I had reached the airport and the first leg of the journey was with Virgin Australia from Denpasar to Sydney. I was sitting with a family of five, Father, baby and older daughter on the other side and mother and middle child, a very sweet boy with me. The baby was tired and fractious but eventually settled down. It was a seven hour flight, no inflight entertainment unless you have downloaded the app previously on your handheld device and no food or drinks unless you qualified in some mysterious way, which the family sitting next to meseemed to have. Neither of us understood why. It wasn’t that I was hungry, but flying for 21 of the next 24 hours on a round the world ticket I thought I would have qualified for some food. Just makes me wonder how these things are managed. It was late at night so most people slept. I tried and managed a little sleep. But not much really.
There was a four hour layover in Sydney and I didn’t have to worry about luggage, I was so glad I had checked in my rucksack as well as my case and was fairly free, just my heavy handbag, heavy because it holds all my electronics and jewellery and essentials. I know I can survive for a night as long as I have that with me. The transfer area was easy to get to and I filled my time with reading. The time had moved forward by three hours so it was 8:30 in the morning when we landed and I was flying at 11:30. I was sitting minding my own business when I thought I heard my name over the tannoy, but I thought no it can’t be, then a short while later there it was again, definitely me. I didn’t quite hear the gate so I went to the one I thought I had heard and that was the wrong one. It was a bit of a hike to the correct gate and all the time I was wondering what on earth I was being called for. I finally made it and was first interviewed by a young security girl about why I was going to the USA, then through to ground crew only to answer all the questions I had to answer before I got on the plane in Bali. Oh we don’t have access to the data was the response to why am I being asked this all again. Anyway. It wasn’t long to boarding now and I was in the right place so I just sat down and waited for that.
I was hoping that I was going to get three seats to myself, when I chose my seat there were three empty seats and this was a fourteen hour flight. The longest flight I had taken so far. Anyway I got on and was alone for quite a while. Everyone was being super vigilant about empty seats looking for space. Finally a group of five young men got on and took two of the three seats in front of me, two of the three in the centre aisle alongside and the third in my row. So it wasn’t too bad but I wasn’t going to be able to lie down. The other young men were teasing the one sitting in my row because he was clearly nervous. In the end I told them to stop it, that it’s not funny being afraid of flying. Appalling bullying behaviour I just couldn’t sit and listen to it any more, I know exactly how it feels to be afraid of flying. I am lucky enough to have been able to overcome my fear over the years. Having said that there are still times when I can panic whilst taking off and if the flight is very turbulent I can get easily agitated. The take off was quite turbulent and I was, I have to admit, a bit disconcerted, when I looked over at the young man and he was in a bit of a state, so I engaged in conversation with him, talked to him about air pockets and the reason for the bumpy ride, and we chatted about this and that for a while, the flight calmed and so did he. I really felt for him, and his friends clearly thought he was fair game. I really wanted to tell him to take no nonsense from them but didn’t get the opportunity. It never ceases to amaze me that people don’t realise that they are bullying their friends with behaviour like that. I am still cross about it and it’s a considerable time after the fact.
I managed to get a few quite good shots of Sydney as we took off. And we soon settled in to the 14 hours, I watched a few movies and tried to sleep as much as possible. But sleep didn’t really come, I had a little nap early on, but after that it was just impossible. Of course it was the middle of the day for me.
Finally we landed in Los Angeles and I tried to find a Verizon dealer to get my phone working, but they don’t have them in the airport. The information people called the hotel shuttle for me, which was very helpful as good old Vodafone would have charged me £6 for that call! I was booked to stay in Los Angeles for one night before I moved on to New Orleans the next day. This had been the biggest single leg of my journey home, and I was beginning to get a sense that I am travelling home. My journey across the USA this time is eastward, LA, New Orleans, Memphis, Kansas City, St Louis, Lancaster and finally New York. Flying home on the 16th and arriving in London on the 17th.
Arriving at the hotel they kindly offered me breakfast, but I declined and went straight to my room for a bit of a rest. My cousin’s daughter Elizabeth who I spent time with on my first LA leg was coming to meet me so we could spend a few hours together. To be honest I was a little worried about how I was going to survive as the lack of sleep was now starting to make itself felt.
Elizabeth arrived and we made our way to the Aquaruim of the Pacific in Long Beach but the first stop was lunch at a restaurant across the road, Bubba Gump Shrimp, from the aquarium, which gave me some energy to get moving. The restaurant had a theme of Forest Gump and we had to answer lots of questions about the movie before we could be served our dinner, I begged for clemency on the basis of jet lag and a 14 hour time difference from where I was the day before, that didn’t stop him, fortunately he gave us lots of clues Nd we managed somehow to answer the questions, I don’t think I have even seen the whole film! Then on to the main event of the day. There was a huge variety fish and we saw a display of sea otters where they were fed their food in a variety of different containers, which meant they had to work out how to get the food out. It’s was fun to watch but almost impossible to capture on film, but I will give you what I got anyway. It was great after hours in the air to watch all the fish and sea creatures moving through the water, beautiful colours, smoothly moving shoals sticking together in huge tanks, big fish at the bottom, smaller fish at the top. Peacefully gliding through the water. There were a few birds, but mainly behind wire which meant it was difficult to capture them too. But Elizabeth and I were laughing at some of the strange behaviours going on.
