Bali, Aug & Nov 2013, a journey in two parts.

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We embarked on our first visit back to bali in 13 years by attending the RERNetwork Annual Principals Advance and added a few days at either end for good measure staying in a lovely Villa at The W Hotel at Seminyak.

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It was chill time around the private Villa pool on our first day and then off to a welcome cocktail hour on the roof bar at The W and dinner at Meraputa restauramt with our Sydney Boardroom group

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The next day was the first day of The Conference and John went for an early surf at Echo beach and after about an hour and a few big dumplings he came in feeling a bit winded only to find out over the next few days of unbearable pain that he had done some severe rib cartilage damage.

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So the rest of the conference there was no more surfing and very limited activity especially at night. we still managed to get to all the dinners but by about 10pm the pain would start to kick in. Therefore we hung around The W a fair bit taking in all it’s quirkiness and funkiness

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We visited the yet to be completed SEA SENTOSA to visit the winner of the best Apartment in the world.!!!! not so sure about that.

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The final Dinner at Mosaic on the beach

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PART TWO. NOV 2013

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Part two of our Bali holiday was 3 months later in Novemeber  and after an extended flight  due to going via Brisbane we arrived in Denpasar to be greeted by Made and ushered through customs effortlessly to find Little Made waiting to whisk us a way to Villa Sungai in comfort with cold towels and water at the ready. No matter what way you cut it getting anywhere in bali requires patience and an hour later we arrive to the stunning Villa Sungai in the Village of Cepaka.

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Set on the side of a slope fronting onto a wild jungle creek cutting its way through the rice paddy fields and countryside where giant trees, massive Palms and impossibly thick Bamboo provide a stunning backdrop to the vista that greets you.

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Although Villa Sungai has been here 13 years it looks as fresh as day one and yet it sits in it’s environment effortlessly capturing the best of everything contemporary as well as acknowledging it’s Balinese Environment.

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After a lovely welcome cocktail we start settling in when it’s time for our first of many massages under the expert hands of Wayan ( female )and    who take us from the frenetic past three months to a totally escapist zone which was exactly what we needed. Next it was Wayan the chef’s turn to take us away from our hectic world with Canapés, entree and main course that told us there is no need to go out for dinner while we are here. The food was exceptional, fine dining at it’s best. 

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The open air dining and living room adjoining the lap pool is so chic yet very relaxed ,so perfect for dining in a sarong. Every course we ate was 5 star and we went to a our comfy bed on night one in a very contented state.

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The space we have here is extraordinary and way too much for the two of us so it will be good when the girl’s arrive to help fill the space. Breakfast is served in an outdoor dining room with a wall of water running down a ribbed wall to create a peaceful ambience and the effect of the mirrored back wall provides a visual feast from every angle. The fact that mirrors play an important role in the design of Villa Sungai is evident as you look around and realise that they are like the artworks providing you such variety of vista. Our first full day is spent in total chillax mode, swimming, floating, eating, snoozing, reading, ipading and nothing else but as little as possible, the total opposite of the past 3 months.

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Another delightful day of Wayan’s cooking has told us to cut back on the volume of food so it’s moderation from here on, or so we plan….Tuesday morning and John heads to Canguu for his first Surf and after one and a half hours he has filled his wave quota to the max in the small 2 to 3 ft fun clean uncrowded conditions .

and it’s now time for another day of Chilling at The Villa with a 90 min massage thrown in for good measure.

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Wednesday we decide to take a trip up Country to Lake Bratan in the mountains towards the north coast. Along the way we visited  Mengwi and the beautiful Pura Taman Ayun Temple set in lush gardens it is classed as a happy place and with festival time it certainly felt that way. It was wonderful to see the temple in action with people bringing offerings aplenty. The decorations of gold and white were beautiful and not too overstated, no flash gold statues etc, everything being either natural material , painted or covered with cloth.

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We arrived through the clouds to lake Bratan where at an elevation of 1400 m the temperature was a good 10 deg cooler than on the plains. 

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With rain threatening we visited The 17th century Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Temple on the Lakes shore with the obligatory bus loads of tourists descending from every direction and found some very interesting gardens in the grounds.

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At lunch the heavens opened and this hindered our tour of The Eka Karya Botanic Gardens to mostly driving through but fortunately the rain stopped enough to wander through the Bamboo forest which was a real highlight and inspired us to get more bamboo at home.

