Monday, February 04, 2008

Bali trip day 1

Been back home for 3 days. Busy working with follow-up patients and some paper works. And it's the end-beginning of the month; it's time to analyze the whole month's works.

My wife, Louise, and I enjoyed the Bali, Indonesia trip very much in many ways: It's well-paced and we had time to relax and did something we've never done before. The air ticket package had the hotel covered and all that we needed to do was to take our time to check out places of interest.

Day 1:

On the first day we landed at Denpasar (Bali International Airport) at noon time and took a cab to head to Novotel Tanjung Benoa. The resort is great with nice landscaping and as I should know right now it's Balinese architecture. In fact, more I'd like to learn about the arts and philosophy of the architecture. But for now let's talk about the trip. We checked in and were greeted by friendly customer service and the Guava drinks were refreshing. Should have asked for second glass! Louise and I sheepishly asked for the availability of SEA-VIEW room and were told yes there are 8 bungalows on the beach side and only two have sea views. Eventually our hotel room is located across the street but not on the beach side! Ala… just a momentary upset as we knew we were on budgetary trip. The good thing is there are pools both across the street and on the beach side. So it's after all a 4-star hotel resort. After a light unpacking at the hotel room we were both a little hungry and decided to check the place out for some restaurants. Initial checking left us the impression that the place is quite remote from main town and therefore we went to the hotel beach club for lunch.

And this was where the food poisoning issue took place! We ordered fish and chips (Louise and I have been half vegetarians for a year), mixed fruit juice and pineapple juice. Thinking about it, we should have known it coming as Louise commented the fish (or the combination with pineapple juice) tasted funny and tingling. I took one piece of fish and realized it wasn't very fresh but was ok. 15 minutes into it Louise started to have itchy rashes on her neck, upper arms and feeling very hot. While we were having lunch, we bumped into a Malaysian couple who were on honeymoon. They saw us having dinner and we invited them to sit down for a chat. While we enjoyed exchange remarks on this beautiful island Louise was getting more and more uneasy. And she even felt facial numbness. All those symptoms told me it's more than allergic reaction; it can be a combination of food poisoning and allergic reaction.

It was only later that we recalled seafood (especially shrimps) contains high amount of arsenic which is believed to harmless for most conditions. When a large amount of vitamin C (as in some fruit juices) is taken together with seafood, however, this arsenic can prove to be very poisonous and fatal, the mechanism of which is still not very much known.

Quickly we went back to the hotel room and put a cold pack on her forehead. Nausea started to come in and I was thinking it's better to vomit all those food in the stomach than have them decompose to more toxic reaction. A few induced vomiting caused violent vomiting. It was harsh and it had to be done. After the stomach was empty I handed her half glass of warm water. The idea is to clear the digestion tract and dilute the toxins. I also applied acupressure technique on acupuncture points Hegu, Quchi to reduce the heat and stomach toxins. Half and hour later, with all the combined techniques she got better. With facial numbness and body temperature subsiding, we knew the situation was under control and were much relieved.

We decided to just rest for the evening.

Then again human beings can't be tamed easily. 3 hours later when the temperature is cool, rashes gone and numbness disappeared, she wanted to go out and explore. Well, knowing she's much better, I was eager to walk around the neighborhood too. We decided we wanted to walk south to the Nusa Dua direction. Along the way there are plenty of restaurants and small travel agencies. And to my surprise, Polo Ralph Laurent seems to be everywhere and so much cheaper (Then later we also saw plenty of just "Polo", so there are two Polos?) than it is in Malaysia. Souvenirs shops are everywhere too and the arts of bargaining came in readily. Ha. Louise and I are not so much shoppers (For sure I'm not) but we were ready to get something simple for a few friends and colleagues.

Before that was the necessity to take dinner. With the shadow of food poisoning Louise wanted to eat porridge to replenish fluid in stomach. Porridge? Steamed white rice is everywhere but not porridge. We walked further to the south and to our pleasant surprise there was indeed a Chinese restaurant! And it's pretty exclusive too! Being half vegetarians and in the need of porridge it came handy with the Chinese lady boss who can speak Mandarin pretty well. She patiently listened to our need of fluid and vegetarian menu and recommended exactly what we needed. While waiting for the dinner, we came to understand she was originally from East Jawa and just moved to Bali not long ago. She doesn't write the Chinese much but communication in Mandarin is splendid. She also briefly told us when President Suharto was around, things were hard for the Chinese culture to be kept. And guess what, Suharto passed away during noon time on the first day we landed on Indonesia. The man who was there for 32 years, probably the longest ever premier of anywhere in the world, was gone and dead…

I only got to know in the evening when we got back to hotel room and switched on the TV for some local news (My habit or checking out local newspapers, news, magazines). And then Berry, my Indonesian friend who lives in Jakarta, smsed me about the news later. My question as that time was: "How is he going to be remembered in the history of Indonesia and Asia?" Probably I'd compile a story on this later. It helps too in understanding Indonesian history for the past three decades.

By the way, food at this Chopstick Restaurant (at Club Bali Mirage, Jalan Pramata 72, Tanjung Benoa, Nusa Dua, Bali) was very authentic indeed. The taste and the way the food are prepared and cooked were just so typical of Chinese style. I say this because many Chinese restaurants in the USA and Europe have their foods heavily modified to suit local needs and tongue of favours. While it's understandable to do so to blend in, the authentic taste of the food is no longer Chinese.

When we are hungry there is not much we can and want to do in life. Now that Louise and I are full and spirit rising high, we went back from the way we came to book 2 daily tours for the next day. (Pic: Garuda, Half-man-half-eagle)

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