Bali 2013: Other observations

20 09 2013

Here are some other observations about my trip to Bali. Nearly all relate to Perth International Airport and the flights on Garuda Indonesia.

Perth International Airport (PIA)

  • The upgrade to this tired airport can’t come soon enough. On leaving, we had to climb several flights of stairs to get to the jetway, and on our return, we got dumped on the tarmac several hundred metres from the terminal, had to come down an ancient set of roll-up stairs and walk through the rain to the terminal, then up more stairs to immigration etc. I don’t know how those who were in wheelchairs or using walking sticks got on, or those with very young children. An INTERNATIONAL airport? I don’t think so…
  • What is up with people???? If you are coughing, spluttering, and are obviously sick, for heavens sake put your hand over your mouth/nose at the very least!!! And use a tissue. SOOO many people were coughing and spluttering in the waiting area right next to the Qantas Lounge at PIA that I left and moved down towards the snack bars.
  • TAKE A SHOWER before you come to the airport and get on a plane! Cramped conditions and long flights (EVERY flight from PIA is a long flight — some much longer than others) mean that your body odour is sickening to your nearby passengers. To the young girl who plopped herself down two seats away from me at the waiting area for Malaysian Airlines, thank goodness I wasn’t on your flight and sitting next to you. I would have been physically ill had I not been able to change seats — your BO was that strong and obnoxious.
  • To the Velluto food people — PLEASE use some Tandoor ANYTHING in your Tandoori Chicken wraps. They had absolutely NO flavour and were like eating soggy cardboard. If the chicken had come anywhere near a Tandoor oven, I’d be very surprised. And I’d be surprised too if it had even been marinaded in a Tandoor sauce. Bland is too good a description for that waste of $9.50!
  • If you set a gate, then stick to it. Getting people to switch gates some 20 minutes before the flight isn’t convenient. Fortunately PIA only has five gates, and the area is small.
  • Be clear in your announcements. Garuda Flight 725 (to Jakarta) sounded very much like Garuda Flight 729 (to Denpasar), and quite a number of people ended up changing gates several times before realising that they were two different flights for the same airline leaving at approximately the same time.
  • If you sit near the Qantas Lounge, you can hook up to their free WiFi 😉

Outbound flight

  • I quite like Garuda — their staff are delightful, and the food’s pretty good. But there’s no excuse for not having ANY English language immigration entry cards on one of the their twice-daily flights from Perth to Denpasar. I can only think someone forgot to pack the correct bundle. Fortunately, I’d noticed an English version in the back of the airline magazine, so was able to complete the immigration and customs declaration without needing to try to figure out what the Bahasa Indonesian version said.
  • The flight left 45 minutes late, so was nearly an hour late into Denpasar. That was a long time for my 80+ year old parents and the driver to wait. Mum waited in an area full of mostly men in the middle of the night — while she was safe, it wouldn’t be something she would have enjoyed.
  • Farts on a plane. I think Qantas seats must have activated charcoal impregnated cushions as I rarely smell farts on a plane even on the long haul from Australia to the US. But on this flight, phew! There were some ripe ones… And it wasn’t one person either, as the smells varied. I’ll say no more.
  • The meal I had was a satay beef, which was nice, but needed some salt and/or pepper. None was provided in the cutlery pack, but the crew did bring them when asked.
  • No water was provided at all, unless asked for.
  • Flight was about half full, so the seat between me and the window seat passenger was empty. Bonus!

Denpasar airport (departure)

  • You go through at least three security and name/boarding pass checks at this airport (it may have been five or more). And when you’re finally in the passenger-only duty free area after having gone through immigration etc. you think you can do what you can do at every other international airport I’ve been to in the past decade or so, and that’s buy a bottle of water as you emptied your previous bottle before going through the security checks. And then you find that there’s ANOTHER security check just before you get on the plane and you have to toss that water bottle in a bin.
  • In this age of computers, why are people checking boarding passes BY HAND? I can’t recall that from last year, so maybe their computer checking systems were down. At least three of the checks were done by hand and marked off a printed list with pen.
  • There are nowhere near enough seats at this airport to deal with the passengers on a single flight, let alone many flights. Hopefully the new airport (due to open in a week or two) will have far better waiting facilities. If they want us at the airport at least 2 hours before the flight, then we need somewhere to sit.

