Monday, 28 March 2011

Exploring 'the mythical land of the gods" - an amazing weekend in Bali...

Family, And a good evening to you from across the globe after another GREAT DAY in the Lion City. Folks, this weekend Team Taylor discovered an absolute paradise. This weekend we discovered "the land between Heaven and Earth" as referenced by local tradition. This weekend, The Bull and the Striker skipped the "eating" and "praying" parts and fell instantly in "love" with Bali. In a word - WOW. Vietnam was good, but 5 days in Vietnam really don't compare to a weekend in this place. It all started on Friday with a pair of Dunkin Donuts (I KNOW what healthy is) upon arrival at the terminal. I selected a banana cream filled donut which almost make Muffin hurl. However, she did love her double oreo selection. We were traveling with Sarah and Lily (yes - the other two thirds of Sam's Angels - Asian Edition), and given the departure times from work they'd both given us, we fully expected to be teh first cats there. Therefore imagine our surprise when Sarah said, "Oh, hello," and shocked us near Duty Free (yes - Absolut Berry Acai, baby...). As it turns out, the lovely Ms. Smith had a rather bad salad for lunch, resulting in sickness that we all hoped would be a passing fad. Lily joined shortly thereafter, and we rolled over to our gate, where we boarded Team Taylor's first ever Jetstar flight, bound for Denpasar. We arrived around 9 PM, where we (ONCE AGAIN) paid $25 USD for a FULL PAGE VISA. Now granted, this one looks cooler, but it's still money that my cheap ass doesn't like throwing around. The hotel sent a shuttle for us and drove us straight to the "Bali Dream Villa 2," and LET ME TELL YOU - EPIC, BABY, EPIC!!!!! Yet again, I will make Hitman shake his head and say "this was probably the nicest place we've ever stayed." Seriously - the living room and kitchen are outdoors (as well as a pool shower), not to mention that we had our own private pool. When you factor in our SUPER COMFY king size bed and shower filled with rocks, slate, and sculpture, I felt like a KING. Full marks to MUFFIN PUFFIN!!! Way to go, darling bear! You do so guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuud!!! That night we just chilled, having a few drinks and relaxing until about 2 AM. We then passed out for a scant 7 hours before rallying for what was, quite possibly, one of the 20 best days of my life. On Saturday I awoke to find Sarah already chillin' in the pool. The sun was out, the sky was an AMAZING blue, and 5 minutes later I was in the drink for a dip. We got the whole gang in the water for about 30 minutes before heading to breakfast (a rather minimal but tasty buffet included in the cost of the room). The coffee was utter DONKEY TRASH, but the omelets were good, as was the view (the main pool was WICKED AWESOME). We then headed back to the room and changed before taking the shuttle to the local town - Seminyak. This town was REALLY cool and had a GREAT feel to it. One of the coolest things I noticed? You've got a TON of motorbikes (but NOTHING like Saigon), and rather than go to gas stations, people literally SELL LITERS OF PETROL BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD. And what do they use to store the petrol in? EMPTY BOTTLES OF ABSOLUT, BABY!!!! I think Sarah said it best: "Nothing like I guy riding up with no funnel and a smoking engine to watch another guy pour petrol into the tank whilst smoking." Looking back, that town's lucky the whole place doesn't go up in flames 57 times a day. We hit the street HARD, shopping like maniacs and buying ALL kinds of goodies (I can't tell you what any of them are, however, as most are Christmas gifts). We then turned our attention to another GREAT aspect of life in Bali - the beach. A perfect day. Gorgeous waves. 85 degree water. Surfers catching waves like they're the ex-Presidents from Point Break (100% Pure Adrenaline). We wandered along the shore for a bit before stopping for a drink at this SUPER CUTE place called the sand pit. Now a few things of note about this experience: 1. When Four Leaf says, "Let's get a drink," he means "Somebody pour me something with alcohol in it, because that's what you do at the beach." However, Lily and Sarah do NOT roll like the Taylors. No, no - instead of asking for "2 Bintang beers, please," they both say, "Can we please have the drink with the shot of wheatgrass, please?" WHEAT GRASS? What the hell IS THAT? Actually, I can confirm - they literally PUT SHREDS OF GRASS IN A BLENDER ALONG WITH SOME COCONUT JUICE. That being said, they seemed to enjoy it - but I'll stick with my Bintangs, baby (just $2 a bottle - SO CHEEEEEEEAP). And for the record - they ordered SECOND SHOTS OF WHEATGRASS. Mom - I really, really, really, really promise you I'm not an alcoholic. I mean COME ON! How can I compete with wheat grass shakes? 2. The spot was right beside the "A.J. Hackett Bungy Bar." A.J., incidentally, is the cat who "founded" bungy jumping in 1984 in New Zealand (T-Bone - tell me you don't remember the Kawaru Bridge, brother) as a recognized "sport." And whilst his facilities in NZD are AWESOME, this placed looks like something from the Tennessee Valley Fair (Miller - that comment's fair game - tear it up). In a word - SKETCH. 3. Lily, Muffin, and I all spent the better part of 30-45 minutes in the ocean (which felt AMAZING and had some KILLER waves - Rice, please sing "I'm the King of the Wave" now, please), even though neither of us had bathing suits. YES - let's just say that was one REALLY wet shuttle home. Sarah, however, did NOT make it to the ocean. Instead, she PASSED OUT FACE DOWN on the table. Do you see what this means? STICK TO BEER - organic food will kill you. Just sayin'... We headed back to the villa around 4:30, jumping back into the pool and enjoying our complementary ginger lemonade drinks whilst waiting for the other featured event of the evening - the Balinese massage, baby! Now granted, I'll confess that I was TERRIFIED as to what was going to happen to me, but I am happy to report that it was RELIGIOUS. Seriously - it was a GREAT rub down that didn't leave me limping for the next 3 days and crying in pain as though my muscles and joints had just been ripped apart.

