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February 11, 2011

My Bali story

Jero Asri Kerthyasa, 56, from Sydney, Australia, is a member of the Ubud royal family and is a Seminyak restaurateur
I came to Bali in 1973, when I was with friends and we were just travelling around, including Bali, Java, Singapore and Malaysia. It was a semester break from university and to be honest I didn’t like Bali that much then. I actually liked Java more.
Then, in mid-1977, I came back for another holiday, this time with my mother, and we went to Ubud. We stayed at Puri Saraswati Bungalows. From then, I realised Ubud was a different experience and I started to like Bali more. This was when I met my husband, who is from the Ubud Palace.
When I got back to Australia, I started thinking about giving up my job and moving to Bali. So I packed my bags and moved at the end of 1977. At that time, I was planning on writing a children’s book – but as yet I still haven’t done it as I’m always juggling things and on the move.
In May 1978, my husband and I got married and we live in the palace in Ubud. After a while, we built a homestay in Campuhan called the Tjitjak Inn. And so we moved there and it became a popular place. My first son was born at the end of the same year.
After our second son was born, in 1980, we moved to Australia for a few years. The kids went to school there and we go back and forth from Australia to Bali.


 My Bali story (part one) 
Tannalee,Sydney Australia
I feel like writing, it is a long 5 months until my next trip and the feeling I get from a few posts that I've read since I got back a little story might be nice:)


So I will be posting my JBR in a roundabout way, when time allows, if you find it long and boring don't read it:)
I thought a novel way of showing photos is to update my profile photo as I tell the story, so for this post it is the Villas entrance.
My Bali story July 2010,
Our girls trip to Bali started as usual, with someone saying “I’m going to Bali, who’s coming?”

This time the question was asked on Christmas day and I didn’t say anything. Girls’ trips to Bali are a bit of an issue with hubby, he loves Bali every bit as much as any girl there that day, and doesn’t want to be left behind.
One by one my mother and three sisters said yes, this was actually quite monumental as we have never all been at one time and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to rebuild relationships damaged by a few hard years.
After lunch my younger sister came over and whispered in my ear “ your going!” Apparently she had being hassling my hubby and she was positive he was going to tell me to go. I told her to leave him alone. Of course he was nudged and picked on all day, eventually he said “how can I say no, of course you can go”
In the end one sister dropped out and my younger sisters’ friend (a Bali virgin) came instead.
Early plans had us staying over a week in Kuta and a couple of nights in Ubud, I started to rethink whether or not to go, but the balanced tipped and it was decided to spend 5 nights in Ubud and 6 nights in Kuta. I figured I would give Kuta one last chance.
My mother and one sister went over early and spent some time in Lombok, Sanur and a night at Poppies in Kuta. Younger sister, friend and I flew over together; we all met up at the villa in Ubud.
The plane lands in Bali….
We get off the plane and hurry our little selves along, straight to the glass counters to get visas, a hint here DON’T go to the first counter as it would seem this is where the VIP operators buy their visas from, the girl was serving us as well as all these guys at the side.
Not a huge issues as there wasn’t much of a line, I pay for my visa and go over to the customs lines. I always pick the slow line so found choosing which line rather stressful, I ended up just jumping on the shortest one.
We were talking about the visas when the guy in front of us turns around and asks us about them, he didn’t have one, same with the person in front of him and about 10 other people in our line. We ended up with only about 4 people in front of us and even one of them didn’t have his visa! But we minded his bag while he went and got it, silly man to trust complete strangers!
Out of the airport in record time… as most of you know to a sea of smiling faces and a little card with our names on it.
I don’t remember the drive up to Ubud I just remember feeling so excited and happy to be back in Bali. I also remember thinking what a wonderful time we were going to have and being a little stressed about the villa we were going to. I had found it on the net and although everyone agreed to book it, I knew I would feel responsible if it wasn’t what we had been led to expect.
The drive up to Ubud was dark with hardly any traffic, just a few calls of Hati! Hati! from us.
We arrive at the ‘Villa Awang Awang’…….
It’s late at night and very dark the car turns down a lane then pulls up in front of a stone wall with an ornate timber door. We hop out and stretch our legs, the air is thick with warmth and the scents of Bali, a gecko lets it presence be known and in the distance a dog barks.
People appear from all directions to grab our bags; the timber door opens onto a stone path edged with water features and lush plants. I find it hard not to run along the path, I can’t wait to see the villa, we turn a corner and there are two huge double wooden doors, we walk through the doors into heaven.
 http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/members/Tannalee 

