the corridors were in disrepair. Why had these people let it come to this? I wondered. You can’t just put up a hotel and not do any maintenance to it!

Then we went onto the rooftop which had a cocktail bar and rooftop pool. It sounded nice in theory as did the spa, but as soon as we stepped foot out of the lift we both immediately wanted to go back in again as the hideous noise that we could hear coming from a bunch of young, drunken Australians (despite it only being around 15:30 in the afternoon) was unbareable. They seemed to be playing some annoying dance sounding music at full blast, and it wasn’t contained – it was so loud and distorted that you could hear it everywhere in the hotel. Even when we went back to our room we could still hear it.

The spa also looked tired and the man sitting at the spa reception desk looked as though he couldn’t believe his luck when we walked in there. We had initially booked some treatments for the following day but by the time we got back to our room and realised that we could still hear the horrendous dance music from the rooptop pool, coupled with seeing who was frequenting the hotel (even more loud, brash, drunken Australians), we knew that we could no longer remain. It seemed hard to believe that we were even thinking about moving again as we had already moved three times in the space of a couple of days, but we simply could not remain in frowse.

As it was the situation with Josh’s Airbnb refund was still ongoing and he didn’t know whether he was even going to get his money back now despite the bitch face woman blatantly offering it to him in her first email. And now we had booked another months stay with this other place. Shit was getting ridiculous. But we checked the terms of our booking with the hotel and as we had booked on Booking.com we saw that provided we cancelled that night before midnight the money for our stay would be fully refunded minus the night we spent there and a cancellation fee of course.

We hadn’t found any alternative accomodation yet but we had made up our minds: we were moving. Our trip into Legian confirmed our suspicions: This place was the absolute dregs. The people were loud and leery, almost everyone and I do mean everyone was carrying a beer walking down the street (despite it being torrential rain), and apart from the locals the only other accent I could hear was Australian. Had we essentially moved into the Australian version of Magaluf?? – I really couldn’t bare the thought.

And to make matters even worse, we were directed to a restaurant by the staff at reception called Mama’s German, which was a German restaurant. I had absolutely no interest in eating a white sausage – bratwurst, weisswurst or any other atrocity. But this apparently was a restaurant that served good food (according to the guests of the hotel he told me). But the guests of the hotel are questionable!!! I wanted to shout back at him as a gang of them came in from the rain wearing no shoes and you guessed it: carrying bottles of beer! Alas at this point we had no better options as I refused to traipse the streets looking for somewhere else still serving food, and we still had to pack, so we went in. As soon as we walked in I knew we had made a mistake – there were lots of old and crusty looking German men in their with their bratwursts and a Indonesian girl at least twenty years younger then them by their side. The food looked dodgy too – I could tell because they felt the need to have huge pictures of each dish they served which is always a bad sign. And worst of all: they pretty much had absolutely no food for vegetarians. All they served was meat. Meat, meat, meat and beer. Not my kind of thing at all. And judging by the dirty peed looking people who sat there smoking ciggarette after ciggarette after ciggarette whilst there bored looking Indonesian date sat there in silence with a sullen look on her face: sorry, but these were not my kind of people. We had made a massive mistake coming here. We needed to get the hell out of this abominable town!!

Know Thyself

When we first started looking at where to stay/live in Bali, we had initially chosen 3 areas: Ubud, and then either Canggu or Seminyak, so how on earth was it that we had come to two areas that we were warned against: Kuta and Legian?!!

We cannot make this mistake again I say to Josh who agrees wholeheartedly. Since Seminyak is a little too busy for us we have no choice but to move to Canggu, which was on the coast in middle of the countryside. Now, we just had to find somewhere to live in Canggu.

On our way back to our hotel to give them the bad news, find somewhere to live and pack we tried in earnest to navigate a wet, noisy, dirty, polluted road packed full of people with children begging on the streets and then I looked out of the corner of my eye and saw at least 4 HUGE cockroaches roaming freely about the place. I felt physically SICK TO MY STOMACH. Surprised I was not but sick to my stomach I was. I dragged Josh across the road and told him that on no uncertain terms would I be going any further. I had reached my absolute limit. I was happy to stay at the hotel that night but tomorrow, I had to leave. It was FILTHY here! ABSOLUTELY FILTHY. And the people here were filthy too!!!

