To close out our trip through Bali we rented another villa, this time in the bustling, touristy, (comparatively) upscale town of Seminyak in the southwest part of the island. We were in Seminyak back in 2014 and stayed at a great resort, but this time we were on a mission: is this the sort of place where we would come back to rent a villa for an extended winter stay?
The short answer is no. I found myself longing for Lovina, the small town feel, the huge villa, the rice paddies, the great household staff. Now, our villa in Seminyak was certainly nice. It consisted of three separate buildings, a mostly open air living area (walls on just two sides, consisting of kitchen, living room, and dining room) and two separate one-bedroom buildings with attached open-air bathrooms. And of course a nice little pool. Absolutely nothing not to like.
Except the noise from the neighboring villa. The property is built to two identical, separate villas or, if you open a gate between them, a four-bedroom space with two pools. The first two days we were there, though, some young partying Aussies were renting the other space and they were loud. Loud. The big cement wall between the properties provided all the privacy you could want, but their music just went right up and over the wall. On the second day as they were blasting some heavy metal music I finally went over to ask them to turn it down. The music was so loud they couldn’t hear the doorbell so I had to wait until the song was over and then knocked really loudly. To their credit their response was perfect: they immediately turned it off … and then left the next day. Couldn’t ask for anything more.
It’s worth noting, of course, that the issue of noise went both ways. I like to listen to music at the pool, too, but felt pretty inhibited knowing that whoever moved in after the Aussies moved out were unlikely to welcome our music so we had to keep it down, a limitation that just didn’t exist in our isolated Lovina villa.
Back in 2013 when I was first contemplating retirement one of my concerns was just how lazy I might get with no obligations. One thing I learned in Bali was that the fear was well placed. I can get really lazy. I made breakfast every morning (the housekeeper was supposed to do that, but she explained when we arrived that she’d just had shoulder surgery so, well, we’d just have to take care of it ourselves), and even lunch half the time. Otherwise, I was just lazy; on a couple occasions I realized when we’d go out to dinner that it was the first time all day I’d been out of the compound. Pathetic.
There was plenty to like about Seminyak. There was the grocery store I’d been hoping to find in Lovina. Nothing that would pass muster in Cambridge, but pretty much everything I would have hoped for. Our villa was beautiful and relaxing. And eventually we managed to find some good restaurants. Sip, a genuinely authentic French restaurant, was a standout, as was Rolling Fork, a tiny, cool Italian place. Even a classy bar where we could have cocktails and dinner.
Ultimately, though, I can’t really imagine going back for an extended stay. The town is just too crazy/busy/touristy for my taste, crowded and hot. The crowds and traffic and noise and sprawl just go on and on and on for miles. The beach is a 20-minute walk from where we stayed which wouldn’t generally be such an issue except that the first few days we were there it would rain every hour or so, sometimes reasonably hard. Then it would clear up and be beautiful … and then it would rain again. No problem in our villa but if we’d made the trek to the beach we would have gotten rained out pretty quickly.
In that sense, then, it was a successful stop: I learned I don’t want to do it again, at least for more than a week. Apparently the search for the perfect winter hideaway continues. Unless we already found it in Puerto Vallarta.
At any rate, that’s it for Bali. From here it’s north to Bangkok where we hope to get a 10-year visa for China (10 years!) and then, visa gods permitting, we’re off to China.