Automorphic Musings

October 29, 2013

The Aman Experience – Amankila Part 3

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — cyby @ 3:34 am

I’m normally not a big breakfast person.  Perhaps hotels are the only place where I would actually go and have breakfast.  Not because I’m cheap, but because I’m normally not hungry at all in the morning.  There is no short of great breakfast places in Hong Kong, but I don’t really want to eat within a few hours of waking up…. so there usually goes breakfast.

But in any event, the Bali Break package came with breakfast, so it seemed such a waste not to actually eat.  Out in Amandari, the rice terrace and market trek included breakfast, and I was a little bit hungry after the hike…

Anyway, we had the option of having breakfast in the villa or going downstairs.  Since it was so beautiful out, I wanted to take a walk….

Morning view...

Morning view…

Flowers

Flowers

Flowers

Flowers

Flowers

Flowers

So we decided to have breakfast down at the restaurant.

Breakfast Menu

Breakfast Menu

Breakfast Menu

Breakfast Menu

We ordered coffee, juice, pastries, yoghurt, muesli, and a mee goreng (!) – which was definitely more than enough food.  I barely finished my portion anyway.

Juice & Coffee

Juice & Coffee

Juice & Water

Juice & Water

Muesli

Muesli

Pastries

Pastries

Mee Goreng

Mee Goreng

Condiments

Condiments

Pastries

Pastries

Having stuffed ourselves and had our morning share of coffee, we wanted to go back and chill in the villa for a bit.  Unfortunately, we walked right into them servicing our room, to which they hastily apologised.  I just asked them to continue and we went back downstairs instead.  We spent a few minutes in the library and went down to the beach to take some more photos.

Amankila Beach

Amankila Beach

Amankila Beach

Amankila Beach

Amankila Beach

Amankila Beach

Amankila Beach

Amankila Beach

Amankila Beach

Amankila Beach

Amankila Beach

Amankila Beach

Amankila Beach

Amankila Beach

Amankila Beach

Amankila Beach

A few notes about the beach: the dry black volcanic sand is *hot*.  The ones covered by waves, of course, is cool.  Nonetheless, the sand where they had chaises and cabanas were quite warm to my feet.  The waves were, as seen, quite strong, so nobody was actually in the water.  I wanted to ask how popular the water activities were, but I never got around to it.  They did have free activities for us, but the rough seas definitely turned me off to it.

After lying around for a bit more, soaking up some rays and drinking lots of water, we opted to go back to the room before we turned to toast.  Our main form of exercise this trip was actually walking up and down between the villa and the beach.  Fast forward ten minutes and 280 steps later, we were back, and we found tuber roses waiting for us:

Tuber Roses and Card

Tuber Roses and Card

It is definitely these little touches that helped make service so phenomenal.  On the bed was tonight’s dinner specials:

Dinner Specials

Dinner Specials

The cookie jars were also refilled to my delight 🙂

Later that afternoon, we made it down for a quick lunch, spent time at the library, and swam in the beach club pool for a bit, before retreating for more afternoon tea:

Lunch

Lunch

Young coconut

Young coconut

 

Beach Club Pool

Beach Club Pool

 

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea

Flowers

Flowers

A funny thing did happen during afternoon tea – we were approached by the staff about dinner time.  Unbeknownst to me, my partner already arranged dinner plans up at the villa.  I guess the message that I should not know about any of this didn’t translate.  Ha!

As evening rapidly approached, I took a few more shots of sunset, which happened behind the mountains…

Dusk

Dusk

Dusk

Dusk

Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

Dusk

Dusk

Shortly thereafter, we walked to the bar for a drink, and we encountered a fire dancer performance.

Fire Dancer

Fire Dancer

Fire Dancer

Fire Dancer

Fire Dancer

Fire Dancer

Musical Instruments

Musical Instruments

Fire Dancer

Fire Dancer

 

Lobby in the evening

Lobby in the evening

Evening

Evening

We arranged for dinner at 8pm, but so we thought we would have a little time when we got back at 730 to relax for a bit.  But of course, the dinner table was already set up:

Dinner Setup

Dinner Setup

Dinner Menu

Dinner Menu

Dinner Menu

Dinner Menu

My partner ordered the Rijsttafel for us, which is a good selection of Indonesian dishes….

Soon as we entered our villa, our waiter popped up from nowhere (probably from the villa next door, which is by now empty), and asked us whether or not we wanted dinner now or to wait.  I opted to wait a couple of minutes.  We went inside, got changed and relaxed a few minutes, before he showed up with the food, which he carried on his shoulders on a huge tray.

Rijsttafel

Rijsttafel

Rijsttafel

Rijsttafel

Rijsttafel

Rijsttafel

Rijsttafel

Rijsttafel

Rijsttafel

Rijsttafel

Rijsttafel

Rijsttafel

Rijsttafel

Rijsttafel

Dessert

Dessert

It was a lot of food, and a lot of it was pretty spicy.  He also carried a large cooler filled with cold water with him.  Unfortunately, we drank the entire supply, so he apologetically had to go refill it.  We were also given towels from time to time.  He also took a few photos for us.  What amazed me was how he was able to carry *everything* at one time.