Inbound flight

  • As for the outbound flight, this one was about half full. I was seated in a row with two adults and three kids under six. The mother suggested I ask to be seated two rows further back in an empty row — I was happy to oblige! I even got to spread out and lay down. However, there were another two young children behind me in the new row, one of whom (at least) had an awful cold/cough and did NOT cover his/her mouth/nose each time they coughed/sneezed/spluttered. I won’t be happy if I catch something…
  • Meal on the way home was a chicken curry, with a really HOT sambal in a packet (ABC brand, ‘Asli’?), which was excellent.
  • No water provided.

Bali

  • For an island dealing with rapid expansion of tourism and all the infrastructure changes and stresses that entails, I was surprised to see very few dual flush toilets. I didn’t expect them in older places, but I did expect them in the new resort I stayed at (the block I was in is less than two years’ old). I would have thought that water on Bali was a very precious commodity, and that installing dual flush toilets would be mandatory.
  • Bali is one of the ‘spice islands’, so why did I only see ground white pepper? Not a crushed black peppercorn was sighted in any restaurant I visited.




Bali 2013: Classic sign!

19 09 2013

This sign was under one of the shaded areas by the pool at the resort. The first paragraph is the usual stuff, but at the second paragraph it starts getting interesting… Read to the end!

(click on the photo to view it in a larger size)

Pen_Bay_Resort_00269_sign

If you find it hard to read, here’s the text:

Pool Safety and Health Regulations

To avoid any accident caused by a broken glass, sunken bar beverage service will be provided by plastic Camro glass. And staff member may refuse to serve you is you disobey these safety regulations, this is for your safety and your holiday pleasure.

Urinating at pool will cause a skin disease. Urine, chlorine and other water chemicals will result in a chemical reaction which is very dangerous to the skin. The first one who gets this reaction is the one who stay closest to the chemical reaction, and then spread out, and you don’t want to be the one who creates this, do you??

And if we find you did urinate in the pool, we don’t hesitate to cut it off!!

Love it 😉

 

 





Bali 2013: 15 to 18 September

19 09 2013

Most days were spent lazing by the pool (under shade) or in the pool, having delicious fruit smoothies at the swim-up bar, reading, sleeping… We went out each night to a different restaurant — Queens of India (REALLY good curries!), Laguna Garden (very disappointing this year), and Bali Cardamon (see below), which was excellent. I love how the restaurants will send a car to pick you up and will drop you back at your accommodation for free.

Mum and I didn’t get to go shopping until Tuesday 17 September. We had a lovely young chap for our driver, and as I hadn’t seen Seminyak, Legian, or Kuta, we headed there first. Unfortunately, unless you’re staying in a resort or hotel with direct beach access, or are prepared to walk some distance, viewing the beaches from the car is impossible (same for Nusa Dua, Benoa peninsula beaches etc.).

However, we did stop at the Discovery shopping centre in Kuta and had a smoothie at a restaurant with a bit of a view of the beach from the outdoor area. (Click on a photo to view it in a larger size)

(For non Australians, some of the Ketut/Rhonda TV commercials are on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPFOUSApmDPg5DE-Wj1gR5M6TtH55_BN4)

We visited the Seminyak Square market area and the Kuta market area, where I bought two tops (AU$16 each), two pairs of sandals ($20 each), and a capacious handbag ($20). Next stop was the DFS Galleria shopping centre, where I bought two Max Factor long-lasting lipsticks ($9 each; and yes, they DO last a long time — about 24 hours!). Our final stop before heading back to the resort and a welcome swim in the pool was Bali Collection shopping centre in Nusa Dua. I bought a couple of gifts for my quilt retreat friends, and had the fish nibbling foot treatment!!!

