Gili to Lombok
I woke to the jiggle of the cheap wooden bunk beds, a very crappy drawback to dorms, when James got up to fiddle with the computer. He had remembered it was dead and we might want it for another long travel day. It was around 6:30 am and to be honest I was a bit confused why I was already (or still?) dressed. Oh well, I changed the important bits and we grabbed our bags and headed to the local ferry terminal. The local ferry, which is so much cheaper than anything else, leaves when full and we had to make sure we were on one of the first to go. We had to catch the Perama transfer from Lombok at 9:30 am and it didn’t leave much wiggle room. We found the ferry, waded knee deep into the sea to climb aboard (carrying everything we owned) a tiny wooden boat with a mix of too many tourists, locals, bags, water bottles, kids…well you get the picture. It only took about 20 minutes or so to reach the tiny bay on Lombok. We jumped off the boat, into knee deep water, and went in search of a cab. All is looking great…we might even make it to Seggiggi in time to get some yummy banana bread for breakfast.
We made great time but the bakery wasn’t open so I took the free coffee the Perama office offered and practiced English with one of the staff. We come across it quite often and enjoy helping although with my grammar and slang I wonder if I am doing any good. Our van finally picked us up and we were off again, this time to the ferry. I was having one of those days that every time you sit still for more than 3 minutes you fall asleep. I almost fell asleep on the tiny local ferry except a very excited guy from London was asking me about the diving in the area. After the English lessons at the Perama office I dozed until James came back from the closed bakery and once in the van to the ferry fell sound asleep. Last night didn’t seem to be enough to get me caught up and I was happy I wasn’t traveling alone or I might wake up in a ferry terminal waiting room – the boat long gone.
We got on the ferry and I was happy it had a nice big inside space with couch like seats. They were filthy as can be but that didn’t stop me from curling up and going back to sleep. Thinking about all the places I tend to fall asleep I wonder if they have an anti-bacteria shampoo? I woke up for the second half of the four hour trip and got to take one last look at the beautiful sea views and mountains of Bali in the distance. James also started up a conversation, which for anyone who knows him would be as surprised as I was. It was regarding the tattoo Will, our live aboard guide, had. It was a Mermaid but as James was clearly pointing out, was all wrong. Something about a mermaid having a body of a human and a mammalian tail, like a whale or a dolphin that moves up and down. Not like will’s tattoo had, the tail of a fish, that moves side to side. Biting my tongue I tried to hint that they aren’t really real and went back to looking out the window. A few minutes later I was surprised to hear him pipe up with something about it just can’t work, the spine would be all wrong. Honestly, sometimes being married to a geek is too funny.
The ferry docked and we headed to another Perama office where we were told our van would be about an hour. UGH! Perama is easier than planning these days on local transportation by ourselves but it is by no means a time saver and the travel day gets stretched beyond belief. “sigh” Once in the van it was only a short ride (1.5 hours of which I slept about 1.25 of) to Ubud where we were dropped off at the office which was thankfully only a short walk to our hotel. It was peak season in Bali and we had a hard time finding something that had availability for 8 days. I had added Ubud to my list of places to see by a friend (Thanks Cheryl!) about a year or so ago when she talked about the peace and quiet and green terraced rice paddies. It looked like a great place to be stationed to do what little sights we wanted to see in Bali and to do the two days of diving we had planned. It also had great shopping and tons of restaurants!
We checked into our Bed & Breakfast which was described in the Lonely Planet as eccentric. Not sure I call it that but it looked okay. We were in a “budget” room at the very end of the place, past fancy new looking two storied bungalows. No problem, as long as it was cleanish and quiet. We dumped our stuff and went looking for dinner.
We found the Smiling Buddah, a great restaurant with homemade soups, pizzas, fancy sandwiches and even fancier drinks. Ubud is full of yoga doing, vegetarian eating, mac computer carrying, beaded jewelry wearing tourists. But I liked it anyways. ? There didn’t seem to be fast food or the young drunk crowd or huge malls, it had somehow maintained its charm despite how popular it was. The food on the boat was a bit bland and repetitive so I stuffed myself with a great meal and waddled home and fell into bed. James managed to stay up and get our dive gear soaked, our room thankfully had a tub.