After dinner, we thanked him and went back inside, but not five minutes later, we went out and *everything* was cleaned up and back to normal.

We got another bedtime story and some more dessert – this time Pecan Pie.

Bedtime Story 2

Bedtime Story 2

Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie

We spent the rest of the evening relaxing, reading a bit, and then went to bed early.

Next up: The Aman Experience – Amankila – Part 4 and Final Thoughts

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October 10, 2013

The Aman Experience – Amankila – Part 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — cyby @ 8:36 am

Shortly after 6pm, the sun began to rapidly set behind the hotel complex.   I almost wished there was a good view of sunset over the water, but the geography meant that it wasn’t happening.

We decided to head down to dinner and then perhaps calling it an early evening, as the rice terrace trek and hike was a bit exhausting.

As we walked down to the bar and restaurant areas, the walkways were all lit up, some by candlelight:

Amankila walkway at night

Amankila walkway at night

Amankila walkway at night

Amankila walkway at night

We thought about just having dinner, but we were tempted by snacks at the bar when we were simultaneously greeted by both the restaurant staff and the bar staff.  We decided to go for a drink first, since it was “only” 630 in the evening.

Amankila Bar

Amankila Bar

Amankila Bar

Amankila Bar

Amankila Bar stone sculpture

Amankila Bar stone sculpture

Balinese musical instrument

Balinese musical instrument

It appeared that there was going to be a musical and dance performance sometime during the evening.  We sat down, and took a look at the drinks menu, and ordered a Lime-Bitini, and an Amanjunkies (Which we were definitely turning into by then).  The lime-bitini was “gin, dry vermouth, and aman serum” – whatever “aman serum is”…. and the Amanjunkies was “bacardi and midori with pineapple juice, lime juice, and mint leaves.”

Amanjunkies and Lime-Bitini

Amanjunkies and Lime-Bitini

Both were delicious and deadly.  So delicious that I almost forgot they were deadly.  We also ordered a pretty large plate of edamame to go with it, which I think was the cheapest food on their menu, and of rather good value – I’ve had to pay far more in NYC and in HK for about a quarter as much…

While we were sitting and enjoying our drinks, a blond woman just came by and said hello to us.  I was confused for a moment, but then I realized that she was Claudia, the manager.  We proceeded to have a very nice conversation with her about our experiences so far, such as the new airport mess, our stay at Amandari, and the upcoming typhoon that would hit Hong Kong.  It turned out that she has family in Hong Kong, and was slightly concerned as well.  She also told us that another couple from Hong Kong was in town, and decided to extend their stay by a day to avoid the typhoon.  She mentioned that they were indeed not full, and we should not worry about it at all.  By then the typhoon was starting to concern my paranoid self, as I would hate to have my flight cancelled or delayed and so on.  After all, Denpasar airport is definitely not the most pleasant place to hang out at….

A few more minutes of pleasantries later, the music and dance routine began, and she left us to enjoy the show.  Once again, pardon the quality of the photos:

Amankila Dancers (Are these the same flower girls?)

Amankila Dancers (Are these the same flower girls?)

Amankila Musicians

Amankila Musicians

The drink was *really* starting to hit this lightweight me then, and after another half hour of sipping through this drink, I finally decided to go have dinner.  The bar was emptying out by then anyway, and I was actually starting to get hungry.  Like magic, someone showed up and before we finished our sentence, he offered to bring our unfinished drinks over to the restaurant next door.

We sat down and was immediately greeted and offered a choice of bread, and we both had some bread.  We then turned out sights to the menu:

Amankila Dinner Special

Amankila Dinner Special

Amankila Special Dining

Amankila Special Dining

Amankila Dinner Menu

Amankila Dinner Menu

Amankila Dinner Menu

Amankila Dinner Menu

Amankila Dinner Menu

Amankila Dinner Menu

Amankila Dinner Menu

Amankila Dinner Menu

Amankila Dinner Menu

Amankila Dinner Menu

Unfortunately, because I truly suck at taking photos and I have no memory whatsoever, I couldn’t recall what the soup ordered (until my partner just very unsubtly reminded me that it’s all itemized on the bill!).  Anyway, I ordered the Jukut Gedang to share (A chicken and papaya soup, which was divine), and for main course I had the Ayam Bakar Bumbu Rujak (a grilled baby chicken with chili, garlic, and tumeric), whereas my partner had the Ayam Goreng Kecap Manis (fried chicken with garlic, shallots, chili and sweet soy).

Jukut Gedang

Jukut Gedang

Ayam Bakar Bumbu Rujak

Ayam Bakar Bumbu Rujak

Ayam Goreng Kecap Manis

Ayam Goreng Kecap Manis

Mint Tonic (note how it is served slightly differently here - with extra tonic water!)

