Tuesday, February 21

Marti and Me.

I am back in Wakerley, looking after the house and Marti - my little mate who welcomed me back as if I hadn't been gone.  His real Mum and Dad are back in Shanghai China, so for Marti and I life goes on just as it had been prior to their short visit home to Brisbane.

I'm settled back into a routine and back into the study (I am still working on my bamboo project)  - with a few other things to keep me occupied as well.

Marti hates storms and when one rather small one I must say, 'hit' around 4 am this morning, he was clearly distressed.  He sat on my 'panting' but though I spoke with him occasionally he didn't seem to be doing anything else that he shouldn't.

I was unable to go back to sleep - so I am somewhat tired, but have decided NOT to have a Nana nap today, and go to bed early tonight.

I had a call from someone else wanting me to house sit - and it might just fit in with my plans.  I am due to finish here around June 30th, and am needed at her house, also in Wakerley on July 6th, for a month.

Meanwhile right now, Marti is listening for a storm - the skies have gone grey and if I was not staring at a computer screen I would have to switch a light on  - will wait and see what happens.

Back to Australia and life goes on......

My flight from Denpasar was due to leave at 10 minutes past midnight, and my driver picked me up in Ubud at around 8 pm.  It was quite a 'hairy' ride through the crazy villages, with little or no street lights and people everywhere, but interesting to see.

Where are all the women?  The men were on the streets, drinking, playing table tennis, shuttle cock or pool, and there were few women or children to be seen.  The women I was told, would be home preparing for the markets at 4 am, and caring for the children.  The men, often drunk, would head home late at night, and sleep in, while their women folk were at work.  It sure is a 'man's world' in Bali, but the sound of it.

I arrived at the airport in plenty of time, luckily as it was quite chaotic.  There is a new international airport being built, so there are few/no upgrades in the old one, and even finding where I had to go presented challenges.

I managed to get to the gate in plenty of time and found a little cafe where I sat with a cold drink to wait until called.  Called?  In that part of the airport there was no signage and no public address system.  I learned that there were two planes leaving from that gate around the same time.  When I saw people walking through the gate I asked if it was the Brisbane plane, and I was (without a spoken word) ushered through the door and directed to a bus.

When the bus was 'loaded' the driver took us on a journey around planes around the tarmac, and stopped occasionally to ask the grown crew "Sydney?"  Other passengers and I were alarmed as we were all going to Brisbane, but when we told him he looked at us without the slightest indication he understood, and went on his way "Sydney?"

When he eventually stopped and opened the bus doors, we cautiously walked up the stairs of the nearest plane, and sure, this was the flight to Brisbane.  We were quite surprised to learn that there were only 30 or 40 passengers and all of us were able to claim a three seat spot, and lie down.  It was not terribly comfortable with chair parts prodding one, and for some of us, wishing for more leg room, it was a challenge, but I had enough sleep to make the night go fast.

It was not long before we were to arrive in Brisbane.

MM was there to meet me, and I was quickly back to our daughters for a cup of coffee and collect my car.  I had 5 nights in a friend's place at Manly, before returning to the house sit.  Oh, how good to be back 'home'.

Visiting the Mother Temple

Me on the back of a scooter

I had to pull out of one planned visit to this temple because I was not well - and was pleasantly surprised that the tour company could arrange for me to do it on my last day in Bali.

Again I was on my own in the bus - with a tour guide and driver and off we set to this famed temple, which is called The Mother Temple of Bali.  It is at an altitude of some thousand feet above sea level, on the volcanic slopes of Gunung Agung.  This is Bali's largest temple complex with 23 separate temples on the vast property.

In 1963, the volcano erupted and some 1700 people died.  The lava flowed down the side of the volcano missing the temple by a few metres, which enthused the Balinese who felt it was a 'sign' that the temple was of great value.

One arrives in a 'courtyard' of stalls and my guide ushered me quickly through.  He explained that it was a long walk up to the temple and (for a fee) I could go on a scooter.  Initially I considered walking - but as it was hot and humid, I decided to pay for my guide and  myself to go on the back of scooters.

With 23 temples to visit, it can take along time and the steps going higher and higher are quite a challenge, especially in the heat.  I went up and then rested, and then on and upwards, almost to the highest part, but then we returned via another pathway.

