Nearby wanders

I do try and go for a dedicated walk at least once a week, even though I can’t go very far. Fortunately, there are pretty spots and paths nearby in my neighbourhood. I miss being able to go for big walks like I was doing last year. When driving over Lake Burley Griffin the other day, I thought “I’ll really feel like I am pretty much back to normal if I can go for a walk around the lake”. So I guess that’s a goal. At the moment, 2km (with a break in the middle, and walking pretty slow) is pushing it.

Anyway, this ramble is all just because I wanted to post some pretty autumn photos.

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Melbourne weekend

I went to Melbourne for the long weekend, for a friend’s birthday and to catch up with people. And just to get out of town. In hindsight, it was perhaps overly ambitious, and I was pretty overtired the whole time, and then for a few days when I got back to the office. It’s back to ‘normal’ now. I did manage not to have a total crash though, no bedridden/barely able to stand up days, so I guess that’s a win! I’m feeling a bit more optimistic as this whole health situation seems to have taken minuscule steps in the right direction… finally getting some treatment for the POTS/dysautonomia/tachycardia/not-clearly-labelled-yet symptoms has started to help, and I feel less frequently/intensely dizzy (it is by no means gone though and is still a big problem) and I feel like I have a bit more energy (we are talking very, very small additional quantities here! But something is better than nothing!). But it still can be very variable by the day, and I think a Melbourne trip (by road) for such a short time period overdid it. Also, in the city you tend to walk a lot more, and the weather is cold right now. This Melbourne trip felt much harder than the Bali trip, which is weird, perhaps it was because it was more compressed.

I know it seems crazy to keep going on these trips when they come with a backlash, but the little trips help me have something to look forward to, and they are always to catch up with friends which I always want to do. I also can’t resist the experiment, secretly hoping that I won’t have any problems and it might prove I can consider ‘real’ travel again soon… unfortunately the experiments have so far not really yielded that result…

Anyway, there were some nice moments in there among the tiredness catching up with people, eating good foods and so on. I did wander a little and take some photos, but of course I couldn’t do too much. We stayed in Collingwood, and good places that we/I ate included Proud Mary, The Commoner, Neighbourhood Wine, and Archie’s All Day.

Here’s some random pics.

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Some songs I like at the moment

I’m trying to find new music, because listening to it is one of the only things I can really do sometimes at the moment. I’m mostly finding pop, because I guess I need cheering up. My car radio/CD player doesn’t work, and I tend to listen to Radio National these days so I’m not exactly picking up sick new beats as much as I used to. Sometimes I find stuff through Spotify, but when I was young (!!) and in Sydney I used to go to live gigs all the time and it was so great, I miss that. But I haven’t really been doing the whole ‘engaging with new music’ thing for a while. I felt so super old when I barely knew any of the songs on the Triple J Hottest 100 this year. I think that’s an official hallmark of getting old. Apparently, on average you stop listening to new music at 33, so I only have a couple of years left to widen out the collection. (… which raises the question, will I still be grooving in the kitchen to Beyonce when I’m 70? I hope so.)

This is my favourite song at the moment — I am a huge Belle & Sebastian fan from way back, and this (Nobody’s Empire) is my favourite from their latest album (the whole album is great, it is called Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance). I started liking the song and playing it a lot, not thinking too much about the lyrics, and then I found out from reading an article in The Guardian that the song is actually about the lead singer Stuart Murdoch’s long battle with ME/CFS. Interesting coincidence. I can’t pick a ‘favourite ever’ B&S song, but this one is definitely up there (other  favourites are Dress Up in You, basically the whole Tigermilk album, Like Dylan in the Movies, I want the world to stop, Lazy Line Painter Jane, Get me away from here I’m dying, ok there’s heaps more I’ll just stop now). I was a bit sad because Belle and Sebastian played some gigs in Sydney earlier this year and I would have loved to go, but a trip up to Sydney for a weeknight concert seemed way too tiring, like something that would end up leading to several days of sick backlash. :( Camera Obscura is also a long-time favourite band… all a bit twee I know!

I also love Sia’s Elastic Heart… I think the video clip is amazing as well.

Even though this isn’t a new song, I recently re-found Solange’s Losing You in my Spotify and have been playing it a bit.

I like Major Lazer’s new single, which features Mø  (I was playing her cover of the Spice Girls  and Don’t Wanna Dance last year a fair bit).

For pure pop, I was playing this Ellie Goulding song when out on walks before getting sick. It was one of the tracks for the Body Pump class I was going to each week.

