Friday, 16 January 2015

Bali Bliss Reminisce

Welcome to Bali!  Traditional Legong dance.

Holidays are blissful; time to tackle the 101 chores around the house and garden, time to chill, and time even, to remember past holidays.... in Bali.  We went for 2 weeks in October 2014 and had a blast!  Didn't cost us too much as the accommodation was courtesy timeshare vouchers which cost us under $100 per week!

Beach at Sanur; the golden sands raked each day to remove detritus from ocean pollution
This was not our maiden voyage to Bali.  We had been 7 years before, staying in Kuta for 3 weeks.  The hotel in Kutua was a slice of paradise, but as soon as we stepped out of the resort threshold, we were aggressively targeted by hopeful stall tycoons, eager for our kiwi dollars.  It left a most unpleasant taste in our mouths and so after many discussions and research, we decided to give Bali another chance, given that it is only a 5 hour flight from New Zealand and boasts the sunny climate we desperately need to cure our seasonal winter depression woes!
Sun, surf and sand!  Beaut!
The amazing crab-like local fishing boat (and it's reflection)
Bali is bright and blissful, ornate and exciting!

Yoga on the beach at Sanur

Little girl on beach
Early morning blessing.

Our first week's stay was at a 3 star resort called Parigata Spa and Resort in Sanur. Tired, yes, but small and once-was-grand, and close to the best organic, vegan restaurant called Zula.  The hardest part each day was choosing from Zula's endless mouth-watering food choices!!

Beautiful food, beautiful sentiments.

Street-side spas line the road, enabling tourists to take advantage of the somewhat painful, somewhat blissful reflexology, massage and mani/pedicures.  An hour of pain and bliss sets you back NZ$5!!  So this was an almost daily event!

We visited a kindergarten in Sanur, called Cheeky Monkeys, and on the way, passed a resort where we watched a photo shoot for a Japanese wedding, though the sign-wielding was a little bold for a bashful bride, perhaps she was a Cheeky Monkey too!
Meeting Dayu, a teacher at the kindergarten we visited, who made me feel like a giant!!

Not-so-bashful bride 
Our second week we spent 4 days of an intended 7 day stay at Bali Palms in Candidassa!  A hastily-built resort that could not stand the test of time and was not only tired but in a state of disrepair, on a tired, dusty strip of a tourist accommodation town that could have been the Goa of Bali back in the 70's but now looks like everyone's packed up and gone!  We couldn't wait to leave after our timeshare presentation (a condition of the timeshare accommodation voucher).  We did however, get to see some amazing attractions in the area, namely the Tirta Gangga which was built in 1948 by the Raja of Karangasem, and his Ujung Water Palace.  

Koi swim in the clear waters

The whole Tirta Gangga is fairy-tale-like, with bridges, stepping stones and statues over and in the water, which is derived from an underground stream.  There were lots of tourists taking pictures of themselves at all the features and I had to patiently wait for them to move on.

Tirta Gangga, meaning Holy Waters of the Ganges (in India).  Hinduism is the predominant religion of Bali.

Statue dancers seem to float on the water

An opportunity to walk on water.

Fish swim lazily among the water-borne dancing statues

Giant fountain water feature

Local families are allowed to bathe in the Tirta Gangga pools.

Tame, well-fed Koi fish 

The next destination we checked out in Candidassa was the Ujung Water Palace, also built by the Raja as his Summer palace to entertain foreign dignitaries and visiting kings from local regencies.  It is vast and also includes several large bodies of water.  The palace is grand, and gives a peek into the lives of the Raja and his 10 wives and 24 children.  Obviously, there were no televisions for night-time entertainment, what with all those wives to keep happy!  I found this place quite spectacular and enjoyed watching a bridal party's photographic exploits.
Ujung Water Palace

Capturing the photographers at work

The bride in her red dress.  She also had a toy-Pomeranian dog also dressed in a red tutu!
Tactical manoevres to get the right shot!

Recording the event

The Raja of Karangasem in his youth.
A bike stands casually in front of carved relief palace wall friezes

The view from a marble-floored room in the palace

Old photos line the walls, this one depicts (I think) the Raja in the middle, as a young boy.

Another view of the water gardens from a palace window
The old king and his eldest son, who I think became the Raja
Glass-less windows with shutters to keep out the tropical heat

The terraces behind the palace were once rice paddies that were flooded with water for growing.

Ornate plaster work

The Royal Palace is entered on each end, by a walkway-bridge over water.  What a lovely way to come home each day!!

A view of the palace water gardens from the top of the hill

The gateway bridge to the palace on each side
So our days in Candidassa were not entirely awful!  Apart from the shonky, crumbling resort, and the air of general decay about the town, there were great highlights!  The spa ladies at the resort gave us the BEST massage ever!!  We even got to see Charlie's Chocolate Factory (more about that later), and met some great taxi drivers!  We had such a wonderful time, a nice mix of relax and chill, with look, see and do!  And it didn't break the bank either!  There are endless shopping opportunities in Bali, so much to buy, so little space in the suitcase!  However, this time round for us, it was less about the need to own things and more about the love of looking  (not good for Bali's economy but great for us, not accumulating yet more 'things" to clutter our home with).  

So many road-side statue shops selling these Buddhas!  I soooo wished my suitcase was big enough!!

Aaah, Bali.  Methinks I'd like to go again!!

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