There are so many things I love about Bali. The warm air, the broad smiles of everyone you meet, the luxurious accommodation, the massages and spa treatments and pedicures... and the delicious little culinary surprises that meet you at every turn.
Right from the start of the day - a two-course breakfast extravaganza at our villa - you are off and eating. I visited all my favourite spots and shared them with my friends, from La Lucciola (an Italian restaurant on the beach with sarong-clad waiters) to char-grilled seafood eaten with our feet ankle-deep in the sand on Jimbaran Bay. Oh, and the champagne bar that sits smack-bang in the middle of my favourite shopping strip, Jalan Laksmana - oh, how convenient for a mid-shopping trip rest.
But there were a few surprises and discoveries on this trip too. For instance, this cute little store in Ubud which stocked locally-produced flavoured sea salts and tropical jams... their milk caramel jam was incredible and a pot has made its way home with me. The store was called Kou Cuisine and I was rather gutted that they don't take overseas orders.
Then there was the bike ride where we stopped for a spot of coffee tasting...including kopi luwak - coffee. Kopi luwak - possibly Indonesia's most famous coffee export - is coffee which has previously been digested by a civet, although washed (we were assured) before it's brewed. It did actually taste significantly smoother than the other coffee we tasted. And we got to meet a civet. He was snoozing, but apparently that's quite normal. I felt rather sorry for it, being prodded by tourists eager for a photo. But this little fellow is responsible for an incredibly expensive coffee, so all credit where credit is due. Plus he's pretty cute.
Finally, one of my favourite new discoveries was the tiny gelato store on Monkey Forest Road where they served up wonderfully creative and creamy ice cream made on the premises. This photo shows the spicy speculaas flavoured ice cream (speculaas are a crispy Dutch gingerbread), but the hands-down winner of a flavour was pumpkin and hazelnut. Oh, my, GOD - I am definitely going to try to recreate that one. Watch this space!