I am also a bit of a fan of Jessie J, Arian Grande and Nicki Minaj’s Bang Bang — it’s just a fun song. I really feel like I shouldn’t like it because I am not huge fans of any of them really and it is so Top 40…. but it is catchy.

And then, of course, there’s Bey, for dramatic kitchen karaoke.

It doesn’t hurt that she samples one of my favourite authors, Chimanda Ngozi Adichie.

And my favourite Spotify lists are one with all the songs from HBO’s Girls (link here), this Mad Men playlist if I want to feel a bit retro (link), and Rise and Shine Indie (link).

From Hyperbole and a Half

Caught in the middle

Crawling back from another sizable fatigue crash. Don’t know what I did wrong this time. Perhaps I’m being punished for vaccuuming the floors for the first time in more than a month. Or for going to my friend’s housewarming for a couple of hours on the weekend. Or for having a busier day at work on Monday. Or for buying some groceries. Who knows. All I know is that I’m punished the most for doing the things I want to do, and it’s cruel and torturous.

The crashes really scare me, because nobody can assure me that they won’t get worse. When I have a crash day/s and feel awful, I’m terrified that I’ve perhaps accidentally reset the illness to a new, more terrible baseline. When you read other people’s experiences of ME/CFS, it happens–they can be sick like me, and then make it way worse by doing too much. They can plummet from the level I’m at now to being bedridden and unable to work. Writer Laura Hillenbrand had this happen [pdf], from taking a cross-country car trip. There’s plenty of similar stories in the terrifying world of the internet.

But nobody can definitively tell me if I should do even less or try to hang on to what I have. Sometimes I feel like I’m clinging on to it all by the tips of my fingers and it’s really hard to hold on, but I really don’t want to let go and fall off the illness cliff, even though that’s what some people seem to advocate. One ‘expert’ says I have to cut back more (I’ve already cut back and given up so much, I don’t know how much more I can bear to lose), another says I should be going for walks and trying to do “as much as I can manage”– which is what I do. But then the crash comes. They all tell me constantly that I should be losing weight, yet nobody can explain how since diet isn’t working without exercise, especially since I’ve lost all my muscle tone in the last seven months. Some shame me for doing too much, others for not doing enough. And then there’s the ones who have made assumptions that it is in my head, or that I must be lazy because I am fat so I probably just don’t want to do anything or work hard, which is of course total bullshit. Since I have orthostatic intolerance problems, it’s also suspected now that I also have either Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome or some sort of similar partial dysautonomia causing tachycardia when I stand up or do even the smallest amount of activity–apparently a common comorbidity with ME/CFS. So I am trying some medication to try to help with that–little luck with it so far. So while I’ve encountered some clinicians who are trying to help with the symptoms or who are at least sympathetic, it’s hard not to feel like nobody can really help me, and that barely anyone understands.

With an illness nobody really knows anything about, there’s a lot of useless information out there, and a lot of lies. Crackpot cures without the faintest trace of scientific evidence. Blogs by the undiagnosed yet conspiratorial. Advice from those looking to make a dollar out of desperation. And then the lies to my face. After being told it would take a year to see improvement by one health professional, the logical follow-up question–have you ever known anyone who has recovered in a year?– was dodged more speedily than the treasurer would dodge a question about where the budget emergency has gone. So I’m guessing that’s a no.

Despite my innate skepticism of all things loopy, I find myself edging towards the path of taking more ‘alternate’ measures, even when my rational self urges restraint and wants to see some evidence. But I still wonder…. should I get the flat completely cleaned by professionals to check there’s not toxic mold? Will a maca supplement, or baobab powder, or spirulina help? I felt worse after drinking a some juice the other day, could I have fructose intolerance?

I would definitely say that ME/CFS is not caused by crazy, but it’s understandable that it can turn you somewhat nutty pretty quickly in the absence of real help or treatment.

There’s only been a couple of useful resources I’ve found in all my trawling. I guess I was ‘lucky’ to get diagnosed around the same time as the new Institute of Medicine report on ME/CFS came out in February, so there was a flurry of media coverage of the plan to give the illness a new name and of the more serious recognition of it in the report. One of the better articles on this was in the New Yorker by Meaghan O’Rourke, who writes on chronic illness.

I like this line:

“the fatigue that affects ME/CFS patients is as different from regular, end-of-the-day tiredness as Ebola is from the common cold”

Yep.

This op-ed in the New York Times around the same time was also good, as was this piece in The Atlantic. Emerge Australia is one of the better local resources. And these guidelines  [PDF] for GPs in South Australia are also a decent overview of the condition (if not somewhat depressing, citing the average window to see some improvement as 3-5 years).

But none of them have answers. So I’m still frustrated, sick and stuck in the middle of lots of conflicting advice.

