I’ve used bold text for those preferring a quick readπŸ€“πŸ˜ŽπŸ€“ before heading off outdoors early perhaps like us?…looks like heat is returning here in Canberra after a couple of cool days (3/2/19). That was heavenly after a very hot January we heard…we were mostly at the South Coast.

I’ve now done a few posts on Bali eg. About cooking courses we’ve done. In parts Bali has been loved to breaking point with tourism, but in recent times we hear that some measures have been taken to address the problems, including cleaning up the beaches etc. We hope that is the case and we would like to return again…perhaps a location we haven’t been to before, as well as a return to Ubud.

Our “Lonely Planet, Food Trails” book (2016) has this to say about Ubud:

“Changes are afoot in Bali’s cultural capital, Ubud, where chefs are returning to their roots with traditional dishes that celebrate locally grown, sustainable produce.”

Anyone love travel guides and food/recipe related inspiration as much as we do?

When we return from our next trip (India and Sri Lanka soon), I plan on buying Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Food List (2018 or 19?)…it just came outI sometimes buy/collect these books and find that it’s a lot cheaper to get them online and have a few posted at once (occasionally there are deals with no postage fees); however, I also try to support our local/small bookstores and Ultimate Food List at $40 seems good value for money? I’ve sometimes been guilty of the allure of the chain stores eg. BigW has a range of well priced travel books.

* Now 5/2 Apologies to my favourite small bookstores!…(Ulladulla/Paperchain/Muse/Kitchen Essentials)…have ordered Ultimate Food List as Booktopia has a sale/free postage deal for a short time + it’s $22! I saw it in BigW for $28 yesterday.

I also saw this 1 but decided I’d bought enough!…and prefer travel guides on kindle:

If anyone in my small CBR travellers’ tales meetup group would like to borrow any of our books, particularly when we’re away, do let me know.

We’ve been to UBUD a few times and loved every visit. We do hear that the drive from Denpasar airport to Ubud can now be slow, but it wasn’t like that when we were there a few years ago.

I gather that like many places, wise to time the journey outside of peak times so worth checking that before you set out. We have a new friend (a neighbour at our newish apartment) with a place in Ubud so I’ll get more information from him before our next visit and add it here later.

Before the focus on food again…a few photos we took while strolling around the streets of Ubud over our week there…

The hardworking women of Bali!

We did two cooking courses in Ubud…details of those can be found in previous posts if you’re interested. We highly recommend the one with an older Balinese woman who worked as a chef at the Hyatt (I think that was in Denpasar), but she got tired of the travelling and low pay so she set up her own cooking school – and it’s fabulous!…

Now that’s a mortar & pestle! It was almost like an upper body workout!

Tony and I both loved it…as can be seen, she grows her own herbs and mixes her own spices based on traditional/authentic Balinese recipes. Here’s Tony getting some instruction from her…

Photo above:

One of many dishes that her “students” (from all ages and cultural backgrounds) prepared for our banquet lunch. There were about 8 people in the class so a good size and we were able to linger over lunch and hear interesting stories about others’ backgrounds and travels.

The table where we had our banquet lunch…overlooking farming lands… Her family house was extended to incorporate the cooking school with thought given to traditional outdoor cooking areas, as can be seen to the left of the dining table in photo below…

In another space close/visible from the dining area, musicians played traditional Balinese music…ideas she probably drew from her experiences at the Hyatt; however, by doing so on a much smaller scale, the ambiance was more intimate and enjoyable for us, compared to some of our large hotel experiences.

Garden tour…

She and her family grew many of their own herbs and vegetables and took us for a tour of the garden – she has an in-depth knowledge of local foods; however, before we started she asked about our backgrounds (no Indonesian chefs in our group!) so she was able to gauge our prior knowledge, and present the information to suit the interests and skills of the group.

She also stopped to explain some of the tasks being undertaken by some of the staff she employed eg. Those cooking the satays over the hot coals and threading the chicken onto skewers.

For kids…threading skewers…a simple task to give older children/grandchildren in our own homes in order to get them more interested/engaged/responsible?

Perhaps make some vegetable skewers and simple stir fries as well?…a few easy ones in this book…I’ll list the recipes I liked at the end of this blog post.