Along the way I met a little girl, just 5 years of age, trying to sell me some postcards.  I was 'resting' at the time, and though she spoke little English we had quite a fun time.  She had learned how to count to 100 in English - she started with 1 - 5 and made a little error, so I corrected her (ever the English teacher!), and in the end she went on to 100 with me correcting the errors, and her trying to get it right.  I ended up buying some postcards that I didn't want.  Still it was a fun experience and I know that the little girl has a great future - she is so keen to learn.

My Guide

Monday, February 20

My Last Days in Bali

Well, I missed one tour because I was not well enough, but a day in bed and a looong sleep and I was soon pickingup, though not ready to eat yet.  I drank plenty of water, but was still incredibly dehydrated - so much that I was considering seeing a doctor.  Well, it was a thought, but I just kept drinking hoping my kidneys had not failed.  Luckily, all was well in the end.

The next day I was to go to Ubud, and at the appointed time my driver and a guide turned up.  There were just three of us in the car - I was surprised that I was the only traveller, but it worked in my favour.  I had an appointment to go to The Green Village which was some 20 minutes from Ubud - and I asked my driver if he could take me there later in the afternoon.  He and the guide chatted in their own language for a few seconds, and the guide said that they could go there on the way to Ubud - but it would cost more.  The price was settled, and I handed over y written instructions on the way to get there, and the map.  I should have been a bit alarmed at that point as they turned the map around several times, looked confused, but then changed their demeanour - they were positive they could find it.

The car wound its way through villages, around rice fields, winding roads over rivers, and on and on we went.  I knew my guides were challenged by the route, and they stopped several times and asked people along the route.  Sometimes we were sent back along the route we had come, other times we were pointed into dead ends.

I could see the frustration on the driver's face, and he said some words that suggested they were swear words or similar.  Then we left the sealed road and travelled along a dirt road for a while, before turning left and up a steep bitumen entrance to a car park, adjacent to some awesome bamboo houses.

The driver gaped, and said the first English words I had heard from his mouth.  "Holy Sh..!"

The three of us climbed out of the car, and were met by our guide for the village.  Leon, (the village guide) and my guide, looked at each other in shock and then embraced each other.  They had been ship mates some 2 years previously when they were seamen on an international cargo ship.

I asked that my driver and guide come on the tour - which Leon was happy about, especially having been reconnected with an old friend.

We were not allowed to take photos - so to see some of what we saw you will have to visit this site - Green Village.  It was awesome.  We went through several of the buildings, saw builders at work completing others, and came away after an hour totally inspired.

The driver now spoke in English to me.  He was amazed.  He said something to the effect that he, a Balinese had no idea about that place, and no idea of the versatility of bamboo.  He resolved, as we were leaving the car park, to build something wonderful for his wife.

We soon found our way to Ubud, and I was duly welcomed at Pertiwi Resort and Spa, in Monkey Forest Road.

I renegotiated my accommodation.  I did not want the hassle of climbing stairs (I admit to being a little weak from my Bali Belly), and settled into a lovely room in the midst of some awesome gardens.

The following morning I was game to tackle breakfast and did so in the restaurant of the resort.  Not my favourite brekky but I was glad to start eating again.   Later I set out to find a driver, but didn't have to go far from my room.  As I walked past, a gardener bowed politely and asked me what I was going to do.  I told him I was going to look for a driver.  He excitedly asked me to follow him, and took me to a car at the front of the resort.

We negotiated a price - and set off.  This guy turned out to be quite a find.  His name is "Braus" - I said "Like Bruce?" "Yes call me Bruce Willis he said."  And we set off.

First of all  we went to a Kit Making factory - where I bought some awesome kites for the grand children. One looks like an hawk, and the other three were the butterflies.  So beautiful.

Then we went on to a 'Bamboo Factory' - where a man was working on a Bali hut for a client in Paris.  It would be sent as a 'flat pack' to be installed there at some stage.  He had quite an array of furniture, and a darling little daughter.

Afterwards, I returned to Pertiwi for lunch, and Braus arranged to meeting me again at 3 pm for another tour.  I returned to my room hoping to have a 'nana nap' but could not sleep, so went walking up Monkey Forest Street, and found Braus - doing nothing.  So I said to him, I was ready to go whenever he was, so my afternoon journey started earlier than planned.