Mint Tonic (note how it is served slightly differently here – with extra tonic water!)

For dessert, even though we were thoroughly stuffed, we ordered the Piseng Goreng, which were fried banana fritters with a coconut sorbet.  Unfortunately, I devoured the entire thing before I remembered that I didn’t take a photo…. I originally thought I couldn’t finish it all, but it turned out that I had plenty of room for dessert!

Being so stuffed, we decided to go for a short walk around the complex, but since it was so dark and my photos turned out to be such duds, I really didn’t take many photos for the rest of the night.  But I did wander into the library and sat for a few minutes, where I saw a piece of technology that I sorely didn’t miss – in fact, I didn’t miss it so much that I didn’t take a photo of it:

Television Channel List

Television Channel List

One thing of note: I have not seen a television at all at the resorts since I arrived in Bali, and the lack of technology like that was very welcoming, even though I was out carrying my iPad, my phone, and my camera…

Amankila Library

Amankila Library

Amankila Library Board Games

Amankila Library Board Games

Amankila Library Brochures

Amankila Library Brochures

Amankila Library Board Games

Amankila Library Board Games

Amankila Library

Amankila Library

Amankila Library

Amankila Library

Amankila Library

Amankila Library

There was also a computer for everyone’s usage, but nobody was there, and I wasn’t about to get on a real computer to do any real work…

After a bit more walking and climbing back up to the villa, we returned to the following:

Villa 36

Villa 36

Amankila Bedtime Story

Amankila Bedtime Story

Amankila Bedtime Story

Amankila Bedtime Story

Chopsticks with bedtime story

Chopsticks with bedtime story

A bedtime story!  Just like in Amandari, we were given a small present with turndown service.  I’m not sure what the chopsticks mean, and I didn’t see it in the bedtime story… but I guess I’ll have to find out next time.

Thoroughly happy, we set up a nice warm bath for the night and happily went to sleep.  But before bed, we had to decide whether or not we wanted the windows open – the windows here all had screens, so there was no obvious mosquito issue, and it did feel cool enough.  However, we decided that it was probably going to be too warm under the covers, so windows closed it was!

Hot bath!

Hot bath!

Hot bath!

Hot bath!

Next up – The Aman Experience – Amankila – Part 3

October 6, 2013

The Aman Experience – Amankila – Part 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — cyby @ 4:00 am

As the car drove off into the massive traffic jam that is Bali – I contemplated about just how different my experiences in future hotels and resorts would be.  Amandari was definitely a transformational experience, and has set the bar for any other Aman resorts really high.  I actually started worrying about just how would Amankila meet this standard.  Of course, from everything I have read, the experience was going to be flawless, or very nearly such.

I was not very much looking forward to this car ride – partially because I really didn’t want to leave Amandari, and partially because the stop and go traffic was  just atrocious.  Bali definitely doesn’t have adequate transport infrastructure to handle this many tourists.  Nonetheless, between the refreshments and the brownies that were given to us for the ride (which were indeed phenomenal), we made it to Amankila in about 1 hour 40 minutes.  Through it, we made it through some quiet villages, lots of construction, and many other winding roads.  I must admit I dosed off a bit, and by the time I woke up we were near the coast road.  The scenery was breathtaking, and very different from the rainforest-like atmosphere that we’ve experienced at Amandari.

About 30 minutes after waking up, we finally made it to Amankila.  As we turned right into the resort, we actually went up quite a steep hill before coming to the security area.  After the cursory check, the car pulled into the reception/lobby area, where we were greeted by the staff and two flower girls, who promptly gave us some flowers.  I didn’t want to photograph the girls because I felt creepy doing that.

Amankila welcome flowers

Amankila welcome flowers

Amankila welcome flowers

Amankila welcome flowers

The staff already knew everything about us.  They asked us how the drive from Amandari was, how was the rice patty trek, and so on.  It seems like Amandari have already filed a report on us already, and they already knew everything about us.  My first impression was that the resort was bigger.  I mean, at 36 villas, it really isn’t much bigger, but because it faces the ocean, it certainly felt much bigger….

We were given a quick tour of the main areas, and this was the first sight that greeted me:

Amankila Triple Infinity Pool

Amankila Triple Infinity Pool

I couldn’t believe the description until I really saw it.  I mean, how cool is that!?!?

Amankila Triple Infinity Pool

Amankila Triple Infinity Pool

Amankila Triple Infinity Pool

Amankila Triple Infinity Pool

The ocean was breathtaking, and immediately gave a very very different vibe than Amandari, but equally as pleasant.

We were assigned villa 36, which was about 120 steps or so up a hill.  Looking at the map later, I see that most of Amankila’s villas are up pretty steep hills and would be quite a workout.

Amankila Villa 36

Amankila Villa 36

Amankila Villa 36

Amankila Villa 36

This is their Ocean Suite, which does command a good view of the water:

View from Villa 36

View from Villa 36

View from Villa 36

View from Villa 36

The villa itself is smaller and more elongated than the Amandari ones, but the personal touches were still there.

