Thursday, 6 June 2013

June 2012 - Bali Trip day 8 - Bali Belly or Not ?

Bali Trip day 8 - Bali Belly or Not ?

Hungover - UGH

The hilarity of the night before in Kuta, doesnt look so funny this morning. And its hot too. This is probably the warmest morning all week. The rum punches at Potato Head on Sunday, even though a lot more costly, don't leave you feeling like you had gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. Luckily, "common" our breakfast maker extraordinaire, wandered in around 8.30 and cooked us all omelets. A few glasses of juice, some more water, and I was at least feeling semi-human again.

Predicting that we would all be a bit under the weather, we hadnt made any plans for the morning. The only real goal was to get to Tanah lot at sunset and maybe have dinner there as well.

Litsa and I had seen a new shopping place near Carrefour out on Jalan Sunset, the only 3 lane road we have seen on the island. A French lady in the checkout at Carrefour had suggested we could get some shoes there for Litsa. We hopped into a Bluebird for the AUS$2.25 taxi ride over there. Its a bit out of the way, but I felt it was worth the trip.

Bali Brasco, as the place is known is quite new. Its very close to Carrefour, and could easily be combined in the same shopping trip. Its a double story mini department store that stocks a little bit of everything really. They carry "branded" items at very very reasonable prices. Some examples of my purchases were...Two Ben Sherman Polo shirts for AUS$11 each, and Armani -shirt for $8, a couple of pairs of shorts for around another AUS$10 each. I am not sure if this stuff is genuine, but it sure is much better quality than you will find in the streets and at Ketuts etc. There was also a great range for guys. I would gladly go back next year and shop. Shopping for the women was OK too. Litsa only bought one item, and she said the range was not varied enough for her, but there looked to be a ton of stuff for other women.

Remember the name. Bali Brasco !

Litsa and I got talking to a cab driver, out the front of Bali Brasco, and he offered to give us a ride back to Seminyak. He used to be a Bluebird Taxi driver, and now drives one of the "local Taksi's" as he calls them. The ones that have a Bluebird on the roof, but are not actually REAL Bluebirds. I asked him why he didnt drive for them anymore. He explained (in very good English) that the drivers of a Bluebird, only get 30% commision of the metered fare, and they have to pay their own fuel costs on top as well. Most of our Bluebird trips, averaged between $1 and $2 and we have paid around 50c more to the non official drivers. He explained that the Bluebird taxis make good money for the taxi owner, and good money for the company, but the drivers get basically nothing. They rely on tips from the tourists to survive. Now...I have read numerous trip reports on TA, and advice on how to save money for cabs.... when I said to this driver " Aussies don't tip well do they ?" he said "Yes, thats correct". I think we all seem to focus on just how cheap Bali is, and lose sight of the bigger picture. Being a penny pinching miser, trying to save 50c here and there, is it such a sensible way to holiday ? If you really need to save 50c probably twice a day on 2 taxi trips over a week (Thats $7), should you really be going on holidays at all ? The next time I am in a Bluebird, and the driver gives me that great Balinese smile, and doesnt kill me in the process of getting me to my destination, he is getting a tip !

Now, where was I ?

Oh yes. Litsa and I made it back to the Villa in the cab, and YES, he did get a tip from us.

Kathrine had gone to go get some pedicure stuff done at Nirvana Spa again, and Andrew was at the Villa hanging around. They had planned to got to Ku De Ta for a look and some lunch. We headed off to Wah Wah Burger instead.

Wah Wah was another place suggested to me by Changa, my mate, who is in Bali 2-3 times a year. Changa likes 2 things about food, MEAT and if the meat has MORE MEAT in it. He had mentioned that he had lunch at Wah Wah the previous week, and all I heard was " Beef Short Ribs"........... I too am a tad carniverous.

