5 nights in Nusa Dua

For our final five nights in Bali we decided to try out Nusa Dua. Some say they’d never stay in Nusa Dua as it ‘s to full of hotels. and some say they wouldn’t stay anywhere else. We chose the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel and Spa to try out the area for ourselves.

We’ve been very happy with our choice of accommodation, with one exception. We ended up somehow with two packages, the first being the Palace Club benefits. We wanted to stay in one of the Palace Club rooms as it has the Palace Club dining room away from the crowds which we’ve used for breakfast, afternoon tea, and pre-dinner drinks. The available food at each of the three sittings is substantial so purchasing any other meals is completely unnecessary, but sometimes a bit of added variety can be nice. However, we purchased this stay through Luxury escapes, and ended up with a second package also – all inclusive dining across all restaurants, plus free flow drinks at the bars from 3pm – 6pm, plus 4 spa treatments. It took us a couple of days to realise how stupid trying to take advantage of both packages was. The photo below is Paul on the first night after afternoon tea, pre-dinner cocktails and canapés in the Club Room, several cocktails at one of the many bars dotted around the place, and then dinner in one of the restaurants.

Yep, definitely too much to eat and drink that night. We’ve been trying to cut back each day but it’s not been easy. I’m sure I’ll go home at least 3 kgs heavier, my clothes are definitely fitting a bit more snugly.

The Nusa Dua Beach hotel and spa has proved to be a pleasant and comfortable place to stay. The grounds are expansive with beautiful gardens, some magnificent curtain trees, and there is a variety of pools and restaurants dotted around. Whilst most of the buildings are in Western type hotel style, there are still a significant amount of Balinese style thatched roofs, and soaring bamboo structures to give a pleasant Balinese feel to the place. I haven’t at any time during my stay felt that I could have been anywhere in the world, no, our choice of hotel has enough Balinese character to let me know I’m in Bali. It’s been a really good choice.

They have a few special dinners each week, with one of them being a seafood buffet set up on the lawn for the occasion. They had a live singer throughout the evening, (every night they have some sort of live entertainment), and at the seafood buffet they also had a special fire dance performance. We watched them transform the expansive lawn overlooking the beach into a huge special dining area complete with white table clothes and draped chairs. By the time it commenced at 7pm there were several huge buffet tables set up around the perimeter, each laden with so much food I’m sure they could have fed the whole of Bali. I couldn’t begin to remember what was on offer, I’ve never seen so much food in one place before. I loved the ice, and fruit carvings. The fire dance floor show was pretty good too.

The hotel runs along a public beach front. When we came to Bali more than 25 years ago the hawkers proved to be too much for us. They are a lot less demanding now than they were then, but even less demanding in Nusa Dua than elsewhere on the Island. Below is a video of a hawker displaying his kites for sale as he wanders down the beach. He’s not in anyone’s face at all. In fact, he provided a bit of something to see whilst we we were eating our lunch in the Italian restaurant.

While here we have had a reasonable look around Nusa Dua with a couple of morning walks. On one occasion we walked almost the length of the beach and hotel area right down to the Mulia. Bali is humid, so we walked slowly, taking almost two hours to get there, and we taxied back. We had wanted to check out the Mulia for future reference, as we thought we’d love it. However, we weren’t that impressed, it was too big for us, and too pristine. When we returned to our own hotel, it felt a lot more intimate, and we appreciated the gardens and green lawns even more. It felt like ‘coming home’.

There were definitely a few things that did impress us on our walk though. Firstly, everywhere was clean, and well maintained. Bali in general isn’t like that – in fact, excuse the expression, but for most of Bali once outside of the hotels, it’s pretty much a ‘shithole’. (That’s Paul’s expression for it). The footpaths are in bad repair, the drain covers broken, and rubbish is everywhere. Nusa Dua isn’t like that. The uncrowded footpaths are in good repair and shaded by beautiful trees, with lawns and gardens alongside. There is hardly any traffic on the roads comparatively too. This is the Bali some people aren’t impressed by – me, I love it! I’m happy to stay in clean Nusa Dua, but yes, I’ll still venture out to see other places on future trips, and there will definitely be future trips.

We leave before sunrise in tomorrow, so today we rose early and headed to the beach to see a final sunrise. It was beautiful. We’ll definitely be back.

