Friday, October 5 — Flight to Bali & Ulin Villas
Another early flight, this time it is Air Asia @ 6:15a Bangkok → DPS. Our last Air Asia flight out of Bangkok two years back was from the new Suvarnabhumi International Airport so I assumed nothing changed. The taxi driver kept asking me to reconfirm this was still indeed the correct airport, and I just nodded without thinking. But as we were pulling up to the international terminal, I quickly glanced at our tickets and did not see the BKK airport code; instead I noticed a different airport code: DMK. “Oh fuck!” Jen asked what the problem was and when I explained we were at the wrong airport the taxi driver swung has arm and snapped the way a baseball couch would when a star player struck out. Luckily, our taxi driver was willing to take us fully across town (rather megagopolis) to the old/new, recently renovated, and new home of Air Aisa, the Don Mueang International Airport, for mere and generous fee of 500 Baht. Luckily time was also on our side; we got an early start and still had well over two hours before departure. Being 4:20 in morning also meant there was no traffic, so away we flew to the other airport. The only thing getting in our way was the potential for flying off the freeway as our driver averaged over 120 k/p/h. We got there in about 35 minutes. A world record. Jen didn’t want to talk the entire way there, but once we arrived on time she spoke to me again.
Check-in went smoothly. I had prepaid for the maximum baggage allowance, and even though we had 66 kilos we were still in the green. The new airport was a dull disappointment. we had extra Baht to spent, but nothing to buy. It was all Western fast food joints. What a pity. Jen mentioned that we could change money in Bali. It was a good idea. I kvetched to a Thai employee at the airport about how we were in Thailand and there was exactly no Thai food availabe after security. Even though three was a language barrier, I could tell she got my jist and fully agreed.
The four hour flight went smoothly. We had also preordered lunch, and I was quite pleaseed with my chicken green curry as was Jen with her chicken satay with peanut sauce.
The aproach over the ocean was exciting and once we landed we changed our Baht at the exchange of one Baht for every 200 Indonesian Rupiah— a rate we would late find out to be boarderline robbery. Oh well.
A driver with a sign met us, shuffled us to his car, shuffled the car out of the airport traffic and onto the tranquil Ulin Villas in Seminyak where the woman who checked us in to our one room villa continuously giggled as she highlighted amenities and activities we would enjoy while guests.
“Here's your private pools (giggles) and here’s your outdoor bathroom (smiles).”
For sunset, we headed to legendary Ku De Ta: Jen order a beautifully crafted Passion Fruit Foam and I had a ____ followed by a Kuva negroni. The sunset was perfect and being there was a live DJ mixing a perfect audio accompaniment to the scene. for dinner, we cruised the main drag and by chance, fate or skill, we both honed in and found the 15-minute wait at Chandi to be tempting. While we waited we both enjoyed a perfect Spiced-Herbed Mojito. We were seated upstair and outside with a nice view. To start, we ordered the Tempestuous Organic Field Greens 64k (crispy tempe, edamame, dragon fruit, mango, pink grapefruit, star fruit, radish, fennel, in a light peanut tamarind dressing. For her main, Jen opted for the Fish Sate 160k (butterfish 100gr, sea bass 100gr, tuna lilit 50gr, ssaparagus with beetroot and star fruit with fennel.) I couldn’t resist the Balinese Crispy Duck 155k (yellow rice, sautéed water spinach, Balinese tomato sauce.) Both drinks and food were killer and we promised to return before we left town.
Saturday, October 6 — Ulin Villas
Woke up a bit a late and had in in villa breakfast. I had the indonesian breakfast or rice porrage, did some shopping, Jen did more shopping, and I had my first lunch at a local warung inclucing shredding cocunet with eggplant and green curry. It cost about $1.50. Then we headed to the spa for a Cocoa & Wine Splendour massage which was fantastic. Afterwareds, I dragged Jen back to the warung for more food. We had coconut slitheres, eggplant, yummy green veggies in coconut sauce and some tempe. We swam, relaxed and got read for our Candle light dinner which included a tomato with lobster and avo starter, basil and lime sorbet cleaner, and fish and beef mains. More swimming and rest.
Sunday, October 7 — Ulin Villas
Our evening began with a second night at the infamous Ku De Ta. Jen ordered their Strawberry Daquiri and I tried their epic Cucumber & Elderflower Colins as well as a Dark n Stormy. We got hungry and shared a Szechuan Calamari. Yum!
We returned to Chandi for dinner. Jen had the Passion Fruit Mojoti, I had two Coconut Rumballas 85k (vanilla bean infused Bacardi Rum,young coconut juice and coconut flesh, spiced syrup, a squeeze oflLime.)
