Saturday 8th June
We’re off to Candidasa (pron; Chani-dasar). for one of the first times, we’re both going to place in Bali that neither Em or I have been to. We’re quietly excited, as we have no real idea of what to expect.
Our driver, Ketut (yes, Ketut) takes us to Candidasa from Ubud through some of the most amazing scenery. At one time, you think you’re being driven through a disused set from ‘Apocalypse Now!’ with rice paddies and centuries old Palm trees dotting the landscape, to lush, green forest-like terrain that reminds you of the Dandenong Ranges region of eastern Melbourne.
Our stay at the Bali Palms resort has been organised for us by Henry and Keryn via their holiday club. ‘Heryn’ as I referred to them in my wedding speech have used their holiday club points for other family members in the past in places like Thailand with rave reviews following.
We’re trepidatious when we arrive as the place really doesn’t look like much, but as you do with these things, you give them a chance as first impressions can be deceiving. For the first time ever (including all of the previous twenty or so trips to Bali for Em) we are told that there is a daily $7 ‘energy surcharge’ on top of the room rate. Hmmm. Then we are told that at 10am on the Sunday morning, there is a V.I.P ‘information session’ being held in the hotel bar and that we should attend. We politely decline, saying that we’ll likely be asleep, but are told; “No, you come!” I begin to feel a little uneasy. I can smell a hardcore sales pitch in the winds.
We are shown to our room and on first impression, it looks fantastic. A one bedroom ‘villa’ with a large front patio area and really nice outdoor furniture. Inside however, it is a slightly different matter. The villa is spacious, no doubt, but all of the fixtures, fitting and the general decor remains untouched from, say, 1985. That’s not to say we hated it, it was just a strange setting.
As we begin to unpack, we hear lots of talking outside our bedroom window, and the beeping of two-way radios. Em folds back the curtains to find our bedroom backs immediately on to the staff maintenance rooms; linen, cleaning products, brooms, mops and the usual resort maintenance gear and lots of staff going about their business right next to our bedroom window. Fair enough.
We unpack and decide to go for a bit of a bijou stroll around the town and see what’s what in Dodge. The part of Candidasa we’re staying at – while definitely seaside – is all rocks and no sand, so we soon learn that laying on the beach is out. We walk for around a half-hour or so and find nothing much of interest, save for a seafood and pasta restaurant, where we stop for a few Bintangs and some delicious woodfire pizzas. It is one of the rare occasions that I have my iPhone with me and manage to get some great shots of local kids doing some twilight fishing on a local breakwater. While the Candidasa region is a vast tract of land on the eastern-most part of the island, what we understood to be the town itself is the epitome of the quiet seaside town; a -blink-and-you-miss-it place with a few small warungs, laundry service and standard-issue clothing shops with the obligatory sarong and Bintang singlet stocks.
When we return to the resort, we go past the VIP lounge and are given the hard-sell about coming in to watch some AFL games live on TV and hear about what the resort has to offer. We’re here to basically do nothing, so have no interest in the ‘activities’ on offer here. We know where the pool and the poolside bar are, and that’s all we need to know.
Finally getting back to the room, we decide a swim is in order and make our way to the pool. The water is cool and refreshing and Em and I manage to do anything like exerting ourselves for around an hour and bit.
Possibly still feeling the mental and physical effects of the build-up to the wedding, we’re both plum tuckered out by around 8pm that night and pull the pin for some sleep.