Guesthouse take two
I was deep in dream land when the roof to our room started to shake. The room was called (all the rooms here had a theme and name)the South Pacific and was attached to another that we saw was clearly torn apart. They shared a thatch roof. The day before we were so excited to be in a private, quiet non-moving room we never thought about the state of the room next to us. As I pried one eye open to figure out the problem my brain started to register sound. Was that an electric saw? Not saying much we both got up and headed to breakfast. Today was a down day so I decided to linger over coffee and James went back to the room to read and snooze. About 30 minutes later I wandered back. I found James up, dressed and ready to go. I also found about 7 construction workers in and around our tiny shared porch, in addition to the electric saw guy who was still going strong – in between horking. Lovely. Now, as you all know I am usually the picky one, but I figured we didn’t have many days actually planned in so I figured we’d just suck it up and make due. To my surprise James was not okay with this. I think he wouldn’t of had such a problem except that even in our room with the door closed it was like they were in the room. Silly authentic weaved bamboo walls. So off we went in search of a new home.
Usually finding a hotel is a pain because we have our packs or one has to stay put while the other goes but today we were bag free and weren’t really in a rush so I loved it. We wandered around looking in all sorts of hotels, guest houses and B&B’s, it was so much fun! Ubud has more places to stay than you can ever imagine. Most places are guest houses or, as they call them, homestays but what that means is that the family has added hotel rooms to an area of their property. Most families’ homes are walled in by brick or stone walls and have tiny temples in the centre, some even have pools, ponds and beautiful views. We found a few that looked fine (in our price range) but decided on one that was tucked back off the main street, had a mini kitchen, a tiny patio and a fish pond right outside our door. Now this is what I was thinking for a week in Ubud. We checked out, checked in and sat on our patio planning our week. I was still, yes still, a bit tired so we had an early dinner and headed home to sit on the patio with a beer. The new hotel was blissfully quiet with only the geckos chirping and the odd rooster crowing.
We (me) slept in today and had a leisurely breakfast and I enjoyed coffee and my book on the patio beside the fish pond. A very nice way to start the day. James eventually got me going so we could go explore Ubud and the surrounding area a bit. We headed out of the city in search of a walking path through the rice paddies that would lead us to a temple.
We missed the path, decided to get closer look at the fields anyways and found the path – thanks to a group of shirtless tourists walking in the distance. It was a fun walk through squishy, muddy grass and past cows and lots of cute waddling ducks. The path ended at a busy road that did take us to the temple and once we had “rented” sarongs and belts we entered a beautiful green space filled with temples, waterfalls, paths and a tiny river. Goa Gajah, the Elephant Cave, is located in a steep valley and was built at least 700 years ago. We walked through a back path and got a great view of the river and surrounding jungle. We stopped eventually…we saw a really really really big spider hanging over the path and not even James was a big fan of walking under it.
End of the trail for us
Williams family reunion?
So we turned around and took a staircase out to a small side street. If we could find our way, we were heading to Yeh Pulu. Keep in mind we are now wandering the streets in our rented sarong and belts. We found another very impressive temple first and decided to take a peek. There was a celebration of some kind going on that involved cock fighting. Hmmmmm. We eventually found Yeh Pulu and went in for a peek. Yeh Pulu ancient rock reliefs are located between rice fields and a ravine of the Pekerisan River and the figures show fairy tales of the common people of that time. To be honest it was a bit anti-climactic. You walk down a long, beautifully finished walk way, past streams and shops and restaurants and rice paddies to get to the reliefs. They are pretty cool and old but not really the amazing huge piece of art I was expecting.
After handing in our rented clothes we decided to head back to town…if we could find our way. We not only found our way but found a restaurant with an amazing view of the rice fields and a Happy Hour! Drinks aren’t cheap in Indonesia but with Happy Hours they almost make it into our budget. We finished off the night with beers on our patio again.
PS – Happy Birthday Kyle!
What I do while James takes 1000 pictures of the same thing
We got up fairly early today. It was “rent a scooter day” and I was very excited. I love just exploring on our own. We usually have an idea what we want to see but with me reading the map we get lost a few times and end up seeing so much more. We headed up the mountain, north east of Ubud, looking for Gunung Kawi. We passed beautiful green terraced fields full of all sorts of vegetables, not just rice. On the way we passed Titra Empul, a beautiful temple and green space full of locals more than tourists. Also interesting, we passed bathing areas. From what I imagine not everyone in Bali has running water and it’s common to see people bathing and doing laundry in streams. Sometimes, like outside Titra Empul, huge areas are set aside for segregated bathing and washing. The whole process looks very social, like Japanese or Korean baths. I didn’t stop for pictures. Lol
We eventually found Gunung Kawi and were impressed. It’s considered the most impressive sight in Bali. It’s an 11th century temple complex located on the river Pakrisan. It has 10 rock-cut shrines carved into the cliff face. It was very lovely and I thought it’s make a nice place for a picnic.
