Blogging from Bali

Aug 30th, 2008, 02:56 AM
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Ok, so where did I leave off?

We are now back home and rather hammered by jet lag. It always seems much harder on the return trip. The first day we are just exhausted and need to sleep and the second day we are more or less in a fog.

After Bali we spent about four days in Spore and liked it, a lot. I will probably post that under a separate entry just because it will be easier for others to find there. But, suffice it to say that we thought Spore was a bit like a very small NYC, but cleaner, way more sedate and with friendly people and great food. Yet, it certainly isn't BKK and as a destination we much prefer the Thai capital.

Looking back on the Bali part of the trip, we would like to return there. And, in fact, we saw numerous guests at our hotel re book or ask about re booking for next summer as they left. Indeed, a couple of British couples come every year for about three weeks, stay at the same villa (a 2 bedroom that they share) and get the same beach lounge chairs too. On that front, the Samaya has an elevated type of boardwalk that looks directly onto Seminyak beach. There are umbrellas and lounge chairs there. It is a superb vantage point to watch the world go by. The hotel is right next to the Legian and we looked at that property also. It too is very nice and the public areas are well done.

Location wise, we also thought that the beach from the new Anantara to La Luciola looked the best for us. Lots to see and do and tourists from all over. There seemed to be many French in Bali, and Italians. Apparently, Air France has a "through flight" twice a week from Paris to DPS and it is packed all summer. A number of the French tourists sunbathe topless, which seems quite incongruous to me - against the very tame culture of Bali.

We did look at the new Anantara hotel and while it is a rather cool design, it didn't look all that inviting and we are glad we didn't stay there. Likewise, based on some recommendations we had only lunch at La Luciola, not dinner, and the lunch was great. The chef is an expat and his food is well presented and well prepared. Looking out at the palm trees and beach, as you sit in his U-shaped restaurant, is just terrific. A few people actually took photos of that view for screen savers for their cell phones.

On the Ubud front, we will likely have to give that another try. Either without kids in tow or with older kids. Ours much preferred playing ball on the beach as compared to touring the hill towns, yet those we did find fascinating. And, a word to the wise there: we bought a beautiful dragon kite at a small kite shop not far from Ubud. We met the kite maker and saw him painting the kites. They were works of art. In any event, when we got back to the beach we unfurled the kite and tried to fly it. Tried is the operative word. Even with the help of a number of locals, including a few very knowledgeable local ten year olds, the kite would not fly. Apparently, some are made for display and not to fly. The head of the dragon simply puts the kite off kilter (the head is three dimensional and beautiful) and no matter what we did the kite wouldn't stay airborne for more than 30 seconds, even in a good breeze. We were advised to "try out the kite" next time before we buy. And, for those who have been to Bali, you know there are kites in the sky everywhere. Thus, we will know have a beautiful kite to hang. My son, however, insists we give it another try, likely in Central Park.

We are also now firm devotees of satays. We never had a bad one in Bali, and we had lots. One place, a simple spot in Seminyak, called Sate Bali, served them on a small coal brazier where you could flip the skewers yourself. Those were outstanding and the fish ones we could have eaten all day. Ditto the endless parade of fresh fruit juices.

Lastly, while we had heard much of Bali Belly - and I don't want to jinx myself now - no one got it. The restaurants we visited were all clean and, in fact, the salads we had in Bali were terrific. We were told there are some local organic farms but, whatever the case, they were all delicious. In point of fact, I don't think we had anything approaching a bad meal while there. We were actually quite surprised by the quality and wide variety of food on the island; much better in many respects then numerous other vacation destinations we have visited, including lots of spots in Mexico, the Caribbean or even South America. Perhaps its all the int'l tourists, or the expat chefs and owners, but they certainly have their act together food wise. Likewise, the people we encountered everywhere were terrific. Couldn't have been nicer or more inviting. Finally, the spirituality of the island is very memorable. Every store, restaurant and other locale seems to have an offering outside its front door. Restaurants all have small shrines which are tended daily (we saw someone tending such shrines on numerous occasions) and the family compounds where many people live all have small family temples. None of this is done for tourists and it really gives the island a very special feeling. Now, if only it were a bit closer . . .

Alternatively, I've got to think a bit more about packing up and opening an office there. Who knows what I can do simply hanging out a shingle and winging it.

tengohambre is offline  
Aug 30th, 2008, 03:50 AM
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Panda and Tengohembre
Attorneys at Rest
Gpanda is offline  
Aug 30th, 2008, 04:10 AM
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I would prefer:
Attorneys and Restauranteurs

But, resting works for me too.
tengohambre is offline  
Aug 30th, 2008, 06:42 AM
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Running a restaurant is way too much work. My major "occupation" in Bali would be philosophizing with the ransom massage. My hourly rate might be somewhat lower than it is now.
Gpanda is offline  
Aug 30th, 2008, 12:31 PM
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Tengo, Did you happen to see the Oberoi when you were in Seminyak? We're considering that fornext summer>
CFW is offline  
Aug 30th, 2008, 02:25 PM
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CFW: We did not tour the Oberoi, and saw it only from the front gate, which was rather impressive. The consensus seemed to be that the Oberoi is beautiful and in a great location, but that it needs a renovation. I'm not sure if you can really go wrong between it, the Legian or the Samaya. Have fun planning.
tengohambre is offline  
Aug 31st, 2008, 06:59 AM
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thanks for the great trip report.
There is one organic farm that I know of in Bali...they actually sell some of their items at high end gourmet places like whole foods...this is the place:
cruisinred is offline  
Sep 8th, 2008, 07:38 AM
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hi Tengo

I was wondering if you could comment on your time in Singapore, specifically if you thought it was good to do after Bali...or would have done prior to Bali.

