Having never been to Bali, I couldn't understand why those who have been there always come back enamoured and enthralled by the tropical island. Picturesque, immaculate, mystical, and magnificent - these are some of the praises friends have lavished freely when describing Bali to me. Naturally, I took their word for it and made a mental note to grab the next opportunity to head down to this island paradise.
Last weekend offered that very opportunity. My dearest and very good friend Shivani was going to marry the love of her life in beautiful Bali and she made me promise that I had to be there. It was a promise that wasn't hard to keep of course. I was only more than happy to able to be there to witness what would be one of the happiest moments of her life.
Shivani has been nothing short of a true friend all these years. It's been about 8 years and I'm still glad she's part of my life. I will, however, miss her dearly as she flies off to New York tonight. I do want to take this chance to wish her all the very best in her future NY endeavours and of course for her and her husband Aniel to be happy forever. I'm very excited for her as she makes this new transition and I know that there's lots more blessings in stored for this sweet handsome couple.
Their wedding might be over, but it was so memorable that I just had to talk about it here and share a bit of their joy and a piece of Bali with you.
Receiving the invite from Shivani was the beginning of all the excitement, squeals, countless "oh-my-gosh-i-can't-believe-you're-getting-married!", and plenty of wide smiles and misty eyes.
I am showing you the cover and the first page of the invite. Do read the quote by Beethoven. It is very endearing. I had read it elsewhere but reading it again in this context surely stirred a fuzzy feeling. I know that Shivani and Aniel are made for each other. I'm simply estatic that her search for the perfect companion is over.
Here's a candid shot I took of them. They were posing for photographers at Conrad Bali.
The wedding was not only splendid but culturally rich, particularly so because it was the first Indian/Hindu wedding ceremony that I was to attend. I thought the details put into the decoration were really lovely as well. The theme was red and white and you'll see that colour scheme appearing in some photos.
I liked the decorative umbrella.
This was on Sunday morning, at the Ritz Carlton Bali's Bale Kencana. They got a priest to complete the wedding rites. This included the 7 times of walking around the fire. It helped that he explained parts of it in English, for the benefit of the non-Hindus.
Here's the family all poised for a photo:
The entrance of the ballroom where lunch was served after the ceremony:
After lunch ended that Sunday, a horse carriage arrived:
The horses served a specific purpose. It was not there for novelty sake. There's a certain significance to this and usually in India, families would sometimes use elephants. This is for the sending off ceremony. This is the most tearful part because this is the part where the bride's family officially gives away their dearest daughter.
Like any typical Indian wedding, Shivani's one lasted for 3 days. Friday night was the Sagan, Misri, and Sangeet. Saturday was the Navaghari and Ghari ceremony of Aniel and the wedding rites were conducted on Sunday morning (as shown in the picture), followed by a dinner reception that Sunday evening.
In between those wedding festivities, I managed to take a shuttle bus to do a little shopping. On the way, I snapped a few random shots:
I also know it's silly but I had to have my morning dose of caffeine so I got a doppio macchiato and a blueberry scone to go with it. I even got sucked into the whole touristy gimmick and bought myself a Starbucks Bali T-shirt. :)
That weekend in Bali, I must have visited every single 5-star hotel there was on the island. I was at InterContinental on Friday, Conrad on Saturday, Ritz Carlton on Sunday, and I also checked out the Four Seasons because some friends were staying in one of the private villas. I'll let the photos speak for themselves:
A read-a-book-by-the-sea type of hut, which I loved.
I took some panaroma shots with my humble Sony Ericssion W910i
Note that it is obvious which resort I fancy the most and think is the best.
In my opinion, the other 5-star hotel resorts can't compare to Four Seasons Resort Bali. I think it's just the attention the landscape architects and interior designers of Four Seasons paid to ensure that none of the exotic charm and mystical aura of Bali was lost. Four Seasons Resort Bali manages to be spectacular and yet uniquely traditional.
The following photos of the villa will explain in greater detail:
The walkway from the door to the outdoor lounge area, bedroom, and private pool. Did I mention that they had an outdoor shower as well?
Utterly decadent, and dripping with distinct Balinese exoticism, the villas render one speechless (me included).
The Four Seasons Resort Bali is located at Jimbaran Bay, which happens to be the hot spot popular for its fresh seafood warungs. Having heard so much about the cheap and good sea-grub, I convinced some of people I was hanging out with to grab dinner there. A simple google search led us to Menega Cafe and we were not the least bit disappointed.
We ordered at 10pm and the food arrived half an hour later. We were starving by the time the dishes were served, but all was well. The gang was duly satisfied, and so was I. The total bill came up to about IDR 400,000, which was about SGD50. It was a steal, considering that there were 6 of us. Here's the spread:
We had lots of prawns, a red snapper, a garoupa, some vegetables and a noodle and a rice dish. The grilled seafood came with four bowls of condiments. The chilli sambal was really good and tasted best when mixed with a dash of kacup manis which they also served. The thick sweet black sauce brought out the smokey grilled flavour. There was also a 4 piece band going around belting out dedications. One of the guys asked the band if they knew James Blunt and surprisingly they did. They promptly sang 'Beautiful' and we were impressed.
Though the trip to Bali was a very short one, it was enough for me to see why the island is so well-loved. I will definitely be back soon and this time, I will be sure to visit all the restaurants that I've been dying to go to, especially those featured in The Miele Guide.
Given the short time I had there, I didn't manage to buy any traditional Balinese handicrafts or souvenirs, or sarongs. What I did manage to get was a few knick knacks that I thought were pretty cool. I actually bought a jar of ginger & pineapple jam but I was stupid enough to lug it in my hand luggage and it got confiscated (it was more than 100g!). That was disappointing because I was so looking forward to going back home to slather it on toast for breakfast the next morning. I only hope that someone else will get to enjoy it.
So here's just a sneak peek at my humble loot:
A modern wayang kulit. I bought Dot the male version. As expected, she loved it. We are going to record a wayang video. I will post it up when we do.
Being the curious person I am, I just had to buy these brown packets:
I couldn't describe them even if I wanted to because I have yet to try them. I honestly have no idea what they are. The only words I recognise are 'kopi', and 'rempah'. I asked the sales person but even he wasn't sure. He just said it is some sort of drink. How suspect huh.
Please, if any of you understand Bahasa Indonesia and can translate what the packet says, or knows what they contain, do let me know.
Now, guess what this is:
Yes it is a painting. It was apparently hand painted.
I could not stop myself from buying it.
How quaint and useful:
There's even a small one. I took a long time picking the design. There were a limited number and I was convinced that I must pick only the prettiest of the lot. I believe I did manage that. So I went to Bali and I got myself biscuit tins - how novel can that be?
These tins are begging to be filled with candy and biscuits. I cannot bear to put anything in there though. I think the tins will stay empty for now.
Okay, I'm feeling really heavy-hearted as I type this. There are two reasons - 1. I miss Bali and want to go back. 2. I'm sad that my dear friend is not going to be in Singapore anymore. I believe she is on the plane as I type this. My dear, if you're reading this, I just want to say that I will always keep you and Aniel in my prayers and that I will save up and definitely visit you in NY soon! Also, here's a shout-out to all the new friends I made while at the wedding. It's been swell and I hope to keep in touch with all of you!
And before I sign off, I just remembered that I have yet to wish you all a very Happy Lunar New Year. Gong Xi Fa Cai to you all. I hope that your red packet collection has been bountiful. Keep well and eat well.