Side Note: Durian Fruit is smelly.
We got back on the scooter and headed up into the mountains again. It was amazing how fast the temperature changed and I actually felt cold – without an air conditioner. The road got rougher and the landscaped changed from terraced gardens to huge orchards of orange trees. They were ripe and my mouth started to water just thinking about a fresh one. We stopped to make sure we were headed in the right direction and a guy on a scooter suggested we follow him to his restaurant that had beautiful views of Lake Batur. He took us on a short cut on a bumpy dirt road through more orange trees and we eventually popped out on a busy highway. Ahhhh, I was enjoying the isolation of the back roads. We checked out his restaurant and it did have amazing views but so did the side of the road and we wouldn’t have to pay a fortune for a snack. It’s frustrating when you ask for a menu and they say it’s only buffet, an expensive noodle buffet, then when you decline they produce a menu. We declined the menu, mostly on principle – we hate that they lie to you – and then they started to bargain for drinks and food. We politely said no thanks and drove off. We found a park like area a few miles away that had an even better view. It was free so we had our picnic lunch of pb sandwiches and let our butts get feeling back.
The thrilled recipient of a bike offering
Back on the bike, and only one wrong turn, we were stopped by a lady who was standing in the middle of our lane. She asked if we were going to Pura Besakih, and we said yes. She then stated we needed a blessing and before we could stop her started shaking a marigold flower full of oily scented water at James, stuck rice to his forehead and was moving towards me. I thought she had made him eat the rice so politely said no thank you. She then crammed a bamboo offering into the front of our bike and put out her hand for a donation. Huh? I was trying so hard not to laugh, James was stammering and stuttering trying to get her to stop doing things but she was too quick for him. We finally broke loose and I nearly fell off the back of the bike laughing. James was covered in white spots from the oil and had rice stuck to him.
We continued on our way through the mountains and down into the valley. It was a beautiful green, cool, peaceful ride. It reminded us a bit of the cottage road – if it was paved.
We pulled up to Pura Beshakih and even though we’d read the warnings I was not prepared. The Lonely Planet has a special box specifically for visiting Pura Beshakih and the scams and problems tourists have and even suggests you just skip it. I, thinking I was a fairly seasoned traveler, still wanted to see this elaborate and beautiful complex of temples. We paid our entrance and parking and drove up to the front steps. A young guy immediately started to harass us. You can’t park here. You can’t go in without a guide. You can’t go in without a sarong. You can’t go in without buying an offering. He was actually yelling at me – I was the first toff the bike. James got a bit upset at this young guy who was up in my face and stepped between us explaining he can’t talk that way to me. It was all very uncomfortable. We tried to head towards the other gate, hoping for a calmer bunch of scammers. Luckily there were and we got our rented sarongs and belts and were on our way. Once inside we only had on other incident, and it may have been my fault this time. There was a ceremony going on at the largest of the temples (there were 23 temples in total) and the “guides” stopped us saying we could only go in if we had a guide. When I said no thanks to a guide we were told we could only go in if we bought an offering. Seemed a bit fishy but we hadn’t read anywhere if we did or did not need an offering so we skipped this temple. During the discussion the guide also told me I couldn’t go in because I was angry. Great big “sigh”. It’s not that I was angry, it was frustration. I love visiting temples, as you all know. They are usually so peaceful, beautiful, full of history and sometimes I get lucky and there will be chanting or singing or drums. From the parking lot of this place it was pure chaos. I very politely and quietly told him this. He replied something to the effect that I was being disrespectful. This made me upset. Regardless of where we go we do research in advance to make sure we don’t disrespect anyone or their beliefs. I usually never go to temples without my own sarong but it was filthy from the week on the dive boat. I even wear modest shoulder covering t-shirts, longer shorts or whatever I can do to blend in. And we are told we are being disrespectful? The fact that he was smoking and would throw his dirty butt on the ground was fine. The piles of garbage, peeing around the corners, the sound of drink sellers or the little kids waving post cards in your face as you sit and listen to the chanting – isn’t disrespecting their sacred place? I bit my tongue and tried to relax and enjoy the other temples. It really was a beautiful place despite the people.