We informed the hotel that we would be leaving the following day and then set about packing our things and trying to find somewhere in Canggu to live. The hotel did try to offer us an upgrade to stay but they could have upgraded me to a presidential suite with a helicopter I wouldn’t have stayed a day longer. This place was the pits.

We had found a good deal on Expedia for a hotel called Sense in Canggu, a few minutes walk from the beach. Now that I knew we had finally chosen the correct area in Bali to live I just needed to make sure that the hotel was not frowsy and according to all of the information that I could find, it was not. I really liked the design, and though we could not afford the most beautiful suite with it’s bath and direct pool access, all of the rooms were the same size and looked like the fixtures and fittings were stylish and of a very high spec. It was a boutique hotel so we would not be inundated with lots of skanky people making noise and carrying on like fools and since we would now be located in the countryside and not in a busy area like Legian, I knew that the quality of people would be massively improved also. Along with our present nightmare of a situation Josh’s laptop still hadn’t been repaired so he took the opportunity to go down to the repair shop whilst we were still in the area and then he followed me in the car in his bike as we moved to our third property of the week. Thankfully, for once it was not raining.

When I began to see the beautiful green countryside and rice paddies coming into view and smell the fresh air my mood immediately started to lift. Finally, I was on my way somewhere I could relax. Yes, here reminded me very much of Ubud, and that was what we wanted – peace, quiet and natural surroundings. Our painful experience in Kuta and Legian respectively showed us what it was we were looking for, what we knew that we were looking for all along: serenity.

Josh went ahead in the bike and was already there by the time we got there because we got caught up in some heavy traffic and then my driver got lost. When I arrived I found him sitting down with the manager of the hotel with a cold bevvy happily swapping life stories. Upon sighting me he helped with the luggage and then proceeded to tell me that this hotel was brand new – it had infact been open less then 2 weeks and we were their second guests. Therefore not only did we get a massively reduced rate to stay there but essentially we had the whole entire contingency of staff, including all of the cleaners, pool staff, reception, mixologists, gardener’s, maintenance men and chef’s looking after us aswell as the ridiculously fortunate benefit of having the entire hotel all to ourselves!!!! Yes, we were literally the only guests there. And the hotel was beautiful!!

Overlooking vast countryside, including Indonesian rice farmers and even cows grazing in the fields from here we could see the sea and smell the unmistakable waft of sea air and for once, since leaving our beloved Ubud, some fresh air. I was ecstatic. But that wasn’t all – because Josh had been sitting there sweeting up the manager, coupled with the fact that we were their second guests of all time, the hotel was brand new and we would be staying for a whole month no less, he had managed to negotiate the best room in the entire hotel for us which nobody had ever stayed in before. For free!

The suite we had been ogling, the one that would normally cost £5,000 to book, the one that most certainly looked like a honeymoon suite with direct lagoon pool access, with it’s own private balcony, with beautiful shiny marble floors, a huge bathtub and a stunning velvet headrest with chiffon drapery and stone head carvings in a classic and elegant forest green, white and grey colour scheme, was to be our new home. This wasn’t merely somewhere we’d be staying for the next couple of days or even weeks like a normal holiday, it was to be our home for the next month, and once again, similarly to Pumpkin Village, we were to have the whole hotel team at our beck and call. Because there wasn’t a soul else here!! It was just us. Just us!

When we booked this hotel yesterday we had absolutely no idea that it had only been open for a few weeks, and though understandably they still had some building works going on that was not going to stop operation Newman and Jackson as we luxuriated in the “lagoon” like only we can. We had lucked out AGAIN. And this was simply because we had refused to give up.

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Quality Control: Our decorative towell has been made into a Kung Fu Master!

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The pool is just a step away…

Just a few hours ago I had been staring in the face of a family of cockroaches, with a fat worm floating in our pool, watching a decrepit mini Hitler try to seduce one of the teenage locals, a rat the size of a cat squidged into the floor, lost in a storm, Josh’s expensive laptop not turning on, a bat outside our bedroom door, miserable Lena the Cleaner with her non cleaning antics, the sweaty top lipped scooter rental woman, drunken aussies stumbling about wearing no shoes in a monsoon, 2 fat snails and a dark dingy alleyway but here I couldn’t be further from such a miserable reality.

