Malaysia & Indonesia 2019 - My Early Birthday Treat

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September 3rd 2019
Published: September 7th 2019
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Happy Early BirthdayHappy Early BirthdayHappy Early Birthday

Towel elephant at Pankor Laut Resort
Monday 19th August

We were up at 0045 to drive the 2 hours to Darwin Airport for the first leg of our trip to Singapore flying Jetstar Asia. Not the best flight ever, with seats so thin you could see the metal framework – never again, Jetstar. The flight was 4 hours, so by the time we got to Singapore we were pretty sore. The plan was to go and see the new Jewel but you had to go through Customs to access the new terminal so we got on the shuttle train and could se what we wanted from there.

Jewel Changi Airport is a nature-themed entertainment and retail complex on the landside of Changi Airport, Singapore. Linked to three of its passenger terminals, the centrepiece is the world's tallest indoor waterfall, named the Rain Vortex, which is surrounded by a terraced forest setting.

Jewel includes gardens, attractions, a hotel, aviation facilities and more than 300 retail and dining facilities. It covers a total gross floor area of 135,700 m2, spanning 10 storeys – five above-ground and five basement levels. Its attractions also include the Shiseido Forest Valley, an indoor garden spanning five storeys, the Canopy Park
The Rain VortexThe Rain VortexThe Rain Vortex

Jewel, Changi Airport, Singapore
at the topmost level, featuring more gardens and leisure facilities. It opened on 17th April 2019 at a cost of S$1.7billion. It is made of steel and glass and covers 8.6 acres with 10 floors -5 above-ground storeys and 5 basement levels.

Jewel's toroidal glass-and-steel façade was designed by a consortium of architects, led by Moshe Safdie, who also designed Singapore's Marina Bay Sands. Renowned local firm RSP Architects Planners & Engineers were the executive architect and structural engineers. The landscape architect was Peter Walker and Partners, who co-designed the National 9-11 Memorial and worked with Safdie on the landscaping of Marina Bay Sands. It has a 360-degree light and sound show projected onto it.

Jewel was envisioned to combine a marketplace and an urban park. “The component of the traditional mall is combined with the experience of nature, culture, education and recreation, aiming to provide an uplifting experience. By drawing both visitors and local residents alike, we aim to create a place where the people of Singapore interact with the people of the world,” said Moshe Safdie, the lead architect.

Shiseido Forest Valley

A collaboration of Shiseido and teamLab from Japan, the Shiseido Forest Valley is one of Asia’s largest indoor gardens, spanning five stories and approximately 22,000 square meters located in the heart of Jewel Changi Airport. It houses around 3,000 trees and 60,000 shrubs.

The Rain Vortex

Sponsored as 'HSBC Rain Vortex', it is the world's largest and tallest indoor waterfall, standing at 40 metres high. At night, the circular walls of the waterfall becomes a 360-degree stage for a light-and-sound show. It spans the height of seven storeys. The roof of the waterfall pumps 500,000 litres of rain water, which is the equivalent of 20% of the water inside an Olympic-size swimming pool. Just under the waterfall is a suspended railway track, through which a sky train transporting people through the park passes above ground. The entire waterfall falls free flow from the roof, But once it reaches the ground level, there is a glass cover to prevent it from splashing over in the basement level.

Canopy Park

At the topmost level of Jewel, the 14,000 sq m Canopy Park houses recreation and leisure attractions. About half of the total landscaping is hosted at Canopy Park, including two gardens: Topiary Walk and Petal Garden. The Topiary Walk features animal-shaped topiaries at every corner, while the Petal Garden will have seasonal floral displays/

The park includes a suspension bridge called the Canopy Bridge that is located 23 metres above the ground which offers a paranomic view of the Rain Vortex. At 50 metres long, the Canopy Bridge also has a glass panel flooring at the centre section that offers a view through to level 1 of Jewel.

Canopy Mazes

The park also consists of two mazes, situated at the eastern end of the Jewel called the Hedge Maze and Mirror Maze. The Hedge Maze is Singapore's largest with hedge walls standing at 1.8m high. The maze features gates that can be pushed within that will change the path of the maze. It ends at an elevated watchtower that offers a bird's-eye view of the entire maze. The Mirror Maze is located under the dome with plants branching across the top of the maze. The maze makes use of mirrors and various reflections.

Sky Nets

The Sky Nets provide children's play facilities, including a Bouncing Net and a Walking Net. The Bouncing Net is 250 metres long, suspended 8 metres above ground at its highest point. A separate 50-metre long Walking Net enables visitors to look down 25 metres to Jewel's Level 1.

Discovery Slides

The Discovery Slides feature four integrated slides: two tube slides and two sliding surfaces. The entire structure sits at an incline, 3m high on one end, and close to 7m on the other, and enables visitors to view the Forest Valley and the Rain Vortex.

