Where we are
A little island of chill, where pavements are treacherous, people are friendly and offerings scatter the streets. A common Aussie holiday destination that feels full on exotic to us Brits due to being half a world away. It's been on my radar since my best friend and for-all-intents-and-purposes, little sister (we've been besties since we were 2 and 3 respectively) moved there three and a half years ago to teach tiny children at a swish international school.
Despite enviously eyeing her facebook photos for years I was still entirely unprepared for just how gorgeous the whole island and everything in it is and even less so for how friendly and smiley the people are. "Where are you going?" "Where are you from?" Just blatant, friendly curiousity and endless giggles and smiles. Consider me thoroughly charmed.
Where we stayed
In Canggu, a little way down the coast from the tourist havens of Kuta and Seminyak. We rudely ousted Hanna from her room and stole the double bed, relegating her to a daybed in the living room of her cute apartment. (Not really, she offered. She did!)
With a beautiful pool, perilously wonky stairs, striking wooden accents and an abundance of appliances that only just about worked, it is apparently very authentically Balinese.
Hanna also has that great way of making everywhere she lives feel like hers (I think it has something to do with all the purple and cartoon characters), so it was a nice little bit of home for me, too.
What I read
'A Feast For Crows' - G.R.R. Martin. Death, death, dismemberment, rape and torture. Still I slog on...
'The Portable Athiest' - Christopher Hitchens (ed.) An excellent collection of important essays from antiquity to the present all with witty little intros by Hitchens himself.
'Dead Reckoning' - Charlaine Harris. aka a True Blood novel. For anyone who didn't know it was books before it was TV, do go read. They're great fun. I'm so still Team Bill.
What I listened to
Hanna's friend and colleaugue, Simon's excellent itunes collection. Otherwise nothing of note. I am very definitely starting to miss having access to my stuff. One iPod is just not enough.
What we ate
Lots of Nasi Goreng, an Indonesian version of fried rice that bears very little resemblance in taste and certainly in post-eating-grossness to English Chinese fried rice. The best I had was from a Canggu beachside bar called Eropa.
A giant, but slightly disappointing seafood platter in Jimbaran. The beachside, and they do mean beachside, the tables were being carried out to the sand as the tide retreated, setting was stunning as the sun went down, but the flies were not and somewhat marred my enjoyment of the lobster.
An amazing three course Italian meal at Ultimo in Seminyak. I had the black squid ink ravioli and it was only marginally less delish than the one I had in NYC.
A giant tower of a teriyaki burger at Echo Beach, a hipstery beachside bar. It had piles of onion rings and excellent skinny fries.
A collection of ots of things I don't know the name of, but which were all delicious at Warung Padang, a warung being a typical Balinese style of buffet-ish restaurant.
A super strong, but super good couple of coffees at the Melbourne Cafe in Seminyak. The lovely owner had gone to great lengths to create an Indonesian take on a Melbourne coffeeshop and proudly displayed his English language GCSE certificate on the wall alongside all the jars of Vegemite.
A horrible, dry and rubbish cupcake at the Grocer and Grind also in Seminyak. Don't go there, go to Melbourne!
An all you can eat brunch at the newest 5* in town, the W Hotel in honour of Hanna's friend's birthday. It was fully beautiful as was all the food. A good solid three hours of eating is decadent even when not in such classy surroundings.
An underwhelming buffet at a super touristy pretend warung near Treetops where we horrifically and blatantly overcharged as the price seemed to fluctuate depending on just how much the waiters thought they could get away with.
Ate a special 'thank you' dinner with Hanna at her fav place, Jem me. Fav because it's purple and has a jewellers of the same name attached, so the entire place is full of sparkles. The food was great, but oft forgotten as we magpied-out.
What we did
Lazed by the pool. Alot. Esepecially in the first few days where the heat nearly killed our poor, cold-blooded English selves. I'm normally all right by dint of my Maltese blood, but this was the sort of heat normally only experienced when opening your fan oven, the sort that melts your mascara and singes your lungs.
Wandered the short way along the beach to the above restaurants, watching the surfers enjoying the waves.
Was hugely freaked out by the mangy curs aka Bali's sad, uncared for dog population. Became convinced I had contracted rabies from stepping in a particularly pathetic specimen's paw print. Was ridiculed. I won't be totally sure I'm not dying till I can get through the next six months without foaming at the mouth Old Yeller style.
Swanked it up in the boutiques in Seminyak. So many shiny, pretty things, so impossible to look at them without falling down a hole in the pavement.
Learned to play poker at Hanna's insistence.
Got a mani pedi at Esthetic spa in Canggu Square. It was lovely. And since Greg didn't want to join in, we went back for full body massages later in the week.
I watched Hanna and Greg clamber all over the aerial assault courses at Treetops, a series of wooden bridges, flying foxes and cargo nets strung high in the air. All fun and games until Greg injured his arm and Hanna had to be rescued after refusing to swing from the highest level!
Tagged along to Hanna's work Christmas party at Pavillion bar where we drank endless mojitos and ended up dancing drunkenly on the beach at La Planche.
Wandered around a water Temple and a sea Temple (the full names of which I hope Hanna will share in the comments) trying to concentrate despite the heat and potential rabid moneky attack, on all the beauty.
Had our pictures taken with some (we think) Javanese tourists. Bein small, dark haired and a little bit Oriental looking I'm not of much interest, but yellow haired Hanna and beardy Greg attracted alot of attention.
Watched the dress rehearsal for Hanna's class Christmas show. It was predictably cute and unintentionally hilarious, because they're 4 and easily distracted.
Spent a couple of days staying in Ubud at the lush Kori Ubud Resort (huge gardens, yummy restaurant, infinity pool and, woop, air con) just wandering the art galleries, shopping for 'antiques made to order' and eating at beautiful places overlooking glassy rice paddies.
Visited the Setia Darma House of Masks and Puppets,a relatively new and still being constructed, private collection of, you guessed it, masks and puppets set in several tradtionally built houses admidst well kept grounds. It was an amazing collection. The Papau New Guinea ones were the stuff of nightmares.
Strolled along Balangan Beach in the midday sun (old English habits die hard) and watched the butterflies flutter by.
Played the 'what's the craziest thing you can see on a motorbike?' game. Winners include 100 bags of prawn crackers, 3 small children and 2 surfboards, one under each arm.
Were driven everywhere by the lovely, smiley Made in his big, swish, air conditioned car. Endlessly patient, inexpensive and chilled out, if you're in Bali and you don't want to drive (you don't; it's terrifying) make use of his uber-cool business card and give him a ring.