Well, it was a Land of Mystery to us as we had never been to Indonesia and so didn’t know what to expect. For my part I had conjured up in my mind images of exotic sandy beaches, palm trees, beautifully dressed women, crystal clear waterfalls cascading into small lagoons captured in an oasis of trees and bamboo beyond which there would be the rice fields and coconut palms. The only thing I didn’t include in my imagined images was a scantily clad Bounty Bar girl leaning on a plan tree eating a Bounty Bar: but that was only because Mrs Me would have found out and clipped my ear again. And anyway, the bounty bar advert was filmed on Saona Island off the Dominican Republic.  Anyway, what was / is Bali really like?

First of all; Bali is a small island , and the smallest province of Indonesia. Bali can be found sitting between the Java Sea and the Indian Ocean and just 8 degrees south of the equator (so quite warm) and surrounded by coral reefs with white sandy beaches in the south and black sandy beaches elsewhere. Approximately, the island is 95 miles wide and 69 miles deep (taken at its extremities). This was an island full of eastern promise: just like a Bounty Bar! 🙂 – I like Bounty Bars by the way, especially the plain ones…….

There was however one thing that bothered me about our visit: –

Tendering – I hate tendering; I hate it with a passion. I’ve had a couple of awful experiences on such craft the most frightening was on our return back from Mayreau – on the same day as the dreadful Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004. Anchored off shore, we all headed for the tenders to claim prime positions on the beautiful sandy beaches but not too far away from the bar or the BBQ that the cruise ships staff always set up for us. Having secure our place in the tender we set off for the island, a trip no longer than 10-minutes. Off the tender we got and it was  ‘all charge for the beach’ to claim our spot with our towels then over to the bar for our first drink of the day. As we settled down and watched the waves crashing against the long unspoilt sandy beach littered only with several hundred cruise dwellers, we noticed that this year, the waves seemed to be bigger than normal and were getting bigger as the day went on. One poor woman was even bowled over by one of the waves and only managed to get ashore with the help of two or three other fellow passengers. This was our cue to return to the ship. The trip back was bumpy to say the least.  Once we reached the ship however, bumpy didn’t begin to describe it. Repeated attempts to secure to the ship so that we could get off failed: We we went back out into open water and bounced around while the ship turned to shield us from the waves. It helped a bit it was still very bumpy. Sitting there in this tender, which, for those that don’t know is one of the lifeboats, we were going up and down next to the ship with a rise and fall of a good 2 meters. The tender slammed against the ship’s pontoon with an almighty crack, everybody let out some sort of noise and we tried again. We went up, we went down, we moved away, we moved back, going up and down, side to side backwards and forwards. Eventually however, they secured the tender to the ship and one by one we were almost dragged out of the tender onto the ship. From there, we went to the bar. I still believe to this day that the Tsunami made its presence known even in the Caribbean.

The size of the Island of Bali, and its facilities, and the size of the ship meant that we had to anchor off shore and tender to the harbour side. Then came the next bit. We were to anchor 3-miles out which meant that the journey would be about 30 minutes. And so, on that morning, I arose early so that I could sit out on the balcony with two cups of nice freshly made coffee and watch as we sailed towards the Island and eventually to our anchorage (that’s yet another nautical term :-)). The morning was warm, very warm, around 76f but with a slight haze over the island shielding what is undoubtedly a beautiful island and masking what I believe to be it highest mountain, Mount Agung  which is still an active volcano though currently quite idle thank goodness.

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Now, although the picture is quite hazy, the sea can be seen to be nice and calm and all the evidence (weather forecasts) suggested that it would remain that way so I felt more at ease and just knew that today was going to be a good day. There’s no twist here, it was a good day.

As the ship dropped its anchor, which is just a great big hook, Mrs Me and I went for breakfast – Yes, Mrs Me had actually risen from her pit by this time and broke the peaceful solitude I was trying to enjoy with a “Where’s my Tea” to which I scurried back into the cabin to quickly make her early morning tea so that she would once again become the nice Mrs Me that I know and love rather than the grouchy bed monster.

Having breakfasted and readied ourselves, we made our way to the theatre area from where we were called to the Tender, in batches of 100 or so. These tenders hold a lot of people, even more if it’s used as a real lifeboat. Once aboard, we set off for what turned out out to be a really pleasant 30 minute boat ride As we passed all sorts of craft, from teeny weeny one man fishing boats to massive motor yachts  we moved ever closer to the shore. As we did we passed a whole line of fishermen standing chest-high in the sea fishing, hence the term fisherman :-). Unfortunately, I was stuck inside the tender and getting a picture wasn’t practical (a good reason to return methinks). Eventually, we made land and we all made our way ashore to be greeted by traditional (young) Balinese Dancers and two very lovely Balinese Ladies.

