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.