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KennethT

Bali - up, down, and all around

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1 hour ago, KennethT said:

Dragonfruit come in 2 varieties that I have seen, white and purple.  Blindfolded, they are identical.  Sorry, but when I said that the dragonfruit were among the best I've had, I didn't mean that they were very flavorful - but they were really juicy, crisp and refreshing.  When you put a little lime juice on them, they're great!  I wish I had what was common in Saigon - a little dish of chili and salt!

 

 

That makes sense in a hot humid place - kind of like when we swim lychee and loquats in icy water and sit around eating them on a miserable weather day :)

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The next day was perhaps the highlight of our trip.

 

First, breakfast:

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Today's fruit plate.  On a lark, I asked our server if they had any mangga (mango in bahasa)... I got a smile, and a few minutes later was presented with:

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Hallelujah!!!

 

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Nasi goreng.. served with shrimp chips, chicken satay and fried egg.

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tomato sambal (not very spicy)

 

After breakfast, we drove for about an hour to the Sekumpul waterfalls.  Before you get to the falls, at the parking lot, you pick up a guide at the hut.  Evidently, this is also run by a cartel of sorts - only the guides from that local "union" can operate as a guide at the falls.  We got really lucky with our guide - his English was great (he didn't think so, and had never been schooled in it, but he picked it up talking to people over the years and if he didn't know a word, later on when he got home he looked it up on google), had a great sense of humor and was just an absolute pleasure to be around.  He was very good at immediately picking up on what interested us, and then altered the route to show us some really interesting things.  He also taught me a bunch of Balinese.  Oh, and when the trail got only slightly strenuous, he insisted on being scherpa as well, carrying both my wife's and my bag, our shoes when we had to walk through the water, and a towel.

 

Around the area of the falls are spice orchards (mostly cloves), coffee (both arabica and robusta), cocoa, mangosteen, mango...

 

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Clove tree, with farmer in the tree harvesting buds

 

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Coffee

 

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Rice

 

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Cloves drying in the sun

 

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Cocoa

 

It's a lot of walking downhill and stairs to get to the falls....

 

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Waterfalls from up high

 

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Some of the stairs

 

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More waterfalls...

 

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Some of the stairs to get down

 

On the way back up, we stopped at a trail side vendor of a typical Balinese snack where our guide got us this:

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These are little cakes made from rice flower and pandan, topped with a palm sugar syrup and finely grated coconut... these things were amazing.

 

We then met our guide's friend whose family owns some of the farm area.  He was a nice young man, and enjoyed practicing his English - he offered to show us around his farm to see some of their products.  Among the clove, coffee and cocoa, they also grow

 

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Vanilla

 

He then proceeded to make a sampling of all the different teas and coffees they make

 

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At the top, there are two types of Bali coffee... one is the standard, the other is the luwak coffee, which some may have heard called poop coffee.  An animal called a luwak (I think it's like a civet cat) eats the ripe coffee beans, and the beans go right through it.  The poop is collected, washed in a process to sterilize and get only the raw partially digested coffee bean, then roasted and turned into coffee.  The locals say that the quality is better than standard coffee because the luwak only picks the best beans one by one, and that the partial digestion makes the coffee smoother.  I'm not a coffee drinker, but I thought it was quite good.  There has been controversy over luwak coffee as, in the interest of profit, some places in the cities will house the luwaks in a cage and basically force feed coffee beans to them all day.  But the product we sampled is all wild - the family's luwak is let out to roam the coffee plantation eating what it wants to eat, and the family goes around and collects the poop off the ground every few days.  This is traditionally how this coffee has been produced for a long time - many locals told us the story of how their grandmother might collect poop for a month to make enough coffee for teh family for 1 serving.

 

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A luwak

 

You may notice that one of the teas is a mangosteen tea.  Here, the rind and fruit are dried and ground to a powder and brewed into a tea.  It was so good, we bought some of the tea to take home.  The third from the bottom is cocoa and spice tea - basically, the cocoa nibs are ground and mixed with clove and cinnamon and are steeped like a tea.  We brought some of that home too.

 

We finished up at the falls pretty late, and got back to the hotel around 4PM... we had a light lunch:

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Soto ayam - chicken soup, flavored with lemongrass and turmeric.  With shredded chicken, fried garlic and cellophane noodles. Very tasty.

served with a crazy spicy but delicious sambal:

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Thank you Ken for taking the time to share your travels with us.

 

Fantastic shots.

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I will add my thanks also.  I do like Indonesian food.

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Dinner that night (not that much because of our late snack/lunch and we were exhausted):

 

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amuse - sausage on a stick... very tasty

 

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Pigeon bakso again...