We decided we had enough time to go visit another tourist attraction. We had planned another day of biking for this area but it was still early. So off we went. We managed to stay on side roads, away from most of the heavy traffic which was great for James who was doing all the driving. We had our first tiny scooter accident when we were going through a muddy patch and the scooter in front of us cut in, we slipped in the mud and James scraped his foot on broken pavement. No worries, it was only through a black gooey puddle of muck – I’m sure he’ll be fine. To be safe we sprayed it a few times with antiseptic. Ewwwwww. The side roads finally ended and we had to drive on a fairly busy highway that hugged the coast. It looked better on the map. I thought it would be through tiny villages and past beautiful beaches. Not quite – it was noisy, busy and hectic.
We found Tenganan which didn’t quite live up to its description in the guides. It was a crumbly, dirty walled area that was literally filled with shops selling painted eggs, weavings, sarongs, wood carvings and everything else Bali. It was also filled with scooters! I guess the no motor vehicles didn’t apply to scooters. James and I had a laugh and climbed back on the bike.
The ride home was all on busy, dirty highways. It was already late so we decided to stop for dinner before going home, or we might not come back out again. Once home it took some scrubbing to get the filth off, scootering all day is dirty work!
Travel Hint: Ubud is beautiful but to really appreciate the beauty of the terraced field you have to get out of the city. I’d say renting a scooter, or even a scooter and a driver, is the best way. If you get a chance to do this I found the area around Selat the most beautiful, hopefully your navigator will get you lost in this area too.
Coral covered gun
Bright and early our van arrived for us. We were headed to the other side of Bali to do some diving. We don’t usually go out of our way to do wreck diving but the Liberty wreck, at Tulamben, is recommended by everyone so we thought we’d give it a try. It was a US Army Transport ship torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1942 off the nearby Island of Lombok and the ship was towed to the beach at Tulamben for salvage operations. The 1963 eruption of Mt. Agung, which devastated much of the eastern side of Bali, drove the ship into the water just off shore, where it became encrusted with coral and a home to other sea life. During high-season, up to 100 divers descend to the wreck each day. It lies in shallow water so is considered an easy dive and some (lots) just come snorkel it. The only drawback is it’s shore diving with surf. We have pull on fins so don’t wear booties and the stones were a bit hard on the feet. Also, for those who didn’t have a local guide or listen to their local guide the waves could be troublesome – but funny to watch. Our guide watched for the gap in the large ones, counting…one…two…three…swim NOW! Once you got past the break you could stop and leisurely put your fins on and start your dive. Coming out was pretty much the same. You just wait for the lull in waves. We saw a few pile ups, the funniest was a group of three decent sized guys who all rolled to shore in one giant wave of arms, legs, fins and equipment.
We were not disappointed by the diving, actually I was surprised. The wreck, although a bit spooky, was huge and interesting on its own but the fish and corals were also really impressive. We saw not one but two electric clams (not to be confused with Rob’s favorite bar in Thailand, which shares the same name), new (for us) nudis, box fish, a school of Jacks and so much more. We did two dives on the wreck before being taken to what they call their wall. Very cool was the black sand that gave a different feel to the dives. Not a dirty feel but a spooky feel. We thoroughly enjoyed all three dives and would recommend it, keeping in mind the wreck itself was a busy spot.
On the way home we got stuck in a crazy traffic jam that added about an hour to our commute. It was because of the up-coming Independent Day Celebrations. To celebrate all the school kids had to walk, the younger ones a few kilometres all the way up to the older students having to walk 45 kilometers. Today was the day for it and this busy highway the route. Our driver was very excited and was snapping pictures with his phone. People along the road were out sitting, watching, clapping and cheering for the walkers. It was interesting.
Once home we rinsed the sand and salt off and literally ran out to get dinner. We had an early night because we had another early pick up tomorrow for another day of diving. I went to sleep wondering if we’d be lucky enough to see the famous Mola Mola. We have been so lucky on this trip, seeing pretty much everything we wanted to, but it’s hard to get nature to always produce. My fingers were crossed.
A short, out of focus, video of the electric clam...but enough to give you the idea. And one of some creepy garden eels.
