Friday, 16 May 2014

Semara Semara

When I left you last, I was gazing yonder into the blue green Indian Ocean (You know you want to look at it again, you know you do!) and spending my days going from the pool to the beach to the sea and back to the pool. 

The amazing isolation and beauty of Semara Luxury Resorts meant that we didn’t leave the resort once, and ate at the hotel restaurant (Seletan) every night. We had the restaurant to ourselves, and were waited on hand and foot by a very attentive staff. 

We started our first meal with traditional Balinese food - chicken satay bali style, and Nasi Goreng. One of our cab drivers told us that Nasi Goreng is pretty much the staple food in Indonesia, they eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It's got everything - rice, meat, veggies and eggs, so why not! 

Nasi Goreng
Baked barramundi fillet
We decided to treat ourselves to a (more) private dinner in our villa one night – a private BBQ for two. It was definitely the most expensive thing on the menu, but well well worth it. In india, in my head, a BBQ is just a grill where you slap some meat on and eat it pretty much standing over the flames. Not this one! The only thing I found extremely strange, was that for the price we paid for the BBQ there was no alcohol included, not even a bottle of wine. 

We got back from the beach to find our poolside had been transformed - caterer style tables and cloches stood on the far side of the pool, beyond which our butler had laid a table for two. Right at the edge of a cliff.

The set up

Look closer
Love the backdrop
After a quick swim and snooze, we walked out of our room to get down to the very serious business of eating. 

Ready for rock & roll
A ring around the moon
First course - salads. We had so many options! Ceasers salad, regular salad, potato salad with bacon bits, cut vegetables, spirally vegetables, olive salad, a tomato salad, and 3 different kinds of dressings.  Not wanting to appear overly greedy, we politely piled our plates with veggies and salad and sat down to eat. 

Healthy ha?
The grill was smoking and sizzling most deliciously, and we watched as our very own chef put monstrous amounts of food on it. 

All for grilling!
Just sizzling away
We had: Barramundi, King Prawns, Lobster, Chicken & Steak

Oh my god
Mommy & baby
And not just one or 2 pieces, but a huge massive heaping of each! 

There were no fish left in the ocean
Destroyed after that meal
The only thing I didn't eat was the chicken (I nibbled on a piece off F's plate), but between us two you see, we wiped the platter clean! 

Monday, 5 May 2014

A Bali Bubble

Hello again! It’s been a while I know, but I have good reasons I promise. And you will read about them all in the weeks to come.

The last few months have been a whirlwind of activity. I’ve worked on 3 huge festivals – a yoga festival, a bike festival and an arts festival – with barely any time in between each to breathe. 

Geshe Lhakdor-La giving a speech at Zambhala
Yoga till you drop (into savasana, of courses)
And then I got, erm… married! A big scary word that came attached with lots of planning, and decisions and talking, and culminated in a weeklong boozy fest (we <3 you café patron) we definitely needed to take a break after!

Twix is not pleased
Kat wants to come out with us
And Noose doesn't care
We really do love you Cafe Patron
Wedded hehe
While Europe is my favourite place to go (anywhere in Europe really, I’m not fussy), getting married in March meant that we didn’t have many options that weren’t freezing cold. Since neither of us has spent much time in South East Asia we decided to spend our honeymoon (what a strange word that is) in Bali.

Weddings are exhausting, and we decided that we needed a few days of absolute peace and quiet (and sleep!) before we had the energy to do anything remotely touristy. We found a luxury resort at the southern most tip of Bali; the area is called Ullu Wattu, and booked ourselves into a room with a private plunge pool. Semara Luxury Villas is an absolute paradise, located at the top of a cliff with picture perfect views and an extremely hospitable and welcoming staff.

Plunge pool
Outdoor shower and sit out
Bed, complete with a curtain to keep mosquitos away
Our room was part of a larger villa that the hotel rents out, each with access to a common area (infinity pool, bar, dining table, lounge seating, home theatre room, study & library). Luckily for us, there was only one other couple at our villa, and we pretty much had the place to ourselves. It’s amazing, waking up, ordering breakfast and then eating fresh fruit, pastries and juice by blue green water at the edge of a cliff.

The pool

After breakfast KO
The resort has access to its own beach, which is 150m below the resort and can be reached by something similar to a cable car. Finn’s Beach Club is a popular favourite in Bali, and is completely jammed and crowded on weekends – you’re told to call ahead and reserve a sun bed. There are stairs that lead down to the cable car, and then stairs that lead down from the cable car landing to the beach. I would definitely advise waiting 45 minutes after you have eaten or drunk anything before you attempt to walk up them! I had to be pushed up the first day, I just couldn’t do it.

Walk down to the beach
And then there were two
The beach has a laguna, which is full of fish and coral and causes the water to become a delightful, translucent green when viewing it from above. It took a little while before I stopped flinching on every piece of coral I stepped on.

Panorama of heaven
We spent a large part of our Ullu Wattu holiday at Finn’s, sleeping, eating, sunbathing and swimming. There’s a great dj who plays mellow lounge music through the day and picks the tempo up once the sun sets. 

The food is pretty good too – I had the best sirloin sandwich of my life there. A nice 200gm piece of sirloin, cooked medium-rare is sandwiched between 2 pieces of bread with pecorino cheese, radicchio and caramelized onions. OH. MY. GOD.

Susu, in balinese, means milk. Susu, in hindi means.... pee! 
Burger, which was also pretty good, but not as good as my sandwich!
The crispy calamari with tartar sauce is also something I need to talk about – 6 huge rings of calamari, lightly battered and fried – there was no trace of oil on them at all. We must have had 4 plates of this over 2 days (and I only ate maybe 4 pieces!)

This is definitely a place you want to visit if you’re in Bali. It’s quiet, the view is stunningly beautiful, and you can go for long, long walks down the white sandy beaches and not get bored with what you see.

Meet chintamani, the turtle, who keeps watch as I gaze yonder