Bali, Indonesia – Snapshots [Part 1]
Sooo…..I am finally posting about my Indonesia trip, 6 months later!!! Better late than never, I suppose…! I’m definitely missing the warmer climate and the flavorful cuisine, a recent trip to a local Indonesian eatery motivated me to finish the last couple of entries. We’ll start off with the beautiful Bali, where we spent five days in a magnificent villa and explored different regions.
Nine of us stayed in Temple Hill in Jimbaran. We rented the four-bedroom Amanara villa, with air-conditioned rooms, private pool and cabanas, fully furnished kitchen, and a beautiful living and dining room area where the staff cooked and served us American or Indonesian breakfast daily. We even got massages in villas and it was something like $25 for 2 hours of Indonesian massage.
I highly recommend staying here if you visit with a big group. Jimbaran is not in the central area, so it’s much quieter and peaceful. The only downside is that it’s difficult to walk out to the main street from the villa, as there isn’t much of a side walk and there were lots of holes on the ground. Definitely hire a driver if you can as Bali is huge and some of the sights are hours away. Private driver is very inexpensive, we hired our own driver for the five days we were there, we negotiated a set price in advance, 3.2 Million IDR total, which is about $330.00 plus tips.
Here are pictures of our own pool. The staff cleans and maintains it daily. We picked fresh plumerias (aka frangipani) by the pool daily and wear them in our hair.
Beautiful sunrise, you can see the ocean from the second floor balcony. Since it was so humid there (and hot!), we jumped into the pool whenever we can to cool off. And of course, poolside beer and Arak shots. We also learned that guava juice is great to mask anything unpleasant.
For our first night, we were so jet-lagged and tired from 24 hours of traveling, didn’t know where to get dinner but were all starving. Our driver took us to a very touristy seafood place called Blue Marlin. We got to dine right on the beach, watched Balinese dancers perform, and listened to some singers and band performed renditions of American top hits. The concept was very neat though, the customers picked out the exact seafood items from the bins and the cooks will prepare your dinner using whatever items you selected.
This is also where we discovered Bintang beer, a light and inexpensive beer that’s available everywhere. It’s so light that we drank it in place of water sometimes, as it’s safer to drink the beer instead of water from unknown source.
We ordered items like snapper, prawns, king prawns, squid…All were just mediocre and very expensive. Although the ambiance was very nice, it definitely is a tourist trap, the type of place tour companies bring their groups for dinner. After this meal, we learned to go to small “warung” (cafes) to eat, usually the food is cheap and good. Also two days later we learned in our cooking class that most seafood aren’t fresh in Bali. Most have been improperly frozen as we witnessed from a trip to the local fish market.
On our second day, we made our way to Seminyak, a more upscale and trendier area filled with nice boutiques and fancy resorts. We aimlessly walked up and down the streets, checked out the scenes, and people-watched.
We had lunch at Warung Ocha (Jalan Raya Seminyak no 52 Kuta Badung). Now this is what we all wanted, just a small local joint that served up authentic and inexpensive food. We had our first of many smoothies and juices here, the green drink I got was called “the Sicko”, and has banana, orange, and spirulina. We also ordered some Kangkung (water spinach) with chili that’s always been my favorite but nonexistent in Western cuisine. I ordered Ayam Goreng with Lodeh for lunch – fried chicken, tofu, vegetable, with rice and sambal sauce.
The beach at Semiyak was the best that we visited. Extremely clean, not a single rock, just endless soft and white sand. We all wanted to come back if we had time.
Some of our group went diving early one morning in Sanur, the rest of us met up with them there later in the day. While we waited, we watched experienced kite-surfers do fancy jumps and turns.
We found lunch on a busy street at the Rocket Bar. None of us had access to wi-fi so the most important criteria we looked for in a restaurant besides cleanliness was that they offered free wi-fi (and alcohol)…yes, definitely American tourists behavior. Rocket Bar was a good find though.
A refreshing watermelon juice mixed with pineapple liqueur instantly cooled me down. Every restaurant sells fresh fruit juices and smoothies, but watch out for the ice, supposedly in Bali, all the ice should be made from filtered water, but you never know.
Some delicious lunch we had at Rocket Bar. Ayam Goreng Kecap (Chicken in sweet soy sauce), gado gado (sort of like an Indonesian salad), Ikan pepes (fish in banana leaf), and satays, can’t get enough of the peanut sauce.
One night we sent our driver home early and decided to venture out on our own to find dinner. Big mistake, we nearly got ran over multiple times and almost fell into the uncovered holes on the ground. As I mentioned earlier, a downside for not living in a more central location where the roads were paved just a tad nicer. After walking in the dark for a while, we came across Balique restaurant. It’s a beautiful restaurant that turned out to have great food, but we definitely got ripped off there. This was a major problem we came across on our trip, getting charged extra for some unknown fee by “mistake”, and due to language barrier, we couldn’t resolve the issue and ended up paying more. We also learned that for fun excursions like water sports, the prices are different for tourists and locals (by at least double).
Anyway, enough of the negatives, we had a delicious meal at Balique, starting off with a spicy mango martini (and several more later on in the meal). My friend and I shared Ikan Pepes (snapper cooked in banana leaf) and mia goreng (fried noodles). I finished the meal with a rich and creamy coconut panna cotta.
Below, a crispy duck with ginger. Ducks are fatty but this was so fatty and I couldn’t finish it, yet the flavor was phenomenal. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant because it was late, but it was somewhere near Nusa Dua on the East side, and right next to an upscale market called “Prada”. The picture on the right is a standard bowl of hot chili paste with shallots. It’s usually very spicy. We learned in our Balinese cooking class that since an average local makes about $6/day, they can’t afford to eat meat everyday. The main part of their meal is usually rice, with very little bit of proteins and veggies to go with it. The hot chili paste is important because it makes every dish tastes extra flavorful, thus a little bit of food will go well with a lot of rice.
Hope you enjoyed the pictures so far. It’s a busy week for me, filled with concerts and rehearsals, no time to cook. I can’t wait to share with you some pictures from this coming weekend’s good eats – it’s our Chinese new year feast! But for this week, it’s all about the very fabulous trip to Indonesia.