(Click on picture for link to videos, appx. 1.2 and 8 MB)
We arrived in Sanur at the dive shop to pick up our wetsuits (full 5 mm wetsuits, yuk!) and pay our bill (yuk again, diving is expensive!). Then headed to the ocean and our dive boat. After waiting for the boat to be loaded we waded in and climbed aboard our bouncing boat. It was tiny but then there was only two crew, a dive guide and five divers including us. The first dive was Manta Point, about 45 minutes away. Great! Just enough time for me to get nervous. The boat was bouncing over 4-6 foot swells, it might be cooler water, there might be strong currents (someone was just found after being sucked out to sea last week), and it was likely going to be deep, if we wanted to see the Mola Mola – everything I tried to avoid when diving. Deep breaths Susan…nice easy breathing.
The yawn ruins the camo a bit
Pulling up to Manta Point my fears quickly vanished. It was packed. Thirty four or so boats of divers and snorkelers were in the tiny bay making the already choppy water a mess. If this many people were diving it must be safe. We kitted up and I was sitting waiting (we’ve gotten pretty quick at getting ready) and I was sitting on the edge of the boat waiting for the others when the boat heaved at the same time James, unknowingly gave me a gentle push, as he was fiddling with his equipment. I had just enough time to grab my mask before I fell back into the water. Not at all graceful but I was in. James followed, maybe to keep me company until the others were ready, and while waiting I lost the scrunchie to one of my braids. Anyone who has dove with long hair knows the pain of getting your hair caught, repeatedly, in your mask strap and I’d found two braids were the best way to keep them out of my hair hungry mask strap. The others finally joined us and we descended into a slight surge. Slowly we made our way over to the Manta feeding station. We were there a few minutes and one came sailing by. I would have/should have been very excited but realized my loose braid was stuck in my regulator where it meets my tank and the more I tried to get it out the more it became stuck until my head was stuck up. Luckily we were only in 4-5 meters of water and when James saw me start to float up he figured out what was wrong and helped me untangle my hair. Not quite the start I expected. I finally settled in and that’s when the mantas started to fly overhead. OMFG! They are huge and graceful and beautiful and scary and..and…and….I had heard that they don’t really like divers bubbles so as they came close I held my breath (again, we were only in 4-5 meters of water so all was safe) but my handy over sensitive computer beeped its annoyance at me. Over and over again they sailed overhead. There were way too many people there, divers and snorkelers and it was hard to watch the mantas and not bang into people and the rocky bottom but thankfully after a few minutes most of them (the other people) left. Not sure why, it was an amazing sight. Our guide eventually signed it was time to go and we reluctantly swam away.
It is no Mola Mola, but still cool
The boat took us to a beach in Crystal Bay where we did our surface interval. We’d be doing two more dives in this bay hopefully seeing Mola Mola. It looked like all thirty four boats had the same plan and it was a jam packed bay. Our next dive was a bit frustrating. We didn’t see any Mola Mola, the dive site was FILLED with divers and the two girls with us said they were Advanced but I seriously doubted it. Normally that wouldn’t be a big deal but if they were having troubles with the gentle surge and descending then how would they react to chasing a Mola Mola down 42 meters (where the dive guide had gone the day before to see them). When we booked the dive shop was very clear on that to expect and these girls didn’t seem to read the warnings.
The surface interval was on the beach again and we also had lunch. I had a laugh while eating my cold club sandwich and fries that was made about 7 am this morning and packed for the day in a cooler. Divers pay a crazy amount of money to dive, put up with cold water, dirty, sandy, cold wet suits, weather of all sorts, currents, surges, no bathrooms, cold food, salt water showers….and love it!
