Monday, February 12, 2007

Bali, Indonesia

Bali, Indonesia Album

We arrived at the Bali Garden Hotel and were impressed right away. It was hard to determine what the hotel was like from the web. Often times, the hotels talk themselves up so much that you are disappointed when you get there. We walked into an open-air lobby that had cathedral high ceilings. Delicately carved, dark wood is a part of the Balinese culture and is reflected in their architecture and furnishings. The staff were in floral print uniforms and were very polite. Our room was a lot bigger than we expected. King size bed, with drawers and closets galore, a refrigerator and a balcony looking over the garden. The only down-side was that the internet was in the lobby on only two computers. Either someone would be on them, or it would be entirely too hot to sit for an extended period of time.

It was dark out when we arrived, but we decieded to take a walk around the garden anyway. We found the bar and the pool. The hotel was the cheapest with a beach-front, so we made our way to the beach which in the night looked beautiful. We would later discover that this was not the area to swim at, so beach-front had no real significance. On our way back, we couldn’t help but notice all of the frogs on the pavement. We had to watch where we were going just so we didn’t step on them. It was so nice to see that the frogs all got along when we found two hugging away. ☺

Earlier, we grabbed a brochure from the airport with a good deal on learning how to surf. If there was any place in the world to learn, this was it. Kuta Beach has world-class surfing. We set up lessons right away and because it was low-season we had private lessons. It was kind of easy at first. We were just catching the white waves (close to the beach), and we had the instructors telling us when to paddle and when to get up. I felt the most comfortable on the 1st and 2nd days. Then on the 3rd, they let us determine which waves to catch and when to get up- and I just had the hardest time. Shawn was doing really well. He wanted to be left alone from the beginning. I enjoyed the coaching. After the lessons, we decided to rent surfboards on our own and give it a go. I did ok, but then I fell hard twice and struggled in the water. That was it for me. Maybe, I’ll try again another time, but I was finished for the day.

We found some great restaurants nearby the hotel, including one right outside the hotel. They had Chili Crab night and silly me wanted in. I got to pick out my crab, which sucked because I didn’t want to see it alive! Then when it came out prepared, I did my best not to think about how it was just alive a few moments earlier until I determined it’s untimely death. But it was really yummy and really messy. We also found Bubba Gump and the Hard Rock CafĂ©.

After a few nights in Kuta Beach (west coast), we headed to Candi Dasa (east coast) for a dive package. Again, we weren’t sure what to expect. We were picked up from the airport by Graeme (Australian) and his wife Elaine (Singaporean). Graeme is the person that we set the package up with. He is the owner of the dive shop and Elaine does almost all of the marketing and administrative work. We asked about the Bali Shangrila Beach Club (BSBC), the place we were staying at. They commented that it was very nice and that Graeme’s father is the owner. The pieces are coming together. After about an hour and 45 minutes, we arrived in the small town of Candi Dasa. There were a few restaurants and a few shops for essentials, but that was about it. A dirt road took us to the entrance of the BSBC. A small, intimate resort, right on the water. It had a pool in the center surrounded by the rooms. The open-air restaurant was right next to the pool. Our room was tastefully decorated. The curtains matched the bed linens and the furniture was antiqued. But the aircon didn’t work. After a few hours of trying to fix it and see if this happens, etc, they moved us to a different room. This one was right on the end and the view was much better. It was Valentine’s Day when we arrived, so we went up to the top balcony to enjoy the sunset. It was the most incredibly, fabulous, romantic and awe-inspiring sunset we have ever seen. We don’t know if another sunset will ever compare. After we were blown away, we headed down to the restaurant for our V-day meal. A private table with wine and candle-light and flowers strewn everywhere. I was given a flower for my hair and we were given the Romeo-and-Juliet cocktail in a coconut. The night was perfect.

The next day, we headed out to Manta Point to do two dives. This site was famous for attracting huge manta rays because of the amount of plankton here (that’s what they eat). Graeme had to charter a boat since his captain refused to drive out there. The sea can be very rough, which we found to be true but nothing we couldn’t handle (especially after Thailand). Unfortunately, the dives didn’t turn up any manta rays. The site wasn’t much for viewing otherwise, so the trip turned out to be a bust. But we had to expect that would happen. There is no guarantee that manta rays would be at manta point. Oh well.

The next day, Graeme and I went to the Liberty Wreck. We did two dives and both were incredible. Probably because I haven’t done a wreck dive before, but the water was so clear it was like being in an aquarium. We were able to do some swim-thrus on the wreck itself and see amazing marine life. Later that evening, Graeme and Elaine invited me to celebrate the Chinese New Year with them on the top balcony. It was the three of us and some of the staff, we all sat down and ate dinner and had a few beers. It was wonderful company and I was grateful that they had invited me.

The following day, BSBC set up a pig roast with a special Kekong Dance. They decorated the resort from top to bottom in preparation for the night. Good food, live Balinese music, traditional dancing and almost everyone staying at the BC, joined in. The Balinese dancers got everyone up there to dance as well. It was a great time.

After another night at the Bali Garden Hotel, we flew out of Bali to Sydney, Australia.

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