Its pretty easy to find. Head down JL Laksmana (eat Street) past Seminyak Square, where the road becomes Oberoi (I think), past Ku De Ta, follow it right for another 200m, and Wah Wah's is on the right. A big yellow sign saying WWW is easy to spot. The decore is modern Bali. The owner, Wah, apparently is responsible for a lot of the art on the walls. Its trendy, but cool at the same time. The menu is all about meat. Their signature dish is all burgers. They have a sampling plate, that I am told is terrific. You rarely see Seared Foi Gras on a menu, but this one has it. I chose the short rib with BBQ sauce, and Litsa had the Lamb racks. We also ordered a side of Truffled rustic mashed potato, and a rocket and parmesan salad. Litsa loved the lamb, but the fat hadnt been trimmed properly, and that put her off a little bit. My short rib looked like it had been slow baked. It was a delicious hunk of meat, not a huge piece, but enough for me for lunch. I think a large man, looking for satisfaction would find the servings a litte small. We have found that anywhere serving quality food, also has smaller rations....... Its the same at home I guess. We also ordered a glass of Sauv Blanc each, as they seemed to have a bit of a bargain NZ wine at AUS$7.50 a glass. Anyone who has been here, will realise thats quite cheap. The wine was served in those oversize 'goblets' that seem to be the in thing in AUS. The actual amount of wine in the glass looked ridiculously small, and was really, only 3 mouthfulls. This was dissapointing :(

Total including wine was AUS$60 for the 2 of us. Without wine, it would have been AUS$45 and seen to be much better value for the quality of the food we ate. Alchohol clouds your judgement in more ways than one here.

Litsa and I then thought we'd go have a look at Ku De Ta whilst it was so close. Walking past the ever present security checkpoint (Thanks guys... for keeping us all safe) we walk up the steps into the building. First impressions are :- its not as big a Potato Head. Its quite cosy actually. I couldnt see a pool either. There were beachside daybeds and recliners etc, but I didnt see a pool. Kathrine and Andrew hadnt arrived as yet, and we'd hoped to meet them for a drink. A quick look at the menu, which didnt really impress us that much, and we were in a cab again for the 50c + TIP trip back to Villa.

There is a transport office of sorts in our laneway, and as the Villa wanted AUS$45 for the Tanah Lot trip, I tought I'd go ask these guys, who said PAGI each morning, how much they wanted. I explained that we'd love a car with 2 rows of rear seats, so Kathrine, with her dodgy knee could stretch out a bit. A fee of AUS$30 was negotiated (Bargain).

We went and had a Nanna Nap for a couple of hours and Alex, our new driver, came and got us at 4.00pm on the dot. He had a shiny new looking Toyota 4WD and I was impressed. We piled in for the afternoons journey along the coast to the famous Tanah Lot.

The journey was awesome. Comfortable car, pumping aircon, and so much to see. This was a great way to see the countryside in luxury. We got to see many more rice fields and terraces today than the trip to Ubud. I am blown away that there are so few roads, and that each and every one is barely 2 lanes wide. The volume of traffic they carry is enormous. Its pretty easy to see how gridlock can occur. On our way there, a truck had blown a tyre at an intersection. It took a good 20 mins for us to get through, and scooters were being diverted up the footpath. How anything gets done here, I do not know !

Tanah Lot is a row of cliffs that holds a few large and small temples. The Balinese actually fear the sea (most fishing etc is done by Javanese people). The temples are significant in that they keep the bad sea gods IN the sea. The area is gorgeous. Dark brechiated volcanic rock, with dark sand beaches and a 5 star 18 hole golf course thrown in for good measure. We arrived and parked in the "Melasti Seafood Restaurant" car park at the northen end of Tanah Lot. A table was booked for sunset, and off we walked back down the coastal track to the temples. It very hard to express how I felt whilst there. Litsa is very very spiritual, so I knew I couldnt get in her way here. She cried at the edge of the Grand Canyon when we were there in 2010, so I had no idea how she was going to react here. The higher temples, on the headland afford a better opportunity to get down with your inner Hindu. The large temple, seperated from the mainland by a small causeway, was just too busy to get any vibe from. Underneath the large rock temple, three "Sharmans" were handing out blessings by letting people drink from a holy spring, get blessed, then stick rice to their foreheads and frangipani flowers in their ears. I got some pretty good photos. We headed back to the restaurant for our 6pm booking. Our table was not on the cliff edge, but we could see the sunset easily from where they put us. A bride and groom, who we had seen earlier having photos taken at the cliffs had a table setup in one corner, and a group of musicians were serenading them.

Its a little bit of a tourist trap, and the food was probably never going to be world class, but the chance to eat freshly cooked seafood in such a setting couldnt be missed. I headed inside and chose 2 good sized crabs, one to grill and one to do in Chilli, a smallish 600gm squid to grill, and 6 large king prawns to grill and serve in Garlic butter. That was the choice for Litsa and myself. Andrew orders a whole fish, and some prawns all to be done on the grill as well. We had the customary couple of pre dinner Bintangs and took in the ambience. There were lots of tiny bats fluttering around ready to eat the mosquitos, which, were out in force once the sun actually set. A couple of small cats were also mooching around the tables looking for scraps. I had to shoo one away, as it was really noisy, and way too cute, and I know that feeding them does them more bad than good in the long run.

