Harrowing drive completed...Grateful to be back at the villa...The old rat race or gerbil on the wheel...How did this happen to us?

Giant abalone shell sink on the grounds of Puri Bagus Lovina.
 "Sightings on the Beach in Bali"

Tom spotted this local woman carrying straw on her head after we returned to Sumbersari.
What a unique feeling it was, returning to the villa, after a five day stay in Lovina as we completed the visa extension process.  It felt as if we were coming "home."  At 2 pm we picked up our passports stamped for an October 30th departure from Indonesia.  Four weeks from today we'll be heading to Kuta to board the red eye flight to Sydney after midnight on the 30th.
Boats along the shoreline.
In our old lives, after a short holiday/vacation, it was easy to dread the return to reality; its piles of mail, messages and back-to-work responsibilities.  Then there was the piles of laundry, the old food to toss in the fridge, the necessity of quickly getting to a grocery store and filling the car with fuel. 

Statue with a lei of fresh flowers on the lawn.
Sunday nights were particularly difficult as memories of time away would waft from our minds and the painstaking process of getting up and ready for work to face yet another day of the necessary grind most of us have experienced in our daily lives.

Flowers by the sea.
Sure, there are those of you out there that love your work feeling no angst returning from a trip. For the rest of us, it was only after several hours back into the groove that we could finally relax accepting our 40, 50 hours or more of the weekly "rat race." 

Small lily pond.
The pace of life at that time almost escapes me now after all these years free of such responsibilities and constraints.  Returning from the resort yesterday we experienced none of the above frustrations. 

The infinity edge of the pool at Puri Bagus Lovina.
We loaded the laundry basket with our dirty clothes which the two Ketuts will do on Monday.  Our dinner was prepared and ready for us once we unpacked and changed back into our swimsuits.  There was no snail mail, messages we hadn't already handled, no need to grocery shop or refill the tank with fuel.

Boat and tower in the bay.  Gede, the resort manager at Puri Bagus Lovina suggested patrons don't go into the ocean due to poisonous coral.
"How did this happen to us?" We've often asked ourselves this question.  At dinner over these past nights at the resort, we often discussed how we remain in awe of our lives, affordable with a strict budget, freeing in ways we never imagined and filled with endless experiences far exceeding any expectations we may have had for our lives and ultimately in our travels. 

Statue in the garden.
Yesterday, with a late 1:45 pm checkout in order to get to immigration by 2 pm, I spent the morning in the bar preparing the post.  On several occasions, a variety of resort managers stopped by to thank us for our posts and for highlighting the resort.

A father, a son and a nephew serenading diners during dinner.
As we were leaving, they all were present to wish us well.  Gede, the general manager, asked to take a photo with us for his own keepsake.  We were flattered by their appreciation as we were appreciative of their kindness and attentiveness.

Heart shaped flower arrangement left on our bed in the resort.
Today our own Gede, visited to ensure we'd enjoyed his recommendation of the resort in Lovina located in his home town where he'd grew up and his parents and siblings are still living.  We couldn't thank him enough for the fabulous recommendation.

Tangle of trees along the shore.
Today?  Easy day.  Sunshine.  Happiness.  How did this happen to us?  May it happen for you as well!

Photo from one year ago today, October 1, 2015:
This was actually a dine in restaurant in a small strip mall in Savusavu, Fiji, with two tiny tables for diners and minimal cooking space for the cook.  For more details, please click here.

Part 2...Balinese food prep and arrangement...Expenses for four night resort stay...

Bruschetta was served at our table each evening.  Tom ate my portion as he often does when such items are served.
This morning, after we finished our final included breakfast we walked up the steep stone steps to the lobby to checkout and pay the balance allowing us to quickly be on our way by 1:45, hoping to be early in the queue at the immigration office.

This mixed seafood dish was my favorite over the four dinners.
The fees for the two visa extensions were IDR $710,000, US $54.63, which we paid on Wednesday's visit.  Our hotel bill at Puri Bagus Lovina , in its entirety, including the room rate, two pairs of pants, one shirt and bottle of custom made Balinese body oil came to a grand total of IDR $10,313,030, US $793.49. 

Avocado and feta salad.
We were pleasantly surprised with the total and couldn't have found a more enjoyable and affordable alternative to driving back and forth to Lovina three times in five days for the required process. 

Although this doesn't appear to be sweet and sour pork, it was indeed.  Tom said it was delicious ordering it two consecutive nights.  Note what's  beneath the green cone in the next photo.
When we return to the villa we'll pay for the rental fee for the van which will be IDR $200,000, US $15.39, per day for five days totaling IDR $1,000,000, US $76.94, plus fuel at IDR $200,000, US $15.39, bringing our grand total for the entire experience to IDR $12,223,300, US $940.47.