*Banner image from Hyperbole and a Half.

Bridget Jones

An inconvenient 30

It’s my 30th birthday tomorrow, which in some ways is quite unfortunate. I’d really hoped to have my shit together much more when entering this new decade. Early last year, I had things in my mind laid out that I needed to achieve, a loose plan (yet I never muttered it aloud to many people, keeping up my facade of complete indecisiveness). I was even considering adult steps like getting a mortgage of my own instead of paying off my landlord’s. Then as I got more tired and then sick, everything went kaboom.

Now I’m turning 30 feeling quite directionless, unsure if my previous plans are feasible or smart anymore, feeling like I’m in a big waiting room, or flying in a holding pattern. It’s not even a holding pattern where you can just distract yourself with other things, like going on inevitably terrible dates or drinking or buying clothes you don’t need or ambling around Southeast Asia pondering the meaning of life or just exercising and exercising. It’s a grinding, broke, energy-less holding pattern where so many things seem to be going backwards that you’re just hugely thankful for the ones that are standing still.

So I guess I wish I could put off this milestone until I had my act together again, but unfortunately aging doesn’t work that way.

I haven’t been feeling very well for the last week or so (a period of ‘noticeably worse than my baseline level of crap, but still able to get up and go to work’). I was also feeling kinda gloomy. I don’t think the change in weather is helping the whole fatigue situation, as all my aches and pains have intensified, adding to the general ‘living an old person’s life before my time’ atmosphere.

As a distraction, and because I can’t do anything more productive, I’ve been rewatching the early seasons of Mad Men, one of my favourite shows. It is finishing up in the US and the final episodes have so many throwbacks to themes from earlier episodes that I had to stretch my memory to recall, so I decided to start from the beginning.

Peggy is my favourite character, and Peggy and Don’s somewhat unlikely friendship is also one of my favourite parts of the plot (I’m not one of those weird people who wants them to get together though). Also Sally Draper’s plot!

Anyway, I’ll try not to do spoilers, but in Season 7 Part 1 there is this brilliant scene where Peggy tells Don she just turned 30 and I just loved it (terrible quality video below). It seems like angsting about what you have or don’t have, or have done or haven’t done, is basically a hallmark of all adult birthdays, and the big ones pull the biggest triggers… and it probably only gets worse.

There’s also a brilliant scene in Season 2 (in a brilliant episode), where there is a flashback to Don coming to see Peggy when she is in a psych ward after her surprise baby delivery (ok, I guess those are spoilers, but if you haven’t watched Season 1, you are way behind). I can’t find a video. Don, with his beautiful yet troubled face, leans in and whispers to the heavily medicated Peggy: “Peggy, listen to me, get out of here and move forward. This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened.

Even though doctors keep telling me this isn’t going to go anywhere for a long time, using plurals like “years” to describe any recovery period, I really hope that my current situation is like this. One that, soon enough, will be forgotten. Where I’ll only remember the good parts, like the people who helped and who were kind. Where I’ll be too busy making plans, and perhaps even acting on them, to remember the unpleasant details, and where I’ll be going forward instead of standing still.

Checking out one of #canberra 's newest trendster locales, AKIBA. Already impressed by the very personalized service!

Fancy hipster restaurants of Canberra (plus those food trucks)

Going out for a nice dinner every now and then with some friends is one of the things that has been keeping me emotionally afloat lately! My strict diet from last year has relaxed simply due to being too tired to deal with it in the last few months (though I need to get back on it as with basically no physical activity, the weight is creeping back even while still eating healthy 90 per cent of the time… another frustration…), but at least taking a break from my calorie counting app means I don’t feel too bad about eating out every now and then! Before it would wrack me with pangs of guilt as I tried to estimate the calories in obscure menu items. Dinners are also manageable with my day-to-day fatigue, as long as I plan/rest in advance, and am not having an especially bad day. My friends must be commended for not only being awesome in so many ways, but also for acquiescing to ridiculously early dinners so that I don’t flake out before we get to dessert. You have a space at 6.15pm for dinner? Yes please, book us in! 8.30pm, sorry that’s far too late. Tragic!

Anyway, I’ve tried out two places lately that I would rave about — Akiba and Eighty Six.