Eventually the tiredness really hit and it was time to go back to the hotel and say out goodbyes once again, it was good to catch up again, great to be making real friendships and relationships with the next generation of our Icelandic family.
Dinner in the hotel and bed, much needed sleep. Another early start the next day after breakfast I took a walk to the nearest Verizon store to get my American phone working again. It has an hour and a half before I had to check out and get the shuttle back to the airport. I had decided to get the 11 am shuttle even though my flight wasn’t until 3:30, just to get rid of bags and find a space to sit and write for a while.
Having arrived at the Verizon shop I discovered it didn’t open for another half an hour, 10am, so next door for a coffee. Then out to make sure I was first through the door only to discover someone else had beaten me to it. We had a chat and eventually I told him I was on a tight schedule and he kindly said I could go first, there are gentlemen in the world it seems. Only kidding I have met a few on my travels. The guy in the shop was ultra efficient and I was out of the door in super fast time, and walked back to the hotel just in time to get my bag and get on the shuttle back to LAX.
Once I got into the South West Terminal I tagged by bag, once I worked out how to use the machine, and took it to baggage drop. The good news is I am now managing to get my suitcase consistently under 21kgs, 2 kgs less than the limit, I can finally stop worrying about it. Anyway the attendant said, oh your flight has been delayed by three hours! Oh No and I am here so early, which made her laugh. She immediately said let me see what I can do for you, and within five minutes I was in the security queue to catch a plane in less than an hour to Austin, Texas and change there to New Orleans. I have to say that was amazing service, with a smile, and I arrived in New Orleans earlier than I would have done on the flight I was booked on. I managed to find a shuttle straight to the French Quarter where I was staying and so sadly Uber got the elbow. That’s all for now folks, next chapter is all about the still heavily jet lagged woman trying to party in New Orleans.
I am currently on the way to New Orleans via Austin Texas, on my third plane in two or three days so I will tell you all about that when I get there, but I thought I would use a bit of my travel time to fill you in on my last few days in Bali. The move to the beach definitely suited me, I fell into a good daily routine, exercise was back on the agenda with yoga three times a week, my small exercise programme and long walks. The longest walk I did was 7 km 3.5 each way setting off at 06:45. There were still a lot of people about. As you walk along the pathway by the beach it sort of alternates between hotels, some private accommodation and cafes and little shops and massage places. A lot of massage tables on the beach etc. and of course the ladies are always asking massage madam. The sky was beautiful this particular morning and I got some great photos just as the sun came through the clouds. I also saw the mountains much more clearly in the distance, it was the first time I had seen them properly. They were also filming some sort of commercial on the beach it looked fab. One thing I know I haven’t told you about is the way the women carry things on their heads, usually they have a hat on, on top of that is a straw type of cap which has a flat top and then they put the basket on top of that. They are usually carrying things as well, I must say I was completely fascinated, would have liked to have a go at it myself. I never managed to get a photograph though, which was a shame. There are lots of fisherman as well either going out in their funny little boats, or just wading into the sea with a line. They all seem to wear those hats that you associate with Chinamen in old films. I am sure you know what I mean. I saw one man walking off with his catch of half a dozen fish in a plastic bag on this particular morning. The funniest thing about these walks is that obviously people are all using this pathway to run, walk and ride bikes on, but the English all seem to recognise that you are English and we say good morning to each other. I found that so hilarious, none of the other nationalities said good morning to me. How did they know I was English. Am I that obviously English.
I think every time I went for a walk I went further and was just surprised how many more hotels shops and cafes I discovered. The Hyatt is being rebuilt so at the moment there is an unsightly stretch of corrugated iron fence as the work is being undertaken with signs says grand opening July 2018. From what I have seen there is still a lot to do, so I am not sure about that date, don’t book yet for July if you are thinking about it. I won’t be.
I broke my personal best for 5 kilometres on my last two walks there, I am usually achieving one kilometre in 11 minutes something but I have done the odd one in under 11. That is a target I am setting myself, for my average to be under 11 rather then over 11. I have decided I would like to walk some of the Cornish coast this autumn, so am starting to think about that.
I spent time at the pool every day and enjoyed so much being able to be in the water, the clientele in the hotel changed quite a bit in the second half of my time there with more families and slightly less grey hair, and a few single women. I made two new women friends in the last three days, both from Australia, one in yoga and one in the hotel. Deb, in the hotel was leaving the same day as me to move up the coast a bit, but we both agreed we really loved the hotel, where it was and the ambiance and the service, the staff were just so great, nothing was too much trouble.