 

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fish of the day - barracuda.  I never realized it was such a tasty fish - mild white fish, a little firm

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The next morning, we had breakfast (nasi goreng again) and checked out of the hotel to make our way to Ubud, a few hours drive south, in central Bali.  We made a few stops along the way:

 

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Lake Buyan,

 

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Lake Tamblingan

 

and together:

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Driving down the mountain:

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We then went to another Balinese Hindu temple - this one is the most photographed site in Bali (and it was crowded!!!)

 

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Before leaving the site, we decided to have lunch there, because we were still about 2 hours away from Ubud...

 

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Crispy chicken sambal matah - under the mound of ridiculously crispy breading is a chicken thigh.  The sambal matah (in the left container) is a great sambal consisting mainly of shallot and chili... I love this sambal.  On the right is acar.

 

ETA: FYI, just outside this temple complex was a huge number of local food vendors, right where the tour buses were parked.... I had no idea they were there until we passed them when we were on the road, just after we had finished eating!

 

Edit lake name spelling


Edited by KennethT (log)
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A wonderful blog

 

thank you for including us.

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I'm enjoying this so much. Blogs are what first caught my attention here many years ago.  Don't think I've  ever

been disappointed  by one other than they don't last long enough.  

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We arrived in Ubud in the afternoon, and after settling in, it was time for dinner.  I had a list of Balinese specialties that I had wanted to try, but because of timing, the first one we would try is a dish called betutu, which comes in both chicken (ayam) and duck (bebek) versions.  Both are rubbed with the betutu spice mixture, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.  One place that is known for this dish is Murni's Warung - which has been around since the 70s.  Murni has grown her empire which now includes an antique store, guest house, spa and is also a cookbook author.

 

The restaurant is perched on a cliff above a gorge, and is beautiful - filled with antiques.

 

The setting:

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The food:

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Lime squash - which would be called "lime juice" in Singapore.  The glass just came with lime juice and soda water, and the simple syrup in the small pitcher so you could make it as sweet as you like it.  This was a great version - it was nice to get a lime juice that was not from concentrate.

 

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Sate lilit - lilit means that the satay is of some kind of ground (minced) meat rather than whole chunks.  I typically like to get the fish version, but they are also common with chicken.  These were delivered on a dish filled with glowing coals to help keep them warm throughout the meal.

 

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Bebek betutu - the duck version.  Both versions were served with a banana leaf filled with a mixed vegetable (on the right) - however the veggie mix for both were slightly different.  Both also came with a cone of yellow rice.  It is also served with a that shallot/chili sambal I like so much, and a dish of the steaming liquid, which is like concentrated duck or chicken essence.  Evidently, you take some rice and meat, then dip in the liquid.  Both the duck and chicken were very savory, falling off the bone tender and melted in your mouth, but I thought subtly spiced.

 

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This is the chicken version

 

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Kang kung (water spinach)

 

They also had a very typical balinese dessert (among many):

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Caramel cake - the cake was light, but very moist and I think it had some banana in it.

 

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Breakfast at the hotel - this hotel also used a menu - mostly western dishes, but they had a rotating schedule of local breakfast items.  But, they did have a buffet for the fruit and various pastries, toast, etc.

 

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My fruit plate - passionfruit, pineapple and mango

 

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Coconut pancake with palm syrup.  When I read the description on the menu, I was hoping to get more of those little Balinese snacks we got at Sekumpul.... but this was tasty too.

 

After breakfast, we set out to hike the Campuan ridge, which is within walking distance of Ubud center.  Not a strenuous hike, but very picturesque:

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Terrace rice paddies

 

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Close-up of one of the terraces

 

As we were walking, we stopped off for lunch at a warung on the trail:

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Mie goreng

 

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Barbeque chicken, with more of that shallot/chili sambal

 

Our view at lunch...

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On the way back, we checked out a temple that is right at the beginning of the trail:

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Sorry for the overexposed picture - it was really tough to capture because it was overcast, but we were facing the sun so it was still very bright

 

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Edited by KennethT ETA last photo (log)
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10 minutes ago, Shelby said:

What does the writing say on the dessert plate?

enjoy

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What is the weather like ?

 

Ive noticed a lot of inventing outdoor dinning etc

 

dont laugh !

 

how big are the mosquitos ?