I’ve heard it said that, ‘there’s something in Bali for everyone’. We have really enjoyed Sanur, Lembongan, and Nusa Dua. Of the three places though I suspect it is Nusa Dua, and in particular the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel and Spa (in the quieter Palace Club Rooms) that will likely be included in any future Bali trips. It’s been a real pleasure!

Location, Location, Location – Lembongan

We’ll spend our fourth and last night on Lembongan tonight (for this trip, but we’re sure there’ll be another). Our digs at Palm Grove are certainly adequate, but being up the hill from the beach at Mushroom Bay, the location doesn’t perfectly fit the three L’s (location, location, and location).

There are two types of people who holiday. There are those who are out and about, rushing around like blue arsed flies, from the time they get out of bed to the time their heads touch the pillow again at night. These people want to see and experience absolutely everything a place has on offer. Then there’s those who like to get up and meander around at a leisurely pace, relaxing in their digs, lying on the beach, eating and drinking and just soaking up the ambience, with only a very few site seeing trips to add just a touch of interest. Paul and I are in the later, we spend a lot of time in our digs, so it’s important our digs provide us with the right ambience to enable us to relax without rushing around like ‘blue arsed flies’. There is certainly nothing wrong with Palm Grove, in fact it’s perfect for families, or for those people for whom their digs is simply just a comfortable bed at the end of hectic day. For us though, we’ve spied something that will suit us perfectly next time we come across to this little piece of paradise. I’ll tell you about that soon.

Yesterday we went on our organised tour of the Island. We were picked up and taken to a couple of other beaches, and then out to the mangroves where a punt took us through the peaceful mangroves. It was low tide so the sea water probably looked a bit murkier that it would have looked at high tide. It was oh, so peaceful though. We called our punt guide our ‘Gondolier’, and the punt our ‘gondola’, which we had to explain to our guide. He spent ages making sure he had his tongue wrapped around it, and I’m sure he would have been offering his services as ‘gondolier’ in his ‘gondola’ later that morning when the hoards of tourists arrived from the mainland for their day trips.

Mangroves on Lembongan

We came out of the Mangroves into the calm waters of the ocean where our Gondolier took us around the seaweed farms. He, himself has a small seaweed farm in the area which he started during Covid. The weed is picked at low tide, dried out, and shipped to places like China and Japan to be turned in capsules for medicine, and food, amongst other things. It apparently doesn’t pay very well, but during Covid the people on the Island had to turn to any means they could in order to just survive. Apparently their government promised aid, but most people have said they’re yet to see any such aid. I can only begin to imagine how difficult it must have been for the Balinese people on an Island that relies on tourism for the livelihoods of 95% of its population. We have prompted conversations with many of the locals. One person said first he used all his savings, then he sold almost everything he had, and finally a contact he’d made in Australia offered to help him out. This seems to be a common story – and the people are ever so humble and grateful to Australia and the Australians who have helped them out during what must have been an horrendous two years for them. I say they are humble, but when I hear the sincere gratitude in the voices, I myself feel truly humbled.

Looking back over the seaweed farms towards the mangroves – at high tide the water reaches up to the start of the greenery.

We left the Mangroves and drove on around the Island, the yellow suspension bridge that goes across to the other Island, the Devils tears (where sea swells break into a cave and send a huge misty sea-spray back out and up). Not being one of those holidayers though that is enthralled by everything there is to see, we were happy to get back to our own little piece of paradise at Mushroom Bay. I don’t think I’m hard to please, but really tourism around Bali, almost anywhere doesn’t really enthral me. The resorts are beautifully maintained, but outside the resorts the place is grubby, with unkempt dogs running around, and poor sanitation everywhere. I don’t say that with any judgement, it is what it is. It’s just too sad to see. Yet saying that, the people are lovely. So, I think I’ll be back, and whilst I’ll spend the bulk of my time in the pristine tourist areas, I will venture out from time to time for a reality check, a reminder, that ‘there but by the grace of God, go I’. I was so lucky to be born into the Western world (I think).

Next time we come to Lembongan I think we’ll be staying at Hai Tide in one of their sea side huts. I’ll show you:

With their sun lounges, and with the underneath furnished with tables and chairs, and lounge chairs, and only a few metres from the water’s edge – well what more could a lazy holiday maker like me want. The road down to the bay finishes with these huts to one side at the end of the road, and to the other side the main part of the Hai Tide resort which has three pools and two lovely restaurants. We’ve eaten most of our meals in their restaurants and found them to be very good, and reasonably priced. This is one of the restaurants photographed from the beach.

This is the inside of the bamboo construction.

