Day 213: Eat, Pray, Loving Bali

Today was another active one, we didn’t stop from the time we got up to the time we went to bed. We hired a driver from a nearby tourist shop, and for 8 hours he escorted us around southern Bali. We visited three separate locations, but because they were so far apart it took a while to reach each one. When the day trip was over we returned to Seminyak to grab our bags, before being taken to Ubud. A place we’d be staying for the following 4-5 days to hopefully relax.

• The alarm clock rang at 8:30am, and what a horrible feeling that was. Initially I woke up with some energy after having a good nights sleep, so I used that to pack the last of my bags. Ann then came a knocking to let us know her and Simon were ready – bless ’em, they’d been up a lot longer than us. We did a final perimeter check to make sure we had everything, then headed to reception to put our bags in storage for the day.

• Today we’d be leaving the rather dirty looking Seminyak for the more attractive Ubud. However, instead of going straight there, we decided to hire a private driver for the day and visit various places before hand. We were hoping to have the same driver as the day before, but when we reached the tourist shop he was already out with other customers. In place of him we were given another driver. They were happy to accept the price we’d negotiated the night before, and one by one we climbed into the minivan.

• It was very hot inside the vehicle at first, but thankfully the a/c unit had three settings, and was directly in front of my face. We flicked the switched to the third dial, and cold air filled the vehicle. Simon was sat in the front and throughout the day he made small talk with the driver. He didn’t speak as good English as the guy before, and tended to repeat the last words of Simon’s sentences. Simon did better than I could, when the drivers can’t speak very good English I tend to find it a little awkward and prefer not to talk. The conversation usually sway towards football after they discover you’re English. A subject I know little to nothing about. Our first stop of the day was to a secluded beach called Jimbaran. All of our stops today were around the south of Bali. Like our taxi driver said the other day, you can see a lot of Bali in little time by hiring a private driver like we had. In the period of time you have them for you can cover a lot of ground. It took around 45 minutes to get to Jimbaran, but when we got there it was very pleasant.

• This was Simon and Ann’s first experience of the clear waters and white sands, and better yet we had it to ourselves. We still hadn’t had breakfast yet, and running alongside the beach were several restaurants. The first place we tried was very expensive and only sold seafood, but the second place was better with a more traditional menu. Ann, Sarah, and myself all had the chicken dish, but Simon stuck to his usual spicy dishes. While we waited for it to arrive Ann went for a stroll, taking pictures along the way. When she came back she looked really chuffed with what she’d captured. When the food arrived I couldn’t believe my luck. For the second time since being in Bali I’d received a good sized piece of chicken. A whole leg to be exact, and the seasoning which was added to it didn’t hurt one bit. By the end we considered it more brunch than breakfast because it left us all rather full. Whatever was left on the bones I fed to a hungry looking kitten. After settling the bill we returned to our driver who recommended the next location.

• He took us to Nusa Dua. This took the shortest amount of time to get to out of all the stops. Nusa Dua was an area you could go to for trips like snorkelling, diving, and sea walking. We explained to the men when we arrived that we weren’t interested in any of that, and instead just wanted to take a stroll along the beach. He told us we wouldn’t be able to, because surrounding the area were resorts, and each one owned a part of the beach, making it private to its guests only. So back to our minivan we went (after only 5 minutes of arriving) to be taken to a different place.

• Padang Beach was our next stop. The driver kept calling it Pegang Pedang, I don’t know if this was the correct name or not, but in the Lonely Planet it was just “Padang”. It was around another 45 minute drive to get there, and Simon kept the driver entertained with anecdotes about the British roads and cars. None of us knew if the driver fully understood, but he continued to repeat Simon’s last words as if he did. When we arrived we had to walk down several concrete steps to reach the cove like beach, but it was a lot different to the first one. It was busy to say the least. There were mostly Australian holiday goers on the sands occupying all the parasails. The sea was blue and clear, and the sand was the same colour as vanilla ice cream. Poor Ann couldn’t stick sitting in the sun without any shade, so she stayed with Simon at the bar, while Sarah and I got in the sea for a bit. Pedang Cove was featured in the “Eat, Pray, Love” movie, although the clever editing made it look a lot bigger. The waves were quite strong and frequent, making the relaxed bobbing Sarah and I were doing a little tricky. After 15 minutes we got out and dried off on the beach. When we were deemed minivan suitable, we rejoined Ann and Simon, and the four of us climbed the concrete steps. I think the heat and exertion was too much for Sarah’s parents, as when we reached the top they both asked for a rest. During that time a monkey appeared and grabbed the attention of every tourist with a camera. When the tired pair regained their breaths, we located our driver to be taken to yet another area.

