The First Few Weeks at Villa Drago

Trip Start Nov 27, 2012
Trip End May 08, 2013

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Where I stayed
Villa Drago

Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Friday, January 25, 2013

After an all-nighter in Singapore, the kid and I showed up in Bali early in the afternoon.  Customs and Immigration at the Denpasar airport was a bit slow, but not unbearable.  Then these little guys grab your luggage and start walking.  I let them do it because it is better them than me.  Then another guy grabs a cart and starts pushing, they walk me for about 5 minutes, although right past security, then they ask me for 100,000RPH each.  Haha, that is $10 each for nothing.  Then they started getting a bit irate saying that was the fair price.  It started to get a little heated on their price so I gave them $10 to split… which is completely outlandish.  The stupid thing was they were mad as if they deserved more.  I was hoping that this wasn’t the story everywhere in Bali.  We walked out of the Airport and there was a guy with a sign with our names on it.  He introduced himself as Marty.  Marty was the guy who ran our villa with his wife who also ran a 6 star resort on Bali. 

We made our way south towards Pecatu where Villa Drago was located.  We asked Marty if he could stop for groceries and booze, so we stopped at Pepito.  As we learn throughout our stay Pepito is the higher end grocery store.  Although the prices are a bit higher it is the only place to find really good meat and enjoy such intense air conditioning.  We picked up a few supplies such as breads, milk, cereal, juices, eggs, etc.  We checked out the booze and it was around $50 for any decent 26 (750 ml).  We figured that there had to be a cheaper place to get booze so we asked him if we could go somewhere else on our way back from getting Carolyn and Curtis later that night.  We continued to drive on the packed streets which although are single lane there is passing at all times turning it into a shared 3 lane.
As we headed towards the villa we took a left off the main road, travelled for about a kilometer through the jungle on a decent but single lane road passing locals on bikes and small shops.  Then we took a right at the “HK” sign and were on a really bad paved road for another half a km.  We then took a right on a white rocky road which was just like off-roading for about 500 meters until we approached a huge grey wall on our right.  We pulled into a gravel parking area that would fit about 4 cars and walked through the great solid wooden doors into the villa hoping for the best.

Arriving at the Villa, we were so pleasantly surprised; the place was as absolutely amazing as we had hoped.  The rooms were great, the outside bathrooms were immaculate, the pool was huge and perfect, there were two staff members that lived there named Mexi and Hellen, and there was a great table, sitting area and kitchen.  The only thing this place could have used was a big barbeque and maybe a larger tv than the 21 inch that was there.  We took a look and picked the best bedrooms we could find.  All 6 bedrooms were master bedrooms so it was borderline irrelevant.  Since Cory and I hadn’t slept yet except a bit of a nap on the plane (which by the way was excellent since Air Asia let us lay across 3 seats each), we each passed out for a few hours.  And woke up to go and pick up Curtis from the airport.

As we were waiting at the airport I was so excited to see a familiar face from back home. When Koslo came out in this big farmhand hat I had a weird feeling of homesickness that was lifted seeing another person from back home.  Also, because Curtis left early in the year to Australia, it had been far too long since I had seen the kid.  I finally got to meet his girlfriend Carolyn, which was so stupid considering he is a close friend and they had been together forever.  We went and picked up booze and beer on our way home.  Turns out booze is that expensive and it was clear to me at this point that it was going to be a month of Bintang, which is a local beer that is great and cheap and means “Star”.  We got back to the Villa and they settled in, we cracked a beer, took a swim, asked Marty to get us some scooters for the month which cost $100 each for the month. 

And so the first few days went by with more people arriving.  Those staying for the whole month were us four, Sandy, Tara and Keith.  With the arrival of Arlen, the little bit I really missed home seemed to vanish with so many familiar faces.  Caro, Curtis and I found a spot just 5 minutes’ walk from our place which was a small temple on a cliff.  From here you could see 300 feet straight down to an untouched beach and watch the most amazing sunsets.  On the 3rd night all of us who had arrived went to this cliff and drank beers as the sunset.  I am certain that this will be one of the most memorable couple beers of my life as Arlen and I just sat on the edge sipping Bintang and talking about life and catching up.
Most of the first week I spent ripping around on my scooter from place to place, but typically Nusa Dua, which was the first place we had gone surfing with our friend Donno.  He is a local guy that our friend from Germany met at a convenience store.  Donno ended up being our surfing guide for the entire month.  He is an amazing guy originally from Jarkarta who speaks great English as well as many other languages.  As more people started spilling into the Villa we were cooking great dinners, watching movies outdoors, playing a tonne of cards (mainly Deruk which is a Russian game with only one loser and the rest non losers… the loser is known as the deruk or fool), and hitting up the clubs every chance we got… which was borderline every night or second night

On Sunday nights we would hit up Single Fin in Ulawatu, which is a great bar that rests on the edge of a cliff with two great balconies over the ocean and an infinity pool beside the bar.  It is mainly backpackers and surfers here and is a great chill atmosphere and seemed to always mean a great time.  If it is not Sunday, don’t go to single fin because it will not be open… I think we made this mistake on every other day but Sunday over the course of the month.  If it was not Sunday, we would head into kuta and go to The Sky Garden, which is a five level bar with five separate bars, one on each level.  On the top level there is a rooftop bar that is just a great time but a bit of a meat market. 

And so went our first few weeks with people coming and going, so many games of Deruk, so many beers drank, meals cooked, nights out, days of surfing and shopping and even one night at Donno’s daughters fourth birthday party at his house.  It was great to see how the locals lived and partied.  Basically the one thing I have found that transcends all the cultural and language barriers is that of a good host.  It is amazing that despite all the different customs no matter where you go, good people are always so hospitable and generous.  It really makes you feel at home.  We decided that after a couple weeks we were going to head up north on a motorbike/scooter trip. 

By this point people had come and gone, the 7 of us staying for the month remained the same and we had said some goodbyes and welcomed old and new friends.  I rented an actual motorbike for the trip (so did Curtis’s brother Trevor) because I thought it would be more fun and easier on my back.  It was and it was.  I also bought a sick helmet that made me look like a 60’s aviator.  So as it was with the crew at hand we hopped on 6 bikes with our first stop being Ubud where there were rice fields, waterfalls and jungle.
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