Bali – July 2014

This trip was a last minute, spur of the moment decision – I booked it on the 6th July and flew out on the 11th! The kids were heading to their Dads for the school holidays and I was up to my eyeballs in work. I needed to have a break from everything while they were gone but I couldn’t get any time off. So, I worked the Friday, went home and flew out that evening, stayed the weekend and Monday, and flew home Tuesday in time to unpack, go back to the airport and pick up the kids and go to work on Wednesday. Because I work in a different place on Mondays and Tuesdays (that is less frantic and more understanding) I was able to take those two days.
When I went into the travel agent (STA on Curtin University Campus) my requirements were somewhere warm with some decent accommodation. I had Darwin or Broome in mind but the cost of airfares alone was crazy compared to Bali. So, Bali won out. Fortunately my passport was up to date.
Popular rumour had it that I was secretly traveling with someone. Popular rumour was wrong and I traveled alone. But sometimes theres just no convincing some people, so popular rumour can still be heard to ask “who did you go with?”

Perth International Airport – I am sitting in departures awaiting boarding. My word, there are some interesting people boarding this flight. (Warning, the following sentences may offend). If I end up in a hotel with a pile of Western Australian cashed up bogans and their shitty little kids I will not be happy! Then there’s the 50 something grannies, travelling together with their pink and purple hair, nasal and loud bogan accents, chewing gum like cows! Perhaps I’ll get lucky and the gods of Bali will look after me … If someone doesn’t smack that whining child’s bottom I will!

People watching is interesting, and more so with the headphones on, drowning out the lady on the pink iPhone talking loudly to someone (scrolling on her pink iPad, sitting beside her faux cow skin overnight bag).

Oh well, they have started boarding the masses. I’ll join the other Bali bound travellers. I’ve been told to be careful, watch what I eat, only drink safely etc etc etc. You would think I was 18, travelling for the first time, the way some have reacted to me going!

Look out Bali, here I come!


A bit later on the plane and then in the terminal in Denpasar. I need to say how fucking annoying this kid behind me is. Kicking my seat! Pulling out his or her tray and banging his or her horrible little hands on it. I have given his or her sibling dirty looks between the seats. His or her father has raised his voice at him or her. But I AM GOING TO REACH OVER THE FUCKING SEAT AND RIP HIS OR HEAD OFF HIS OR HER SHOULDERS IN A MINUTE. If you hear of a plane turned back it’s my fault.

I am also frustrated by the endless exit cards and entry cards. Not because I have to complete them but because they have little boxes marked “sex” and the only options are male or female. I think they should have “yes please” or “no thank you” (although who would tick no thank you?). Or a date field and you can state the last time you had sex. And maybe another to indicate the approximate number of orgasms experienced. I mean really that would be far more interesting for the poor Australian and Balinese people entering the information. And for me filling it in. Last week and one. Or 10 days ago and three. Better still, last night and I lost count!!!!!! Woohoo. Imagine the smile on the data entry guys face!

I also want to share my holiday fantasy. It goes like this … The fucking kid behind me stops kicking me in the back and I tick the “yes please” box. Then the hosty brings me another SSB with a water chaser. The beef stroganoff tastes as good as it smells and I somehow get into the luggage hold and retrieve that mint aero bar from my suitcase (why the fuck did I put it in my checked in luggage?). Hang on, there’s chocolate on my dinner tray (and for the record, the beef wasn’t too bad, the hosty bought more wine and the bread roll was horrible. But how good is butter? No wonder I don’t buy it. I wanted to eat it straight out of the little tub!).