Bali story part 2 by Tannalee, Sydney
I had found Villa Awang Awang on the net and spent month pouring over the photos hoping the views really were that beautiful and that it was as private as it appeared to be. I’m sure I drove the owner to distraction by sending endless emails asking detailed questions before I would commit to the booking.
So as I walked through those heavy timber doors the Villa had about six month’s worth of daydreams to fulfil.
Remember it is late, maybe even past midnight so the air is still and quite, but we are wide awake with excitement. The first thing I sense as I enter is charm, the first thing I think is YES!!.
My mother and sister are there already and they hurry towards us, I politely contain myself while the staff bring our bags in, they wish us a good night and the big timber doors are closed. Suddenly we are a group of kids in a lolly shop.
We... Have... This... Whole... Place... To… Ourselves!!! Can you believe it? We almost dance as we run from room to room.
“Are the rooms as beautiful as the picture?” I ask my mother “Yes! Come and look! We call this room the princess room” Mum walks around grandly waving her arm to and fro showing me the main bedroom. There is an amazing outside bathroom and stone bath, dressing room, four poster bed and glass doors that open onto the sweeping veranda “Oh mum you have to have this one” she is the mother after all.
Five grown women wander around with big silly grins, we are in Bali, our villa is all we had dreamt and we are sooo very clever to be here instead of a freezing cold Sydney.
Everywhere I look there are gorgeous rich timbers, natural looking tiles, splashes of colour in flowers and materials, hot oranges, violets and deep pinks. Day beds covered with dark traditional weaves. There is a steep and scary little staircase that tightly winds down to the next level, extra scary after a couple of drinks but very much to my liking in its quirkiness.
Down stairs is a long timber dining table….. ok, ok, that’s enough. I could go on and on describing the villa in detail but for me it’s the ambience of a place that counts, you can have the most amazing hotel in the world and if it has no heart it has nothing.
‘Our’ villa has that something special, the name of the Villa Awang Awang means floating between heaven and earth, need I say more.
We pick out our rooms with the intention of swapping rooms each night so we can all have a go of the ‘princess room’ But in the end we find the living areas so gorgeous that we only ever sleep in our rooms, although I keep on sitting on my bed and looking at the view whenever I walk past, just because I can
The infinity pool hangs over a pitch black valley and I hear the roar of the river below. I grab my costume I just have to be the first one in that amazing pool, as I’m floating around in the water I see my first firefly…. Bliss.
I can’t actually see the view its way too dark, I leave my curtains open and in the morning I awake early, the valley is lush and green with a curtain of mist that slowly clears….

My Bali story part 3, 
In my first waking moments I don’t lazily stretch my body, I don’t run my hands over the crisp white sheets. It is a shame that instead of enjoying the moment my eyes snap open! I sit up, pull the netting aside then spray myself with Aeroguard!

I wander around the villa... . . but it’s no fun.
It’s still so dark, I can’t see the valley, I don’t know the pass word for the computer and I can’t be bothered unpacking my Nescafe instant cappuccinos. Everyone else is still asleep, I decide to go back to bed and read that book I have been saving….
Suddenly I am waking up again! Lucky me, I get to wake up to Bali twice in one day.
Ahhhh now its light, I sit up in bed and through the netting I can see the valley, so close maybe fifteen feet away? It is not a wide valley but it is very pretty and meanders off into the distance making lazy curves either way you look.
The valley which will be ‘our valley’ for a few days, is perfectly lush, it slopes steeply towards the river that you can hear rushing along the bottom, the river is hidden under clumps of thick vegetation. Here and there are slashes of grassy slopes that the sun bounces off. Some of the trees look like they should be in a Tarzan movie and over there is the tree that we will name ‘the monkey tree’. Early in the morning our valley is covered in a gentle mist, so peaceful. In fact I think our valley is perfect for looking at and saying “wow how beautiful is that!”
I hop out of bed and slide open the big glass doors, walking barefoot over the terracotta tiles I take note that they aren’t cold, and then resting on the low stone wall… I just stare.
I have a habit of trying to soak up moments when I travel, I feel the moisture in the air and smell its fragrance, again a dog barks in the distance. If I lean over the wall I can hear the roar of the river below. Funny when I move back I can hardly hear it at all, lean back out, there it is again, the building must be very solid to block out such a powerful sound. Look down, there is the pool.. ok it is seriously gorgeous!!
Far up the valley I hear a sound that catches me, a deep low sound, soft but powerful, yes there it is again. I can hear a monkey call !! it is echoing up the valley, a big smile spreads across my face… I am in Bali.
I think of the valley near Alam Indah, a beautiful memory of a holiday I cherish, I feel melancholy in a nice gentle way.
Slowly everyone wakes, we can see the villa with a new appreciation in the daylight and I have to say for all my ramblings it really is quite wonderful.
When the rain pours down the heavy stone turns dark and ancient looking, then the furniture tempts you to lay around and chat, we laugh so much my cheeks hurt. We talk about life but mostly we talk about what we are going to do in Bali and what we have done in Bali.
When the sun is shining the pool cannot be ignored so we go swimming and we laugh, we bring floating rings on our holidays, because we can, and they float right over the infinity edge of the pool which hangs over a valley, very funny.
During the day butterflies float along the air and beautiful bright coloured birds dart from tree to tree. Across the valley I see big white birds gliding, maybe herons? they look exactly as they do in traditional Balinese paintings, I like that.
When it gets dark little bats begin to appear and when it's really dark we can see fireflies.

I love fireflies, have you ever seen the animated film 'Grave of the Fireflies' ? it is a beautiful and tragic film set in Japan after the bombing of Hiroshima. I have a Japanese client who is very dear to me, she lived through Hiroshima and we often speak of this film. She also tells me stories of how as a young girl she would go to the country for summer and that there was a tree on her uncles farm which would light up with fireflies at night. She says there were so many that it would glow, one day I'm going to find a tree like that.
Here at the villa I am content to stare every night into the valley until my eyes hurt then I almost do a little dance every time I see one!
One morning over breakfast I'm horrified when our girlfriend declares that she has a firefly in the bottom of a glass!! she caught it last night!!! My fork stops half way to my mouth "you what?" "I caught one, do you want to see it they look really weird up close...." she sees my face, ok now she really sees my face. "No it was nearly dead, I didn't hurt it, I found it glowing on the floor, I promise I didn't hurt it. What's the problem, it's a bug"
My sister and I look at each other "that's like catching tinkerbell!"
We decide it is best to let the little thing live out it's last moments in the valley, with the general consensus that we just won't talk about it.
 Happy New year 2011
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