October 18, 2014

Sunburn, massages, pastries - BALI DAY 2

After all the craziness of day one, I was keen to explore my surroundings the morning after. I waited patiently for the breakfast buffet to open (jet lag had me dancing in my room at 4 am) and while I expected a good assortment of  food, the kitchen completely blew me away. (horrible phone photos to follow, as I wasn't keen on bringing my DSLR and also felt slightly embarrassed photographing food)

I fucking love food.

I think about food 24/7 and the breakfast buffet is the thing I get most excited about when I book a hotel. A crappy buffet means a crappy stay - the two are intertwined so strongly even the softest bed or bubbliest spa bath cannot make up if there is a lack of pastry or cheese varieties to fill my belly with in the morning.

You can see in the photo that there was an actual kitchen in the middle of the buffet and you could choose from hot dishes such as Asian stews or rice dishes, your English breakfast classics, the extensive pastry bar, fresh fruit, cereal, more than ten different cheeses (!!!), cold cuts, freshly squeezed juices, the list goes on. On top of that they had an infused water bar (I know!), waffle and pancake bar, an egg bar and an ice cream wagon. And yeah, it's cool to have ice cream for breakfast. You're on holidays!

So after eating probably more than an average Indonesian woman would eat in a week, I made my way out of the hotel, onto the streets of Seminyak, equipped with a crappy hotel map, my DSLR, a backpack and a water bottle.

Let's do this!

If there is one thing you need to do while in Bali it's pampering! Well, yeah surfing too, but I don't do the ocean or sports that involve boards. So pampering it was!
There is a Spa on every street corner and the prices vary greatly - I personally think it is worth spending a little bit more in exchange for fresh sheets and towels, disinfected manicuring tools and quality treatments - but basically you can get an one hour massage from $ 5. Yeah, five, you read that right.

I did a bit of research in advance and found Bali Body Works, a well established Spa that received raving reviews online. September is off season so I figured an appointment wouldn't be necessary but boy was I wrong. I was there just after they opened their doors and the earlierst appointment I could get was 1 pm for a manicure, pedicure and an hour long massage - so make sure you book!
photo via balibodyworks
 I used my spare time exploring Seminyak and bits of Kuta. I quickly made peace with the fact that you cannot take more than two steps without being greeted or exposed to general cat calling. As much as I hate cat calling and believe it is sexual harassment, I remained polite since I figured it was part of the culture. A culture I was lucky enough to experience and would not force my believes on. Another thing I had to get used to was the constant honking of the cab drivers. You'll find yourself looking around at first, thinking you've done something wrong, but really beeping is just a way for a cabbie to ask if you want a ride. On a positive note though, it never takes longer than 90 seconds to haul a taxi! Now: photo overload.

volcanic sand

the locals ensured that they do not in fact cut cats' tails, they just seem to be born with shorter ones

Of course I couldn't help but spend a bit of money along the way and I definitely think Seminyak is the best place to buy cute and quirky, but also pricey clothes and home wares. There is a real Melbournian vibe going on in these boutiques (the service is almost as bad too!) and a lot of the brands and clothes are similar to what you can find in Melbourne's St Kilda or Brisbane's West End. I have become a much more conscious consumer and instead of going wild, I spent a bit more (and "a bit more in Bali translates to $ 45) on only one item - a pair of Vintage Levis cut offs. Seeing as I was struggling with the humidity and those UV rays, I also went to Seminyak square's flea market to buy some looser fitting clothes. I ended up with three jumpsuits I paid $ 50 for, a price I found out later was FAR too high but which I was happy to pay because the lady who sold them to me complimented my body shape so much I felt like Beyonce. She did end up touching my ass though and to this day I am not sure how I feel about that, but you know - different culture I guess. Still sexual harassment.

It finally hit one o'clock and I found myself lying on a massage table, wearing a weird cotton thong, ready to relax. What can I say, when I think of how good this massage was I still, six weeks later, get goose bumps on my arms. Traditional Balinese massage is a mix of rough and soothing with a lot of oil. You get to bathe in milky water with flower petals at the end of it. After that I felt like life was hazy and awesome and completely zoned out for my manicure and pedicure, watching the beautiful Indonesian women with their immaculate hair and make-up doing their work with so much precision and pride it was mesmerizing.

 By the time I got back to my hotel, stumbling through Seminyak, Kuta and Legian for hours, getting more and more lost, a little drowsy from the massage, a little tipsy from an afternoon beer, I found myself so sunburnt it was a miracle I wasn't covered in blisters. That's when I remembered I didn't apply sunscreen because I figured I would have to re-apply after my (what I assumed to be a) morning massage. Shit son.

That's one hell of a Dad sunburn if I've ever seen one

I was in so much pain that I ended up ordering more room service, lathering myself in aloe vera and reading the Dalai Lama's "The art of happiness" on my private balcony. I'm not gonna lie, secretly I loved getting a bit boozy and weird in my hotel room by myself. I think we sometimes forget how nice it is to be by ourselves, doing absolutely nothing.