Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Paradise Rediscovered - Another AMAZING weekend in Bali...(Part 1)

And a good evening to you from across the globe after another GREAT DAY in the Lion City. Team Taylor is back from a truly EPIC weekend, and so let's get right to the recap. Actually, WAIT - let's NOT get to the recap yet, let's get to something far more pressing - THE INABILITY OF SINGAPOREAN STARBUCKS BARISTAS TO MAKE A DECENT CUP OF COFFEE!!!!!
Seriously - I know there's an art to it. I've seen enough of those cups made to realize that the folks who work there truly are masters of their craft. The ones at Harbourfront Center, however, aren't artisans. Hell, they aren't even JOURNEYMEN. TWICE I've had to send my coffee back TWO TIMES before walking out - honestly, how is that even possible? Case in point - today's debacle. Muffin Puffin and I walk up, and they instantly recognize the Ang Mo's. "Two grande coffee with Hazelnut, lah?" Pleasantly surprised, I offer a "Yeah, lah" back (Adeline - you would have been so proud - can, can).
So I take my eyes off of them for TWO SECONDS to pay, at which point my coffee is handed to me - A CUP OF BLACK COFFEE FILLED TO THE BRIM. I take a sip, thinking perhaps there's a new Singaporean milk that's invisible, but no - they forgot it. And so I go back up and ask for milk, which they give me. However, when I stir it and take ANOTHER sip, I realize that there's no syrup. So when I go BACK up and ask for syrup, they give me about 57 pumps into the full coffee. Translation - I managed about 8 sips before going into sugar shock. I'm not selling my stock, but MAN was I pissed. I mean, at $4.60 a cup, who wouldn't be? To quote the Wild Card after his "B team facility " post: "Wow, that was cathartic." Anyhoo, I digress...
Friday: Nothin' like a good Sam Taylor meltdown
So I have no lie to tell - Friday was AMAZING. In fact, the whole week had been great. I'd rolled through a shedload of to-do's, and I was feeling fit as a fiddle. We even managed a surprise baby shower for Jac! Check out the photo - I'm really one of the girls! At 4 PM, all I could think was, "now THIS is how you wrap a week and head for vacation." And that's when a red issue reared it's ugly head.
By itself, this wouldn't have been so bad, but finding out the flight was also delayed 3 hours and then arriving at the airport to wait in the check-in line for an HOUR even though we'd already checked in online (JetStar - you really need to work on that one. What, exactly, is the point of the on-line check-in?) started to push Sammy over the edge. I don't know what my problem is, but as you can tell from the Starbucks rant, I've been wired tight enough to pop lately. Needless to say that all the delays, scrambling for Subway (yes, we had it for lunch AND dinner on Friday - Eat Fresh! Watch your back, Jared - I'm a spokeman in the making, albeit with a slightly different promotion: "How to get fat as a damn bear on Subway and LOVE it"), and getting to the gate as the flight closed had me less than thrilled with the evening. It was the 4th consecutive flight that had been delayed for us, and given that the trip to Penang was, well, AWFUL, my happy travel meter was running low.
All of that changed, however, when we landed in Bali. Again - WOW - this place is the JAM. It is dangerously close to breaking into that famed "Top 5" destinations category for the Bull - stayed tuned for end of assignment results in early 2012...
We arrived to find our driver waiting for us. Instantly we were parted with our luggage, we were given cold towels, we were given chilled water, and we were relaxing in a nice SUV for the 1 hour drive to our hotel. The location for this trip was Ubud, famous for its rice terraces and the famed "monkey forest." We arrived at the hotel just before 1 AM, where we were greeted with tea and taken to a RIDICULOUS room. Seriously - Sarah, Lily - we were rockin' it just like the Dream Villas in Seminyak. We sacked out around 2, bloody EXHAUSTED and thankful to be settled for the evening.
Saturday: Rough beginnings lead to EPIC finishes...
Now as you all know, the Bull tends to have trouble sleeping most nights. Friday night was no exception, as I tossed and turned until around 4 AM, at which point I did pass out. By itself, this is no big deal. But when THE JUNGLE AROUND YOU COMES ALIVE AT 6 AM, this becomes more of a problem. Not for Perfect Pumpkin, of course, as she could sleep through A SPACE SHUTTLE LAUNCH. But the Bull was awake at 6. I managed to doze until 7, at which point the cleaning crew arrived and chatted at about 180 decibels. I managed to block that out after about 20 minutes. But then....the construction started.
