This week we’re… Still in Bali.

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This week we’ve been excellent explorers.

We started the week in Ubud, where we’re still not sure what all the fuss is about, but we did enjoy getting out and walking in the countryside, there’s some beautiful scenery around there. Also, we had some great food experiences, more babi guling, traditional rendang, bakso, soto ayam. The list goes on.

We then travelled up the eastern coast to Amed where we settled in for a few days of diving. We dived the USAT Liberty Wreck, which was awesome, as well as a few other local sites. The corals, anemones and macro were excellent.

Currently hanging out in, Seminyak staying in our christmas present to ourselves ‘Brown Feather Hotel’.

Highs – diving the wreck was fantastic, where we saw some Hawksbill turtles & getting my name in lights at SEAbackpacker.

Lows – getting stuck in the Balinese equivalent of The Bates Motel, in the grottiest town in Bali, Padang Bai,

Lotus ponds in Ubud

Lotus ponds in Ubud

Until next time!

 

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Indonesian street food : Babi guling (slow roast pork & rice)

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Babi guling is one of the Balinese dishes. Historically, it’s a celebration dish but it’s now something that is readily available in warungs all over, possibly due to the demand created by tourism on this small, Indonesian Island. Think hog roast meets curry house, and you’re sort of there.

Indonesian food has the familiar South East Asian flavours; chilli, ginger, lemongrass, but with some differing flavors brought with merchants and traders from India. Coriander seed and turmeric are also used in the preparation of babi guling.

In the interests of fairness, we tried babi guling in two places. A roadside warung in Sanur and also at Ibu Oka in Ubud, famed as the go-to place after Anthony Bourdain visited for a TV show.

The warung was clean and filled with Indonesians tucking into their porky lunches. The cheerful lady just looked at us and said “Babi guling?” Enthusiastic nodding followed.

Part of the charm, for me is the usage of the whole animal for food. the plate includes a little bit of all different parts, including a blood sausage.  Personally, I appreciate the sacrifice and animal makes in dying for you to have dinner, so the least you can do is eat it all and not be picky.

The plate was an orchestra of flavour, my mouth was doing star jumps and backflips and coming back for more as quick as possible. It’s a bit hard, as a westerner with a terrible grasp of Bahasa to be able to accurately tell what was actually on the plate, but it seemed to be lacking in offal, which may be due to us being ‘bules’. Westerners in general seem to be fairly picky about which bits of animals we will will eat so it’s possible she was sparing us from spicy tripe.

The plate did however have wonderfully fatty crispy skin, a pork scratching which was a welcomed textural change and both roasted and fried pork meat and a little chunk of blood sausage, much like a more robust black pudding. The little plate of meat is served with a side of rice, punchy sambal, and a spicy side salad of greens, coconut and chilli, known throughout Bali as urap, or urap sayur.  It was fresh, but had clean spicy flavours and had a similar impact that a salsa or tabolueh would have.

Additional to all of this was a little bowl of soup, rich and flavoursome from the cooked down carcass, probably from the previous days roasting.

After I ate this magnificent feast, sweated my heart out and blew my nose constantly from the chili I wondered how the famous Ubud babi guling could top this.

Unfortunatley it couldnt. 

Ibu Oka, ( I believe there are more than one, and we went to the one behind the palace) had a vast, open dining area that would probably sit over a hundred; almost the opposite of many warungs and I don’t think i saw more than a couple of Indonesians eating, just lots and lots of Chinese tourists and a few western backpackers.

The menu was broken down and compartmentalised into the various pieces and cuts, I opted for the ‘special’ which seemed to have all the important bits.

The roasted meat was to be fair like the best roast pork joint you’ve ever eaten, it was smooth and the quality of meat was first class with a sort of marinade, or sauce brushed on top. The fried chunks were tasty and again, provided a nice variation on texture and the crispy skin was possibly better. It had a good snap, but had a little too much fat on the other side.

The quality of meat may have been better but it was, for me wholly lacking in flavour, spice and the same level of love and attention at the warung.

We also found Ibu Oka did not offer any sambal (although there was a marinade on the meat, it lacked spice) and the soup was an additional extra. The urap sayer was excellent at Ibu Oka, and they advertised it as just ‘sayur’ which directly translates as vegetable.

Overall, Ibu Oka was slightly more expensive with less flavour and substance to the meal. I wanted it to make me feel like i’d just done several rounds with Mike Tyson who laced his gloves with sambal like the other place did, but it didn’t.