Foggy Bowls

The Foggy Bowls are four concave bowls with depths of between 30 cm and 65 cm, people to jump in while mist is released to create an illusion of playing among clouds.

Changi Experience Studio

The Changi Experience Studio is a 3,000 square meters space with interactive games and displays relating to Changi Airport's history and allows visitors a behind-the-scenes look of how the airport is being run.

Purchasing a ticket is required to enter the Canopy Park, priced at S$4.50 for Singaporeans and S$5 for non-residents. Access to all the ticketed attractions within the park is priced at S$71 for adults and S$50 for children between the ages of 3 and 12.

We had a three-hour lay over so could wander around Changi Airport and check out some garden areas we missed last time we were here. The time flew by and we made our way to board the Jetstar Asia short 1-hour flight to Kuala Lumpur.

After Immigration we were met by our driver who took us on the 4-hour drive north to Lumut and Marina Island. He was very informative and most of the way was good highways with a few detours for road works. There were so many palm plantations.

Palm oil production is vital for the economy of Malaysia, which is the world's second- largest producer of the commodity after Indonesia. The Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) is a government agency responsible for the promotion and development of the palm oil sector in the country. The country's palm oil industry produces about 90 million tonnes of lignocellulosic biomass, including empty fruit bunches, oil palm trunks, and oil palm fronds, as well as palm oil mill effluent. In 2010, in response to concerns about social and environmental impact of palm oil, the Malaysian Government pledged to limit palm oil plantation expansion by retaining at least half of the nation's land as forest cover. We were told by our driver that 72% of he land is taken over by palm oil plantations. I thought that there were still natural rubber plantations, but these are few and far between.

Lumut is a coastal town (population 31,880) in Manjung District, Perak, Malaysia, situated about 84 km from Ipoh, 12 km from the town of Sitiawan and it is the main gateway to Pangkor Island before the establishment of Marina Island Pangkor. It is noted for seashell and coral handicrafts. This once little-known fishing town has since become the home base of the Royal Malaysian Navy and the site of the biggest naval shipbuilder in Malaysia, Boustead Naval Shipyard.

Lumut in Malay means moss, lichen, or seaweed. In its early days, the beach was said to be rich in moss, so the local people called it Lumut.

Tin and lumber were transported here by elephants and sampans, from as far away as Kinta. It was once part of the Straits Settlements by virtue of the Pangkor Treaty of 1874 until it was returned to Perak by Great Britain in 1935.

Pangkor Island is a resort island in Manjung District, Perak, Malaysia. It has a population of approximately 25,000. Nearby islands include Pangkor Laut Island, Giam Island, Mentagor Island, Simpan Island) and Tukun Terindak Island. The major industries of the island are tourism and fishing.

Historically, Pangkor was a refuge for local fishermen, merchants and pirates. In the 17th century, the Dutch built a fort in an effort to control the Perak tin trade known as the Dutch Fort. In 1874, it was the location of a historical treaty between the British government and a contender for the Perak throne (the Pangkor Treaty), which began the British colonial domination of the Malay Peninsula. The old British name for the Pangkor Island group was the Dindings.

In 2003, Marina Island (a man-made island) was developed by the Marina Island Group of companies and began operation in 2010, The integrated mixed development resort island consists of waterfront residential properties, a new jetty (Marina Island Jetty), a private commercial marina called Pangkor Marina Malaysia, service apartments, hotels and shop offices. The jetty has a ferry service which connects to the islands. We drove through Pankor and on to Marina Island

2004-2014 was a period of high growth and development for the island and the surrounding district. In 2006, a biotechnology centre, a joint venture of Global Hi-Q Malaysia S/B and Hi-Q Bio-Tech International (Taiwan) Ltd began operations with initial investments of RM100million (USD30m). Their operations include fish farming and aquaculture.

In 2012, the Malaysian palm oil industry employed an estimated 491,000 workers.

Malaysia's Sime Darby is the largest listed palm oil company globally, based on plantation area and fresh fruit bunch production. The company was created through a Malaysian government initiated merger in December 2006. The world's second-largest oil palm plantation company, Felda Global Ventures Holdings (FGV), is also based in Malaysia. Felda Global Ventures Holdings is the world's third largest palm oil company by planted acreage, controlling over 2,100,396 acres of land in the country, including approximately 1,355,527 acres that it leases and manages for smallholders.

We were dropped at Marina Island and the reception for the speed boat to Pankor Laut Island whose motto is “One Island – One Resort” Unfortunately we had an hour to wait for the speed boat, and by this time we were both very tired but were given cold drinks and comfy seats..