The server removed the green cone to display the rice beneath.
It was a lot easier than flying out of the country as some tourists may choose to do in order to get a new visa stamp allowing an additional 30 day stay, depending on one's passport of origin. 

I ordered these roasted vegetable skewers along with the yellow fin tuna salad shown above and in the next photo below.
We've had an exceptional experience at Puri Bagus Lovina  with all the thoughtful attention we received from the management staff in appreciation for our four days of stories highlighting their exquisite property.  We couldn't be more appreciative for the many ways they reached out to us.

This rare tuna salad I ordered was exceptional.
Today, we're posting photos of the delicious and beautifully presented meals during the four night stay.  Not only was the food in the superb category but the gracious service and attention to detail further exemplified the objectives of this Balinese resort abundant in charm, ambiance and service. 

Western style omelet bar where made to order omelets are prepared to perfection.
Not a single meal disappointed us.  Flavorful, fresh and well seasoned platters were placed in front of us, course after course, never faltering in perfect timing and graciousness.  Beverages were served exactly as we prefer with lots of ice (an American thing) and in big frosty glasses. 

Tom and I both ordered the surf and turf platter.  He gave me his prawns, squid and veggies while I passed him my fries, flatbread and onion rings, requested on a separate plate.  The steak was a tenderloin, cooked to perfection and the most tender we'd had in a long while.

Management had encouraged us to notify them of any less than ideal food or service.  Long ago we accepted the realities of "island time" as we had no need or desire to mention that which is merely cultural in Bali...no rush, easy does it. 

There are several fixed price three course options on the varied menu.  We were allowed to mix and match items we preferred.  Tom ordered this salad, unbeknownst to me, with the intent of giving me all the prawns.  What a guy!  He's always thinking of me.
Many tourists fail to accept such cultural differences when coming from a hustle and bustle lifestyle in their home country.  They want something and they want it now.  This is not to imply service was slow at Puri Bagus Resort & Spa.  It wasn't.  It was gracious and done in a manner that never made us or the attentive staff feel rushed or stressed.

Tom's said his French onion soup was divine.  He hadn't had this soup in quite some time.
The Hindu culture centers around a gentle, low key sense of peace and well being.  Puri Bagus Resort & Spa definitely exemplified this culture with ease and seamlessness in not only its good service but also in its traditional focus on nature, cleanliness incorporating the Hindu and the Balinese ways of life.

Last night I ordered this platter of three types of fish including John Dory, halibut and snapper with a few prawns and grilled squid rings.  Fabulous!
We've packed our belongings and will be ready to head out the door in time to make the 2 pm appointment at the immigration office.  Shortly, thereafter, we'll change into our shorts for the long two hour harrowing return drive to the villa.  Its ironic the roads are so crazy when the people of Bali are so calm and peaceful.  There again, its purely a cultural thing.

Tom's Western style dinner last night; steak, onion rings and twice baked potato.  Again, he passed me his veggies.
We've yet to share many other photos we've taken over these past days which, as we continue with our stories in Sumbersari, Bali, we'll incorporate into future posts. 

Tom's dessert...crème brule, a round profiterole cookie with a white frosting base and bits of fresh fruit.  He enjoyed every morsel.

Stay tuned, folks.  We'll be back tomorrow with lots more photos and new "Sightings on the Beach in Bali."

A special thanks to all of our loyal readers for traveling with us wherever we may go!  We always feel your presence at our side.  Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 30, 2015:
Savusavu, on the island of Vanua Levu in Fiji is a busy little village.  We loved going to town to shop at several locations for our week's groceries.  Many locals and some tourists take buses to other parts of the island.  Our driver Rasnesh, took care of all of our transportation needs.  For more details, please click here.

Part 1...Balinese food prep and arrangement...Romantic Dinner on the cabana under the stars...

During daylight hours we stopped to see the two cabanas where the "Romantic Dinners" would transpire.  Many more decorations were yet to come as shown in today's photos below.
During our first meal of the four night stay in Puri Bagus Lovina in Lovina, Bali, we felt confident the chef had easily determined how my meals should be prepared to maintain the integrity of my restrictive way of eating.

The elimination of all sugars, starches, grains, potatoes, rice and starchy vegetables from my menu choices is not an easy feat when many Balinese dishes includes some, if not all, of these items.

Although the sun had disappeared behind the clouds, we reveled in the beauty of the evening's scene.
When the first dinner was presented to me I felt confident we were in luck.  The effort the chef executed over these past several days has been evidenced in each meal's diligent and thoughtful preparation.  