The sun was shining, my beloveds laptop had been fixed and we were now being waited hand and foot by a team of staff in one of the most luxurious hotel rooms we’d ever been in as if this was our own private villa. GET IN!!!

P.S The Airbnb dispute is ongoing.

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Marbled Out! Our new bathroom accomodations

 

 

 

 

Bali Diaries: Week 2

Bali Diaries: Week 2

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I seriously cannot believe that 2 weeks have gone already!

We are feeling much more settled here now. We have been using the scooter to get about (which is an absolute steal at only £3 a day!) and it’s been a blessing in disguise as our villa is in quite a remote location and Ubud town isn’t really accessible by foot so we have to drive in which takes around 20 minutes each way. Food has been a bit of an issue in the evenings due to the distance from our villa to the best restaurants and it has been challenging to find good restaurants that deliver this far alas I still wouldn’t change the location for the peace and quiet it provides.

The weather has been scorching everyday, though sometimes overcast and we have had the occasional rain but the humidity is intense. I am very much enjoying my tan! It has been gradual to arrive but it’s here now and I’m loving it.

There’s a Mouse in Ma Kitchen What am I Gonna Do?!

We received an email a few days ago notifying us of a terrifying development back at home regarding our cats Frankie and Sansa. Apparently, less then a week and a half after we left our house to go travelling, Frankie and Sansa caught not 1 but 2 mice! When we were emailed by our temporary lodgers to inform us of this I almost had a bloody heart attack. In the 4 years that I have lived there I have never encountered any mice, Frankie & Sansa have never caught any mice and there has been absolutely no evidence of them being present in the house so I seriously cannot believe what I am hearing.

The only occasion I have ever seen a mouse was a few months ago when I was in the attic and I saw one lone mouse who had the audacity to squeak at me as I was trying to locate some candle making ingredients. I was stunned to see it there, and even more stunned and horrified at it’s casual greeting. Did that mean that this horrendous creature was living in my attic? I most certainly hoped not!

After that day we fortified the attic with potent mice and rat killer (just incase) and I placed both Frankie and Sansa in there on a regular basis so that they could locate the mice if indeed there were any but they never found anything therefore I was convinced that that meant that the coast was clear and the mouse I did see was long gone. In all the 12 years that Josh has lived there he has NEVER seen any mice or evidence of mice so why the bloody hell are these people telling me that we have a mouse infestation literally days after we have left?!

I couldn’t help but to be suspicious as to the state that my house was being lived in for such a despicable thing to occur all of a sudden. I’m sorry but I had to wonder. Josh tried to assure me that at some point in time all houses had an infestation of mice but I’m struggling with that level of simplicity. DAYS after we have left and after an extremely extensive clean and clear out by Josh and I whereby we saw and heard NADA all of a sudden we have a mouse infestation in our house when 2 complete strangers and a social recluse who probably eats in his room on a regular bases are conveniently left in charge?!

What kind of thing is this I’m hearing?!! I CAN NOT DEAL I tell you.

The very THOUGHT of returning home to a house infested with mice makes my skin crawl. I very much doubted Frankie and Sansa had even seen a mouse before now! Of course I am proud that they were living up to their reputation that British Shorthairs have of being one of the best hunters of all the cat breeds, but precious cats should not have to be collecting mice in my house like it’s going out of fashion! We have instructed the lodgers to call out Rentokil or whomever else can rid us of this problem.

I want them GONE!!!!!!!

The Creepy’s Keep on Crawling

We’ve had the caterpillar prevention installed on our villa door and it seems to be working pretty well but even that is not foolproof. As I mentioned before our bathroom, though utterly beautiful with it’s luxurious stone sunken bath tub and outdoor rain shower complete with plant installation and white pebbled floor, is partially outside so these nasty caterpillars still find a way in. Either they are coming in from the ceiling (but it does have a mesh covering so I doubt it), are living within the soil that our plants are planted in (very possible), entering via the plug hole (unlikely), or are one of the determined ones who somehow manage to squeeze their horrible caterpillar bodies past the bristly blocker put on the bottom of our door.

