Senetan Villas in Ubud, Bali.

I love Bali too, but once you’ve reached Ubud, you’ll really love Bali. Much quieter in comparison to Legian, Seminyak and Kuta along with interesting attractions and a peaceful ambience.

When you arrive in Ubud and your stay is a hidden gem, you kind of want to keep it that way. Lovely afternoon with a welcome brewed leaf tea, fruit platter and a traditional snack at the Senetan Villas which are approximately 30 minutes drive from Ubud town.

And, whilst enjoying your cuppa, the plausible view of the pool and manicured gardens within your own private villa is yes, all yours. Cooking facilities are available if not wanting to venture out in the evening giving choices for an inhouse soiree.

Spacious bedrooms with cool wooden features are indicative of stylish local Balinese decor. Private one and two bedrooms with a pool, the Senetan Villas offer great value for FIT, couples and families seeking a quiet space to wind down after a hectic Bali escapade of shopping, dining out and beach activities.

Wondering what could possibly be inside the wardrobe? Let’s see ….

My favourite as always. An outdoor rain shower and relaxing bath tub. What a treat with the Villa’s design making guests feel the private facilities have been created for a personal but holistic experience. There’s also dedicated Spa rooms which are near to all villas for that personalised treatment of any ailments which need attention.

Love spicy with some local produce? Try the restaurant for an evening of delightful cuisine, more traditional in flavour and the real drawcard is that you can ask for any dish to be spiced up or taken down a notch. Oh yeah, there’s fries too, they sneaked into the photo shoot.

Make sure the Body Cleansing Juice should be a beverage on your list to try out. The ingredients within has attributions of having potent antioxidant, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. Not only that, the fresh tangy taste leaves you wanting more of beetroot, cucumber, celery, spinach, honey and a splash of lime. Yummo!

Set on 1.64 acres, the grounds exude peace, calm and of course Australians love the serenity. When entering the property, you will be greeted by large trees which are quite rare. Senetan being within the lush forestation is a way of reconnecting with the natural environment of Bali’s interior landscape.

Ubud Town is 30 minutes from the Senetan Villas which offer a three times a day bus service for guests to explore nearby local shops and markets. The bus operates at specific times and will return to Senetan after dropping off.

If walking around nearby and just outside the Senetan Villas there’s rice paddy fields of which you can marvel close up at just how intricate the plantings are and how much labour that goes into producing one of the world’s greatest food staples.

And at the end of the day, there’s always the thought provoking appearance of an opulent closed door and wondering where you might end up if you walked a different path and through a different serendipitous door. But one thing is for certain, I’ll definitely return to this part of Bali. If seeking tranquility and relaxation, this area is definitely worthy of a well-deserved break away from traffic, airports and overwhelming technology.

The address for the Senetan Villas is Br. Penginyahan, DS. Puhu, 80571 Payangan, Indonesia.

Next stop some attractions and tourist sites around Ubud before heading to Sanur and back to the airport.

Bali’s Legian and Kuta Resorts and Spa.

Adults only pool – why not? The Bali Mandira Beach Resort and Spa is directly across the street from all of the best-known Balinese beaches. At this property, you can have it all and more with a massive five acres of lush tropical gardens to relax and have your own piece of paradise within.

Legian is a suburban beach area on the west coast of Bali, just north of Kuta and south of Seminyak. One of the most popular areas of Bali, particularly for Australians who love value for money. And you can enjoy the experience of a rich culture mixed with superb customer service – which seems effortless for the locals who ensure your holiday is a keep-sake memory.

The bedrooms are comfortable with many having interconnecting room facilities as the Mandira is perfectly suited for families and large groups.

Compact and meticulously refilled each day, the amenities include water, tea and coffee with a lounge area to spread out and have your own home away from home.

The pool area particularly, is set up for families along with a replica of the beach; therefore a much safer option when small youngsters are non-stop on the go. Clean and calm there’s a always a chance of new mates being fostered in and around the sound of splashing water.

The Balinese are well renown for their superior child-minding skills and there’s a close eye continually kept on the pool to ensure everyone’s safety.

The Pool Bar. What can I say? if you don’t care much for splashing around yourself, you can soon throw a couple of ice cubes into a bevvy creating that sound of splashing some happiness into a glass of your favourite coolant.

