Day 4 - Andrew gets annoyed....
After our humungous effort at Potato Head the previous afternoon, sleep amazingly came quite easily last night. I now have earplugs AND an eye mask, one to keep the Rooster noises away and the second device to keep the light out as well. A combination of good re-hydrating after the drink, and the effect of the drink itself saw myself and the spouse asleep till close to 6am today.
We were up early, me, updating the shenanigans at the Worlds most expensive Beach Club, and SWMBO checking facebook and the bank to see if we had overdrawn our account attempting to spend the equivalent of a small countries GDP on Fruit Punch. GOOD NEWS she says, we still have $$$ to spend. Rubbing my hands gleefully, like some madman planning to invade Bali we all decided that today, we would head off in search of "Ketuts" fixed price shop in Legian. Basically every JBR I read on Trip Advisor written by an Aussie mentions this shop and the bargains to be had. They also mention how hard it is to find. Whilst the lovely Villa staff are preparing our breakfast of bacon, Sausage, eggs and our hastily purchased baked beans (cant miss my good ole full monty breakky now), I log on trying to find the most sensible directions to this amazing treasure trove of bargains.
Andrew and I checked the map, checked the directions and penned it in ink. We were set to go.
Girls were ready just after 9, so off we go to get a cab. This time we managed to haggle a non official cab down to $3 Aussie. Well.... it looked further on the map than it actually was. To be honest, I cant be bothered penny pinching for 50c here and 50c there, even though I know it will make it more expensive for anyone else following in our trail. The Aussie Dollars too good not to share some of it around, and these people are so bloody lovely !!
We get out at the corner of Padma and Legian, heading to the beach looking for the road left. We notice that at this end of town, there are less classy shops and more ' same same' shops as we have labelled them, selling T-shirts with rude logos, or knock off Billabong stuff etc. This is now reminding us of Phuket and the amount of trashy crap we purchased there.
Turning left, my inked in instructions mentioned the 2nd gang on the right........ Ummm... NOPE thats not right. Keep going ... keep going.... OK time to ask someone. NOPE.. she doesnt know, but she did just offer me a massage with a happy ending ! The wifes 50m behind me at the time, so I have to say NO of course :)
OK, this is now starting to get ridiculous. No ones offering any information on the location of KETUTS until we get to a gang running right across the street. A lovely balinese chap, looking at me in my floral boardshorts, Hollister T-Shirt, carrying a backpack looking like a total tourist takes pity on me, and says........ "Ketuts ?" I say yes, with a smile, and he points directly opposite down the Alley. Between you and I, if this woman is so famous and sells so much stuff, she really needs a bloody big Neon sign with her name on it !
Down we go, and on the way, 2 guys bail my wife up for sunnies. She promises to come back (bad idea). We find Ketuts, and the numerous stalls she owns broken down into categories of clothes, homewares, stuff and more stuff. Its not really what I am looking for, but of course, I end up with Board shorts, t-shirts, a Bintang singlet ( HEY...it was like $2.. come ON!!!) and numerous other stuff. Litsa gets a handful of Sarongs, small bags, and some summery dresses and I look like a packhorse accompanying Sherpas up Everest carrying all this swag. You ask Ketut a price, and thats what you pay. Her prices were the cheapest I have seen anywhere in Bali so far for the stuff we bought. $2.50 for a really nice pair of Undies for instance, and Denim shorts were like $10. Litsa was all smiles at her $2.50 Sarongs.
Andrew and Kathrine are getting their stuff organised, so I head 2 doors up to look at wallets and long sleeved T-shirts. I am bargaining for a couple of items, trying to get to my magic figure, and Andrew walks in asking to borrow 200,000 rupiah. I think to myself, Holy cow, he is spending up big next door. He'd been hassled by the store next door to ketuts to get some leather belts and some cheapo sunnies for Kathrine. Finishing up my transaction, and all of us meeting up on the pavement, he looks at me, and says " I think I just got stitched up". OK.. so why ? well........ he'd Paid 1.2 Million Rupiah for 2 belts and a pair of sunnies.The guys mentioned AUSSIE $ one minute then Rupiah the next, and 2 of them worked him over....... Thats over AUS$120 Eeeeeek. So, realising his error, he heads back in for a 'refund'. Now, A & K havent travelled a lot through Asia, and at this point I have turned to Litsa and said.... " He has got BUCKLEYS chance". To be fair, Kathrine used the best tactic known to man - SHAME. She sat in the guys chair and said to his face. " I will not move out of this chair and let you sell to another tourist until we come to an agreement". The sales guy said he had already given the money to his boss, yadda yadda. Andrew, who towers above most of these Balinese, the starts arking up, letting them know he is now officially pissed off. Litsa is suggesting I go in and try and sort it out, but 2 taller, whiter more annoyed men is probably going to inflame the situation and I am a much better lover than a fighter. In the end, to get them out of the shop, which remember is right next door to Ketuts, they offer a partial refund. I am blown away, and they come out of the deal with a big chunk of money back in their pocket, and a lesson learnt. The funniest part is, one of the guys runs out to Litsa and then offers her some sunnies at the same inflated price that Kathrines just paid. Bwahahahahahah. Time to go !