The food was really nice. My Chilli crab was a standout for me. I actually wrecked a pair of shorts when I dropped one of the tightly packed claws onto my lap dripping with the chilli sauce. WHOOOPS... Thats going to need some napisan.

Total bill for Litsa and I was AUS$100. Not bad for 2 crabs in that I suppose. I have had worse 'seafood' dinners in worse locations that cost a lot more. And I am guessing we paid less than some of the joints at Jimbaran I have been reading about.

The trip back was quiet, we were all a bit pensive, and the traffic was bad as usual. It took almost an hour to travel around 40km. Kathrine did make the call to get some wine on the way home. We ended up stopping at a wine shop called Wine house just up the road from Mama San heading towards Tanah Lot. They had a special on a Margaret River Sauv Blanc at AUS$24 a bottle. Kathrine and I have both been missing our wine, so on a whim, we got 5 bottles between us.

At home, we cracked the first one, and even put ice cubes in it to chill it down faster. Then Kathrine decided she wanted McDonalds. We were all actually a little peckish at this point, except for Litsa (and you'll understand why in a minute), so we logged on and ordered Home Delivery... YUP... they deliver 24/7 here. The order was placed on my Laptop and I clicked PLACE ORDER and then... BAM... I am back at the websites home page...No confirmation of order, no asking for payment details etc etc.. Hmmmmmm did that order actually go through ? A heated discussion ensued, with Kathrine on the phone at one point talking to Wayan/Ketut/Ronald McDonald in Bali HQ and trying to spell " VILLA KUPU KUPU" out like 5 times, with the chap writing a K instead of a V each time she said Villa. To save time, Andrew went and asked one of the lovely staff here Ketut, if he could come in and talk on the phone. Well, they were having just as many problems understanding what the hell we were trying to achieve through him as kathrine. All we wanted to know was.... had the order gone through ? As Ketut is re-reading our order out for the 3rd time, a little bloke on a scooter with a heat box on the back turns up at the villa gate..........BAM........Your Maccas is here. Now, I don't know what kind of a business model they run on, but taking annonymous orders for FOOD on the internet, not confirming an order, and NOT asking for payment first ? Thats a ballsy system to run. But HEY ?? we got our Maccas......

And for the record, it was CRAP (and cold) UGH !

Poor Litsa, who had only ordered a cheeseburger was having some horrendous gurgling noises going on in her Belly. It had been 4 hours since dinner, and she was not feeling well at all. Massive stomach cramps, and well, you can guess the rest. Luckily we were at the Villa and close to a good bathroom. It wasnt like a massive dose of food poisoning she has had before (In Aus), but it certainly wasnt pleasant for her. Before we headed for bed, she had more cramping, and whilst lying there trying to fell off to sleep, I could still hear her belly rumbling even with ear plugs in. She didnt have to get up in the night, but as soon as she ate breakfest this morning, she had the same symptoms. I am thinking we might hang here for a while and see how she goes. Is THIS the Bali Belly you hear about ? We've been pretty good using hand sanitiser, avoiding the tap water so far. She thinks one of the prawns may have done her in ? who knows ?

One thing I have avoided discussing so far on this trip is the Dogs. There are dogs everywhere. Some are in good health, and some look mangy, malnourished and are in survival mode. I can see why so many Aussies donate to the funds setup to go collect dogs etc. The beaches have them running wildly up and down, they walk along the sides of the main roads, missing getting hit by inches. I saw 3 dogs almost squashed on the way to Tanah Lot. Opposite our villa, there are some local homes, and the 2 puppies mentioned in an earlier update wander from house to house. I witnessed something that would have had the guy jailed back in AUS a couple of days ago, and its probably one thing I don't want to carry with me as a memory of this trip. I wont go into detail, but the cruelty shown, made me mad and very upset. As a traveller, you see many things you have to put down to differences in culture, but I fail to see how something like this can happen in a culture as peaceful as the one in Bali ? I hope it was a one off.

On that sombre note, will log off for the day. We have one full day here to go, and it looks like that might be a quiet one, and then tomorrow, we head home, but not till late. I am sure there will be enough experiences to warrant another update or two :)

Thanks for reading.

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