I never had to remove any items from my plates of delicious food.  Although Balinese meals may havinclude rutabagas, 33 grams carbs per cup; turnips, 8 grams carbs per cup; and/or parsnips at 24 grams carbs per cup, none of these were in my meals.  These types of vegetables have insulin spiking carbs comparable to a potato at 37 grams carb per one cup serving.

Before dark, the cabanas were adorned with flowers and candles for the after dark event.
Generally small amounts of starch and sugar don't have an immediate negative effects as would gluten touching other foods, unless a person has a allergy to specific items in these categories.  But, the chef at Puri Bagus Lovina was extra careful.

Sitting on the cabana mat while dining may not have been ideal for some.  But, it certainly looked appealing.
The previous night I was concerned about some delicious chunks of what appeared to be butternut squash which contains 16 grams carbs per cup.  I took a bite, realizing it was carrot, which I can eat, and immediately felt as if I'd taken a bite of a delicious dessert with the exquisite seasonings and preparation. 

Traditional Hindu decoration were used in creating the ambiance.
In most cases
 in fine dining, once a chef is aware of my restrictions they make every effort to accommodate.  But, that rarely is the case in a casual restaurant/bar by the beach.  As a result, we've never tried any other restaurants while in Lovina.  In Sumbersari, there are only a few tiny on-the-beach type dining establishments at which we'd never considering partaking.

The flowers are easily picked from trees on the property.
In any case, we've had some of the best food we've had in our travels here in Bali both by the fabulous meals made by the two Ketuts at our villa, two hours down the road and then...here at Puri Bagus Resort & Spa in Lovina.

Carefully crafted fringe adds a final touch.
Not only has the food been delicious, but the presentation has been comparable to that which one would find in the most upscale dining establishments throughout the world.

The first course, a soup.
Last night was special when we had the opportunity to take photos of the meals served for the special menu option of a "Romantic Dinner" served under one of the oceanfront cabanas, exquisitely decorated with flowers and candles, presented course after course, while the romantic couple dines in luxury.

Surely, we'd have opted for such a special evening for ourselves but many of the food items didn't fit into my diet and there was no way we'd expect the chef to modify each plate, bowl and platter of food to be befitting for my diet. 

Second course, crab and vegetable bruschetta.
Instead, Gede, the kindly resort general manager, arranged with the kitchen staff to ensure we'd be able to take photos of the extraordinary plates as they passed by us at our dining table on their way to the two sets of guests dining under two separate cabanas.

A starter, scallops with rice and (under the leafy cone).
Aptly named a "food voyeur," a title Tom bestowed upon me long ago, I was totally enthralled with the smells and visuals as I took photos in the dark dining area as the foods were carried out by the enthusiastic servers, smiling all the while over the excitement of the photo taking and their part in the beautiful service.

Soon, our own platters of carefully crafted and displayed foods arrived while we found ourselves once again, pleased with our choices and the abilities of the chefs in this establishment of making each meal special in both design and taste.

The main entrée, one of these giant platters per person, included fresh seafood, a variety of meats and various vegetable and fruit dishes.
Earlier in the day and then again in the evening, we took photos of the decorations used to create the ambiance of the "Romantic Dinner" under each of the cabanas as shown in our photos.

The cost for the meal for two is a surprisingly reasonable IDR $1,350,000, US $104.33 (plus a 21% service fee for tax and gratuity) which includes a bottle of wine.  The average cost for our meals and drinks combined including the 21%service fee hasn't exceeded IDR $776,400, US $60, each evening.  Breakfasts have been included in the room rate.

The servers were obviously proud of their unique presentation.
Tomorrow, we'll return with our final food and scenery photos of the lovely Puri Bagus Lovina and the total expenses for our four night, five day stay at this special property.

These servers squealed with delight when we shot this photo.
As for the immigration office visits so far...we've completed Monday's and Wednesday's requirements and tomorrow, Friday at 2 pm (the resort is providing us with a late checkout), we'll return for the third and final visit to collect our passports and visa extensions and then to begin the harrowing two hour drive back to our villa. 

The dessert plate served to each party in the Romantic Dinner setting.
We're both thrilled to have chosen this means of conducting this otherwise cumbersome process over the required five day period.  We've had a fabulous experience but we're hardly disappointed to return to our breathtaking villa and attentive staff. 

In no time at all, we'll be back outdoors situated on the chaise lounges overlooking the infinity pool and the sea under the shade of an umbrella and enjoying our last full day in this paradise at Puri Bagus Lovina.

Have a beautiful day filled with wonders!

Photos from one year ago today, September 29, 2015:
In Fiji one year ago, Badal, our neighbor Sewak's dog, visited us almost every evening at dinner time.  We always made him a plate of food, whatever we happen to be having.  Badal especially enjoyed chicken night.   For more details, please click here.

Busy day at Puri Bagus Lovina Resort & Spa...What a glorious location!

