Sunday, August 31, 2008

Frog in the Bog

OMG! Don't even ask how it was I came to meet this naughty little fella. Really.

Mental note to self, always keep the toilet lid down.

Clever Balinese

Crafty sculptures like these can be seen all over Bali, guarding homes and adorning temples.


This family compound is protected by Ganesha.
Traveling between towns is cool because you get a glimpse of these crafty people at work. Painters, weavers, stone and wood carvers can be seen all along the roadsides, creating masterpieces.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

The real deal babi guling

We decided we'd better try some babi guling elsewhere, as we've seen signs all over the show advertising warung that sell it. I was keen to find out if the babi guling served at Ibu Oka's had been altered for westerners in any way. We stopped at Warung Renon in Denpasar to find out, and this is what we were served.
De fuckin'licious!

Very similar to Ibu Oka's and just as tasty, if not more! There were a few more odd things on the plate and a lot less meat. In fact, you can't see any meat in the photograph at all, but there are a couple of fatty pieces hiding underneath all the other goodness.

I'm not entirely sure what everything on the plate was, but I'm fairly sure we ate some organs (Dad, you'd love it!). The dish was served with a delicious little meatball broth and was quite possibly the best one we've had in Bali. Don't worry Mum, usually after a lunch like this we have a plate of fruit for dinner!

Just while I'm on the topic of food (again), this has got to be the best fish satay I've had in Bali. It was in Permuteran in northern Bali and I've been meaning to include it somewhere on my blog. Even Bighead had some!

You see that crispy fried piece of fish at the top, I ate that whole thing, fins and all! It was sublime. Crispy goodness like you wouldn't believe! The satay had this green chilli sambar smothered all over the fish, out of this world.

Man I love good food.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Good eats

We've been milling about in Sanur for a bit now. It's great to be staying still for a while. As every traveller knows, moving about all the time can be hard work.

Sanur is cool, there's enough here to keep us happy. The beach isn't the best but we have a nice place with a pool. Bighead and I have started doing laps in everyday. Gotta try and work off all that deep fried goodness somehow. We're not getting any younger!

We spend quite a lot of our time buzzing about on the scoot, looking for places to eat. Our favourite so far in Sanur is Warung Pregina. It has tidy, hand crafted furnishings with lots of dark wood and soft cushions. The red leather menus are beautifully presented, the staff are friendly and attentive, and the food is prepared and presented with love.

Nasi Campur (hold the nasi) - 22,000Rp/NZ$3.50
A delicious collection of meats, vegetables, sambar's and tasty treats like the grated and spiced coconut you can see at the bottom of the plate.

Balinese Grilled Chicken - 25,000Rp/NZ$4.00
Perfectly grilled chicken leg. It was smokey, creamy and perfectly spiced.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Addicted to manicures

Oh my gosh, this morning I went for my very first professional manicure (I know, I know, I'm sorry girls, I'm a bit slow off the block). It was so nice and my fingers feel so girly right now it's not funny. Who would have thought? I think this may be the start of something grand...



I've never seen my hands looking so swish... not sure how this will fit with being a potter, but there must be a way around it.

There's a chance I may become a salon junkie here guys, what next do you think? a pedicure? daily massage? body scrub? Who wants in?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Cure for homesickness

I took Bighead to the movies today. We went to see Wall-E, the choice was somewhat limited, but the film turned out to be quite well done and a bit of a laugh. A robot rom com! Nice. Anyway, guess how much the tickets cost?! NZ$1.55! or NZ$3.50 with popcorn and a drink. Stoked! The screen was sweet and the seats were really comfy.

We discovered a massive western-style mall attached to the cinema. It was kinda cool to walk around in a semi familiar environment.

Check out the parking lot.
Many motorbike.

We stopped by the night market on our way home to grab a bite to eat and discovered this little gem. A road side stall selling Martabak (deep fried roti) and Terang Bulan (hotcake type thing).

The dude making these was such a sweetheart, so smiley. You could tell he cared about the food he was making and seemed to be really popular with the locals. The sort of person you'd want to sit down and enjoy a cuppa with. His wife and daughter were with him too.

We ordered one chicken, egg and cheese martabek (NZ$1.50) and one chocolate and peanut terang bulan (NZ$1.20). They were both soooo tasty and so naughty I simply can't find enough superlatives to give it justice. Man the balinese sure know how to deep fry shit!










