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Posted by - ® Carolyn on May 17, 2006 at 3:25 pm:

Hi everyone,

I just thought I’d put a JBR out there as the forum seems a bit quiet.

I returned on Saturday after 8 days away. We stayed at Villa Angkasa, Bukit Jimbaran – same place as last year and even more fantastic. The owners are moving back in for a while to undertake some garden work and it should be open back up to the rental market later this year. It is a truly wonderful place.

I thought it was pretty busy over there. You walk through customs and there were quite a few drivers holdings signs etc. The busiest I’ve seen it in quite a few years – definitely since 2002.

On the streets there were quite a few tourists walking the strip up around Legian/Seminyak. Kuta is still pretty quiet during the day. Not sure about at night as we didn’t go in there. There is still an enormous amount of building going on especially around Kerobokan, Canggu and Jimbaran. The Jimbaran seafood restaurants seemed to have a lot of security around them at night with a boom gate etc, but during the day it was fairly isolated with a few token people sitting near the entrance.

I’m sorry if this report is a little light but we really just went to chill out and friends of ours got married while we were there.

The wedding ceremony went off without a hitch. This is pretty much due to Deden at Bali Exotic Weddings. He is sensational and really was on my list of “best ever customer service experiences” and this includes outside of Bali. He was exceptionally easy to deal with, was very practical, honest, and also a really, really nice man. He arranged all aspects of the full legal wedding ceremony. His contacts for hairdressing (Diana Halim, La Maree Bridal) and photography (Windee Winata from The Photo Factory) were absolutely brilliant. Both were wonderful to work with and both achieved outstanding results. The flowers (again organized by Deden) were beautiful. In the months prior to the wedding I did an enormous amount of research and these guys kept coming up at the top of the list each time and if I did it again I would use only these people as they were outstanding – nice and easy to have around. Perfect in every way.

I stupidly thought if I found a wedding organizer, and sourced my own hair, makeup and photographer I would save money, but it all became clear a few days before hand that Deden had worked with all these people many times before and if I had just listened to him and used his referrals I would have saved myself all the extra bother. A truly top class team.

The day went off without a hitch. We started in the morning with breakfast followed by massages. Then a lovely lunch, a swim, and then we started the process. Deden’s team arrived an hour or so before hand, scattered flowers around, moved furniture, greeted the priest and the minister etc. The wedding took place immediately prior to sunset and was simple and elegant.

Our very favourite Ibu Made constructed some lovely canapés for us to eat afterwards, washed down with French champagne. Then we headed out to dinner at Ku De Ta. The food here was lovely (they have really lifted their culinary standard) but the service gets a huge black mark from me. We went to Ku De Ta several days before hand to check out the venue. Made the booking, asked for a table out the front etc. Then called on the evening of the wedding (6pm) and confirmed again. Then we arrived to be told that the table was already occupied, and offered us another table in the main hallway. Not good. Another table was set up for us outside. Needless to say it started to rain, so we moved inside, and our hallway table was now occupied (promised to us if it started to rain). I was fed up and walked up to another table that was unoccupied and sat down only to be told “Oh I am sorry this table is reserved”. I can tell you I don’t think much of the effectiveness of their reservation system so stayed put. We were fuming. My friend was there in her wedding dress and they did nothing to make it special. We had specifically told the reservation team when we booked “it’s for a wedding dinner”. Towards the end of our meal the manager offered us deserts to apologise for the table confusion – again no recognition of the wedding. I certainly won’t be going back.

Now to more positive dining experiences….. This holiday was purely about relaxing (plus one wedding day). We ate most meals at the villa but did venture out for some treats.

La Lucciola – we had lunch here one day – food was lovely and we were lucky there was a breeze.

Padi, Ritz Carlton Jimbaran – I am not normally a hotel dweller for food. We decided to leave the villa for a few hours and have cocktails down near the beach. It seemed so easy to slip over to Padi, the Thai restaurant, for a bite to eat. The waiter suggested the sampling plate and it was… I N C R E D I B L E… I would rate this much higher than my Mosaic experience and I still think Mosaic is pretty good. The sampling plate had some lobster in a red curry sauce, prawn and spices on betel leaf, a minced chicken roll, and some crab and sweet corn soup. It sounds simple but the flavours were incredibly complex and delicious. It was one of the highlights of the trip. The waiter told us that Padi has received Restaurant of the Year from Bali Eats. I would believe it.

We also dined at the Italian restaurant at the RC on the night we were leaving as we were flying back to Sydney on a night flight and stopped for one of the Ritz Carlton’s massively huge cocktails followed by some pasta right on the water. The position of this restaurant is magnificent, though the food was just good – not as good as the Thai. The grounds of the hotel are nothing short of spectacular.

Outside of all that, Bali seems to be buzzing. I know people post “go back people need you” but I have to say I think the people who are struggling the most are the old market sellers and transport workers based around the Kuta area. When you move towards Seminyak things are busy. Plenty of new restaurants. Villa construction is abundant and traffic is thick. Looking at the reports of tourist numbers landing they are now taking over last year’s numbers. It seems only the Australian numbers have declined. Lots of Chinese, Korean, Tapai, Javanese and Europeans out on the streets. I guess the major trend is away from hotels and into private villas so this also affects a lot of local jobs.

It was nice to talk to staff at the Ritz Carlton. We continually asked “how many years have you worked here” and most answered between three to six years. Putu, our cocktail mixer (most enormous cocktails) explained how he had gone from working in a smaller local hotel to buy his own car and working as a driver, and then after the bomb coming to work at the RC working his way up from room attendant to bar manager. So if nothing else these bigger hotels are at least offering locals employment.

The fuel prices have definitely impacted on business. Taxi fares were more expensive, I felt the restaurants were a bit more expensive too – the street ones. We bought pearls on the street (same guy as last year) and he tried to double the price and blame the fuel situation. Nice try. Handbags were cheaper. Tailor prices were pretty much the same. We went to our normal cushion maker, Bulan Wangi on Jalan Raya Seminyak, and prices were pretty steady here too. We got new cushions for home made up, as well a few other things.

I stopped for my regular visit to Jenggala Ceramic. If you have never been there I suggest you have a look. I am building more and more of my Jenggala dinner set and it makes me think of Bali each time I see it. Also I was given 10% off for using my Amex. Go figure?

We did keep away from mainstream areas at night but that’s never really been my thing. I really enjoyed my villa holiday and look forward to heading back again for some solid R&R.

If anyone needs contact details for any of our wedding info just let me know.

Best,
Carolyn

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