Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Ubud’ Category

Parting gift

Again a broken night, apparently the phone in the girls’ bedroom rang several times in the night. Ellen phoned us up at half past midnight complaining, so we suggested she’d take the phone off the hook. I don’t think either of the girls had much sleep and they were still pretty tired this morning.

View through our window.
IMG_6902

After breakfast they rested watching a DVD called “Robots”, while we carried on with the packing. We left the girls in their room and settled the bill. Tim had a rough idea of what 10 nights in Ubud should come to and he was pretty close. They had charged us for the minibar, but when we explained to them that we had only moved the beers and water out of the fridge to make room for our milk and the girls’ juice and after a member of staff checked that everything was still there, they quite happily adjusted the bill in our favour.

Just before Tim finished signing all the receipts, they handed us a present! What? After all our complaining? It was a beautiful painting of three Balinese dancers in black/grey tones. We promised them that once back home we’ll frame it and find a nice space to hang it.

Around 10.45am we headed down with all our bags and waited for our driver from Amed to collect us. Shortly before 11am (our agreed time) he turned up. Ketut seemed a kind and gentle driver and was initially full of information.

We stopped briefly in the town of Gianyar, as Ketut had some errands to run. While we waited in the car, a young lady holding a baby knocked on the windows begging for money. She kept walking around the car and knocking on all the windows, I found it quite intimidating.

Heading further up north we passed rice fields bordering the road and small valleys full of banana trees and other greenery. We also saw more shops selling clothes, shoes, household items, etc, more directed to the local population as opposed to tourists. I also noticed several stalls selling 1.5ltr bottles of “bensin” or petrol.

Rice terraces in the rain.
IMG_6915

We had asked to go to Amed via the scenic route, but Ketut wanted to take us a different route through the mountains instead of through the valley of Sidemen (to take us to an expensive restaurant with a nice view of the rice terraces where he would get his 10% commission). He eventually agreed to change his plans to accommodate us (rather than vice versa). We had driven on a little further when Hannah desperately needed to get out of the car and only managed to do so in time before she was sick. After this we asked Ketut to take us to Amed the quickest way. The weather was grey and wet, the mountains covered in clouds and we wouldn’t have enjoyed any scenic mountain or valley views anyway.

We moved Hannah into the front of the people carrier and Ketut put on a Michael Jackson CD. I found him to be a considerate driver as he slowed down and was careful on the windy roads. By now it was raining harder and several motorbike riders pulled over to the side, lifted up the seats of their bikes and pulled out their rain covers. Others weren’t so fortunate and ended up pretty soaked.

By the time we reached the village of Candidasa Hannah had perked up again. We decided to stop for a light lunch. Ketut dropped us off at a particular place that did offer meals, but at huge prices. We declined and explained we just wanted something small. He drove us a few metres down the road to a different restaurant that was slightly cheaper, but didn’t offer small snacks. He then suggested we should drive on to Amed which was less than an hour’s drive from here. We quickly popped into the shop and bought some Pringles and plain biscuits.

Shortly after 1.30pm we arrived at Kembali Beach Bungalows. Before saying our goodbyes to Ketut, we arranged for him to drive us to Lovina (our next destination) on Friday, as he is a good driver and he offered us a reasonable quote.

My first impressions of Kembali: it’s peaceful and pretty quiet. There are only about 7 or 8 bungalows and we booked two neighbouring ones with an interconnecting walkway. Our view is of the ocean and is pretty impressive. The verandah is enclosed by bamboo blinds and it makes you think you’re all alone. It’s lovely and the girls like it too. The rooms have a double four-poster bed, a bench and a wicker chair. The bathroom is spacious and stylish, with a huge walk-in shower.

We dropped off our bags and headed to the small restaurant. No huge meals here, only breakfast and small snacks until 8pm. We ordered some jaffles, a sandwich and a plain pancake (for Hannah). We took our time digesting our lunch and admiring the view. Before leaving we ordered some snorkelling gear for tomorrow.
IMG_6943

The girls were desperate to get in the pool, but first we had a walk along the shoreline. The black sand takes some time getting used to. Later on Tim went in the sea to find out if it would be worth going snorkelling tomorrow – it looked promising!

The girls and grown-ups had a good time cooling off in the pool and it was well after 5pm when we came out. We got changed and had a very light snack (Pringles) before walking down the beach to the nearby Warung (or restaurant) to check out their menu. We enjoyed the sunset and admired the view of the sea, mountains and orange glow.
IMG_6965

IMG_6970

Back at Kembali we tried on our fins for size and also asked for two life jackets for the girls. The lady then dropped them off at our bungalow, whilst we walked back to the warung. (Incidentally, we bumped into a Swiss family we had met earlier at Taman Harum cottages in Ubud during our first two days there. It was lovely to see them again and catch up on each other’s travel plans.)

The girls and Tim ordered fish and chips and I chose mie goreng (fried noodles with chicken and vegetables). The fish was very fresh and extremely tasty. The waiter told us that if we didn’t like the fish, we didn’t have to pay. He sounded pretty confident that we would like it!

