Over the Top on Christmas Night

After five years in Bali, my blood has thinned to the consistency of water. I can no longer tolerate winters in Minnesota, not even for the holidays. Since Indonesia is largely Muslim, and the Balinese are Hindu, Christmas here is a non-event. I didn’t realize how refreshing that would be!

Many visitors from the West assume they will be able to eat their traditional ham, or turkey and stuffing, that carols will boom from every corner day and night, businesses will close, and the typical trees, stars, angels, and tinsel will manifest everywhere.

Not so, at least not yet.

I say that because the Balinese are ingenious copiers. If I give my tailor a dress and a length of fabric, he’ll make one identical to it and hand me the original intact when I come to pick up my order. And if a Christmas tree will bring people into a restaurant, the proprietor will make a Christmas tree! Since I moved here, a little more Christmas shows up every year. But I still have to hunt for turkey with stuffing!

This year a group of friends decided to splash out for Christmas Day. We’d get a driver for the 1 – 1/2 hour trip to Seiminyak, stop at the W Hotel for sunset cocktails on the beach, do a White Elephant gift exchange there, then continue a few blocks to Biku for a traditional Christmas dinner.

Pictures are so much better than words! Come along with me and celebrate Christmas Bali style!

The entrance to the W Hotel is flanked by bamboo which has been bent to form a feathery green arch overhead. I didn’t photograph that, but you can imagine! As we explored we passed pools upon pools overlooking the Indian Ocean.

After touring the grounds, we came to rest in the Ice Bar, completely empty and perfect for us! The drink menu required intense study. A Ginger Pepper Sour topped with key lime fizz and dried dates: where would I ever find something like that again? I ordered it, and with my first sip knew that it didn’t matter. Imagine drinking red bell pepper juice with a hint of ginger and a splash of lime. The dates saved me.

When my drink had been sampled or sniffed by all, we dove into the White Elephant exchange with gusto! What a hoot! Remember, the idea is to wrap an object that you no longer want and get rid of it cleverly disguised as a present. But some of the gifts might appeal to one more than another so after opening them, there’s the opportunity to steal the one you want. If you’re lucky, someone won’t decide they need it more than you do and steal it back!

It was unanimous that a curly gray hairpiece and the bald eagle ash tray were the most disgusting. The exchange was everything it was designed to be, hilarious! And then the sunset. If you’ve never seen the sun set over the Indian Ocean, well, put it on the bucket list!

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It was hard to leave. If our stomachs hadn’t been growling, we might have squeezed another hour out of that gorgeous setting. But dinner beckoned and Biku was everything it promised to be. This cozy restaurant feels like you’re dining in someone’s living room. It oozes warmth (not the 90 degree kind) is adorned to the hilt, and exudes elegance in a Victorian overkill kind of way.

We were greeted and ushered to our place in front of the tree. I was delighted to see that there was ample space between tables and the mixture of seatings for two, or four, or in our case, six, were arranged for maximum privacy and comfort. The musicians began with well-known carols, then branched out. In the video the men are wearing the traditional black and white checked sarong and the lead singer is in a modified version of Balinese women’s temple wear, not including the antlers or Santa hats!

Have I forgotten anything? Oh, the food…which was the purpose of this outing in the first place! It was plentiful and rich. We kicked off with a Christmas cocktail. Then our choice of a starter: tea smoked salmon with Asian salad or warm Vietnamese beef. The buffet had it all: roast turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce, glazed ham, roast leg of lamb, potato au gratin, roasted vegetables, medley of spring vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy. There were three salads, watermelon feta, strawberry chicken, and mixed garden salad.

But the desserts…! When I didn’t think I could eat another bite, I loaded my plate with sweets and didn’t miss a beat! I loved the Christmas pudding with brandy butter…what’s not to love…and the ice cream with candied fruit mixed in. The Christmas cake and the trifle and the little tarts put me over the top. But over the top was a fine place to be on Christmas night!

My dinner plate:

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My dessert plate:

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And did I mention the smooth Savignon Blanc from New Zealand? Mmmmm.

Today my stomach is, shall we say, iffy. Based on what it’s used to, it has a right to complain. I’m hoping there won’t be an outright rebellion. So far so good.  And here’s one last video as the evening was wrapping up.

Happy happy holidays to all!

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16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carol
    Dec 26, 2016 @ 19:51:05

    I’m laughing so hard reliving our Christmas adventure. Great job, Sherry.