One day there was aerobics in the pool and I did it, there were only three of us, including the instructor, but we had fun. I was talking to the other lady who was Dutch and then it started to rain. My iPad was out on my chair and in my panic to get out of the pool and put it away I fell over the step from that pool towards the baby pool. I am still sporting a little cut and a fab bruise on my leg. I went to report it to the reception and I got a call from the duty manager and then they came to my room with ice and first aid kit and took a photo of my leg. The next day at dinner one of the ladies who works in the restaurant told me that she had heard I had hurt myself, the lady in 289 and I knew it was you she said. So sweet.
The next day I was having problems with the wireless it just wasn’t uploading my photos onto my blog, so I called to report it and the next thing the IT manager was on my doorstep, he routed me another way and said he would get the zone thoroughly checked out. That’s what I call service, in Melbourne they were absolutely useless, they are probably saying they have WiFi on the basis of very small bandwidth which just isn’t sufficient for the needs of heavy users like me. Here the WiFi was really good all the time and when it wasn’t they got straight on to sorting it out.
The hotel also has a shuttle bus into town, so one day I needed some batteries, and they didn’t have any in the local shop so I thought I would try the bus out. That’s when I realised how near to town the Hyatt is, and thought you could probably cut through around there. Plus there was a big long line of Bluebird Taksis waiting near the Hyatt. The supermarket was quite good, I couldn’t find any batteries and I looked at the wine, but didn’t want to pay for the Australian and New Zealand wines as they were quite pricy and I didn’t know what sort of Balinese wine I was drinking, so I walked out of the supermarket empty handed. I didn’t have my watch on or my phone with me so I had no idea what the time was, and we didn’t have too long as the return trip was half an hour after we left the hotel. So I felt I should just wait rather than going off to have a look at some shops. I have really got very used to the idea that I just don’t spend money in shops in more, no buying of souvenirs or clothes.
Having travelled now for five months with once bag of clothes, without much jewellery and trying to keep simple, I think I will need to review my life when I get home. But I have never been a big shopper, I only go shopping when I need something, the dangerous times for me are when I am on holiday and I have time to look around, well I am definitely done with that now. I am breaking a lot of habits, eating less, drinking less alcohol, being far more active and adventurous and I must continue when I get home.
It was great to have made a couple of friends, and have some talks about life and and that jazz. I had started to feel a little lonely, Bali had been quite a solitary experience, but it was always meant to be a time of reflection. My zen time. The yoga was just so fabulous, the yoga barn was an amazing place to be, I had a few sessions which included meditation and that was great, it has made me more determined to make yoga the cornerstone of my exercise including hot yoga, Bikram. I could feel that I was getting more flexible whilst I was there. And I was able to do one or two things I hadn’t done before like the side plank and holding my toes while sitting down with legs stretched out ahead. You are supposed to be kind to your self and work within your boundaries, and not look at what other people are doing, but a young girl next to me couldn’t hold her toes, so that made me feel great. There were plenty of things I couldn’t do mind you. The funniest thing we did was to clear certain chakras, we had to laugh, and with about twenty people all doing this very loud laughing you would see people walking past outside looking up and obviously thinking what that all about. I loved the chanting too, it was like a song in the room so beautiful I can’t even describe and it made me feel wonderful and part of something really special. I was most certainly in the right place in Bali. and I would very much like to go back again and be a little more adventurous next time now I have the lie of the land.
The hotel put on entertainment a few nights a week, Balinese dancing and a singer playing acoustic guitar. Some picture below. Also a photo of one of the pools which the restaurant looked out on and the private beach, which the bar was on. When it rained the whole thing was like a pool. And you almost couldn’t see where the pool started and the walkway finished. The hotel had its own temple ofcourse so a couple of picture of that too.
My quest for nature continues. There was a bird which was often singing outside my window first thing in the morning, I saw one in the tree and took a few photos to try and identify him from the little posters I had seen in the grounds. I wasn’t very successful though. I saw a little lizard climbing up the wall of the next building, and was always seeing the toads on the way to and from dinner but was never able to snap them they were so fast and it was dark. There was a bird that I saw a couple of times in the baby swimming pool, my favourite place. One day he was having a bath in there when I was in the pool, I walked out very slowly when he left and followed him, he went into the bushes behind my seat. I managed to snap him in the bushes and then he came out and I got a great shot of him. We were so close to each other and it wasn’t a problem. I also found a squirrel in the temple and got a great shot of him running up a tree.