Either way on the odd occasion we see them (though mainly in the bathroom), and that’s simply not good enough. If I was certain that they would just stay in the bathroom and crawl around in the soil minding their own business then that would be okay but it’s when they come out of the bathroom and crawl onto our bed that’s a problem as I have seen on 2 seperate occasions. Now that I cannot have. But what can I do about it in the middle of the night? I cannot see them, nor can I stop them in their endeavours but I tell you if I feel one of these crispy, multi legged creatures on my naked skin in the middle of the night I am very likely to scream the place down and nobody wants that!!

I love being in the middle of nature. I’ve never been anywhere quite like this before – it is so natural, and so wild, that you cannot help but feel a strong connection to it. It’s undoubtedly a more simple way of living, a healthier, spiritual, more ethical way of living that makes you feel at ease. All of the troubles that come as standard when you live in a city as busy and go getting as London just seem to melt away into insignificance.

For instance, I can’t tell you last time since being here that I’ve even thought about Brexit, Theresa May or Tramp Trump. It just doesn’t factor into my lifestyle here. The only thing I worry about these days is whether or not the giant cicada is going to land on that huge palmed tree trunk or on my naked lap? Will that caterpillar remain in the bathtub going round and round in circles or will it make it’s ugly way over to our queen sized bed and take up residence there? Does that rundown dog that looks like a hyena and is itching itself to within an inch of it’s life have rabies? will it attempt to bite me as we fly past on our scooter and if so, precisely how much time does it take to get to a hospital? That big lumpy brown frog rib rib ribbeting over there with it’s huge bubble throat, can it see that that’s our threshold and does he know that he should go around the side instead of towards it? Bats, Rats, Dragonflies, Flies, Cockroaches, Spiders, Centipedes and other questionable looking insects, will you keep away from us for the duration of our stay?? And does the pizzeria Spacanapoli deliver to our villa? Is our jacuzzi open for business today? – These are the types of serious questions I ponder day to day in this place. Granted they are different questions then I would ponder in London Town but no less important to me right now.

I am not loving these Bali Dogs but at least they aren’t as menacing as the ones in Thailand. They generally keep themselves to themselves and in comparison to the Thai dogs they look pretty knackered if I’m honest. If push came to shove I think I would be able to outrun them. Let’s hope that I never have to try!

Despite me wearing 30% DEET insect repellant every day without fail these miserable mosquitoes are biting me up anywhere and everywhere they can! My knee has actually swollen up I’ve been bitten there so many times not to mention everywhere else they have managed to sink their bloody thirsty fangs. I’m in pain!

One of the local nail shops overcharged me for shellac. What a bloody cheek! The only reason why I went there in the firstplace was because I stupidly bought these stick on nails from Superdrugs and they were falling off after only 2 days. I had never worn stick on nails before but my sister said she had tried them and they lasted for around 2 weeks and I thought it would be the same for me alas after only a mere 24 hours they were coming off. Pathetic. So I went to the closest nail shop that I could find in Ubud and they took the remaining 4 that I had on off and gave me shellac. I am never going to bother with the fake nail nonsense again. I really liked the design on them but in the end it wasn’t worth the hassel. Everything is so cheap in Bali that when the nail therapist told me it would cost me 430,000 Indonesian Rupiah I didn’t bat an eyelid. I still haven’t quite worked out how to convert their currency to GBP without the use of a calculator and at the time I assumed it would be as cheap as everything else was there, plus I just really needed to get it done but this fool charged me £29!!! Since when was it £29 to get your nails done in Ubud when you could feed 4 people with drinks for that price? Petrol for our scooter was £3 so where is this woman going with £29? – I can get my nails done in shellac for £15 in London! Josh suggested we go in there again some other time and ask them the price again to see whether the woman was trying to scam. Or perhaps that’s just her “Westener price”. Either way she won’t be getting another penny out of me!!

Familial Joy

Aunty Jac and Uncle Dennis came up from Canggu today and we had the best day ever!

