Darwin Blog

J.M Top Optical
Saturday, 8 March, 2008, 3:09 pm
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Bali


When in Bali in February, we went to Carrefours to do some shopping.  After going through the check out, I noticed an optical store opposite.  They had a sale on and I started looking at the frames.

Adrian, who works in the store advised that I could get a pair of prescription glasses, which I so seriously wear (I am blind without) for IDR Rp 375 000 (AUS $46).

There were so many frames to choose from and I settled on the first ones I saw – red.  The same ones are about $300 in Australia.  Honestly, they had all the brands and so much choice, more than what we get here in Darwin with the couple of optical stores we have here.

As I had no idea what my script was, he check the glasses I was wearing to see if they had what I needed in stock.  They did and guess what?  My new glasses could be ready in 20 minutes, if we wanted to get something to eat and come back.  That is exactly what we did.

The glasses are fantastic.  They were properly fitted and have caused no grief – the script is spot on.  On top of it, I have had so many compliments about them, that I am so seriously thinking of going back and getting a few other colours!

So tell me, why in Darwin does it cost so much and it takes two weeks for your glasses to be made up and why do they have to hold onto the script.  Yes, this shop wrote down my script for me in case I wanted to have glasses made up somewhere else.

By the way, they can do bi-focals but will need two days.  This is still quicker than the two weeks we have to wait here.


Saturday, 8 March, 2008, 2:53 pm
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Bali


Bali, the island of the Gods, but also the island of cheap DVDs.

A friend of ours put us onto this store on our very first trip four years ago.  We don’t go anywhere else.

Believe it or not, they know us very well here as well.  We not only buy for us (which is mainly for our son, as we still don’t have much time to watch movies), but we are often shopping for friends also.  We take everyone’s lists into the store and arrange to pick up the DVD’s the following day.

The quality of the DVDs here are quite good and it is once in a way when you have a dud.  Really what do you expect when you are paying IDR Rp 10 000 (AUS $1.20) per DVD and for every 10 you get three free!

Megadisc now have a number of stores, one across from Discovery Shopping Centre and one next door to the Febris Hotel just up the road from Discovery going towards the airport.

They also sell excellent, good quality DVD folders for IDR Rp 50 000 (AUS $6) each.

Mykonos Restaurant and Bar
Saturday, 8 March, 2008, 2:45 pm
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Bali, Dining


On our last trip we went for a wander up Jalan Laksmana, as we were told that there is many goof quality homewares shops and boutique shopping.

Yes, there were some boutique shops that were very nice, but not exactly what I was looking for.  I was trying to get some new and refreshing ideas for my business and to take home with me.

Of course lunch time rolled around and we were starting to feel a little peckish.  We had also heard about the many great restaurants in this strip and many are highly recommended in the Lonely Planet guide.  Well, many of these places are not open for lunch – damn, damn, damn.

We kept walking up the street trying to find somewhere to eat and have a cold drink when we came across Mykonos Restaurant and Bar.  The menu was enticing, we grabbed a table under a fan and ordered a cold drink while we contemplated the menu.

In fact, there was quite a bit to choose from on the menu.  My husband had the grilled snapper fillet which was excellent and I had a beef yiros, which was far superior to anything I have had at home here in Darwin.  The taste and tenderness of the meat was superb.  I was extremely keen to have the freshly made honey puffs, but the meal was more than satisfying, so guess what we will have to go back.

What fascinated us, was the kitchen staff were all Indonesian – Asian people seem to be able to turn their hand to any type of cooking – they are so clever.  The food tasted authentic and we did eat everything on the plate.

Our bill came to IDR Rp 116 600 (AUS $14).

When we came back to Darwin we were joking with a couple of our friends, who incidentally are Greek, saying that of all places we ended up in was a Greek restaurant for lunch.  Whilst they hadn’t been to this restaurant, they had heard about it amongst their crowd and it has a good reputation.  Oh, the drinks are icy cold here!

Nadya Silver
Saturday, 8 March, 2008, 2:28 pm
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Bali


Speaking of Indonesian classes, we are off to Bali for business again in a couple of weeks and thought I should do a couple more updates from our last trip in February this year.

I have been to Nadya Silver every time I visit Bali.  Why, the quality of workmanship is very high, the prices good but more importantly, they always have different, exciting and new merchandise along with the standard lines which is obviously their bread and butter trade i.e. export.  They have great modern pieces, including brooches of which are a particular favourite.

The staff speak excellent English and yes, you can bargain.

The scary thing is they now see us walk up the street and run out the shop yelling my name – this freaks my husband a little.

I have bought many pieces and I prefer their store at Jalan Double Six, it is right at the start of the street on the left hand side.  Beware, a very busy intersection.

In February, I bought a large link chain (all the rage in Europe at the moment) and a thick silver ring with a freshwater pearl inset – simple, but very eye-catching.

Shopping always makes me hungry!
Thursday, 24 January, 2008, 12:21 pm
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Bali, Dining


Before going into Carrefour, we had been shopping in another part of Bali, so I had worked up somewhat of an appetite.