The speedboat came and we donned life jackets and four passengers and two crew set off on the 15-minute ride to Pankor Laut’s boat jetty in the pitch black and roughish seas. We landed at the jetty, walked to reception and the concierge took us to our overwater villa where we ordered room service and sat out on our deck drinking duty free whisky and eating a local Malaysian meal. A very long day and, hopefully worth it. It about 2100 (Malaysia is 1.5 hours behind Northern Territory time). Oops nearly forgot, I had mentioned when booking that this was my birthday treat and the bed was festooned with rose petals and greenery plus a towel elephant – the eyes filled with tears I will admit.

Tuesday 20th August

This is the write up I found advertising the resort:

“Nestled amidst an ancient rainforest, on a private island fringed by white sandy beaches and emerald waters lies Pangkor Laut Resort.

Set along the Straits of Malacca, three miles off the West Coast of Malaysia, a piece of paradise 2 million years in the making.

Of the island's 300 acres, only a fraction has been developed to house this peaceful luxury resort and its Estates. Declared a paradise by the late Pavarotti and previously voted 'Number One in the World' by Condé Nast Traveller; here, wooden buildings blend seamlessly into the forest, walls curve around foliage, and roofs open up to allow trees to continue on their journey to the sky.

Resting beneath the shade of forest giants as old as the land, this island is not only home to one of the world’s premier resorts but also to variety of wildlife. Long-tailed macaques and oriental pied hornbills perch in the branches above while white-bellied sea eagles soar overhead and large monitor lizards sunbathe on the island’s rocky outcrops.

Nature is respected here, almost revered and it rewards visitors in ways that simply need to be experienced.

A British Colonel, Freddy Spencer Chapman D.S.O, was a top British commando who made Pangkor Laut his destination for 36 hours in May 1945. After spending 3 1/2 years in hiding from the occupying Japanese army during World War II in the wild jungles of Malaya, Spencer Chapman mustered his courage and planned his escape route.

On 27 April, accompanied by a few guerrillas, he crossed enemy lines on foot disguised as a local Chinese. From Sungai Perak, hiding in sampans, they finally reached the island 15 days later. On 13 May 1945, he made his last escape from Emerald Bay at Pangkor Laut with his compatriot, Major R. Broome. They swam 45 metres out to sea in the dark of night to be rescued by the Royal Navy submarine, HMS Statesman.

During the 7-day journey back to Ceylon, they were constantly under threat from Japanese air attacks. Despite it being a short visit, the beauty and tranquillity of Pangkor Laut left a great impression on Spencer Chapman and his time on the island is detailed in his book 'The Jungle is Neutral'. When Pangkor Laut Resort was built, the bar situated at Emerald Bay was named 'Chapman's Bar' to mark the rendezvous point where he had escaped with the submarine.

Today was a lazy day we walked from our villa along a board walk to the island then through lush gardens and over a pond filled with koi, passin day bed and areas used by the Spa and the adults only infinity pool to the bus stop where you phone for a shuttle bus and wait to be driven to the reception area or wherever you want to go. We went for buffet breakfast at the main restaurant – The Feast Village. The breakfast menu was outstanding, fresh juice squeezed for you, pancakes, waffles and an egg station, Asian food, Malaysian food, English food (but no pork bacon of sausage only beef or chicken), fresh tropical fruits, cereal, yogurt, muesli, various breads, cakes, Europe and cold meats, cheese etc. and everything hot and very fresh. Coffee was served at your table and the staff were so friendly and happy, mainly Bangladeshis. In fact, all the staff were fabulous.

After our amazing breakfast, taken out side where we were joined by an oriental pied hornbill family of three, which was a treat in itself, we went to the concierge to book our meals. We chose to eat at the Feast Village (there is also a café, patisserie and wine cellar here) tonight – a Mexican and Malay buffet night. We also booked for Uncle Lim’s and the Fisherman’s Cove:

Born in the northern island-state of Penang to parents who relocated from Hainan, Uncle Lim cultivated his culinary knowledge and cooking techniques from his father, simultaneously garnering influences from the Nyonya cuisine that permeate his hometown. He wielded his wok and built his reputation in various restaurants in Penang before he was personally recommended to Tan Sri Dato' Seri (Dr) Yeoh Tiong Lay, Group Executive Chairman of YTL Corporation for his dedication to using high quality fresh ingredients to elevate traditional cuisine. This meeting eventually led to the opening of the namesake Chef Lim Fang Tat, affectionately known by all as "Uncle Lim," has been with the resort since its opening in 1985 and heads the team at the breezy, al fresco Uncle Lim's Kitchen. Over the years, guests of Pangkor Laut Resort have flocked to the restaurant to savour authentic Hock Chew and Nyonya home cooking in a unique dining venue, which was built on a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea, allowing guests to take in the incredible view of rustic fishing boats silhouetted against the hues of the setting sun across the Straits of Malacca.