Amankila VIlla 36 Outside

Amankila VIlla 36 Outside

Bed

Bed

Desk

Desk

Daybed

Daybed

Fruit

Fruit

Cookies!

Cookies!

Upon discovering the cookies, I quickly reached into it and had a few before continuing snapping photos:

Bathroom with dual vanity

Bathroom with dual vanity

Bathtub - quite deep!

Bathtub – quite deep!

Bath products and candle at bathtub

Bath products and candle at bathtub

ShowerShower

Rain shower

Rain shower

I came back out to find that our welcome snack and drink was there for us:

Amankila welcome snack

Amankila welcome snack

Amankila welcome snack

Amankila welcome snack

It was a refreshingly light ginger soda with lemon sorbet and passion fruit, along with some more yummy cookies.

Having taken a bit of time and consumed the snack, I took a few more photos, starting with the DND sign:

Amankila DND sign

Amankila DND sign

Amankila DND sign

Amankila DND sign

Amankila Welcome Card

Amankila Welcome Card

Amankila Welcome Card

Amankila Welcome Card

That left me still wondering why I’m addressed by my first name and my partner by his last name…

Amankila Dinner Special

Amankila Dinner Special

Amankila Brochures/Paperwork

Amankila Brochures/Paperwork

More paper...

More paper…

I then discovered the activity pack, which was a whopping 24 pages, which I have uploaded here.  Activities range from diving, sailing, trekking, local tours, and mountain climbing.  Many of them do look alluring, and I swear I could be here for weeks!  Close to the last page, I discovered that they have a helipad for helicopter transfers if desired.

Amankila helicopter transfer

Amankila helicopter transfer

If only the rest of Bali wasn’t so beautiful, I’d helicopter it back to the airport!

And I also looked at the menu and wine list:

Amankila Menu

Amankila Menu

Amankila Menu

Amankila Menu

Amankila Menu

Amankila Menu

Amankila Menu

Amankila Menu

Amankila Menu

Amankila Menu

Amankila Menu

Amankila Menu

Amankila Menu

Amankila Menu

Amankila Menu

Amankila Menu

With all that, and a little quick unpacking, we went down for afternoon tea, which was served between 4 and 5 down by the pool, in front of the library….

By the time we got there, a small crowd had gathered for ginger tea, which was served with two types of cakes – one traditional Balinese and the other Western.  I naturally opted for both:

Afternoon tea at Amankila

Afternoon tea at Amankila

Afternoon tea pastries

Afternoon tea pastries

I also saw the flower girls there, making more flowers:

Amankila Flower GIrls

Amankila Flower GIrls

Amankila Flower Girls

Amankila Flower Girls

Eventually, they made their way around greeting everyone and offering them flowers, including us:

Amankila Afternoon Tea Flowers

Amankila Afternoon Tea Flowers

More afternoon tea flowers

More afternoon tea flowers

Amankila Flower GIrls

Amankila Flower Girls

I took the opportunity to grab a few more snapshots of the area, before refilling my tea and just taking a break – I’ve done nothing but snap a photos since arriving an hour ago, and I had no less than one hundred photos already!

About forty five minutes later, we opted to walk down to the beach.  We have the option of getting a free car/buggy ride down through a winding road, but we decided to be “healthy” and walked down:

Walk down to the beach

Walk down to the beach

Walking down steps to the beach

Walking down steps to the beach

Steep, small steps

Steep, small steps

Almost there....

Almost there….

Almost at the beach club and beach

Almost at the beach club and beach

Turns out it was about 140 steps to the beach club and pool area, which was deserted except for staff.

Amankila Beach Club

Amankila Beach Club

Amankila Beach Club

Amankila Beach Club

Amankila Beach Club

Amankila Beach Club

41 meter pool!

41 meter pool!

Pig

Pig

Amankila Beach Club Shrine

Amankila Beach Club Shrine

Amankila Beach Club

Amankila Beach Club

Amankila pool

Amankila pool

Amankila Beach Club

Amankila Beach Club

Amankila Beach Club

Amankila Beach Club

A few more steps and we reached the black sand beach.  Again, going to let the photos do the talking here:

Amankila Beach

Amankila Beach

Amankila Beach

Amankila Beach

Amankila Beach

Amankila Beach

Amankila Beach

Amankila Beach

It also looked like that someone booked the beach for a candlelight dinner – listed on the activities pack.  In fact, the beach seemed set up for it for the two nights that we were there:

Beach bonfire

Beach bonfire

Beach bale

Beach bale

Beach Bale

Beach Bale

The staff greeted us and asked how everything was… including out drive down from Amandari.  How do they know these things!?  We were offered beverages and so on, but we declined.  I must also add that the sand is very warm until one hits the parts closer to the water, something I would discover again the next day.

Having wandered around a bit more, we decided to head back up and get a little rest before the evening rolls in, counting around 280 steps all the way back up to Villa 36.