Josh and I had decided to surprise them with a lunch at our favourite vegetarian restaurant Clear Cafe, complete with a treat to a Royal Balinese Massage for the two of them before we ate lunch and then later we planned to take them to dinner at Cascades, a restaurant that was part of the Viceroy hotel brand, with one of the most romantic views in the world. Our lunch at Clear Cafe was both special and ultra relaxed as on top of having one of the most original idea’s for a restaurant in the form on their on site spa, and eclectic, ambient atmosphere, the staff were also super relaxed, and you could basically stay in the restaurant for the entire day without being bothered if you wished too as Josh and I had done on numerous occasions. My Aunt and Uncle loved it there, the massages aswell as the food and I was so happy to have been able to take them there. They had actually hired a driver for the day so it was really convenient to get to the restaurant and then back to Pumpkin Village for a mid afternoon swim and a relax before getting ready for dinner at Cascades.

Cascades had been on my radar once I had read an article about how beautiful it was and I had seen the pictures to confirm. I wasn’t that interested in the food, though as it was an award winning restaurant I was sure that I wouldn’t be disappointed but it was the views I was interested in..

Walking into Cascades was like walking on to a set. I had specifically chosen an early dinner time as I was determined to get the best possible view of the surrounding landscape and have the opportunity to see the sun go down. I had asked for the best seat in the restaurant and that is exactly what I got. I had to remind myself that we weren’t in Game of Thrones as I walked through the gigantic foyer with marble floors down the triple width stone staircase, past the elegantly dressed bowing waiters, opulent fountains and statues and a perfectly manicured lawn complete with an infinity pool and flower displays such as you’ve never seen.

In front of us was a view that was both dramatic and eye wateringly beautiful with a panorama that overlooked the “Valley of the Kings”. I don’t say Valley of the Kings for effect, though I know it sounds very Game of Thrones like, however in this instance it is probably Game of Thrones that has taken inspiration from here as that is the actual name of the valley and the view is of impeccable splendour, grandeur and more than a hint of magic. Coming from below was a chant like singing that simply didn’t seem real but it just added to the atmosphere.

A huge thatched dining room, with long white bellowing drapery and stepping stones led to a table with a perfect view of the green valley below. This was our table for the evening and when we arrived we were the only ones in the entire restaurant. Needless to say it was a very lovely dinner.

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Me and Aunty Jac outside Clear Cafe 

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Lounging by the pool at our villa with Josh, Aunty Jac and Uncle Dennis 

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Dinner at Cascades 

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Tonight Matthew, I’m Dining in the Sky

I was so happy to have the rare pleasure of seeing my Aunty Jac in Bali. It felt really quite surreal and very special. We have told them that if the weather remains as good as it has been then we will return the favour and make a trip up to Canggu to visit them.

I can already see that I’ve lost weight since being here. Of course I wasn’t trying to lose weight but it has happened naturally probably because of the combination of me swimming everyday, and eating healthily. I’m sticking with this vegetarian thing and it’s doing me the world of good. Both Josh and I feel as though we look and feel healthier as a result of it though I’m sure being uber relaxed in a paradise setting doesn’t hurt much either 😉

We visited Campuhan Ridge Walk today, an area of outstanding beauty just minutes away from Ubud town centre, and whilst we were there we came across not just miles and miles of perfect rice paddies and lush jungle on our walk, but at the very end a treat in the form of a restaurant and spa called Karsa Spa. I think it was blessing that we even made it there because the walk through the rice paddies (which was suggested to us by one of the waiters in a restaurant we had visited the other night funnily enough) was more tiring then I thought it would be and we had forgotten to bring water with us so when I couldn’t see this cafe that was advertised on the posters after we had made it to the other side and could spot a stray dog or two I was more than willing to give up. Especially since we still had to walk it all the way back before nightfall. But after seeing lots of other tourists going by, clearly determined to make it to this elusive place we decided to carry on and oh what a wonder did we behold!!!

These Indonesians really have something special here. Such an abundance of the most beautiful sights I ever did see. Had I of known about this place I would have definitely suggested that we go there with Aunty Jac alas, at least we were here now.

This cafe had a prized position of the unobstructed view of miles and miles of perfect rice paddie fields, and was surrounded by a botanical garden complete with lily ponds,  and exotic plants and flowers. It was so perfect it was almost as if it wasn’t real.

