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Published: July 14th 2015
With our family and friends at St Augustine's Church, Hamilton
I interrupt your travel blog browsing to announce I AM MARRIED! That’s right my hubby Matt and I tied the knot on May 1st at Hamilton in Brisbane, Australia. The wettest day recorded for Brisbane in over 20 years! We didn’t let the rain dampen our spirits and quite literally had the best day. Despite our friends and family telling us we were batsh*t CRAZY for it, we had about three hours sleep after the reception before getting up at 5am to board a flight to Bali
. Our itinerary would take us south to Nusa Dua
, central to Ubud
, north-west to Pemuteran
, east to Candi Dasa
and across the Lombok Strait to Gili Meno
We honeymooners kicked off our relaxing two-week stay in the south at the beachside area of Nusa Dua, specifically at Novotel Benoa
. I’ll cut right to the chase, Benoa was our least favourite part of the trip – but only because the other places we stayed in Bali were much more “untouched”, private, cheaper and less “touristy”.
Whilst at Novotel Benoa we stayed in a King Terrace room on the beach side of Jalan Pratama (Room 227).
The hotel was a great ‘first hotel’ for our time in Bali - constructed in the traditional Balinese style and quite well kept, with floating frangipanis and bougainvillea trees adding to the tropical island atmosphere. The staff were always helpful and the daily buffet breakfast was spectacular! Food was relatively well priced inside the hotel but we went to the Small Convenience Store
directly opposite the neighbouring moneychanger for our Bintang beers (27,000R for large). The local taxis are cheaper than the hotel taxis – however, we did get ‘rorted’ by one man who made a reservation for us and one of the most expensive restaurants in Bali (in Jimbaran Bay). I also liked the fact there was a Commonwealth ATM nearby on Jalan Pratama opposite Bumbu Bali (and also a branch in Ubud) and that the moneychangers offered fantastic rates.
For our first dinner in Benoa we ate at Bali Cardamom
on Jalan Pratama (Website Link)
. It was very relaxing and offered a great range of classic and modern Indo dishes. Expect to pay minimum $40 for two for appetiser, main, drinks and shared dessert. Matt had the "best entree he's ever had" with their
The beach outside of Novotel Benoa
Prawn Cocktail. Best ever, full stop. I opted for the Pork Salad and Glazed Soy Chicken, both were delicious and oh-so light. We finished with the traditional Es Puter - coconut sorbet with red beans.
Our second day in Benoa we decided to walk down to the “ritzier” hotel precinct, home to the Conrad, Club Med + Sofitel. We walked all the way down to Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa
, which is a gorgeous hotel set on large block with stunning gardens. We explored here for an hour or so before heading back along the beach to Novotel. Dying for a beer by this stage, I lost count of how many hotels refused us service because we weren’t guests. We finally settled on a small Warung on the Benoa side of Club Med for a few cheap beers on the beach.
After our long walk we were in dire need of massage. We avoided the vocal street vendors and opted for a larger establishment set back off the road. The Home Spa
on Jalan Pratama (down a backstreet beside Glaze Dining) is just 100m from Novotel Benoa. It was
Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa
Exploring the gorgeous grounds at this great hotel
definitely the best on the strip by our standards. Very professional, private and reasonable. We received a 20%!d(MISSING)iscount and had 2 x 1hr Anti Stress massages for $26AU (260,000 IDR). They also have a happy hour special from 9am to 1pm where they offer a 2hr combination Balinese/Aromatherapy massage for 165,000 IDR per person. We had Susan and Ita
as our therapists and both were lovely, capable of medium pressure.