“Situated adjacent to the Spa Village, Fisherman's Cove features a unique symphony of seafood themed dishes crafted by Chef Wai, the pioneer of this locally and internationally acclaimed restaurant, which focuses on sustainable fishing practices and the freshest ingredients.

The seaside restaurant welcomes children aged 16 years and above
Oriental Pied Hornbill FamilyOriental Pied Hornbill FamilyOriental Pied Hornbill Family

Joined us for breakfast on our first morning
for the comfort of all our guests. Dress code for adults is resort smart casual.”

Danie had omitted to pack closed shoes but did have a collared shirt. The concierge was, fortunately, the same size and lent him a pair of suitable shoes! We were not offer the Straits

The Straits, set against the rocks overlooking Royal Bay, provides a beautifully crafted private dining experience in private booths of natural timber, adorned with granite and silk. The talented chef, specialising in Asian cuisine, will curate dinner menus based on guest’s personal preferences.

The restaurant welcomes children aged 16 years and above for the comfort of all our guests. Proper dress code is required with shirt, full-length trousers and shoes for gentlemen and smart casual wear for ladies. To allow for market-fresh ingredients to be sourced, a 24-hour reservation in advance is required.

Also included in our package was a sunset trip on the resort’s oriental junk around the island. There had to be a minimum of four passengers and it only took place Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Our only option was Thursday and we had to await confirmation on the day. We were also given two 50-minute massages each at the Spa Village which we booked on returning to our villa. Other chargeable experiences were canoeing/sea kayaking, catamaran sailing, morning tai chi quan or yoga, jungle tracking, island hopping and picnic excursions. Deep sea fishing, leisure fishing charters or luxury yacht charter were also on offer.

Spa Village

Here, the first breath of inspiration is drawn from the stunning scenery. Paradise itself provides the essential ingredients for all our treatments, and healing lore as old as the land is imparted into every encounter. Promising an experience that honours the healing traditions of the region, each Spa Village delivers an individual and authentic encounter combining the therapeutic properties of natural local ingredients and the healing practices of the area. Coupling these age-old practices together with modern approaches to health and well-being results in a tailored one-of-a-kind experience, delivering award-winning results to our guests. Each Spa Village offers a consistently unique and uplifting opportunity for rejuvenation.

The Spa Village at Pangkor Laut Resort is a unique retreat that extols the healing cultures of the region. Malaysia, with its diverse history of people and cultures, and vast abundance of natural resources, provides the backdrop for health rituals that are amongst the oldest in the world. The abundance of Malay, Chinese and Indian practices makes this the ideal setting for complete rejuvenation.

The Spa Village comprises a number of specially built structures designed to facilitate an extensive range of treatments from China, Japan, India, Thailand, Bali and Malaysia. These include eight treatment pavilions, a deluxe Belian Treatment Pavilion, three ‘Healing Huts’, which include Chinese Herbal, Ayurvedic and Malay Huts, two Bath Houses, three Spa Huts, three Nap Gazebos and a Spa Boutique. 22 beautiful Spa Villas situated over the sea offer direct access to the Spa Village.

Programmes combine physical and spiritual health and well-being, and are based on one of four umbrella concepts: Rejuvenation and Longevity, Relaxation and Stress Reduction, Detoxification, and Romance.

Garden Villa

Located amongst lush gardens, these villas feature an additional sofa bed, a flat screen television with satellite channels and are strategically located close to the main facilities. Those travelling with children may prefer the connecting ground floor villas adjoined from the inside.

Hill Villa

Perched dramatically on the hillside amidst the rainforest, these villas offer a magnificent view of the sea and beautiful tropical gardens. Featuring a flat screen television with satellite channels as well as an additional sofa bed, villas on the ground floor provide a bathtub that opens out to the rainforest while those located on the first floor include a large indoor bathtub.

Sea Villa

Standing elegantly on stilts over the sea and linked by wooden walkways, these villas are the signature feature of the island. Each villa includes a large balcony with sun loungers and a bathroom with an oversized tub and a ceiling mounted shower that opens onto the sea.

The Estates – not available on our package

The Estates at Pangkor Laut Resort represent Southeast Asia’s past gentry, conjuring an atmosphere that recalls the romantic lifestyle of a British estate manager of old Malaya.

Situated on the northern part of the island, each of these eight private sanctuaries feature luxurious comforts, house between two to four bedrooms, separate living and dining pavilions, as well as a private pool with dramatic views; all set across acres of pristine rainforest.

Estate One, Two and Four are beachfront featuring a natural marine aquarium at their doorstep in the form of the cove’s waters. Estate Five to Nine, sited on hilltops within the rainforest, are magnificent examples of living in a colossal natural arboretum.

