Air Asia informed us earlier that the flight to KL had been delayed, and thanks to that, D and I had a small mix up on the time front. Despite this, this was probably the most peaceful start to a vacation that we’ve had. We stood in the queue silently but scornfully commenting on the family in front of us repacking thanks to Air Asia’s luggage prices. “Don’t these people weigh their luggage?” A few minutes later, as we hurriedly took out one plastic cover from the check-in baggage and D stuffed it in her handbag, we ate our first meal of the tour – our own words!
On the flight, we had a sense of deja vu as Tamilaysia was repeated, this time with more BO. Meanwhile, the lasagna I had pre-ordered had apparently been taken off the menu. In their infinite wisdom, Air Asia didn’t care to inform me as they handed over the packet, but since even they couldn’t claim that the airline food version of lasagna looked like spaghetti and beef slices, they duly apologised. Since D has no escape routes inside a plane, I choose these occasions to chew her brain. So, comments on suing Air Asia for outraging the sentiment of a Hindu (though I had ordered a beef lasagna) and cattle class jokes followed for a few minutes. I think she has learned and has her own protective measures, because after a few sips of water, I was out like a light, and when I woke up a few hours later, the bottle had been disposed.
At around 1 Am on Vishu, the Malayali new year, I awoke to smiling air hostesses announcing that we would soon arrive at LCCT, KL. On landing, we discovered that one of our bags had developed a minor tear. The flight to Denpasar was a few hours away, but that’s not news we’d lose sleep over. So sleep we did, fitfully, on a media tie-up unheard of in India – DNA and Malayala Manorama. We had a mixed neighbourhood. One set had sleeping bags, another trusted the floor cleaner implicitly. After breakfast at McD where Ringgit was given back for $s, and I scalded my tongue with a Milo, we were on our way to Bali by 9, with MM and DNA now fortifying the bag’s torn area.
The Denpasar arrival was quite awesome, with the airport right on the coast. It almost seemed like we were about to land on water! And what a view! We exchanged USD into Rupiah at the airport (a costly mistake, later we figured out that the exchange rates on the street were way better. 9200 Rp versus Rp 8800 for every $. In our defense, we weren’t warned, and earlier experiences elsewhere were mixed) The documents we carried weren’t needed at all for the visa (on arrival) and only the $25 fees/person mattered. Our tour operator was waiting for us, and thanks to his assistant, our trolley bumped into everything it knew (or didn’t until then) at the airport.
The streets, the architecture all reminded us of Cambodia, though this was a much more touristy version. As we turned off a busy main road with restaurants and shops into a smallish lane, we worried whether our choice of hotel was flawed, in terms of location. In a few minutes though, we were on to a snazzier road with seemingly unlimited eateries and shopping options. This was Jalan Legian and right there was our hotel – Tanaya. They welcomed us warmly but immediately took care of business too. Swipe 1. We loved the room – small, functional and neat. So was the rest of the hotel – the dining area on the terrace and the corridors.
We asked at the reception for lunch suggestions and from the options, selected one that was on top of our list too – Made’s Warung. We quickly made towards it, and realised that the metric system here was different. 100 metres for the Tanaya folk was much much longer than our norm! The snooty waiter at the restaurant disdainfully turned down our request for a table we fancied. We responded meekly with an order for a Banana Honey Juice, a Coconut Milk Shake, a Pork Sate, and a Beef Rendang. The juice was not bad, but the shake’s coconut flavour was the barfi (hindi not english ) kind. The pork sate was spicy and very tasty, and we couldn’t get enough of the rendang masala. After quickly mourning the desserts we had to give up, we asked for the Blackrice Ice Cream. A very interesting flavour, though the rice part was quite subtle. Damages were at Rp 225000, a little less than our budget. The place seemed like a combo of Koshy’s in Bangalore and India Coffee House. It is a sort of cultural landmark and the waiters, knowing it, think they should be paid for looking in your direction! The sulking waiter did turn on the charm around the tipping point though. Heh.
Back to Tanaya for some sleep before dinner. I woke up from dreams of Raveena in a yellow sari to realise that the AC was leaking! In half an hour we had changed rooms. Dinner was at the nearby Warung Mina. There we sampled the famous Bintang beer for the first and last time. (The name is not a coincidence. It’s probably the Bin Laden among beers! Ack!) D ordered a ‘Love Sense’ mixed juice to accompany the Tutu Gurami and the Fillet Gurami, both fish preparations. Neither did anything great to the palate but the experience was pleasant enough, mostly thanks to the peaceful ambiance, and cover versions of favourite songs being played by a tiny live band. Rp 138500 eaten up.
We then tried the ice cream at a nearby gelato and it just worsened an already bad tummy luck. We decided to just sleep away the bad luck. Thankfully, Raveena didn’t reappear.