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The mountain climate created a very interesting environment with temperate forest species amongst tropical forest species that changed at every turn, very beautiful indeed. A photo shoot was happening under some enormous ancient trees, the backdrop was surreal, it would have been great to wander under the canopy , oh well, that just means another visit will be in order next time we come to Bali.

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On the way back to Cepaka it really bucketed down,we tried to explain to Made that this was “raining cats and dogs”. The roads had water pouring down the sides and traffics was hectic, we were glad it was Made driving ,and when we reached the plains there was not a drop in sight. We were so glad we dragged ourselves away from the Villa today , as it was great to see a completely different side to Bali than we had seen before and the natural beauty of the mountain area. As Made said ! It recharges the battery.A perfect way of finishing off the afternoon was with a relaxing 60 min massage before dinner just to be sure we were as relaxed as possible.

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Dinner was exceptional again, I don’t think there is anything on the menu that could disappoint. We are trying new things each time but it is very tempting to want to repeat some of the scrumptious meals we have already eaten. So glad we are here for 10 days so we can keep trying more and hopefully repeat some too!

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Thursday and John was up early for a Surf and went to Old Man’s, the aptly named break just north of Canguu where long boarders and novices hang out. Well today it was solid 4 to 6ft, plenty of loggers out, plenty of novices and plenty of hot shots as well in the 70 plus crowd spread over about 100m of breaks. John managed a few good ones in amongst the close outs but in the end the crowd just made it hard to get enough waves.

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Another day of poolside chilling although the rain was around today so moments of under cover reading and relaxing, and then Amy & Beth arrived at around 5.00pm, they were amazed at the beautiful surroundings and decor and after their welcome drink they were ready for their 90 min massage at 5.30pm, perfect after the flight from Sydney.

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Another day chillin around the pool apart from a trip into Canguu to show everyone the beaches and a lovely vego lunch at Green Ginger before more poolside relaxing and siesta time. The heavens opened up that afternoon as expected. Saturday and John was off to Old Mans again early with more waves on offer today and less crowd he came back a happy man.

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Lots of Chill time at Villa Sungai.

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While away the Villa had a morning shower and with intermittent rain and sunshine the girls grabbed the snippets of sun a s best they could moving around from sun lounge to sun lounge and floating around in the pool. After another lovely lunch of Gado Gado and Nasi Goreng we had an afternoon of Massages to look forward to. A massive thunderstorm hit about 2.30pm and lasted most of the afternoon and we learnt to be very careful around the highly polished tiles when Ann went for a nasty slip and fall onto her back and ended up in agony but very luckily only bruised not broken. John had also gone for a slip but not fall a few days earlier in the same place just outside to door to the master bedroom and is still feeling it in his lower back so Beth is going to give them both some trigger point work.

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That evening after some lovely canapés and pre dinner drinks at the Villa we all went into Seminyak to Motel Mexicola an eclectic and amazingly good mexican restaurant that is decked out in eccentric 1960’s kitsch style around an open air central courtyard and the food is sensational even if the drinks are pricey.
we had a great fun night but passed on any further night clubbing activities and headed home to bed.

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Sunday and we woke to a beautiful day so John was off to Old Mans at 4 ft to 6 ft again to do battle with the Sunday crowd where every wave was drop in city with Euro loggers going straight when there were clean walls down the line……frustrating but still a few memorable waves were had before breakfast was calling.

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another relaxed day at villa sungai and john and beth took a village walk in the afternoon when it had cooled down a few degrees

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Cepaka Village sights.

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the days started to blend into one another but a trip into seminyak woke us from our slumber to do a bit of shopping and catch a meal at the earth cafe…simply sensational vego food again.

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lots of rain in the evening but a special celebration dinner was put on for us this night with lanterns [ that john kept bumping his head on ]and drapes hanging from the ceilings to create a beautiful atmosphere.

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We even had our own Balinese band on hand to do the latest hits for us.

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Beth’s last day was also chilled out with plenty of pool time before she whipped us off the table in a thrilling game of monopoly…ruthless is the word that springs to mind..  our last day at villa sungai and its off to ubud for ann and amy and that evening its home time for john but not before a wander around Ubud town past temples and onto a few more wonderful food joints, kaffe and pure were both sensational and then after an afternoon nap at d’ubud villas it was off to the Bridges restaurant for another stunning farewell meal.

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The delightful courtyard and pool at D’Ubud Villas

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Farewell dinner at The Bridges Restaurant

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