What an experience that was! The first 30 seconds were REALLY weird as the fish started nibbling on the dead skin on my feet and lower legs, getting in between my toes etc. Fortunately, I didn’t freak out as the treatment was for 20 minutes ($10).

After a most refreshing dip in the pool, we headed out for a scrumptious dinner at Bali Cardamon. It was my last night in Bali 😦





Bali 2013: Peninsula Bay Resort

19 09 2013

I spent most of my week in Bali staying in a 2-bed timeshare apartment at the Peninsula Bay Resort. These photos are of the HUGE air-conditioned apartment (the views from the balcony over one of the pools and the bay are here: https://rhondabracey.com/2013/09/14/bali-2013-12-to-14-september/).

Click on a photo to view it in a larger size.

Living area:

Kitchen:

Main bedroom and bathroom:

Second bedroom and bathroom:

Balcony:





Bali 2013: 12 to 14 September

14 09 2013

This will be short as I’m trying to write it from my tablet and it’s my first time doing that. Not sure I can upload pictures either… But we’ll see how we go…

First, let’s try some pictures. These first photos were from the first place I stayed.

Click on a photo to view it full size.

The next set are from the second resort we moved to on the Saturday.

Activities day 1, after arriving after 10 pm the night before: swim, read, eat, drink, swim, read, sleep, read. Went to the Bumbu Bali restaurant for a fabulous dinner:

Day 2 Saturday: move from resort A to resort B, 30 minute back massage, pedicure, swim, read, laze by the new pool. Dinner tonight is in the new resort.

Tomorrow I’ve booked another back massage and facial (they’re about one tenth the price we pay in Australia!!!), then it will be more pool time;-). Mum and I will go shopping on Monday (dad’s hip is pretty bad so he’ll stay by the pool while we go out and about).





Bali: Day 6: Thursday 13 September 2012

17 09 2012

We were up at 6:00 am for a 6:45 am pickup by our driver. We arrived in plenty of time for our flight — the traffic was pretty light at that hour of the day. The gate wasn’t even allocated until about 20 mins before boarding, so we had to wander about the international terminal past security — a ploy to get you do last-minute shopping? The flight was due to leave at 9:30 am but we didn’t take off until about 9:45.

We had an uneventful flight back to Perth (beef rendang was my choice again for the meal), and cleared immigration, customs and baggage claim in about 15 minutes (a record for me at Perth International Airport!). My nephew was waiting to pick us up. After getting dropped at my sister’s place, I drove the 90 minutes home. Not a big deal when it’s only about a 3 hour flight 😉

The highlights of my first trip to Bali:

  • Spending time with my parents and sister (our first ‘just us’ family holiday in almost 40 years!)
  • Bumbu Bali Cooking School — I highly recommend this!
  • The fabric place in the Denpasar markets for quilting batiks at $2.40 a metre
  • Totally relaxing in a warm tropical climate, in such a beautiful location
  • The food!
  • Amazing massages, foot reflexology, etc.
  • The low prices of everything.

Would I go again? Yep!

More photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/collections/72157631547384389/





Bali: Day 5: Wednesday 13 September 2012

17 09 2012

This was the last full day in Bali for my sister and me. It was another early start, but this time even earlier as I had to be ready for hotel pick-up at 6:00 am to visit the markets prior to the Bumbu Bali Cooking School.

The maximum number of students is 14 (two minivans of seven people each), though they fitted me and my sister in, with one of us having to miss the market visit as the vans were full.

First stop was McDonalds! Seriously!! But only to meet the other minivan and allocate people between the two vehicles 😉 So the real first stop was the Jimbaran markets. At the markets, Heinz von Holzen — the chef (classically French trained and ex-chef at various Hyatts throughout the world and author of several books on Bali cuisine) — talked quite a bit about breakfast foods and ‘Mama Bali’ and her disposable daily income and why she has to come to the markets every day (no refrigeration) to get food to prepare meals for her family.

We sampled several breakfast foods — despite them looking very sweet, they weren’t. Heinz then guided us through the markets, explaining various foods, herbs, and spices (their pork meat is quite red as it is freshly slaughtered and there are no preservatives or hormones etc. in it).

