I'm sitting in a poolside bar that overlooks the beach in Seminyak in southern Bali. A light breeze and overhead fans temper the late-morning heat. Balinese music (much like that piped through a Sydney day spa) adds to the laid-back atmosphere. To my left is the resort pool, bordered by fringed yellow umbrellas and teak lounges. The hotel is decorated in the Balinese style, with thatched roofs and lots of ornate stone carvings. The obligatory temples dot the grounds. It's all very beautiful.
Life is good.
My holiday is coming to an end so over the next few days I'll share with you my top 5 Balinese experiences and then the not-so-good. I'll start with a day I'll never forget, even when I'm old and senile:
1. Cycling from Kintamini to Ubud with Jegeg Bicycle Tours. My friend Ms Fivestar and I were lucky enough to meet Nyoman, a young Balinese man who started his tour company in Ubud just over 12 months ago. Nyoman's brother drove us to Kintamani via a coffee plantation (more about the coffee in upcoming posts).
It's almost 90 per cent downhill from the volcano Kintamani to the cultural centre of Ubud in Bali's heartland. We whirred our way through numerous villages where the children ran onto the streets, hands outstretched so we could give them high fives. They called out: "Hello! Where are from? What is your name?" as we flew by. We stopped to walk through rice paddies that undulated to the horizon. We also went into a Balinese family compound and saw a 10 year old girl weave a substantial basket in 15 minutes - her fingers were a blur as she wove the pandanus into a cube shaped receptacle for flowers and other food offerings to the spirits that form the basis of the Hindu religion.
At the end of the tour, which nearly killed Ms Fivestar (it was the 10 per cent that got her) we went to Nyoman's family compound where his sister-in-law served us an amazing Indonesian banquet. I felt extremely privileged to be welcomed into his home. Ms Fivestar and I are blessed to have met Nyoman and his family.
Next, I'll bung in the remaining four excellent experiences. But this is more than enough for one post. I am now bracing myself for the trip into Kuta, which was described by one lovely New Zealand woman I met here as "a crazy place". Gawd. More of that later. I feel a dip in the pool and a long cool drink coming on.
See youse round like rissoles...