I think that I have mentioned on previous blogs that I really am not the biggest fan of travelling by myself as I get bored with being with just me. And contrary to common belief, I am not an extrovert but rather an introvert, so getting out there and "just meeting people" is not easy or comfortable for me, so I am have started to explore different things to do when I am travelling that will 1) expose me to people other than me and 2) give me something to do. One thing that I decided to do early in my planning for my weekend away in Bali was to do a Balinese cooking class, firstly because I had no idea what Balinese food was like, and secondly, when I went to Thailand, we did a cooking class there and I really enjoyed it.
I turned to my trusty colleague when it comes to trip planning - TripAdvisor and found a couple of different cooking classes in the Denpasar area. The first one that I had wanted to do, and that one that goes rave reviews, didn't have any classes on the weekend, so they were out. I then went with choice #2 - Anika's Balinese Cooking School and was not disappointed in the least. The class ran for about 4.5 hours and included a trip to a local Balinese market with our cooking teacher/guide who explained the ins and outs of the market, as well as introduced us to some new fruits and veggies. Did you know that tumeric is a root kinda like ginger?! I was blown away by that - I did not know! After the market tour, we then went back to the cooking kitchen where we were feed a light breakfast with a few local Balinese treats and fruit, including snake fruit, which had a really cool skin (like snake skin) but I was not fond of the fruit. My class had 4 other people in it - 2 couples, one from Australia and the other from The Netherlands :-) We then got down to business. We were all given an apron, assigned a cutting board and a nice and had to put our knife skills to good use finely dicing garlic, ginger, tumeric, shallots and peppers, that would then eventually be ground up to a paste in a large stone mortar and pestle.
Once that was completed by each of us, we then concocted 7 different dishes ranging from a chicken satay with homemade peanut sauce to a bean salad to a fish curry (my recipe) All of the food that we made was delicious and I would highly recommend doing something like this, as it is a good way to learn a little more about the culture and for a fussy eater like me, it gives me a safe place to try new things without big commitment! LOL!
The enterprising person who owns Anika's Balinese Cooking School, also owns Anika's Tailor and Anika's Spa and for those doing the cooking class, they have a $25 USD special for a 2 hours spa experience after the class. And since part of this weekend was about me being a spa whore, I decided to take them up on it. The spa itself was very good, and we had no violations of the belly button, although she had no issues whatsoever about letting my girls hang out, or massaging them for that matter. What I learned at this spa was that I had to let go of any modesty that I might have had because she did not seem to care.
Now moving on to the bad service part. As a part of the whole experience is that they provide transport to and from your hotel and in the morning, the transportation had been very prompt and very good. After I was done my spa, I was told that I would need to wait about 10 minutes. Then I was told that I would need to wait about 15 minutes. By now, I am just wanting to go back to my hotel, which was on the other side of the island, so I felt like I was being held hostage. Oh and I should note, that this spa is located down some side street and it is not like I knew the address. After waiting for 30 minutes, rather impatiently I might add, I asked if they could please call me a taxi as I was not prepared to wait any long and that i just wanted to go to my hotel. The girl assured me that a ride was coming. I waited 5 more minutes and asked if my taxi had been called, at which point in time she said that she would call now. Well. . . that just pissed me off, so I told them firmly, but not snottedly that this was bad service and that it had turned a very good spa experience into a bad experience, and I left. Fortunately I pay attention when I am going somewhere so I knew how to get back to the main road and managed to easily flag down a taxi to take me to my hotel. Or so I thought.
Bad Service #2 - I gave my taxi driver the name of my hotel and told him that it was in Sanur. Now keep in mind that this part of Bali is not that big and I was staying at the Fairmont, which is a very nice hotel. As we got closer to Sanur, my driver asked me if I knew where my hotel was - that should have been clue #1 that he didn't know where he was going. Clue #2 was when he asked me repeatedly for the name and tried to google it. As I mentioned earlier, I generally pay attention to where I am, and I love to read maps, so after a while, I realized that we had gone too far north (but not that far). I then asked him if he knew where he was going - no. I then suggested, that maybe he could pull over and Google it again, which he did but left the meter running, which pissed me off. He started to drive again and I quickly realized that he did not know where he was going still. So then I asked him if there was not someone that he could call for directions. Once again he pulled over to make his call, and had the meter going at which point in time I told him that I was not paying for him to figure out where he was going, so he stopped the meter. I mean seriously, if you are lost, just say so and do what you need to do to figure it out but don't make me pay for it! After about 2 minutes he figured out where we were going (the good news was that I found out where the Starbucks was) Turns out, we were about 2 minutes from the hotel. All told, his ineptness cost me about 25 000 rupiah, which is only about $3, but still on a what should have been a $10 fare, that was a 30% increase. So we pull up to the hotel and by now, I am not in a happy mood. The charge is about 123 000 rupiah so I hand him 150 000 rupiah, as I don't have any change. He then proceeds to only give me 20 000 rupiah back (Lonely Planet suggests that you might round up in a taxi but tipping is not standard). Bad move buddy - let's just say, he too got a lecture about bad service and that this was not acceptable and how dare he expect a tip after he kept the meter running when he was pulled over and that I was not tipping bad service. Yah, my Saturday did not go the best.
My lesson learned here is - always make sure you have the physical address written down and with you and don't assume that even on a small island that the taxi drivers will know where they are going.