Along the way, he made comment that I was 'not a normal tourist' - far from being upset by his comment, I was impressed.  Certainly I did not want to go where the crowds were, and I was not keen to 'shop', and I asked him a lot of questions!

That afternoon he took me a long way up into the mountainous area to a small but amazing village.

Clearly it was bamboo territory - bamboo forests surrounded us on both sides.  There was quite a lot of fallen bamboo too, as apparently a severe storm had caused a lot of damage just a week or so earlier.
It was the village that Braus had wanted to show me - quite an old village that had a strong association with bamboo of course.

It was here in this village that I met the old woman in the bamboo cage - this is how I would bet describe her 'home'.  But that is for another story.

You can learn more about bamboo here.

Tuesday, February 7

Day Two - Bali Belly

Was it something I ate on the bicycle tour?  Was it the luwak coffee?  Whatever, I was not well the following day, and even had to decline my trip.  Luckily I was well enough to go from Legian to Ubud the following day.

My driver and a tour guide arrived around midday to take me and my luggage to the resort in Ubud, and I talked them into taking me to The Green Village first.  It was quite funny as the driver in particular was getting frustrated.  He was lost on more than one occasion. I could see his disinterest and in fact annoyance of my request.  Eventually though we arrived and I saw him change.

Within seconds of arriving his eyes open wide like huge saucers as he observed some of the houses near the parking area.  My Guide was also wide eyed, especially when he found that my guide from The Green Village, was someone he worked with years ago - as seaman on board a cargo ship travelling the world.

I inivted both men to join the tour with me - and I could see the expression on their faces as they saw the magnificent bamboo houses, fittings and furniture.  Though the driver whispered to me.  "Snakes?  There are many snakes in the jungle - they must get in????  Apparently not - they cannot slither up the bamboo poles.

Sadly I could not take any photos.  But you will see for yourself on the website.  The driver will never be the same - he saw the potential for bamboo and was amazed that someone from Australia should show him something like that.

From there we went to Pertiwi Resort, Ubud, along the Money Forest Road. and I started to explore Uud. 

Saturday, February 4

Day One in Bali

I joined the throng in the restaurant for breakfast - not bad, no complaints, and later arrived in the hotel foyer where I met on of my tour guides for a 'downhill bicycle ride'.  We did have to laugh as the tour did not quite match the description.

First of all we were taken to a coffee place - not a plantation, but they sold coffee there, especially the coffee 'treated' by the luwak.  I must say that even knowing that the coffee beans had been defecated by this weird little animal, I had to admit it was a good coffee, but I didn't buy any of the grounds.  No thanks.

From there we went to a place adjacent to the Batur volcano - an active volcano, but corrently in rest. 

We had 'breakfast' in a little cafe with the view above in the background.  We had banana fritters and fruit.

From there there was a short journey in the car before we were met by our bicycles.

A little test ride, before we set off.  The bicycles were not build for tall people, though I managed to raise the seat, but I found it a challenge to pedal.  It was ok on level ground or going down hill,
but we were told the route had been changed because of some religious festival, and we had a 2 km uphill section, which I found impossible, so I walked it.

It was certainly interesting riding through the villages, and rice fields, but oh, how I wish I had my ebike in Bali.

We eventually arrived at a place overlooking beautiful rice terraces, and we said 'goodbye to our tour guides from HaiBaliBicycle tours. 

It was mid afternoon, in a small restaurant that we enjoyed another meal - late lunch/early dinner.

The backdrop was spectacular - overlooking rice terraces.

Wednesday, February 1

In Bali - Indonesia

What a long day it has been.  I left the house sit house at 7.30 am, and took my car to my daughter's place, before heading off to the Brisbane International Airport and my flight to Bali.

It is a 5 1/2 hour flight - long and tiring, though no complaints about any of that.  I knew it was a long flight. 

Denpasar Airport was busy when we arrived - quite a few flights had arrived, and my man Sammy was there to meet me, and another couple who are staying near by.  Quite an amazing ride through the narrow streets with chaotic traffic to arrive at our hotels.

I note the great piles of rubbish here - reminds me of China.  I loved seeing the guy on the book gate at the hotel.  He had a huge handle on the boom and he spends all his working day pulling it up or down, allowing the boom gate to go up or down.

I've had a short work around, in part to get my bearings, and I've had a swim.  It is overcast with showers, so the photo of the sunset wasn't to be this afternoon.  Maybe tomorrow.