Eighty Six in Braddon has been around for a while, but I went there for the first time last night. It is a great space, with the music adding to the buzzing atmosphere, and our server was really friendly and helpful. My ‘Jessica Rabbit’ cocktail was pretty great, great enough to order a second round! Though one of my friends tried a cocktail with mescal which was a bit overpoweringly smokey for all our likings — I’ve had mescal before, but I must have had a cheap and mild version that was way less smokey, as this was full on. All the food we ordered was fantastic —  the duck buns, Asian-style steak tartare and pulled pork terrine. The blackened chicken with buttermilk slaw was the winner of the night though, so tasty! The chicken was beautifully cooked and the marinade was perfect– spicy but not overpowering. We also had the banoffie pie and caramel popcorn sundae for dessert — the banoffie pie was to die for, so good! The sundae was also great, but the pie was definitely the winner of the two desserts. The desserts were quite intense, definitely for sharing. As with basically every restaurant in Canberra these days, the whole set up was a share-plate type arrangement. I would definitely go back again, and I just saw on their Facebook page that they do Sunday brunches, which I didn’t know about but would be very keen to try! My one comment would be that there didn’t seem to be a lot of options for vegetarians.

Eightysix on Urbanspoon

Akiba in Civic opened towards the end of last year (pictured up top), and I’ve been twice in the last couple of months. It was great both times — very attentive service, a great cocktail, beer and cider list, and above all else, fantastic food! It is another buzzing, well designed space. It even impressed visiting Melbournian friends, so that’s always a good sign. There is lots of attention to detail in the cocktails, and also with the food, which has an Asian fusion bent (though predominantly Japanese influence). From the various things I have tried there, I would recommend everything, but especially: the kingfish sashimi with coconut, nam jim and coriander; shitakke and water chestnut dumplings; the beef short rib; the soy cured salmon belly; both the pork belly and soft shell crab buns; and the kimchi & angasi pancake. I’ve also had the fried rice and soba noodle salad, and they were both very good, just not highlights like those other dishes. I’ve also tasted or drank the Clover Club, Spiced Rum Sour and Fukushima Zombie cocktails and they are all thumbs up good. The $45 ‘feed me’ option is good for groups who can’t decide what to order. They are also doing yum cha on the weekends, which I’d be keen to try out.

Akiba on Urbanspoon

(I also went to Monster in New Acton at the end of last year, which is in a similar price point/share plate/quality/hipsterness/design level — we really enjoyed it, but it was too long ago for me to write any kind of more detailed review–keen to go back sometime soon though!).

Now on to the other end of the hipster food spectrum, the food trucks….

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I recently checked out the food truck hub on Lonsdale Street in Braddon called The Hamlet. It’s a cool concept (though as the weather gets cooler, tempting people outdoors might be a challenge–I think it is only going to be a temporary set up though before the block gets redeveloped for apartments, though it also doesn’t look tooooo temporary, so might be around for a while). All the food that our group tried was enjoyed — I had a hotdog from Broddog (the Broddog itself, though there are heaps of other options), which was very tasty though not a cheap snack (It made me think, I don’t think I have actually eaten a hot dog since I was living in the US nearly five years ago!), and an old school milkshake from April’s Caravan, which was also yum (my god though… $7-$9 for a milkshake, that right there is Canberra hipster pricing). There’s also a pizza shop in there, a place doing spit roast rolls, a Peruvian street food place, an Indian street food place, a place selling pies, a place selling coffee. And you can buy some beers at the bottlo across the road and bring them across to enjoy with your meal, which is great. So it’s a good place for very casual dining with friends. It also gives that food festival vibe the whole year around, which Canberrans love, though there are a lot of ‘meat on bread’ type foods so it would be good to see more of a mix.

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Some other Bali photos

Just some miscellaneous Bali instagrams to round off my set of Bali posts. I flew out the day before Nyepi, as I’ve stayed in Bali for Nyepi in the past, so I didn’t see the ogoh-ogoh parades and needed to get back to Australia to try to rest for a couple of days before going back to work, but we did see some of the preparations, including a street party outside a local temple one night.

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Beautiful kebaya

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And there’s also a couple of very short videos of the dancing and gamelan.

 

 

And now some more miscellaneous Bali photos:

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And that’s it from my post-holiday Bali blogging. I’m wishing and hoping that I can go on a trip overseas again soon! I’m still sad that backpacking though India/Nepal seems out of the question for a while now, which was what I had planned for this year, but maybe I can manage somewhere easier like Japan once I am more recovered (fingers crossed) and less broke (fingers crossed).

Refreshment from the heat. Acai and chia is everywhere here, natch.

Some other places that we ate

So as I have mentioned, I didn’t do anything on my holiday in Bali except make sure that the places we went to for breakfast, lunch and dinner were excellent. That goal was achieved.

At the hotel we stayed at in Sanur, the traditional ‘mid range hotel included breakfast’ was on offer. Sweet white bread, a sad looking omelette, some super salty mie goreng and some fried bananas. That was the only culinary lowlight of the trip.