The hue of the sunset was a mixture of lavender, amber and pink and was utterly stunning from the top deck of the cafe (also which demanded bare feet). We only stopped there for a much needed drink but after seeing the beauty of the grounds we felt we had no choice but to do some exploration and after meandering around the gardens which had been designed to be almost maze like we happened upon a spa. In this setting, with this sunset?? OH YES.

We booked ourselves in for treatments a couple of days later.

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The Grounds of Karsa Spa

We have 2 weeks left here which feels me with a slight panic for there are still lots of things I want to do before I leave but thankfully if the weather remains good (there has been some rain today), then I think we may just be able to fit them all in.

1 is Hanging Gardens of Bali which is another spa hotel extraordinaire (yes, I do love me some pamperation). The place is tremendously beautiful and romantic – set in the forest and is 7 star so I can’t blame them too much for being a little up their arses but irrespective of how special the place is they should keep in mind that they shouldn’t be charging UK prices in Indonesia. It’s obscene. Anyway, I’m going!

2 is Gilli Islands.  A collection of islands that don’t allow any form of transport on them (Trawangan, Air and Meno), close to Bali with gorgeous beaches (there are no beaches in Ubud), and lots of fancy restaurants, cafes retail shops and hotels.

3 The Yoga Barn – the world’s famous yoga barn where all of the serious yogi’s go. I have never done yoga before but I have deliberately waited especially to come here to learn as there is no better setting and afterall, yoga is all about atmosphere.

4 – Swept Away Restaurant – a restaurant that has intimate tables placed besides a rushing river. You can’t get anymore dramatic then that!

Josh and I have also started videoing some of our antics and we will be releasing them for viewing very soon. We’re calling them #balicam so watch out for them!

Since we have been here we have Skyped my Nan and Grandad, Josh’s parent’s and brother, my sister and my Mum so we haven’t been doing too badly with the contact so far! I have worn my new Birkenstocks religiously since being here and they are so comfortable that I refuse to take them off! Sadly, Josh’s Birkenstocks that he has had for around 10 years and has always praised for their comfort and quality broke the other day so he had to get another pair of sandals whilst we were out. They look slightly like Birkenstocks but they are an Indonesian brand so we’ll have to see how they work out!

I have realised that the Indonesians are very conservative people – conservative in the way they dress and the way they are and so despite the searing heat I have felt a little underdressed walking around in little shorts so I decided to buy some Balinese style trousers – long, white, floaty trousers with discreet slits at the sides to keep you cool. I really like them but more then that I feel much more at ease with the way I’m dressed now afterall, despite the fact that shorts are the norm when in a hot country I wouldn’t want to offend anyone by showing too much skin.

Rest assured I am bloody loving it here. We both feel relaxed and happy and don’t see why on earth we should have to return to the UK at all!! Alas we still have another 2 weeks here before we’re onto our next stop: Seminyak.

We can’t complain too much I guess!

Smell you later!

STori x

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Campuhan Ridge Walk

Checklist for my SE Asian Travels

Checklist for my SE Asian Travels

Beautiful Bali

When I decided a year ago to go travelling around SE Asia, I never quite realised just what was involved. I had assumed it was just a matter of getting my passport, packing up my things and leaving but how wrong was I!

What with the Visa’s (both Thai and Indonesian), renting our house whilst we’re away, securing cat sitters, vaccinations, flights and accommodation, it has taken us a full year to get everything lined up. And then there’s the danger element posed by a location such as this – the stinger suits for box jellyfish and super strength mosquito repellent for the Zika, Dengue, Japanese Encephalitis and Malaria carrying mossies. The vaccinations for the Japanese encephalitis alone cost an eye watering £170. The travel clinic also suggested that we get a Rabies injection but at £150 and no intention of going anywhere near stray dogs, that wasn’t gonna happen.

I guess it hasn’t sunk it just yet that I’m off for 4 months to an exotic and strange locale but that might just be because I’ve still got so much to do!

Here are a few things I’m taken with me from England that I just can’t live without:

Liz Earle, Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser – this cleanser keeps my skin soft, supple and clean. It also is made using natural ingredients which is very important to me.