My last day appeared so quickly. It’s almost impossible to believe I was there for a month. My flight was at 10:30 pm so I booked the hotel shuttle for 7pm. It was very rainy in the morning and I was up at six to pack. Deb and I had arranged to meet for breakfast at eight and were going to have a last pool session, she was leaving at noon after checkout. The rain eventually stopped at ten and we spent time sitting in the pool chatting and laughing. Then it was time for her to go. I had arranged for my luggage to be taken out of my room at 12 and a booked a special massage and pedicure at 1 which would take two and a half hours. Then I went to meet Kerri my other new friend from yoga, we had a bite to eat in the cafe on the beach and looked out to sea, and chatted for an hour. Finally we said our goodbyes and promised to keep in touch, maybe see you in Bali again or Thailand or Australia or England, the possibilities are endless. Back to the pool for my final hour to soak up the sun.
Arriving at the airport was interesting, I had a porter, the best 40,000 rupees I spent, as he guided me through the process, you can’t get into the airport unless you are travelling. He lifted my luggage on to the scanner. That was the first security checkpoint. Then at check in they stuck some sort of device into my bags that were going into the hold. Then the usual sort of security for carry on stuff. I had checked in my rucksack too as it’s quite heavy and I was able to check in two bags. The good news was that my big bag is now under 21 kilos, lots of bottles of stuff where finished and I left behind the last few clothes washing capsules, and the horrible Nivea face cream. Disposed of some other bits and pieces which I decided I didn’t need to carry around any more. I was going to buy some new face cream in duty free, but it was 30 pounds more expensive than in duty free in the U.K. and I think even more expensive than buying in the shop in the UK so I decided not to bother. I will see if I can get it in to the States.
I felt I could have stayed there another month at least, if not longer. I also had a real sense that I was going home, even though there is still another month to go and still a lot to do and see, and people to spend time with. I wasn’t looking forward to the next twenty four hours which I was going to spend travelling to Los Angeles, especially the second flight which was fourteen hours long, but I tried to keep the serenity I felt in Bali with me. Once I got through security and everything I was able to find some food and had plenty of time to get to the gate. We left on time, and I took my last look through the window and said goodbye to my slice of paradise.
I am sitting on my balcony in the hotel, which is made up of lots of self contained units in beautiful grounds, mostly four units per building but some of them are six units from what I can see. I chose this hotel because it is right next to the Yoga place I wanted to go to, in fact I can see it from my room and when I am there I can see my room, so I couldn’t really be any closer. It takes me two minutes to get there. It’s Wednesday the 7th of February in my world, and I am taking a day out of the sun today because I think I overdid it a bit yesterday, despite factor 50. The rainy season has most definitely abated since last week and even more so since the week before that. There are still downpours but mainly at night, we did have a couple of big ones early this morning too. I had to borrow an umbrella from the restaurant the other night to get back, but generally it’s fine. The last few days it has been getting less cloudy as well so feeling hotter and more humid. The humidity is the hardest thing to handle especially if you are trying to exercise in any way.
I discovered that bluebird taksis had an app, so had ordered myself one to get here. But had a bit of a glitch, I checked a little later and it had disappeared so I ordered another. When I got the message to say the taxi was on its way I looked again and both orders were there again and I had two taxis coming, so I quickly had to cancel one of them. He arrived and we loaded my stuff into his boot. We got to the famous dual carriageway and he did a u turn at the place Google had suggested I cross. That was really scary, the traffic was coming and all these cars and bikes were trying to u turn into it, and there was no gap in the traffic and none of it stopped. I did actually think, this could be it and then took the only option of closing my eyes. We arrived at the hotel a minute of two later and the security guard at the gate actually checked under the car with a mirror, that was a first. We were allowed in because clearly we were not deemed to be a danger. Car unloaded and taxi driver paid, a young man indicated I should go up the stairs and as I did he hit a gong to announce my arrival. I was greeted at reception and we went through the process of registration, and I was provided a drink and cold towel. Then escorted by the young man ahi initially greeted me with all my luggage on a trolley to my room. This hotel has its own spa too, and has two swimming pools plus a private beach. My room overlooks one of the pools, but there is a big hedge which obscures my view. I can hear all the excitement and frolics though. It takes me about 30 seconds to get there. I spent an hour on the beach on my first full day, but I prefer the pool because it has a children’s pool and I can go and do a bit of floating in there supported by a wall between that pool and the smaller adult pool. You need the water to cool down.
Once I was installed in my room, I got unpacked and sorted myself out a bit, I had a little argument with myself about whether or not to go to yoga, which was on at 5 pm. I had to push myself to go, but once I had made the decision I got myself changed and turned up half an hour early. I took my travel yoga mat with me, but didn’t need it because they have everything there of course. I have been using it for the HIIT I have been doing, High Intensity Interval Training for those uninitiated in these technical training terms, so I feel I can justify the ten pound purchase. Anyway yoga on Friday night was a sort of relaxation/meditation yoga, so it was work, but not too hard. It’s an hour and a half, the building is all bamboo and other natural materials. Downstairs is reception, a shop, a cafe and changing rooms I think. Upstairs is the yoga studio, there are only three or four sessions in a day, in the morning and then evening, it would be too hot at any other time, the studio is of course open, as in no windows, so you get a bit of a breeze, if you are lucky. I really enjoyed it and was glad I had pushed myself to go.
