48 hours in Bali

I guess I’ve become a born-again Baliphile. After more than a half decade of not visiting this idyllic Indonesian island, I’ve been there three times this year and am already planning a fourth trip. S’s and my wedding anniversary is next weekend. But because we’re going to be tied up with a whole lot of work, we decided to celebrate early. I wanted to bring her somewhere not too far away; after all, if you only have the weekend, then the least amount of time spent in a plane the better. My first idea was to bring her to Langkawi. Business class tickets on Silkair are cheap and I thought she’d enjoy eating the weekend away at Bon Ton, one of my favourite places in the region. Unfortunately, the resort was full (of course, bad husband that I am, I only started planning the trip earlier in the same week we wanted to travel). Plan B was Bali. And fortunately, one of my two fave places there, The Gangsa, a gorgeous, secret retreat in sleepy Sanur, had space.

We flew in late Friday night. The resort is just a quick 25 minute drive from the airport. Off a narrow lane in Sanur, The Gangsa is made up of 11 private pool villas, an excellent Balinese restaurant called Gong, and a small spa. Compared to some of the more well-known and trendier villa resorts on the island, The Gangsa is fantastic value for money. The villas are large and well-appointed, with big outdoor bales, good sized pools and high walls ensuring total privacy (perfect for skinny-dipping with one’s spouse). The service here is also top-notch, which makes it a pleasure to visit.

Waking up late on a weekend is always nice. Waking up late, jumping into one’s large, private pool, and having an incredibly delicious breakfast served to you is paradise. And that’s just how we started our Saturday, with a wonderful brekkie of fresh juice, warm croissants, and a mouth-watering bowl of nasi bubur (chicken porridge) for me and an awesome plate of mee goreng (fried noodles) for S. After breakfast, we lazed around for a bit, enjoying the villa’s open-air pavillion. Then it was off to Seminyak. We grabbed a very light lunch at the small and charming al fresco cafe around the back of the Bali Deli. We spent the afternoon exploring the shops in Seminyak, checking out some cool furniture and accessories stores as well as the occasionally well-stocked fashion boutique. One particularly cool place that I’d urge anyone visiting Bali to check out is the Biasa Art Space, a very cool gallery, run by a local fashion brand, committed to showcasing exciting contemporary Indonesian art. We caught a really cool exhibition called Fetish, curated by Erin Supriyanto. That night, we dined at Kafe Warisan, an oldie but always goodie. I had a gorgeous seven-hour-cooked lamb mechoui served with Oriental couscous. I was also especially pleased with our table, perched at the end of the restaurant, overlooking the rice paddies.

Sunday, we rose a little earlier. I had the same breakfast but S ordered an avocado shake with some nasi goreng (fried rice). Once again, we chilled out for a while in our bale before venturing forth, this time to Ubud, where we had what must be one of the booziest lunches of our lives. I’ve written before about how good Naughty Nuri’s is. Let me reiterate. Nuri’s serves the best and strongest martini in Southeast Asia (and, we discovered, some bloody good and dangerously lethal margaritas as well). Over a couple of fuzzy hours, we threw back three vodka martinis, two margaritas and a diet Coke. Plus two orders of ribs, a plate of mee goreng and a side of fries. It was a great meal, especially because of the cool company: a Korean couple who shared our table and Nuri’s’ co-owner Brian, who sat with us for almost an hour. Post-lunch, we tipsily hit a few shops in Ubud, picking up a present for some friends and a small bauble from one of my favourite Bali-based artisans, Jean-Francois Fichot. Smartly, we had booked two-hour massages for ourselves back at The Gangsa that evening. While the spa is small, housed in a three bedroom villa, the therapists were fantastic and sadly, our 120 minutes of bliss flew by all too quickly.

We returned to our villa around 715pm and were totally blown away. On Saturday, we had pre-ordered a roast suckling pig (babi guleng) and an order of bebek betutu (a duck roasted in banana leaf and local spices). The chipper young woman we met with suggested dining via candlelight in our villa. Of course, we agreed. While we expected a few tealights around our table, we didn’t expect every possible inch of our villa’s grounds, including the pool, to be covered in candles. And yeah, sure, maybe the whole candlelight thing is a tad cliched, but it sure is pretty. Our meal was equally beautiful. We had a lovely, spicy, chicken starter, followed by two different soups, one chicken and one pork rib. This was followed by a light pineapple sorbet, after which the main courses came out. The pork and the duck were awesome. The pork’s skin was deliciously crispy. The meat was soft and juicy and eaten with the spices, lovely and savory. The duck was even better. The meat was full of flavour and very tender. In all, it was a gorgeous, delicious and very nice way to celebrate our anniversary.

I can’t think of a better place to spend a romantic weekend in Bali than The Gangsa. The villas are large, luxurious and romantic. It is close enough to Seminyak or Ubud to make quick shopping or dining trips, but discretely hidden away in Bali’s quietest district, Sanur. The staff are all very attentive. The spa offers great treatments. And the Balinese food is fantastic. Now, if only every weekend were like this!

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his two kids!


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  1. Franco 4 September 2007

    Thanks, Chubby Hubby. Planning my own wedding anniversary celebration. Needed the inspiration. Your trip to Bali sounded amazing.

