Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ubud Batubalan Sanur

It hasn't taken us long to adjust to G & Ts on the balcony each night in Ubud as the sun sets. Fiona and James hosted drinks on Sunday night at their hotel (Sri Bungalows). I felt quite nostalgic watching the ducks being herded from the rice paddies as we enjoyed our lovely end to the day; something I always loved about our stays at Sri Bungalows in the past.

The new villas and pool area at Sri Bungalows looks very flash - and very inviting!

We ended another lovely day with a meal at Cafe Wayan - one of the best so far we all agreed.

While the rest of the mob took off on their own adventure on Monday to Candi Dasa Rob and I had made arrangements to meet up with an old friend for lunch in Sanur. But before we left Ubud with Pak Edy I happened to see this view of the burning off of the rice husks in the paddy behind Three Monkeys, another step in the process of hand harvesting the rice.

It was so good to see John again, after a four year break, so happily settled in a beautiful villa in Batubulan (the old stone carver's village).

.....and he still loves his garden and exotic orchids. I admired this very rare black centred orchid from Papua.

We talked non stop catching up on all the Bali/Indonesian news and managed to solve most of the challenges in the process (in our minds anyway).  John is a mine of information and potential contacts so we find time with him presents lots of new travel ideas and opportunities.

It was a gorgeous clear day for a beach lunch in Sanur.

We ate at a rustic beach cafe, seafood of course, freshly caught that day.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Eating Ubud

We were joined by the rest of the mob in Ubud on Saturday afternoon. The good times started almost immediately with a few rounds of G&Ts on our balcony at Cendana and then dinner out at Casa Luna. Ubud continues to be packed with people and traffic but just to prove that nothing has really changed as we approached Casa Luna, as if on cue, we were greeted by a long and loud procession of exquisitely dressed and festooned locals on their way to some ceremony.  

The Casa Luna is a very gentle and stylish introduction to eating out in Ubud - but the most amazing sight of the night was Maddie ordering, eating and enjoying her first gado gado (yummy she said!)

I played tour guide on Sunday, leading my group around the long block bound by Jl Dewi Sitra and Jl Hanoman and Monkey Forest Road, noting great massage spots, cafes, temples, rice paddy views dance sites, restaurants and shopping opportunities along the way. Of course we stopped at the Sacred Monkey Forest too.  Despite the horror stories about rabid feral monkeys, the few family groups we observed at the entry to the forest were very cute and engaging.  Maybe there will be a visit to the forest later in the week then?

The Three Monkeys Cafe is just like we remembered it - and great WiFi too much to the relief of all the young ones.

Leaving us to consider lunch.....which had to be at The Indus of course.

The Indus was pretty crowded so we were relegated to the lower level. Janet's husband was there directing operations. It was obvious there are lots of preparations underway for the Readers and Writers festival due to open on the 1st - including a fresh lick of paint (happening while we were there) to all the lndus walls.  Rob was the one who announced the man directing things was Janet's husband - which I disagreed with (in front of everyone) (as if he'd be there WORKING I said!).  Rob got a lot of mileage out my wrong call when the facts became known (!!!).

After another wonderful meal it was back to the centre of the village and a quick look at the lotus garden........

......and a chance for the girls (and James) to try the foot spa with hundreds of man eating fish sucking dead skin cells off their lower limbs. I've never seen this in Ubud before but I guess if the gimmick works well in Nusa Dua why not in Ubud too?  They swear it left their skin smoother and softer anyway.

Only an hour to wait to G&T time again..this time we're invited to James and Fiona's villa at Sri Bungalows. I'm looking forward to seeing the hotel again, an old favourite of ours.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Return to Ubud

It's been four years since we've been to our favourite part of Bali.  It seems like a lot has changed. There's a new airport at Denpasar (but it stills takes forever to get visas and get through migration - but at least now it's in airconditioned comfort) and a new toll road out of the airport that gets traffic moving before it hits the logjam at the turnoff to Sanur.  There are a lot more cars on the road and everyone riding bikes has to wear a helmet these days (although not the children riding passenger I note).