Where was I … This plane lands and I’m walking through the airport when I absently hear someone calling Betty. I sort of vaguely think Betty should turn up her hearing aid and get back to wondering where the hell carousel 7 is. Then someone taps me on the shoulder and says “Betty, I’ve been calling you through the middle of the air”. And I spin around and there’s Al. Soft in the middle and short of attention but soooo attractive. And I say “Al, what alley did you duck out of?” And Al, quick as a flash replies with “If you’ll be my body guard, I can be your long lost pal”. How can I resist? Of course I jump at the chance to be Al’s body guard, he is a great pal and we have a hoot in the country where he doesn’t speak the language, holds no currency and he is a foreign man surrounded by the sounds of the market place. Nah, nah, nah, nah … Wish Al was here, in the empty 21B seat, beside me … Then he could tell this little fucking shit behind me to stop kicking my seat!

Welcome to beautiful Bali. The bogans on the plane cheered, FFS! If I put on my best Scottish accent maybe the locals won’t associate me with these dipsticks. I travelled to Paris and Rome proudly declaring I was an Australian (for fear of being branded an American) and here I’m trying to concoct a different identity.

Here comes my bag.


Next installment. So, the hotel is perfect. My room is beautiful, overlooking the pool that is crystal clear and stunningly beautiful. A king size bed for me! So much room, so much indulgence. Breaky was great, just my usual bird seed cereal but I had a slice of toast and baked beans. What is it with baked beans when you’re at a hotel or resort? They are always fabulous. Maybe it’s the long time they sit in the Bain Marie (is that spelt right and why did it auto correct to capitals?) going all lovely and soft and tasty. Ahh baked beans. One of life’s very simple pleasures.

I’m not so impressed with the beach. Wandered down there and it was dirty sand, lots of rubbish at the high water mark and deserted. Not what I thought it would be. I got accosted on my way back by the mani and pedi ladies, didn’t negotiate a price before I sat down and paid a whole $35 for an hour of indulgence, stunning nails and some light entertainment. Apparently it’s social justice. Feels good. It’s just gone 1 on Saturday afternoon, I’ve had my first G&T and had peanuts and Pringles for lunch. Have to say that feels good too. About to pour my second one. I’ll have it with an aero bar.

Booked myself in for a massage tomorrow. I’m cutting my losses, staying with a theme and having it here in the hotel, 335,000 + 10% government tax. Exorbitant to pay $40 for a two hour full body, scrub massage, but you only live once! How amazingly luxurious. That’s tomorrow taken care of. Monday, the little fellow out the front of the hotel convinced me that I should hire him for $55 for the day to take me out to the volcano, via the coffee plantation and back through rice fields. Again, I appreciate the expensive nature of my adventures but I’ll live frugally for the rest of the year!

Now, I’m finishing this G&T and headed all the way downstairs to the pool! A funny thing. I wrote to an author way back when. Liane Moriarty. 2003ish. And we corresponded for a little while. I wrote to her about her first novel, Three Wishes. Then I read about her having trouble having a baby – multiple miscarriages. Sounded familiar, we corresponded about it for a while then she had a baby (from memory IVF). We corresponded about that for a while too. So, I’m reading her latest novel, her 5th, 2013. There’s the main character in the novel (albeit a deceased teenager), who has the same first name as me. So I’m off to lie on a poolside lounge and find out how she died …

Poolside now – the G&T have made me a wee bit light headed in the heat. Possibility the excellent choice of dietary intake hasn’t helped. You’ll be pleased to know there is not a child in sight and the obnoxious, but as it turned out quite cute little girl, from the plane last night has not been seen since baggage claim. However I do think I am witnessing the relationship between bogan, tattooed, cashed up Australian and his Balinese holiday GF. She, of course, is much younger than him, very thin, Asian but I wouldn’t say pretty actually and drinking pre-mixed Smirnoff. Who am I to judge? They look like they are having a great time. Good luck to them. At least he can tick the sex – “yes I did” box on his way out of the country!