Well if a swim-up pool bar has passed its expiry time, the balcony is always a place of refuge for a quieter time after a big day experiencing the pool, spa and Yoga classes. However, if you’re a keen socialite, try for an upgraded room type which allows entry into the Club Lounge facilities which include a Cocktail’s hour 4:00 to 5:00 pm daily served with some delectable snacks.

Whilst on the balcony enjoy your welcome gift when you arrive. And once that’s all finished, it’s time to say bye to the fun-filled Bali Mandira Beach Resort and Spa and move onto the next phase of a well-earnt holiday.

Checking out the Legian Beach area there’s a constant array of monuments and places of worship that entice the eye whilst having a stroll throughout the day – after all – can’t keep eating yummy food all day and not head for a some kind of workout.

Named after the Balinese word for ‘sweet and pleasant’, Legian Beach is a popular destination for sun worship, water sports and openly available for the public.

Swimming between the flags is a must. Along with Bali’s strong sun presence, be aware of Australia’s slip, slop and slap slogan, especially those of us with a fairer skin who need to cover up and protect against rays of a very hot sun … ouch!

The J4 Hotel is strategically located at central Legian whereby comfortable accommodation is offered featuring a rooftop outdoor swimming pool, an on-site restaurant and free WiFi which is available throughout the property.

Approximately 15 minutes from Ngurah Rai International Airport, it’s easy to access after a late arrival with check-in 24 hours a day. There’s very friendly staff on hand who instinctively know how to assist tired guests. The property also offers free on-site parking for guests who drive.

Welcoming guests with 190 air-conditioned rooms, in each the hotel provides a flat-screen satellite TV, safety deposit box and a seated area. The spacious rooms are fitted with soundproofing to ensure noise reduction and comfort. The private bathrooms have large overhead rain showers with free toiletries and slippers.

Umm Thai Beef Salad was made to perfection in Indonesia especially here at the J4 Hotel.

And what about the crispy pizza made freshly and delivered via room service after a late night’s outing of Bali’s Legian Street precinct. This hotel is conveniently located near popular bars, restaurants and shopping.

Talk about a variety of cuisine choices. There’s also a myriad of appetising Indian (and very healthy) vegetarian dishes to satisfy those hungry taste buds.

J4 Hotel’s rooftop outdoor swimming pool and the on-site restaurant are both on level 5. Hint: a great floor to afford you all the conveniences of swimming whilst enjoying a few bevvies, then proceed to devour a scrumptious meal. And here is the very kaleidoscope of superb sun rays mooching its way towards the end of the day’s activities.

Within the location of the pool, the restaurant is open for the evening’s a la carte menu and a breakfast buffet in the mornings. Make sure you book in the evening as the dinner along with drinks is a must to see the most amazing sunset over the relaxing pool area. No worries …

A cocktail or two while watching that sunset. What a way to finish off a hard day’s work of shopping, swimming and spa treatments reflecting on a treasure trove of memories whilst at the J4 Hotel in the Legian and Kuta area.

Coming up the next blog post exploring Bai’s Ubud in the hinterland.


Nusa Lembongan. Resorts and Spas of Bali, Indonesia.

Let the adventure begin. Greetings from the Manager Mr. Pande after my driver delivered me from the morning pick up run enroute to Lembongan Island. I was looking forward to some warm air and cool waves lapping at the shores of Mushroom Bay. Don’t worry no magic mushrooms to be found …

With Bali Hai Cruises, it’s an easy day out for day trippers or if staying at the stunning Bali Hai Tide Resort for a few day’s break, then this is definitely a seamless experience.

Nusa Lembongan is an island located southeast of Bali, approximately 14 nautical miles.

A safety briefing and some morning tea for a two-hour (give or take) ferry crossing. As always, depending on the winds and sea swell it might be quicker. But it’s always best to simply relax and enjoy the ride.

A smooth transit across to Lembongan from Benoa Harbour allows us to have a bird’s-eye view of the Bali Hai Tide Resort and appreciate the calm sea surrounding it. Ideal for families without worrying too much about rough, choppy waters. This white sandy stretch around the resort is a much safer option than many other popular beach areas of Bali.