• Our driver received a phone call from his boss at this point. The boss told him he had been out for “X” amount of hours already, and that our time was nearing its end. The driver explained to us that hiring a driver for a whole day meant only 8 hours. Given how far apart everything we wanted to see was, we had to be selective. Unfortunately we didn’t have the chance to go back to another beach, so instead we chose to go to Ulawatu (a Hindu temple), before returning to our hotel and moving on to Ubud. The temple was about 20-30 minutes away from Padang, and in the car park were mischievous monkeys. When one stall vendor wasn’t looking, two monkeys ran over and stole a piece of corn on the cob each. The man tried chasing them but ultimately gave up when he realised it was no use. It cost us 20,000 rupiah (just over £1) each to get in, and we had to wear a sarong to cover our knees as a sign of respect. Ann was terrified when the lady at the entrance said she should hide her glasses because the monkeys might steal them. What the lady didn’t know was that Ann is blind as a bat without them, and what Ann didn’t know was that this woman only said that to try and scare her into hiring her as a guide to keep the monkeys at bay. It’s a fact that the monkeys like shiny objects such as glasses, sunglasses, and cameras, but these items are usually stolen from the people who are dumb enough to get too close. With that said, no sooner than we walked around the corner we witnessed the first primate theft. A group of Chinese people were making their way out, when out of nowhere a monkey ran up behind a woman and snatched the camera from her hand. In the monkey’s defence, she was swinging it it back and forth from her wrist. I didn’t see if they managed to get it back, but they began shouting for help as it ran off into the trees looking at its new toy. One monkey even stole a baby’s toy and began tearing it to pieces, they are inquisitive I’ll give them that.

• The temple was nice, it was situated on the peninsula and overlooked the many cliff faces. I don’t think Simon was too impressed with the visit. Again, the worshipping grounds were closed off for Hindus only. We didn’t stay long, but we did appreciate the stone work and statutes around the temple while we were there. Ulawatu looked like something from a Tomb Raider game, I could just envision Lara Croft running around shooting those cheeky monkeys. At one point a young monkey tried taking a running jump to grab Simon’s water bottle, but it was no use. Simon stood his ground and lifted the bottle up high. The young monkey, feeling threatened, screamed at him and did a backward hop. That wasn’t the best part. The whole time Sarah had ahold of her mum, guiding her around because she wasn’t wearing her glasses. Because Ann couldn’t see, she was none the wiser to what was going on. So when the monkey screamed out, as did she. Ann then froze to the spot and a slight tear was shed out of fear. I’m pretty sure the monkey caused her to lose her poop too. When she regained her composure we made our way back to the minivan.

• In the space of time since leaving our hotel earlier that morning we had covered most of southern Bali. We then asked our driver to take us back to Grandma’s so we could grab our bags. This was the longest part of the journey because of traffic. We were stuck in the rush hour havoc from the temple, all the way back to our hotel. How our driver had the patience to manoeuvre the vehicle through it all was astounding. Any small space there was, was filled by anyone on a scooter, it was madness. After an hour or so we had made it. We quickly popped back in to grab our bags, then one by one they filled the spacious trunk. It took 2 hours to reach Ubud.