Just had a swim in the very lovely pool. Possibly long enough for laps but let’s face it, laps and holidays just don’t go together. Besides the ice will melt in my Singapore Sling while I’m doing them! I’ll finish this drink and head back to my room. It’s been a big day, I might require a little pre dinner nap. Oh, and I think I’ve found myself a new occupation. I’ve been thinking about a career change … There’s a job here for someone who can manoeuvre a thin pole, about 15 feet long, with an inverse blade on it. Used to hook off dying frangipani leaves. With a moderate amount of retraining I think I could manage it. Of course, I’d have to have the Balinese fellow who does it now re-eemployed first.

Later – had a lovely sleep this afternoon. Can’t remember when I last had a nanna nap. I laid across the bed, because I could, it’s wider then it is long! It’s dinner time now. Just ordered and having a bintang with it. I’m sitting in a little summer dress loving the warmth. All trips needs to consider the weather. North in summer. Chasing the April sun in Cuba! I was going to go for dinner in the hotel but gave that the flick. There’s a female singer there killing music. She was singing Khe San badly. Didn’t know the lyrics! Who doesn’t know the lyrics for Khe San?

I can see why this place sucks people in. Very warm, laid back and cheap. The people are friendly and I’ll let you know what I think of the food when I’ve eaten it. Are you curious about the dead teen with the same name as me? I know who killed her. All has been revealed but I still have half the book to go. The reader knows but most of the characters in the book don’t. There’s a character called Tess. She’s busy having multiple orgasms with an ex high school boyfriend, the prime suspect but he didn’t do it. He was the last person to see the girl alive, his mum lied for him to the police, even though he didn’t do it and now he’s screwing Tess silly (her husband and first cousin have just announced that they have a thing for each other so Tess has run home to mum and found Mr Multiple Orgasm inducer).

Is it bad that I don’t miss the kids? Breakfast again. I can’t believe it but I got up so I could take my time over breakfast. Yesterday I took almost 2 hours. Normally I shovel my cereal, guzzle my coffee and get going. It’s so lovely to have a cuppa first. And another one after I’ve eaten. Around the pool watching other peoples kids do forward flips and practice their diving. Small things … Ten o’clock is massage time. It’s quite overcast today and intermittently sprinkling. Perfect day to do nothing.

Watching the guy who is currently doing my job. Seems I need some deftness with other cutting implements. My training may take longer than I thought. But having owned a 2 acre property adorned with palm trees, I do have significant past experience. I would be highly suited to the role. Oh, they’ve just introduced a ladder … Did I mention a fear of heights.

So, the dead teen …. A complicated story and not nearly as good as the first of Liane Moriartys books. The murderer didn’t pay in jail but he paid in life. Tess goes back to the husband leaving Mr Multiple Orgasm Inducer but has a baby whose parentage is never questioned. Chick lit. Enough of that for this holiday. Ready for something different – Orange is the New Black.

Music now. As you’ve realised by the previous reference to Al and Betty, I bought Paul Simons double album of greatest hits on Friday. Can’t listen to it all back to back but love it through a playlist. I think I might need to get tix to him and Sting after all. I’ll have to get some more Sting stuff … Going to have to put my head phones on today. The hotel is next door to the Katolik Santo Fransiskus Xaverius church and there is some priest using a microphone and the worlds biggest sound system to deliver a sermon. It’s now 12.15 (post massage) and he has been preaching to his captive audience since last night! With a break overnight, but bells have been ringing, he’s been preaching and the place has been lit up like a beacon. For the love of God! Literally.

Junk food lunch again. Peanuts and Pringles. I’m surprisingly hungry considering I’ve done nothing! And yes, I have a G&T in hand. I so should do this more often. Better get my nutrition into me for my big afternoon around the pool! Not that the weather is that nice but who cares? My massage was lovely. 2hrs full body, no happy ending. First hour was a massage, second hour was a scrub. Coconut. Devine. Her little hands were lovely and my skin feels great now. No place for prudishness though! She left the girls alone, just, but all other external areas were well massaged and scrubbed.

