After sadly losing a friend in the first Bali bombing, I have been hesitant to travel to Bali – so it always remained a magical, mystical place where a lot of my friends from Sydney would visit regularly and regale to me their tales of the beautiful people, the amazing food, the wonderful scenery.
D and I are not particularly beachy resort type people – his delicate English Rose skin burns easily and I just don’t particularly like the feeling of the sun on my skin.
But one of D’s oldest friends was getting married in Seminyak, Bali, which gave us the perfect reason to finally go.
The wedding was in at Ku De Ta but we decided to go a few days earlier to Ubud to enjoy some quiet time before the wedding.
We stayed at the Uma Ubud, the sister resort to where we were staying in Seminyak, which was a wonderfully private retreat. Although many of my friends have waxed lyrical about Bali, I had no expectations of Bali, and the serenity at Ubud really was quite startling at first, but after a little while, you settle down and just….relax. Remember D and I are “city folk” and need our distractions. Our villa was gorgeous. Gates around the villa ensured privacy, although it’s the sort of place where you felt like you were the only people there. The room overlooked rice paddies and the shower was one of those fabulous outdoor ones, so you felt like you were showering in a rainforest.
Not happy to just do nothing at first, we explored the town, and we took a tour of the rice paddies around the villa. I felt so ignorant but whilst I’ve seen lots of pictures of rice paddies, I never knew exactly how it was grown, and was amazed that rice grows like a wheatsheaf, with like ten grains of rice from each sheaf. Picking can only be done by hand, and I was amazed at how labour intensive rice farming was.
We ate that night on a recommendation at Mozaic, which was just up the road from our villa. It was a cool breezy night, and we enjoyed a drink at the bar before being led downstairs to the outdoor dining area. We actually ate a lot of non-Balinese food while we were in Bali, we tried to find local food and failed dismally on our first day. We ordered the Chef’s tasting menu – where if you give them any likes and dislikes, the chef will prepare an array of “surprise” dishes, based on the freshest available ingredients for the day. The restaurant is one floor down from the bar where we had our pre-dinner cocktail, and it’s the perfect mix of formal and casual dining – the service was impeccable and the dish that stood out for me was the king prawns in a chilled gazpacho. The rest of the meal was one dish after another of delicately balanced French food with a local flavour to it.
Before we left Ubud, we of course had to make a visit to Bebek Bengil – dirty duck. My friends had told me they made trips from far out in Bali specifically to eat lunch here. I now see why. We chose to eat at the back of the sprawling restaurant, overlooking more rice paddies, and were served the house specialty, deep fried crispy duck. Absolutely wonderful with the shallot and ginger mix accompanying the dish and washed down with a cold beer.
Onwards to Seminyak – on our 3 hour drive there, we stopped by a spice “forest” – made specifically for tourists, where we bought a jar of civet coffee. Apparently this is the best coffee you can ever have. The civet is a small cat-like animal who eats coffee beans and will select only the best. They cannot, however, digest the beans, so the beans pass out in their…well, poo….undigested. It is then collected, washed (I hope!) and roasted. It’s ridiculously expensive, but we’ve had a few cups at home and it really is incredible tasting. I also managed to buy some wonderfully soft and incredibly fragrant vanilla pods which are still happily sitting in my kitchen cupboard, waiting to flavour some scrumptious dessert.
Then to the Elysian in Seminyak. Just behind Ku De Ta, most of the wedding crew were staying there but the villas were completely private so it meant that you retreated into what was your own private apartment with your own pool. It was gorgeous. And lovely little touches like each room comes with a preloaded ipod that plays chillout tunes meant you could just relax in your own privacy. (I know that sounds daft, but I am a complete novice at this villa thing and this is the first time I have experienced this).
The one thing I will say about Bali. They do NOT believe in airconditioning. Now I am all for natural living but hell, it’s HOT there ! All the restaurants and bars and CLUBS have at most a fan. Truly that is enough for me not to go back in a hurry.