Next up: The Aman Experience – Amankila Part 2

September 26, 2013

The Aman Experience – Amandari – Part 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — cyby @ 2:22 am

We actually woke up before the morning call.  We were awake by 6, which gave us a little bit of time to walk around, take a dip in the pool, and take more photos before our 730 trek.

And this is what we woke up to:

Private Infinity Pool

Private Infinity Pool

Rice Terraces

Rice Terraces

Private Pavilion

Private Pavilion

Across the River Valley

Across the River Valley

Lush Trees

Lush Trees

It was even more jaw dropping than what we saw and experienced last night.  There is no way that these photos would justify the experience.  You could hear the wildlife, some roosters, and that’s about it.  It was peaceful and serene as could be.  I felt so at home, yet so isolated at the same time.

View from the second floor:

View from Second Floor

View from Second Floor

View of Infinity Pool from Second Floor

View of Infinity Pool from Second Floor

View from Second Floor

View from Second Floor

View from Second Floor

View from Second Floor

After a morning dip in the pool (which was almost five feet deep) to wake us up, followed by a shower, it was time for our rice terrace and market trek.

The guide first took us past a smaller local  market, which he said we will pass on, because it isn’t that bustling, and said he would take us to another market.  But first, through some rice patties:

Rice terraces

Rice terraces

Rice Terraces

Rice Terraces

Rice everywhere

Rice everywhere

Rice!

Rice!

Beautiful Farmland

Beautiful Farmland

After another 20 minutes of driving or so – the traffic in Bali is really legendary – we finally pulled over by a market.  Apparently, according to our guide, every market has a shrine, and every stall owner will present an offering to the shrine every morning.  The markets open at 4, and close later on during the day.  By the time we got there at around 8am, the busiest time has passed.  The markets have both indoor and outdoor sections, selling everything from fruits, veggies, meat, clothes, offerings, daily products, to… gold and jewellery.  I’ll let the photos do the talking.

Market

Market

Market

Market

Market Road

Market Road

Vendor

Vendor

Fresh vegetables

Fresh vegetables

Vegetable Stall

Vegetable Stall

Local market shrine

Local market shrine

Local market shrine

Local market shrine

Jackfruit

Jackfruit

Palm Oill

Palm Oill

Jewellery Store!

Jewellery Store!

Fruit

Fruit

Small pineapples

Small pineapples

Fruit

Fruit

Market Road

Market Road

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Various Balinese Rice

Various Balinese Rice

She's carrying a lot on her head...

She’s carrying a lot on her head…

After a short walk, we were suddenly in the middle of the rice fields!

And I mean, middle of the rice fields!

And I mean, middle of the rice fields!

Our very knowledgeable guide explained a lot about balinese rice fields and farms to us.  The fields are tended to by many many people, each family/person  who gets a plot marks it down with their own individual shrine:

Rice field shrine

Rice field shrine

He also explained to us the natural irrigation systems that they use:

Irrigation System

Irrigation System

Irrigation System

Irrigation System

And, not quite true to name, they don’t just plant rice, but the vast majority of the crops are rice.  Here’s some water spinach, flowers, chill, and an avocado tree:

Water Spinach

Water Spinach

Flowers

Flowers

Chili being planted

Chili being planted

Avocadoes

Avocadoes

They plant rice year round in Bali, and it takes about three months to harvest.  We managed to see rice in various stages of growth.  The plastic bags on sticks are actually used as scarecrows.

Newly planted Rice

Newly planted Rice

Rice with scarecrow plastic bag

Rice with scarecrow plastic bag

Rice fields

Rice fields

Rice!

Rice!

Beautiful rice terraces

Beautiful rice terraces

We eventually made a few turns, walked down the terraces, crossed a river, walked back up other terraces, and emerged an hour and change later to a road, where the car was parked and ready.

Upon arriving back at the car, we were immediately offered a cold towel, some cold beverages, and an offer to extend the tour where we could sample some Balinese coffee and tea, including the famous Kopi Luwak, before breakfast.  However, since we were a bit pressed for time – we wanted to enjoy more of the resort before we left for Amankila that afternoon – and that we were pretty hungry, we opted to go straight for breakfast, which is at a bale – a type of gazebo/pavilion they own:

Bale

Bale

Bale

Bale

Rooster

Rooster

Pond at the Bale

Pond at the Bale

Bale

Bale

Bale

Bale

Bale

Bale

Again, here the service was absolutely impeccable.  They served us breakfast, which consisted on juice, coffee and tea, a sandwich, fruit, as well as granola with yoghurt and honey.  Then they said they would go back and wait in the car, leaving us to enjoy the truly remarkable scenery next to the rice fields.  I could definitely see this as a very romantic dinner destination.  This was the only time during our entire trip where we had to refill our own drinks!

Bale Breakfast

Bale Breakfast

When we finished, all I did was to get up from my chair to stretch, and they were immediately by to take everything away and took us back to the car and back to the resort.

