Bali Moments

Swimming at Suarga, Uluwatu, Bali

I was doing a quick backup of my most recent travel photos from Bali and I came across this photo.

I was with my mum, staying at a fancy, eco-sustainable clifftop resort — and due to a broken air-conditioner, we were upgraded to a luxurious private villa with its own infinity pool.

I was pinching myself. I don’t think I’ve ever stayed in a place this luxurious. I was sooo excited by the bathroom sink! The hand woven rugs! The floor boards!

I definitely was not accustomed to it all.

My mum and I woke up at 7am. We had a jam-packed day, but we still were keen to make the most of our day.

We decided to have a spontaneous dip in the pool.

I was so relaxed and happy in the water, and I think my mum perfectly captured my goofy smile.

I was truly loving the moment.

No rush. No angst. No stress. No wandering mind, stirring up internal conflicts.

No reevaluation of my life choices up to this point.

No delusions about how my life could be like this forever.

Just me in the water!

Mums Are The Best!

Uluwatu Alison and Karen

I’m not a huge fan of Mother’s Day… but I just wanted to share this pretty photo of my mum and I, while we were in Bali!

We hung out together for a few days, lazed by the pool, had long conversations, did some exploring, swam at the beach, ate lots of yummy food, and basically had a blast together! Best quality time with my mummy ever!

I’m wearing a Lover Poppy Dress (still on discounted sale at Revolve) and my mum is wearing a top and skirt from Myer.

 

My Bali Trip: Suarga, Padang Padang

Last week I headed over to Bali with my mum, to meet up with my sister, girlfriends and relatives… to attend a girlfriend’s wedding.

It was my first time in Bali! (I know. I may have been the last woman in Australia to visit Bali.) Anyway, despite having a million friends who have visited Bali, I did my own research on places to stay.

We were in Bali for 6 nights; we stayed 2 nights at an eco-sustainable boutique resort, 1 night at a moderately cheap and cheerful hotel and 2 nights at a inner city 9 bedroom villa (which we shared with the wedding party).

The venues were not sponsored. I wasn’t planning to write about any of them, but my mum and I had SUCH an amazing time in the eco-sustainable resort that I just had to share :)

Suarga at Padang Padang

We stayed at the Suarga Resort at Padang Padang

I had never heard of this resort before. No one recommended it to me. I found it on Trip Advisor, because it was close to the wedding venue and it stood out with its amazing photos and super-high ratings and reviews on Trip Advisor.

Suarga combines modern luxury of a resort with an environmentally sustainable ethos. It’s about 35 – 40 minutes drive from the airport, near Uluwatu, on the south west coast of Bali.

Perched on top of a cliff, the whole lounge, pool, and restaurant area of the resort had spectacular views of the ocean!

The main pool was gorgeous. I had a swim in the morning, afternoon and night time :)

Suarga at Padang Padang

The main structure was made out of recycled wood and bamboo – it was architecturally stunning.

In the hottest part of the day, we sat in the open-air, shaded lounge area. With fans and the gentle breeze from the ocean, we hardly felt the tropical heat and we were very comfortable. There also seemed to be no mosquitoes.

There were only ever 5 or 6 other couples in the lounge area. Maybe there were more, but it was always so deliciously quiet.

Suarga at Padang Padang

The whole place felt very secluded, peaceful, calming and relaxing.

We read novels, we had a cup of tea, had cocktails, had an afternoon nap on the lounge, ordered some nibbles, my mum did some tai chi on the balcony, I did a bit of wonky yoga – which my mum managed to snap before I lost balance!

All the other hotel guests did the same; they just chilled out quietly and calmly.

(At the other accommodation we went to, there were bus loads of tourists dropping in to gawk at the clifftop views, or huge wedding parties with camera men and people with walkie talkies – it was so noisy and it felt like a theme park. There were so many guests and strangers around that I felt I had to keep watch and stay on edge all the time.)

Suarga at Padang Padang

Breakfast was included in the price at Suarga and it was pretty damn good. There were a choice of eggs, and a whole spread of locally sourced fruits and homemade organic cereals, breads and jams.