The next morning I got up early and did some training and then went for a big walk down the pathway along the beach frontage, I wore flip flops because I though I would be able to do the walk on the beach but soon realised that wouldn’t be possible, because they have the stone piers built out to the sea and sometimes at the end of them a covered area where you can sit and meditate. I must do that one day. Even though it was early the heat was something else, well the heat and the humidity. I walked about 4.4km in total there and back. I had to go to and dry myself off before I went in for breakfast. Breakfast is a buffet affair, but very good. I had opted to go on half board for the week because I am fed up with having to make decisions about where to eat, sad or what. I have come to realise I can be a bit of a creature of habit. Anyway they have a lovely plain yoghurt which I am having with some melon and pineapple every morning and then generally I am having an omelette and maybe a small pastry or pancake. Then I don’t eat again until dinner time, the dinners are a little overwhelming too, but generally good. The patronage is mainly French and Dutch, with a few Australians and English. It is also mainly older couples, and clearly many people come here year after year.
After breakfast on the first morning as I mentioned earlier I went to the beach, after about an hour we had a bit of rain, so I decided to give up, it wasn’t long before the sun was out again, so I decided to try the pool, and I really like it there. It’s not too crowded and there is a nice bar. The service everywhere is very good and the staff all extremely friendly, I definitely made the right choice to stay here.
On Sunday I didn’t do any training as I was going to yoga at 5 pm but I did go for a walk and this time I wore my trainers, I really pushed myself and broke my personal best time for 5 Kms. I don’t know if I mentioned this before but I lost all my walking data for October when I was I Utah, I know I did 5K then in under an hour, but this time I think I did it in 55 mins, so I was really pleased with that, especially in this humidity. I am sitting in the shade at the moment on my balcony just wearing a cotton t shirt and shorts, and I am wet through. It’s crazy.
Yoga on Sunday was a restorative session, I did one of those in Nelson, it was really good and again I was glad I had gone. The following day I could really feel that I had worked, so decided to give the walk and workout a miss as I was going to Yoga again in the evening, this time it was Hatha. It was much harder, but I was able to do most of the things, I did have a major breakthrough though, when I was doing Barre Core before I left England one of the exercises we had to do was a one handed side plank. I could never do them. So we were in plank and she said now move to the side plank, and I thought oh no, I can’t do that! Then I thought well I really need to try. And I did it, just like that, no problem at all, I couldn’t even lift my body off the ground before, so I was so pleased with myself. Towards the end of the session I looked up into the roof eaves and there were two little birds just quietly sitting there underneath a bamboo pole each, so cute, but they quickly flew off when we finished the class. I have to say the next two days I could really tell how hard I had worked.
The Yoga barn has a holy cow, she has her only little enclosure and sometimes they tether her up in the hotel grounds in the morning. She is quite beautiful. Well I think so anyway.
The grounds have lots of wildlife, there are some spotted doves, and some Toads which I have seen when walking to and from dinner in the evening, there are signs around the place and pictures of the birds and toads.
As usual there are many statues and temple like structures and the statues are dressed in either gold or black and white. I was particularly taken with the frog below. The hotel ofcourse has its own temple too.
No more yoga for me until Friday, the sessions are all too advanced, so I did some training this morning and going for a walk this afternoon, before dinner I am aiming to do 6km today.
Yesterday I came back to my room at one point and found a dead lizard on my balcony surrounded by ants, I think they were trying to move it, the tail kept moving backwards and forwards. I called guest services and Rentokil came and removed it. Thanks Rentokil!
I talked about butterflies in my last episode, here is one black with white spots on one side and stripy underneath. It was difficult to photgraph these were the best, hope you can spot him, ha ha.
They are quite determined ants. The other day on my balcony they had a dead wasp in their clutches and they walked it the full width of the balcony, three times they went over the edge onto the vertical and they managed to walk the body back to the horizontal again.
When I was in the beach I saw a shell moving and then spotted some little crab kegs under it. It doesn’t take a lot to keep me amused.
The dragon flies are really big here and some are quite beautiful, on one of my early morning walks I walked into a big group of them flying around. I was trying to take a photograph but don’t think I was too successful, here it is anyway. Also some photographs from my first few days here.
As I mentioned in my last piece there are a lot of dogs around, fortunately the incessant barking isn’t a factor in the hotel grounds, however when I go for my walks there are a lot of dogs around and some of them are occasionally a bit boisterous. One thing I will say about them though is they leave everyone alone. I don’t know if they are stray but I believe they are, there are signs in restaurants saying don’t feed the dogs. One of the things I have accomplished over the last few months is to get over my fear of dogs, so they don’t bother me at all when I am out walking, a lot of them look quite sad though.