As an Aussie traveller, you hear a lot about Kuta. By the third day in Bali we decided it was probably time to see for ourselves what all the fuss was about. We hired a local taxi for 400,000 IDR ($40AU) for about 9 hours of driving (Benoa – Kuta – Uluwatu – Jimbaran – Benoa). We were dropped off at the Matahari Shopping area, with market stalls lining the street to the beach. Matt did his usual brutal bargaining and snagged me shorts for 25,000 IDR ($2.50AU) and dresses for 60,000 IDR ($6AU). At 11:30am we couldn’t see any restaurants that tempted us and went off the tip of a co-worker and headed to Hard Rock Café
. The prices are definitely sky-high tourist-prices
10 minutes was enough for us!
but it served as a nice respite from the chaos and heat of Kuta. After just two hours at Kuta we found our driver and asked him to take us to a “beautiful Bali beach”. We ended up at Padang Padang Beach
which we enjoyed immensely. Access is tight and it’s not the largest of beaches, but we found that all the more special. There was this amazing villa built into the cliff at the southern end of the beach. I will never forget this stunning model-like woman walking down the winding stairs down the beach and wading into the ocean. She was very pregnant and seemed to be looking out to the ocean, possibly for her partner who was surfing? Talk about an exquisite mystery.
From Padang it was off to Uluwatu Temple
to watch the sun set. Our driver tried to book us into the dance/drum show but we politely declined. Luckily we did, otherwise we wouldn’t have had enough money for dinner! Knowing we were honeymooners the driver ‘made a reservation’ for us at a Jukung Seafood Restaurant
at Kedonganan Beach in Jimbaran Bay
. Needless to say it was the
Padang Padang Beach
Traversing the track down to this secluded Uluwatu beach
most expensive meal we had in Bali at around $200AU (2,000,000 IDR)! Not that I eat seafood, but Matt said it was average at best. Not only was the food and drinks expensive but they had a roaming Mariachi band who sing at your table. Don’t get me wrong they were entertaining, but they leave a hat on your table after they finish, giving you this dead pan stare until you tip them. There was also a photographer offering ‘free photos’ who ‘worked for the restaurant’ who someone came back with a price list trying to sting you for a $5 print. We were quite angry when we got back into the car and vowed never again to let a stranger book us any tours or meals. So much for that friendly Balinese culture you hear so much about hey?
We attempted to explore further north on our fourth day in Benoa, but because it was local school holidays it was completely packed and we turned back towards Novotel. I got in some quality Game of Thrones re-reading that day and Matt even rescued a Sri Lankan tourist from drowning in the hotel pool! We
Mysterious memories of Padang Padang Beach
stopped by Meads Burger Bar
on Jalan Pratama (a short walk from Novotel) so Matt could get his NRL fix; they also show all AFL & Union games live.
On our final day in Benoa we headed to Geger Beach
(out the front of the massive Mulia hotel) which made a nice clean change to Benoa's rubbish-laden shores. We paid $2.50AU (25,000 IDR) per person entry fee in our taxi (taxi ride was negotiated for 80,000 IDR return from Novotel Benoa - quoted 100,000 one way at first). Once here, we went for a swim outside of the Mulia hotel - which resulted in a serious wipe out on my part lol! I used the hotel showers to wash the kilo of sand from my hair and togs - much to the annoyance of an onlooking Mulia Security Guard. After strolling the beach and snapping some pics of the Temple above the jutting boardwalk, we headed back to the start of Geger. We pulled up stumps at Fleet Bar & Café
for lunch. Two chicken burgers and two large Bintangs set us back $12.50AU (125,000 IDR – which was our cheapest lunch in Bali to
A great place to visit at sunset - just skip out on the (very packed) dancing and drums show!
date). They also offered free wifi and friendly foot-level visitors of the feline and canine variety.
After an afternoon pool side it was off to Luna Bonita
for dinner. The Jejeruk (coconut curry) was delish for a very reasonable $7.90AU (79,000 IDR). Matt opted for the Tulamben Seafood platter which was a little light on for his appetite. He ended up wishing he had bought two mains for less than the price of the platter. Dessert was Mango Coconut Macaroon Rolls...which was nothing like a macaroon from the pictures, but oh so delicious - more like a sweet spring roll!
Next we’re off northwest to the national marine park area of Pemuteran!
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