When we returned, we thanked our gracious driver and guide, and the manager was somehow around to ask us about everything.  We also spoke to them briefly about having a later checkout (which is usually noon), since we are having a hotel transfer to Amankila later that afternoon.  We decided on having the car at 2pm, so they just told us that we could use the room until 2pm.

Here are some more daytime photos of our villa:

Our door - note the "doorbell"

Our door – note the “doorbell”

Signage

Signage

Villa First Floor - Note that all of these doors actually open...

Villa First Floor – Note that all of these doors actually open…

Private infinity pool with deck chairs

Private infinity pool with deck chairs

Outdoor soaking tub

Outdoor soaking tub

Towels

Towels

Bathrobes

Bathrobes

Another bathroom closet

Another bathroom closet

One of two bathroom closets

One of two bathroom closets

Top of the staircase

Top of the staircase

Upstairs bathroom

Upstairs bathroom

P1070183

By now, I’ve lost track of how many times our room was serviced.  I was getting afraid that there would be no way that Amankila’s service could match this.  But anyway, more photos of the resort area:

Walkway

Walkway

Walkway

Walkway

Stone Statue

Stone Statue

Bar area

Bar area

View of infinity pool and garden

View of infinity pool and garden

Walkway

Walkway

Lobby area

Lobby area

Other view from the lobby

Other view from the lobby

Walkway

Walkway

Amandari apparently works with a lot of the local artisans, villagers, and orphanages, and they have left us these cards designed by the orphanage inside the box:

Beautifully decorated cards

Beautifully decorated cards

Box with papers, activity list, etc.

Box with papers, activity list, etc.

Activity List, Page 1

Activity List, Page 1

Activity List, Page 2

Activity List, Page 2

Activity List, Page 3

Activity List, Page 3

Activity List, Page 4

Activity List, Page 4

Activity List, Page 5

Activity List, Page 5

Activity List, Page 6

Activity List, Page 6

Activity List, Page 7

Activity List, Page 7

Activity List, Page 8

Activity List, Page 8

Activity List, Page 9

Activity List, Page 9

Activity List, Page 10

Activity List, Page 10

Activity List, Page 11

Activity List, Page 11

Before I knew it, it was time to pack up and go.  I really wish I had an extra day (or several) there.  It certainly *felt* like I was there a long time though – all my worries were far far away by then, and the stresses of Hong Kong was the furthest thing from my mind.  I wish I had the time to experience the fitness facilities, the spa, whitewater rafting, etc. etc.  Goodbye was definitely too soon, and the crew lined up again for our departure.  We had another very wonderful chat with them, and we were given brownies (which were divine) for our drive down.

Next time, I could easily see myself spending a week here.  I felt thoroughly pampered and made to feel like family, even though I spent barely 20 hours at Amandari.  My expectations and bar has risen so high that I struggled to think about how Amankila could possibly meet this standard.  Would I be disappointed afterwards?  How different would it be?  With such mixed feelings, we got in the car, the management team waved goodbye to us and invited us back, and we made our way to Amankila.

Next Up: The Aman Experience – Amankila – Part 1

The Aman experience – Amandari – Part 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — cyby @ 12:05 am

Due to the flight delays and mishaps at the airport, by the time we got to Amandari, it was rapidly getting dark.  It was way past sunset.  Note that some of these photos I actually took the next morning.

Photos or videos would not justify the experience I’ve had at these two Aman resorts in Bali.  The “service,” if you could even call it that, was impeccable.  At first, I found it potentially difficult to justify $1000 USD a night, but having stayed at these, I have concluded that they are completely worth every last penny.

The Amandari is centered in Ubud, about an hour (or two) drive north of Denpasar, which is the cultural and arts hub of Bali.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by a line of 4 or 5 people, including the head chef, and the general manager.  None of them could be nicer, and they already knew us by name.  We shook everyone’s hands, and were immediately welcomed and asked if we had any dietary requirements, requests, and so on.  I was dying to get the camera out and take photos, but that would have been rude.  We were immediately given a quick tour of the complex, and two photos of us were taken.

We were led to suite 15, which was a pool suite, something we didn’t request.  Turned out that they upgraded us for perhaps no good reason!

Villa - First Floor

Villa – First Floor

The decor was jaw dropping.  I wish I could take better photos.

Villa - First  Floor

Villa – First Floor

Bathroom

Bathroom

The bathroom had dual vanities, and the shower is amazing.

Shower

Shower

Umbrella and Hiking Sticks

Umbrella and Hiking Sticks

Outdoor Tub

Outdoor Tub

Daybed

Daybed

Box with papers

Box with papers

Villa - First Floor

Villa – First Floor

Cookies and Crackers!

Cookies and Crackers!

The cookies and crackers are always topped up!

Fruit Centerpiece

Fruit Centerpiece

Fruit Centerpiece

Fruit Centerpiece

Beautiful Fruit Centerpieces.

Also waiting for us was a card:

Welcome Card

Welcome Card

Welcome Card

Welcome Card

We were given a welcome drink and a chicken curry pie as a welcome snack, both of which were delicious.