 

suprise.gif.8e542671d92642aa5f0a71687a3f44ed.gif

 

[ed.:  R is a bit allergic to them , at least the Eastern USA Mosquito ]

 

 

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As we were walking back to our hotel, we passed by a warung that was grilling stuff out by the sidewalk... and it was packed - at like 4PM!  Even after relaxing a bit after the long walk, we were pretty tired around dinner time so between the fact that that place was close by AND looked good and just happened to be on a list of good places provided by a friend who used to live in Ubud, we decided to go:

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This place is well known for its grilled ribs, and of all things, martinis (of which we didn't partake), but we saw others having them and they seemed pleased.  We were starving early (and tired) so we got there pretty early - maybe around 5:30 or 6, and we're glad we did because soon after we sat down, it became packed!  People hanging around for 20-30 minutes waiting for a seat. Turns out that this place has become a mini empire with multiple locations in Indonesia, Malaysia, Macau, Australia, Thailand, Phillipines, Vietnam and Taiwan!!  But the Ubud location is the original, started in the mid 90s by an American man and his Indonesian wife.

 

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Condiments - I loved the chili sauce in the big bottle in the front, hot and smoky.  Also there was a sriracha and sweet soy sauce.

 

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More lime squash... also not from concentrate

 

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Ribs - these were so good, we ordered  second plate for dessert...  It seems that they are first boiled for a few hours, then chilled.  When ordered, they are dipped in a bath that looked like thick, sweet soy sauce, then grilled.

 

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Onion rings... good, but took up valuable rib space...

 

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Chicken satay.  Here's where things get... complicated.  I thought they were really good - very juicy, but I didn't notice that they were a tad pink inside.  My wife had one skewer but I had 3.... while we're not sure if these were the true culprit, stay tuned  to hear about the outcome the next day!!!

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13 minutes ago, rotuts said:

What is the weather like ?

 

Ive noticed a lot of inventing outdoor dinning etc

 

dont laugh !

 

how big are the mosquitos ?

 

suprise.gif.8e542671d92642aa5f0a71687a3f44ed.gif

 

[ed.:  R is a bit allergic to them , at least the Eastern USA Mosquito ]

 

 

The weather there is highly variable.  This time of year is just getting into the dry season - so there can be periodic showers.  Otherwise, it was probably in the low to mid 80s during the day, and upper 70s at night and pretty humid.  There are, of course, all the tropical flying friends - mosquitoes, dragonflies, etc.... and they supposedly do have zika there... so we brought the heavy duty bug repellent with us and used it - especially in the morning or evening when the biting is the worst.  Also, every hotel kept a can of bug spray for you to use in the room.  It was not nearly as heavy duty as the one we brought with us!

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The next day, we woke up ridiculously early to hike up Mount Batur (also called Gunung Batur) a volcano that last erupted in 2000.  Most people traditionally hike up to the top so they can see the sunrise from the summit, which basically requires you to leave your hotel around 2AM to get to the parking area by around 4, and then up to the top by 5;30 or 6...  Personally, I don't care for that so much, and since the weather was what it was (variable and partly cloudy), we figured we'd go as late as we could because there is a chance we wouldn't see the sunrise from the summit anyway.  I'm glad we did, because that was exactly what happened.  Plus another benefit of getting there late was that we could hike up by ourselves (with our guide) rather than with the throngs of people who go for the sunrise.  So we left the hotel around 4AM (still ridiculously early) and started our hike around 5:30 or so...  The hotel gave us pastries and fruit for us to have on the drive there, but it was dark in the car, so no photos...

 

Hiking in the pitch dark, with flashlights, is quite odd, to say the least...

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Sunrise from the trail:

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Batur is a double volcano - the outer caldera  was formed thousands of years ago and contains a caldera lake, but the inner one is more recent.  The above photo is inside the outer caldera, hiking up to the peak of the inner one.

 

Our guide stopped to make an offering about halfway up the trail - evidently, this happens a lot based on all the old offerings littering the ground at this spot.

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I'm glad we left late, because it was getting a little cloudy as we got closer to the top:

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Yes, our guide was hiking up the trail (which was quite rocky and actually a bit difficult in some spots) wearing Keds.

 

As we were getting closer to the summit, there were a lot of people coming down.  At the top, we were greeted with quite a few people who were hanging around hoping the clouds would clear out, as well as more monkeys - some were quite agressive!

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It's hard to capture the secondary caldera from the top...  but after a while, the clouds thinned and we got a great view of the primary caldera and a sliver of Mount Agung just behind it.

 

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Inside the primary caldera are 4 different villages and quite a few farms.

 

We got back to the hotel around 10:30 - just as breakfast was about to close, but they kept it open for us which was really nice of them.

 

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pineapple and mango

 

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nasi lemak - rice topped with tiny fried fish, with a corn fritter, veggies, chicken curry and beef rendang.  Awesome...