It was pitch dark by the time we returned to our bungalows, so decided to walk along the road. Once back there was enough time left for the girls to update their diaries and then it was time to settle them for the night. I reckon they were both pretty tired and I hope that the soothing sounds of the sea will send everybody to sleep quickly.

Our one and only full day here at Kembali tomorrow and all we have planned is snorkelling, snorkelling and snorkelling (and maybe swimming in the pool as well).

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Just leave us alone

We finally had a much better sleep last night. I think mummy pussycat moved her kittens somewhere else as we didn’t hear them at all in the night. This morning the girls spotted the cat on the roof of the bungalow opposite ours and noticed she was holding something in her mouth. I thought it would be one of her kittens, but then Ellen described it as being browny-grey with a long thin tail!

Today is our last full day in Ubud so after breakfast we booked the shuttle to go into the village at around 11am, which would give us enough time to relax and get ready. The girls and I quickly dropped off our last load of washing to be collected later in the afternoon.

A member of staff came to see us around 10.30am asking if we’d mind leaving for Ubud now as two other guests wanted to head into the village as well. We quickly gathered our stuff and joined a talkative Australian lady and her quieter husband.

We asked to be dropped off at the bottom of Monkey Forest Street as we wanted to return to one particular shop. The girls, though, couldn’t really find what they were looking for and we started our walk up the road.

We stopped in several shops and at last they found a little batik bag for themselves and some other little gifts for their friends. Tim’s mission was to get more money out as there are no ATMs in Amed (our next destination) and change some of that into Euros as that would work out a bit cheaper than paying in Rupiahs. None of the “Money Changer” places, however, could give us any Euros.

Oh well, time for a break. The girls had spotted a nice restaurant that also did cakes and pastries. We decided to do what Nana & Grandad used to do when travelling around New Zealand, i.e. have coffee and pastries for lunch (well, we had water instead). Hannah and Tim shared a huge slice of apple strudel and Ellen and I tackled an enormous apple turnover (or “turned over” as written on the card), before each having some of the chocolate cake we had ordered as well.

We carried on up the road and asked at the Tourist Information place where we might be able to change our money. They sent us around the corner along the other main road. We found the money changer place alright, but found that it was closed. We then decided to give up on the whole idea for the sake of saving ourselves £20 or so.

We turned back and popped into the big covered market in search of any good buys. There were stalls selling scarves, sarongs, dresses, table mats, jewellery, hats, music instruments, paintings, etc. Every time we walked past a stall, the vendor would call out the prices to us and tell us to buy this or that for the girls. All we wanted was to look around in peace and quiet, and to be able to discuss amongst ourselves whether something was worth buying. I couldn’t even nod at something or modestly point something out to Tim without the vendor shouting out the price, only for him/her to almost immediately reduce it by 10,000. It took some effort not to shout out that we wanted to be left alone!

After only 5 minutes we left the market and walked back to Tutmak, a restaurant we all liked. The girls chose a scoop of strawberry ice cream and Tim and I had a cold drink to cool off. Whilst I finished my drink, Tim popped out again in search of an ATM that let you withdraw US dollars. The one cash machine that did have a sign saying US dollars wouldn’t give him any dollars!?

We met up at the Tourist Info place at 2pm, well in time for our return shuttle to Taman Harum hotel. The driver took us back via the country lanes as the other roads were too heavy with traffic due to the end of the festival. It was interesting to see a different side to Bali, we even spotted some people working in the rice fields.

Back at the hotel it only took us a few minutes to get changed into our swimming costumes. We desperately needed to cool off and again we had the pool to ourselves. We spent an hour floating about and both girls practised their swimming with Hannah swimming several lengths in front crawl and breaststroke. If only she would be a little more confident…

After a good hour we returned to our rooms for a snack and then collected our washing. We relaxed in front of a DVD before heading down to the restaurant for our last supper here. Tim and Ellen shared a margharita pizza and Hannah chose fish & chips to share with me. This way we all had room for some dessert; dadar gulung (green pancakes), pineapple pancake and fried bananas with chocolate ice cream.
IMG_6874

IMG_6879

Pineapple pancake
IMG_6890

Dadar gulung
IMG_6891

We quickly grouped our stuff together for easy packing tomorrow morning and off to bed!

Read Full Post »

Kuningan

Today is a big day in Bali, marking the end of a ten-day festival when the gods come down to earth; this is the day when the Balinese give thanks and say goodbye as the gods depart. Kuningan comes but once or twice a year; every 210 days, as a matter of fact, the length of the Wuku calendar, so there’ll be another Kuningan along in December.

Early morning in Mas.
IMG_6783

IMG_6782

We intentionally lengthened our stay in Ubud to be here for the festivities, and it so happens that a temple just down the road from us, Pura Taman Pule, is one of the most important sites for celebrating Kungingan.

We knew something was afoot this morning when all the hotel staff were dressed in their finery rather than their usual uniforms; white short-sleeved shirts and white headbands for the men and bright colours of silk for the women.