A personal butler on call serves every estate and a private chauffeur-driven car is available, should one decide to venture around the island where a litany of pleasant surprises await at the main resort.

Spa Villa - OUR CHOICE Priced over $700 per night including breakfast and nothing else – good thing I found a really good package!

Spa Villas are bungalows on stilts over the sea offering direct access to Spa Village and its lap pool. Each unit features an oversized bath with ceiling mounted shower and a large balcony with a stunning view of the Straits of Malacca.

The bathroom windows opened onto the ocean which was lovely for our bath and shower. The sheets and towels were changed everyday and they left my elephant for me to admire. Copious amounts of complimentary bottled water were on offer but no mini bar so we had to get ice for our whisky delivered each day.

There was also a Happy Hour twice a day buy one get one free which we enjoyed along with our once a day free beer or cocktail at the Royal Bay Bar overlooking the main pool. Wine was out of the question at $15 a glass!!!!

We had learnt to say ‘good morning’ and ‘thank you’ in Malay. This certainly helped our stay, we were remembered by most of the staff and I was always “Miss Linda”. We actually only paid once at the Royal Bay bar as the staff refused to give us a bill there. Such a little thing for us to learn and it worked in Bali too.

We had dinner outside at the Feast Village which was wonderful.

Wednesday 21st August

Woke to a storm and torrential rain so had to use our two complimentary umbrellas. It didn’t last long at all but cleared the haze for a while. Southwest monsoonal winds bring the smoke from Indonesian Kalimantan on Borneo due to open clear felling and burning from August to September. After breakfast we got a shuttle to Emerald Bay where we had sun loungers on the beach with an umbrella. Immediately we were met by staff with cold water, they also put towels on the loungers and a towel pillow. Later one of
Spa VillaSpa VillaSpa Villa

Our choice
the guys came round with free icy poles! The sea was indeed turquoise and the sand white – a truly magical place and very quiet with very few people. You can have breakfast on the beach or a romantic dinner including bonfire and tee lights right on the beach served from Chapman’s Bar.

We were told that the sunset cruise was on so we went off to the jetty at 1715 only to be told that we would be the only guests as another couple pulled out at the last minute. It was booked for nine of us. How luck were we with three crew to look after us. We sat up at the front on a bench overlooking the ocean and were served continuous white wine and canapés for over an hour as we slowly motored around the island on our very own teak oriental junk. What a thrill it was too.

I checked the price and it was $76 each if we had had to pay – that was an awful lot of wine!

Went to get our free drinks and Happy Hour – also free for us!

Thursday 22nd August

A beautiful

This was not an option
morning so early breakfast and then our first massages.

Danie had chosen Shiatsu massage, a Japanese pressure point technique based on the concept of acupuncture.. Pressure is applied to various body points along energy pathways enhancing the free flow of Chi (life force energy). A t-shirt and loose cotton pants were provided.

I chose a traditional Malay massage which is passed on from generation to generation. The technique consists of long kneading strokes that focus on the muscles and pressure applied to various points on the body. This treatment uses oil made with special local ingredients such as turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, onion and citronella, that invigorates circulation. Danie said I smelled good enough to eat but needed cooking first.

We later relaxed around the adults only pool and then went for a sensational dinner at Uncle Lims’. We were pleasantly surprised that because it was in a package we were expecting a limited menu, but no……. we could have a three-course meal and choose what we wanted. Drinks were extra but $15 a glass for wine limited us to one each. The staff were wonderful and we thoroughly enjoyed the Malay food.

Friday 23rd August
One of the Estates One of the Estates One of the Estates

Taken from our junk

Another massage for us both, Danie had the Chinese massage, performed by the Chinese doctor at the resort. I had the Japanese Shiatsu (meaning palm of the hand) which was OK but I prefer an oil massage.

TUI-NA AN-MO (MASSAGE) One of the major differences between Chinese massage and other systems of massage is the focus placed on the acu-points and directional flow of the subtle channels in the body. Tui-na massage is more than a system of relaxation and tension release. Although attention is also placed on the tendo-muscular system, the focus on the subtle channels allows one to influence the organs on a deeper level and treat complex complaints.

Whilst on the island we saw a family group of long-tailed macaques right outside our villa on the rocks, there were plenty of garfish swimming around our villa but we had no rod and reel! Lots of baby ones and plenty of bait fish. At night we could see the lights of the fishing boats close by. We also saw a monitor lizard, lots of ghost crabs and a lot of white-bellied sea eagles.

