Bali – the food

Bumbu Bali food

In a nutshell we ate very well in Bali. It was great not to have to cook at all. Our breakfasts were included as part of the hotel accommodation and in the first hotel we stayed in it was more varied than the second hotel with the mix of western and Asian food but by the end I was sick of trying to decide what to have. Generally I had an omelette from the egg station, some toast and something else like a pancake or a danish. So I ate a lot more for breakfasts than I usually do when at home. Unfortunately the coffee was awful and apparently the tea was weak in both our hotels.

One morning I was standing at the toaster and two pieces came out that looked just like what I’d put in and when I asked a person nearby if they were his he got quite defensive about the fact that they were his and that there was plenty of food to go around you know. Ok, I was just making an observation, not trying to get into a fight or anything.

Because we ate such big breakfasts we usually didn’t eat much for lunch or had quite a late lunch and then by dinner time we were ready to indulge again at a nearby restaurant. We had dinner one night at the hotel which was included in our package and it wasn’t very nice at all. It was a seafood buffet and the fish at these buffet’s was mostly overdone and not very tasty. Also, one of our party got Bali belly from a seafood salad he ate which was really unfortunate especially as it was on the last day and we had a 1am flight the next morning to come back home.

There were a couple of standout meals. One was in a restaurant opposite our hotel in Tuban. We chose some fresh seafood from out the front and they cooked it on the grill before serving it to us. I had prawns, The Surfer had the best snapper I’ve ever tasted which would have been enough to feed two people and my friend had chili crab. It was absolutely delicious.

Chefs at Bumbu Bali

The other standout meal was a Bumbu Bali near Nusa Dua. In retrospect we should have had the kids babysat so we could really enjoy the feast, the taste, the smells, the dancing and everything. But we didn’t. We still managed to enjoy ourselves once the kids settled down a bit. I liked that everytime a group walked in there would be a sing-song greeting ‘selamat malam’ which means good evening. While we were eating the music and dancing started which kept the kids occupied a bit too.

The image at the top of this post was JJ’s and L’s food. By the time ours came I was ready to devour it, not take photos of it. It was so delicious and I’m glad we ate here towards the end of our stay because it would have tainted our experiences at other places. The meal was probably the most expensive we had in Bali but one that was definitely worth it. The photo above are the chefs at Bumbu Bali who aren’t hidden away in a kitchen.

At restaurants I expected to have more Indonesian food choices but most restaurants tried to cater for all types of tastes so there’d be pizza, pasta etc, ie more western food. This was a bit disappointing although we did go to an Italian restaurant in our hotel where the food was absolutely delicious. I hadn’t been expecting that.

What I really really liked about eating out in Bali was the service. Because there were essentially two groups of us we could split the bill. That is one family ordered on one bill and we’d order on the other. We got used to saying right at the beginning that we were ordering for bill 1 and they were ordering for bill 2. It made paying at the end of the meal so much easier and because we were away for two weeks it saved us having to worry about meal IOUs. We already had to do that for transport and a couple of times when it got confusing I was able to organise the money so it all worked out. Usually money handling confounds me but I left my travel companions confounded a couple of times about what had just happened. I jokingly said I should become a money exchanger because some of them have quite dodgy practises (not that mine were).

Spongebob Squarepants sandwich

Most restaurants also had a kids menu and this was my favourite looking meal out of all of them. Guess who it is.

Now I can’t have a food post in a foreign land without mentioning what happens to it at the other end. Don’t worry, I won’t go into graphic descriptions of Bali Belly. I didn’t get this at all. In fact it was the opposite. I’m usually very regular and to not be regular was a bit distressing and quite uncomfortable. I ended up buying a box of green tea bags because green tea helps me but even that didn’t really work. Towards the end of the two weeks I feel like I hardly ate at all because I felt so constantly full and that was really annoying. You’ll be pleased to know that I’m all back to normal again, and my stomach’s come down to it’s normal size.

Apologies for ending on a more of a non-food note for this post but it’s all gotta end up somewhere!

Bali – transport

Kuta Square

As with any travels, transport around your holiday destination is important otherwise you’d never go anywhere. When we stayed near Kuta it wasn’t really an issue because for local travel you just pull over a Blue Taksi and for short trips they’re very economical. We were about half a kilometre from Waterbom Park and the Centro shopping Centre and at first the thought of catching a taxi was not right to me because normally I would walk that far.

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After a couple of days though I was hopping into cabs like a seasoned pro because it was hot, because we had kids with us, because the footpaths in Bali aren’t easy to walk on, and because it wasn’t too expensive. From our hotel to the shopping centre only cost about 5000 Rupiah and the most we paid to Kuta Square was about 17,000 Rupiah (just over $2 Australian) so not much at all. There’s so many of these Blue Taksi’s they don’t seem to mind very short trips and they also didn’t mind three adults and three kids piling into the one taxi. It wouldn’t happen over here.

For the longer trips you need to arrange transport in a non-metered cab as it works out more economical and you have a guarantee of transport to and from and around your destination. We ended up doing this quite a bit and in some cases we may have paid too much and in other cases we got a really good deal.