Lush, Rose Jam Shower Gel – an absolutely beautiful smelling shower gel made with Turkish Roses. It smells heavenly and usually only comes out at Christmas so I made sure I got the biggest one I could find!

Yogi Flow, Shower Foam – because I’m going to the spiritual home of Bali and this is something the God’s would surely approve of.

Australian Gold, Sun Cream (30 SPF) – I love the coverage of this product and it smells pretty good too!

Ben’s 30, Insect Repellent  – Following some intensive research, this brand of insect repellent was thought to be the most effective in repelling the dreaded mossies and since I am particularly susceptible to their bite (don’t ask me why!) I thought it best to pick up a few. This one has 30% DEET in it but I also bought a natural mosquito repellent.

Stingray Australia, Stinger Suit – I bought this suit after finding out that the deadly and almost transparent creature the Box JellyFish are in the waters of Thailand and Bali. There have been a number of deaths over the past couple of years from this creature and no doubt even more then what has been recorded. Swimming Without Stress seem to be the only company in the UK that stock this suit, which has been specially designed to withstand the deadly sting of the jellyfish. Since there is no way of preventing the jellyfish from stinging, and you can hardly see it in the water, I decided that in order to preserve my life (or just feel at ease whilst swimming in the sea), I would wear one.

Laura Mercier, Tinted Moisturiser – I stopped wearing about 10 years ago and only wear Tinted Moisturiser now as I find it doesn’t clog my pores and keeps my skin looking and feeling healthy. This one from Laura Mercier has an SPF of 15 which means it’s great for wearing in the daytime also though I don’t really wear makeup on a daily basis – I keep this for nights out instead.

Superdrug, Cocoon Perfume Mist Spray – since there’s not much point wearing heavy perfumes which you’ll just sweat off in the Bali heat I thought that this mist spray, which is an intoxicating mixture of Jasmine & Musk would be a good idea to wear instead. It’s really cheap (only £3.99!) and has surprising sillage (a fancy word for ‘throw’).

Sunday is the day I’m flying out via Singapore and my first stop is Ubud! I look forward to updating you on my travels as I go and who knows, I might even try some surfing while I’m there?!

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I’m off to Bali!

I’m off to Bali!

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Incase you didn’t know already, my boyfriend and I are going travelling for 4 months in October (yeah baby!). After spending another miserably cold winter in England last year we finally decided that we would take the plunge, get some time off work (or I would anyway), and go someplace we both loved and wanted to spend more time in: Thailand.

But the thought of being on the beautiful island of Samui on my boyfriend’s birthday, on Christmas day and over the new year has only just began to sink in, and I must say: I’m feeling pretty darn chuffed about it. Initially, we were going to do two months in Koh Samui and then two months in Chiang Mai, but after some deliberation we finally decided to add Bali to the mix, which is somewhere that neither of us had been to before but a place we were both very eager to visit. So now we are going to be spending two month in Bali – one month in Ubud and one month in Canggu, and then we’ll be spending one month in Koh Samui in Thailand (where we will be for Christmas and New Year), before moving on to Chiang Mai.

We have chosen these specific places because we have heard a lot of great things about them including their natural beauty aswell as the food, the friendliness and warmth of the people, and also the weather (a no brainer when you leave in damp cold most of the time), the high standard of living and the more simple and laid back way of life. I know that Bali in particular is heavily populated by Aussies (as Spain is by Brits I guess), but I’m willing to take my chances as it is stunningly beautiful and filled with nature – something that after spending most of my life in England I am desperate to experience.

Whilst we’re there other then lazing about, swimming in the sea, sightseeing, mixing with the locals and perhaps learning a little Thai and Indonesian words I am planning on documenting my travels right here on this here blog. It’s not a travel blog as you know, but I figured that you would love to hear about my adventures 😉 and I’m really not all that serious about trying to make money from writing about it hence why there’s no point in me setting up one just for that reason. I just like to write I guess.

So I hope that you will tune in and listen to my ramblings of my life and times in Bali and Thailand, and perhaps I might even bring back some sunshine with me! 🙂

 

Silk La Fox