The pre-wedding night the boys went bar hopping and the girls went to Kafe Warisan – I met the friends of the bride for the first time and they were all so lovely and friendly. The place is owned by Gallic chef Nicolas Tourneville, and I tried his signature pan-seared foie gras, served hot with a raspberry vinegar sauce for starters. He got it juuuust right, sweet and delicate and just cooked while perfectly crispy outside. (NOTE: the owners of Kafe Warisan closed it down and re-opened Metis – from the website it looks much more upmarket than Kafe Warisan was but the chef is the same).
We then went on to Hu Bar, which was a trip down memory lane as it is owned and run by one of the partners of the Singapore Hu Bar, from almost ten years back. Apparently these two fought and split and each opened a Hu Bar, this one in Seminyak, the other, in Thailand. I am all for chillout and relaxing, but this place was almost a joke. The night club part inside was non-airconditioned, which meant it was marginally cooler to drink outside, where guests could recline on giant big cushions on the grass. I don’t know – perhaps I am truly a novice at this but it seemed so … try-hard? Anyway, it was a meh, for me.
The wedding itself, the next day, was at the Tirtha in Uluwatu. Bride and groom had organised buses to take guests an hour down south to the tip of Bali where I swear, you felt like you were at the end of the world. The weather was clear and SUNNY (read: hot) but the view when you got there was nothing other than breathtaking. Thankfully the church where they were married, a glass pyramid so you could still see the sea outside, was airconditioned, but before and after we were in there, boy, did we feel the heat and melt. Thank goodness for waterproof makeup !
Sunset at Ku De Ta
The reception dinner that night was at Ku De Ta. Pre-dinner drinks were arranged at the Sunset Bar there. Strikingly bright red sunsets were the backdrop (and again, strikingly hot weather enveloped us. There was simply no escape, and for me, the heat really ruined what should have been relaxing drinks to start a wonderful celebration. It was only when I discovered that asking for ice in a napkin and dabbing my face, neck, shoulders and arms, that I could really relax and enjoy the evening. And what an evening it was ! I can recall the steak at the dinner, melt-in-your-mouth steak done just right. The rest of the food was also good, but unmemorable. The venue, not so much. It’s just fabulous. The wedding party hired a DJ and he had to consult with the venue to ensure his music was in keeping with the theme of the venue. Again, a bit on the wanky side, but Ku De Ta makes no apologies or tries to be humble about their incredible location and have made the absolute best of it.
The rest of the night was a blur of drinking and shots ! Oh my we needed our private AIR CONDITIONED villas the next day to recover from the festivities the night before.
The next night D and I visited La Lucciola, again, on a recommendation. I do wish we had found a local place to eat – it seemed such a shame to eat European cuisine throughout most of our time in Bali. However, Italian is one of our favourites, so we walked along the beach to find a two storey, bamboo thatched restaurant, that again, was not airconditioned, and was surrounded by mosquitoes. Not happy Jan. Food there was ok, unremarkable, really.
Not sure if I will be rushing back to Bali in a hurry. Not sure why, either. But glad we finally went.
Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Banjar Lungsiakan, Kedewatan
Jl. Raya Sanggingan, Ubud, Gianyar – Bali 80571
Phone / Fax. +62 361 975768
Bebek Bengil Restaurant (Dirty Duck Diner)
Address: Padang Tegal, Ubud
Phone: (62-361) 975.489
the Elysian boutique villa hotel
18 Jalan Sari Dewi
80361 Seminyak, Kuta Bali
(0361) 730 9999
Metis (previously Kafe Warisan)
Jl. Petitenget No 6 Kerobokan Kelod, Kuta, Bali, Indonesia
T +62 361 737888 | F. +62 361 847 5472
Jl. Jalan Raya Uluwatu
Banjar Dinas Karang Boma
Desa Pecatu 80364
Tel: +62 361 8471151
Fax: +62 361 8471160
Ku De Ta
Jalan Kayu Aya 9
Tel: +62 36 736 969
Jl. Kayu Aya, Seminyak, Bali 80361, Indonesia
+62 361 730 838