Bali & Lombok

We’ve been away for two weeks now and I’ve not been able to update the blog yet. I’ve got a bunch of photos to upload to my Bali and Lombok Flickr set which should appear about the same time as this blog entry.

I’m writing this offline as we’ve been unable to find a decent internet connection. We did get online for half an hour on a shared dial-up connection in an internet cafe on Lombok but that’s been it. I brought the Macbook with me but none of the places we’ve stayed have had WiFi connections easily available.

We flew out from Heathrow around 6pm on 14th March. Fortunately the flight wasn’t delayed by the person running onto the runway that day. Changed at Singapore and flew on to Bali, arriving on the evening of the 15th.

Picked up from the airport by a driver from our hotel, the Bali Niksoma in Legian, which was a pleasant and unexpected surprise. We had a couple of nights in Kuta, picking up a few supplies and enjoying the warmth.

View from Bali Niksoma Resort

It was then on to the Tegal Sari cottages near Ubud in-land. The cottages were great, two storeys with plenty of lounging space and views over paddy fields. Three nights there, giving us plenty of time to look round Ubud and visit the sacred Monkey Forest there.

Rice paddies, Ubud.

Ubud Monkey Forest

Next stop was Candi Dasa, on the East coast for just a single night. Didn’t like Candi Dasa much, there was no beach to speak of, the place we stayed (Kubu Bali) was a bit of a hole and the town seemed pretty empty. Had a couple of good meals at Vincent’s and Toke but I wouldn’t recommend Candi Dasa to anyone.

Early start next day for a short taxi ride to Padang Bai to catch the GiliCat fast boat to Lombok, which is about 35km from Bali. This takes two hours rather than the 4 hours by normal ferry, but costs much more.

We were picked up at Teluk Kode and driven the half-hour journey to Windy Beach Resort at Mengsit where we had a lovely bungalow on the seafront. Stayed there for 6 nights and really relaxed.

Our bungalow at Windy Beach Resort, Lombok

We’re currently back on Bali, staying near Tanah Lot.

More when I get a chance….

Nice, Cannes and VMworld Europe 2008

Bit late posting this as I’ve been back over a week now.

We flew to Nice on Friday 22nd from London City airport. It’s only a 10 minute taxi ride away and is a much more civilised way to travel when compared with schlepping over to Heathrow or Gatwick. The plane wasn’t full and the flight passed by quickly.

We stayed at the Hotel Splendid in Nice. The room was small but it was a decent hotel and only a few minutes walk from the sea-front.

On Friday evening we went for a meal at the Pot D’Etain restaurant near the hotel. Great food, lovely steaks but more expensive than we had expected for France.

That was to continue for the entire time we were away, as the Cote d’Azur is remarkably expensive. For example, a couple of ice-creams and soft drinks at the Negresco cost €23 (about £18).

On Saturday we walked around nice, up over the hill at the Castel and around the harbour. Great views over the beach and harbour from the top of the hill.

The town was very busy as it was the weekend of Bataille de Fleurs (Battle of the Flowers), part of the Nice Festival. The actual parade was all cordoned off so that only people paying for a grandstand seat would get a decent view. There was a funfair by the sea-front and the main beach road was lined with hundreds of coaches.

Beach and Old Town of Nice

On Sunday we wandered around the Old Town and did a little shopping, though most shops are closed on a Sunday.

All too soon it was time to head back to the airport and for Vic to fly back to London.

After seeing Vic off at the airport, I caught a free coach to Cannes where the VMworld Europe 2008 conference was being held.

The coach took me to the conference centre where I registered and then caught another coach on to the Eden Hotel where I was staying for the rest of the week.

The hotel was great, very modern and nicely designed with a large fish pool downstairs by the reception. The one problem I encountered was that the only internet access was by dial-up. I haven’t used a modem in ages, and my MacBook doesn’t have one built in, so I had to make do with accessing the net at the conference centre.

That worked out fine though as there was so much going on that I hardly spent any time awake in the hotel anyway.

On Sunday evening I went out for a drink with our VMware contact and some of his colleagues and customers.

With a slight hangover on the Monday, it was back to the conference centre for “Partner Day” for all the VMware partners. Kingston Communications are a Hosting Service Provider Partner. I won’t go into details in the conference itself as it’s probably not interesting to 99.9% of people.

Monday evening saw the VMware Partner party with free food and drink, and awards for the best performing partners.

Tuesday was the start of the full conference and was very busy. The entrance for the keynote presentations opened at about 8:45 and the hall was overflowing. A full day of sessions followed, and in the evening there was a party of VMware UK & Ireland customers, with more free food, drink and entertainment.

Entrance to the Palais des Festivals, Cannes

Wednesday saw another keynote, more sessions and then the main VMworld Europe party in the building next to the conference centre. The party was great, loads of entertainment, from laser tag to robot wars, fire-eaters, tap-dancers, comedians, more free food and drink and finally, Madhen, a great covers band who I’d seen at the Kingston Christmas party in December.

Cannes lighthouse

Thursday was another day of sessions, and then a bus back to the airport to fly back to City.

A tiring week, but I learned a lot at the conference and Vic and I both enjoyed seeing a bit of Nice.