Guests here can enjoy knowing that their accommodation is private and secluded. A quiet retreat in the heart of the resort’s landscaped gardens is just the fix most guests need.

If you’ve always loved bure style accommodation, then you won’t be disappointed with the interior’s homely feel, but also an outdoor setting below allows guests to harbor their swim and sport’s wear.

Did someone say a private pool only for guests? Yes exclusively and it’s a very deep pool too. At three metres at one end and people who are tall (like me) have to swim whether they like it or not!

A very healthy and delicious buffet lunch is served for all guests. Plenty to choose from and if in doubt, take a little from everything and go back for the goodies liked the most.

Or you can head down to the beach and take part in some activities; such as a glass-bottom boat viewing of the blue opal-look-alike water’s hidden treasures. Youngsters love this. Overlooking the Indian Ocean, there’s a hive of enthusiasm as the off-shore pontoon and Beach Club are well and truly patronised.

Saturday night at the movies. Outdoor seating for guests and nearby, the eateries of which you can also bring your drinks across and simply enjoy an evening under the stars – while watching a few acting on screen as well.

Take the opportunity to explore Lembongan with a free tour around the island which is offered to guests who stay at the Bali Hai Tide Resort. Definitely worthy of breaking yourself away from the beach and pool.

And drumroll please … Bali Hai Tide Resort is on the right side of the island for the most stunning sunsets. Not just on this day, but every day. View is from the restaurant whereby as a guest you’ll have front-row seats and away from the beachgoers. A glass of vino or beer and you’re all set for the evening’s light show.

Time to say bye to Bali Hai Tide Resort and next stop is the Acala Shri Sedana just further up the hill.

Looking from the Acala (pronounced Achala) Shri Sedana’s Reception upon arrival, you immediately gain a sense of Zen enlightenment. The view is far reaching across the escarpment out to the sea which in turn changes throughout the day with the tides.

Private Pool Villa? When you’re an overseas visitor who’s travelled from near or far, why not give in to some luxury and quiet time. The Classic Pool Villa is value for money whilst ensuring a retreat which has a delightful garden setting surrounding the pool. Aww and look at that day bed… a much loved novel is all you need and some chill-out music.

Natural light is what all Aussies love and this cool villa is an excellent choice for honeymooners seeking privacy and comfort. Netting to discourage any flying passers-by ensuring a sound night’s sleep.

Next up on my list? Two units of the Rooftop Pool Villa category which are perched at the southern area of the resort. Here they provide a magnificent view of the Indian Ocean and the Yellow Bridge in the distance.

Comprising of exclusive pavilions, there’s free Wi-Fi throughout the resort so you won’t be totally disconnected. Situated on the East side of the Island it’s where you can watch the sun rising over the undulating hills and resident’s rooftops in the foreground. Stairs are the only accessible means of the lower levels and of course a way of building up that appetite.

 A romantic canopied bed, plunge pool and lounging pavilion make it the perfect option for honeymooners or couples looking to spend some quality time alone together.

The Jala Restaurant is a scenic spot by the swimming pool that is open for all-day dining. It serves a versatile menu of elegant cuisine highlighted by locally sourced seafood and seasonal delicacies.

The Acala has a bus service which runs around the local area three times a day for guests. This offers an outlet for an experience of what’s going on outside of the luxury and comfort of the resort. Always great to return though and enjoy that cool pool villa …

And as much as I’d love to stay at these two properties, time to move onto the next set of accommodation styles. If you’re looking for a particular budget, then stay with me for a few nights at Legian to check out the scene in Bali.

Bali Hotels. Seminyak, Indonesia.

The Grand Mercure in Seminyak is as fresh as a new-born babe. Just nine months old and a stone’s throw from Seminyak Beach. But why worry too much about the beach when you have a swim-up bar of which you can comfortably nestle yourself onto warm mosaic seating, then order almost whatever you like. And if you’re early enough, you’ll be smug as a bug on a rug … sipping on a cool beverage.

A Deluxe King-size Bedroom is truly affordable luxury with this five-star property and a bonus – drumroll please – a balcony which is a real treat to watch those amazing sunsets in the early evening.