I napped a bit in the sun and woke up to find most of the boats gone. It looked like most just did a two dive day. We waded back to the boat and as we were gearing up I decided to relax and enjoy this dive, the site had a great reef that was full of fish and critters, instead of spending the dive starting out into the blue looking for a Mola Mola. Once down James and I were lagging behind and looking at all sorts of amazing things when in the distance I heard another dive guide making noise and saw our dive guide take off. I got very excited and hauled butt! I not only passed our group but our dive guide as well and as I rounded a big piece of reef I saw IT! A huge Mola Mola. I turned back to make sure James had kept up, I think I surprised him at how fast I can be if I want to. There was only one other group and we all were wide eyed as we watched it being cleaned. They are shy and don’t like people but this one stayed for a few minutes before swimming off into the blue. Wow! Wow! Wow! It was so amazing. I had to hold my mask on…it is travel lite size and when I smile it gaps and fills with water…I’m surprised I could even see where I was going I had so much water in my mask, I couldn’t stop smiling. We went back to our dive and the other group left. A few minutes later I turned to the blue and thought….OMG! Another one. I started squealing like a pig, screaming…because everyone was looking towards the reef not out. James was behind me and the other guy in our group beside me...but he wasn’t looking OUT! I gave him a good whack and pointed at it. His eyes popped in his mask when he saw it. James had his camera up and ready and the rest of the group figured it out. A second one! How lucky could we be? Seeing them twice and at only 30 meters. I swam a bit closer to this one to get a better look before he swam off. They are wonderfully graceful and so ugly they are cute. Their eyes are like great big sad puppy dog eyes.
For those of you who don’t know what a Mola Mola is…. The ocean sunfish, Mola mola is the heaviest known bony fish in the world. It has an average adult weight of 1,000 kg (2,200 lb). The species is native to tropical and temperate waters around the globe. It resembles a fish head with a tail, and its main body is flattened laterally. Sunfish can be as tall as they are long when their dorsal and ventral fins are extended. Sunfish are pelagic and swim at depths of up to 600 m (2,000 ft) and have been recorded swimming 26 km in a day, at a top speed of 3.2 km/h.
A couple of videos of a manta and a mola mola
(Click on picture for link to videos, appx. 3.7 and 4.1 MB)
Once it swam off we only had a few minutes of our dive left, we did our safety stop and climbed back on board. I had a big goofy grin on my face that stayed there for pretty much the rest of the day. On the way home we stopped at the Dive Masters shop looking for an underwater casing for my point and shoot. Laugh all you want, but I too want to take pictures underwater and will gladly give up something else in my bag for a camera casing of my own. They didn’t carry it so we might have to wait until a bigger city. We did one more stop on the way for a snack, we treated ourselves and our diver to McDonalds drive thru.
Back home we cleaned up and went for dinner still talking, giggling and smiling about our Mola Mola sightings. A definite diving highlight!
We were going to rent a scooter today and see a bit more of the island but the traffic always seems heavy and we’d already done a full day on a scooter and a few long commutes to diving so we’d seen an awful lot of the island already. We decided instead to be productive. Rent a scooter and head to the cheaper market and a real grocery store. We were out of pb and had a kitchen we’d barely used.
There wasn’t much in the market, just a bunch of the cheesy tourist crap. Sarongs, t-shirts, plastic jewelry, coconut and shell everything and a lot of people grabbing your arm trying to get you to take a look at their stall. Ubud might be more expensive but it had beautiful pieces of jewelry, art and fabric. We found a local grocery store and got most of the stuff on our list and stopped at a few of the art shops on the way home. Anyone looking for amazing glass pieces would love Bali, original blown glass in every shape and size. If only I was heading home I might buy some. It was on the way home that James commented we’d made it to a new level of scootering. We had a big box of groceries, a box with two kites, a bag of fresh soft fruit and veggies and a bag full of wicker baskets (that you should likely hope you are not getting for Christmas!). We were loaded down…and got lost. My butt and feet fell asleep in the uncomfortable position I was in trying to hold everything up and not lean into James, it didn’t really work as it turned out. To make things even more comical I had my visor down, I’d forgotten to dig my sunglasses out of my purse and it was bouncing somewhere to the back of me. James kept yelling at me if I recognized anything….I kept yelling back but he couldn’t hear me at all. I tried that Charlie Brown whhhatt whaaattt whaant sound to see if he was faking, but nope he couldn’t hear a thing I said. Finally he stopped and turned around, as best he could, and YELLED for me to flip my visor up…I very quietly said no…it wasn’t safe. I might get a bug in my eye. The other day when we’d stopped to eat James had a fully intact bug stuck in the corner of his eye. EEEEEEWWWWWWW And I wasn’t taking any chances. If looks could kill……with a huge “I’m going to kill her” sigh he turned and started the scooter up.
Back home we decided that doing chores was exhausting and we decided to eat out. It might also have been that Ubud is full of great places to eat and we couldn’t resist. Tonight it was a place specializing in homemade soups, something we both missed.
