Sunday, June 23, 2013

CNY in Bali: The Arrival

Despite the hype, and the Eat Pray Love fiasco, we've never been to Bali. Although the place had crossed our minds a few times before but the trip somehow never happened. So this time round we thought Bali would make a good Chinese New Year break for us.

The trip wasn't that well planned although we did have some ideas of what we wanted to eat, and the places that we'd wanted to go. In retrospective, I think it wasn't so much of being well-planned, I think the trip needed less planning instead. We didn't know it then but the mistake was that we planned Bali the way we did with our other holidays. 

We were booked for Aston Bali Resort in Tanjung Benoa Nusa Dua, down in the southern peninsula of Bali, about 40km from Denpasar & 30 minutes from the airport.

The airport experience wasn't that great cos we arrived around evening 6-7ish & there was a sense of hurriedness & at the same time an anxiety over being approached by taxi touts, porters, etc. We ignored the touts as advised, and we bought our tickets at the counter for IDR90,000. However the 3 porters got to us, and in Bali it takes 3 of them to handle one luggage. Later we found out that the touts charged even cheaper, but we weren't sure the same rule applies in general, and we wouldn't have wanted to take that chance.

Nusa Dua is the place where all the resorts are at, and in keeping with the resort traditions, a bit far from everywhere else. It's fine if you're planning for a quite getaway of doing nothing but lazing around. That's what we should have done, but we did our usual sightseeing & food-hunting, and the trip ended up as an exhaustive one filled with horrible traffic jams on single lanes cos the main sites like Ubud & Denpasar were far away. Nee almost suffocated herself in the car, & Kay had a couple bouts of puking from car sickness. Bali's infrastructure has obviously not yet caught up with the demands of its burgeoning tourism.

The Aston Bali Resort wasn't really what I had in mind for Bali, but Nee's family was already there and the whole point of it was for a family reunion sort of CNY holiday. My ideas for staying by the padi fields with a sarong & a Teck Kong Ah Pek singlet didn't happen.

The resort despite being 4 stars was a bit anti-climaxing. You can tell from how the room looks.

I think the lighting was a bit dark & we could see that Kay wasn't too excited by the room as she usually is with almost ANY hotel room. She wanted to make sure that EVERY single light was switched on in the room, every single night.

These were some of the decor at the lobby. From the moment we stepped onto the hotel, you could tell that Bali was a place with an abundance of skilled craftsmen, and that is why it has an inarguable strong identity in the art world: the unmistakable Balinese style.

Later on I came to learn that Balinese art is deeply rooted in their rituals of dance, music, sculpture & carvings which were mainly done for their many temples. And that explains the rich tradition that it has in its arts & cultural practices.

This is the view from our room's verandah. The lighted area in the center is one of the restaurants where they were going to have lion and dragon dances; which was going to be Kay's first delightful encounter with the celestial creatures.

Here's Kay adoring the candlelight.

There are three major things which Kay responds to right now: Food, Light & Swimming.

The first night was just for us to settle in. We wouldn't have the time nor energy for any more adventures after Changi. And so we had to be contended with just hotel food.

Roasted Pork Belly

Satay Bali style

Oxtail Stew

I think one of the highlight was for Kay to see Roger (Big Jiu Jiu) again. And it's always interesting to see how Kay takes to Roger very quickly even after not seeing him for so long.
I guess blood will always be thicker than water, and that Skype probably also has something to do with it.

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