Chicken martabak and chocolate and peanut terang bulan. You have no idea just how good these are, especially the sweet one. Oh. My. God... yum.

We've been told we must try his banana and cheese terang bulan next time!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Recycling (I Hope!)

First bout of homesickness

I've tried eating chocolate, western meals and even a $5 icecream but sometimes you just can't help feeling a little out of sorts. Being away from home is not just about a continuous stream of exciting new adventures (although I certainly can't complain about the lack there of!).

A phone call home helped alot (thanks :-) xx), along with the knowledge that my runaway cat is safe and sound.

"We are torn between a nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known".

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monkeys!



Sunday, August 24, 2008

Go the upgrade!

We crossed seas to a little island off the southeast coast of Bali, Nusa Lembongan. The fast boat gets you there in 30mins which is all good (the swells can be a tad nail biting!).

The main beach on Lembongan has to have one of the more stunning vistas in Bali, especially when Mount Agung can be seen in the distance.


A lot of the locals are seaweed farmers (the weed is exported and used for beauty products among other things). It seems like the work never stops and there is a constant stream of baskets being balanced on heads to and from the ocean. Some carry two baskets, balanced precariously on long bamboo poles. Once dried, it's sold for about US$2-3 per kg.

video

We were lucky to score an upgrade on our room, moving from a standard to a villa. Yee ha! The 100 or so stairs it took to get there didn't deter me, as the view from our room was well worth the effort!


The living area is shared by two identical rooms.


Our room and view from bed.

We took two dives on Saturday, the second was nicer than the first with loads of schooling fish, massive vase shaped hard corals and lots of colourful soft coral. Just like swimming in a over sized tropical fish tank!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Phew...

I must say, I am stoked to be alive after a hair raising rally car drive down the east coast! I'll spare you the details.

In fact, we were both pretty stoked to be in Tulumben which is famous for its wreck dive, The Liberty. However, it wasn't long before we figured out that Tulumben is not the kind of place you'd want to kick off your jandles and pull up a phew, if you know what I mean. In fact, it's far from it! We stayed one night and did one dive.

Here are some of the highlights:
  • A plate of fried peanuts served with charred fly and bits of gravel
  • The worst meal we've eaten in Bali so far, a half cooked piece of chicken (serves me right for ordering western food), some old tofu (which Bighead let me discover for myself), and a watermelon juice so pumped with sugar it was undrinkable
  • Bruised shins due to my far from glamorous shore exit. I did have full scuba gear on and there was a decent swell and the beach was covered in wobbly round stones!
I couldn't help but burst out laughing when moments after lights out (where I had both fingers and toes crossed for a healthy tummy in the morning) two mangy cats began to howl (not meow) at each other just outside our room. You can't win em all I suppose!

I am pleased to announce that I don't appear to have contracted salmonella poisoning and all that said, I just love Asia! Bighead and I have spent quite some time laughing about particular goings on. Of course, I could never convey these with words. You just have to be here!

We're both rather pleased to be back in the south of Bali and are busy pondering where to from here... ahh the freedom!

Out and about in Bali

For the last few days, we’ve been staying in a tiny town in northern Bali called Permuteran. The main reason people come here is to snorkel and dive. I think there’s only about seven resort/spas and three warung! We arrived late in the afternoon and hadn’t managed to get through on the phone to book accommodation, so pickings were slim. Samesame has worked out that if we do this more often, she gets to stay in places like this!


Unfortunately, it was NZ$100 a night (which is a little over our budget!) so we moved on the next day.



This gorgeous homestay, Tirta Sari, is half the price and three times as friendly! It’s located between Reef Seen Dive Centre and the main road. The family that run it are so lovely and the garden is beautiful. They are currently in the process of building more rooms, a warung and a spa.

On Saturday we had our first dive of the season! We went to a site called Close Encounters which is part of the local reef. Bighead loved his first dive with new eyes! It was surprisingly pretty with loads of different fish, and gorgeous hard and soft coral. We even saw a large ball of tuna which was really exciting.

We’ve also had a day trip to Pulau Menjangan, where we took another two dives – turtles, large barracuda, frog fish, an eel, and loads and loads of different species. It’s so peaceful down there, a whole different world. The only sound you can hear is the blub, blub, blub, of your bubbles and the quiet munching of coral.

This part of Bali is stunning. Permuteran has black sand beaches and is surrounded by the rugged mountains of the Taman Nasional Bali Barat (West Bali National Park). Gorgeous.