• After leaving Seminyak the roads opened up. They were long and quiet, and all around us was green. The tall trees, rice paddies, and thick forests were all that surrounded us. It was then I could see what all the fuss was about with Bali. It seemed so peaceful and different to Seminyak. This finally looked like somewhere that was more my speed, we would no longer need to rush about sightseeing, we could just chill out and relax. Our resort was possibly the nicest one we’d stayed at this whole trip. Mind you, for £30 a night I’d hope so too. Our Asian adventure was nearing its climax, and we were beginning to treat it more like a holiday. And why not. After some of the places we’d stayed, and the fact we’d be earning money again in Australia, we could afford to live like this for a while. The name of our resort was Inata, and it looked stunning. The staff at the resort were even more polite than Grandma’s, opening our doors as we arrived, and taking our bags right away. We were then given warm flannels and welcome drinks as we sorted out our reservations. The owner spoke with us for a food ten minutes, explaining how everything worked, and the various day trips they offered. The whole time Sarah and I were itching to see the room, at that point we weren’t paying any attention to what the man said. Eventually he stopped talking, then in groups of two we were shown to our rooms by the staff members.

• “OH MY GOODNESS!!!! Would you look at that”. There were two large sliding doors we had to go through to gain entry to the room, and what lay inside blew our minds. First of all the room was generously spacious. There was a large sofa that was nicer than mine was back home. A monstrous sized bed, which had to have been a queen size at least. The toilet and bathroom facilities were top notch, and the cosy lighting around the room made it feel really homely. We didn’t want to leave, especially after we were introduced by to the tv and DVD player. Funnily enough there was a copy of “Eat, Pray, Love” just sat there waiting to be played. It was everything we wanted and more. Sarah got a little grumpy with the shower after following the staff member’s instructions. She pointed the tap the way she was shown, but got nothing but cold water. When it was my turn I moved the tap in the opposite direction and enjoyed a hot steamy shower. Until Sarah found out. Immediately she forced me out and warmed herself up instead. While she did that, I attempted to download some new tv shows. DRAMA, all our movies and tv shows had disappeared. For some reason the sd card wiped itself clean. I gave up after a while and had a nap on the bed. 10 minutes later Ann was at the door, and the four of us went out for tea.

• As well as being an amazing resort already, they kept adding to their charm by offering a free shuttle to wherever their guests required. We saw a place during our arrival earlier on. It was called Cafe Des Artistes, and decided that’s where we’d go. We were driven 5 minutes down the road, and were given a card by the driver upon arrival. We were to use it when we wanted to go back. Unfortunately I had picked up a cold from somewhere, most likely our reintroduction to the a/c units in Singapore. My bed was directly under a unit in the hostel there. This was a real shame because it meant I couldn’t taste the mouth watering beef steak I had in front of me. I let Sarah have a bite to let me know what it was like, and her jaw hit the floor.
“Oh my god, that’s amazing”, I believe were her words. After eating we sat around talking for a while before asking for the bill. I think we overloaded the waiter with demands when he arrived. As well as requesting the bill, we also asked him to phone our resort for the shuttle, told him our room numbers, and a time for collection, then asked him where the nearest convenience store was. It was a lot to take in, but amazingly he did it all. The bill arrived, the shuttle was booked, and down the road, and around the corner we could locate the store. As soon as we paid, we went to the Circle K for a cash withdrawal and water. When we returned to the restaurant the shuttle was ready and waiting.

• Back in the room I got Simon on the case, and together we solved the mystery of the missing videos. All we had to do was try a new sd card and it triggered something inside. When I replaced the new card with my old one they’d reappeared. Our daily time wasters were still there. Ann and Simon returned to their room shortly after, then I watched some tv shows with Sarah. After a couple episodes I Skyped my mum. She was in good spirits, if not having cold feet about retirement which was just around the corner. During our call she showed me a new toy my dog Rocky liked. It was one of those long pronged head massagers. He sat as still as a log as she gently stroked his head with it. His little eyes closed and I am pretty sure I saw a smile. It was getting on for midnight by the time we’d finished talking, and to see off the evening we put on “Eat, Pray, Love”. But rather than watch the whole film we just skipped to the Bali bits. It was a shame to think that that film had probably boosted tourism, it looked so peaceful and quiet in the movie. Nowadays the reality is more a case of loud groups of Australians coming over for a cheap holiday.

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