The other thing I have seen twice is a girl walking around in her wedding dress, she had it over some sort of plaid top yesterday. I wondered whether this was part of the latest craze in Japan I think, where they keep taking photographs of themselves during the honeymoon in the dress. I don’t think I could be bothered quite frankly.
Anyway that’s all for the moment. Time to go and get myself a little refreshment, before I get stuck into my story again, which I haven’t touched for a few days.
Having left my little haven, I was on my way to a different sort of life for the next three weeks, I was staying in an AirBNB and the plan was to use the time to write, do yoga and go to the beach. But as they say the best laid plans and all that. I arrived a little early which was fine, my room was ready, There are five bedrooms in the house, one is taken by the host and her man, and the other four are all rented out. The bedrooms have open air bathrooms on one side, effectively half a ceiling which is really nice until it rains, the floor gets very wet and going to the loo in the middle of the night with a wet floor is not ideal. There are two rooms downstairs and two upstairs. They face out on to the communal area which is open with a small swimming pool, and to the side a small kitchen area. Breakfast is prepared for us every morning, either eggs and toast or Nasi Goreng or fruit. It is very comfortable and in a quiet street apart for the dogs, there are a few around and they seem to have fits of barking every once in a while.
So having settled in the first day I went out to a local cafe Dapur Deli, for something to eat, and had a lovely salad and a coffee. The next day I went in search of the supermarket. I asked one of the girls staying here how far away was the supermarket, and she said oh you need transport, I said how far do you think to walk. She said 15 minutes. Actually it was a lot less than that, ten at the most. But I was quite disappointed, I got cereal and milk and some pasta and a sauce and corn beef and beer. But there was no meat or vegetables for sale there, I found some salad across the road, but still no meat. There was however a huge variety of cleaning, beauty products and snack foods available, as well as things like bread and rice. I did go a bit further a field a few days later and found a Meat shop but it was closed and all the meat was frozen which wasn’t really what I wanted. Anyway. Supermarket shopping done, back to base to get some writing done.
The day I arrived was the day after the huge thunder storm and the road was almost one big puddle, when I went out to eat I was wearing cotton trousers and flip flops, I had to walk through the water and the bottoms of my trousers got wet despite pulling them up, I am happy to report though that the water was warm. By the next day that had almost all evaporated. The temperatures are in the high twenties, but the humidity makes it seem a lot warmer.
There are no pavements on these roads, so you have to keep and ear and eye out for traffic, mainly scooters. Everyone seems to have a scooter. They whizz past your ear, overtaking each other, often on the other side of the road. They carry anything between one and four people. Usually if it’s four it’s one adult and three children, none of them wearing helmets. Often they have contraptions built on them to carry various foods cooked and uncooked. I saw one man in Ubud, loading bricks into the front part of his scooter. They often drive with one hand, whilst carrying a tray of something in the other, I saw one women with a drink in a glass on a tray! I am desperate to take photos of them all, but feel that I shouldn’t, but here is one I managed to quickly take the other day.
On the third day I thought I better go and find the yoga and the beach, the yoga place I wanted to go to was right on the beach. To get there you have to cross the dual carriageway. My host had explained that I could walk on further to the traffic lights as it would be easier to cross there. google said I could cross before then, and that it took 25 minutes. I was wearing a light cotton dress but had my rucksack with a towel and my necessary bits and pieces on my back. It’s not far to get to the dual carriageway, you have to walk right around the hospital which is quite an impressive building from both sides. Once you are on the dual carriageway there is at least a pavement to walk on, it’s very high though, quite a step up. But don’t worry I was able to mange it. I could see this contraption in the distance on the pavement, thinking what on earth is that, it looked like scaffolding or something, perhaps they were repairing the wall. Then I thought Oh no I am going to have to step into the road to go past it, and the road is very busy. As I got closer I realised that it was a set of steps, and further more it was a bus stop. I think there were four steps and then you were in the platform for the bus. I didn’t see any buses but my mind was boggling about how high they must be. There was another of these bus stops but this time with a steep ramp, a photograph below
Anyway getting back to my walk, Google suggested I could cross the road at a point where U turns were possible. I tried that for quite a long time, no luck, so I moved on to plan b cross at the traffic lights. When I got to the traffic lights there was a policeman on duty, but that didn’t help me. It was a four way junction and very busy. I could see a zebra crossing on my side of the dual carriageway, and also and on both sides across the junction. When I finally got a green man and walked across I discovered there was no zebra for the second half of the road, and no green man and by now traffic was moving again, so I just had to wait and take my chances when I could. I wasn’t timing this walk but clearly it was going to be longer than Google’s 25 minutes, not that the length of time mattered to me, but I needed it for planning purposes.