I had a twang of home sick today. A family with four boys under 10 checked in a few days ago and while I sat blogging this they were playing Star Wars and Ninja – which reminded me of home, or our Korean home. It’s funny what little things remind me of home and make me miss it so much more.
I was up early and excited to get going today. I was taking a Batik class. You find Batik all over Asia, on Sarongs, wall hangings, cards and clothing and the artistic side of me was dying to find out how it was done. The owner of our guest house had booked it for me and insisted on taking me himself, on his scooter. It was inside a family, walled in, home and not very touristy. The teacher worked in his yard using the same technique and tools he had since he was taught 30 years ago. I was the only student, which suited me fine, and he kept praising me. I think if I got it right, his English wasn’t great, not everyone came to learn, some just came out of curiosity and didn’t take it seriously. This seemed to upset him. So I was a great student, or so he told me. It was a long process, with lots of layering and washing. I thoroughly enjoyed it and contemplated doing a second day. Looking at my finished piece I found a few errors and things I could do differently to make it better. He told me he’d let me do a bigger piece next time, now that I understood it better. It’s a process I plan to look up once we have a permanent home and something I think I can use in other art projects.
Travel Hint: Classes can be expensive so shop around. I wish I had done it earlier in the week so I could have done more classes, maybe even made my own sarong, which I was told would take a week – to do it right.
After my class James and I had lunch in then read and relaxed a bit. We’d had pretty good internet here and even got to skype with S&R the day before. Unfortunately the internet crapped out while talking to them, stayed out for the night and came on the next day…about 15 minutes before the power went out. In Ubud today there is a big celebration on and the power was being turned off for it. Don’t ask, I have no idea why. So that left little to do but relax. Very nice.
This afternoon as I was quietly reading James was reviewing his bucket list. We’d been crossing a few things off lately and I guess he was thinking it needed some serious thought. Ubud is a good place for that I guess. I’d like to share a few of the additions to James’ list, I think a few of you might be interested….to be able to do the splits again (James’ Note: I just want to keep the goaltending career option open), by forty to still be at an excellence level of the Canadian Fitness Challenge (James’ Note: The standing long jump continues to be my Achilles heel if anyone has any advice for me), make something out of glass, a few travel related entries and a few dive entries, one being to discover a new nudi branch. Also on the list was to be able to juggle five balls, so if he runs away to join an Asian circus I cannot be held responsible! Hmmmmmm. Maybe the mosquitos coils in the room at night aren’t such a great idea.
We took a small walk before having dinner in, pasta (FYI spaghetti is hard to eat with a spork) and a salad. It felt like a Saturday would back home and I was adding up the days until we might be back to real life. Time was flying that’s for sure.
PS – Happy Birthday Mom!
Not much was planned for today, a few errands, some packing and organizing and I wanted to do some shopping. We thought if we ate in all day we could treat ourselves to frozen margaritas. I did a bit of blogging and then left James to his picture editing to do some serious window shopping. Ubud is full or artists and the jewelry is beautiful, original and unfortunately a bit expensive. But it wouldn’t keep me from looking. I found a few new stones to add to my wish list and picked up some organic soaps and body scrubs (something else Ubud is great for – organic everything).
Back home we had pasta and salad again and headed out for our treat. We picked a Mexican restaurant that had low tables and floor cushions and spent the night giggling and laughing. Two pitchers of margaritas and a plate of nachos later we wandered (stumbled) home. We had one more day in Ubud and although we were excited to move on we had the familiar feelings of wanting to stay just a little longer.
East Timor, our next destination, is a bit off the beaten path. Agoda, Expedia and even Hostel World have no listings for it. We’ve tried emailing for a reservation but get almost no replies (only expensive places) so we are hoping we can find a budget place the day we land. This former Portuguese colony is famous for its organic coffee (anyone want some?) and some of the best scuba diving in the world. The pristine beaches and coral reefs virtually untouched and undiscovered… but in stark contrast to one of the poorest populations on Earth. The infrastructure is supposed to be a mess and we’ve wisely kept our sightseeing list short. According to the Lonely Planet only 1500 people visit a year (that’s only 4-5 /day, while nearby Bali takes more than a million each year) and I suspect that has something to do with the fact that (as far as I could tell) it only has two international airports that service a few Indonesian cities and Bali, Darwin and Singapore, and only one land crossing…and VISA on arrival is only available when flying in. Intrepid Travel has two new tours scheduled for 2012….So Where Is Susan Now?