Not the greatest photo below as Tony closed his eyes…always good to take a 2nd shot now we have digital! That comment shows our age!…

For children about photography?…Not so long ago we used rolls of film (circa 1980s); digital camera became more readily available from about 2000 – we got ours a few years later (they were small and expensive). Now many people only use their iPh but we prefer to use both the Ph and our cameras with different lenses – we love the zoom lens.

The appealing spread of ingredients at the start of our cooking.
Lots of banana trees on her property

On our last trip to Ubud we also loved where we stayed…the gardens were the most beautiful we’ve ever seen on our travels…hotel details in a previous blog post if interested.

Our room was on a lower floor (all were elevated above the extensive garden) – it had a very large balcony…more like a courtyard space.

Moss covered curved walls and winding steps, bridges and pathways added mystery and a magical secret garden feel to the whole property with one fascinating space leading gracefully into another with various sculptures, ponds and other features adding to the enchanted garden effect – particularly with so many native birds and butterflies as well! It was wonderful!

Here’s some views of/near the dining/breakfast space…


if travelling on a budget…which we definitely will be if we return with family (like we hope to do before too old!)…it’s a good idea to check the price of some of these places now. Years ago you could go to most top end dining places in Bali at very affordable prices (compared to Australia’s capital cities) but in recent times we hear that has changed in some restaurants.

However, I’m sure there are still lots of lovely places around still serving delicious Balinese food at reasonable prices – might just take a bit of extra looking eg. On their websites + we sometimes search for “price” in Trip Advisor reviews…some people even take a photo of the bill along with photos of the food – helpful!

MOZAIC – set in candlelit tropical gardens. The dishes combine subtle European influences with Balinese food and spices eg. Pickled radish and ginger flower…

A common ingredient in Balinese cooking…hard to find/use here

LOCAVORE…beautiful food and they serve locally brewed beers as well. Best to reserve well in advance. However, there’s a no reservation diner and takeaway deli across the road.

THE BRIDGE…not sure if the restaurant has the same name now (just looked up Trip Advisor but can’t see it) but it’s a gorgeous place in a romantic setting (right next to the bridge) with views of the river – an easy walk from the centre of Ubud.

We also went to Janet DeNeefe’s restaurant but found her cooking class + lunch was a lot more enjoyable than the dinner at her restaurant...again that may have changed over the years as we hear/see that cooking classes have gone up considerably in price. Seems like a trend all over the world with the increase in popularity of cooking classes now.


Lonely Planet also has some great recent publications (varying in price from about $20 – $60)…I don’t get any commission/freebies from them or anyone for that matter! (Prefer this to remain an amateurish but reasonably well researched blog based on my Primary (sometimes High School) Education background πŸ€“πŸ˜‰ and voluntary work). So…I just love many of the Lonely Planet books…some available from public libraries1 of the more expensive Balinese Food and Culture books is available from CBR libraries (noted in a previous post).


Indonesian GADO GADO

GADO GADO (VEGETABLES WITH PEANUT SAUCE)…A traditional Indonesian dish…we sometimes serve it with chicken satays – a simple satay recipe with peanut sauce on another blog post (search function can help to locate) or a mildly spiced fish dish (a recipe post for another day) – our book “The Essential Asian Cookbook” has many great recipes and the ingredients can be found at most good supermarkets.

Here’s the GADO GADO recipe from that book:

Serves 4

250 g potatoes; 2 medium carrots; 200 g green beans; 1/4 cabbage, shredded; 3 hard boiled eggs; 200 g bean sprouts (scraggly ends removed); 1/2 cucumber, sliced; 150 g firm tofu (cut into small cubes); 1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts (roughly chopped)…we improvised and used toasted slivered almonds (I do a dry roast in a small frypan).

For our convenience I find the list of ingredients (with bold text) handy to access on my phone if I’m out shopping and need to start thinking of dinner…more important than Method seeing we have the book. However, here’s a note on that…

Method: Quite a lot of detail noted down in this recipe (could be found on Net with any GADO GADO recipe of course); however, it’s basically just a matter of cooking all the above ingredient (except bean sprouts of course) until they’re just tender…”al dente” (firm to the bite ie. don’t over cook). The rest is as simple as presenting the food in an appealing way as you can see we did (photo above:)

Our kids sometimes tease Tony about his slightly chefy ways with food/cooking…however, it can be one of the joys of life and I really appreciate his sense of occasion (and love that goes into it) – especially on those dark days we all go through. Not so long ago for me with all the spinal surgeries I’ve needed in order to keep standing/walking/living relatively pain free again.