And this is the view from our table at sunset.

Perhaps it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but for us – what a pleasure!

Our arrival at Nusa Lembongan

We were picked up from the Tandjung Sari at 8.30am and transported to the reasonably new, and very busy jetty to catch our fast boat from Sanur to Lembongan Island. Prior to the jetty’s completion, boarding the boats for the Islands required accessing the vessels by wading through the waves. All manner of boat tours leave from the jetty now, so it was a crowded place. Hawkers, walked around offering their wares to the myriads of tourists awaiting their boats. The days of ‘hard sell’ by the hawkers that we remembered from 25 years ago, now seems to be a thing of the past in Bali thankfully, so each approach to prospective customers was polite and un-demanding.

An old lady wandered from bin to bin collecting empty plastic bottles, I guess there must be a rebate available for returned plastics. A gentle, friendly dog, riddled with fleas tried to find a cool place on which to lie the patches of skin that he’d scratched bare. We watched the fleas running across the bare skin patches and saw his agonised face as he tried unsuccessfully to scratch away the source of his discomfit. As I remember that little dog scene and write about him, I feel my eyes well up with tears. I so desperately wanted to help the poor creature – I felt so helpless. This is Bali!

We boarded the fast boat with our carry on luggage feeling pleased with ourselves for ‘being sensible’ enough to have luggage that didn’t need checking in. As it turned out, we weren’t that sensible after all, and it was by sheer good luck rather than good management that our belongings didn’t end up getting soaked at the Lembongan end. As the boat pulled in to the beach we realised there was no jetty to alight from the boat, rather we had to climb over the end of the boat and wade into shore – not easy with a 7 kgs of hand luggage. Paul went first with his pack, and said a couple of times he nearly lost his feet and it was only by the boat staff quickly putting out a supporting hand that kept him upright and his pack dry. He deposited the pack on the shore and returned for my pack. I had rolled up my shorts and waded, luggage free, into shore. I had only just managed to keep on my feet, but the sea water had wet me almost to waist height. Needless to say, our luggage will be checked in for our return boat trip, and I’ll be wearing bathers and board shorts for the trip.

We were met by a driver and taken to our accommodation at Palm Grove Huts on Mushroom Bay. We had arrived a bit early so left our packs at reception and went to the on site restaurant for coffee. It was just after 11, so breakfast had finished, and lunch not yet started. Clearly this establishment was a giant step down from our Sanur accommodation with its all day dining, but at approximately 1/4 of the price I’m reminded that you get what you pay for. As there was no all day dining, we managed to get ourselves only a cup of coffee, there were no snacks to accompany it. We drank our coffee, went for a short orientation walk around the immediate neighbourhood, made an appointment for a massage, and went back to check out our accommodation.

Our hut is pleasantly located close to the clear, blue swimming pool. Whilst lacking in the little touches like soft tissues and anything over and above the absolute basic additions one has come to expect now in paid accommodation, it is certainly adequate. Body and hand wash, shampoo, loo paper, and two small bottles of water are supplied in the outdoor ensuite. Some of the boards are loose and in need of repair, so I remind myself to turn on the light at night so as to be able to watch my footing.

The hut has a beachy, white washed decor and is tucked away into a secluded little corner overlooking the pool. The structure isn’t lined, so there are gaps between the boards – a few ants run around over the dressing table, and I think to myself, ‘I hope nothing really nasty finds its way inside from between those gaps.’ The covered verandah is comfortably furnished with an outdoor lounge suite and coffee table.

Inside, the air conditioned room is furnished with a mosquito net covered king sized bed made up with with clean white linen. We also have a day bed in the room, an open wardrobe, dressing table, a TV, and a few other bits, certainly enough to ensure we’ll be comfortable for the next few days and nights.

We spent our afternoon relaxing around the pool with our books. I’m pleased to say the pool looks to be very clean and well maintained, and the water features at either end are working (unlike many of the other gorgeous water features around the property). The Sun loungers proved to be very comfortable, but show signs of dirt and neglect. The wooden boardwalks surrounding the pool and leading the way around the property, in places are in need of some attention. In fact as we wander around the whole place is lacking attention to detail, but I remind myself this is an island slowly recovering from the pandemic and the absence of tourists that it so desperately relies upon. The staff around the premises aren’t yet plentiful, so perhaps it is going to take a full, good, tourist season to see funds return sufficiently to enable the attention to detail the premises are currently lacking – the repair of loose floor boards, the return to working order of the many beautiful water features around the property, the sparse tropical gardens to be made lush and glorious, a restaurant that offers all day dining, and last but not least, the cleaning of those sun loungers around the pool.