 

After Breakfast II we relaxed a bit, then took a walk around the center of Ubud seeing various temples.

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We also saw a religious procession going through the street

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which then closed off traffic

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We also stopped at a market and picked up some mangosteen at a local fruit market (yay!!!)

 

After we got back to the hotel, we relaxed and I enjoyed some of my newly aquired fruit.  We were getting ready for dinner around 7, when trouble started.  Both my wife and I started having shall we say intense intestinal problems...  There were times I wished that we could get a hotel room with 2 bathrooms...  Even after a few Immodium, the problem had not abated at all, so we canceled our plan to go out for dinner, and just decided to order in something from room service.

 

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My wife wanted comfort food, so she got a chicken club sandwich...

 

I figured I'd get some Jewish/Balinese penicillin and voted for a nice bowl of soto ayam - chicken soup flavored with lemongrass and turmeric.  It arrived like this, with a carafe of the soup on teh side:

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Unfortunately, my soto ayam was not happy in its resting place as it was refunded a few hours later...  Fortunately, I was the only one who was refunding out of both ends (sometimes simultaneously) - my wife was actually not that bad off.  It's very hard to tell where these types of things come from, but the only thing that we didn't share equally were those chicken satay from the night before (I had a lot more of it than she did).

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4 minutes ago, KennethT said:

The next day, we woke up ridiculously early to hike up Mount Batur (also called Gunung Batur) a volcano that last erupted in 2000.  Most people traditionally hike up to the top so they can see the sunrise from the summit, which basically requires you to leave your hotel around 2AM to get to the parking area by around 4, and then up to the top by 5;30 or 6...  Personally, I don't care for that so much, and since the weather was what it was (variable and partly cloudy), we figured we'd go as late as we could because there is a chance we wouldn't see the sunrise from the summit anyway.  I'm glad we did, because that was exactly what happened.  Plus another benefit of getting there late was that we could hike up by ourselves (with our guide) rather than with the throngs of people who go for the sunrise.  So we left the hotel around 4AM (still ridiculously early) and started our hike around 5:30 or so...  The hotel gave us pastries and fruit for us to have on the drive there, but it was dark in the car, so no photos...

 

Hiking in the pitch dark, with flashlights, is quite odd, to say the least...

20180704_055315.thumb.jpg.163c6356444305468f37dab360fdde31.jpg

 

Sunrise from the trail:

20180704_060716.thumb.jpg.88c192c55ef56ab7246c8c9c96b1cd95.jpg

 

Batur is a double volcano - the outer caldera  was formed thousands of years ago and contains a caldera lake, but the inner one is more recent.  The above photo is inside the outer caldera, hiking up to the peak of the inner one.

 

Our guide stopped to make an offering about halfway up the trail - evidently, this happens a lot based on all the old offerings littering the ground at this spot.

20180704_062410.thumb.jpg.11078cbde10196d0958150f4c49f9fd1.jpg

 

I'm glad we left late, because it was getting a little cloudy as we got closer to the top:

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Yes, our guide was hiking up the trail (which was quite rocky and actually a bit difficult in some spots) wearing Keds.

 

As we were getting closer to the summit, there were a lot of people coming down.  At the top, we were greeted with quite a few people who were hanging around hoping the clouds would clear out, as well as more monkeys - some were quite agressive!

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It's hard to capture the secondary caldera from the top...  but after a while, the clouds thinned and we got a great view of the primary caldera and a sliver of Mount Agung just behind it.

 

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Inside the primary caldera are 4 different villages and quite a few farms.

 

We got back to the hotel around 10:30 - just as breakfast was about to close, but they kept it open for us which was really nice of them.

 

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pineapple and mango

 

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nasi lemak - rice topped with tiny fried fish, with a corn fritter, veggies, chicken curry and beef rendang.  Awesome...

 

After Breakfast II we relaxed a bit, then took a walk around the center of Ubud seeing various temples.

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We also saw a religious procession going through the street

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which then closed off traffic

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We also stopped at a market and picked up some mangosteen at a local fruit market (yay!!!)

 

After we got back to the hotel, we relaxed and I enjoyed some of my newly aquired fruit.  We were getting ready for dinner around 7, when trouble started.  Both my wife and I started having shall we say intense intestinal problems...  There were times I wished that we could get a hotel room with 2 bathrooms...  Even after a few Immodium, the problem had not abated at all, so we canceled our plan to go out for dinner, and just decided to order in something from room service.

 

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My wife wanted comfort food, so she got a chicken club sandwich...