So now I find myself on the beach. The incessant preaching drove me to leave my room, the hotel and that end of Kuta. I’m mixing with the masses now. Bogans everywhere! Learning to surf, drinking bintang with matching bintang singlets, sporting their Bali tatts and plaits! Just enjoyed a cold bintang watching them all. Alongside the bajillion Aussies are the Asians! Swimming outside the flags, having surf lessons and letting the Balinese boys carry their longggggg boards down to the very low tide and back, while generally harassing with their iPhones on the end of sticks taking selfys. Ban the selfy I say! And what is it with the shoes and socks (or high heels) on the beach?

Wait a minute, I just need to get another beer. Ok, so I have my sunnies on and my headphones in my ears. Trying to avoid the hagglers. Sort of helps but I get the strange feeling I’m getting called all sorts of names. Although I’ve had the odd high five, the Hawaii hang loose wave and then a local plopped himself down beside me and chatted me up for 30 minutes. Well really he told me his life story and I listened. Invited me back to watch the turtle hatchling release tonight and hang around the fire and listen to music! Another guy just left, after trying to sell me a tatt or magic mushrooms, my choice! Funny! I wonder if I’ll be sporting my best Rhonda impersonation in the morning … Forgot the sunscreen.

OMG! I just did laps! Four of them! 12.5m each! That’s one lap for each night I’m here. More than enough! Bidra, the guy whose job I am stealing, thinks that it is adequate too. We’ve chatted. He has two boys, 21 and 16. He earns $170 a month trimming the leaves off the frangipani. Who decides who earns hundreds while someone else earns thousands each month? Perhaps in the next life I’ll come back as someone with no access to an education or government support. I wonder how I’d fare (or fair for that matter)? Perhaps he can get a job in the gardens at my work. He’s cremating two of his family members on Kuta beach tomorrow @ 12.30 and invited me to attend. A 120yr old and a 70yr old. What is the life expectancy of the Balinese? Imagine undertaking a cultural end of life ritual that is who knows how old, under the watchful eye of bogan Australians.

Just had dinner. A great, flat spring roll type of thing followed by a beef and potato with bean spice thing that will no doubt cause me grief overnight. But it was great! Washed down with two more beers. This time in a cooler – I ❤ Bali – apparently! Had a little cuddle and a kiss with a baby. Very cute. I love babies. This one was bright eyed, smiley and awfully alert. Although wearing a beanie in this weather! Time to head back the Vira Bali now. No plans for tomorrow, but I had no plans for today and look what I achieved!

The volcano that wasn’t. This morning starts in bed. Woke up at 7.15 so I’m just lying here. Watching some music video channel and thinking about getting up. Lying across the bed again so I can also look out the open door at the palm frond waving outside. Ok, shower time, breakfast and plan today. What do I need? Internet access, maps, apps, $, food, water, passport etc (just jokes, I haven’t gone all organised). Oh, apparently Germany did something big overnight …

Having extensively reviewed all my options (not) I have arranged with the security guard to arrange with Newman to take me out to the volcano, rice fields, villages and coffee plantation for the day! Should be interesting. Don’t scroll ahead, you’re not allowed to know yet how it turns out.

So, I find myself in the buffet at the volcano. I was not intending to eat but again, I’m hungry. Equivalent to $12.50 all you can eat, why not. I’ve paid 15000 to get past check point Charlie and spent a good couple of hours in transit. How do I like the volcano? I don’t! I don’t like it at all. Why? Because I can’t see it! It is completely and utterly shrouded in a mist that is all invading. There is not even the slightest glimpse of it! Global warming apparently! At this time of year it should be visible but not the day I spend getting here. Stop chuckling! And no, I don’t want to see a photo of it!

I’m here for an hour but I don’t like my chances that it’ll clear. Never mind. It’s been a (fairly tame) adventure all the same. If you stop laughing I’ll tell you more. We set off this morning via Legain. I wanted to see the site of the Sari Club and the memorial. My goodness. You can see how such mammoth devastation resulted. So much congestion of both buildings and people. The driver was surprised I wanted to go there. (I think the mist has actually come into the bistro! It’s foggy looking through the people and the tables). Getting out of Kuta was interesting. Narrow streets, motorbikes, vans and buses. And it’s quiet in Bali at the moment apparently.