The crab-eating macaque (Macaca fascicularis), also known as the long-tailed macaque, is
Oriental Teak JunkOriental Teak JunkOriental Teak Junk

We weren't quite as far forward, sitting in front of window
a cercopithecine primate native to Southeast Asia. It is referred to as the cynomolgus monkey in laboratories. It has a long history alongside humans; they have been alternately seen as agricultural pests, sacred animals in some temples, and more recently, the subject of medical experiments. The crab-eating macaque lives in matrilineal social groups with a female dominance hierarchy, and male members leave the group when they reach puberty. They are opportunistic omnivores and have a cheek pouch for storing food whilst foraging.

That night, after Happy Hour’, we went to the fine dining restaurant Fisherman’s Cove where we ate outside overlooking the Straits of Malacca, Danie wearing the borrowed shoes. Had we have had to pay we would not have gone as the meal was so expensive (prices were on the menu for the unfortunates who didn’t have a package). We had a delicious three-course meal and at the end the staff gathered round our table to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ for me and presented me with a cake. It isn’t my actual birthday until 23rd September.

Got back to the villa to start packing as we have an early start in the morning.

Monday 26th August
 Uncle Lim's Uncle Lim's Uncle Lim's

Complete with granite rocks

The bags were packed and awaiting collection by 0700 and we went to have our last breakfast and settle the bill for incidentals, having to be at the jetty for 0745. We were the only passengers on the speedboat but there was a send-off party of a resort manager and staff to wave us goodbye, which was a lovely touch. The was much calmer and so we had a lovely trip back to Marina Islan where our car and driver were waiting for us as we were a little short of time as we had to be at Kuala Lumpur airport by 1300.

We had a quick drive back to the airport as no holdups along the way. It still took 4 hours but the driver was a lot more chatty so that passed the time. We were dropped at Kuala Lumpur International Departures and were soon through Customs and Immigration. There was total chaos as we had to change Gates three times but eventually got on the bus to the plane. We flew Air Asia this time and as it was only a 2-hour flight to Bali it was OK. We left at 1540 and our driver was there to pick us up at Bali airport at to take us to our accommodation at the Shanti Residence in Nusa Dua. The drive was about 30 minutes so we arrived around 2000, we passed some impressive looking top-end resorts and then turned right and drove down a very narrow rutted road with huge potholes straying cattle and plenty of rubbish. Through a security gate it was another world and we were greeted with cold towels and cold drink and made to feel very welcome. We were shown to our pool suite, we had our own 24/7 butler and the use of a car with driver, a daily tropical fruit platter in our room, daily afternoon tea and canapés with a free cocktail and we were given a comprehensive breakfast menu which we filled in every night and gave the time we wanted to eat and where we wanted to sit. We had a couple of beers each brought from Malaysia, cooled in a big bucket of ice which the butler brought for us along with fresh milk for our morning coffee.

The Shanti Residence was launched in 2007 with a design concept conceived by acclaimed Balinese architect, Popo
Fisherman's CoveFisherman's CoveFisherman's Cove

fine dining option that we did on our last night
Danes. By respecting the past and embracing the future, the property went on to be recognised as one of South East Asia’s top private villas. A transformative renovation was completed in 2016 based on an aesthetic direction from the late Indonesian designer, Jaya Ibrahim.The Shanti Residence is furnished with designer amenities, a bespoke wine cellar, dedicated spa, gym and spectacular chapel. Each space is functionally brought to life to provide a sense of Indonesia’s rich heritage and cultural diversity.

Established in 2014, The Shanti Foundation is their corporate social responsibility programme that focuses on giving back to the local Balinese community. They host regular outings for underprivileged children and nurture the talents of aspiring young Balinese artists through an annual exhibition. Other initiatives include scholarships and work placement for deserving students, as well as generous donations to worthy causes.

Sunday 25th August

After a really good night's sleep we were up for breakfast at 0900 which we ate by the pool outside. A pot of coffee was brought, fresh mixed juice, a plate of fresh cut fruit and then Danie had a huge English breakfast (more beef bacon!!!!) and I had Nasi Lemak. We both had toast and jam and another pot of coffee. We then went back to our room, which had been made up and spent time in our own pool. We had asked for a car and driver to take us into Nusa Dua to buy a slab of beer and some nibbles. He came into the shop with us and organised the slab of beer whilst we chose our nibbles.

It was then back for afternoon tea, a selection of home-made canapés and a cocktail. The beer was put in the Shanti kitchen fridge and was brought to our room whenever we asked for cold beer - no minibar in the room. There were several couples around but as there we only seven villas it was not crowded and we rarely saw anybody which was nice.

Every day whilst sitting around the main pool with cocktails we watched the parasailers gliding noiselessly byover the Indian Ocean, which was so relaxing. Apparently, we learned, it was A$140 for 15 mins for visitors (A$70 for locals) - we preferred to watch!