The property features 269 well-designed spacious rooms and suites, an all-day dining restaurant, Spa and three stunning outdoor pools. The Grand Mercure Seminyak has it covered with friendly staff who know your name in no time.

Bathrooms are of the utmost importance to those who enjoy a deep-soak bathtub or an easy accessible shower. Again, spacious and comfortable making the daily routine something to really look forward to.

Who doesn’t love breakfast? An array of delicious accompaniments of which can be found at the buffet to lure any diehard westerner who prefers the usual hum drum of bacon and eggs. Why travel if not experiencing taste sensations such as a noodle soup with all those little added extras such as spring or fried onions, chili, mung bean spouts and perhaps topped off with a hard-boiled egg.

With a sea breeze wafting up from the nearby beach and a view of the hotel’s pool, make sure you’re up early to enjoy the breakfast buffet when it’s not so busy.

A Grand Ballroom and another five Meeting Rooms is perfect for any kind of event or function which requires catering. With an extensive treasure trove of ideas from the coordinators, there’s surely an agreeable fit for purpose.

A short walk down the street will take you to a myriad of shops, market places and various eateries. Money changers are abundant, but look for banks for the best and safest cash exchanges.

Nope not interested. I bypassed the Vegemite toast on this day and was seeking a more spicy, authentic traditional dish from the local eateries.

So how much is 28,000 Indonesian Rupiahs? On today’s exchange with the Aussie dollar, approximately $A2.80 and still great value for food and drinks.

A short five-minute walk to Double Six Beach is where you can find your dose of salt air and cool sea water to ensure there’s that element of ‘beachiness’ in your holiday plans.

Further along the walking track, Legian Beach is another hot spot for visitors and locals.

Colourful colonial homes with an old-style form of architecture can also be found strolling around the streets of Seminyak.

W is for Wow Factor! And that is what the W Bali Hotel is all about. Trade in ordinary for extraordinary at this five-star resort. Located in the heart of Bali’s vibrant fashion and restaurant scene, there’s no shortage of great entertainment and an energetic nightlife. 

The magnificent W Bali Hotel is another luxury resort and part of the Marriott Bonvoy stable. Located within the heart of Bali’s vibrant fashion stores and restaurant scene, it exudes a rich playground and ambience reserved for the elite. Set in an enclosure of secure lush grounds, there’s a serenity and feeling of safety away from the busy streets of Seminyak.

An outdoor spa for one or two to enjoy the fresh air whilst being relieved from your previous stresses. A vigorous massage session is a must for a truly relaxing experience before heading out to the secluded beach area reserved for the property.

I’ve always maintained women should design bathrooms because we love to have our precious amenities in full view within its own special place. For a functional area, this one (room number 303) is again another drawcard for ease and spaciousness. Dual basins for two guests always helps with not clashing in a hurry … although there’d be a race for the deep egg-shaped bathtub! And a seated area for time to sit and contemplate which amenities to try first for the bathing ritual.

A big push from me is the use of refillable bottles of body and shower products reducing the need and usage of single-use plastics. The W Bali Hotel ticked the box here admirably.

Speaking of the reduction of waste…  Goby is a giant see-through fish, installed on W Bali’s beachfront to raise awareness and help reduce plastic in the Bali Ocean. 

Goby helps show what is happening when trash ends up in the sea – undoubtedly in the belly of fish and other sea creatures. And with this, W Bali Hotel tells a simple message; the only fish that should eat plastic is the likes of Goby!

FIRE is one of the finest restaurants to enjoy a layout of delectable accompaniments and cuisine. Take a little advice from the staff and try some of those goodies not readily available at home.

Brunch is my favourite time to eat and there’s an impressive display of condiments along with my main food choices. This time a little more healthy ‘greenery’ than the usual brekky at home.

And of course, having a brekky cooked each morning is absolute luxury.

FIRE really has all the healthy choices too for those of us trying hard to reduce our carbs. Umm I’d bet the plate missing an all-time favourite would have to be mango. But topped up in no time.

Time to say bye to the wonderful W Bali Hotel Seminyak – and it’s onto Lembongan Island.

Stay tuned for Lembongan Island’s resorts and fast ferry ride in the next posting.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

How to travel to Malaysia and around the country? Malaysia Airlines (MH) have it covered with an abundance of flights daily, both internationally and domestically with streamlined connections, especially through the capital Kuala Lumpur.