Try it for yourself, but make sure you try a local warung too, the one in Sanur is opposite the big Macdonalds near Sanur Beach and will set you back around 40’000 Rupiah for the whole hog, excuse the pun.

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This week we’re… Settling back into the traveling lifestyle.

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This week we’ve packed our bags, and jumped on a plane. Australia, you’ve been such a wonderful host, but it’s time to get back to Asia.

Since our flight on monday we’ve been busy acclimatizing to the crazy humidity, and generally exploring our way around Bali.

Where we’ve been this week. 

We flew into Bali, before heading across the water to Nusa Lembongan.

Currently hanging out in, Ubud.

Highs – riding around every inch of Nusa Lembongan like proper explorers and checking out Babi Guling, a traditional balinese celebration dish of roast pig. More to come in an actual post, soon.

Lows- the inevitability of new cultures and excitable bowel movements. Shit happens.

Instagramming the week away

 

 

That’s pretty much our week, we’re taking things slow.

Until next time!

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Dear internet, i’m sorry i’ve been ignoring you.

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Dear Internet, I’ve been a terrible friend.

The last few (*Cough* six) months have flashed by. Our time in Sydney has now come to it’s conclusion. We started off writing about our experiences here and exploring but as time passed, we got jobs and became more rooted. We had settled back into normality. A home from home. Sydney is probably the closest thing I have to a home at the moment. Having parents who emigrated here five years ago and no fixed address of my own I slipped back into a suburban lifestyle pretty seamlessly, even if we longed to live in the city, surrounded by all the trappings of any cosmopolitan lifestyle it was not the financial suicide we were prepared to make. We came here to earn more money to keep going, not earn just enough to pay city rent and drink lattes all day. The free suburban lodgings are hard to turn down when you work out a pokey little flat in a trendy neighborhood would cost $400+ per week. that sounds OK, right? but that’s $20’000 a year.Holy shit, Australia I can’t wait to get back to Asia it’s going to seem even cheaper than usual.

So i’m afraid commuting to work and drinking coffee at weekends does not an exciting blog make, but it does save some money to get places and explore…

We’ve got a few things still to write about from our Sydney adventures and the last few weeks of our time here we shirked work and got amongst it as much as possible, we took day trips, dived, snorkeled and even squeezed in a little wedding & honeymoon. words and pictures coming soon, i’m getting back into the swing of writing.

Whale Beach, Sydney.

Whale Beach, Sydney.

So we’re now into the fifteenth month of our travels and headed to our seventh country in that time as I type we’re flying over the Australian interior en route to Indonesia.

So, whats next? 

We’ve decided on a bit more long term travel, with no real concrete plans. We have a few things we want to do, places we want to go but we’re not going to put ourselves under any constraints. We’re traveling slow.

The rough plan currently (it changes…) is explore Indonesia for around six weeks and achieve a  whole heap of stuff we’ve been looking forward to for a while, seeing Komodo Dragons, visiting Borobudur, potentially seeing some Orangutans in Borneo & checking out some of Malaysian Serawak & Brunei. We’re hoping to be visiting some more off beat places before flying into Singapore and traveling overland north through Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar and China. We would really like to check out the Philippines too, but it depends on the flights costs and our general budgeting. Hopefully the later should be easy as i’m planning on being militant with the budgets, spending as little as possible and jotting down all our outgoing in my notebook to work out our daily/monthly/country budgets for the purposes of writing and my own general curiousity.

Everywhere on this upcoming trip is new to us, apart from Thailand (I went to Malaysia as a kid, but i’m not counting it) and even in Thailand we’re going to seek out some new pastures. I’ve always concentrated on the middle and north on my own travels, and Jess has been more of an Island hopper. This time we’re going to see some of the southern islands together and hopefully base ourselves on one for a while and get some serious diving in. I’m also pretty chuffed to be involved with South East Asia Backpacker Magazine providing content and lording it up under the title of ‘brand ambassador’. It’s hopefully going to be a great ride, and will help me to improve my writing skills, general knowledge of this whole blogging thing and who knows, bigger and better things in the future. Dare to dream and all that.

So as I sit here, awaiting our next chapter in what has become an ever increasing collection of highs, lows, memories and amazing experiences I promise myself and anybody who is vaguely interested in reading (hi, mum!) that i’ll be writing more, photographing more; experiencing more & tasting more.

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