We showered and headed out to our booked massage – it was a fantastic massage. Then back to our home for the next four nights, another shower to remove the massage oil, and out in search of a spot to eat dinner. Pork ribs and cool Crystal Bintangs (Bali’s beer) in a casual bar overlooking the waters of Mushroom Bay hit the spot perfectly.

A pleasant nights sleep, then off to take advantage of the included breakfast in the premise’s tarriff. Yes definitely at around 1/4 the price of our last accommodation, we are clearly getting ‘what we have paid for’. It was okay – just. So that’s our arrival into Lembongan. We’ll look around the Island over the next few days and I’ll look forward to showing you around later……

First impressions from Bali after 25 years absence.

Four days in Sanur:

Our re-introduction to Bali after around 25 years began in Sanur. Our accommodation at the boutique Tandjung Sari bungalows certainly saw us off to a good start with Bali. The food at the restaurant, while not exceptional, is definitely on the better side of passable. Its downside, along with the downside of Tandjung Sari as a place to stay, is the prices. It is on the high side compared to other places around. One thing though that I’m pleased to say is that, talking to the staff, it appears the owners aren’t greedy. From what the staff tell us they’re all paid fairly, and according to Government regulations. From what we can gather this isn’t always the case. Some cheaper hotels seem to be maintaining their lower room and meal prices by paying their staff below what the government regulations require. The fact that our hosts appear to be giving their employees a fair cut from their takings certainly goes a long way to us accepting that perhaps we’re paying the right price, especially taking into account the quality of the place, the high attention to detail, and the biggest plus, the staff seem to be proud and content in their jobs.

Additional to the fact that the staff appear to be happy with their pay checks, is the fact that the hotel certainly doesn’t skimp on staff. This is something that is apparent wherever you are in Bali. On an Island where approximately 95% of employment revolves around the tourist industry, it’s clear that a lower wage structure supports more employment. Where ever we go service is always slow, despite an abundance of staff, yet clearly there would be 4 – 5 times as many wait staff in most eateries than are in any eatery in Australia. We’re here on holiday, as is almost everyone else eating in the food places, so what does it matter that service is slow.

When I look around at the Balinese people and their culture it makes me wonder if wealthy countries such as Australia have it right. Clearly people here in Bali are in general much poorer than the general population in Australia, and in general, most people here work longer hours, and for much less pay. Yet they all seem less stressed, and they all seem to be proud of their jobs and their working status. Ayu, our favourite waitress from Tandjung Sari was absolutely delightful, always happy and smiling, good at her job, and proud of her job.

It makes me wonder if western countries that have have fought for higher rates of pay have done themselves any favours. Clearly if one person is required to take on the equivalent work load of 4 – 5 people in countries that offer much lower rates of pay, then that one person is going to have to work 4 – 5 times harder and faster. Maybe that’s the reason so many people in Western countries seem so stressed and are suffering from job dissatisfaction. Maybe in Western countries expectations of everything are just too high, and consequently, we’re all suffering far more stress than we should be.

Anyway enough of that, here’s how we’ve spent our first four days.

Day 1, we settled into our accommodation and did a little bit of orientation around our digs. Our hotel is situated right on the beach with tables spreading across the beach path onto the sandy shore. The beach path runs for approximately 4 kms down the length of Sanur and it’s well kept and pleasant to walk on, providing one either walks on it in the early morning, or the late evening. Following dinner at our digs on the first night we walked along the path, and also upon rising early the following morning. It was quiet and peaceful on both occasions, however by 7.30am the path was teaming with people and dogs, all out for their morning walk. Thank goodness we rose early!

Day 2, We tackled the main street in search of a Tailor. I had brought some clothes with me from Australia that required a few alterations so had decided to make use of one of the many Tailors in Bali. The footpaths in Sanur on the Main Street are the same as elsewhere in Bali, in terrible repair, crowded, and dirty, and that’s just the way I remembered Bali from 25 years ago. My son refers to Sanur as Snore, or Kuta in cardigan, but the Main Street certainly wasn’t any sleepy little place that could justifiably be referred to as ‘snore’. It was chaos! We found a tailor and left my clothes to be altered. Then later we headed in the other direction but this time down the beach path. We found someone selling tickets on the fast boats that go daily to the island of Nusa Lembongan, so we arranged our boat ride to the Island for the four days of this trip following on from Sanur. Those four days will be spent on Nusa Lembongan. We also found the two restaurants that are listed on Tripadvisor as Sanur’s number one and number two. Both restaurants happen to be at the Andaz, approximately 15 minutes walk along the beach path. We booked for that eventing at Wok Wok, and for Saturday night, my birthday night, at the number one restaurant, The Fisherman’s Club. In the afternoon we lay in the sun on the beach lounges with our books before showering and heading to Wok Wok for dinner. Wok Wok was okay, but nothing memorable.