Welcome Drink

Welcome Drink

Chicken Curry Pie

Chicken Curry Pie

Having checked out the first floor, we went upstairs up the spiral staircase.

Staircase to bedroom

Staircase to bedroom

Bed

Bed

Bed

Bed

There is an additional closet, a safe, and a toilet upstairs, as well as a writing desk there.   Unfortunately, due to lighting issues, I was not able to quite take some of those photos at night.  Daytime photos at the end.

We then walked outside and looked at the private pool and the private pavilion for us:

Outdoor pavilion

Outdoor pavilion

Outdoor pavilion with ice cold water

Outdoor pavilion with ice cold water

Ice cold water and orchid

Ice cold water and orchid

Flowers

Flowers

At this point, I discovered that the photos wouldn’t turn out very well, so we decided to step outside and grab a few more shots. Unfortunately, the only real good shots I got were of the library.  I thought the library was a brilliant idea – it really made things feel like home.  By then, even people who we’ve never met greeted us by name.  That was a little shocking, but I guess that was part of the Aman secret.  I was initially a little creeped out (ok, I still kinda am), but wow, that is indeed amazing.

The library has an eclectic selection of literature, newspapers, as well as two computers in the back in case one needs Internet.  The Internet, incidentally, was already the farthest thing from my mind.

LIbrary Chess Set

LIbrary Chess Set

Library

Library

Library

Library

Library

Library

Upon returning to our room about ten minutes later, we found our room serviced already!  The bottles of water were replaced, our bags were placed nicely, our finished welcome drink and snacks taken away, and the paperwork that I had strewn across the daybed cleaned up and put away.

Looking around a little more, we decided to go have dinner.  I had to decide between in room dining or the restaurant, both of which I wanted to experience.  I ended up opting for the restaurant, because there was live Balinese music.  Also to note: in the iPod that came with the room had a playlist of modern, contemporary, classical, and Balinese music to choose from, so I’m sure I could have had a similar experience in the villa, but I just wanted to sit by the pool…. so we walked out again.

At this point, the resort felt completely deserted, and it continued to feel that way for the rest of the trip.  We hardly saw any guests, and probably didn’t see more than 8 or 10 other guests throughout our stay at Amandari.  The level of attentiveness was very much top notch.  *Everyone*, and I mean, *everyone*, greeted us and asked us about our villa and the drive up.  Some even asked us about the airport experience.  We had a good brief chat with them, and then went to the restaurant.

We were immediately greeted by name, and we were told that we could sit down anywhere we like, so we picked a table by the pool and within sight of Balinese music performers.

Balinese music performers

Balinese music performers

A leaf with our name was brought to us and set on the table:

Leaf with our names!

Leaf with our names!

I was quite sure by then they knew all our names and locations and probably *everything else* already, but it was still a very nice touch.

Dinner Table

Dinner Table

Pardon the photo qualities, but here is the menu.  The wine list is also impressive, but I forgot to take the photos.  And anyway, with Indonesian taxes on drinks, the wine was pretty expensive.

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

There was a great selection of food, both Indonesian and Western.  I guess prices aren’t too bad for a resort of this quality.

As a beverage, we both opted for mint tonics:

Mint Tonic

Mint Tonic

For food, we opted for the pumpkin soup, followed by a braised lamb shoulder (Gulai Kambing) for me, and beef curry (Rendang Sapi) for my partner.  We were also given an amuse bouche of a beetroot juice thing, which was very refreshing.  This was all served with all the rice we can eat, served in a bamboo basket.

Amuse Bouche

Amuse Bouche

Pumpkin Soup - Split between us

Pumpkin Soup – Split between us

Beef Curry

Beef Curry

Braised Lamb Shoulder

Braised Lamb Shoulder

It didn’t look like a lot of food, but it was.  I was starving after not having eaten since the in flight meal, and it was almost too much food.  The food was very delicious to say the least, and in the middle of our meal the chef came over and asked us how everything was.  I was at such a loss for words.  After dinner, I decided to go for dessert, even though I was stuffed.

Dessert Menu

Dessert Menu

Dessert Menu

Dessert Menu

Fried Bananas - Piseng Goreng

Fried Bananas – Piseng Goreng

Again, pardon the quality of the photos.  The fried bananas were very good, and definitely didn’t feel Indonesian.  No matter though – the ice cream on the side was a great touch.

After a filling dinner, we decided to go to the front desk to talk to them about tomorrow’s activities, and such that I could get a few more shots.  As part of the Bali Break offer the Aman offered, we got a pick of one of these activities, and my partner thought the rice terrace trek would be nice, which I agreed.  We could have done something at the Amankila instead, but the views of the rice terraces that I saw really made me want to walk through the countryside…

Bali Break activity list

Bali Break activity list

The staff was very kind and pointed to us that we could actually customize our trip.  Instead of doing the rice terrace trek, we actually ended up doing a combination of the rice terrace trek, some sightseeing, *and* a local market tour followed by breakfast, which they insisted would be a better use of our time.  We happily decided on that, and he took our breakfast order, offered a morning call (we said for 630), and we went back to the room.

