Where the Bali hell are they?

Trip Start Feb 09, 2010
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Trip End Jan 22, 2011


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Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Saturday, July 3, 2010

Arriving in the sweltering heat at Bali's international airport, we were both thoroughly excited to be finally starting our Asian adventure. We had said goodbye to Scott in Los Angeles airport, waving him goodbye and wishing him luck for his 3 week stint in cold Sydney (we were both amused to find out that they had just experienced their coldest day in years!). We had a very comfortable transition from America, only having to wait at Hong Kong for a few hours before our next flight and enjoying the free airport-wide WiFi to do a bit of photo-uploading and email-checking.

One thing we weren’t sure of was whether we had actually landed in Australia accidently. Everyone around us was talking about shrimps on BBQs and saying g-day mate. Well, they may as well have done as EVERYONE who was in that airport, bar a few stragglers, was an Australian on their holidays. Indonesia is very accessible from Australia, so many of them come on holiday there, and how it earned it’s nickname as the Australian equivalent of Ibiza.

We purchased our visa from a little desk at the cost of $US25 that would allow us 30 days in the country. We then joined the hordes of Ozzies in the immigration queue until our turn came to collect our stamps and full page visa entry. We do enjoy the stamp collecting. Emerging the other side of customs, we were greeted with about 1,000 drivers holding large signs. Luckily for me, Zoe’s Dad had organised for us to stay in the same resort as him and his wife, which would come as a great treat to start our Asia travels. I was very thankful to not have to worry about organising somewhere to stay, or how to get there, or barter the price. It also would give us a chance to do some research into South East Asia as a whole as we were pretty clueless at this point, after concentrating all our efforts on the USA and South America. And of course it gave Zoe the opportunity to spend some quality time with her father, in the lovely surrounds of the Alila Manggis resort. So, THANK YOU, to Mr Phil Jeanes for your generosity and willingness to house me in the same room as your daughter, it was to be one of the highlights of my trip so far!

So, back to the airport. It didn’t take us long to scan the signage to find a rather posh-looking sign called 'Alila’. There were two very nice men waiting to take our bags (well, actually, they let Zoe carry hers and took mine instead! Ha). They popped us in our own little airconditioned mini-van and gave us both an ice-cold water and a cold towel to dab our poor sweaty faces on. There were also some nibbles and magazines for us to read at our leisure. We were definitely going to enjoy the next few days!

We arrived at the resort about an hour and a half later, and were treated to even more pampering in the form of a scented facial spray, welcome drink and another cold towel, whilst the resort staff took our bags to our room for us. The resort itself is set right on the ocean, with a large pool with plenty of comfortable lounger beds (with fluffy white towels provided of course), and the rooms surround it on two sides, with the restaurant, reception and bar on the other side. All the gardens are immaculately kept (gardeners with scissors cutting the grass - painstaking) and towering palm trees, with a Chinese zen theme of Koi-filled ponds, water lilies and stepping stones.

We met up with Zoe’s dad Phil, and his wife Monica who had arrived a couple of days before. We didn’t waste any time in getting into the lovely pool and easing off the tension of over 30 hours of travelling time. That evening we headed out for our first meal and we dived straight into the Asian cuisine. I had been overly looking forward to some Asian cuisine and my chicken sate that evening did not disappoint!

Not wanting to harp on about food ALL the time, but breakfast was pretty exciting too. After the most amazing nights sleep in our air-conditioned boudoir, we headed over to the restaurant for our breakfast. We were bought fresh juice of our choice, freshly-baked pastries, fruit, toast, and the best of all, a plate of mie goreng. This Indonesian staple is served at any time of the day and is basically stir-fried noodles with Asian vegetables and chicken. I could definitely get used to this sort of food for breakfast.

After breakfast we had a couple of hours to chill-out before getting on with the day’s strenuous activities. At 12.30pm we were booked in for our complimentary 1 hour massage....I know, I know...tough work. We were taken to the on-site spa’s reception and shown a variety of 6 different massaging oils. I opted for one called Relaxation which had the most interesting aroma. The masseurs then led us to a wooden gazebo that was right on the sea-front. We got changed into some paper knickers (very attractive!) and were placed under the crisp white sheets. The next hour is a bit of a blur as we were given the all-over by the experienced kneaders whilst looking into a bowl of flowers and shiny pebbles, and listened to nothing but the sound of the waves lapping just in-front of us. Needless to say, after the hour was up, both Zoe and I were looking pretty post-coital with big grins on our faces. Those women have magic fingers!

On one of the days we went for a circular drive in Phil and Monica’s rental car, taking in the sites of paddy fields, forests and temples. We stopped to have a look around a local market and a local supermarket. The bazaar was very interesting and we had countless hellos from friendly Balinese whilst we looked at all their textiles, big mounds of tobacco and food-stuffs. The supermarket was dirt cheap and we stocked up on some toiletries and browsed the hilarious t-shirt selection which included; a pizza hut staff t-shirt and a Union Jack t-shirt with ‘We Love Endland’ emblazoned on it (yes – Endland). We stopped for some lunch at a little cart on the side of the road and had some delicious soup with floating dumplings, meat and a battered egg! Again, yummy, and at about 40p, was pretty amazing value! We made it back just intime for the free afternoon tea that they provide at the resort and indulged in some Balinese coffee (which is more like mud than coffee actually) and some interesting jelly-like coconut treats which I think the ants preferred more than we did.

The Alila Manggis was a really beautiful and serene place that we could have spent our entire 5 months that was ear-marked for the rest of Asia. Unfortunately, our money would have lasted about a week had we stayed of our own accord, so it was time to move on after three lovely relaxing days. Zoe’s dad took us to the nearby town of Padangbai where we would stay the night before getting a fast-boat over to the Gili islands. We found a lovely little room for about 7 for the both of us. We met Phil and Monica for a final meal together before we said our goodbyes and they headed off back to the Alila Manggis. We were on our own again, which was a daunting but exciting prospect...Asia here we come!
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