Prevaricating in luxury
The excuse for our stop in Bali is that the KLM flight via Amsterdam & Singapore was about the only reasonable option and quarantine in Bali looked more bearable that the alternative of Jakarta. The excuse for staying in a 5 star hotel also relates to covid rules as we were required to book an approved quarantine hotel for 4 nights and all were of similar standard. In the event quarantine has been dropped and we probably could have stayed anywhere with a legitimate address for the form.
We are getting quite used to luxury having rec overed from the shock of a 4 star stay in Madeira. Now we are almost blasé with beds the size of a minor sea, a foyer that can accommodate several ships and breakfast spreads that leave you dizzy with the choosing. The room appeared to be remarkably good value until it was mentioned that I had booked room only and after 2 breakfasts realised that nothing in life is free.
This morning we ventured into the village on hotel bikes to look for a local café for breakfast but discovered that breakfast isn’t a recognised meal in Bali, so had to slum it again with expensive coffee and croissant on the beach.
The Bali entry process was long due to Covid and we were at the end of the queue having chosen seats near the back of the plane. When we eventually emerged we were accosted by a mele of taxi drivers and chose one at random (Made). He turned out to be very useful and gave us his number volunteering to help with car hire, ferry tickets etc.
Having arrived late in the evening we collapsed in bed and slept late into the morning. We spent the 1st day exploring the area on hotel bikes. There is a series of similar smart hotels (all very empty) linked with a coast path. Eventually we arrived at a public beach and found a lunch stop -also empty but nice noodles and rice. Our beach in front of the hotel is golden sand with waves breaking on a reef offshore, and although a 1st swim was perfect it transpired that the sea had a twice daily habit of vanishing rapidly leaving a puddle out to the reef.
2nd day Made was good to his word and the promised hire car arrived with his friend Nur. I specified car with air conditioning -small car fine. Nur arrived with an ancient 7 seater Toyota but good air conditioning. No paperwork just cash passed hands. Everything involves high volumes of notes and significant transactions in the millions. ( 1 million Rupiah=£50). I selected a tour from the guide book -ambitious as it turned out as Bali is really quite big and distances surprisingly far. Just getting through Denpasser takes an hour. Klungklung was the place where the royal family (all 200 of them) committed suicide in front of the Dutch colonisers in protest at their treatment. That’s a proper protest. We were hunting for the temple when we were stopped by a police motorbike. I assumed he was offering to help the silly tourists but actually he was fining us ½ a mil for driving along a road restricted to motorbikes. There are so many motorbikes buzzing round that it was impossible to tell the difference. No sympathy at all for gullible tourists. No-one seemed to know about the temple but we stumbled on it with help of the guide book and wandered round with the place to ourselves.
We tried to find the Gamalam instrument workshops and walked along a lovely footpath (also motorbike path) alongside irrigation channels through rice fields, and loads of flower fields. The flowers grown for the offerings -little cardboard plates of petals and incense sticks that you stumble over on pavements everywhere. Each field with a shed and a cow tethered inside. No sign of the gamelan workshops unfortunately. On the map I spotted a secret waterfall so we drove further up the hill to find a little shack with sign for the Aan waterfall just a the heavens opened.
In the shack a family busy cooking over a fire and the man who’s name I unfortunately forget gave us the history of the waterfall which was only discovered in 2018. It used to be the village rubbish dump until he persuaded the villagers to re-cycle and clean up the site. The rain was so heavy that we didn’t get to see the falls but instead enjoyed tea and cakes with the family, making a contribution to heir project.
Back down to the coast to escape the rain we tried to swim at Candidasa and found the only public beach in a long line of private villas. Stymied by corral the swim was unsuccessful but chatted to a couple of guys on the beach who used
to work in the hotels but have been unemployed for the last 2 years. They looked quite well on it but I didn’t discover if government handouts or their own savings kept them in rice. The guide recommend a restaurant further on for supper but we couldn’t resist
one overlooking the bay so stopped for a very nice meal of fish and potato.
The long drive back to Nusa Dua was made more difficult by regular interruption from very slow moving lorries that involved hairy overtaking manoeuvres between motorbikes and bends.
Yesterday we reduced our range and stayed on the southern peninsular. After the morning swim we set out for Puru Luhur Uluwatu, a temple on the cliff top with loads of cunning robber monkeys. One had our pot of pineapple pinched as soon as we sat down for a picnic lunch. I fell victim to a lady selling material for a sarong assuring me I couldn’t look round without it. Actually sarongs are lent out at the temple gate but she didn’t tell us that. Apparently the monkeys have learnt to steal higher value items such as cameras in order to barter with the attendants for more food.
We stopped for a swim at Badang Badang beach- made famous by appearing in a scene for a Julia Roberts film. It was the 1st busy tourist spot we have found- lots of young wanabe surfers and a few dogs squaring up to the monkeys.
Our last stop was the cultural park with massive bronze sculptures and gamelan dancing shows. I was gullible enough to be dragged up on stage to mimic the dancers moves. Luckily Diana’s attempt to video the debacle failed.
Today we are off to Ubud and a new hotel. Pics to follow.