Arriving to BalI I was quite shocked - not by poverty but by the opulence!
In addition to the usual stores with open fronts and clothes, bags and other souvenirs hanging from ceiling to floor there were premium brand stores such as Ralph Lauren, Hurley, Rip Curl and many others displaying beautiful clothes and homewares in their polished windows.
To get to our hotel (Amadea) in Seminyak, we first drove through Kuta - this too was not the dirty run down party place that I expected but full of beautiful hotels and surrounded by shops and brands we know well. The only give away that we were in Bali and not on the Gold Coast were the rows of scooters lining the street but all looked so clean and tidy.
The biggest surprise was that something I've grown to epitomise my asian travels and that always gets an excited churning in my belly when I experience it was missing ... there was no smell!!! No piles of rubbish ... no open sewers ... just clean pavements and beautiful shops?!
Tanya probably thought me crazy the first few days as I complained of this as wanted her to experience 'the real Asia'!
Our hotel staff were wonderful - every person from the security, the reception and cleaners would greet us with big smiles and welcoming greetings. The room was comfortable with excellent ac giving us welcome respite from the heat and humidity. Every day our cleaner Benji would leave us towel origami in the shapes of ducks, frogs, dogs and a crab, accompanied with a little note telling us what it was! We were also very appreciative of our bar attendant Tede (Today) who would make wonderful cocktails for the equivalent of $7.50 AUD and bring them to us by the pool :-)
Day one -
We arrived late afternoon so our first night we did a small walk around Seminyak - exchanged AUD for some local dollars (which worked much better then taking it from the bank) then had dinner at Nirvana where we enjoyed watching the fire dancers and trying a mix of the local dishes ... Tanya was not so keen on them, I didn't mind most of them.
Day Two -
After a delicious included breakfast at the restaurant in front of our hotel, we wandered further exploring the area. We wandered along the beach which was littered mostly with offerings but occasionally a bit of trash or broken glass - not as pretty as home but nicer than I expected. Few chairs were set up and even fewer were on the beach.
We found all the elite hotels, restaurants and bar's in preparation for that evening. Then hit the shops - happy to pay more than the markets but less then prices at home for some beautiful clothes that were different from what we had at home.
We had a nice swim in our pool and met a bunch of Aussies all on honeymoons and got travel tips.
That afternoon I had a mani / pedi and 30 min reflexology at what turned out to be a dearer place ($30 AUD with tip), then made it back in time to get a blue cab down to potato head and see the last of the red sky before darkness came over.
The cocktails and food at Potato Head were amazing! Our second best of our stay. We ate in the international restaurant and our waiter was very attentive - reccommending me a fish dish which I loved.
Potato Head was a very cool place, it had a chic retro feel to it and you were made to feel elite by the way you were served and the surroundings. I would highly recommend it. Prices were higher but cheaper than home.
Afterwards we went to Ku De Ta which also had that uber cool exclusive feel but had very few people there as apparently now is a quieter time.
We enjoyed our cocktails and chatted to some others near us that were from Melbourne (and very pissed!) and watch the strange way the tide would go all the way out but then later would come up high again (we learnt later there had been an earthquake around this time or earlier which we didnt feel but others at our hotel did ... potentially this is why the tide was doing strange things?!).
Day three -
Today after breakfast we met Gede - a driver that had been recommended to me. He was a warm affable man, and easy for us to recognize with his long dark hair!
He basically took us on a pub crawl from spots recommended to us from other traveller's we met in our pool and that Tanya had seen.
We passed up Nusa Dua watersports as heard it was expensive and not safe depending who you go with. We went first for lunch and drinks at Single Finn cafe on Blue Point. It's a rustic chic style cafe were surfers and other tourists watch the guys catching the big waves.
The view of the point was gorgeous and a very easy way to while away a few hours eating mexican and drinking cocktails listening to cool tunes.
Next we went to the temple at Uluwatu. We were dripping with sweat as Gede showed us around and we took photos of the temple, views and cheeky monkeys! Thankfully Gede was always close by with the slingshot in case any got out of hand, which fortunately they did not!
Next we arrives for the 4pm opening of the rock bar. We quickly changed out of our daggy shorts and put on nice casual dresses making us look the part ... to bad about our big back packs though!
We lined up unsure what to expect. Hotel guests getting the priority line. When it was our turn we realized there was a funicular to take you down the cliff to an amazing bar with waves crashing about beneath it. Once we were down there you feel like a celebrity - well except that we had to sit in a different area to the hotel guests! The views were amazing, the cocktails were amazing and the tunes very funky.
All had set in for sunset but we left after a couple of drinks (same price as home) to go on to our dinner at Jimbaran Bay.
This was a big step down from the Rock bar but a more authentic Bali experience. Picking your own fresh seafood, dinner on the beach and watching the sun set as local kids played along the beach. Afterwards a band played out of tune, leaving a hat on our table to collect tips.
We headed home after this, tired from our big day!
Day four -
We enjoyed a more relaxing day - more shopping and massage treatments. Tanya was not feeling well but we still managed an afternoon at the W Resort which looked amazing but felt somewhat sterile with few people about. Their pizza was delicious and they had a DJ in a box playing funky tunes, but we left to head to the number one trip advisi recommended bar - can you believe I've forgotten the name?! I think it was Sos?
It was on a roof top with water between the edge of the building and where we sat casting amazing reflections of the sunset ... Although at this point the sun set was average so as Tanya was not feeling well we left. By the time we'd reached the ground floor the sky was filled with amazing reds and purples looking abs incredible and now feeling very devastated we left!
Taxi back to the hotel and had a nice easy night in.