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Mrs Me and I (having been dragged away from the lovely young ladies by the ear) quickly located our tour guide and coach. Boarding the vehicle we were soon reminded that the general size of Balinese people is a little smaller than us Europeans especially the old fat one that’s writing this. Unless of course, the bus we had was an old school bus. In either case, the leg room between sets in front and our own was minimal. Luckily, for Mrs Me and Me that is, we are able to commandeer two sets each so we were at least able to spread out a little.

Once all aboard, we set off, with the tour guide introducing himself and the driver and explained the itinerary which he supported by giving us all a map of the island with the days route drawn in. The plan was to first visit a traditional weaving ‘factory’ where we would be able to see how cloth and subsequent garments were actually made: from here we were to visit a temple and old court house before going to see a typical Balinese home and finishing with some shopping time in Ubud where we were promised access to much treasure such as paintings, tapestry and intricate carvings, and of course fridge magnets.

On our way to our first port of call we were astounded at the sheer volume of mopeds on the streets, they were without doubt, the transport of choice and could be seen being used for transporting the whole family on one bike, even livestock tied across the back, sacks of who knows what, fishing rods, fish, etc. Once in while however one did go by with just a solitary rider; how inefficient, I thought.

Eventually, we reached the weaving factory (4-coaches had already arrived before us so it was all a bit of a jostle for a while. Once corralled like a her of sheep, we were shepherded into the back of the complex to view the old style spinning wheels and weaving things and looms – I don’t know what they’re called, I’m a bloke after all. What the created however and the ‘apparent ease’ ion which they did it was quire remarkable.

The best bit though was an old car with an old parked in front. It felt just like being in Cuba, or it would have done, if I’d ever been to Cuba, which I haven’t so I don’t really know what I’m talking about, but you know what I mean.

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Next port of call was an old temple. Now in fact, the old temple was actually called Klungkung Kertagosha, a building that contained floating pavilion, and the Royal Court of Justice. Again, we were bus number 5 and so once more we were here’d together before being taken into the complex trying to avoid the myriad of strew sellers who sold everything imaginable, except fridge magnets, all for 1-dollar: our guide did advise us though that once negotiations started, the 1-dollar actually became 10-dollars from which you would need to barter down. We skipped by them and made it unscathed and made our way around to look at the amazing buildings and artistry within.

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It was now all aboard for the drive though Ubud, spotting the wild monkeys climbing over peoples cars and onto visit a typical Balinese home. Initially, we overshot it as the driver went straight by obviously missing such an unobtrusive family home. Realising in time however, he turned the bus round during which time all other traffic continued to manoeuvre round the bus as we ourselves were trying to a U-Turn. Eventually, the driver found it and turned the bus into the driveway. Now I’m not a cynic by any means ( 🙂 ) but this typical Balinese home had a coach park that could take at lest 6 buses, we were the fifth to arrive and there was another behind us, it had a massive shop, three dance halls, a carving centre and many other buildings. Nevertheless, it was a fascinating place where we were treated to a display of young children learning the traditional dance moves and the music, while others were displaying the carving abilities. Ten it was off to the shop for Mrs Me to buy something, anything, she just had have something that hand made by these little carving men, hmmmmm.

Time now for the shops.

We’d heard much about where we were going but I can’t help feeling that where we went wasn’t where we were going. We eventually parked up in a small car park and were advised that the local market was just down the high street on the right where we would be able find and barge =r for many locally produced goods, or if we wanted to, have a beer or soft drink. On our way however, we were accosted by a never ending sting of street vendors offering their produce, fans, belts, things, for 1-dollar.  We eventually made the market which was in fact a string of tat shops. We did however find some suitable fridge magnets, so we made our selection and paid the man and headed back to the coach park. On the way, Mrs Me saw a woman sitting down in the kerb with her little girl of about 3-years old, selling fans. Mrs Me took out all our Balinese Money and gave it to her in exchange for a fan. The woman was dumfounded but happy and Mrs Me was happy too so this meant that I was allowed to happy also. See, I knew today would a good day.

At the allotted time, we all boarded the bus for our trip back to the port where we would once more have that 30-minute tender back to the ship. As it happened, there was little cause for worry. OK, it was a bit choppier but given what we’ve faced in the past, this was nothing and it need the two attempts to tie ourselves to the ship for us to all get off with relative ease. Mind you, we were glad we weren’t using the ship that was actually in port.

Yes, Today had been a good day, we had seen Bali, we had enjoyed Bali, we would happily return. Bali was good.

Now, where’s the bar.

 

 

Comments
  1. […] Why? Because reaching Saint Peter Port would mean tendering and Podge hates tendering (see https://podgethepuffer.com/2014/04/06/bali-the-land-of-mystery/ for […]

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