Seminyak, Bali

I was adjusting to the area and also the realities of group travel. I had planned a walk the night before, deciding I couldn't wait for the others to start doing activities I enjoy. Josh had agreed to come with me. We set off south just before 7am when it was cool (mid-20s) but still humid. We passed restaurants and fancy hotels that people put on Instagram (W's bamboo driveway). What you can't see behind the photos is a stark contrast!

The walk was only 1.5km but the most we had done all trip. Even the mini-mart is an expedition in the heat although it's barely 500m away. We saw a temple with people sweeping it - there was a pug statue on the wall! We didn't go in, turned around by security of a very flash hotel telling us there was no beach access. The parallel street had access if you dodged a murky-white stream. Humidity clouds hung offshore. Walking back along the beach was probably about 800metres!

Early morning walks on Seminyak beach

Back home we made bacon and eggs on toast, without a toaster! A driver called Mode arrived at 10.30am to take us all to Ulu Watu.

Initially he just talked about his connection to Erin through his ex-employer Julie, but Erin couldn't hear him well. But as we passed Kuta and Jambongan and the country began to turn green and more open, he talked about polygamy in Bali, his kids and schools. On the way back he talked about the temples in each house, one of each family. Ashes are stored there and it represents life, death and spirits. Similarly, each town has a temple to each of the four elements e.g. water. The countryside seemed more authentic and welcoming away from Seminyak.

We arrived at Karma Kendara and after a long leafy tunnel we arrived to a stunning turquoise and blue cliff top view. We were told the restaurant had a minimum spend of 350,000 per person. It was cool, airy and white in there so we stayed. I had an artichoke entree and a prawn main with ginge and mint mocktail - all the food was Mediterranean. I really wanted to try proper Balinese food but it didn't seem to be on the menu anywhere.

With our correct spend we were allowed down to the beach beneath the cliff. The beach access turned out to be a steep gondola patrolled by monkeys. The queue was lengthy and hot, I was sweating from every pore in my body - including my shins! A nice lady running the gondola cart said it was too hot for the monkeys today - we agreed. Down at the beach, the surf was crystal clear with soft white sand and unbelievably warm. After frolicking on the beach we returned to the restaurant set up like a beach club with huge sound system, massage tents and beach volleyball. The temperature reached boiling point - we were visibly sweating and our clothes were soaked. We couldn't pay fast enough!

That evening we hired a in-house chef called Nyoman. Evening fell as Nyoman brought out spring rolls and calamari appertisers to us in the pool. We sat at the table for fried rice, coconut salad, spicy butterflied prawns, banana leaf fish with spicy Balinese sauce and chicken satay skewers. Dessert was crab coconut and deep fried bananas. The best value meal and finally some delicious authentic cuisine that wasn't me goreng. Amazing!

I had a harder time convincing Josh to go for a walk the next day, but I was glad we did. Instead of exploring we just wandered along the beach. I followed it with some normal yoga by the pool that made me sweat like Bikram. Leftovers for breakfast was as amazing from the night before.

There was no particular plan for the day so I did laundry at a local laundromat on our road, booked a trip to Nusa Lembongang and walked to Revolver alone for a takeaway coffee. Balinese men seemed to be a lot more vocal to solo female travellers, yelling at me to look at them and get in their taxis.

In the afternoon we went to infamous Potato Head. The driveway was long and it looked like a brick prison. After walking around the outside we saw a huge wall made out of window shutters. There was a security desk, long concrete path with a water feature down one side. We popped out in a fancy beach club, with pools, loungers, grass lawn, palm trees, restaurant and bar(s). Lunch was prawns, snapper, eggplant, chicken and pork mince patties - with another massive bill to boot - 1.3million. Feeling like we'd overspent again, we walked up the beach home, stopping for a drink and coconut water. There were lots of hagglers out at that time.

After another dip we went back to Nirvana bar to watch NZ vs. Australia in the cricket. There were loads of Aussies there looking glum as NZ won. There was also another great covers band that requested songs. We had more and more beers. And then we followed that by buying more beers and drinking in the pool until I couldn't stay awake any longer.

The next morning no one could be motivated to go for a walk. The others were mucking around for ages while Josh and I waited to go back to Grain Espresso for breakfast. Finally at 10.30am they said they had Bali belly.

Josh and I got one of local taxis on Cendrawash street instead of an Uber. We instantly regretted being fleeced by 70,000 while the driver cheerily tried to convince us to hire him to go to Ubud and various other services and calling me Jera.

Grain was good but the element of discovery had gone. I had coconut milk coffee which was yum. We got the bill and left the money on the table with a tip - but got stopped by an Aussie man outside to stall us while they checked the money. I think he realised we had left a tip and felt bad so he gave us a free coffee voucher.

At home Josh and I changed into some white cotton outfits we'd bought as a joke to surprise Erin and Dave who were still bed-ridden. The afternoon was hot again so we spent it lazing in the pool and eating McDeliveries.

Josh and I went to Biku for dinner, but the others were too unwell to come. It was in an old furniture store - amazing plush decor! The food was awesome, I got the same dish Nyoman made, steamed banana leaf fish.


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