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When we transferred from our first to our second hotel we got chatting to a taksi driver and his uncle had a car that could take us for 175,000 Rupiah. We then found out that this trip should cost us no more than 100,000 Rupiah. As we couldn’t contact the driver to cancel I negotiated the next morning a drop in price. I felt a bit guilty at first but then we ended up giving this driver a LOT of our business and buying him some McDonald’s for him and his family (well The Surfer paid for most of it). I wouldn’t normally buy McDonald’s for anyone but it was obviously a treat for him and he was good to us. In the image above shows The Surfer and our main driver Ayok.

For instance we rang him not long after the hotel transfer and asked how much it would be to to Bali Safari and Marine Park for the day. He told me it would normally be 300,000 Rupiah but he’d only charge us 200,000. We were gone for a long day’s worth and he drove us there and back – the whole trip taking three hours altogether due to traffic – and waited around for us all day. I gather at these places that drivers earn some sort of commission so hopefully that made it more worth his while.

Our day trip to Ubud – driving there, back and to a friend’s place near Ubud – we paid 300,000 Rupiah and we found out afterwards that it should have been closer to 500,000 (around $70 Australian).

Whether we underpaid the transport drivers or not they were always happy as they were really glad to just have the work. They were good with the kids and were always quite chatty and helpful with unpacking and/or packing the car. This was brought home to me when we arrived home in Adelaide and our taxi driver sat in his seat while we got all our luggage out. Perhaps if we’d tipped him he would have helped but I really noticed that he didn’t offer to help.

The other main mode of transport in Bali is the motorbike or scooter. It’s cheaper to run and takes less time to get from A to B in heavy traffic because heavy traffic it is. Even though the main roads have their lanes marked there is no regard for this whatsoever. Where there should only be two lanes of traffic there were three lanes of cars and scooters zipping inbetween and around cars when they could. We saw some westerners riding scooters but for the short time we were there I didn’t get on a bike at all.

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Unfortunately we witnessed a tragic accident on the way home from celebrating my son’s birthday at Waterbom Park one afternoon. The traffic had been flowing fairly well until it noticeably slowed down. I looked out the window up ahead and saw two bodies lying on the road. Lots of people were standing around looking and the bodies weren’t moving. We diverted the kids eyes and drove slowly past. Two people, probably riding a scooter, had been clipped by a passing car (which we saw ahead) and I gathered that they’d also been run over. It was an awful end to what had been a pretty good day for us, but it was obviously worse for these two people and their families.

Even though the traffic is chaos I didn’t have my foot on an imaginary brake the whole time I was in a car because everyone seems to know what’s going on. It always freaked me out to see scooters pull out into oncoming traffic without looking though. Our drivers usually honked their horn if they thought someone ahead should know that someone was coming up close behind them but generally it seemed to be a rule of give way to what’s ahead of you and don’t drive too fast. I didn’t see any evidence of road rage at all. I think everyone who is a road rage perpetrator should be sent to drive in a country like this to see how existing on a road with other people can work.

I’ll never forget coming home from the Bali Safari and Marine Park. It was dusk and it must have been around knock off time. Lots of people were trying to cross the road that we were driving on and we noticed one woman riding a scooter with a huge load on her head that she managed to balance while getting across the really busy road. It’s amazing what scooters can carry – people’s livliehoods and their whole families (often without wearing helmets).

Bali – the beginning

What's that mum?

After six months in the planning and waiting we left for Denpassar just over two weeks ago. I don’t mind getting up early when it involves holiday travel so 6.30am on a public holiday Monday was okay with me.

After a pretty uneventful flight we landed. I haven’t travelled overseas for ten years so was a tad apprehensive about what awaited. After leaving here in winter we arrived in warm weather so the warmer layers came off straight away while we waited for immigration etc to just get out of the airport. Without taking jeans etc off it was still hot but this we had to endure for a little while yet.

Bintang baby

We arrived at the hotel and couldn’t get into our room straight away so immediately ordered some drinks. The Surfer and I had a Bintang (the first of many throughout the trip – especially handy after we ran out of duty free alcohol).

We finally checked in and changed straight into our bathers for a swim in the very warm pool. I say that because the next hotel we stayed in didn’t have a very warm pool. It wasn’t freezing but it was noticeably cooler.

Ramada Bintang Bali resort Tuban

Leaving the sanctuary of the hotel later, we were hit with one of the busiest parts of Tuban/Kuta. It took me back nearly 20 years ago to when I was India so it wasn’t quite so out there a feeling for me as it could have been. It still took me a couple of days to acclimatise to the weather and the different culture. And the money, the money. One of our dollars buys about 7000 rupiah which is just really hard to get your head around at the beginning. I changed $50 Australian and it got me about 350,000 rupiah and throughout the whole trip I kept getting 100,000 and 10,000 notes mixed up which was rather embarrassing.