Of course, the room was totally serviced – the fruit was replaced by some tuber roses, the mosquito coils were brought out, and our pool was surrounded by candles!  Also, our bed had a rooster on it 🙂

Tuber Roses

Tuber Roses

Mosquito Coil

Mosquito Coil

Candle

Candle

Candles by the pool

Candles by the pool

Turndown rooster

Turndown rooster

We took a quick dip in the pool (the water was pretty cold by then), then a hot bath, and then we were ready to hit the really comfortable bed.  While it is only a queen size bed due to the fact that this is a duplex pool villa (instead of a king sized bed), the bed was plenty comfortable, and we slept very soundly.  We only had one last decision to make for the night – whether or not we wanted to sleep with the windows open.  Afraid of potential wildlife noises and temperature issues, which wasn’t too bad to start with, we opted for the air conditioner and the windows closed, which offered us a relatively quiet experience, with just traces of wildlife noises making it through….

Up Next: The next morning, rice terrace/market trek, and daytime photos of the resort…

September 25, 2013

Trip: HKG-DPS CX 785, Sept. 20, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — cyby @ 10:13 pm

On a whim, my partner decided to book a last minute vacation down to Bali, at the Aman resorts.  He apparently thought it was the perfect time to go since it was a long weekend in Hong Kong, and it is still dry season down in Bali.  Unfortunately, I think everyone else in Hong Kong thought that it was a good idea, so tickets were hard to come by.  In the end, we used 100,000 Asia Miles for Business class tickets, rather than spending 3000 US a piece for them.

Unfortunately, the night before, they changed aircraft and we ended up “stuck” with the old regional business class.  Out of all the times I took Business class so far this year, I still haven’t had the opportunity to try out the new regional business class  While I was slightly disappointed, I did not let it bother me, especially after having read lucky’s review on the Amandari, which we’d spend a night in.  I literally couldn’t sleep that night, partially knowing the treat that we are in for…

We got to HKG via Airport Express, and the experience was painless as usual.  I did notice that the airline checkin boards at Hong Kong station are being upgraded (or repaired).

We usually went to The Wing, which was our preferred lounge at CX anyway.  Our flight was at Gate 2, which was perfect.  Had some delicious wonton noodle soup, some snacks, and fueled up on delicious mimosas .  Unfortunately, the flight was delayed, which led me to check flightstats for the ontime rating, which was a dismal 0.8.  When we went to Bali last time, there were a few other issues which led our flight to be delayed more than two hours.  Fortunately, the flight was uneventful, and the meals and service was in typical good CX fashion.

Upon landing, we realized that the new DPS airport was open, and we might have a chance to go through it!  Apparently it opened on Sept. 19, the day before we arrived.  Unfortunately, we parked at the old terminal, which was dilapidated to say the least.  Upon disembarking though, we actually walked through the entire old terminal towards the new terminal!  It was a pretty long walk – about 10 minutes on a decent clip – which led us down the escalators through the old immigration area, and then up another set of escalators through another walkway, then eventually into the new terminal and finally into the arrivals/immigration area….

Visa on Arrival Queue

Visa on Arrival Queue

Visa on Arrival Queue

Visa on Arrival Queue

Immigration Queue

Immigration Queue

Immigration Queue

Immigration Queue

Immigration Queue

Immigration Queue

The hall was beautiful, airy, and bright.  Unfortunately, it looks like some logistical issues still need to be worked out.  The visa on arrival queue was long, and the immigration queue was even longer.

Thankfully, our guy from the Aman resorts showed up, and told us, quite apologetically, that we could only skip one line this time – the visa on arrival queue – but we had to stand with everyone through the immigration line, which took about 45 minutes.  I’m guessing some of the hotels actually had priority queues, which was a nice perk.

Needless to say, by the time we got through the immigration  queue, our man has picked up our bags, and was flagging down the car.  Here are a few more photos  of the airport arrivals area.  As you can see, there is still a lot of work to be done, but I am left pretty impressed.  It will be gorgeous in a few months, hopefully.

DPS Airport Exterior

DPS Airport Exterior

DPS Exterior

DPS Exterior

DPS Exterior

DPS Exterior

DPS Exterior

DPS Exterior

Unfortunately, due to traffic issues, it took another 10 minutes or so for the car to arrive to pick us up.  I could tell that we are in for a long, long ride….

The driver met us, took our bags, and offered us food and drinks, to which we settled for bottles of water.  He did warn us that our trip would be longer than usual – the usual 75 minutes or 90 minutes would be longer today due to the new airport issues, and apparently Friday evening traffic.  It took about 30 minutes just to get out of the airport, sadly, and the total ride time was just shy of two hours.  Bali suffers from some traffic issues, to say the least, but hopefully with the new airport bypass road that has just opened, it should help out a lot.

Next up: The Aman experience – Amandari

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