So A & K just paid what I call " Education Tax" bali style. I've been all over Asia, but the scams people run here with money changing, quoting Aussie then Rupiah etc is just mind blowing. This is one place I'd never feel safe after a few beers and then trying to buy stuff. It pays to keep your wits about you.
We head back towards Legian road and stop at Moo Moo's for a coffee, Bintang and a bit of a wind down after the excitement. For the record, this now holds the unnoficial record for the cheapest place to buy a Binnie... at AUS$1.70. We also have a look at the menu, and can see why its popular with Aussies. Good looking steaks at cheaper prices than home. We may get back here one day for a feed.
We then hop into a cab, hoping to head for the Bali Bombing Memorial. Its something we had all wanted to do from day one, especially Kathrine who knew one of the victims. Once again, we'd made a bit of a blunder with directions and ended up at Kuta Square instead of Kuta Plaza. Hopping out, I spot a ' Bagus Watch" shop. Once again Tripadvisor had given me great info about this small chain of watch shops and the quality inside. So a small detour was taken that saw 4 new watches and some Tiffany bangles. Up until now, I assumed Tag watches were selling for THOUSANDS........... who knew hey ? :)
We headed back towards Legian Road and saw the sign for "Poppies Restaurant". Many friends had mentioned this place, and also TA had it rated quite well. We meandered through the laneways and landed in a lovely courtyard full of greenery and a lovely pond. The famous " pina colada" was ordered. Served in a hand carved coconut shell, only those who have had one can understand the glee with which we drank it. They are AUS$9.50, but strong as hell, and worth it just for the looks on everyones faces as they arrive. We ordered a mixed bag of lunch style food, including Seafood Ala King (Litsa), more Sate for myself and Katherine along with salads. Andrew had a fish cooked in Pandan leaves, and for something novel, I also ordered Guacomole. I figured the true test of any Asian country is how good their Tex Mex Cuisine can stand up ! Personally, my Pork Sate, though delivered in a novel manner over charcoal, was a tad dry and tough. Kathrines chicken, was lovely though, as was her salad. Litsa absolutely loved her seafood (even if it was a bit rich and creamy for lunch). Andrews fish was nice, but a bit heavy on the lemongrass. For the record, the Guacamole... was OK :) The bill was close to AUS$100 for the 4 of us, inc another Bintag each. Not cheap, and I guess, after what I had heard, I was expecting more ? I am quite critical about food.
Next stop.. The Memorial.
We walked back up Legian towards Sky Bar (Where A DJ from Brissie call ed TYDI has played a few times) etc, and had the best laugh at this little Balinese chap riding his scooter up the wrong way on the footpath. But that wasnt all. he had a T-Shirt on that said " Go to Bunnings, buy a bag of cement, and harden the F up !" Now any Aussie will know what Bunnings is and have a chuckle no doubt. As soon as he saw me laughing, he stopped his bike and offered to sell me one ! Always an angle with these buggers I tell you ! LOL
The memorial was very moving for all of us. Even I had a tear in my eye looking at all the names. so many different countries represented, and 38 Balinese killed as well. How anyone could inflict something so horrific on these people as a legacy, just defies all reason. Even the guys who follow us up the road and wont take no for an answer, all have that cheeky smile that is so lacking around Asia. The memorial serves as a true testament on the fact that they love having us come visit, and that our mates, who died, will never be forgotten.
I had posted a couple of days ago on trip Advisor about finding pool floaties and lilos. Our Villa pool, whilst stunning in its design, has one big problem. A 7 foot deep shallow end. The first step in is almost deep enough to drown Litsa (she is quite short). So to enjoy one of the best aspects of our relaxing Villa, the hunt was on for something to stop my wife from potentially drowning after too many Binnies. After the advice from the forum, we grabbed a cab to Carrefour out on Sunset. What an amazing place. Imagine a Kmart in Australia on Steroids with high roofs etc, throw in a fantastic fresh produce section, and of course POOL TOYS. Now, I am not a penny pincher, as yesterdays stupidity has attested, but we all gulped at the price of AUS$22 each for a lilo. The decison was made, I would forgo any aspect of floating in the pool aided by plastic devices, Litsa and Katherine, the ones who potentially had the highest risk of drowning, due to their shoddy ability to handle spirits, would each get the "Rolls Royce" of Lilo's and Andrew, who has spent considerable more time than me in said pool, would get, what I could only describe, as a large "donut" to float on. Of course after the floaties were found, the girls, out of the corner of their eye discovered the 'Makeup' section. Oh dear.......... *yawn*. By now, I'm full of food, tired from the early start and a tad cranky (allegedly). So after following the girls around marvelling at makeup remover " 50% cheaper than home", I was ready to bail and get my backside INTO the pool and relax.