So there's some kind of building right beside the property that is under construction, and by under construction I mean EVERY SAW KNOW TO MAN CUTTING THROUGH STONE AND STEEL AT THE SAME TIME. Seriously, this would be Tim "the Tool Man" Taylor's biggest fantasy. It even woke Jenny up - what does THAT tell you?
We tried to sleep until about 9:30, but it was apparent that was hopeless. They did bring an AMAZING breakfast to our room (eggs, pineapple-banana pancakes, fresh fruit, fresh juice, bacon, you name it), but I was determined to complain when I was finished. It was at this point that we got the phone call from reception, informing us that they were moving us to another villa. And so, bellies full, they walked us to the complete other side of the resort, this time to an even more picturesque suite, complete with an outside living room, full size fridge, MASSIVE bathroom, private pool, and a bed that would take you 6 weeks to drive across. It was EPIC, and the view of the rice fields from our place was really cool as well. And the best part (Fiona, Kat, Lynda, I hope you're ready)? Each Villa has a name. What was ours? HOUSE OF GAGA. That's right, baby - who's caught in a bad romance? THIS GUY (not really, pumpkin!)....
And so, our spirits lifted, Team Taylor goes to rent bikes for the day's adventure - a 20KM ride to the rice fields. Now, when I told Jenny this, I should have noticed the look in her eyes which said, "I think I'd like to stab you right now." Instead, however, I put the camera on her back, ignored the rain clouds, and hopped on my rusted out 1972 Huffy that they had in stock (deathtraps...I mean, er, bikes were free to rent). We take off and get about 20 feet out the door (dodging traffic the whole time - HOLY @#$% was it terrifying) before Jenny hollers at me and tells me that her bike will shift into harder gears but won't slide back down. Realizing that's less than ideal, we go back and pick up another bike for her. We get about 15 feet out the door when one of her pedals FALLS OFF. And so we go BACK and get a third bike, but this thing is rattling like the Wright Brothers plane at Mach 12. And so, 80 minutes and zero calories burned later, we abandoned the quest for the rice terraces for the day and instead walked the 100 meters in the other direction to the other big draw from Ubud - the Monkey Forest. And it was at this point, ladies and gentlemen, that we experienced a herculean rally.
Seriously - this place was AWESOME (unless you're Paula McHugh). Picture about a billion monkeys ALL AROUND YOU. Picture dudes feeding them and the monkeys being so agressive that they are climb all over anyone with food (we were smart enough not to bring any inside). Picture monkeys fighting and dancing and screeching and standing about 6 inches from you - AMAZING! We were in here well over an hour, and we took about 75,ooo photos. But I gotta tell ya - it was AMAZING. And the craziest thing? The temples in the forest were built in the mid-14th century! Yes, it was wicked cool. I mean, there was even the "Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" statue, at which point I had to join in the fray...
After that it was over to a bar for some Bintang (the local brewski). Jenny's convinced that it's nothing but a hangover beer, but I quite like it. We polished a few off before heading back to the palace for a shower (RAINFOREST SHOWER - SO GUUUUUUUUUUUUUUD...clean cheekies) and then heading out for dinner. The selected venue? Wait for it, CP - THE "BOOM BOOM ROOM!" That's right - Ray and Clyde would be so proud. This place was GREAT. We ate food for about 2 hours straight, and I had a tuna steak that almost changed my life. This place sported live music, which in Bali means only 1 option - REGGAE, BABY! Oh yes, we had 6 HARDCORE rastafar's on stage, all with various types of facial hair growth and ALL with the Bob Marley hat. It should be noted that I learned Jenny knows EVERY WORD TO EVERY BOB MARLEY SONG EVER WRITTEN. Seriously - I'm pretty sure she's either a) one of the Wailers or b) originally from Jamaica (cause she looks so local...).
After sitting through 2 GREAT sets by those cats, we finally packed it in and called it at night, at which point I had the GREATEST NIGHT SLEEP OF MY ENTIRE LIFE. In the movie with Honors, Simon says that his best night of sleep ever was in Bali. Whilst not my best night, that Saturday night might very well be in my top 5. And that was good, because MAN did we cover some ground on Sunday. That, however, will have to keep for the next installment, as it's 10:15 and dinner time for the Bull and the Striker.
Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Chat tomorrow!
Sam and Jenny

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