  2. Tom Bastek 4 September 2007

    WOW! The candle thing IS AMAZING! My wife would have loved it! Bali, here we come!

    Hilton Head Popcorn Co.

  3. hagar 4 September 2007

    That sounds like the perfect weekend getaway.
    Will definitely try that for our next wedding anniversary!

  4. Esther 4 September 2007

    The candle-lit villa experience looks really very amazing!

  5. vanessa frida 4 September 2007

    The villa looks gorgeous!

    Have you been to Dirty Duck in Ubud…I must say that the food there is to die for…cheap too!! The ambience is great too πŸ™‚

  6. Colin 4 September 2007

    i reallly don’t know what to say. what an awesome place. haha.. you sure make alot of people green with envy with your travels! but i have to say i really love your blog and what you try to share with your readers. keep up the brilliant work!

  7. Lyn 5 September 2007

    Hi, I’m new to your blog and I must say, I’m hooked! Have you tried Friends@Jelita? It looks good on the website!

  8. JL 5 September 2007

    Chubby Hubby & missus, happy wed anniversary & may you have many more years to celebrate!! Thanks for the Ratatouille tix…you guys should intro yourselves before the start of the movie !! πŸ™‚ Anyway, it was an enjoyable day.

  9. Linda 5 September 2007

    Hi, the villa looks like exactly what I’m looking for. Somewhere to relax and get away, and they even offer to do family potraits – perfect!

    I must admit, bali never crossed my mind even though it seems a tradition that all aussies go.

    Question though, did you book directly from the website or another site / agent who can get you a good deal?

  10. Chubby Hubby 5 September 2007

    Linda, I booked directly. I have to admit that I got a great (industry) rate because of my work in the hospitality and travel industry.

  11. Rasa Malaysia 6 September 2007

    Wow, the rate is very good considering how nice the place seems to be. Thanks for the post and information…and you get great industry rate, too? Now can I go about and telling people that I am in the hospitality and travel industry and get lower rates? πŸ˜›

  12. Jeanne 6 September 2007

    Oh, I’m wildly jealous! THat sounds absolutely fantastic. Everybody I know that’s been to Bali tells me that it’s an astonishing place – including you! The tealight photo is beautiful – the kind of beach party I always dreamed of having πŸ™‚

  13. gvyong 8 September 2007

    Our next trip to Bali will be in a Villa – the Gangsa is really great value! Tks 4 the review. There is so much to do in Bali..we spent 7 days there and still didn’t see it all!

  14. jelantik 8 September 2007

    Those photos are stunning and mouth-watering too. Combine with your writing, its just perfect. What about dance performance in Ubud? Do you have a chance to see one?

  15. Yuli Maria 8 September 2007

    Been there 3 times this year too! ^ ^ Have you trid Babi Guling (Suckling Pig)Ibu Oka in Ubud? That the best in town. Also breakfast at Ku De Ta or The Legian Hotel? You must the best pork knuckle at Arena, Sanur. Oya, massage in Jari-menari will make you and your wife addicted to eat and rejuvenated again. I guarantee 100%!! Don’t forget to go to Hu’u Bar and try their Lychee or Choco Martine. Have to go dinner to Bvlgari too! Best Hotel in Bali! Hmmmm ^ ^

  16. Bea at La Tartine Gourmande 9 September 2007

    If only it were closer! Looks a great place to stay

  17. tiffany 12 September 2007

    hi! can i know how to get the industry rate please? i’m in the airline/aviation industry. πŸ™‚ thanks!

  18. win 30 September 2007

    nice shots, very detail journey explanation.

  19. michelle 31 December 2007

    I lived in Bali for abt 2 yrs and would recommend one of the best freshest Japanese restaurant in bali.. TAKE II at legian ( near kuta galleria shopping mall), must try is the marlin sashimi w ponzu sauce, the grilled beef tongue and my fave spider roll ( soft shell crab w eel wrapped as sushi!)
    If you like ambience and reasonably priced brunch, go try La Lucciola from 8am -2pm.. pls check!
    last but not least, Spice in Conrad bali, a fusion of middle eastern and international cuisine, a must try is their waygu short ribs with pistachio cous cous… i have to go back!

  20. Massage Marketing 19 July 2009

    WOW! That sounds wonderful! Looks like you had a wonderful time there. Will keep Bali in my list too.

  21. ashlyn 29 July 2009

    hihi chubby hubby πŸ™‚ … i was lookin for honeymoon resorts in bali and came across ur post πŸ™‚ … gangsa looks really very nice πŸ™‚ … read that u’ve been to bali very frequently … are there any other resorts or hotels tat u’ll recommend for honeymoon? πŸ™‚ thanks~

  22. Gourmet Traveller 12 August 2010

    Now that we’ve moved to Bali, I’ve already been to a few places you’ve mentioned – Naughty Nuri’s and Metis (the new Kafe Warisan), Bali Deli and Biasa. Need to check out The Gangsa though especially since it’s so close to where we live in Sanur.

  23. sue 30 October 2012

    may I know how you travelled from the villa to Ubud and Seminyak? we’re staying at Gangsa next month and are planning our activities. your piece is very helpful, thanks!

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