I must say that I wasn’t as hassled by people wanting to sell me stuff as I thought I might have been except for when I walked onto the beach from the hotel. I’m saving that story for another day though.

Patterns

I’m still writing a Bali post (and it will be one of a few) but I had to share these two photos with you.

They were taken from the plane when flying over north western Australai somewhere en route to Bali.

I find the patterns endlessly fascinating and like a fire, I could stare at them for a long time.

After rain

We’re back

I’m heading back to work this morning after a two week holiday in Bali. It was warm there. It’s bloody cold here and it’s raining as well. Yesterday morning after a night of no sleep while travelling back on the plane I was very emotional and tired and teary but am over that now.

I had to go shopping yesterday and trying to remember what I cook, because I haven’t cooked for two weeks, was hard. I had a brief look through all the photos and I have lots of stories to tell to accompany them.

But for now I have to go and earn a crust.

Escape

In a couple of days I’ll be escaping from this winter weather and going to hot Bali. I’ve never been to Bali before and I’ve not been overseas for ten years.

When I went overseas ten years ago I came back pregnant. The result of my pregnancy will be nine when we’re in Bali. When I’ve told people that I’m going to Bali nearly everyone’s asked me if I’m taking JJ. I couldn’t imagine going away for two weeks without him. For starters I’m pretty sure he’ll have a great holiday with me, but also because there’s nobody who’d look after him for me for two weeks.

It’s been a stressful couple of weeks for lots of reasons. To top it off I had an important appointment yesterday morning. It was a pupil free day at school and I couldn’t take JJ to the appointment so I’d arranged childcare for him. We hopped in the car so I could drop him off at a friend’s and the car wouldn’t start because the battery was completely dead. Fortunately I had a bit of time up my sleeve and I phoned a few people and luckily someone came to my rescue and picked us both up. Crisis averted. After I got home I called the RAA and I now have a brand new car battery.

Last night The Surfer and I went to see a Cabaret Festival show, Nouvelle Vague, and I walked out the door with my spare set of keys only they were my spare car keys, not the house keys. Fortunately I have a spare set hidden outside that I was able to get.

I need a break. I’m in the process of packing and tidying up the house ready for my house/dog sitter to come in while we’re away.

I probably won’t be blogging until I get back so it’s a break from winter and a blog break also. I’m sure I’ll have lots of stories and photos when I get back though.

The PEDIGREE adoption drive

Monty resting at beach

I took Monty for a walk this evening which included some off lead time at the local oval. We were on our way out but Monty had to say a quick hello to a couple of dogs so I let her. I was nearby and I thought she knew where I was but after the dogs did their goodbyes she ran around with her ears pricked up and I knew she was looking for me. It was dusk so she probably couldn’t see me as easily as normal and as she’s getting quite deaf, my calls to her were pointless.

Monty having her morning run

I could see she was getting a bit stressed so I had to walk up to her and wait till she looked in my direction, wave my hands at her and she finally realised where I was and off we went.

I’ve had Monty for nearly 11 years now. When I moved into my house my dream was always to have a dog. I had expressed this to some friends and not long after a four-year relationship ended a friend was around at my place one evening and she told me about a dog that a colleague of hers had to give up for various reasons.

She arranged for us to meet around at her place and I’ll never forget it. I was standing out the front of my friend’s place and there were around four other people there too. My friend turned up with Monty and she immediately ran up to me. I knew then that this was the dog for me.

One week later she became mine and I brought her home. I’ll never forget those first few days where she kept going to the front door like she wasn’t sure that she should be there. She’d also lie on the floor near me and look at me with her brown eyes and I felt a bit sorry for uprooting her from her previous home which was a loving home but I thought that at least she was coming to a new home with someone who loved her.

Me, Monty and Julian

We’ve had our differences over the years with holes appearing in the back yard in places that shouldn’t have holes in them like the lawn and certain areas of the garden but there’s been so many benefits that outweigh the hole digging.

She’s forced me out of the house for walks and I’ve met people in the local area I would never have otherwise met.

Jules and Monty

She’s also been a beautiful companion to JJ. As he doesn’t mind telling me quite often, he loves her more than he loves me. I know this is to just get to me but he does love her a lot and gives her lots of hugs and always says a long goodbye to her at night while trying to sneak a peek at the television if it’s on.

Even though she’s pushing 13 human years and she is getting deaf and quite a bit slower she still loves her walks. She still acts like a puppy when I get her lead out and she knows that she’s going out for a walk. I’m really dreading the time when we have to say goodbye to her and when that time comes I don’t know what I’ll do because we’ll miss her like crazy.

If I do get a new dog I’m pretty sure I will adopt one rather than buy a puppy from a pet shop or breeder.

Pedigree are sponsoring a dog adoption drive and at the time of me writing this 861 dogs have been adopted. That’s got to be good. If I was to adopt a puppy in South Australia right now there’s a choice of nine dogs from their website with their stories. Nooo, I’m not looking now, nooooo.

Please note that this is not a sponsored post. I am a dog lover and want to see unwanted dogs go to a good home just like Monty did.