Ubud was crazy busy when we arrived around 4.00pm yesterday; big shiny Kejangs clogging the roads and the tiny walkways up and down Monkey Forest Road filled with tourists.  But the Cendana Resort hasn't changed a bit in the 8 years since we last stayed there.  There are no new villas, nothing has been upgraded, all the staff are the same. Nobody remembers us (of course) although the greeting is very friendly all the same.

It's the end of the dry season in Bali - rice harvest time.  This is the view from the Cendana gardens, just to remind us of what Ubud village life is like for the poorer people who harvest the rice by hand (mainly women).

....while we can relax in the peaceful Cendana gardens and admire the "rice paddy views".

Cafe Wayan is exactly the same as the last time we visited (thank goodness). We were really hungry by 6.00pm last night; 8.00pm by our body clocks and we'd only eaten one other meal during the long day's travel from Sydney.

Cafe Wayan's Nasi Campur is just as wonderful as we'd remembered it (and perfect with a Bintang beer).

This morning started perfectly with a swim for both of us (Rob's first swim since his surgery 8 weeks ago) and a long breakfast "with our rice paddy views".  Walking around the village after reassured me that so much of what we love about Ubud has stayed the same: the local peoples' intensity around preparing for ceremonies, quite oblivious to the traffic around them and the gawking of tourists.......

The iconic Ubud markets have been cleaned up and sorted in the past four years, but the fresh food area is just a colourful and (somewhat) alarming as it has ever been. It was crowded with cooking school groups this morning when we visited.

Which meant it was now time for a cold drink and Bali Kopi at our favourite Lotus Cafe in Jalan Raya Ubud (and there is now a Starbucks (tastefully hidden inside a beautiful old traditional Balinese building) right next door to the Lotus Cafe - yikes!).

But the Lotus Cafe is just as beautiful and old school Ubud as ever.

..and the narrow walkways down Monkey Forest Road are just as death defying even though the little boutiques fronting them are looking much more upscale these days.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A date with Abi

This girl is hard for me to photograph - always on the move and usually too busy to pause and look my way, especially when she's doing something much more fun..

Ah..gotcha this time Abi my girl......

 Of course, Peppa Pig can always raise a smile...

As can a plate of after lunch goodies........dates from Turkey were on the menu today.....one of Abi's favourite food groups.......

 Jody said..only two...but I saw her have LOTS more than that..which could prove to be a bit diabolical, later on!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

J & K from Seoul

J & K came to Sydney this weekend after a week in Noosa (and Melbourne), giving us a chance to catch up with this gorgeous pair, in some familiar territory for us all.

Sydney weather was uncharacteristically cool and showery on Saturday, but we managed to avoid getting too wet making our way to Ferry Wharf 1 on Circular Quay....

..and then to Manly Beach to find a warm and sheltered lunch spot and some seafood. As it turned out Whitewater fitted the bill perfectly. 

We loved seeing J & K  again - hearing all about life in Seoul, their amazing work and the differences between life in Sth Korea and Australia.  Kay is so positive (although very astute) about everything she sees and experiences.......she would be such an asset working for Tourism Australia (but not Team Australia please - none of us are in that team).

The boys were very entertaining. They are both obsessed with Rubik's cube at the moment and amazed us all with their ability to solve the puzzle SO FAST, over and over again from all different starting points. It really shows what is possible with intelligence and CONSTANT practice (click click click).

With a little while to spare between getting back from Manly and our dinner booking at the wonderful Danjee restaurant in Albion Place we had a sunset drink together at the Opera House Bar - for the best view in Sydney.......the bridge to the west, the Opera House (up close) to the east and the clear blue water of the harbour within backflip distance.
Kay had to fly back to Seoul early this morning so we were sad we weren't able to enjoy a perfect September Sunday morning  with her at our Barzura's, the best breakfast place in Coogee (that's what we think anyway).  It was no consolation to be able to track her flight through that amazing Tripradar App. We wished she was here with us!

Coogee looked its best today - the only thing spoiling the image was the sight of hundreds of bluebottles washed up on the high tide line ....ouch...lots of potential stings there - although no sign of any live bluebottles in the water this morning.

A visit from J & K is always cause for great excitement and celebration and we counted our luck in being able to share some precious time with them, until we next see them.....................