Sunday, October 05, 2008

Highlight #98: Remebering Bali - Part I: Gangsa

It's easy to remember Bali. And it's easy to remember Gangsa, where every waking moment spelled pleasure. You can tell me that I am biased because I was on my honeymoon, but pictures do not lie.

Imagine starting every morning with breakfast this glorious. It may not look like much, but I can tell you that ripe avocados were born to marry young coconut milk in this avocado shake. A little sweet and plenty creamy, this stuff is surely the nectar of gods. Of course, there was also Javanese coffee. Need I say more?

My favorite breakfast choice was this nasi goreng (fried rice). Sounds simply but oh so good. Each distinct rice grain was imbued with a savory and slightly sweet flavor that is unique to Indonesia and this Balinese version also seemed somewhat lighter than its cousins on the other islands. The mini skewers of satay added some protein and a good dose of charred charm. And the egg, the incredibly wobbly egg. It was the secret that tied everything together and took the rice concoction to a whole new level with its stickiness.

After breakfast, there was never any hurry to do anything. We took our coffee to the outdoor living area of our fenced villa next to the pool while we caught up on a bit of world news. To be honest, everything seemed so far away, even the terrible stock market that was taking my portfolio for a sharp downward spin.

When we finally got ourselves worked up for a bit of excursion, our 24 hour butler quickly arranged for a car equipped with cookies to take us to our little private piece of beachfront. The shade was absolutely necessary here. The Balinese sun was fierce as J soon found out.

On the day when we felt a bit more active, there was snorkeling just a quick ride off shore on the colorful catamaran. With just a bit of bread, the neon colored fishes swam right up to my hand, but always too quick for me to pet. J was more adventurous, and dived down to the bottom to get shells for me and to touch a natural Buddha head formation.

After the exertion, we went back to Gangsa to relax and found that our 24 hour butler had drawn a nice scented bath in the outdoor tub for us as a prelude to our afternoon massage. If that's not decadence, I don't know what is.

In the lazy afternoon, from my vantage point lounging next to the pool, I caught this great photo of J mid air on his way into our pool for a dip.

As for myself, I enjoyed my after massage glow on the couch with an afternoon fruit. The snake fruit to be exact. Despite the scaly texture, the flesh was crunchy and sweet like a harder peach.

Just before night fall, our butler brought a small army of the most happy workers I've ever seen to dump buckets of flower pedals into our pool. In response to my puzzled look, he asked with the biggest smile on his face "may we set up for your candle light dinner"?

But of course. How does one refuse a full pool of flowers in the softest pink, brightest fuchsia, and orange. Also placed around the villa were dozens and dozens of handmade banana leaf covered candles ready for darkness.

As night fell, we found our villa lit up to match the heavily populated constellations in the sky.

Our feast included a sampler of Balinese specials for tasting. Surrounding the fried onion topped Balinese rice were delightful samples including sweet/savory ground pork on sugar cane skewers, fried prawn in their entirely covered in a light tangy sauce, and steamed fish inside banana leaves. We love everything and felt light rather than weighed down afterwards.

For dessert, our butler brought us a little bonus almond cake. I've never heard of happy honeymoon before, but we loved the gesture and the cake.

Also for dessert, we had the requisite agar agar type dessert with chocolate mouse and coconut milk. In it's smoothness and jello like wobbliness, this dessert exemplified what the Southeast Asians love in a light dessert, the cooling texture.

There is so much more to tell you about Bali. I'll try to mix the Bali posts in with the updates on our beloved Atlanta.

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