Monday, January 30, 2012

Food Matters

she said: 

Ubud, one of the bigger city (and tourism) centers of Bali, ended up being for us a food center. There was a lot of other things to be done, but it was eating that occupied us for most of our stay.

he said:

Our dining decisions in Ubud were influenced by a few factors: lonely planet recommendations, our patience levels, gut feeling (get it?), and eventually, random pointing - "to hell with it all, let's eat… there".

Lonely Planet Recommendation:
he said: Being in need of a break from noodles/rice, and looking for a cheese fix, we decided to pursue a tried and true favourite: pizza. Lonely Planet recommended a place south of city centre called Pizza Bagus (translation: Good Pizza). We were happy to find it was one of the few places that hasn't greatly inflated its prices in the two years since our guide was published. As the name implies it's a pizza joint that does good.
she said: Good pizza, good calzones, good ice tea, good pasta, good coconut pie, GREAT lemon cheesecake…

MMmmmm Pizza Bagus, I wish I was eating it right now.

Patience Levels:
she said: On our second night in Ubud we had cause to celebrate so we started by once again turning to the Lonely Planet and picked out a place that was affordable, but just a bit fancier then our norm. After a slow walk there (with stops to peruse other menus along the way) we were disappointed to find our original choice (Three Monkeys) was in a completely different price bracket then what was listed in the guide. So we continued down the street and happened upon a place called Sagitarius. Why this wasn't one of their listings I'm not sure. Price, atmosphere, and food were all up to snuff.

An Engaging Dinner.

Gut feeling:

she said: After being disappointed with a few of the Lonely Planet choices we went with a different approach. We headed towards their pick with the intention of eating at one of its neighbours. After walking once past the chosen warung and up the quiet street laden with food options we each stated our choice. Luckily our stomachs were on the same page and we headed back towards the ambiance of "Melting Wok," a newly opened cafe run by a French woman and her Loasian husband (the cook). If all the cooks from Loas are as savvy in the kitchen as him then I have a new country on the "to visit" list.

The chalk written menu consisted of three dinner choices and three dessert choices.
We tried three out of six and still can't decide what the best one was.

Random - "to hell with it":
he said: Our first day in Ubud we were extremely tired from the hours of travel between Lombok and Bali. Add to that the left over fatigue from hiking up Mt. Rinjani. So on arrival we took a short stroll and stumbled into the first Warung we felt was legit. I had the ayam goreng (fried chicken), she had the bakso (meatball soup) and we shared some springrolls. Mine was especially good. The chicken came out juicy from the marinade and as crispy as the best wings you can find State side. It was served on a salad of beans, chillies, and other things. Yes, you are right, other things ARE delicious. Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of this place and without google street view there's no hope for me to ever find out what it is. I remember it had blueish or greenish… some kind of colory walls with lots of wooden masks and lizard carvings hung. I'm sure they'll do fine without my recommendation so I'm not going to stress over it.
she said: It's right around the corner, we could easily find it again….
he said: Like I said absolutely no hope.

Some typical warung fare: fresh juice (in this case avocado), Gado Gado (lightly cooked veggies usually served with hard boiled egg, some form of tofu, and a peanut sauce), and Nasi Goreng (fried rice, usually with a fried egg and some other goodies on top).

Please can we eat some more! Thanks to all the people and places who filled our stomachs. Hello whatever we're doing with the next couple weeks in Bali.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Gili-gan's Island

he said:

I'm sure I've mentioned that traveling during off season has its advantages.  Then again, it definitely has disadvantages.  Here in Indonesia it's the middle of the rainy season so we figured it be a great idea to get on a very small boat and travel an hour and a half over (what turned out to be) intense seas. 

Yeah, good going self…

<cut to scene of me leaning over the side of the boat, yet again>

At least this time there were some dolphins to see when my eyes weren't too welled up with tears.

After the mild drama of the boat ride we disembarked on Gili Trawangan, had some lunch in a very nice little shop, and ventured on to Gili Air.  The Gili Islands are three droplets of land off the north west edge of Lombok.  I highly recommend them if you are looking for a rustic beach scene with not too much happening.  There are no motorized vehicles on any of the islands which means your options are pedal bike or miniature horse and buggy. After sunset it's terribly hard to get around the island because electricity runs thin and sometimes not at all.