On the way out of Carrefour, you have to go past a bunch of smaller shops. Now Litsa has been hassling me that she needs a decent pair of comfy thongs for the past 3 days. As yet, we have not really been able to find any. A lovely french lady at the Carrefour checkout told her about " Bali Brasco" a new outlet up the road, but of course, we have plans and cannot go their today. So as she walks past one of the little shops, she spies some shoes she is keen to try. By this stage, all I want to do is just get in a cab and get back to my "relaxation" (beer and pool). She yells at me to give her what I think is too much for the thongs, and we have a little bit of a tiff.... in public... in front of our mates. In hindsight, its because we are tired and need to to relax (and have a beer by the pool) but she doesnt see it this way. Anyways.. she gets her bloody thongs (begrudgingly mind you) and the taxi ride home is frosty in more ways than one. A simple " I am sorry" from me would fix this instantly, I know that, but I am a mean bugger and want to make her sweat on it. She does have a point though, the $5 I think she has overpaid, will be covered by her not drinking 2 Bintangs at dinner..... SIGH... if it were so easy.
Back at the Villa, the toys are blown up (not by me... I'm relaxing, by the pool, having a beer) by the ever gallant Andrew and things are starting to look up. I even apologise to the spouse, as I know that 7 more days of this will just be a total killer for her. LOL I was even completely genuine about being sorry. She also managed to find the $2 Bintang singlet I thought I had lost so that helped a lot in plucking up the courage.
The other 3 decided to go get massages somewhere in Seminyak. I stayed behind, compling blog info and doing the very small amount of work needed to keep the wheels of commerce going at home and the ability to keep spending here in Bali. A & K and L ended up at Nirvana Spa (with its restaurant downstairs). They didnt book, but were still able to get in. Andrew had a 1 hour massage and manicure. He said he wouldnt bother with the manicure again, but the massage was very relaxing (though he is a little sore this morning). Kathrine had a facial and a hair treament. Their cost totalled 350,000 rupiah (around AUS$35). Litsa had a massage and a manicure with nail polish. Andrew reckons at one point he could hear her snoring (God Bless her). I get a text message saying that they are waiting for me in "Divine Wonderland" a restaurant next door to the spa. I pull on some clothes hurridly (Sitting around in my Jocks has become quite a habit lately) and head up the gang the 100m to go eat.
Divine Wonderland was reccomeded by a good mate of mine Changa. He did mention that they usually end up there quite late for Tapas and drinks, so I am thinking his judgement may have been clouded by the strong drinks beforehand at better restaurants! We ordered every Tapas on the menu, and then supplemented it with a dish of stuffed calamari on a tomato concasse. The tapas were OK, my favourite being the Albondigas meatballs. The rest were quite heavy on the emphasis of salt (probably to help increase their sales of Bintangs) and not very varied. The Calamari dissapointed. The base was tasty, but the actual seafood was very rubbery, and at one point, Litsa ejected a piece back onto her plate for fear of removing a filling. Total bill inc a cocktail and a couple of Binnies each was around AUS$50.
Andrew and I then headed off in search of banana pancakes for dessert, and the girls wandered back to the Villa. We found a local type Warun nestled between Chandi and Cafe Bali that had the pancakes on the menu for grand total of AUS$3.20 for 4 inc takeaway containers. DONE... bring that on kind sir ! Well, when we got them home, we found them undercooked. BUGGER !! You know when you get that taste in your mouth ? and you simply have to satisfy it with the absolute best produced item ? well we were dissapointed again ! To be fair, we have not tried any of the 'Must Do's' that I have on my list, and I am quite sure that soon, I will be having that foodgasm that I have been hanging out for. No doubt, many of the menus I have perused walking around have me ready and chomping at the bit, but as this is our first time here, we always seem to get waylaid from a plan, and end up eating whatever is at hand. The foods not bad, its just not 'THERE' in what I have been expecting. No fear people, when I am impressed, you will all know :)
We all decided that an early night was in order, as we have a big day travelling to UBUD tomorrow. I am still wondering if my backpack is big enough to stuff a monkey into, and if the thing will stay quiet enough to get my through Customs back home ? I do so love Monkeys !!
Stay tuned :)
p.s Litsas bruise from Sunday at Potato Head has now turned a gorgeous purple colour. Matches one of the Sarongs nicely.