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  2. Sally in Los Angeles
    Dec 26, 2016 @ 23:40:48

    What a celebration! The restaurant looks like fun. “I Feel Good” straight from Bali? Wow!

    I was fortunate to visit Bali in 1986. Such a long time ago now and it’s probably changed, but I hope not too much. What a beautiful exotic place with the most incredibly kind people. What great celebration! Love reading your blog.

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Dec 27, 2016 @ 07:44:27

      Hi Sally! Thanks for your comment. You would find that Bali has changed radically since 1986. Even since my first visit in 2010 the pace of development is beyond belief. But it’s still beautiful and exotic and I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

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  3. sageblessings
    Dec 27, 2016 @ 00:11:50

    I’d say you had a perfect Christmas!

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  4. pat grimsbo
    Dec 27, 2016 @ 06:16:37

    Dear Sherry, What a beautifully, fascinating and deliciously tasty experience you just showed us all!!! Now, my Dear, tomorrow I want you to step on a scales and find out how much weight you have gained ! ! ! I’d guess maybe 8 to 10 pounds ! ! ! Of course you are so slender that it won’t be a problem – just do not start doing it every day! Orders from Headquarters – your Mother. I imagine Gwen has told you about our Christmas Eve together – a cool experience. On Christmas day I was here alone until a phone call from Don Lofgren, my nephew who has been living and working in Alaska for at least 15 years now. He and his brother Bruce had come to visit their Mom Ruth living here with brother Aaron (now a Pastor with his own parsonage). Anyway Don is the one who had wanted Dad and me to become his Godparents when he was a teenager being confirmed at Zion church. Dad was the head repair man at Blandin Paper Company and on the Friday before Confirmation something broke down and he was going to have to work on Sunday. I phoned Don and suggested that he chose some other aunt and uncle to be with him on Sunday because Uncle Pete could not come. He replied, “Aunt Pat, you have two hands. You can put one on each of my shoulders when Pastor Paul says, “Pat and Peter, do you both agree to be Godparents to Don? You can just say “We do!” and that will make it ‘legal’.” I phoned Pastor Paul and explained what Don wanted. He burst out laughing and replied, “That is fine – just go right ahead and do that.” I did, and Don has kept in touch with us and felt very close to both of us all these years. He misses Uncle Pete almost as much as I do. Don phoned from his family home near here and asked if he could come and visit me for a little while. He arrived at 9:30 and gave me a big hug. We reminisced about old times together and he told me how sorry for me that Uncle Pete had to go so soon, I reminded him the he was 93 years old and had been uncomfortably ill for several years so it was really a blessing he could pass on, and what he had told me about holding the Pearly Gates open for me when my turn comes and the goodbye kiss he had given me just an hour before he was gone. That made Don feel better, too! The time went by fast as we looked through old family albums etc. and soon it was ten to 12:00 and time to go down to lunch. I phoned the Kitchen and asked if I could bring my nephew from Alaska to eat with me and they said yes. The meal did turn out to be pretty good and he even visited with the other two women that always eat at the table with me! Then back to the apartment and after another hour he said he supposed it was time for him to go back home. He gave me another hug and said, “I love you, Aunt Pat and special Godmother and always will. God bless you!” Then he left. It was a very special Christmas Day for me ! ! ! Love, Mom

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Dec 27, 2016 @ 07:39:14

      Hi Mom! Thanks for your comments and the description of your Christmas. What a lovely visit you had! It sounds like the perfect day for you. Fortunately, I don’t own scales here! I’m much happier being blissfully ignorant of the pounds and there’s still significant indulging to do before the holidays are put to rest for another year!
      Much love, Sherry

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  5. Still the Lucky Few
    Dec 28, 2016 @ 02:35:47

    There is nothing like a hot weather Christmas! I’ve spent Christmas in Costa Rico, Mexico and Hawaii…unforgettable! Your Christmas looks so special. Have a Happy New Year, Sherry!

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  6. Ray
    Dec 29, 2016 @ 06:47:17

    Your description was perfect. Felt as if I was there!

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  7. Kate
    Dec 30, 2016 @ 09:58:51

    Love your description and living it thru the pictures! So enjoy reading your blog, would love to know more about specifics of moving/living there.

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  8. Trackback: Do You Love the Holidays? Do You Embrace them Even if You Don’t?

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