So here’s the other places we visited that were great in Bali (Seminyak, Ubud, Sanur).

1. Revolver Espresso, Seminyak

Perfect place to curl up in a corner with a coffee and a book (I was reading Indonesia Etc, I wrote a quick review over here. I also read Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, another excellent book from one of my favourite authors) or to catch up on emails with the free WiFi. Revolver bills itself as a coffee specialist, and the coffee was really good. I also got breakfast here twice and it was affordable and yum (I had the ‘Bang Bang’ fruit, yoghurt and granola one day and the ‘AK 47′ eggs with salsa on sourdough another day). The small space fills up pretty quickly around ‘people on holiday breakfast time’ i.e. 10-11am, so I’d recommend getting here a bit earlier, which is what I did. They also have another small shop around the Petitinget/Batu Belig area.

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2. Petitenget, Seminyak

I’ve been here before, and it is still great for a high quality, good value, relaxed European lunch.

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3. Seniman Coffee Studio, Ubud

We came here for a quick coffee and breakfast after arriving in Ubud. Our driver for the day was challenging to say the least (he disappeared halfway through the day as we went for a walk around the block and ‘didn’t tell him’ and my sister and I were actually relieved, even though it put us out of pocket! He also made romantic advances on me, and when they were rebuffed, decided to try them out on sister… super awkward and tiring, and disingenuous, when I wasn’t feeling energetic anyway. I had forgot that annoying feeling of someone trying to hit on you so clearly for visa/economic reasons, it’s just icky). So our Ubud day was somewhat tainted by that. I was just too tired to put up with the BS. Anyway, he basically refused to take me to this coffee shop, alleging that it was owned by foreigners and I should go to the Kopi Luwak tourist trap that he would clearly get a kickback from for taking us to. (He also told my sister she shouldn’t go to class at the Yoga Barn for the same reason and that he could teach her instead…). So I had to fight with him to come here.

To be honest, after the battle royale with the driver I was in a pretty bad mood. It was good though, the coffee was very nice, and like Anomoli they showcase Indonesian beans. The way they presented the coffees on boards with a glass of water and a little rice cake was a nice twist. (My coffee was iced, that’s why it was in a jar — hot coffees were in cups)

We ended up in a kind of overflow space downstairs that wasn’t very atmospheric though, as this place is really popular, and the seating down there wasn’t comfortable. The main area looked much nicer. It’s very close to the heart of Ubud and the market etc, so it is little wonder it has many fans. They also run a cold brew bar in the afternoons and evenings.

The cafe’s motto made me laugh though: ‘imagine you know what you are doing’. Hmm yes I can only imagine that. It suited my current malaise.

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4. Anomoli Ubud

Since I was pretty tired on our Ubud day trip, I didn’t walk far before needing to sit down again, so I stopped in at Anomoli. A reliable favourite for coffee fans in Indonesia, this was my first time to their Ubud outlet. It’s conveniently located, a big space, and the drinks are reliably good. They also sell their beans and other coffee paraphernalia, continuing the very good cause of promoting Indonesia’s coffee culture and the diverse varieties available from across the archipelago. I was a bit surprised that the Ubud store had more of a Starbucks set up rather than table service, but maybe I’m remembering the Seminyak and Jakarta set ups wrong. Definitely far better quality than Starbucks!

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5. Ibu Oka’s

I’ve been here multiple times before, but Britt was yet to have traditional babi guling, so off we went. It was very tasty as usual, though I was a bit disappointed that they had renovated their store near Ubud Palace and it no longer had the lesehan (sitting on the floor) style tables and the kind of jumbled and random outdoor seating it used to have! It was all a bit too bland now for my liking, I preferred the old chaos that made it feel more like a proper warung. But it seems they have expanded and have more seating out the back now. Still a reliable babi guling option though.

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6. Taco beach, Seminyak 

Another option I have had before, that we found ourselves near just before Britt had to fly back to JKT.  The babi guling tacos are still tasty, though I have to say Motel Mexicola was definitely more impressive (but pricier too).

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 7. Warung Kolega, Seminyak

This was the warung lunch I had been dreaming of. I actually made the ill-advised decision (considering my current health problems) to trek 1km here in the midday heat carrying all my luggage after checking out but before going to the airport. I think it probably contributed to my post-holiday fatigue crash. But I am pretty sure it was worth it? I wanted to eat everything they had in the display case. Definitely recommend for those looking for a warung in the Seminyak area (one of my other favourites is Warung Melati, which is closer to Legian).