And so, uber relaxed and freshly rubbed, we rolled into Seminyak for dinner at a GREAT place called Warung (I think it was the old train station). We ate like KINGS, splitting some great Indonesian and Balinese dishes before going for a wander around Seminyak in search of a night cap.

It was interesting - when we got in the shuttle to go to dinner, we asked to go to the "nice section of Kuta" (another town just past Seminyak). The drive looked at us as though we'd just said "Would you please take us to the part of North Korea that LOVES Westerners?" Seriously - he just shook his head and said, "No. No Kuta." When I followed up with "How about just the main square," he replied, "I think is no. Is no good. You no do. Not good restaurant. Just crazy people." Now THAT's a rousing endorsement - make that guy the minister of tourism...

So we're wandering around thinking that Seminyak will be low on bars, but we actually found a couple that looked good. The winner, however, was OBVIOUS when we walked past it and saw this Indonesian cat in a BEANIE screaming "Killin' in the NAME of!!!!!" I mean, if an Asian band is gonna cover Rage Against the Machine (AND the drinks are cheap), you've got me.

The girls got into the mix as well, but here they're dancing to "I Gotta Feelin'." Fizzy - where WERE you?!?!?!?

We then rolled back to the flat, where we passed OUT about 12:30 and slept like the dead once again.

The next morning we rolled out of bed about 9:30, caught brekkie again (still rubbish coffee), and then threw caution to the wind by visiting the leper colony of Kuta. About 35 seconds into arrival, we understood why home boy had tried to warn us off it - IT WAS A @#$# HOLE. WOW. Seriously - the DIRTIEST BEACH I have EVER seen. I got into the water twice, and both times trash just covered me and wrapped around me. I'm lucky I didn't get a syringe to the achilles or something. However, there was this REALLY sweet entry way to the beach, so that was cool.

We stopped for a coffee (flat white, baby), and we just sat for about an hour because a) there was nothing better to do and b) because it was POURING. Seriously - you realize the beauty of a drainage system when you're in a country that doesn't have one - WOW. It was a MEGA MONSOON for about an hour, and the water was inches deep in the road. It did lighten up eventually, however, at which point we wandered down the street to kill some time via - what else - ANOTHER MASSAGE!

So here's the deal - the goal was "a 1 hour massage for less than $10 USD." In terms of the "What," I can confirm that we exceeded expectations ($7, baby). In terms of the how, well...let's just say that I'm still paying for it.

We had planned to hit this place advertising $9.50 massages, but then Sarah got a flyer from a gal offering 1 hour for $7. This was a GREAT deal we thought, and so we all said yes. Only then did I realize that something might be sliiiiiiightly amiss. For starters, we were lead INTO THEIR APARTMENT, which a) had 2 SKUZZY lookin' dudes smoking out side and b) had been converted into a rather less than steller looking massage parlor. Wanted to keep an eye on things, I changed my massage to a foot massage vs. body. JT and Sarah stuck with body massages, with the consequence being that Jenny had to flip her pillow over due to the amount of hair on the side facing up - QUALITY.

So we kick off this massage, and the first thing this gal does is try to "cross sell" me a manicure. Lady, I haven't shaved in 4 days (although you can't tell since I can't grow a beard) - do I LOOK like I want trim nails? Be glad I'm not STABBING you with these claws. They also tried to give me a pedicure as well - WTF. Seriously - just rub my damn feet. Well, they did - as well as my calf muscles. HOLY @#$@#$@#$!!!!

For the record - I now have a SERIOUS internal bruise from where that demon rubbed so hard. In addition, she pressed so long in 1 spot that my leg hair and skin is INFLAMED. Plus I have this weird itch in my toe and calf...these red spots are normal, right?

The weirdest part (other than the fact that the massage ladies were talking the ENTIRE TIME) was the fact that, when I open my eyes about 10 minutes into the rub, I realize that, of the 2 curtains that were CLOSED when I started, Sarah's curtain is now open. Now I just assumed that, because it was closest to the door, they needed it out of the way (most of her is covered, for the record, so SHUT IT). I think nothing of it, until they tell both her and Jenny to "turn over," at which point I realize that they think she and I are together and apparently I MUST WANT TO WATCH HER MASSAGE. My eyes go shut and then the girls figure it out - "OOOOOOOOOH - he's with the OTHER one." So what do they do? They close Sarah's curtain and OPEN JENNY'S. Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Do dudes normally WANT to watch? SKETCH.

Bottom line:

1. I was hassled for a tip, so I gave 50 cents. I think I gave too much.

2. My leg hair may never grow back. Oh well, at least T-Rowe and I will have that in common.

3. My calf is STILL tight and hurts to touch it.

4. I am pretty sure that, in 2 months time, I'll have some new immunities to show off to the World Health Organization.

We then got a final drink in a coffee shop before heading to the airport, where we SCARFED down food and got to our gate EXACTLY as it closed. We had an easy flight back in, and then it was farewell to the girls before rolling home and hitting up Wine Connection for some EXTRA AWESOME cheese and even a few glasses of vino (Cab Sauv for Muffin; Rioja for the Bull).

Ladies - it was a GREAT trip - already looking forward to the next one!

And last but not least - Good job, Heels. I know it's not the Final Four, but it was a HELL of a season - overachievers this year in my book.

Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Chat tomorrow!


Sam and Jenny (and Lily and Sarah)

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