Seminyak, Indonesia: Merry Xmas & Happy New Ye
Trip Start Jul 28, 2013
76Trip End Feb 06, 2014
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Having last visited Bali in circa 1989 the first thing to hit me was the traffic. Standing still. Everywhere. Nightmare. Flying in the night before my family arrived from Perth, Sam and I booked ourselves into a cheap hotel in Kuta which was located but a few km's from the airport but took near on an hour to reach. Pulling into reception around 9:30pm we were thrilled to hear the electrics were out and we needed to change hotels. Great. So it was back in a taxi for another standstill journey to a place located around the corner. Checked in, fed up, we went in search of beer and found plenty of it. I don't think you could walk a metre without running into a bar, shop, cafe, restaurant, hotel or street stall selling it. Plus it was relatively cheap at around £1-1.50 a bottle.
We spent the night at various bars. Scoping out all the weird and wonderful people walking by. Men strutting their stuff with bulging muscles thinking they were gods gifts. Women completely plastered with boobs threatening to spring from flimsy material. It was a match made in drunken debauchery heaven. So there we sat, feeling old and slightly wiser, watching it all unfold before us. When I mentioned to Sam that it was a place Aussies came to for schoolies he simply said "There is no way I would ever allow my teenage daughter to come here".
The next morning we went back out to the airport to surprise my mum, dad, sister, aunt and uncle who we had told we would meet at the villa. And surprised they were, both with the downpour that greeted them and us, who they had not seen for a year. Back into the throng of traffic it took about an hour to reach our villa in Seminyak. A beautiful two story, four double bedrooms all with inside and outside showers and a swimming pool which stretched from the garden and into the living room. Perfecto. Especially as it was still pissing it down outside. So much for a summer holiday of fun in the sun.
Keeping our spirits high with a mantra "it can't rain all the time" we were sadly disappointed when we discovered it could and it would. I'm not just talking flaky misty London rain either. I'm talking full on tropical downpour with drops the size of grapes and thunder and lightening to boot. I love a good storm but not when I'm sat in a beautiful villa with private pool and lilo laying in wait to be blown up and pounced upon. At least we had a years worth of news and laughs to catch up on.
We kept ourselves busy by walking through puddles from shop to shop, bar to bar. If there was ever an excuse to do three of my favourite things - shop, eat and drink - rain was it. The shopping was great. Anything from a $2 Bintang shirt to a $300 dress. In between all of that you had more surf shops than you could poke a stick at. Full floor to ceiling glass fronted poshness. Gone are the days of ramshackle bamboo island market stalls. The Beachwalk Shopping Centre in Kuta is testament to that with it's Victoria Secret, Mango, Zara, TopShop, Aldo, Armani, Lacoste and many many more. Unfortunately fatty boom boom here ate too much to fit into anything so our wallet escaped a battering by me but was put to work by Sam who out shopped me in near every store. A definite first.
On Christmas day the man in the sky decided to play nice and gifted us with some glorious sunshine. Yay, finally we can swim in the pool without rain pitter pattering on our heads. So that was our Christmas morning - drinking cold beers and wine in the pool followed by a present opening session. Very spoilt indeed! We then moved onto an Asian restaurant, The Ginger Moon, for cocktails and a multi course lunch which was divine. The number of restaurants is ridiculous - there are hundreds to choose from and, from what we experienced, the value for money and standard of food was always pretty high.
From Christmas the sun shone every day. Sam and I found a backtrack route down to the beach just shy of Potato Head so we spent a lazy couple of hours there sipping cocktails and watching the waves roll in. We went back there for a final sunset dinner before my family made their way back to Perth and we continued on our merry adventure through Indo. Another great sunset spot for a bite to eat and chilled beer was down at the beanbag haven of Champlung and La Plancha. It was like a spray of giant jellybeans were left nestled in the sand underneath a wave of brightly coloured umbrellas.
Hiring a motorbike we skipped passed traffic queues and explored the temples of Tanah Lot, Luhur Batukau and Uluwatu. Having spent most of our time in the built up areas of Seminyak, Kuta and Legian it was nice to step into the countryside. Weaving along pot holed roads (sometimes more potholed than road) we passed miles and miles of lush green terraced rice paddy's. People worked the fields in their peaked bamboo hats, bent over whipping away at their livelihood whilst others lazed under the shade of a palm. In the distance a mountain disappeared into the haze of cloud. Driving higher and higher it was a welcomed relief to feel the cool air caress our sunburnt arms. Not to mention my neck which in the following days would peel like an onion.
The temples themselves were nice. I remember visiting Tanah Lot when I was a kid and thinking it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. A temple built on a rocky island that you could walk out to at low tide. This time round it merely got a "Meh, not as great as I remember". Hahaha it's still nice though. Lahur Batukau was the furthest one north we went to where temples were scattered around lush grounds and by a big square pool. Uluwatu was probably my favourite being built on the edge of a cliff. Great photos. You just had to be on high alert for the pesky little monkeys wandering about trying to steel your sunnies, hat, purse whatever the little buggars could get their hands on. We watched in fascination as one family were laughing and joking whilst their young son sat a few feet away staring off into the distance. In two seconds a big brute of a monkey (which scared the shit out of me if I'm honest) swiped the hat off the kids head and proceeded to rip it in two. The child just sat there bewildered unsure whether to laugh or cry.
We stopped off at Uluwatu beach and caught the end of a surfing comp. Called into a place called Finns Beach Club which sat high up on a ridge overlooking a beautiful white sand beach. Immaculate green grass led down to an infinity pool on one side and a smaller wade pool the other. Being late in the afternoon we didn't see the point in paying the fee to get down to the beach but had we arrived in the morning it would have been a great place to spend the day.
Went for a couple of walks along the beaches of Seminyak, Legian and Kuta. Have to say - disgusting!! It's more rubbish tip than pristine beach. Whether it's the weather that's washed it all up who knows but I sure as hell wouldn't swim there. Two of the stranger things washed up were a dead chicken and a miraculously unbroken light bulb. Talk about an ideal place for kids to go and frolic in the surf - NOT!
We kick started New Years Eve off with a divine three course meal and cocktails at one of my favourite places in Seminyak, Bistrot. Beautiful restaurant owned by a French guy. Our grand plans for an evening of swimming and fireworks on the beach were slightly scuppered by the rain but we still had a fabulous time catching up with a friend from Australia who I hadn't seen for some 13+ years. Great evening and so nice to spend some time with her hubbie and children after hearing about them for so long. As with most good nights we ended up in McDonalds around 2am scoffing down stodge. After seeing my order be swiped by some random I thought buggar it and swiped someone elses. Turns out we got the better deal with about 3 extra burgers which were demolished in seconds.
So it's with a bang that 2013 comes to an end and 2014 begins. Has it been a good year? With 7 months work... actually I took 4 weeks holiday in those 7 months so.... 6 months work, 6 months travel. Yeah I'd say 2013 was a good year. Brilliant even.
Now onwards and upwards for 2014.