We’ve come to Lovina, a little town on the north central coast of Bali, for a four-week rest stop. We both got to feeling a few weeks ago that we’d been moving around just altogether too much of late. The plan – assumption, really – had always been that sooner or later we’d slow down our travels considerably, start spending longer periods in a smaller number of locations. And I’d always assumed that it would have happened a lot sooner than this, that after just a couple years of truly peripatetic traveling we’d tire of it. One of the things we learned, though, is just how big and interesting the world is. There were always more places to see and explore, favorite places to go back to, regions we hadn’t even touched.
While we were in Australia, though, we really got the sense that we needed some down time. And what better place than Bali? We’ve been here a few times and we always love it; a great combination of tropical weather, seriously beautiful natural environment, friendly people, and dirt cheap. What’s not to like? So we went online, found a three-bedroom villa with a private pool in a small village for $150 a night. So we’re settled in for four weeks.
We’ve been here for 10 days now and there is a lot to love. The setting is pretty much everything you could hope for in Bali. We’re at the end of a little lane, with nothing but rice fields the other side of the fence. You really have the sense of pretty much total isolation. Still it’s just a 10-minute walk (through the rice fields) into town.
And for $150 a night you get a lot. The house is huge, though we really don’t use it much. There’s a huge patio with a couch and chairs and dinner table where we spend time if we’re not at the pool. And if we’re at the pool, well that’s just pure heaven. On top of that we have a housekeeper who cleans up, does our laundry, cooks breakfast, and either lunch or dinner if we want her to. Did I mention laundry? After all these years of too often washing clothes in the hotel sink, we drop our dirty clothes in the laundry basket and by noon it’s hanging out in the sun drying. Amazing! And she’s not the only staff person: we have a part-time gardener/pool boy who comes daily, and another guy who comes in the evening to sleep in a little house next to the entrance gate. Security, you know.
In other words, crazy inexpensive.
We’re here a bit off-season; this is actually the rainy season in fact. And while it’s cloudy part of the time pretty much every day, it only rains a little. And then it’s sunny again and then cloudy and then sprinkling maybe … and then sunny. It’s not bad.
The one down side is the paucity of good food. When we started thinking about spending a month here Mark observed that there was a well-rated Greek restaurant just 15 minutes by foot. I guessed – incorrectly, it turns out – that if there was good Greek there would be other good food too. Not so much. There’s a nice Thai place where we eat lunch pretty often, and a great place called “Secret Garden” that’s too far to walk at night. Solution? They send a driver for us and then drive us home after dinner. For free. Yeah, I love Bali.
I’d expected that we’d find at least one decent grocery store where I could find food I would recognize so we could do some cooking on our own, but that hasn’t worked either. There is surprisingly limited fresh produce available, and even less of it that I would have any idea how to cook. In the city maybe 30 minutes east along the coast there’s a larger supermarket but even there the selection is really limited. I did find a jar of olives so we could make martinis at home and the girl at the checkout counter was puzzled and asked what they were. “Do you eat them?” she asked. So it was pretty unlikely that I’d find smoked salmon or cream cheese here.
Except for the fact that we’re going to get genuinely bored by the food choices though – and that’s not a trivial matter for us – it’s definitely a slice of heaven.
One of the questions we had before arriving was whether we’d ever want to leave. Maybe we’d love it so much we’d want to buy it. After 10 days the answers are pretty clear: yes and no, respectively. Four weeks will be plenty. And we understand why the Dutch owners have the place up for sale. It feels like paradise, but there’s only so much paradise you need in one year.
After we’re done here we’re going to stay in Bali for a while longer, five days at a resort on the beach and then eight days at another villa in the much-busier southern part of the island. But four weeks of paradise will be enough.