 

I figured I'd get some Jewish/Balinese penicillin and voted for a nice bowl of soto ayam - chicken soup flavored with lemongrass and turmeric.  It arrived like this, with a carafe of the soup on teh side:

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Unfortunately, my soto ayam was not happy in its resting place as it was refunded a few hours later...  Fortunately, I was the only one who was refunding out of both ends (sometimes simultaneously) - my wife was actually not that bad off.  It's very hard to tell where these types of things come from, but the only thing that we didn't share equally were those chicken satay from the night before (I had a lot more of it than she did).

Beautiful scenery.  Awful that you guys were sick.

 

Ronnie got sick on our one and only trip to Seattle a few years ago.  Chicken soup of all things.  I had planned a huge day of walking around and stopping in different places to sample things and then a fancy dinner that evening.  He spent the fancy dinner in the bathroom. 

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The fact that you guys ate while in such distress is a true testament to your "foodie chops".  We got it in Cancun on honeymoon....subsisted on bottled seltzer water for several days...

 

All of the food presentation looks very thoughtful. Jealous of the variety of flavors you've sampled!

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By the next day, my wife was feeling better, and I was slowly on the mend.  For breakfast, I just had a couple slices of toast with some butter. My wife had a more interesting poached egg with green veggies and "green goddess sauce"... neither of us were in the mood to take photos of it though.  We basically stayed in the hotel room for most of the day, just leaving around 3 or 4 or so to wander the grounds for an hour so they could clean the room.

 

I had originally had such high hopes for that day - we were planning on having lunch at Ibu Oka, a warung known for their babi guling (roast suckling pig)... but there was no way my stomach was ready for that by lunch time (they close around 5 or so) - I wasn't even ready to walk around the town, which while beautiful and interesting, does have a lot of hawking and is packed with people milling about.

 

By around 5PM, we went for a drink while we were waiting for our room to be cleaned...

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lime juice and mint

 

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mango/orange/pineapple juice

 

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fried chili salt squid with chili mayo dip

 

My stomach was feeling better but I was a bit nervous about the squid... but going slowly, it went down fine, and stayed there!  Things are looking up!

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We decided to stay in the hotel and order room service for dinner.  We were both still exhausted from all of our recent physical exertion (contrary to what you may think, neither my wife nor I are very athletic!) and from getting over being sick.

 

I tested the waters with a burger

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My wife just got some lumpia (spring rolls)

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The next day, we woke up feeling much better... back on the horse!!!  Unfortunately, we had to check out to make our flight to Singapore that afternoon... so breakfast, and then lunch at the airport was the last of our Balinese food...

 

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Mango (the last of the trip, sigh)

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Laksa for me - this was awesome - really flavorful.  I was surprised that it was a coconut laksa, but very happy with it.

 

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Poached egg with the green goddess sauce for my wife.

 

After the laksa, I was still hungry, so I got the vanilla spiced french toast.

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It came with shaved coconut, more mango, a passionfruit curd and a palm sugar syrup flavored with vanilla, clove and star anise

 

Once checked into the airport:

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we went to Made's Warung, the balinese restaurant there...

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I got the nasi campur - it was ok, but not that great... but I guess you can't expect much at the airport...

 

My wife got the fried rice/ gado gado

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We boarded our Air Asia flight to Singapore... I had never flown them before - their prices are really cheap - our flight was like $50 each for a 2-1/2 hour flight... which is why I guess they need to supplement ticket prices with ads...

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We landed in Singapore's beatiful new, Terminal 4:

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baggage claim.

 

Singapore continues to amaze me.  We made it through customs in less than 10 minutes, and our bags we basically waiting for us on the carousel when we got there.  Jumped into a waiting taxi 5 minutes later, and 20 minutes after that were at our hotel.  We were checked in and in our room less than an hour after our flight landed.

 

OK - we're in Singapore for less than 24 hours.... what to do????

 

First up - chicken rice!  To my favorite place, Wee Nam Kee.  It was just as good as I had remembered it...

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It was quite busy - we had to queue up for about 10 minutes

 

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condiment tray - I really like their chili sauce, and love how they provide a container of grated ginger so you can add as much as you like.

 

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soup

 

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lime juice (from concentrate, obviously from the neon color)

 

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stir fried baby kailan

 

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chicken - comes room temperature

 

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chicken rice....

 

After dinner, we went to the ION centre mall on Orchard road:

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in the daylight

 

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after dark...

specifically went there to get some tea:

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TWG teas are ridiculously high quality, but also expensive.  I'm glad they don't have an outlet in NY!  (they actually do sell some teas there, but only their bagged teas, not the ridiculous selection of loose leaf)

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