Day 3, A short walk, then an early breakfast before our driver picked us up at 8am for a big day, snorkelling and a private tour of a water fall. We headed up to the port where all the boats leave for Lombok, this was where our boat met us for the snorkelling. I had been wanting to go on one of the boats that line the shores of Sanur and sit there on the banks looking like giant spiders as the sun rises over the sands in the early morning, so was delighted to see that it was one of these boats that would transport us to our two snorkelling spots.

The snorkelling was good, but it was sad to see what had clearly one day been a glorious coral reef, now decimated by the interference of humans in pursuit of the tourist dollar. After snorkelling at two spots for around two hours we were taken back to the port for a shower and light lunch, were met by our driver, Ketut, and taken on our private tour to the waterfall, (a thoughtful Christmas gift voucher from our daughter and son-in-law). The water fall was lovely, but jam-packed with people.

Ketut was the highlight of the day, a real gem and so informative. We learned so much from him, the family structure, how life was during the pandemic, and even the meaning of Ketut. (In case you’re wondering Ketut means fourth born, and that’s why there are so many Ketuts in Bali, and it is only a Balinese name. There is another syllable before Ketut if a female happens to be the fourth born in a family). More on what we learnt from Ketut on how life was during the pandemic a little later…… We returned to the hotel, then wandered down the main street to pick up my alterations from the Tailor. All the alterations look to have been carried out well.

Day 4, 27th May, my 68th birthday. A later start today, so our pre-breakfast walk along the beach path was chaotic. We cut it short and headed back for breakfast. Then out in search of a spa for some birthday spoiling. Both Paul and I had a massage, plus I had a facial and manicure. I was going to have a full pedicure too, but opted out half way through the pedicure. My feet were just far too sensitive to be touched, and trying to keep them still was proving to be agony, so I forfeited the nail varnish. As far as massages go, it was okay, but certainly not the best I’ve had. It was very cheap though, only the equivalent of $75 for the 2 X 1 hour massages, plus the facial, manicure and pedicure. We lunched in house. The staff had noted my birthday and surprised me after lunch with a specially made birthday cake, and three of them sung happy birthday to me as I blew out the candle.

Not only that, but when we returned to our room they had placed a huge version of the usual small floral arrangement in our room with a special note wishing me a happy birthday. It’s those little, and not so little touches that turn what could be an ordinary holiday into something outstanding and memorable. What a pleasure!

We walked down to the Fisherman’s Club for dinner which was pleasant enough, but nothing overly memorable. I did love the big boat tables though.

This morning we said good by to Sanur, Ayu, and the Tandjung Sari and boarded the boat for Nusa Lembongan. I wonder how the next place will compare – the gardens, the staff, the room, and the view at Tandjung Sari have left what I’m sure will be a lasting impression. Thank you to Ayu and everyone else for the lasting memories.

Tandjung Sari at Sanur

After several packs, and re-packs for our Bali trip, and despite having a checked suitcase allowance, we finally settled on carry-on luggage only. We didn’t have the Carry-on + allowance so it meant we had to limit ourselves to only one bag each, and only 7kgs of weight each. My Ipad with its proper keyboard weighs in at approximately 1 1/2 kgs so it was tight, but I managed it. We headed up to Perth the day before so as to entrust Mr Tilly into Alices care. After a delicious dinner we set our alarm for 3am and had an early night so as to get to the airport for our early morning flight.

Apart from a 40 minute delay to take off, the flight went off without a hitch, and I was very pleased we’d settled on Carry-on luggage only – no waiting around at luggage turnstiles for us. Although saying that, and Bali being what it is, it still took forever to get through the airport. Our driver from the accommodation met us as we came through the gates, and after a 40 minute drive we arrived at our hotel, the Tandjung Sari, chosen specifically for it’s boutique, Balinese style, and because it’s so different from the big international hotel chains that seem to be the same no matter where you are in the world.

