Chillout Bali

I love Asian food. Actually, I love any food. With the exception of offal and brussels sprouts. Consequently, I jumped at the chance to learn more at a Chillout Bali cooking class held at a nearby villa complex. Three of us attended while our fellow travellers did their own thing. Michael enjoyed (or should I say endured?) a massage. If you’ve ever had a Balinese massage, you will know what I mean. The outdoor kitchen was well equipped, with plenty of working space

1.cooking class

and the table was set in readiness for us to savour our concoctions.

2.lunch setting3.lunch setting

Chef Putu had prepared our workstations,

4.Chef Putu

the fresh produce was beautifully presented.

5.fresh produce

Trying to ignore the heat, we set about creating a feast.

6.Chef Kathy

Our competitive streak came to the fore with the art of folding and securing our pepes.

After a morning in the kitchen, we reaped our reward, starting with lumpia semarang, delicious spring rolls.

9.lumpia semarang

Next came soto ayam Madura, a chicken soup from the Indonesian island of Madura. It is more of a complete meal with broth, chicken and vegetables.

10.soto ayam madura

The main event was a work of art. Rendang sapi is one of my favourite Asian dishes, beef braised in spices, herbs and coconut cream. Our offering didn’t disappoint. The banana leaf package had been filled with a shrimp and mushroom mixture, folded and secured with toothpicks, then steamed to perfection. We couldn’t decide who had created the best pepes udang jamur. Accompanied by a tasty helping of sayur urab, rice and some vegetable art, we were most impressed.

11.rendang sapi, pepes udang jamur & urab sayur12.rendang sapi, pepes udang jamur & urab sayur

Fortunately, the finale wasn’t too heavy. The lovely shade of green is from the aromatic pandanus leaves, used widely for desserts, cakes and drinks. Dadar gulung is filled with coconut and palm sugar, a perfectly sweet way to finish a fabulous meal.

13.dadar gulung

Bali rice

One of the things we liked about the location of our villa in Bali was the open space around us. Rice paddies almost embraced our doorstep

1.paddies next door

and stretched as far as the eye could see.

2.rice paddies3.rice paddies4.rice paddies

We didn’t have to walk far to really appreciate the intensive nature of rice farming. Seedlings are cultivated in a special nursery and are then transplanted by hand into the ploughed paddy fields. It looked like back-breaking work, hour after hour bent over to plant the rice in long rows in the mud.

5.labour

Apparently, a farmer can plant 10,000 square feet of seedlings a day, each one placed 8-10 inches apart.

11.rice seedlings

The water level is vital for the developing crop

12.irrigation13.irrigation

and the innovative means of water control were fascinating.

There were thatched shelters scattered through the fields

18.shelter

and colourful shrines ensured a bountiful crop. Offerings are made to the Hindu goddess Dewi Sri at crucial periods such as planting, full moon, when the rice is a month old, the first appearance of the grains and before harvesting.

19.shelter & shrine

The rice is ready to be harvested after three months

23.rice

and the cycle begins again.

24.cycle

Canggu: Tugu to Seseh

We had heard about the popular surfing beaches of Bali, one of them being Seseh, the location of our villa. In order to discover more, we asked the driver one morning to take us a little further down the coast so we could walk back along the beach. He dropped us off at the back entrance of the Hotel Tugu, about 3 km away.

1.Hotel Tugu

A paved path led toward the beach, past old rustic buildings

2.Hotel Tugu

and the hotel grounds behind the wall.

Sun lounges looked inviting and we could glimpse the specks of hopeful surfers in the water.

6.Tugu Hotel

Just as well it was too early for a cocktail, the bar appeared in need of restocking.

7.Tugu bar

Barongs were on guard to repel the evil spirits, possibly to protect those seeking slumber.

Canggu, as well as being a small village, is the name given to a stretch of coastline between Seminyak and Tanah Lot. From Hotel Tugu, we walked along the black sand of Batu Bolong Beach.

The waves didn’t look particularly impressive to us but what would we know?

13.surfer

Volcanic rocks loomed out of the water making interesting obstacles for unsuspecting surfers.

14.Batu Bolong Beach15.Batu Bolong Beach

Looking beyond the modern villas, we could see the hint of a temple.

16.Batu Bolong Beach

Pura Batu Mejan is a Balinese Hindu sea temple, guarding the coast and giving its name to the beach, Pantai Batu Mejan.

17.Pura Batu Mejan temple

One of Canggu’s most popular surfing beaches, Echo Beach is the nickname given to this stretch by the wave riders.

20.Echo Beach21.Echo Beach

We watched them in action while we lunched at Echo Beach Club.

22.surfer Echo Beach23.surfers Echo Beach

The local transport didn’t look too reliable

24.bicycle

so we made our way down to the beach for the walk back to Seseh.

26.Echo Beach25.Echo Beach

This family picnic looked lovely

27.picnic

but I don’t know how they keep their whites so white.

28.picnic

It seemed like a bad choice for me to wear with the black sand.

29.white pants copy

La Lucciola

If there is one thing you can rely on in Bali, it’s the fabulous food. Coupled with a stunning location, you have La Lucciola at Seminyak. After a stroll along the main street accompanied by the cacophony of traffic and populace, reaching La Lucciola was nirvana.

1.La Lucciola2.La Lucciola

Seated on the upstairs balcony, the gentle sea breeze mingled with that of the overhead fans and the tranquil view perfected the scene.

3.La Lucciola

The undrinkable water forced us to order cocktails instead, anything to quench the thirst.

The flower arrangements were quite spectacular, even in the bathrooms.

The meals disappeared too quickly for photographs but I caught a couple of the desserts.

After lunch, we walked onto the sands, soft and golden on this part of the island.

11.Seminyak Beach

Seminyak Beach comprises three adjoining coastal strips, the southernmost bordering Legian Beach.

12.Seminyak Beach

This little squirrel has certainly chosen a lovely spot to call home.

Ayung River

The highlight of our Bali holiday was the white water rafting experience on the Ayung River. From the northern mountains, the Ayung runs for 75 kilometres to Sanur Beach with a series of not too scary class II and III rapids along the way. Once we were kitted out with life-vests, helmets and paddles, we walked the 250 stone steps down to the river.

1.long way down

After further safety instructions, we set off for our 8km ride. There were peaceful moments, cruising along, admiring the verdant scenery.

2.ayung river

We would then hear the words, “boom boom” from the back of the raft, a warning from the guide that we were approaching a rapid.

3.rafting

A bit of mad paddling, hopefully in the right direction, and we returned to cruising mode. We passed intricate carvings in the rocks, depicting the story of Ramanyana, an epic Hindu poem from 400AD. I’m not surprised it took two years to complete. The photos aren’t very clear but you’ll get the idea.

4.sculptures5.sculptures

We indulged in a cooling swim at a particularly tranquil spot, a waterfall offering another dimension for those wanting a shower.

6.cooling off

There were other rafters on the river but we all somehow maintained our own space.

7.bridge

The final rapid was rigged with a company camera so we could all take home an exhausted, exhilarated memento.

8.rafting

There were a different set of stone steps to climb before our reward of lunch, I could hardly walk for three days. A word of advice, if you have sore muscles, do not get a Bali massage! Seeing as we were in the vicinity, we wandered around Ubud after lunch,

9.Ubud

enjoying a beverage while the world passed by. I found the glimpses of life beyond the main street fascinating, so different from our lives here in Tasmania.

10.Ubud11.restaurant Ubud

I have taken the liberty of using some photos taken by our friends on the day. I can’t remember whose was whose but you know who you are and I thank you.