Back on the road in Bali by Baz
We flew out of Sydney Airport on the 25th January, delighted to be proper travelers on the road again.Australia had its good points, most notably the time spent with Helena in the Blue Mountains and the fantastic Whitsunday sailing trip but there seemed to be a different type of traveler there and Seonaid and I just didn't fit in.
As soon as we landed in Bali we got a similar buzz as we felt in South America - that edgy excited feeling of being somewhere so far removed from home, not only in geography but in language, culture, climate and food.We got a wakeup call when a guy tried to rip us off for Rp. 90,000 for a phonecall at the airport.I wasn't familiar with the notes yet but knew something was up and he paid up when challenged.We needed to sharpen up again.
We had a crazy 1 hour taxi ride to our accommodation in Ubud.Set amongst rice paddies Ubud has been known as the Arts centre of Bali for many years.It retains some of its charm though much more tourist orientated these days.We were very pleased with our accommodation, an apartment set within a beautiful garden enclosure with a great view of the rice fields, welcoming hosts and excellent breakfasts - we felt we deserved a bit of luxury after 7 months of travelling.Despite everyone we encountered speaking quite good English, Seonaid and I embarrassingly tried to communicate with the locals in Spanish - the ghost of South America lives on.
There are hundreds of restaurants in Ubud and the Indonesian food is cheap and very tasty.With unfamiliar food Seonaid and I, as we had done in South America, began taking a heightened interest in our own and each others faeces.We have discovered that faeces provide an excellent barometer of health.Each morning one or the other of us ventures into the toilet and upon exiting is faced with the same question; "Well? How did you get on?"The facial reaction says more than words ever could; either a smile and a nod or a shake of the head and a lemon chewing face scrunch which says "It wasn't good, and you should avoid the loo for a bit".Then the postmortem begins.What did we have eaten yesterday that could have caused such an atrocity? As I write this I am suffering from a terrible case of the spicy runs.Painful as well as uncomfortable.
There are as many spa and massage parlors as there are restaurants and having hurt my back carrying my ever expanding backpack (currently at 23 kg) I decided to treat myself to one.I was mildly concerned that in some countries a "massage" might have a sexual connotation but was certain that that was not the case in Indonesia.So I tentatively went into one of the more modestly priced salons and requested an hour long full body massage.A lady escorted me up to the massage room and began the treatment.All was going well; my masseuse had a little English and was able to make basic requests such as "fron" when I was required to lie on my front and "bak" when I was required to lie on my back. She gave a thorough and comprehensive treatment covering all the main areas you would expect.Then when I thought she was just about finished she made a final request - "penis", she said.Assuming I had completely misheard I responded "Sorry?"
"Peenis" she repeated.
"How are you going to get out of this one Rooney?" I thought.
I stared at her sheepish and confused "peeeenis" she said again, this time with a motion of the hands which suggested I should get off the table and leave.
The penny dropped; "Oh, finished" I said "Finished…excellent…excellent…thank you"
"Yes, peeenis" she confirmed, now convinced she was addressing a complete moron.
Seonaid and I walked to one of Ubud's big attractions, the Monkey Forest.This is a nature reserve that is home to over 200 Macaque Monkeys.They roam free throughout the forest and the little guys are cute but extremely mischievous and visitors are well warned to keep a tight hold on personal belongings as a camera could disappear up a tree faster than you could say "What's that monkey doing in your pocket?"
I had a bad experience with monkeys as a child. My mother took me to Belfast zoo and the monkeys at the entrance started pelting us with s***.In my current sensitive condition, if the same thing happened this time I guess I could soak them with diarrhea.In the end this was not necessary but we had great fun feeding the little guys bananas, watching them play in a pool, and when we were leaving one of them jumped on Seonaid and began to groom her hair, another jumped on my head and, perhaps angered by the redness of my hair, tried to bite me.I hope they didn't have lice or rabies or both.
That evening we went to a traditional Indonesian dance called the Kecac Ramayana and fire dance.It is a musical and dance reenactment of some historical Indonesian thing…Seonaid was all into it, but as you can probable glean from my lack of enthusiasm, I was not.It went on for an hour and I was drifting off to sleep when the guy started kicking burning ambers towards the audience.For me this was the only exciting part but Im sure Seonaid would have more to say about it.
Yesterday we hired a moped and made the 3 hour round trip up winding mountain roads to the biggest and most important temple in bali; the Pura Besakih temple.There was a ceremony on when we arrived and we had to be guided round the substantial grounds.It was in a most impressive elevated location and at the foot of the very active Agung Volcano.Agung's last major eruption was in 1963 when many villages were destroyed and over 1000 people were killed.
Bali has been nice but very wearing at times.The climate at this time of year consists of either an uncomfortable heat or a downpour of rain.We are tortured each time we leave our accommodation by people offering us a "Taxi" and doing a two handed gesture that appears as if they are milking as cow (Seonaid pointed out to me they are in fact turning an imaginary steering wheel).I counted 30 requests in an hour's walking yesterday.Our response to them has deteriorated from "No thanks", to "No" and is now just a shake of the head.
We leave for Singapore tomorrow (Saturday 31st January) and today, when I'm not spending time on the toilet I will be relaxing.Seonaid has gone off to pamper herself with a facial and massage. I may even treat myself to another massage later, safe in the knowledge that "Peenis" means "Your massage is finished.Please get off my table and leave".