It's been a week of trepidation.
Omigod, I had so much work to finish before we left for our trip to Bali.
And so much guilt to work through because we're leaving during our busiest season of the year.
However, it had come to a point that we needed to bite the bullet and go for a break before we were swamped for the rest of the year with nary a break in sight.
There we were rushing things out till the very last minute (for Allan). And by 7am today, we were all packed and ready to go, while making last minute phone calls to tie up loose ends.
Zooming to the airport, flying into LCCT, rushing to counter 10 and glaring at people who even LOOKED like they might want to cut que, we checked in, walked ourselves into the plane and 3 hours later we arrived in Ngurah Rai International airport.
The speed with which everything was happening in KL all of a sudden changed. To.....
There is a serenity and stillness amidst the frenetic holidaying of Bali that it instantly calms you down.
The air is cooler for one. As we're south of the equator now, even by that little bit, the temperature, at 29C feels much cooler though balmier. Another friend was on the flight and we marveled at how small the world has become and how now "everyone can fly." ;-)
There were more marvels as we bumped into another two friends in the airport departing for KL after spending a glorious week here.
The cars were waiting and we were whisked to my favourite spot in Bali; Seminyak. Ubud is lovely but too far inland and Kuta, Jimbaran, Nusa Dua, don't really feel anything like what Bali should be. While Seminyak is eclectic and seems to have melded Bali's innate culture with everything that a tourist could possibly want.
We got to our hotel, Putu Bali, put all our bags down and promptly adjourned accross the street to Cafe Bonita for lunch.
It's like a Mamak on steroids. All restaurants here from the cheapest to the most expensive are beautifully and eclectically (there's that word again) decked out. The food at Bonita is inexpensive (never cheap as that denotes a lack of quality) but yummy.
We managed to embarrass the hell out of Chui's brother as it was his birthday and we had carried a Mango Upside Down Cake from KL. It was yummy. One of my favourite cakes in the stable.
The Indonesian Beef Rendang I had and the Nasi Goereng Allan had turned out to be yummy. The Rendang was nice and rich and the meat, fall-apart tender. And Allan's Nasi Goereng had that great fluffiness and separateness to the rice with the really rich, savoury flavour of great fried rice.
Putu Bali, our boutique hotel, is quite typical of all Balinese boutique hotels. At around US$65 it is probably of an average price hotel in KL. But for a KLite used to substandard service and relatively uncompetitive products, this is like a breath of fresh air. It's beautifully laid out. Rooms are rustic, clean, and quite spacious. There's a large-ish fridge, TV (with Star World and HBO), and best of all, a gorgeous outdoor shower. There's even a little bar area which opens out into the lanai and a little kitchenette which is fully equipped with cutlery and crockery.
After "lunch," we headed out to pick up our mopeds/motorbikes and wobbled our way accross town to Bintang Supermarket to pick up some supplies. Needless to say after stuffing our purchases into the little spaces under our bums (there's so much material a psychotherapist could work with here) in our motors, we zipped back "home" and I sat down with my laptop to find to my delight that I had a great wifi (free) signal in my room. Hence the uploaded photos. And blog.
Rushing out at 8pm, and a little more confidently on our motors now, go search this restaurant out called, according to Chui, "Dani" or "Dunni...not sure which but it ends with an 'I' and it has a 'D' somewhere in it's name.
Long story short, we found Chandi.
I think all our faces fell a little when we opened the menu as the prices (for Bali at any rate) were relatively steep. But even then, it wasn't that bad. But when you're faced with a price like "Rp110,000" it looks like a huge amount, even if it's relatively low by KL standards. That was for the Slow Roasted Short Ribs which I had eventually.
We were concerned about the value of the meal until the starter, called a teaser plate, came out. It was SOOOOO huge that we immediately revised our value perception of the meal and it was then worth every penny. The teaser plate had tender prawns cooked just-so, breaded calamari, a tortilla/pohpiah, a crumbed tofu, and all accompanied with 4 sauces; a slow roasted peanut, Indonesian kicap, a garlic aioli, and a sambal. Amazing!
Fidael's Honey Glazed Cardamom Tuna was the best piece of "steak" I had ever tasted. It was done to perfection. He had asked for it medium rare and it came out the most glorious shade of coral pink and as succulent as milk fed veal. Allan's Rendang parcel with red rice was tender, fragrant, and everything a rendang should be and more. Vince's snapper, delicate and a showcase of how to showcase a dish. And Kate's Packet steamed fish, a great cross between Otak otak and asam fish.
On top of that scrumptious meal, the atmosphere was redolent of 5 star restaurants at home but at the end of the day, we paid about RM45 per person (Rp160,000). Which by the way, is expensive, in Bali.
After a great bottle of wine at Chandi (which we brought in, after hearing that wine was expensive in restaurants) we HAPPILY agreed to a mooted idea that we adjourn to Cafe Bali for dessert.
And I fell in love.
It's white. It's eclectic. (Yes, again) and just absolutely adorable. I could see From Chinese Calligraphy screens flanking the main entrance as you walk in to the broken egg shell chandelier to the wall of mirrors and the "stainless steel" sinks in the bathrooms, you just marvel at how this restaurant and countless others in Bali do it so well. The prices were at least less by half than Chandi and it was packed to the gills with people.
The service is personal, friendly, and eager. And the people who take your orders know their stuff.
The tarte tartin was good, the illy decaf flavourful, but while the desserts were on the whole, good, they weren't mind blowingly so. But add that to the ambience and Cafe Bali is definitely a worthwhile visit.
All in all a good first day and a great beginning to a fantastic break with fantastic people.
Jl. Laksmana no 72
Seminyak, Bali, 8036
+62 0361 731060
Jalan Hotel The Oberoi
Seminyak, Kuta, Bali, Indonesia
It's been a week of trepidation.