Our bungalow, number 30, is almost next door to the pool and restaurant, and we can look out to the beach for our verandah and private courtyard. The room has exceeded expectations. In the photos we saw on line the green tiled floors somehow looked a bit dated – in reality though they don’t look dated at all. They’re shiny and clean, and have a timeless, Balinese appeal to them. The size of the room has definitely exceeded my expectations, it’s HUGE. No photos can do justice to the size, or at least none I’m capable of taking. Take a look:

Outside the french doors is a small private garden.

This garden flows around the side from the front verandah and courtyard.

There’s a huge ensuite bathroom off our living/bedroom, with twin vanities, a big Balinese bathtub, and a seperate shower and loo.

Leading off that bathroom is door to an outside shower in the garden to the rear of the bungalow.

Plus we have a seperate dressing room with twin wardrobes, and a small seperate study with a desk and our bar fridge.

The Tanjung Sari is definitely not a resort. There is only one modest sized swimming pool, and only one restaurant that caters to all day dining. We were up early this morning to see the sun rising over the bay to the east of our accommodation. The staff were already quietly sweeping up and preparing for the day to come.

There’s no big Buffett for breakfast, although breakfast is included in the tariff. Everything is prepared and cooked fresh to order, which I’m very happy with – no buffets with food sitting out for hours being mulled over by all the hotels guests who arrive before me.

We really didn’t like Bali at all on our last visit. That was around 25 years ago, and on that visit we stayed in Legian. The hawkers were unbelievable, and totally spoiled any chance we may have had of finding something to like about the place. We have specifically chosen Sanur (or Snore as my son calls it), for the first four days of this trip with the hopes that we’ll find something away from the madding crowd in Bali for us. Everyone tells us there’s something in Bali for everyone. The Tanjung Sari has been chosen for the same reason, its simple, roomy boutique style is definitely appealing to us, and we’re hoping this time that at the end of this two week trip, we’ll have found a piece of paradise in Bali that we’ll be happy to return to time and time again. However, the price at Tandjung Sari may be prohibitive for return lengthy stays, it’s mainly been chosen as something that’s likely to give Bali a head start. We didn’t want to chose accommodation that got us off on the wrong foot.

So far the short flight here has definitely been a big plus. The weather is warm and ok through the day, gorgeous and balmy at night, and we like our digs. The jury’s still out though as to whether or not Bali will delight us enough on this trip so as to entice us back many times in the years to come. We’ll see!

Another completed project

We’re too old now to live with things we don’t love, and whilst we love our Marri floorboards, having furniture made of the same wood just wasn’t doing justice to them. So the furniture just had to go. The Marri soldboard was sold around the same time as we sold our Marri dining suite. In its place an old pine sideboard for up-cycling.

As you can see, neither the Marri, nor the pine sideboard do justice to the floor boards. However Paul has worked his magic – and now we have something we love.

An added bonus – we sold the Marri sideboard for $800, and purchased the old pine sideboard for just $50. I just love seeing old things get a new lease of life.

Here are before and after photos side by side of both the sideboard, and a photo of the dining room with the completed up-cycled furniture. Some people will prefer the wood look, but we love the clean brightness of the white. What do you think?

Are we there yet? Not quite! We still have a coffee table to go (already purchased and waiting for a make-over), and an entertainment unit (as yet not yet found to purchase). After that we have a girlfriends pine dining suite, that we’ve promised we’ll tackle for her. But for now, it’s break time. Next week we leave for a couple of weeks in Bali.

We’ve only been to Bali once before and that was around 25 years ago. We hated it at the time, but we’ve been told there’s something in Bali for everyone. Having sold our caravan last year, we’re determined to find what there is in Bali for us. Of course there are loads of places in the world worthy of a visit, but if we can find something in Bali to suit us, that’ll be just grand. It’s less than a four hour flight to get there from Perth, and it has the perfect climate to give us some warmth and sunshine during our cold winter months. We’re not that interested in sight-seeing, or doing the tourist run around. Just some warmth, a massage or two, and a good book to read around the pool, and we’ll be happy. We’re giving it a good trial this year – firstly 4 days in Sanur, then 4 days on Nusa Lembongan, and to finish off 5 nights in Nusa Dua. Then we’ll go over for another 9 nights in September and try out the Padma in Ubud, which I believe isn’t actually in Ubud. It’s north of Ubud in the misty mountains, but Ubud is the most well known place closest to the Padma. We’re hoping to find our little piece of Bali paradise to enjoy for some respite from our winter in the years to come. I’ll let you know if we think we found it.