First stop batik factory. That loom and it’s operator are impressive. She certainly has the knack. I had to explain to some young Aussie guys how she was making the pattern. I could almost hear Ms 17 in my ear, cringing in shame. Oh mum!

Next stop coffee! Now I’m not telling you if I drank the “poo coffee” or not because I can tell you’re still smiling at my sheer bad luck regarding this volcano. What I will tell you is that the young lady and I shared stories about our commonality. It’s hard to chat to non English speakers but if you let it flow over you, stop trying to hear and just listen respectfully I’ve learned over the years to understand most people. And when you share something in common, languages cross that. She told me her miscarriage story and I shared mine. She acknowledged my sadness and I encouraged her to have hope for the future. Amazing where things just go. Anyway, I drank the coffee! Who cares where it came from? It’s coffee! And it was good! Really good.

Then the silver and gold jewelery place. I got Ms 17 a charm I’ll put away for Christmas and a pair of turtle earrings. I was going to give them to the kids, one each, but I’m wearing them! If they comment, I might share. Although Master 11 might think it’s too girly.

So, now I’ve finished my buffet, about to finish my drink and fight the hawkers outside. I was proposed to on the way in. I think I stand out here like I stand out in other places around the world. I might get my hair dyed dark. Maybe it’s the oddity of a woman traveling alone.

So, back at the hotel having my daily Singapore sling around the pool. I was going to swim but I haven’t yet. I should. I’ll be home just after this time tomorrow and I’ll curse myself for not swimming. Back in a tick … Sorry that took longer than I thought it would, I did 6 laps! Stop grinning like that! I’ve had a hard day! After the volcano that wasn’t we came home via rice terraces. How beautiful. It’s just such a shame there are SO many people in those places. So, did I see the volcano? No. Is my butt sore from sitting all day? Yep. Did I have fun? Absolutely! What tickled my fancy?

“Antiques. Made to order.”

Crazy driving on scooters and in cars. 3.5 million people in Bali, 10 million scooters! Hooley dooley. I am sooo going on one of them next time I’m here.

Kites. Master 11 and I love flying kites. The kites here are amazing. Huge and flying at an amazing height.

A volcano that wasn’t. Why be disappointed. Nature gave us the volcano and today she took it back. There’s something amazing about not being able to control some things in life. You just can’t fix everything and nor should you be able to. Just means I have to come back.


Just about squeezed a lifetime into 4 days. So, here I find myself eating lunch in yet another airport. How shite is airport food! I think it’s worse than hospital food, and I’ve eaten a lot of both!

Going home. Mixed feelings. Can’t wait to see the kids. Don’t want to go to work tomorrow morning! Don’t want to be cold. (I think this airport food might give me Bali belly!).

This morning was a slow one. Breaky, shopping, the pool, a swim, packed and out by 12. After days of writing (in short bursts) I have very little to say. My flight thankfully is uneventful so far. I have my music, my book (Orange is the new black), a soft drink and a window seat. Great view of Nusa Dua as we flew out and hopefully a great view of Aus as we fly back in.

And it was a great view. Straight over the top of Karratha. I need to go there one day. Welcome home. Flying now for what seems like ever over red earth and more red earth. Looking forward to getting out of this tin can. Actually I’m looking forward to talking to mum and finding out that the the kids are in transit. When did we become so reliant on technology? Feeling a bit stressed about them being alone … I know they’ll be fine. I’m going to make a big sign when I get home, with their names on it and hold it up at the arrivals gate! Oh mum …

Finished my book. Two books not bad. A bit sick of headphones and music if that’s possible. I would appreciate some physical contact with another human being. A cuddle, a kiss, hold hands. Poor kids, look out!

Good to be home but missing the holiday feeling already.

Jx

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