Penuktukan…more than a little bit of bliss in Bali

I am sure you have all heard the Bali naysayers…"It's too crowded and too touristy!" or "It is over-run by noisy, drunk teenagers!" or "You just can't find a quiet spot any more!" I too have made those claims and in certain parts of Bali, those comments are unfortunately, all too true.  But locations of absolute beauty, peace and tranquility…where the villagers and townsfolk are welcoming, warm and genuine, can still be discovered.  Some of you may remember a previous visit where I was Perfectly placed in Payogan, a small village in the Ubud region, a place where the true nature of Bali is permitted to shine.  Well, I have found another…the village of Penuktukan in the northern region of Tejakula!

Wonderfully positioned on the north coast of Bali, Penuktukan is most certainly, one of the quietest and most beautiful parts of the island. If you enjoy shopping, hoards of tourists, heaving shopping strips, loud bars and a myriad restaurants and cafes, Penuktukan is not the place for you.  Conversely, if it is cool crystal clear waters, snorkelling or diving, local food markets, lush vegetation, engaging village walks and rolling hills that you seek, you will find it here in abundance.

The countryside is undoubtedly noteworthy and restful but it is what is under the gently lapping waters that is truly stunning! A mere 15 meters gentle paddle from shore puts you in a world  of coral forests and swarms of rainbow coloured and curious fish.  Sea life is in abundance here and it is certainly within easy reach for both the novice and experienced alike.

Private villas and dive centres are sparsely dotted along this part of the coast but it was at The Villas Tejakula right on the waters edge, that I found rest for my bones. Displaying a fine appreciation for detail and an architectural simplicity and style that sits well with their surrounds, The Villas Tejakula are beautifully appointed and positioned...the perfect place to escape the hurley burley that seems to define the Bali of the south coast, and of course, the perfect location for this evenings tipple.

As the sun sinks behind the Penuktukan pandanas, I have settled into a wonderfully refreshing Arak concoction made with the very best El Massaya arak, lime juice, local wild bee honey and iced water. Does it get much better?


A serve of Kyoto with shochu...geisha...a golden pavilion...and a large man!

There can be few places in the world that can confound and yet feed the mind as completely as does Kyoto.  This is my second visit to this wonderful city and I am no less happily amazed, amazingly peaceful and peacefully happy!  

In keeping with my somewhat cyclic "zen state of mind", and that I am well into the first tipple of the evening, an excellent shochu from the island of KyushuI leave little commentary...just four selected glimpses of "my" Kyoto. 

Not quite lost in translation...just lost in Tokyo!

I have been quite remiss with my posts of late...not posting but certainly not missing.  Fortune and a heavy workload has meant a long but rewarding foray into the bowels of Tokyo.  It only seems like yesterday that I was previously lost in the streets of Tokyo but the time lapse can be translated in years and not I am afraid, days.  But here I am once again, but this time, I have arrived during the hottest summer on record...hot enough to fry the proverbial egg on the 'yakitori grill' of a pavement.  Nevertheless, I have found the energy and inclination to wander the streets, tempt the tastebuds and appreciate a great deal of what this wonderful city has to offer.

The delicate cuisine of Japan has featured quite prominently on this trip and I was fortunate last evening, to share my table with Japanese colleagues and partake in a rather sumptuous feast comprising among other delicacies; impossibly red octopus, ridiculously fresh sashimi, lovingly prepared anchovies and...hideously slimy calf bowel!  Best not to ask really, though unfortunately, I did.  It was however, a marvellous experience and one not usually available to the odd, vague westerner with a touch of heat exhaustion!

The beautiful gardens of Tokyo have also played an important role in my attempts to find a shady spot and a cool breeze in the burning midday heat and nowhere in the world does gardens quite like the Japanese.  Every glade and rippling pond brings delight as well as a chance to mop the perspiration from the eyes.

It is with the aim of replenishing lost fluids that I have found a comfortable, and air-conditioned table at Goodbeer Faucets, a sleek and modern establishment in the heart of Shibuya.  With more than 40 micro beers on offer, one can not complain of being short of choice. It would seem more than a little churlish not to drink beer in such an establishment so, selecting the bar's own Nide Beer, I can start to relax and contemplate just how many 440ml glass of this nectar I will need to down in order to feel human again!


Little library...big idea!!!

Much to my chagrin, I had need today to duck into a rather large shopping centre in central Melbourne in search of an emergency umbrella.  Normally I would avoid such places like a heavy cold...a malady that shopping centres seem to have in abundance...but today it was something I just had to do if I was not to find myself fighting pneumonia instead of a runny nose. 

Much to my more than pleasant surprise however, I stumbled into something of which I wholeheartedly approve and applaud.  A "Little Library" for city workers and shoppers who find themselves short of something to read. Yes!  A free, mini library that invites all and sundry to "borrow" a book and return it on completion or replace it with a book of their own for which they no longer have use.  The "Little Library works on an honesty system, and might I say, seems to be working very well indeed.

Feeling good about the surprises my city often presents me and armed with new umbrella and some James Ellroy crime fiction (yes, I will brave the centre once more to return it...and drop off a few shelf fillers of my own) I found my way to a well panelled, cosy and warm bar down the western end of Little Bourke street to enjoy an ample dram of Cragganmore, a wonderful  single Malt Whisky, the perfect drop with which to begin a bit of James Ellroy crime and to fight off that cold I can feel coming on!