The three hour ride from Ubud, Bali to the northeast coast town of Amed is filled with towering palm trees, vibrantly green rice patties, rounded mountain tops and a shining seaside. Amed itself is mostly comprised of one road flowing with the curve of the shoreline with B&Bs, hostels and bungalows along the way and the Agung Mountain towering in the back.
We pulled up to the Arya Amed Beach Resort towards the end of the road in a more reclusive area, and we were delighted when people came to grab our bags and give us fresh juice while we checked in. We held our breath until we got to our room, which ended up being so nice. (As you may remember our last two hotel experiences were a bust, which you can read about here.) French glass doors opened into a spacious, clean and cool room with a four poster bed topped with soft, gauzy mosquito netting, and the bathroom was sparkling clean, well lit and even had a rainfall shower head. All in all, it was just nice to feel clean again! We walked the property through the gardens to the pool and restaurant area, where we were greeted with a sunny infinity pool and an open air restaurant facing the black sand beach. We watched as groups of men in different colored shirts sang and drummed their way along the shoreline, and our server explained that it was a ceremony for the full moon that night.
We decided to treat ourselves to a fancy dinner at the hotel, and I ordered the Filet Mignon with a mushroom sauce. What I got could be in no way, shape or form considered a cut of Filet Mignon — it definitely had more of a ground up hamburger look to it than anything; however, I shrugged it off and ate it anyway. For one, it was maybe $10 USD, and two, I’ve learned that you don’t always get what it says on the menu, and there’s generally no use fighting it. Turns out, though, I should not have eaten that mystery meat because I spent the next 24 hours in the throws of food poisoning. I’ll spare you the details because they are horrifying and probably super inappropriate to share, but you can imagine what a bummer that all was. The staff was so nice and accommodating though, and they even got me medicine from the nearest pharmacy that was an hour away.
After a day of rest and dry toast I was starting to feel better, but Renee was starting to feel ill. We really wanted to go snorkeling nearby, but the thought of doing anything active made both of us clench our stomachs and shake our heads, so we laid around the pool, drank fresh coconuts, took naps and did some reading.
When it was time to move on and leave Amed we got in a cab and headed south down the coast to a small town called Candidasa. Candidasa was hit with a tourist boom in the 1960’s and 70’s, and as a result of over development the sandy beaches surrounding the fresh water lagoon the town sits against has mostly been eroded. We checked into our hotel,The Natia, and although the room had no Wifi and looked a bit dirty and dingy, the view of the infinity pool seemingly pouring out into the lagoon was breathtaking. We had lunch near the pool and sat outside for a while, and then decided to explore the town, which we we soon discovered was just a handful of shops lining the main road. We had made plans to go snorkeling the following day, but it stormed all night and through the morning, and we decided that we had seen enough of Candidasa and didn’t want to spend any more of our vacation there.
We hired a car and made the journey back to Ubud to check into our hotel a day early. We had such a great conversation with our driver learning about his life, his family and the Balinese culture, that we stopped and ate a delicious lunch of Babi Guling (roast suckling pig) with him.
We stayed at the Biyukukung Suites and Spa, and the following day Shirley (Renee’s cousin who we stayed with in Hong Kong) flew down for a long weekend in Ubud with us! We walked around Monkey Forest Rd. and stopped in for a few drinks at L.O.L Bar to listen to some reggae music. The next morning we woke up early and headed to Bumi Bali Cooking School that ended up being a private class with just us and the chef. He first took us to the market and showed us around, and we then walked back to the restaurant and started our cooking extravaganza. Everything was already chopped up and measured out, so all we really needed to do was mix and cook the ingredients (something that I was relieved about, but it also felt a little bit like cheating).
We first started by making Basa Gede, a basic spice paste that is often found in Balinese food.
We then went on to make my favorite dish: Sayur Urab, a mixed veggie dish with some of the Basa Gede.
Next, we made Bali Sate Lilit, which is minced pork skewers.
We then made a beautiful bowl of chicken curry,
and we ended with Godoh (fried bananas with melted palm sugar).
After we rolled ourselves back to the hotel we decided to take advantage of the 50% off spa rates and got a 3 1/2 hour spa treatment. I’ve paid for two massages in my life and get a manicure and pedicure maybe twice a year, so this was a serious treat! The masseuses gave us a cold glass of turmeric juice (not delicious, but amazingly good for you) and led us to an air conditioned room where we got a full body oil massage, a hot stone massage, a facial and a body scrub. Once we rinsed off the ladies served us a hot cup of spicy ginger tea, and we relaxed that evening sitting outside a cafe enjoying the balmy weather and fresh juice.
The following day we said goodbye to Shirley, but not before she got another hot stone massage and Renee and I got a manicure and pedicure. We spent the rest of the week in Biyukukung Suites and Spa (very nice and clean rooms, plus a free shuttle to and from anywhere you want to go in Ubud) and explored the city. We also took a silver jewelry making class at the Chez Monique studio where Renee and I both made custom silver rings. We went for simpler designs that we could wear everyday, but the family who works and runs this company are masters of their craft, and their creations can also be very elaborate, detailed and beautiful.
We were bummed to leave Ubud when the week came to an end, but we had more places to see and experience before we could leave Bali. Up next: Sanur, Gili Air and Nusa Dua.