Anyway finally I was safely across the dual carriageway, and then I had a bit of a zig zag walk to get to the beach. The beach front is full of hotels all with their own sun beds. There are restaurants and shops, there is a pathway which I walked quite a way down which has lots of little shops. I suppose with the volcano eruption they have had quite a hard few months so they all seem very desperate to sell. I had been into the market are of Ubud thinking I might buy myself a cotton dress, even though I was almost forced to try one on, with no mirror, and they kept dropping the price I walked away because I just get completely turned off by those selling techniques. It was the same here every shop they try to get you to stop and have a look. But as we all know I am not buying things. I tried to rent a subbed for the day, but it seems they are all hotel owned so I walked further down the beach the other way, and it just seemed to be the same. It was also clouding over quite a lot and I felt a couple of drops of rain. So I made tracks back to find the yoga place and made some enquiries and then made a decision to head back. So this time I did time it, I crossed the dual carriageway on the side where there were two zebras, only of discover there was no pedestrian light for the second half, but the policeman blew his whistle and got me across. Door to door thirty five minutes. That’s not bad, easier when you know where you are going, but it was a hard walk, the pavements are uneven, the roads without pavements are hazardous, I had a ring of black dust around my watch, and my dress was completely wet through becuase of the humidity Best laid plans.... I realised that my dream of walking to the beach and yoga everyday were just not going to happen. I decided I needed to revisit my plan, so I looked at the cancellation policy and cancelled my Airbnb from 2nd Feb, and booked myself into the hotel nearest to the yoga place on the beach. It’s only money after all. I will still have spent less that half of what I spent in Australia. Once I had made the decision I felt a lot better and just decided to hang and get my writing up to date and not worry about anything. After all I had been travelling for four months, and made the best use of most of my time, so this was always going to be downtime, just slightly different to what I had imagined.
So I have settled into some sort of routine, waking up really early very morning, but going for breakfast about nine, reading, maybe lounging around in the sun for a bit. I have done some writing most days. I started writing my story, which has been far more challenging than I thought, but again I have decided not to rush myself, the key is probably to just write and then edit it down.
I go out for short walks to the supermarket, and I go out for dinner each evening, I usually go to Dapur Deli because the salads are really good, and I have been missing my salads. It’s so cheap to eat out here that it just isn’t worth the effort of buying the food and cooking it. The cafe is always quite busy, people having business meetings, friends meeting up. There was a girl have a language lesson in there the other day. Everyday I see am English lady who I have surmised is a teacher. I saw her marking yesterday, and I found a big college or school close by yesterday too, so maybe she teaches there. We nod and smile, but haven’t struck up a conversation. She is always loaded down with bags and her scooter helmet and jacket. Have to be prepared for the rain, it is the rainy season after all. There seem to be a lot of people like her living here as well as the large number of tourists. The Airbnb is full at the moment two young couples who are travelling, and a young Russian guy who is travelling but working as a programmer I think. Sitting in the Cafe the other day the song ‘I wanna go home’ come on the radio, it’s a song that reminds myself and Asgeir of a friend of his, who was a musician and died at the age of about twenty in a car crash. They played him singing it at his funeral, so it always brings a tear to my eye, it was just so funny I hadn’t really heard any music in there and all of a sudden this came on, and I am of course thinking about going home, with only six weeks left of my adventure into the future. And the young waiter was singing along to it. There had been a big power cut all afternoon, so they were only serving salads and cold drinks, a bit of a slow day for them. So I think he really did want to go home.
We have had one bad thunder storm since I arrived in Sanur, but it’s been ok, mainly raining during the night, until today, today it is pouring down, and the puddle outside the house is huge. I am sitting outside, under cover of course, and watching the rain pouring into the swimming pool. I hope it stops before I have to go out to eat.
Talking of eating I mentioned I bought a tin of corned beef, I do like corned beef and was going to make a salad and have a couple of slices. Well, it wasn’t Fray Bentos is my first comment, and the key wasn’t strong enough to unwind more than half an inch. They had no tin opener so one of the ladies used a hammer and a knife to open in. Once open I saw this horrible gooey mush, I am afraid I found it completely inedible, I did think about frying it up to make corn beef fritter, but I didn’t think it would survive the process. So into the bin it went.
As well as food in the small cafes, known as Warungs, being really cheap, there are also food sellers going around with either a high type of box on wheels which has pans of food and also shelves with various bits and pieces on, some of them have adapted their scooters to hold their wares as well. They go around the streets ringing their bell and people come out of their houses to buy food. A bit like our ice cream vans in England, except they are usually on foot. Warung is the only word I have learnt other than Taksi which appears on the top of the bluebird taxi. I assumed it was Bailinese but looking it up all I got were posts about how they are the best taxi company and don’t use the blue ones with taxi on the top, because they are not real bluebird taxis and often don’t put the meter on. Phew. I will find out how good they are tomorrow when I have to move accommodation.