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8. Warung Aneka Rasa, Seminyak

This warung is conveniently located amid the fancy restaurants and boutiques of Jl Laksmana in Seminyak, but is super cheap so great if you have been spending too much cash. By late dinner time, when I managed to stumble down there to eat, there weren’t a huge amount of choices, so perhaps don’t leave it too late in the day, but it was still a good cheap option in a very convenient location.

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9. Grocer and Grind Sanur

I’ve been to Grocer and Grind in Seminyak before, a few years ago, and I didn’t really rate it. But we had a great breakfast at Grocer and Grind in Sanur, the perfect breakfast for me to recover after my friend’s wedding. It’s a great space as well.

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10. Manik Organik Sanur

Bali’s preoccupation with organic restaurants can only be a good thing. There was no shortage of chia seeds here (though we did overhear an Australian woman pronounce it as chaiiii seeds — chai is not quite the same). We got a great, clean and healthy veggie nasi campur here and some nice smoothies and juices. It was a nice space as well.

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(fierce Instagramming was a hallmark of the trip…)

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11. Best meal of the trip – Merah Putih restaurant, Seminyak

We sort of ended up here by accident. It’s quite high-end, and you should usually book, but they found some space for us. I didn’t take any photos, but check out their website. Wow. It’s an amazing building, with stunning high ceilings. But the food was even better. It offers Indonesian fine dining, adding contemporary twists to local classics and showcasing a cuisine that I have always argued has been totally underrated and underappreciated. It’s great to see it given some reverence, as well as an injection of creativity. All the food we ordered was fantastic. The duck rendang was great, as was the perkedel kepiting, Aceh cured Yellowfin tuna and tahu isi terong. The drinks were also very good, there was a sound cocktail list and also refreshing non-alcoholic drinks like infused iced teas. If you come here, you definitely need to have dessert. Britt had the ‘madu’, a cornetto icecream made with Borneo honey with chocolate, coffee and ginger, and I had the ‘kelapa’, which was ‘es teler’ fried ice cream in coconut milk with calamansi and melon. Both of the desserts were so good! Definitely a great place for a fancy dinner.

 

OK, that’s it. I think I have basically posted about every place we ate now!

 

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Why you should consider airbnb for Bali

Finding accommodation in Bali… well, there’s no shortage. It’s actually almost overwhleming. After trawling through Agoda to find accommodation in Sanur near the wedding I was attending, I was already over it. How to know which pool lives up to the photos, which ‘walking distance to attractions’ claim is most accurate? I finally found a place that was close to the beach and the wedding, was reasonably priced and had a nice looking pool and booked it.

Then I started looking in Seminyak. So. many. places. I didn’t want to stay in a big hotel, but wanted to be close to the action in Seminyak because my energy levels were low. A pool was non-negotiable. But most villas were out of our price range. And some of the bigger resort-type mid-range hotels in Seminyak looked a bit concerning to me (in that I was worried about what the other guests might be like…).

I finally looked on airbnb, out of curiosity. I’m so glad I did! We ended up staying here, and it was great. My sister and I each got our own bedroom and bathroom. It was a short walk or taxi to the main areas of Seminyak. And we got our own private pool in a beautiful garden. There was an open-air living area with a full kitchen. The one downside was a bit of traffic noise during the day, and some nearby construction, but the noise wasn’t a problem at night. We loved it. And the separate rooms meant that we could also do our own thing after sharing a room at the other hotel for the first few days (and I could nap as much as I liked). It felt like a home for the four days we were there, which was a lovely decadent feeling.

So even though Bali is flush with accommodation options, airbnb is definitely another option worth considering.

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Sisterfields

Next on the list of great places to eat in Seminyak — Sisterfields. We had lunch here and some coffee. The brunch menu looked great, as did the salads on display. I loved the decor and wanted to steal/find out the supplier of their chairs for whenever I am rich and can curate some sort of beautifully designed home. My lunch was amazing — the Thai glazed 18 hour pork belly with salad. My sister’s lamb mezze platter was also fabulous. And the coffee was very tasty. Definitely recommend! I wanted to come back here again on my last day but they were closed ahead of Nyepi. Next time. It was buzzing when we were there, you might need to wait for a table during busy times.