Monday 26th August

Today we had a late breakfast and I had Nasi Goreng whilst Danie had the English breakfast,
Beach Dining at Emerald BayBeach Dining at Emerald BayBeach Dining at Emerald Bay

Far too romantic for Danie
someone in the kitchen got the order wrong and Danie ended up with two breakfasts one with scrambled egg and one with an omelette which they thought he had ordered on the form???? Lots of laughing and all was good. After breakfast we were taken by car ot the Balinese Collection in Nusa Dua. A very touristy mall of restaurants all having more or less the same offerings and lots of tourist shops and massage places. We saw a lady and her little boy having their feet nibbled by lots of tiny fish eating dead skin on public display outside the shop????? We chose the wrong restaurant for lunch. they had run out of beer. We got up to leave but a waitress dashed off to get beer for us from another restaurant? We were to be picked up at 1500 but no car arrived, we got chatting to another couple waiting for the same car . They were from New Zealand a 9-hour flight and they come to Bali regularly to relax but it was their first time at the Shanti? We were just about to phone the Shanti when the car arrived half an hour late. The poor driver was beside himself an apologised profusely. The Indian couple from the Shanti had booked the car to come to the shops but were 20 minutes late and there is only he one car. We tried to calm the driver telling him it was not his fault, poor boy. Back home for cocktails, canapés and parasailing watching then back to our pool.

Tuesday 27th August

I had eggs benedict which was amazing this morning. The juice we chose every day was a mix of red dragon fruit, watermelon and pineapple. Today we had the car take us to Nusa Dua Beach Grill for lunch which I had read about. Nusa Dua Beach Grill is a secluded surf bar and seafood grill that enjoys a prime location in Nusa Dua. The restaurant overlooks the Geger Lagoon on southern Nusa Dua’s Geger Beach, and is snugly positioned right between The Mulia mega resort and the landmark Geger Temple. The restaurant predates the resort, established in 1995 when Geger was still an exotic and deserted beach, and still maintains its charm by offering great views and settings with delicious food at reasonable prices. Nusa Dua Beach Grill started off following a
Sunrise Over Pankor IslandSunrise Over Pankor IslandSunrise Over Pankor Island

Looking out over our deck
passion for surfing by veteran wave rider and videographer Timothy Stripling, and a love for cooking by his Balinese wife Putu. The restaurant evolved from humble beginnings, as a beach surf bar where you could paddle out to the great surf just up front, then back in to chill out with some drinks and hearty bites. The full-fledged restaurant today has a varied menu, occasionally features live music.

We had a lovely lunch overlooking the Greger lagoon watching the seaweed farmers bringing the weed ashore.I tried Mahi Mahi fish (dolphinfish) and Danie had grilled tuna. Our driver just happened to be from a seaweed farming family who lost everything when the Mulia Resort was built as they weren't allowed to harvest that part of the beach which has had tons of sand dumped there for their guests to enjoy. What a dreadful thing to happen and I wonder how many guests know or even care. After lunch we walked towards the temple and stopped to ask for a taste of the seaweed. It was very crunchy and a pleasant taste, but apparently it is sold dried not fresh. We then turned around and walked past the huge Mulia Resort until we came to a group of local bars and shops. Our driver was waiting for us when we got back to the carpark at 1500. We had been joined could chill the last of our beerby a Muslim American young couple who lived in San Francisco and had come to Bali via Hong Kong for a holiday before their first child was born. They weren't very chatty or friendly really and kept to themselves, she wore a scarf and was covered from head to toe and were staying at the Shanti.

Relaxed by our pool after cocktails and canapés again.

Wednesday 28th August

Had a 1000 breakfast and then went for separate complimentary 50-minute Balinese massage ( there was only the one masseur available), I enjoyed it very much a she used oil and medium pressure. Danie always likes the strong pressure massage. We stayed around our pool until the cocktail hour then we had our complimentary 5 course dinner outside by the main pool complete with tee lights on the table and between us and the pool. Very romantic with delicious food.

Thursday 29th August

1000 breakfast then back to start packing as we were leaving at midday. Bali is a great place to just relax and not do very much, staying away from tourist traps, noise and dirty streets. Our lovely driver took us to the Novotel Airport Hotel, he had not heard of it so with his GPS to help the three of us managed to locate it. We booked in went to the pool to enjoy relaxing then went for afternoon tea in the Executive Lounge. This was then open again at 1730 for an hour so we had several glasses of wine before going for dinner later. We had a fridge in the room so could chill the last of our beer. This room had a huge glass window displaying the shower, thankfully there was a blind to pull down. Why do they do this???? The toilet also had an interesting modern set up replacing the Muslem shower, I managed to flood the toilet area by pulling a little lever back and forth!!!!! The room overlooked the runway and the Lord Vishnu statue.

