When we finally arrived at Denpasar in Bali we were greeted by hourds of holidaying Australians kitted out with their surfboards - a theme which didn't change much whilst thing Bali generally. After queuing for about an hour we finally got our visas, our bags and headed out to find our transfer to the posh hotel we had booked
. Yes, you read that right, 'posh hotel'! My dad had decided to come and visit me at some point during our time away and Bali was his chosen destination. It was, of course, easier for us to be in the same place so David and I were lucky enough to be booked into the AMAZING resort hotel of Alila Manggis in south-east Bali for three nights. Even the transfer itself was immaculately posh with a drinks holder complete with glass-bottled water and some small bits of dried fruit to snack on. It took us about an hour and a half to drive through the winding, moped-filled streets but it was great to get a view of the island and was definitely far different to the modes of land transport we'd gotten so used to in South America!
Seeing my Dad and his wife Monika was really really lovely. After only having brief email conversations for the past 5 months it was so nice to properly catch up and tell them all about what we'd been up to and hear about home over delicious dinners or just sitting by the pool. The resort itself was stunning and, again, a world away from what us backpackers are used to! It was so nice to be in such a gorgeous setting (the perfect introduction to Bali and life in Asia I must admit) and place to relax after our crazy 8 days in the US. Along with the room also came a complimentary hour-long massage which David and I had in a beautiful outdoor gazebo right by the ocean so we were lulled into a state of uber-relaxation with the rhythmic crashing of the waves and, of course, the massage itself
. Other than our massage, we spent loads of time chilling around the pool, reading, updating our blogs and enjoying being in such a plush place. Needless to say, we were supremely grateful to Papa Jeanes for enabling us to have such a pampering, relaxed few days. Thanks once again Dad, it was both lovely to see you and so so nice of you to arrange our stay at the hotel.
Besides enjoy the hotel facilities, one of the days we were there we went on a drive around eastern Bali as Dad had hired a car for his stay. It was great driving around the lush green countryside and walking around a local bazaar seeing what various bits and pieces they had on offer. The place we stopped didn't have much by way of tourist trinkets but it was really interesting to see a really local market instead of just geared towards tourists. The prices were super-cheap as well which we were understandably more than happy to see! Also when driving around we noticed fields and fields which were covered over and couldn't work out what the crops might be...but that's not particularly interesting I must admit.
For dinner we went into the small nearby towns as the hotel restaurant was beyond expensive (although the breakfast included with the room was DELICIOUS as you can imagine) but the restaurants we went to were very nice and served really nice food
. I had all sorts of fried rice and noodles and loved every moment of it. I can tell food is going to be a topic in Asia I will return to again and again (as if it wasn't before!) but then again it's much the same all over so perhaps it won't. Anyway, my favourite dish I had was at a place called Topi Inn which we went to twice with my Dad and Monika. The first time we shared a couple of dishes but when we went back I had one all to myself - the green, chicken curry. It was so delicious and creamy. Wow. Can't wait for Thailand and their curries!
On our last day at the hotel we made the last of the pool and the room and the wifi and the afternoon tea before Dad drove us to Padang Bai where we found a cheap room for the night before heading off to the Gili Islands the next day as we'd planned. Dad and Monika came and met us for one last meal together, during which the rain plummeted down - probably the heaviest I've ever seen! (Did I not mention it's the rainy season in Asia at the moment?) Anyway, we a lovely goodbye meal and said goodbye to Dad and Monika then headed back to our the hostel we'd found earlier and got an early night before our early morning the next day.
We got up bright and early as we'd realised the night before the ATM machine in Padang Bai didn't work and we didn't have that much Indonesian money on us
. We'd been advised that the nearest was only about 20 minutes away which you could get to by hopping on a moped (complete with driver of course) which would take you there and back for a small fee. As such we loitered around the broken cash point waiting for offers. Just as we were starting to wonder how we'd work out who to ask a man came up and offered to take us in his Honda car, for quite a large price. We said no and we'd get a moped and before we knew it he'd sorted out a bemo to take us, which is sort of like a minibus but you sit along the sides and there's no door just a doorway for people to get into and out of. The journey took us about an hour in total in the end but it was fun to speed along the small roads on public transport with locals getting in and out. We managed to get the much-needed cash and go back to Padang Bai just in time to catch a fast-boat to Gili Trawangan, our next stop. We'd left it to the last minute instead of getting a ticket in advance as it's quite expensive to get there on the fast boats. As such though their price is, for once, their only price so we didn't save any money by leaving it til the last minute but certainly made it a bit more exciting!
David and I spent the majority of time on our flights from Los Angeles to Hong Kong and then from Hong Kong down to Bali enjoying the vast selection of movies and TV programmes that Cathay Pacific were offering. Luckily the 5-hour stopover in Hong Kong flew by with a mixture of free wifi (ka-ching!), snoozing and some delicious food (hard to descibe - think pancakes with pork and sauce inside) which really whetted our appetites for the food in Asia! It's a good thing we liked the airport in Hong Kong as we've got to transit through there at least twice more on the trip....!