 

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Motel Mexicola

One of the newer entrants to the Seminyak nightlife and dining scene, Motel Mexicola is very popular and it’s easy to see why. Firstly, it’s very cool, down to the finest details, with bombastic decor. It was clearly some sort of trashy old nightclub or hotel restaurant that they have turned into a handpainted, muralled Mexico-inspired colour explosion. My cameraphone photos at night were pretty poor and didn’t show it well, but there’s some better photos on other blogs herehere, here. This place is so vibrant, splashed with deliberate hipster quirk and nighttime neon. I really loved the design and decor, but there were some features that also made me roll my eyes a bit as well. For example, on the night we went, there was a shirtless man inside a glass display cabinet in the middle of the restaurant making a surfboard by hand. Seriously. When I finally realised what was going on with that, I wanted to go ‘oh, that’s cool’ but found myself thinking ‘oh, hipsters, too much’. Also it looked like a hot, crowded and uncomfortable environment in which to practice his craft, the nanna in me was concerned about the occupational health and safety issues…

The other people there weren’t 29-year-old nannas. The music was fun and upbeat Latin American–and by the time it was my bedtime (…around 9.30pm) there were already some people having a dance. We were seated at the bar and got great service. I wasn’t drinking (just got a giant iced coconut to sip away at, for hydration and the miracle health benefits of coconut water, right?), but my sister tried some other drinks and they were all very nice. Unusually for bar seats, we weren’t perched on stools, but instead had these fabulous wrought-iron armchairs to sit in, which was great (I have noted that bar stool seating depletes my energy much faster than regular chairs!).

If you aren’t drawn by hipster quirk, Instagram opportunities, dancing and booze, then the real highlight was the food! Every dish we ordered was delicious, we especially loved the empanadas. There’s a great mix of snacky-type food and larger meals, so it works for those wanting a full dinner or just bar nibbles. A great range of tacos too.

All in all, if you are in Seminyak and in need of a bit of a fiesta or a feed, then Motel Mexicola is a good place to check in. Just be prepared for noise, colour, caged artisans and hipsters.

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My latest batik sarong acquisition. Just a printed one, but liked the colours.

Pacing and post-holiday punishment

I spoke too soon after getting through my holiday without a fatigue crash–it just came with a delay. I went to work on Monday just fine, but then on Monday night things started to go downhill. I was debilitated for several days. Really horrible. On the worst day, I couldn’t even sit up in bed without feeling like I was going to collapse, couldn’t look at a screen and any noise made the dizziness worse. Even rolling over in bed was an effort, but I had to because of all the weird nerve sensations, pains and numbness that comes on when I’m having a fatigue crash/bad day. Standing was even worse, I only did it to get food and water and to pee. It’s so frustrating–when I came back I was feeling so happy that I could manage to travel, even in a lazy way, and I was feeling clearheaded and mentally refreshed, but then bam! The punishment. It’s hard to hold on to my good holiday vibes after that. And it seems like the fatigue punishes me most severely for doing things I enjoy or most want to do.

I’m now seeing an exercise physiologist to work on one of the only available forms of treatment for this mess — pacing. Pacing is basically doing barely anything so you don’t overexert yourself and have a crash. It’s tedious and frankly it is laughable that it is considered a ‘treatment’–it’s like telling someone with asthma not to climb stairs or jog instead of actually treating their condition. Right now, I’m not supposed to walk more than 2500 steps a day–which is nothing. It’s 3.30pm and I’ve already gone over that, and all I’ve done all day was put out the garbage (which I hadn’t done for days thanks to my massive crash, so gross), go to the loo a couple of times and grab a couple of essentials from Woolworths. Am I supposed to teleport myself to the kitchen to get dinner now? How am I supposed to clean my flat? Do my laundry? The theory goes that on a better day I’m only supposed to do what I can manage on a crap day (i.e. basically nothing) in order to try to reduce the risk of triggering a crash. Frankly, all days seem like bad days if I can’t live my life and do what I want. But it seems I have no choice in this and no other real treatment options.

I’m just so frustrated and disappointed right now, and still feeling pretty crappy post-crash. Will try to write some more posts up about Bali as an antidote. I feel a bit weird that my blog that used to just be travelogue-type stuff is now so much about my health, but writing when I can helps. And it doesn’t use my step count.

(random photo at top of post is my latest batik sarong procurement–it’s just printed, but I liked the colours)

Sea Circus, Seminyak

Sea Circus is just one of the adorable cafe/restaurants that has popped up in Seminyak in recent years. A burst of bright colour capturing the fun of a seaside holiday, a playful and fresh menu, and good coffee. Indonesia does these cafes so well and so much more affordably than here in Oz. I got back to the office today and one of my colleagues who followed my Instagram on this trip remarked on how hipster Bali looked from my photos… Indonesia truly is a strong competitor on the hipster cafe front, particularly in the cutesy hipster subcategory. (also, as I mentioned earlier, I basically did nothing on this holiday except read in hipster cafes and read next to swimming pools ).

We went to Sea Circus for breakfast. I had a quinoa and chia coconut porridge with grilled banana and pistachios. My sister had the muesli topped with raspberries and yummy honey and basil yoghurt.