On the third level is a small food court and at the base of the escalators is Trattoria Pizza.

I make my own pizzas now and by choice we do not eat bought commercial pizza.  In saying that, the pizza from Trattoria, is the best I have ever eaten.  There is a number of varieties including vegetarian options.

I can’t remember what it cost, I think something like R13 000, say AU$1.50.  It is served on a cute little plate that allows you to walk and eat at the same time – I don’t like to waste a minute of shopping time and I could devour it while travelling the escalators!

If visiting Carrefour, grab a slice of pizza on the way.

Carrefour Bali
Thursday, 24 January, 2008, 12:05 pm
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Bali, Travel


This place rocks!  I love this store and wanted to share with you.

Whenever in Bali, we never miss the opportunity to visit and shop in Carrefour.

I love the fact that this store is a hypermart and has absolutely everything including fridges, electronics, television in every imaginable size, MP3 players, digital cameras, suitcases, stationery, anything for the kitchen, clothing for men, women and children, shoes, toys, pet items and of course a fully loaded supermarket.

We bought clothing for our son, my husband bought some shorts, we bought out favourite Nescafe three in one sachets, Tiger Balm (only $1 a bottle), toiletries etc.  We always end up doing a good shop here. 

Previously I bought wooden trays for our home, spoons to be used for dishing out rice and curry (these spoons I only ever seem to find in Asia), Nivea skin lotion, clothing, household items etc.

What always amazes me is the huge range to select from, the quality of the produce and the freshly cooked food that is available to buy – check out the photos.


The top row, far left picture is just the range of sausages available!  The abundance of quality fruit and vegetables puts Australia to shame – what are we first world and Indonesia is what? Third world I hear you say!  The bakery treats, it was so hard to choose, but we did end of with a cake which was so yummy.

Another thing I love about shopping at Carrefour is that you can use you pin number to make purchases therefore technically EFTPOSing your transaction – how cool is that, straight out of your savings account.  All our purchases, which was quite a few bags full came to $70 Australian dollars – I was very happy with that.

Located on Sunset Road and they have the best taxis in town servicing the Centre, Blue Bird Taxis.

I will also write about some of the other stores in the complex as there are other good bargains to be had in the shopping complex. 

Ubud Writers and Readers Festival – Kathy Reichs
Thursday, 6 December, 2007, 12:53 am
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Bali, Observations, Travel


While away on annual leave earlier this year, I attempted to attend the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.  I say attempted, as for the six days I was in Ubud for this event, I was flat on my back with the worst flu virus.

I had booked and prepaid for a couple of events prior to arriving and one of those was a Literary Lunch with Kathy Reichs at The Viceroy Bali.  She is one of my favourite authors.

Kathy Reichs is a real life forensic anthropologist, who has taken experiences from her real life to write some fantastic, best selling crime novels.  The television series produced by Fox, Bones, is also based loosely on her novels.  As she says, her character Temperance Brennan featured in the television series, is a much younger one than is portrayed in the books and is designed to appeal to a much younger audience.

Kathy is native of Chicago and works as a forensic anthropologist, an academic, and bestselling writer of mystery novels. She is a Professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, but is currently on indefinite leave.[2] She divides her time between work for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, State of North Carolina, and for the Laboratoire des Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale for the province of Québec. She is one of only fifty forensic anthropologists certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology[3] and is on the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Her schedule also involves a number of speaking engagements around the world. (Wikipedia)

Her latest novel, Bones to Ashes, had been released just prior to me leaving on holidays, so I bought the book in Darwin and spent a couple of days reading the book prior to attending the Literary Lunch.  Later when Kathy signed copies of her books, she was surprised I had her latest book, let alone had read it.

I was surprised to find at the intimate lunch of about 60 people, that many had not read her previous books.  I had indeed read them all, so when she referred to the different scenarios in her book, I knew exactly what she was talking about.

When we entered the pavilion at the Viceroy for lunch, I was greeted by a woman who had asked if I read any of Kathy Reichs books, I answered “yes, all of them”.  She responded with, “she can’t write for shit”.  It made me wonder why on earth would you go to a Literary Lunch with the author if you did not care for their work.

Kathy Reichs brought one of her daughters with her on the trip to Bali.  All her children are intelligent, high achievers not unlike their parents.  In fact, Kathy herself is not half as glamorous as the book sleeve photos we are used to seeing.  She is an engaging speaker, with lots of good stories to tell.  She revealed how she came to be published, through a friend of a friend of a friend.  She explained that she is committed to a a 10 book deal and takes a year to complete each book and has another three to go in this current contract.  She endeavours to make each book feature a different aspect of forensic anthropology and revealed how she incorporated elements of a personal life, such as her children’s names etc into the tapestry of Temperance Brennan.

I did say to her that it was time to find a new love interest for Tempe, as Andrew Ryan is not working for me and perhaps, I suspect, Tempe.  They can still be colleagues, but the sexual tension seems to be waning a bit.

I will admit that this was one of the highlights for me during 2007

To read and learn more about Kathy Reichs, go to her website http://www.kathyreichs.com/welcome.htm.