Up-cycled Dining Suite

The next project inspired by our daughters constructive criticism of our furniture lay-out has been to replace our beautiful, but dark, solid, Marri dining suite with an up-cycled, lighter look suite. First we sold our Marri dining suite on our local Buy and Sell website before sourcing a Malaysian hard wood suite to do up. Price received for our Marri suite – $2200. Price paid for our Malaysian hard wood suite – $200. Below are the photos of both, and I don’t blame you if you think we’re just a little bit crazy for selling our quality suite, we did wonder ourselves at the time……

Here’s some close ups of the newly purchased table, as you can see it was in terrible condition. There was writing over it, deep gauges, in the top, and a good layer of grime down the edge.

Here’s some close ups of the chairs. As you can see the two carvers were upholstered in different material to the four side chairs. The seller offered us some drapes to match the two carvers – we gracefully declined.

We liked the sheaths of wheat detail carved into the chair backs, and thought it would come up nicely once painted. Firstly Paul removed the table top, cleaned it, sanded several layers from the surface, and then applied a few coats of polyurethane to it. He then removed the seats from the chairs and took the arms off the two carvers. The base of the table, and the chairs had several coats of undercoat applied before applying two coats of semi-gloss white. Some needed to be brushed on, but where possible Paul used small rollers so as to get a smooth finish, with as few brush marks as possible.

We had found a nice off cut of upholstery fabric that would be enough to re-cover all six chairs, so we started stripping the brown material off the seats of the chairs. It become clear just how well used the set had been over the years. Under the brown velvet was a layer of dirty cream, then under that a deep blue floral fabric. We quite liked the blue, so were undecided as to whether we’d re-upholster the seats as planned. We decided to wait till the painting was finished. We could clearly see two more layers of upholstering under the blue layer, and neither of these looked to have been professionally done. This means that the original covering must have at one time been removed, and since then the chairs have been re-covered five times. I’m pleased the person whom we purchased the suite from hadn’t stripped the layers back to the blue upholstery though, as I suspect that with the blue it may have been considerably easier to sell, and perhaps someone would have been more willing to pay the original asking price of $300.

Below are the chairs showing the layers of upholstery, as well as the upholstery off cut we purchased and had planned to use to re-cover the seats.

The suite is now fully painted, and we decided that, for now, the blue can remain. One day we may use the grey and re-cover then again. Here’s some photos of the finished project. Oh, and if you’re wondering what the reasons for replacing the beautiful Marri suite with this cheap up-cycle is, there are several reasons. Firstly, we have Marri floors and felt the good suite blended in with the floors to much, also we missed our coastal up-cycled decor that we had in our last house, and last but not least, we felt having more white in the house will add to giving the room a lighter feel. I’m pleased to say it’s definitely achieved what we wanted to achieve. We love it. Here’s some photos of the finished project.

Before and after photos together of the chairs and table below. We think the white looks much nicer against the Marri floors. What do you think?

Now it’s on to the sideboard which you can see behind the table. But that won’t be the end of it – there’ll be more to come.

And just in case you’re wondering, our daughter is no longer banned, but I suspect Paul may gag her if she starts making suggestions next time she visits. Really though, we’re both delighted with the changes she has inspired, it’s much easier to ‘love’ furniture which you’ve transformed with your very own hands, and we do love our ‘new to us’ dining suite, and kitchen dresser. (Shush – don’t tell her though).

Before and After

The first, and biggest, of our up-cycling projects is now finished. Below is the original piece of furniture we sourced from a local second hand shop.

Paul took the glass out of the top cupboards, and removed all the wooden knobs and hinges. Because it’s such a large piece it needed to be done in sections. First he sanded the top of the bottom section, and used a good polyurethane to coat the wood finish. Then he painted on a few coats of good quality undercoat to the base and top sections, and finally applied a couple of top coats of semi-gloss white enamel. He used a brush on some parts, and a small roller on other places so as to avoid brush marks. First the base was finished and put into place.