I am looking at doing the same NY-DPS flight on SIN in February, and don't know if I should spend a day in Singapore before or after Bali.

cruisinred is offline  
Sep 8th, 2008, 07:14 PM
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We traveled NY-SIN-DPS, with a quick stop in Frankfurt. On the way back home we then stopped in SIN for about four days. I just polled the family and they said they would opt for the same routing again. SQ was great.

Frankly, we generally think it is better just to "travel on through" once you are flying, especially if the connections are good. They are with the SQ flights. The layover in FRA is maybe an hour, you get off the plane and then back on the plane, with the same seats. The layover in SIN en route to DPS is also quick, just a few hours at most. And, because the flt arrives early morning you can wander around a bit, have a great coffee and light bkfst and then hop on the next leg, which is two hours. Your bags are checked all the way through from NYC to DPS. You arrive DPS at noon. You can be beachside not much later.

Alternatively, if you stop in SIN on the way to DPS, you still have to go through there again on your return. The connection may be good but it is nice just to have the one stop on your way home. Also, for some reason we much appreciated traveling to SIN after Bali, where we could drink the water, not focus on whether we swallowed the tap water while brushing our teeth and eating to our hearts content, just about everything, again without much concern.

As you can see, we really liked Seminyak. I will post my SIN trip report in a few days. We thought the people were very friendly, the city spotless and the food terrific. Have fun. Hope to see you in Boston.
tengohambre is offline  
Sep 8th, 2008, 08:56 PM
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we do hope to see her in boston as well....
rhkkmk is offline  
Sep 11th, 2008, 04:56 PM
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Really fun reading your report and I absolutely identify with the first rush of "how do I move here?". A lot of places are special, Bali has something else, and it really does seem to affect almost everyone. Sorry Ubud didn't work for you -- we were out of town too but went in quite a bit and really enjoyed wandering the alleys, the museums, the night dances and just watching what happened around us.
I loved the kites -- it was the Seminyak beach where I had my Felliniesque moment of kite/riderless horse/sunset/crashing waves/jet lag goofyness.
Jet lag is definitely worse coming back -- all the excitement is gone and you're just left with dirt tired! Glad you also got to enjoy SIN Air before they starting pricing out of the reach of mere mortals.
Btw -- remember the Chinese restaurant for our gtg last year? I went back for Chinese New Years -- the food we got during the gtg was much better -- I needed all of you to help order !!
jenskar2 is offline  
Sep 11th, 2008, 09:03 PM
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I guess, in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I'm living in Thailand as a result of a spur-of-the-moment trip here in 1987. I got back to my cubicle in OC after the trip and realized my job sucked. It took five years to actually engineer the shift, but three days after the Rodney King riots, I was winging my way to Bangkok - where two weeks later there was rioting in the streets.
MichaelBKK is offline  
Sep 12th, 2008, 05:29 AM
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cruisin -- I agree with tengo completely re: SIN air to Bali -- if you can get a decently priced flight out of JFK. I've flown to SE Asia on that route 3 times, had a short layover on the way back from Cambodia in 2000, and a 3 day on the way back from Bali. Singapore was a good way to get used to the idea of being back in the West after both of those trips. I think you would love Clark Quay and all the different restaurants in that area -- and Chinatown (oh my, the food there). (Anthony Bourdain did a great Singapore show). And the Frankfurt connection is engineered very well as you are just off/on the same plane while they change crews and tidy it up/load new food, etc.
I do wish I'd done exec economy straight through once via Newark but guess I missed that boat.
jenskar2 is offline  
Oct 26th, 2008, 12:26 AM
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On my last trip to Bali, on the recommendation of many others before me, I hired Made Candra to be my guide and driver. I cannot recommend him highly enough. He speaks excellent English, is a very safe driver, and is extremely knowledgeable about all things Balinese. Best of all, he will take you to the most unique and beautiful areas on the island, rather than tourist traps.

Many drivers will take you to shops where they get a commission. Made will never do that. He has taken me on hikes through the rice fields and to temples, and along the way he has taken great care to teach me about what I am seeing and experiencing.

For single women traveling alone, it can sometimes be nuscance (even scary) to be bothered by your driver. But Made is very respectful and never made me feel uncomfortable.

contact made [email protected]
doffi is offline  

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