Surprisingly, there was no ‘off’ smell in the markets, despite everything being out in the open (uncovered) and the closeness of the produce and the stalls. Everything is fresh and is sold the same day it comes to market or the next day. The markets are open seven days a week, for many hours (I believe the Denpasar markets are open 24 hours). Thus there is no food left out long enough to rot.

After the Jimbaran markets we headed to Jimbaran Bay where the fish markets are. Again, there was no smell of rotting fish in the markets, which is REALLY surprising as there are no concrete floors that get washed out each day. Heinz spoke at length on the overfishing in Jimbaran Bay and we watched as various catches came in and the fish were pulled from the nets and put into baskets and taken into the fish market.

Back to Benoa Peninsula and the Bumbu Bali Cooking School (right opposite the Peninsula Beach Resort, which is where we were staying), where we met up with my sister and had the most amazing breakfast! What flavours and delights for our tastebuds! Palm sugar and coconut cream featured in some of the most delicious dishes — they weren’t sweet… just DELICIOUS!

Then it was a few steps over to the open-air kitchen where we were to learn how to create 15 to 20 Balinese dishes (including stocks, spice pastes, and sauces). But before that Heinz showed us the ‘happy piggies’ they raise themselves for their restaurants, and the 24-hour old Olive Ridley turtle hatchlings that they rescued from the beach at Jimbaran Bay (see the photos — link at the end).

We didn’t have our own cooking stations (with 15 people, that would’ve been really hard to manage), but we all had a really good view of everything and we each got to help prepare at least one dish. Everything was pre-cut and ready to go and the almost invisible team of helpers cleaned up after each dish, took away the empty containers and dirty utensils and brought out the next lot for the next dish. It was a very well-oiled and practised machine. We sampled many of the dishes in the preparation and completion stages, including raw Wagyu beef brisket cut up in small cubes for beef satay. I was hesitant, but figured that I’d eaten steak tartare before so the small piece of raw beef (imported from Australia!) should be OK. It was. I was amazed how nice it tasted.

It was an amazing day. Heinz and his offsider offered SO many tips, including busting several myths about cooking that we had (like NOT searing steak on a very hot pan/griddle and cooking with high heat versus low heat).

After cooking school was over (about 2 pm), we sat down to lunch on all the dishes we had collectively prepared over the past 4+ hours. The food was magnificent. Unbelievable flavours, textures, and tastes.

Heinz said our names would all be on the blackboards at their two Bumbu Bali restaurants that night as ‘guest chefs’ as we had helped make the spice pastes etc. that would be used that night in the restaurants. We were already booked into the Bumbu Bali restaurant that night, but unfortunately we had to cancel as our plans changed (more later).

My verdict on cooking school: BRILLIANT! Well worth doing. If you’re going to Bali and are interested in food, then book a place (try and book as far ahead as possible — I heard there’s a two to three month waitlist; we were just fortunate there was a cancellation). Cost: US$90 for cooking school plus market (start at 6:00 am); US$80 for cooking school only (start at 9:00 am). If you can get up early enough, do the market part to as Heinz imparts a lot of information at the market that he doesn’t cover while cooking.

When we rolled into the resort after cooking school 😉 we found that some friends of my sister’s had arrived a few hours earlier and had invited us to their apartment about 2 km down the road. They sent their driver to pick us up, and when we got to their place, their staff had prepared a veritable feast! So we cancelled the reservation at Bumbu Bali. Rob and Jules’ apartment overlooked the beach and had an infinity pool on the first floor. Amazing place! Two ladies from Broome (Colleen and Cori) who were staying in their other apartment next door also joined us. We had a lovely night with them. Their driver dropped us back at the resort about 8:30 and my sister and I packed as we had another early start tomorrow — we have to be at the airport at 7:30 am to catch the 9:30 flight back to Perth.

So, suddenly, the holiday was over. 😦

Will I be back? I think so 😉

More photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/collections/72157631547384389/