You’ll notice the power points on the wall above this section. He carefully measured where this would sit into the top section and using a jig saw, cut out a section in the top to allow access to the power point before commencing painting that part. We’d decided we wanted flat black handles and hinges on the finished article. Paul decided he’d try painting the existing knobs and hardware first to see how it’d look rather than buying new handles. He purchased a spray can of black undercoat. The knobs were easy to paint. For the hinges he held them up to spray, then used the hooks that we use for putting our Christmas decorations on the tree, and he hung them on the clothes line for the paint to dry. He use and old piece of wood to screw the tips of all the screws into, and spray painted all the screws too.

The top section was completed and put into place making space in the garage for the doors and drawers to be completed. I delightedly placed all my glasses and some small pieces of china in the top section, and loads of bits and pieces in the bottom section. These items have been all over the place, higgledy-piggledy, wherever I could find a space for a few items. It’s wonderful to now have them altogether.

The cut out section for the power point was perfectly placed (he’s a clever man, my Paul), and our IPad used for music sits beautifully in front of it. Yesterday the bottom cupboards went on, and today I came home from my ladies walking group to find it finished completely.

What a difference, it’s barely recognisable as the same piece of furniture.

I think we paid about $350 for the piece including delivery. The paint would have cost less than $50, and it’s good, semi-gloss washable enamel. Yes, it took a couple of weeks to complete with many hours of work put in, but we now have a piece we’ll take pleasure in for a long time to come. If we had bought a piece similar to this all shiny and new, we wouldn’t love it half as much as this piece that we’ve seen transform beneath our very eyes. I love it!

King Tilly’s throne

You may remember in my last blog that we’d purchased a, new to us, 3 1/2 seater reclining sofa for our living room, and we were looking out for a chair of some sort to finish off the seating in the living room.

Firstly I’ll tell you a little more about the sofa we purchased. We had noticed the advertisement on Buy and Sell for the sofa we ended up purchasing. I’ll show you the sofa as it appeared in the ad.

Seriously, this was how it was photographed and offered for sale. The sofa sort of looked ok, but it was advertised for $2000 and, quite honestly – does it look like it was in any way a loved and cared for piece of furniture. We suspected it was probably being advertised by someone who lived in a mixed rental house, a party house. Anyway the same ad kept popping up, and finally they dropped the price considerably. We made contact, and ended up purchasing the sofa.

When we inspected the sofa, yes, it needed a clean and some leather conditioner to be applied, but it clearly hadn’t been neglected to the point where it couldn’t be bought back to ‘as new’ condition. Upon arriving home with it we set about giving it a deep clean. It was clear that one end of the sofa had been the favourite. Down the arm were bits of toys, beer bottle tops, and what looked like the remains of a squashed meat pie – yes you read that correctly, a squashed meat pie. Now, why on earth would someone not clean up an item they were hoping to sell for a good price, and why would they present in in room full of debris. The mind boggles. Anyway it all cleaned up beautifully, but that pie or whatever it was did take a bit of elbow grease to remove it.

I think you’ll agree that it looks totally different now that it’s been cleaned up, is in a room not surrounded by debris, and has a few cushions and home comforts around it.

Our chosen chair to complete the furnishing of the room arrived today. As you can see King Tilly has taken rather a fancy to it. He’s barely been off it since it arrived.

The little bookcase wasn’t something we’d planned on keeping, but it sort of works where it is. It provides a bit of storage, as well as place to sit my afternoon cuppa.

The main reason though that I’ve kept the little bookcase is so as to have a place to showcase our Royal Doulton, Orange, Chelsea Pensioner which we inherited from Paul’s dad. We had always admired the little man when staying at Paul’s dad’s place in the UK. However, we didn’t want him! We had nothing orange for him to go with, and besides another good friend of theirs really, really wanted him. We insisted that they give the statue to their friends. Paul’s dad didn’t listen, and carefully packed it into his suitcase on his last trip out to visit us. We’ve since had him hidden away in a cupboard. I’ve decided to let him see the light of day, and am planning to add a few orange touches juxtaposed against the lime green so as he’ll ‘fit in’. I have some artificial orange wild flowers on top of the book case, and I’m on the look out for one more little nic-nac for the bottom left shelf (currently we have a red plastic container there full of screws from a piece of furniture Paul’s doing up). Then one orange scatter cushion for on the sofa, and, two throw rugs with some orange in them to replace the grey ones. Sounds easy, but orange isn’t a current in trend decorating colour, so it’s hard to find. But I’ll enjoy looking, and once found that should complete the living room for this round of decorating. We’re happy with it, and King Tilly is certainly getting a lot pleasure out of what he clearly thinks is his new throne. I’ll put him straight tomorrow – it’s my chair!