At around lunch time you see all the children coming home from school, I am not sure what time they start, I am never out earlier enough to find out. They are seen walking and on scooters and on bikes, they all wear school uniform. You see boys on bicycles all the time, I think they are practicing for when the get their scooters, because they often have another boy on the bike with them, and they go haring up and down the roads like mad scooter drivers. Funnily enough although all the women drive scooters I haven’t seen any girls on bikes. I have seen women on building sites, mixing concrete, laying slabs and delivering goods, so it’s good to see that they have equality in that respect. In the hotel in Ubud there certainly didn’t seem to be any discrimination, both sexes doing all jobs, how often do you see men cleaning hotel rooms in the U.K. I don’t think I have ever seen a male chambermaid, sorry should that be chamberperson, have you?
A little on the wild life I have seen, there are of course lots of little Geckos around, I had one in my room in Ubud, I am pretty sure he lived there because is saw him over a couple of days in the same place and then running back behind the mirror. I don’t know if they do live inside but I quite liked the idea. There were plenty of them around the hotel of course, and I saw one in the communal area here yesterday too. There are quite a lot of butterflies, but mainly big black ones, I have seen a few coloured ones, but not many, and the bees are absolutely enormous and black too. Again I am assuming they are bees and they may be carpenter bees, I see them collecting nectar outside the Dapur Deli. The other thing I saw in Ubud whilst walking the 100 steps from the swimming pool was a snake, slithering down, I don’t know who was more frightened me or the snake, yuk, it was only tiny and grey in colour, so I guess it was some sort of harmless grass snake. Having just looked up snakes, I see there are lots of scary snakes here, I though it was bad enough In Australia when I was told to look in the toilet before I sit on it. Oh well hopefully that is the only one I will see. I have mentioned about the dogs already, but I saw a cat the other day, and it was up a tree, it looked like a statue, I would have taken a photograph if I had had the chance, it moved and jumped off. It was so funny, I can only describe it as a cat in a cartoon, when they stop and all the hair stands on end and they are poised to do goodness knows what to get out of whatever situation they are in. Hilarious
The people in Bali are really lovely, they all smile at you and greet you when you are walking down the street and want to know where you are staying. They even smile and say hello when driving past on their scooters. That’s what is really great about staying here, I am not in the tourist trap with everyone shouting taxi and buy this at me. The day before yesterday I woke up to the sound of a lot of drumming. I knew something was going on because they had been a lot of activity at the temple behind the house across the road. Women had been arriving dressed up in their finery, beautiful patterned skirts and lacy blouses and coloured sashes. When I was in Ubud having my pedicure a big procession passed by and I asked what it was for and was told it was a cremation. The women were dressed like that then. I think if I was going to buy anything that is what I would buy a traditional Balinese dress. They look so elegant. I was coming back from dinner in the evening walking back down Gang 8, the road name, and a man said hello to me. Where are you staying, and then he told me that there was going to be a ceremony the next day for the full moon and I should come. So the next morning I asked Noni, our cook, who had turned up in all her finery, she was obviously going, and she said yes and there is dancing at 11 too. What should I wear, and she pointed to how she was dressed, well that wasn’t going to be possible at such short notice, I had a look in the wardrobe, such as it is, nothing really would suffice. So I kind of gave up on the idea.
So a lot more drumming the next morning and I had been to the supermarket for some face cream and some body lotion, as you do, and I was walking back down gang 8 and the same man said hello they are dancing now. Why don’t you have a look. I said I wasn’t sure I was dressed properly, and a couple, of them said, no it’s fine don’t worry. So I walked down the alley way. I couldn’t really get near, but I could see the backs of all the women and their hands were telling the story and they danced in about three columns probably six dancers in each column. What struck me more than anything when they turned around was, how beautiful they all were, they all had they hair styled up, and many of them were middle aged, but their skin was so beautiful. Not a wrinkle in sight. Why is that I wonder. I see women all working hard, at all sorts of jobs, and it is a poor community when you look at the infrastructure. But maybe they have something different here, a different less stressed way of life, sitting in the deli, and watching all the different people and the different things that are going on has certainly made me wonder. People seem carefree and kind and happy. Even when it raining cats and dogs. But then you overhear a conversation and realise that actually things probably are the same here as everywhere else. Below is a photograph of the Temple after the big event.
The last thing I want to tell you about is the offerings in all the temples and everywhere really. You see all these little boxes full of flowers and leaves and other bits and pieces and sometimes depending on where they are they have joss sticks lit as well. When I first arrived and was being taken to my hotel the guide told me that they have to make an offering every day. In this house a young lady turns up with a big pile of them every morning and places them on the temple but also in a corner behind the dining area and on the hob. She clearly does this for a living, I don’t know if she makes the offerings as well, but I have also seen other people in the town going from place to place with offerings. They get left on pavements too outside businesses and shops and trampled all over.
Anyway tomorrow I move on, so I will try out the bluebird taksi and live on the beach for a week, and hopefully get to yoga a few times. A few photos of my current abode are below.