However, at NZ$70 a dive, we won't be staying long!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Masakan Padang

Another tasty type of food here is masakan padang. The warung serving up this delectable style of food, are easy to spot. Check out the unique way the food is displayed in the front window.

You can select any number of these tasty tid bits. There’s usually lots of different types of meat, veg, tempeh and tofu dishes on offer.

This particular warung seemed to be more expensive than others we've been to. My meal cost about NZ$4.

On my plate you can see a whole fried egg, a corn fritter, dried beef,

beef rendang, and a potato ball. Yes, it is mostly fried, so not the sort of meal you'd eat too much of, but oh so tasty!

My personal favourites are the potato balls (why don’t they make em like this at home?) and the beef rendang.




Saturday, August 16, 2008

Doberweiler?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Here it is...

I know I’ve mentioned this already but I think it deserves a post of its own… and I have pics!

Babi Guling – my all time favourite Balinese dish (to date). Served all over Bali but definitely a must do in Ubud at Ibu Oka’s on Jl Suweta.

Tourists flock to this local warung everyday from 11 til 4 for one thing. Tender strips of spit roasted goodness, small super crispy crackling pieces, a tasty sausage (blood I think, sounds gross but tastes good!), spicy bean salad, crackling, chilli and rice. All for a mere 25,000Rp (NZ$3.50)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

An early morning stroll




Just up the road from our bungalow, you can take a stroll through the rice paddies. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of rice paddies, they're breathtaking. You can often see rice farmers wearing straw hats, meticulously grooming their fields. Small ram-shackled shelters are scattered here and there as respite from midday sun. Ducks, chickens, roosters, dogs and their babes roam the paddies.

It’s much greener than the last time we were here and the temperature (a cool 24 degrees) is so sweet that Bighead and I have even hit the road on mountain bikes (twice!). The overwhelming sense of calm here is all encompassing and it hasn’t taken very long at all for us to just about grind to a halt completely!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Balinese Feast

Food is a major part of ceremonies and festivals throughout Indonesia (I’m not sure we’ll make it to Thailand after all!). The size of the feast depends on the importance of the ceremony. In Bali, at smaller ceremonies, the Balinese will smoke a duck or chicken to accompany a range of delicious spicy salads. Whereas at larger celebrations, no expense is spared and families will also enjoy a spit roast pig (babi guling, my favourite! and a local delicacy – more on this later!).
Several restaurants in Ubud offer these feasts to tourists on a regular basis. Bighead and I have already par-taken in several (surprise!).

Ketut’s Place on Jl Suweta provides these feasts on Sun, Wed and Fri. It costs 135,000Rp per person (about NZ$20) and you can eat as much as you can squeeze in! Drinks are extra and there may be a service charge (Ketut took ours off after asking where we stayed! Go figure).

Before the meal Ketut welcomes all guests into his family compound and shares some interesting info about Balinese culture. Each guest is poured a glass of Balinese rice wine (not unlike dessert wine from home, although unfortunately only 1% alcohol) and a cup of ginger tea. The feast is laid out in buffet style and contains about 15 or so different dishes. Various spicy salads, tofu satay, coconut satay, chicken curry, smoked duck, peanut crisps, fried tempeh, prawn crackers, the list goes on. Samesame’s eyes are bulging as she tries to play it cool. Waiting patiently as the guests before her seem to take an eternity to fill their banana leave baskets… oh so tasty!

However, a better bargain waits at Rumah Roda’s Guesthouse and Restaurant on Jl Kajeng, where a very similar feast can be had for just 30,000Rp (about $4!). The environment isn’t quite so up market but is lovely just the same, which is more our speed anyway. Roda's serves up a delectable array of dishes, where the main item that’s missing is the ubiquitous smoked duck.

The other thing I love about Roda’s, is that he refills water bottles for 20c a pop. Anything to help decrease the ever increasing plastic problem in Bali, is all good as far as I'm concerned!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Market Day

Every morning, before the lazy tourist begins to stir, the local market is in full swing. It's scooter mania! Everything you can imagine is for sale here and the atmosphere is awesome. Locals move from stall to stall with haste, gathering their daily produce. There are baskets and smiles everywhere and not a 'pinky' in sight... Wafting smells of satay lead me downstairs where the maze of stalls seem endless. It's sensory overload and I'm loving it!

Vegetarians be warned.