This snazzy aircraft at the gate of Kuching airport is a Malaysia Airlines (MH) B737 800 series and was spotlessly clean and comfortable. The staff were friendly and extremely helpful in every way.

Please note; a trip from Kuala Lumpur over to Kuching in Borneo is considered an international flight (because of the relationship to Malaysia), you will also need to clear immigration again going into Borneo and back to Malaysia and onto your country (if travelling internationally).

Of course, different airlines fly in both directions, but ascertain before ticketing, you have enough time to ensure the transfer is viable. Especially if you are using two different carriers with no interline baggage agreement as you will have to collect the luggage and again recheck it for the new onward flight. If in doubt call the airlines you are booked with to be doubly sure. If travelling on Malaysia Airlines, it’s a seamless transition of luggage if ticketed on MH, one of its subsidiaries or alliance partners.

Check with your travel agent or call Malaysia Airlines directly.

Taking the airport train from the Terminals 1 and 2 is a thoughtful option considering the length of time road transport can take. Approximately MYR55 (A$20) the KL Espres train is fast and efficient allowing time to relax a little before arriving into KL Sentral and City Air Terminal, whereby it’s a transit point for the local metro and Monorail train system.

From KL Sentral there’s more options with the Monorail which run overhead of the city’s traffic.

Hint: Bukit Bintang is a fantastic shopping area with restaurants and markets if you’re on the hunt for some last-minute bargains and delicious food.

Clean and affordable in ‘how to get around’ a busy city, this is a fast and effective way in cutting out the daily grind of traffic lights. Have some loose change ready for the ticket machines and you’ll be on your way in no time. Choose English on the display unit (if that’s your language) making it incredibly easy.

And what’s the first stop on everyone’s list of things to do in Kuala Lumpur? No prizes for guessing! One of the world’s most impressive buildings being the Pretonas Twin Towers. They were officially designated as the tallest buildings in the world until they were surpassed by the completion of the Taipei 101 in 2004.

Across the forefront quadrangle, there’s a myriad of Hop On, Hop Off buses to take tourists around a circuit of the city’s main attractions. If you’re short on time, it’s a head start on seeing some of the highlights in one day, especially if there’s a couple of sights such as the Bird Sanctuary and cultural museums which are always a drawcard. Spend as much or as little time as you wish at each stop on a one-day ticket.

A juxtaposition of architectural styles will keep enthusiasts enthralled and always looking upwards.

At the Malaysian Tourism office (not too far from Petronas Twin Towers) you’ll find a plethora of valuable information. Not just about Kuala Lumpur (affectionately known as KL), but all of Malaysia including Borneo and other destinations which could be of interest – along with the best methods of how to utilise transport and accommodation options to suit all budgets.

And, at the end of the day, be ready for a decent strong Arabica-style coffee. No shortage of stylish, clean eateries in KL, along with an endless assortment of food choices to tantalise the taste buds.

Malaysia Airlines being a member of the Oneworld Alliance offer direct services into Australia with onward connections with another member of the team is Qantas.

With seamless transfers between online carriers making the journey hassle free, Malaysia Airlines also have an area at the back of business class; two rows of extra-leg room and the last time I checked at A$90 per sector additional per passenger it seems worth the extra to have a restful trip. So, for an additional A$180.00 to London, makes flying just that much more comfortable. Note: this is not a premium economy cabin, but rows of seats which have added space for those of us who are slightly more robust than some other travellers.

Note: Please be aware if entering Australia, a visa is required if you’re not a national of the country. Also luggage will always need to be collected at the international entry point and then rechecked for the domestic onward flight regardless of airline.

So, with direct services into Malaysia and excellent connections, destinations such as Borneo are uncomplicated and doable. Making your way around is straight forward with English being spoken almost everywhere. Transport is cheap enough and taxis with a meter are certainly affordable. Accommodation standards are extremely high with all budgets being met from backpacker to luxurious in most areas of the country.

Enjoy a trip to Malaysia and return home with a vitality only reserved for those who know how to relish life to the fullest with a swag of memories from a country which is diverse and fascinating.

Photo courtesy of Malaysian Airlines.