We also had some tea and cake for lunch, and ate dinner in the resort for both nights. It was really good quality, restaurant level, fresh, local dishes.

Suarga at Padang Padang

My mum and I booked some in-room massages, which were excellent.

The ladies who did our massages were definitely more skilled and experienced than the massage salons we went to in Seminyak.

Suarga at Padang Padang

Unfortunately for our first evening, our air conditioner ran poorly, so it was a bit warm in the room.

So for the second night, the management upgraded us to a larger room, which was brand new and had a private infinity pool!

I woke up at 7am to have a dip. It was divine.

Padang Padang Beach

One morning we took a walk down to the beach. I discovered that I had booked at the Suarga Resort not knowing that it was right next to the beach featured in the movie, Eat, Pray, Love, with Julia Roberts.

The beach is called Labuan Sait Beach, or Padang Padang Beach, and it seemed like every person and tour group wanted to visit this place. It cost RP 10,000 (AUD 1) per person to enter the beach and the actual entrance to the beach was cut through rock and you had to walk down some steep steps.

We went there early, around 10am. It was a 2 minute walk from Suarga. It was a good idea to go early, because by 2pm I saw three buses pull up and huge groups of people were trying to get onto the beach.

Padang Padang Beach

I had a swim out into the ocean. The water was lovely and warm. There were seaweedy bits floating on top, but that was fine. The gentle ebb of the water was soooo relaxing.

The beach was actually quite small. And by noon, it was rather crowded that I was almost stepping on other people’s beach towels to let people pass me.

Suarga at Padang Padang

Even the cocktails (I mean, mocktails) were delicious! What an amazing view!

My mum and I had a fantastic time. I would LOVE to come visit again with my husband.

Personally, I wouldn’t bring my three kids here because they are too active and jumpy (they would want to do bombies in the infinity pool, play basketball on the wooden platforms, throw a football across the garden beds)… and they would spoil the peace and quiet for everyone else. I wouldn’t bring toddlers here either, because there are lots of wooden steps and I would spend all my time nervous and edgy that they might fall over.

We paid AUD$380 per night for a Muso Pentroom, with two single beds, and it was totally worth it.

We also paid an additional AUD$200 for 2 evening meals, 2 cocktails, several cups of tea and cake, 40 minute drive from the airport, and 2 one hour massages.

A humungous thank you to the staff and team at Suarga!

Of course, there were tonnes of other places I wanted to stay in Bali, which all looked equally amazing all with  great reviews, interesting features and near different locations around Bali.

So if you need a few places to start your research (or a few quick pointers) I found a list of 7 Best Value Hotels to Relax in Bali, which you might find helpful.

Enjoy!

xxx

14 Hours at Bangkok Airport

Early this month, I went on a media press trip to Denmark to attend Copenhagen Fashion Week and to check out the Ecco Shoes Headquarters.

It turned out that my flights went from Perth / Bangkok / Copenhagen. With a 7 hour wait at Bangkok. Both ways!

At first I thought, I’ve never been to Bangkok! I wonder what it’s like there?

I guess I toyed with the idea of zipping out to check out the city. But since I wasn’t a frequent [read: confident] traveller, I had a movie-styled scene playing in my head that involved me being in a road side traffic accident, then me being stuck in the waiting room of a police station with creaking ceiling fans, and then me arguing with the local police “I NEED TO CATCH MY PLANE IN ONE HOUR!!!”

So I decided to stay in Bangkok Airport for the whole 7 hours.

I don’t know how many of you can appreciate this – but as a parent of 3 young kids, I hardly ever get 7 day light hours to myself.

I literally didn’t have any where to go. Anything to do. Meetings to attend. Appointments to keep. Chores to do. Food to make. Kids to pick up. I had no time schedule to constantly check.

All I had to do was to pass time and enjoy the experience.

And believe me, when an opportunity like this comes around, simple things can make me very happy indeed.