We lounged in this (one of many) cabana overlooking the sea at Puri Bagus Lovina, iced tea in hand, with books to read on our phones.  Rather relaxing.
With an appointment to meet with a resort manager at 11 am yesterday morning, I worked on the post while we watched the US presidential debate which was on TV here in Bali starting at 9 am.  We were a little surprised it was broadcast here but with tremendous interest in US politics from many we've met, I suppose it was to be expected.

The luxurious oceanview suits include two separate bedroom wings, a center dining area and a private pool.
To maintain our stance of not discussing politics on our site, we will only state that we watched it and then went about our day.  I had an appointment scheduled for a tour of the Puri Bagus Lovina with Ayu, a manager and to discuss some of the features of this upscale serene property where many travelers come to unwind from the stresses of life in their home countries.

The bedroom in the suite is almost identical (although slightly larger) to our ocean view villa except we don't have two bedrooms, an outdoor dining room, a private pool and the larger baths with added soaking tub and bidet.
As it turned out, I had an opportunity to speak with three managers as they gathered around our table in the bar sharing various points of interest in their respective departments and the resort. 

Inside the private pool area in the two bedroom suites are several chaise lounges and space for entertaining.
Gede, the general manager; Ketut, the restaurant manager; and Ayu were enthusiastic in visiting with me, knowing how appreciative we are to learn their story and details of the property. They were curious as to our perceptions of their country and our experiences to date, all of which I enthusiastically shared.

Walking through the thoughtfully designed gardens Gede pointed out many mediation and relaxation areas, all designed with the gentle  and healing Hindu philosophies in mind.
Built by the environmentally conscientious owner 17 years ago, the facility offers clean, attractive and comfortable rooms, many with ocean views such as ours and others with garden views with easy access to the beach.

The  Jaya Spa consists of several structures such as shown here each well appointed with its particular spa offerings in mind.
The pool is enchanting not only in appearance but in its pristine filtered water system using the finest local spring water as opposed to the less-safe-to-drink local water supply, which we discovered in speaking with Ketut. 

Yesterday afternoon, we had the blissful experience of swimming in the cool, partially shady pool built into a natural rock and vegetation formation overlooking the sea.

The grounds surrounding the various Jaya Spa structures are equally peaceful and serene.
(I should mention here, as we discussed during our first two month visit to Bali, there are only a few first names given to Balinese babies at birth.  Thus, this explains the similarities in names of many people we've met.  Please see below:

"The first born is Wayan, and if there is a fifth child, he/she is often called Wayan Balik (or Wayan "again").Balinese children/people are given other names, including a new "name" after death. Generally, everyone uses birth order names to refer to each other, and to call each other constantly throughout the day. "Given" names may be chosen due, for example, to the influence of popular culture or politics. Like some other Indonesian cultures, Balinese do not use family names.
  • First born names : Wayan, Putu, Gede, Ni Luh(female only). Wayan is Balinese originally meant Wayah or oldest.
  • Second born names : Made, Kadek, Nengah, Made/Nengah means madya or middle. Kadek means little brother/sister
  • Third born names : Nyoman, Komang
  • Fourth born names : Ketut)"
Each guest is provided a unique experience suited to their particular needs.
After spending considerable time in the bar with Gede, the general manger, he took me on our tour to see the luxurious suites and the full service spa offering a myriad of relaxing and beneficial services.

What fascinated me the most during the almost two hour conversation and tour was the dedication of the owner and the full staff to maintaining an environmentally friendly resort with an atmosphere based on the gentle, soothing and spiritual persona in Hindu beliefs. 

The salon for hair, nails and pedicures was equally inviting.
Whether it's an early morning yoga session in the exquisite yoga building as shown below, to lounging on one of the many comfortably padded cabanas scattered throughout the resort facing the blue sea, to a healing treatment in the spa, this peaceful resort caters to those seeking the utmost in service, ambiance, privacy and amenities.

Over the next few days we'll continue presenting more photos of our blissful experience at Puri Bagus Lovina while we make our way through the five days of requirements at the immigration office. 

The building where yoga classes are conducted.
Busy preparing the posts, taking photos, dining at both breakfast and dinner, spending time at the pool and walking through the exquisite grounds has made our days and evening satisfying and complete. 

Add the delight of participating in many engaging conversations with staff, we've had a superb experience thus far and expect it will continue over our remaining two days until we return to the villa.

Tomorrow, we'll begin to share the diverse, delicious and creative food choices at Puri Bagus Lovina and an exciting special event occurring tonight.  Please check back!

Be well.  Be peaceful.

Photo from one year ago today, September 28, 2015:

These baby goats in Fiji were less than a week old.  Note the bit of greenery in the mouth on the one of the left.  For more details, please click here.