Bali: Short & Sweet

When I decided to accept a job in Indonesia, I told myself that I would visit Bali within two years, then I would be heading back home. Sixteen-plus years and five Bali visits later, I hopped on the midnight plane for my sixth trip to the Island of the Gods. This trip was my shortest on the island, but definitely was a sweet one.

Ngurah Rai International Airport

I went to Bali for a friend’s wedding. He is one of the first persons I befriended on my first couple of years in Jakarta. He sent me the invitation a little over a week before the D-day. Upon the prodding of my best friend, Andreas (who stood as the groom’s best man), to utilize the trip to wind down, I re-arranged my schedule, booked a flight, packed, and flew.

Kuta Beach

My best friend and I flew to Bali late evening of a Friday, on different flights, an hour apart, and arrived at Ngurah Rai International Airport after midnight. We checked in at the Amaroossa Suite Bali in Nusa Dua, a rundown four-star hotel (as it was claimed) that badly needs a major renovation and a breakfast spread that needs a lot of improvement. Sleep didn’t come quick so YouTube and Viu was on ’til before the sun rose, thanks to the hotel’s saving grace — reliable wifi connection.

Offerings to the gods

There was no planned activity for the following day, aside from the wedding reception, so Saturday morning was staying in bed late. And since my buddy was off to his best man duties, it was me-time for me. I took a Go-Car to Kuta, went to see the beach, and had lunch at my favorite restaurant in Bali — Bamboo Corner along Poppies Lane, a small restaurant that serves Indonesian, Balinese, and western dishes. It is frequented by backpackers and budget travelers as prices there are affordable. Even visitors with thicker wallets flock there because food really has that home-cooked goodness. I had my all-time Bamboo Corner favorite, ayam bumbu Bali, fried chicken in Balinese sauce — sweet, sour, and spicy.

Bamboo Corner and fried chicken bumbu Bali

I took a walk along Legian street where the trees protected me from the direct hit and heat of the sun. It was not crowded, probably because it was midday (people were resting in their hotels) or it was the lean season (but Bali is always packed with tourists). Later on, the driver of the Grab car I took would tell me that, indeed, there were fewer visitors that weekend.

Dream catchers along Legian street

Because it was hot and humid, I got attracted to the sorbet being sold at Icelab Homemade French Gelato. I ordered a scoop of mango sorbet, and to my pleasant surprise I got a free scoop of passion fruit gelato! I was told by the friendly staff that it was a ‘happy hour’ promo.

Don’t leave Bali without having babi guling, mango sorbet, and passion fruit gelato

I went back to the hotel to rest and prepare for the wedding the reception. My couple-friends, Joe and Eli, picked me up from the hotel at around 6:00 pm and drove to Samabe Bali Suites and Villas where the wedding party was held. It was an intimate garden reception attended by about a hundred guests. Despite the humidity, the party went well with great food and good music, and clean fun. It was one of the best wedding receptions I have attended in recent years.

Garden wedding reception at Samabe Bali Suites and Villas

Sunday morning was spent staying late in bed (again!) and packing for the trip back to Jakarta. I had a 12:45 pm flight but leaving Bali without having babi guling is a no-no, so off we went to Babi Guling Pak Dobil in Nusa Dua after hotel check-out . We arrived just at the time when the store was starting to get crowded with people, mostly tourists. The lechon’s cousin was one of the best I tasted in Indonesia.

The wedding guests and the tiramisu

With just one hour to my boarding time, we rushed to the airport, passed through Bali’s tollroad, and got dropped off at the departure gate while Andreas still had three hours to spend buying pasalubong or oleh-oleh as his flight was at mid-afternoon.

Iconic: Hard Rock Bali and an updated HRBali guitar

It was a breeze but I felt like it was just right, just enough to unwind and escape the maddening Big Durian, as Indonesia’s capital is often referred to. And just like my past trips to Bali, this one’s for the books. Suksma, Bali! Until then.

This is Bali.
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