Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

Laurelhurst Park



Day Nine in Bali - Bye Bye Bali

Laura and I awoke this, our final day in Bali, to rain. In Laura's words, "Bali is crying because we're leaving."

Our morning was filled with last minute packing and a nice breakfast in our room (we felt too rushed to leave). We checked and double checked to make sure that we had everything packed and went to check out. What seemed like minutes later we were in one of the resort's cars on our way to the airport in Denpasar.

Check-in went smoothly despite our oversized and overweight luggage and then it was time to hurry up and wait for the plane. We made the short hop to Singapore and then to Hong Kong where we had to disembark despite the fact that we were continuing on in the same plane for San Francisco.


Back through security again and then we returned to our seats where one of the hostesses on the flight encouraged us to try to find a row each to ourselves. I was content with the empty seat between us and so, it seems, was Laura. As soon as we were served our semi-edible in-flight meal both of us took an Ambien and dozed off.

A few hours after waking we were getting ready to begin our descent into San Francisco International Airport. Almost as soon as i turned my phone on I had a call from my mother saying that she had already lost my father somewhere in the airport but by the time we made our way through customs they had found each other again and we were soon making our way to the family estate to catch up on a little sleep.

Tomorrow I have another flight, this one taking me home to Portland and back to my pups!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Day Eight in Bali - Tanah Lot Temple

Today was a lazy day. Our trip thus far has been amazing but the pace has been non-stop so we've decided that we're going to stay in and enjoy what Tugu has to offer, mainly their world-class spa services.






We started the day by having our complimentary breakfast at one of the tables just off the lobby overlooking the pool and out to the ocean. There was a nice breeze and, other than a spider that Laura attacked that fought back, we had a nice breakfast amidst the beautiful scenery.





After eating our fill we returned to our room to relax, watch a movie and generally enjoy the ambiance of the resort. Laura scheduled a manicure and pedicure plus a massage for the early afternoon where I just had a massage. We had also reserved a car to take us out to Tanah Lot temple, about half an hour from Canggu.

I returned from my massage after Laura had finished her manicure and pedicure. She didn't get her massage because the hand and foot pampering ended up taking three hours so she rescheduled it for last thing this evening. With great foresight, Laura had afternoon tea ready so I showered to clean off the massage oil, had a few tea snacks and a cup of tea before we went to meet our Tugu driver.

Tanah Lot temple was built on a rock formation along Bali's coastline. It has been worn away over the years but the temple stands and in 1980 the Japanese government loaned over 800 billion Rupiah to Indonesia to shore up the temple's foundations with artificial stone. According to popular belief there are highly poisonous sea snakes that guard the temple and one particularly large one that is said to have been made by the founding priest's scarf who is meant to guard against evil spirits and other intruders.

Due to the accessibility and natural beauty Tanah Lot was teaming with tourists and because Laura and I dislike crowds were didn't stay for too long. On our way out we did spy a flying ship and when a little boy offered to sell us a similar kite we accepted and when Laura had paid he began to walk away without giving us the kite. Fortunately his sister, who was there to help him make change for us, laughed at his omission and he sheepishly handed Laura our flying tribute to Top Gear's Vietnam special.




When we returned to Tugu Laura made for her massage appointment while I caught up on some emails. While she was gone I ordered dinner for us, courtsey of Jalan Jalan Asia who made all of our arrangements for this fantastic Balinese adventure, so that it arrived shortly after Laura returned. We ate, then packed for our departure home tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Day Seven in Bali - Cooking at Casa Luna

Laura and I awoke rather early this morning because not only do we have our cooking class but we're also leaving Ubud so we had to check out of our room before we left for our class because it was not scheduled to end until after checkout time. We finished packing all of our last minute things and took our bags to reception, checked out and were met by Ari who took us to our class.

The meeting point was one of Casa Luna's cafes not far from the market and when everyone arrived our guide walked us over to the sprawling open-air food market. On a normal day the market starts at about 6 in the morning and lasts until 10 am expect for special holidays when they open at about 4 in the morning. Because of the heat most families do all their cooking first thing in the morning and do their other chores for the rest of the day.






We started at the west end of the market and were introduced to a woman who makes traditional Balinese beverages. She has a green liquid that smelled of wheatgrass in one tub, a pink liquid in another and to that she adds coconut milk and palm sugar syrup to a plastic bag and voila, the drink is complete. Our guide told us that he has lived in the area since he was quite young (he was a little vague) but she has sold her drink at the market for as long as he can remember.


Next we met a trio of ladies who sell a traditional Indonesian breakfast of rice, coconut, greens and spices in a banana leaf. They too come every day and carry everything with them, pots laden with food, tables, tablecloths and they travel on foot. Like many women in this part of the world, they balance their burdens on their heads using towels to better distribute the weight and to add stability. It is an impressive feat but even more so when you consider the rather advanced age of the three women.




Afterwards we were introduced to the various fruits, spices, vegetables and grains commonly used and available at the market. Many of the things we were shown were familiar but often they use varieties that I have never head of before and that have a different taste. Throughout the tour not only were ingredients identified but we were also told how they are used and what beneficial properties they possess.














Our tour complete, we walked over to Casa Luna's cooking school to have a sampling of Balinese breakfast foods. Some are pictured below but not all because our first dish were little green pancakes with palm sugar syrup that gives the impression that everything is accompanied by syrup which isn't true, it's just the leavings of the first item. Most of the foods were a little doughy and had some form of coconut in them or on them but were not necessarily sweet. To drink we were served hibiscus tea made from the petals of the red hibiscus flower and a bit of sugar. I found it refreshing and Laura wrote down the recipe.



Then our instructor arrive who was none other than Casa Luna's owner, Janet. She first visited Bali from Australia in 1974 and in 1984 she moved here permanently and opened the first of her many establishments. We first reviewed what it was we were going to be cooking, then we were shown the various ingredients that we going to be used. The curry paste we would be using was still in solid form so we started grinding it together using a traditional mortar and pestle. It isn't as easy as it looks and it takes a while to get the full motion down but we got there eventually.











As we started to assemble our meal the smells permeated the open-walled room. Many of the dishes called for lemongrass or ginger or garlic or shallots or a combination thereof and the aromatic spices were making our mouths water even though we had just finished breakfast. Chatting continued and soon our food was ready so we were issued plates and ate our lunch, albeit not all that long after having had breakfast.






After lunch Ari picked us up and we were spirited to Canggu where we would spend our the last three days in Bali (well, one afternoon, one day and one morning). On the way we passed many rice fields where people were busily harvesting the precious grains.


Tugu Bali is a resort renown for their spa treatments. They are amongst the best in the world and have been listed in the rather pretentious Robb Report's guide to the "Best in the World." We walked into the enormous lobby building and were immediately greeted with fresh fruit juices and comfortable chairs while we were checked in. During the process all of our bags were taken to our room and when we arrived everything was neatly organized in the entryway. The room is huge and we have our own private pool!

Once we got settled and Ari departed (we're going to miss our driver, guide and friend) we headed back to reception to inquire about getting a ride to Seminyak, the closest shopping and a rather posh area. They called a car for us and we wandered the busy rows of shops trying to find a few last minute gifts.

Before leaving Laura booked a short massage for this evening and we both made reservations for spa services tomorrow. Upon our triumphant return Laura was collected for her massage and I perused the menu. Relaxed and refreshed when she came back to the room, Laura and I had a little dinner and then decided to have an early night.