Known for attracting 5 million tourists every year, Bali now has one more hidden gem - The World’s 2nd biggest Statue of Lord Vishnu riding
Some of Our NeighboursSome of Our NeighboursSome of Our Neighbours

22 Spa Villas here on Pankor Laut
the mythical bird Garuda at a majestic height of 121 meters high (including a concrete pedestal) and 64 metres wide. To put this in perspective, New York’s Statue of Liberty stands at 93 metres. The Spring Temple Buddha monument in China, at 128 metres retains its status as the tallest statue in the world.

The statue speaks for the dominant Hindu population of Bali, representing the religion of the country for the past centuries. Lord Vishnu is known for being the “preserver” in Hindu mythology and he holds different objects that depict other meanings in his four hands. He holds a lotus flower, mace, conch, and discus in the statue as well. Garuda, the bird vehicle, is known to be a watchful protector and the mightiest of all birds. The location of the statue at Ungasan, Badung, Bali right across from the airport, atop a hill, seems to be the perfect setting for Garuda to watch over the island.

The statue is also set amidst the sprawling Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park, which stretches across 60 hectares and is elevated at an altitude 263 meters above sea level. The entire design has been conceived keeping in mind the

Not seen rain in months!
massive number of tourists visiting the island. In fact, the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park can accommodate 70,000 people at one go.<br style="background-color: transparent; color: #ffffff; font-family: Arial,Tahoma,Bitstream Vera Sans,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: 20px; orphans: 2; text-align: left; text-decoration: none; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; white-space: normal; word-spacing: 0px; word-wrap: break-word; padding: 0px; margin: 0px;" />The enormous copper and brass sculpture weighs an impressive 3,000 kg. The shape of Garuda ensures the statue is as wide as it is tall with its height going up to 121 metres and its wingspan stretching out to 64 metres. The shape of Garuda also makes this Bali statue stand out from its counterparts in other countries, as they mostly consist of tall, linear figurines. The shape of the statue is so complex that engineers have designed special joints for the support structure, with up to 11 huge steel beams joining the same point (in contrast, the normal construction joints have four or six beams).<br style="background-color: transparent; color: #ffffff; font-family: Arial,Tahoma,Bitstream Vera Sans,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: 20px; orphans: 2; text-align: left; text-decoration: none; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; white-space: normal; word-spacing: 0px; word-wrap: break-word; padding: 0px; margin: 0px;" />Nyoman Nuarta, an Indonesian sculptor, envisioned the making of this statue. He involved hundreds of collaborators who, together with him in the island of Java, have developed the project. The project was far from an easy feat—it demanded 20+ years of work and funds worth more than 100 million dollars.

Now the reason we stayed at the airport was because of my little faux pas. I found out too late that there were no direct flights from Bali to Darwin on Thursdays, we would have had to return to Singapore to get home. Also the Shanti could not accommodate us for another night.

Friday 30th August

Had a late breakfast which was a very nice buffet, then went to pack and check out. As we are Accor Hotel members we used the priority check out. When asked if everything was alright I had to answer 'No'. I explained that we were led to believe we had a free minibar in the room and it only contained one bottle of water and no promised soft drinks (which we don't drink anyway, but that is not the point). The Front Manager was summonsed and she was so apologetic and offered us a drink at the bar. We took her up on the offer and had a beer each and why not. We drank leisurely and then walked through the hotel lobby to International Departures, only a few minutes walk.

Our flight left late afternoon so we had plenty of time. This time we flew Virgin with Frequent Flier points for the 2-hour flight complete with a very nice meal in Economy. We were back in Darwin at 2000 local time ( 1.5 hours ahead of Bali) got our bags and made the 5 minute walk to our car in the carpark and got back home (190kms) by 2230.

We do not like Bali it must be said, never been before and will not be returning. It is crowded, dirty, chaotic and people just want your money. Too much gap between the poor and the tourists. The one redeeming feature was that at Immigration in the airport there was a really short queue at the Over 60 and Under 5 section even though there were several people in the queue who obviously couldn’t read!
Spa Village - a Treatment VillaSpa Village - a Treatment VillaSpa Village - a Treatment Villa

On our walk to catch a shuttlebus each day
We do have to say that the Balinese people at our accommodation were lovely and couldn’t do enough for us. All the Balinese we met were so impressed with our very limited Indonesian and again we found saying a few words went down with everyone very well. I suppose it is very close to Darwin, closer than all the capital cities, cheap to get to and great if all you want to do is relax at one of the luxurious resorts and accommodation using one of the many deals out there.

We are now back in Dundee Beach waiting for the mango season to start.

Additional photos below
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One of the koi pools

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