Back in Bali now and we're settled in a charming little guesthouse in Candidasa. It's hands down our favourite bungalow to date - with antique furniture, a four-poster bed and a super comfy day bed with big cushions on the porch. We overlook a field of coconut palms beyond which we can see the crashing surf.
Our experience of the fast boat back to Bali was tempered greatly by Gravol and calmer seas. Thus leaving us simultaneously horrified and secretly smug as we watched an Indian man take numerous pictures of his two seasick daughters.
Candidasa itself doesn't seem to have much to offer beyond some nice hotels and restaurants. The main strip is divided by a busy road (ugh traffic. culture shock after 3 weeks on an island without cars)...which provides a difficult and amusing challenge to local taxi drivers and merchants who insist on yelling at you across the loud traffic. "TAXI?" "MAYBE TOMORROW?!" or "SUNGLASSES!" "GOOD PRICE". Prompting you to yell back " NO THANKYOU!" to the man 10ft from the last guy you said no thankyou to.
It seems Candidasa marches to it's own tourist season. And right now, that season is low. The restaurants are bare and many hotels boast 30% discounts. The desperation is palpable, and frankly rather uncomfortable. Not that we can't feel for a man trying to sell sunglasses to feed his family...but shouldering the burden for all tourists wears thin. It is odd. For the Gilis were practically swarming. At least here Mike seems to have escaped the constant "Long Hair Long Life!" touts he got on Gili. (or "Long Hair More Wives" when I wasn't with him.) (After a while it became like a name that they would call as a question: "hey Long Hair Long Life, you want to go snorkeling? I have boat!")
Not far from Candidasa, though, there is a small ancient village called Tenangan - which dates back over a thousand years, and whose descendants still live and carry on the crafts of their ancestors. It just so happens we landed here in time for the most important festival of the year - where men fight with thorny leaves and village girls are twirled around on small wooden ferris wheel type things. (?!) Of course the start times for these events in our brochure were vastly off and we managed to just miss them today. But we may attempt again tomorrow. Still, missing the crowds afforded us a chance to walk quietly around the beautiful village and take in it's amazing energy. The idea tomorrow is that we'll pack up in the morning, and on the way to our next destination, we'll pop in quickly to the festival at the right time to see the men fighting and the girls twirling. After that, we'll carry on to a small chocolate factory we heard about for a sweet nibble, and then head on up to choose a hotel in Tirta Gangga. This being the site of a magnificent water palace and the start of a 1700 step climb up to a mountain temple (we'll see how that goes with Abbey). After that we push on to Amed, further up the coast. We have two weeks left in Bali before our flight to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. As with all of it, it's forming as we go.
p.s This morning we watched a coconut fall 40ft and land with a heavy smash and splash 5ft from our bungalow! According to Wayan, Balinese people don't get hurt by falling coconuts because they pray. After today, that seems rather hard to believe.