14 Hours at Bangkok Airport

When I stepped off the 7 hour flight from Perth to Bangkok, I took a long stroll through the whole airport to stretch my legs. It felt great to walk. It was as if the simple motion was re-setting all my muscles and bones back into place. It felt good.

14 Hours at Bangkok Airport

I watched the sun set, from behind glass. I know, it’s a brilliant photo.

14 Hours at Bangkok Airport

Then I decided, since I was in Thailand, I’m going to look for some Thai food for dinner. First thing I thought of was, Tom Yum soup.

But it occurred to me that I probably SHOULD NOT eat spicy, seafood, Tom Yum soup in a different country, just before an 11 hour flight.

I certainly didn’t want to be running down the plane aisle to get to the toilet all night long.

So I cancelled my meal order and changed it to something less potentially lethal – roast duck noodle soup. Yum.

I sat there and ate my meal slowly and leisurely. I read a magazine from cover to cover. I read a bit of my novel. I enjoyed the busy hum of the restaurant. And most of all I enjoyed the sheer quiet of my personal space – no one nagging at me, no complaining, no rush.

Just me and my own thoughts.

It was divine.

14 Hours at Bangkok Airport

Later I found a little cafe, which looked very low key and homey. It had dodgy looking food, and weird Asian spelling for their dishes. But it was quiet, and it had free WIFI.

I sat down and did some work.

So quiet! It was so amazing. I got so much work done. I felt incredible!

14 Hours at Bangkok Airport

Lastly, I found this massage place.

Before my trip, someone told me about the “famous massage place at Bangkok Airport” and I swore I would go check it out.

It was so soooo goood. I had a 1 hour feet and neck massage for AUD$25.

I was lying back on the lounge chair, with this lovely Thai woman rubbing oil on my feet, and I was thinking – I could go home right now and I would have had the best holiday.

Ahhh. Simple things. Karen happy.

It was all so satisfying, that on the way BACK home from Copenhagen, for my other 7 hours at Bangkok Airport, I planned to re-do every experience, exactly the same as before.

14 Hours at Bangkok Airport

But of course, it didn’t turn out like that.

Before I got on the return flight in Copenhagen, I went on a shopping spree to buy presents for my family. I bought my kids Denmark T-shirts and key rings – and I bought my husband a bottle of his favourite whiskey.

Then 12 hours later, at Bangkok Airport, I got stopped at security and the guards pulled me aside and said, “You seem to have more than 100ml of liquids in your bag.”

And I was all, “Omg I totally forgot about the whiskey! I’m so sorry! It’s a gift to my husband! I just crammed it into my bag and it was 12 hours ago, and I completely forgot to take it out before the xray…”

But they were apologising to me. And why were they apologising to me?

Because they were going to confiscate my bottle of whiskey!

Apparently, back in Copenhagen, the Danish woman at the alcohol check-out didn’t put the whiskey bottle in a sealed Duty Free bag for me. So according to the Bangkok Airport Security Guards, I was carrying “illegal substances”.

I was devastated. But I was more devastated for my husband, who is a big fan of whiskey. He is originaly Scottish, and in Scotland, whiskey is more precious than gold.

Of course, you don’t get into an arguement with airport security guards – not even if your Scottish-born, whiskey-loving, stayed-at-home-with-three-kids-while-you-went-on-holiday-for-a-week husband will be devastated.

So I said, “OK I’ll give you guys the bottle, but first let me take a photo of the bottle in the bin.”

This threw them off a little, and they gave me this strange look like, who is this crazy woman and why does she need a photo? (I get it all the time).

I was almost going to retract my proposal, I mean, should I really be messing with the minds of Airport Security Guards?? So I just told them the truth – I needed the photo to prove to hubby that I really did buy the bottle for him.

Then they lightened up and had a bit of a chuckle when they saw me place the whiskey bottle ceremoniously in the bin, nestled next to the discarded half-empty water bottles.

Thankfully it was just a “gift size” whiskey bottle. And I got a replacement one at Perth Airport.

And I still wonder – do Airport Security Guards really just throw a full bottle of whiskey in the rubbish – or do full bottles of whiskey find their way to a happy home?

I hope so!