Archive | April 2013

The ‘H’ Word

We began on our knees, begging. The moment we hauled our overweight, glad-wrapped bags to the check in counter, the departures board clicked over from ‘boarding’ to ‘closed’. Bugger. That little sign triggered a stack of interconnected flights to fall like dominoes.

We dropped the ‘H’ word (Honeymoon) and did our best to appear disappointed, dishevelled and most importantly, defiant. These people needed to know that we weren’t going to go away quietly. We had just been on the roller-coaster that weddings often bring.

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We emerged from the wedding mostly unscathed and with some happy memories to boot. I’d be dammed if this woman with a walkie-talkie and a nice hair-do was going to tell me I couldn’t have my honeymoon. The woman quickly came into favour as the gate re-opened just for us. Phew.

We touched down at Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport (also known as Denpasar International Airport) in Indonesia and fell into an array of men in blue polo shirts, tripping over each other to grab our attention.

Outside the airport hotel we set eyes on Komang, our lifeline between the perils of transportation in Bali and cultural boundaries. “Terima Kasih,” (Thank You) he said, as I handed him my oversized bags. Through the thick weave of newly imported, government regulated Japanese cars and motorbikes, and along the battered Balinese highway we went. Slowly, we began our ascent into the mountains. The roads narrowed, and the heavens opened. Our status officially became ‘lost’ as poor Komang braved the rain and a lack of parking to ask several of his fellow countrymen where the on earth our remote and exclusive (only five villas) accommodation was.

The number of street stalls had dwindled to none. We were rural. The car stopped opposite a rice field in front of a large red gate. We juggled the heavy baggage through the monsoon rain to the stunning reception of Nefatari Exclusive Villas. Nefatari means ‘beautiful companion’ and she was, with open-air reception walls that were surrounded by tropical foliage and bright splashes of floral colour.

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Vibrant flaura

Komang stood at the entrance to our private villa and, with a chuckle, said “Good weather for honeymoon, I’ll leave you alone.” The square footage of our villa rivalled any Melbourne apartment. The canopy bed presented beautifully as well as serving a more practical purpose. Nefatari describes its accommodation as “Balinese Tradition with a Modern Touch”. Quite accurate. Balinese carvings, stonework, and furniture were interspersed with modern technology. The unique villa layout with an outdoor bathroom and an outdoor dining room was spectacular.

"Nefatari" By "Jun0ka" "Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)" http://www.flickr.com/photos/j0ker/144051080

“Nefatari” By “Jun0ka”
“Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)”
http://www.flickr.com/photos/j0ker/144051080

A flat screen television allowed us to stay in touch with technology. Kim Kardashian with Balinese subtitles was the first thing to appear on screen. The mini bar is replenished daily with drinks and snacks and is included in the price. If we weren’t already spoilt enough, we could hop into our private pool. This was a great way to reduce our body temperatures in the midday heat of the Balinese wet-season (October to March each year).

"Pool" By "Jun0ka" "Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)" http://www.flickr.com/photos/j0ker/144049368

“Pool” By “Jun0ka”
“Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)”
http://www.flickr.com/photos/j0ker/144049368

Bicycles can be hired from the hotel for venturing into the wonderful Ubud countryside or for those that want to stay indoors DVD’s are available.  Complimentary shuttles can take you to central Ubud and back and airport transfers are around $25AUD each way.  Friendly employees are eager to cater to your every desire and they have a high standard of service.

So, what did we do? What everyone would do in this situation. We cancelled all activities and with the help of room service and an on-site day spa, we hid in our villa in the hills, not re-surfacing to the world until reluctantly checking-out two days later. Bliss.

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Frangipani – my favourite

Nefatari offers room service to your villa where you can make the most of your private outdoor dining room. Guests can also opt to dine at Bidari Restaurant two stories above, overlooking the beautiful garden.  The chicken and vegetable spring rolls were my favourite entree, crispy and moreish.  The local Bintang beer washed down a generous sized main of chicken Nasi Goreng with a fried egg oozing yolk onto rice – sumptuous.  Breakfast was a delight, with banana pancakes drizzled in maple syrup or a bowl of exotic local fruits like mango, melon, banana and I added Salat (snakefruit) from the complimentary fruit bowl.

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Bali’s local Bintang Beer

A thorough inspection of the day spa was required and we were up for it. A friendly staff member escorted us from our villa. Down the stone carved staircase we found the tranquil setting next to a stream, with a grassy bank separating us from the farmers in the rice fields above. Each room in the spa had three walls, allowing nature to substitute the fourth. We lost three hours in that spa, with a heavenly combination of massaging, soaking, polishing and scrubbing. I nearly nodded off listening to the water trickle past us and enjoying the sensation of soft hands gently massaging creams onto my face. The place left all those poky little chemical-infused, pop-up nail salons back home for dead.

I grudgingly closed the door on our palatial villa, and headed down the gravel path to Reception. Komang’s smiling face greeted us and he asked “good honeymoon?” with a little chuckle.

The Facts: Nefatari Exclusive Villas are priced from $137USD per night for double 1brm villa (incl. private pool) and $188USD per night for 2brm villa (incl. private pool).  Honeymoon packages available.  For more information, click here.

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My Intimate Raglan Beach Wedding – the best bits

Ceremony

Ceremony

The reality of weddings is that they are messy, imperfect, real.  They don’t go as planned.  The most important parts are beautiful memories that fill you with happiness, like:

  • My husband leaning over and telling me I looked beautiful
  • My husband’s vows that he conjured in the half hour that I was late to the ceremony, which made all us girls cry
  • Walking between my brother and father down the aisle
  • The beautiful readings my mother and mother in law gave us
  • Having our sisters sign the register
  • The real and the re-enacted giving of the rings by my sister and her then-sleeping son
  • Eating fish and chips down at the wharf, looking out to sea, surrounded by our two families
  • Slipping on the garter that my sister hand-made from my mother’s wedding dress
  • Sipping Moet and doing last minute decorations the night before with my family in law
  • Watching my little nephew sing and dance to his favourite song at the reception
  • Spying my father sitting on the edge of the private wharf whispering to his beloved first grandchild
  • Standing as a newly married couple surrounded by loving family and knowing that we joined them together
  • Laughing with my new husband as we pose like models for wedding photos
  • Being called sister by my grooms family
  • Sipping champagne from the crystal glasses my mother in law gifted us, arms entwined, with my husband
  • Eating a good, honest kiwi roast for dinner and looking out to the water and the reflecting lights
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