Normally I’d show you the sights first, and there are certainly things to see and do in Bali, but this holiday was about relaxing and recuperating. I was so desperate for a break and change of scenery, that I was willing to travel twenty-two hours, running far away, about as far as one can go while remaining in earth’s atmosphere.
If sightseeing is your goal, then I would recommend splitting up your trip to stay in different parts of the island, but we both needed rest most, and the hotels of Southeast Asia tend to be the ultimate in relaxation splendor. Tatjana and I decided to spend the entire ten days lazing on the beaches at the southern tip of Bali, in Nusa Dua.
From swim-up bars (in Hua Hin, Thailand 1993) to the swim-up living rooms of the St. Regis Bali today… stunning aesthetics everywhere you look, and exotic cocktails (or mocktails), it is not hard to chill out in Bali.
Tatjana and I are both pining for the 12,000 ft long pool with it’s waterfalls and aqua dens, to Henry Moore-ish sculptures piercing through the ultra lush landscaping. You could literally swim for half an hour without ever
having to turn to do a lap. Each swim became a virtual treasure hunt for odd ball finds in hidden alcoves – such as swinging drums you could pound, or a little bale over the water for playing backgammon along the way.
The Balinese greet you with huge smiles upon every encounter. Even the sounds of the place serve to make you unwind. With each xylophonic ting of the gamelan, I would feel the knots in my muscles melt into oblivion.
The constant patter of water from the stunning fountains at every turn seemed intent on keeping that zen feeling. Being Picsean, my entire nervous system seems to reset and reboot with the surf. Long afternoons were spent losing myself in the tapestry of words in the books I read, while listening to the waves roll in.
Inspiration abound everywhere I looked. Even the women selling their wares seemed to beg for artists to bust out their paints and canvas, while a welcome cool breeze caressed my body and made kites dance overhead.
I already told you about the sumptuous breakfasts and dinners, but around 4:00 every afternoon we would swim up to the pool bar for a tropical fruit smoothie, or my favorite, the lemongrass & lychee colada (see the recipe I persuaded the bartender to share below), then off for some divinely self-indulgent massage. Each
gentle touch expertly kneading out any remnants of stress that remained unwelcome, yet still lurking. At sunset, you could make a short journey, to the village of Pecatu near Kuta, and Uluwatu Temple with it’s magnificent view from the cliff. Every evening there is ceremonial dance preformed there with beautiful women in traditional costume and a chorus of men singing, rather than the usual orchestral background of gamelans.
The monkeys at the temple ran amok with a tourists’ flip flops, amusing me long enough to keep my mind off the steep climb to the open air theater, but being packed in like sardines in sweltering heat with more than a little hint of commercialism over authentic culture, left us content with viewing this ceremony once.
Instead we opted for the less glitzy fire dance performed at the hotel each evening. It preceded the lighting of the torches on the property at sunset (plus had the added advantage of requiring less effort).
One look at these photos and all the sights, sounds, sensations, and flavors come rushing back. A mini-vacation easily conjures as I close my eyes and smell the frangipanni tinged air, feel the breeze wafting up the stairs and rustling through the palm trees, the gamelan delighting my ears as the ocean beckons from beyond.
Lemongrass & Lychee Colada
Lemongrass, mangosteen, and other exotic flavors making my mouth water in remembrance - now taunting me back into the kitchen to play. Yes, Bali was just what the doctor ordered (in my case, quite literally, actually). Refreshed, renewed, extremely grateful for my life, and ready for action again.
8 ounces pineapple juice
4 fresh lychees
6 ounces coconut milk
1/4 of a slice of pineapple for garnish
1). Add pineapple juice, lychee, banana, peach and coconut milk to a blender. Blend well until the consistency of a thin smoothie.
2). Cut the ends of the lemongrass with an X at the bottom so it will impart flavor to the drink.
3). Divide the mixture between glasses. Add a cut lemongrass for flavor and stirring, a straw to each glass, garnish with pineapple.
For a fabulous cocktail, add 151 Bacardi rum and Mailbu.