Island highways.

she said:

One day into our island trip we found out that ours was the last "fast boat" to run before the bevy of operators decided that seas were too rough for rides (until further notice). Being at the mercy of the weather gods we hung around in hammocks, finished our books, walked the perimeter of the island during spots of sun, and looked into options for things to do when island escape became possible.

A spot of sun.

he said:

It was a wonderful change of pace from the constant buzzing of scooters on Bali.  As much as I make the island out to sound like hacking your way through jungle with a machete and wrestling tigers, it really has everything you need. As long as "everything" includes scuba diving, strolling, and restaurants. Restaurants that serve freshly caught fish and two for one cocktails, all of this while you sit in a hut on the beach looking out onto the ocean.  Come to think of it, we didn't have everything.  There was no beach volleyball court.

Island dining.

she said:

After a few days of intermittent hot sun and torrential rain (the grass huts provided shelter from both - though not from the humidity) we found out that we could still get to the neighbouring (and much bigger) island of Lombok by long boat. We also found out that on Lombok we can hike and camp at the rim of a volcano.

Please can we do THAT.

Thank you to Alam at Mawar Bungalows who kept us dry on Gili Air and sorted us out for Lombok. HELLO VOLCANO!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Yes Man

Monkey Forest Sanctuary, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

he said: Would you marry me?

she said: yes.

A bit of context for the photos: Every once in a while we set the camera up on a timer and take a series of 4 or 5 photos where we smile for the first and then make silly faces and poses for the remainder. Unknowingly I'm doing the crazy poses while he sets himself up. Being that this is a pretty important memory it is of course the only set that turned out to be entirely out of focus.

the monkeys said: Yeah... whatever. Please give us food. Thanks for the food. Hello other people with food.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Road to Bali

he said:

I'm not sure which is more prevalent in Bali, the humidity or the colour. Scratch all that, it's the smiles. Everyone says the Balinese are extremely polite and hospitable. Before you get here you can hear and believe it all you want, but you won't know what it means until you spend a day out on the island. Everyone is smiling, forever saying hello, asking you about your country and then 40% of them try to offer something for sale.

If you're anything like me after the first interaction you can spot a sales pitch a mile away and you're ready to insult them and their entire upbringing immediately but with the Balinese I find that, surprisingly, a smile and a "no thank you" is actually sufficient.

she said:

With no idea where to start in our new surroundings we ended up hiring a car with local driver to take us around to what he deemed "the sites." We probably didn't bargain well enough, but it was a good lesson in what kind of things we do, and don't, want to do with our time in Indonesia, and how we want to get from place to place.

he said:
After saying yes, once, we spent the day of our tour saying no at various places.  Nice places, enlightening places, busy places, and some places that sold a coffee for more than the best ever cup at starbucks.  Of course, it was better, immeasurably better than starbucks and their coffee doesn't pass through an adorable creature first.

she said:

First stop, first sales opportunity: Batik and Traditional Weaving stand/hut.
Fabric dying (Batik) is done using a traditional method that involves dye resistant wax and paint brushes. The patterns for weaving are measured into the colours of the thread so that the weaver doesn't need to change spools.

Stop #2: The Barong and Kris Dance - Jambe Budaya.
Amazing costumes, a lot of dancing, and a story we couldn't begin to understand.

Stop #3: Traditional Balinese Family compound.
Complete with house pet (at least until he's fully grown).

Stop #4: Wood carving gallery.
Incredible detail in teak, ebony, mahogany, crocodile, and sandalwood.

Stop #5 & #6: Landscapes.
Rice fields (these just getting started) and Mount Batur, one of Bali's active volcanoes.

Stop #7: Coffee Plantation.
Many coffee varieties, and a bit of Rambutan, to try while waiting for the rain to let up.

Stop #8: Bali Orchid Garden.
With over 100 different varieties of the flower.
Pleased for the views. Sick of saying "no thank you"  and hearing "Hello, where you from? You buy [insert pretty much anything you could possibly buy here]?" Next up: Gili Islands.