A nice little touch was the dose of wisdom doled out with each coffee. A sweet way to start the day, no sugar required.

Here’s some pics.

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Potatohead #latergram

Potatohead Bali

No lounging-around-in-Seminyak trip would be complete without sunset drinks at Potatohead Beach Club. I have to admit, this was my first time there! Last time I went to Bali, we opted for KuDeTa for our sunset drinking requirements, and Potatohead’s Bali outfit wasn’t around the time before that (they’ve been in Jakarta for longer, and I remember knocking back some fab cocktails at their Pacific Place restaurant in my last week in Jakarta in 2010).

It was pretty fabulous. My sister and I had a couple of cocktails each and some appetizers, then hit the gorgeous infinity pool to lap up the sunset over the sea. My earl grey-based cocktail, which was ice cold but came in a steaming teapot (dry ice creativity) was definitely the winning drink of the night, but there weren’t any disappointments on the plate, in the glass, or in the pool. And the sunset delivered as well.

Tons of photos follow. (After two cocktails I felt like it was OK to take my iPhone into the pool since everyone else was! Thankfully there were no disasters!)

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#sanur #bali

Back from Bali

Just got back from spending a week in Bali. It was nice. Because I have been to Bali so many times before, I actually couldn’t be bothered to do anything vaguely cultural or adventurous, so I just spent the whole week eating delicious food, drinking coffees and green juices, lounging around by swimming pools, reading, napping, getting massages and other unnecessary beauty treatments like cream baths and mani/pedis, walking around a bit to shops and to the beach when I could stand the heat… and that’s about it. Really. That’s pretty much all I did. My little sister came over from Jakarta, where she is living a very suburban existence studying out in Depok, very different to my expat life in central Jakarta (i.e. she lives in an all-female kost that has a 10pm curfew and no hot water), and she lapped up a week of hot showers, cocktails and all the ‘Australianess’ that pervades Bali (i.e. yoga classes, hip boutiques and yuppie cafes–obviously we steered clear of the Australianess that can be found in Kuta/Legian), so it was also nice to hang out with her. Once she went back to Jakarta though I lapped up all the warung food that I desperately miss but that she was not so interested in!

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(Many Indonesians were confused about the age gap between us, because they could tell we are related but weren’t sure how. Some thought I was my sister’s mother, which made me feel pretty old! I tried not to take it to heart, since when I first moved to Indonesia some people would ask me if I was in high school and other people would ask me how many children I had… one man asked me once whether I was 30 or 40… I was 23!)

The one big thing that I did do besides lounge around was attend the wedding of my friends Ange and Martin. It was a beautiful day, and a real joy to attend. They are such a lovely couple, and Ange has been such a good friend over the years, always a source of guru-like wisdom during my time in Jakarta, always at the ready for a cocktail and a robust conversation, never one to shy away from an argument. She’s someone whose tenacity to succeed as a journalist, to chase important stories and to really understand Indonesia I have always admired. I not only got the joy of seeing Ange and Martin tie the knot (at the gorgeous Villa Batujimbar in Sanur, which has hosted an array of celebrities over the years), it was also an opportunity to catch up with some old friends from Jakarta, who are all doing very interesting things. So that was a rather special day.

These two!

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My fatigue held up OK, largely thanks to a schedule of naps and ‘naps under the guise of doing something else’ (i.e. massage naps, floating in pool naps). I had to drink a lot of pocari sweat and coconut water to avoid feeling too dizzy and I definitely couldn’t stay out in the heat for long, but that was fine. The flights were pretty tiring, especially the overnight flight back I had with a long stopover in Melbourne–still recovering from that one two days later, my body did not appreciate sleeping on the airport floor (when I was backpacking in Europe I used to book flights so I could sleep at the airport and save money on accommodation! Not so anymore!). But I wore compression tights and made efforts to stay really hydrated during the flights, which I think helped reduce my problems like leg pain and the orthostatic intolerance. I had major jelly legs when I got off the planes, but it was OK after a bit and thankfully I got through immigration very quickly on both ends of the flight. It is a bit of a relief to know that I can fly without major problems–I was kind of anxious about how the flights would go, but it was better than I expected, so phew!

So it was a nice holiday. I think it gave me some things that I really needed after a rocky few months. While I don’t perhaps feel physically refreshed by it, it was a good chance to clear my head. And I think things are slowly improving with my sickness thankfully, I definitely don’t feel as rotten as I did earlier this year, and am having fewer episodes of absolutely crushing fatigue, so hopefully the next trip I can take overseas will be a bit less lazy and a bit more adventurous!