OTHER RECIPE IDEAS BELOW FROM “MY ASIAN KITCHEN” by Linda Le (available from Ulladulla and Canberra public libraries)

Coconut Pancakes with Mandarins in an Almond Lake (an almond milk custard); Honey & Chilli Prawns; various simple Indonesian curries.

DOWN MEMORY LANE…OUR INDONESIAN TRAVELS 2002…also see our trip in 90s if interested (a previous blog post).

Talking of kids...here are some photos below with Joel (when a teen/now 33) on another visit to Indonesia in 2002 (Jakarta; Yogyakarta; Lombok) we were visiting family working at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta.

Our older son was in charge of looking after the dog and garden at home in Canberra as he had just completed Yr 12 and had a p/t job. Initially, Joel wasn’t impressed as it was his first holiday alone with us (with Andrew having fun on his own he presumed!); however, once we arrived at Sydney Airport his attitude improved…he was a keen reader so we gave him some money to let him choose his own reading material for the trip over.

After a tense few hours at the start, the 3 of us ended up having a wonderful time together…the last extended holiday together – 3 weeks – so good memories! Since then we’ve had lots of short catchups elsewhere – mostly in CBR or at the south coast.

Unfortunately, there was a malfunction of our camera on this Indonesian holiday so we lost most of the photos in Lombok. We really enjoyed it there – much quieter than Bali at the time…could be different now??

Photo below…me and our son Joel looking a whole lot younger (2002):

Always? hot in Jakarta so we gather many Embassy people rent houses with pools

Borobudur Temple near city of Yogyakarta (photos below)

We flew from Jakarta to Yogyakarta and stayed in the centre of the city for a few days before flying onto a resort (near a traditional village) in Lombok.

We recommend visiting this temple on either sunrise or sunset – it was a bit too hot by the time we got there…learnt our lesson for future trips to Asia! There are many more tips on various travel blogs if you’re interested in going…we didn’t stay in Yogyakarta to be of great help!

We did get lost one night as we searched for a restaurant that had been recommended to us and we ended up walking along many dark laneways with derelict buildings and slums on either side and even inside those broken/deteriorating structures. At 15, Joel had never seen extreme poverty…and lack of sanitation…the smell was overpowering and unlike anything he’d ever experienced before.

He had a look of fear but even though these homeless people were staring at us (probably thinking…who are these lost fools!) we felt no threat at all. Some of them looked so malnourished, sad and alone; also some groups with children, with hardly enough energy to play or even move much at all.

Of course experiences like this highlight the craziness of this world of ours…especially when only a few streets away top end shopfronts can be seen, where you need to be rich and famous and/or provide evidence of a massive bank balance before entering.

So it was a valuable thing for Joel to see (even though we had tried hard as parents not to overindulge our sons), in situations like this, it’s clearer for them to see the contrast between their own standard of living and that of people a whole lot less fortunate. We talked a bit (well as much as a hungry 15 yr old could absorb over a few minutes!)…about how such poverty/wealth occurs – greed/power/corruption in society; intergenerational lack of opportunity/education/health care; catastrophic events and trauma…the list goes on of course.

Back to Borobudur…

This towering temple was built between the 8th and 9th centuries by a ruling Buddhist dynasty. (For kids...that’s a 1000+ years ago!).

Borobudur contains four main platforms with one large circular stupa at the top. At each level, smaller buddhas sit within circular rings...

Joel (2002) Borobudur, Indonesia

In the background, four volcanoes shroud Borobudur in mist – only one volcano is dormant (photo below). A purple orange haze is quite common and a stunning backdrop for the entire stone structure…

A market with street food…we tried a freshly fried noodle dish
A scene on a day trip just outside 1 of the cities…our journals light on facts in 02!

NEXT POST…SUNDAY 10 FEBRUARY will be on PERU…a request from the Canberra Travellers’ Tales meetup group coordinator. Usually meets once/mth at the King O’Malley Pub in Canberra City…next meetup is Sunday 10/2 at 3 pm (Castle Room).