Jen and I picked two apps and surprised each other with our choice. I picked the Tempe Spring Rolls with jicama dipping sauce, turnip and mint 42k. Jen picked the Tenderloin Lettuce Cups with pomelo, kaffir spiced roasted peanuts and cilantro. For our main, we shared the Shellfish Class Sate 210 (Sea Scallops 50gr, Whole Soft Shell Crab 75gr, Giant Prawn 50gr, Octopus 50gr, Shitake Mushroom with a whole Garlic, Infinity Bean with Lotus Root) and complimented with two Duck Lilit sticks and one Tempe Bell stick. Mint tea. and passion fruit profiteroles (cream puffs) with chocolate sauce.
Monday, Oct 8 — Kayumanis Ubud
I made plans of lots of things to squeeze in before our immenent departure and achieved none of them. Instead, I lay around the pool, jumping in and out. I didn’t even make one last trip to the local warung. We did have a nice last in-villa breakfast of pouched eggs, fried tomatoes, fresh pineapple juice.
At noon clockwork, one of Agis’ boys showed up to drive us to Ubud. About seven minutes into the drive, he made a U-turn, drives through into the Carefour parking lot, passed security, takes a ticket, weaves through mazes of parking spots, and out the other sides, pays the ticket guy, and exclaims we have just avoid a traffic jam instead. Now we are on back roads winding our way up to Ubud. Rice fields are flying buy, street food vendors selling chicken soup, and I am in heaven.
I’m not sure how the driver finds Kayumanis Villas (no one else does after this) but several turns finds us rolling down a narrow, long alley, packed with houese, temples, shops, dogs, motorscooters, until we find a narrow, walled, vined, cobblestone passage. The driver somehow makes a turn onto the road and down we go until security stops us, salutes us, and then encourages us on into the lobby roudabout. The drive does another U turn, stops, and the hotel staff are opening up the car doors, the trunk, pulling out lugged, giving us the faithful wai welcome gestures, offering us welcome cocktails, smiling, and telling us about the villas.
Jen didn’t tell me that this villa also came with a private pool, and when the doors opened to an even bigger pool villa, with outdoor walls covered in manicured tropical plants, trees and ferns, I was all grins. The staff then escorted us to the central restaurant (of course we could always eat in our room) which overlooked a masive jungle ravine with a raging river below. I was in heaven and suggested we stay for lunch of duck salad and thai prawn spicy salad with green papaya.
We wented into town and were suddenly admist a shitshow of tourist. We both got a bit overwhelmed and decided to go independent for an hour. We then went to Lotus Cafe where we had a ginger ale. Immediatly after, we walked down a side ride, kept going, kept going, and suddenly we were in a huge rice terrace field at sunset. It was magical. We walked around until it got dark. A local pointed the way back and soon we were back on the main streets with no sight of the rice terraces as they were all blocked by stores selling trinkets. Amazing what a few steps off the beaten path reveals!
Tuesday, Oct 9 — Kayumanis Ubud
Woke up a bit late and found a nice breakfast spot at the main restaraunt. After seeing Jen’s breakfast yesterday, I opted for the same: The famed Kayumanis Toast, however I chose the crispy version, accompanied with a cured meat platter and fresh papaya juice.
Wednesday, Oct 10 — Kayumanis Ubud
After seeing Jen’s breakfast yesterday, I opted for the same: The famed Kayumanis Toast, however I chose the crispy version, accompanied with a cured meat platter and fresh papaya juice.
Our main goal today was a silversmithing class. We found the location in Ubud, down a winding alleyway. But when we got there, the shop assistant let us know we were at the wrong place and needed to be at the actual metal studio a bit outside of town. We asked if it was far, and the assistant said it was a little far. I glanced at my watched and noticed we were already a bit late. We asked for directions and Jen and I quickly paced back the way way came, up winding alleys, past the main drag, up another alley, up and up and up. When would we ever get there. Even the heat of the day was waining, we both began to sweat. We finally found the spot. Instead of seeing a chap pounding out molten hot silver with a malet, I notice some tourist sawing away at some silver with a wire saw. I asked how long he’d been there. “About two and half hours.” I looked at Jen. She knew there is no way I’d want to sit around and saw at a small piece of metal for hours, especially as we just arrived to Ubud and there was so much more to see. She agreed telepathically, and we both politely excused ourselves. The owners understood and smiled.
Thursday, Oct 11 — Kayumanis Ubud
Breakfast in the restaurant. Kayumanis crispy toast, cured meat platter, and mango juice.
We did a fantasic cooking course tonight at ______.
