There was a time when we lived overseas and traveled on a regular basis to various international destinations. At one point my passport was so full that I had to go to my local embassy and get extra pages sewn in before we could leave the country. It was required that we, as permanent legal aliens have extra empty pages in our passport, ready for various official government re-entry and exit stamps. It is doubtful you can bluff your way through a mistake like this at an airport immigration desk.
There was one period years ago now, January found us in San Francisco, then we spent a week on Kauai before returning to Tokyo. A few months later we escaped Japan for a long weekend in Hong Kong, followed a couple of months later by a week long vacation on the island of Bali before ending the year back in San Francisco to celebrate the holidays with family. It was a pretty thrilling year and the week on Bali was particularly exotic and magical – along the lines of living out our very own version of The Year of Living Dangerously.
Besides its mystical beauty and the serenity of its people, the island of Bali offers incredible dining opportunities. Years ago throughout the week that we were there, we ate at many roadside cafes, enjoying Bali Hai beer paired with tasty skewers of juicy grilled pork. And much to our surprise, our fabulous exotic vacation ended with one of the most memorable dinners we have ever had.
It is both practical and economical to hire a driver to ferry you around the island. The island is not that large but for a first time visitor, trying to get yourself to the many shrines sprinkled across the island and into the hills during a week is asking a lot.
Most of the Balinese that we met on this Indonesian island were incredibly honest, and the driver we hired turned out to be the perfect guide. Wayan showed us so much of the beauty offered on this island - from the batik artists to the coffee plantations. When our week ended and we were on our way to the airport at Jimbaran, we asked him to choose from one of the famous seafood restaurants situated on the water of Jimbaran Bay. We wanted our last meal to be special.
Wayan didn't disappoint. He stopped in front of a series of low slung buildings. He said he'd wait for us and we walked into an open-air restaurant that was mostly empty. A hostess showed us to a table out on the sands not more than twenty feet from the waterline.
The front of the restaurant was very low key with a series of fish tanks, each with different sorts of fish inside. They must have had tuna, rock cod, grouper, barracuda, snapper, squid, shrimp, and lobsters. We had a beer and enjoyed the view of brightly painted fishing boats anchored off the coast, talking about what we had experienced, our hostess returned to lead us back to these tanks to choose our fish for dinner!
We came back to our table with its legs buried a foot deep in the sand and now dressed in a colorful tablecloth. Sitting there you can see how the area got its reputation for having renowned stretches of beaches and brightly painted fishing boats - because we counted six of those boats anchored not far from our table.
Our meal was the best, it was the tastiest and freshest fish and we even managed to convince Wayan to let us buy him a beer. Our little stretch of paradise with its white sands was just the perfect place to end our trip. Even the blue water sparkled for us like a disco ball, as the sun set and Balinese and Javanese music played (we still have a CD of it too). This last evening before our flight back to reality will always be a treasure to me.