My own private Bali
Visiting Bali has been on my mind once again.
A crazy week at The Day Job due to a draining roster and staff illness, absence or suspension left me feeling very sore and burned out by Sunday night. Even as I was getting ready for work on Sunday morning, I glanced in the mirror and noticed for the first time how sick I looked – my face pinched and drawn and my skin tone looked almost blue. I would have happily taken the day off if we had a full compliment of staff, and I was confident that I had achieved all of my targets. Fortunately it was the last shift of a long roster and so was only five hours.
I had been using my massage chair quite a lot during the week because of a sore lower back, to the point where I was starting to feel quite bruised. I earnestly wished I was back over in Bali again where we were getting complimentary massages at the hotel’s day spa and on just about every street was another day spa offering full body massages for under $AUD10.
Even now, on my second RDO of the new week, I sit in my studio with the gas heater humming away and listening to the rain. As I write, it is 9 degrees Celcius outside. I always thought of myself as a Winter person but since visiting Bali last year, I don’t enjoy Winter any more other than the rainfall watering the garden and filling the dams.
But why do I think so much of Bali? Nekohime-sama and I visited a year ago next Sunday, staying for a week at a new (less than 12 months old) 5 star hotel. The heat and humidity were quite a shock to the system after leaving a Wintery Perth at 4am, though I had mostly adapted to it after a day. Most of the places we visited were within walking distance, though walking was always a challenge on most streets as the pavements were quite uneven, often under maintenance and frequently blocked by parked vehicles. Searching for somewhere to have lunch on the first day left me rather sunburned as I didn’t wear a hat, the maps we were given suggesting that the best eateries were only minutes from the hotel. We spent quite a lot of time at the pool, though I am not much of a swimmer – the pool was located at the centre of the hotel so by mid-afternoon, much of it was in shade and the sea breeze made it feel comparatively chilly. The poolside bar provided drinks to wherever we were seated and, if required, the kitchen would also deliver food poolside as well though they didn’t encourage it.
People frequently tell us that they go to Bali for the shopping – there wasn’t a great deal that we saw that appealed to us, though we did buy a few articles at various small shops and market stalls such as Seminyak Square and The Flea Markets. I came away with a couple of shirts and Nekohime purchased some loose cotton pants. A visit to Mata Hari in Kuta also provided a few t-shirts and a cardigan. However, after we returned home and washed some of our new acquisitions, several of them had to be thrown out as they either came apart or shrank in the wash, much to our disappointment.
I think the best memories of our visit, aside from the trip to the Safari Park, was dining out at a different restaurant almost every lunch and dinner. Breakfast was included in our hotel package and we were each given vouchers for one lunchtime meal and one dinner. I think only one restaurant left us feeling disappointed, but we didn’t know at the time that traditional Indonesian food was served at room temperature. Though we finished our meal, we were left feeling unwell for much of the evening. Most of the meals were very cheap by Perth standards – dinner for two with a beer each usually came to no more than $AUD25 – about half what we would pay for in Perth – some only coming to $AUD18. The only surprise was at a rooftop bar at the beach where we had been recommended to go by family as they had visited there only a couple of weeks before – the bill, including a couple of cocktails, came to just shy of $100 – I had brought only just enough money with me to cover it. However, the staff having learned that it was my birthday gave me a slice of cake (with “Happy birthday” written on the place in chocolate sauce), a handshake from each of the waitstaff whilst the band played “Happy birthday to you” and two vouchers for free cocktails which we used the following evening.
I think the greatest appeal of Bali was having a week away from the pressures of everyday society where all the housekeeping and cooking was taken care of by someone else, drinks (at least, beers) were cheap and plentiful, a taxi ride cost pocket change and the biggest decision we had to make each day was where to eat or which path we would walk down to find our way back to the hotel. Sitting outside on the gotel balcony on a balmy evening sipping a triple shot gin and tonic (I drank most of a litre of duty free gin during the week’s stay as I didn’t want to bring home a partially opened bottle in my luggage), it was during that quiet, fuzzy headed time that I thought that I could handle living like that every day. Maybe we could move to Bali and live like kings?
I had hoped on my days off that I could take some time to sit out on a banana lounge in the back garden and get some sun whilst reading and sipping a Bintang beer or so. This was not to happen, though – in the last 36 hours we have had in excess of 30mm of rain and the temperature has barely reached 11 degrees. Though I can’t afford to travel to Bali any time soon, I had at least hoped to travel there in my mind.