Friday, October 12 — Kayumanis Ubud
Agis provided car, a driver, and a translator today for our day trip. When we restated our endouvers for the days, the translator said too far, and suggested local and alternatives. Jen called bullshit and no sooner were we on our way to Jatiluwih to see the UNESCO World Heritage rice terraces. They were stunning, but a few moments after we arrives, clouds rolled in. At least we got a few shots in the sun while the green hues snapped out. Next we rolled over a mountain road, rather alley to the Ulun Danu Temple on Lake Bedugul. It was mostly a local tourist spot and it felt good to get away from the hordes of package tourists. Nearby, we bought vanilla, star anise, cloves and cinnamon sticks (kayumanis) at a local spice market which tourists were beginning to discover. Still, we bargained hard and got decent prices, I think.The last item for the day was the Gunung Kawi water temple. The golden hour was upon us as we arrives, and serval hundred stairs down, passed more outstanding rice terraces, and we were at the ancient, rock-hewn temples. On the way out, we were getting pecked out by touts like ravens pecking at a corpse, but everyone was friendly. I did succumb at one point and opt for a brown coconut which was carved beautifully exposing the hardened white flesh halfway down the coconut. The water inside still tasted great even thought the outter coconut skin had since browned.
For dinner we found ourselves at Clear Cafe again. We had the indo spring rolls, Indian lentil soup, raw spinach basil herb soup, and the famous fish and chips. Yum! Jen drank a Tropical Twister (orange, pineapple & passion fruit all working to boost the immune system) while I opted for a Papua Papaya (papaya & lime loaded with enzymes and vitamin a, excellent for the skin.)
It was our last night in Ubud, and I was already getting quite reminiscence on our drive back to the villa.
Saturday, October 13 Banyan Tree, Ugansan
Agis sent another driver to whisk us away from Ubud down to the Souternmost Balinese town of Ungasen to the Banyan Tree. The drive from Ubud was quick, not being rushhour, and we passed numerous roadside vendors selling the best looking Balinese rock carvings. There were Buddhas, Ganeshes, warriors, and all other types of methical Gods, dieties and heros on display. The craftsmansip was incredible and I didn’t dare consider buying anything every item seemed to weight between 100 - 300 pounds. We stopped at an ATM to grab some money. For some reason, there was a McDonalds next door and Jen snuck away to grab a self serve. “Get me a 6-piece.” I knew I was cheating, but it sounded good.
Upon an easy checkin, we were driven via golf cart to our home for the next two nights: An oceanview room. Man, did we deserve this royalty luxory? Either way, I was stoked to be there because the Ocean View villa was 403sqm and featured 1-bedroom with ocean views, a private 10-metre infinity pool, jet pool and Balinese balé. Villa interiors include separate living room, pantry, marble bathroom, BOSE stereo system, and complimentary wireless internet connection. (I just copied that list bit from the actual website.) The weather outside was dry and you could tell it was the dry area of the island because of the types of plants that grew around. It reminded me of Malibu, California.
We decided to call a golf cart to take us down the 1/2 mile path to the 180 or so stairs that would take us to the beach. No later an eager driver was there. We hoped in, faced back, and no sooner were winding and hopping down and down a curvy path. We reached the end of the path and proceded down a switchback of stairs getting more and more excited. The beach was beautiful. It was low tide so lots of mossy rocks were visible. There was an area with padded beach chairs, umbrellas and water. We strolled further down the beach as sunset was nearing. On our left was the beautiful ocean. In front was a winding beach getting challenged by an increasingly daring rising tide. On our right were the sea bluffs, rising up like cliffs. The color turning more and beautiful with the setting sun. After an hour we returned home to get ready for a surprise dinner that Jen’s company planned for us.
At 7:00p, a golf cart picked us up for our Candlelight dinner. We drove the winding path back down to the beach to a gazebo with a view, decorated in flowers, candles, and groovy electro lounge music. The menu was unbelievalbe and the food was superb. It featured:
Sunday, October 14 Banyan Tree, Ugansan
Mostly a chill day with a late breakfast and the Bamboo restaurant and some swimming in their incredibly epic infinity pool. I don’t quite remember exactly what we did for most of the day, but I have a hunch it had something to do with swimming in our pool, laying under the gazebo reading, drinking water, eating fruit, and just generally relaxed. I did have a slightly upset stomach and this was the perfect plact and time to really do nothing. For dinner we dragged ourselves out of the villa, found a cab, and drove to famous Jimbaran Beach where we had two seafood grills with green coconut and bintang beer. The sunset was beautiful and silloutted scores of locals and tourists alike braving the relatively chilly ocean water. I was about to jump in as well after being egged on by another tourist, but chickened out when the ocean water was up to my ankles for fear of having to deal with dried salt water all over me for the next hour. It always rubs against my clothes in an undesirable way. Do you know that feeling?
Dinner was great, but they use coconut husks to fuel and open fire to cook the food. The smoke also smoked us as well. Once we got back to the villas, it was pool / hot tub / pool / hot tub / pool time. Ahhh, this rocks!
Sunday, October 15 Banyan Tree, Ugansan
It’s our last day on this beautiful island and at this regal resort. Neither of us want to leave, but we had such a fulfilling time and have accepted our departure. Before the airport, we went to the Bamboo for one last breakfast buffett. Lots of papaya, made to order Belgian waffels.