So after breakfast we dressed ourselves modestly, taking a sarong for Kirsten and myself, and set out to find our temple. This sounds simple enough, like locating the village church on Christmas Day. But the streets were flooded with cars, motorbikes, pedestrians carrying baskets of offerings hither and thither; do we follow the traffic down this side street or that? For there is not just one temple here; you pass one every twenty yards or so, not counting the mini ones that are found in every home or business.
IMG_6799

We kept asking the way to Taman Pule and people directed us further along the road. Several wrong turnings later we knew we’d found it; fluorescent-jacketed traffic marshals, extensive parking for motorbikes at 1000 Rupiahs (7 pence) a time, makeshift market stalls stretching into the distance and a buzzing, milling throng. Bali may be laid back, but there was such an energy to this event, a real festival atmosphere. Best of all, this is not something laid on for tourists; it’s a central part of everyday life here.
IMG_6803

We entered the market area (deep-fried snacks, weird green jelly drinks, bags of little speckled eggs, Upin & Ipin balloons and cages of chicks dyed every colour of the rainbow).
IMG_6802

Two gamelans bonged in the distance and there was a constant stream of women bearing elaborate stacks of offerings on their heads. How do they balance them so well without dropping anything? Well, one unfortunate lady spilled her load at the bottom of a set of steps and hurried on embarrassedly without collecting everything; a dog soon nosed over to examine the scattered rice and a solitary pear. Tall clusters of tasselled white or yellow parasols did little to provide shade, and we were soon soaked in perspiration while marvelling at how the local ladies kept their cool.
IMG_6813

IMG_6809

The temple itself was at the far end of the market and there appeared to be a queue at the entrance. We drifted with it for a while before Kirsten noticed that everyone else had a little numbered tag, and when an indistinct announcement was made over the tannoy, all the number sevens surged forwards. Where do you get the tags? How many hours’ wait would it be for us? Are outsiders even allowed into the temple? We didn’t fancy the idea of a three-hour wait in the ferocious heat so we sat on some steps in the shade to take in the sights, sounds and smells while cooling off with some powder-mixed fruit juice.

As we sat there, we spotted one of our hotel staff accompanying two guests; he told us that we didn’t need to join the numbered queueing system. Since we had no offerings to present, we could look round the outer part of the temple and bypass the line altogether, as long as we wore our sarongs.
IMG_6825

So we entered via an alternative gate and saw the outer sanctum, I suppose. A purple-clad group of men bashed out their metallic clangs while the faithful dutifully queued to their right.
IMG_6840

IMG_6855

IMG_6846

IMG_6849

In a courtyard to the left a mass of locals sat arrayed on the ground and raised their hands in prayer while at the back the standing gaggle of tourists raised their hands in videography.
IMG_6857

IMG_6858

Around 11.30am we began our walk back to the hotel, the trafic still heavy all the way along the main road, most cars decorated with woven bamboo-leaf rosettes. We bought some fruit from the local shop and had a snack lunch in our rooms before taking the girls back to the pool (we had another early dip this morning). Ellen managed ten lengths in total, each with a pause for a breather half way.

Back at our rooms the adults found themselves in need of a siesta (we’re still waking up too early) while the girls amused themselves with whatever comes to hand – they opened a shop and cafe yesterday. Then there was time for diaries and bloggage before supper.

Read Full Post »

Two weeks today we’ll be waiting around all day for our overnight flight home, so today was a bit of a practice run. We were up earlier than planned; Hannah phoned us at 6.50am to ask if we were going for our pre-breakfast swim, but we succeeded in putting her off for half an hour before immersing ourselves. The sky was clear and the air was already warming up (the pool remains at a comfortable constant temperature) and the girls enjoyed an hour of playing before coming out to dry off and then have a heartier than usual breakfast – it’s all that exercise.

We raided the DVD cabinet on the way back and found a copy – and I mean a copy – of Monsters Inc. (which we saw in our pre-children days and thought the girls might enjoy) as well as Dumb and Dumberer. First, though, there were diaries to be written and a blog to finish so we sat at the marble tables by the fish tank near Reception and recounted yesterday’s cookery session. Hannah loves writing about food so she went to town on this one; she was also starting a new exercise book.

Kirsten and I spent the rest of the morning relaxing and reading (I’m playing catch-up with the Jodi Picoult novels she’s devoured; the Amish one has plenty of familiar facts and scenarios – infanticide aside). The girls replayed Spectacular for the 57th time before moving onto Monsters, Inc. and requesting a cereal lunch to save time.

The only problem being that the pirated DVD was of such poor quality that the sound kept pausing while the picture broke into a hundred irritating rectangles, necessitating many skips forward to find a less scratched portion of the disc. But this rendered the story unintelligible and we soon gave up and switched to Plan B.

I don’t know what I expected from Dumb and Dumberer; perhaps some rather obvious slapstick that might amuse the girls to some degree (they certainly enjoy The Goodies and Mr Bean) with some inevitable crude humour. But what we saw of it was so cringingly poor and so unfunny (none of us laughed even once) that we all got bored with it and switched off. How does this garbage ever get made?

We had an early tea and then returned to the pool for over an hour. Both girls worked hard at their swimming (while enjoying every moment). Hannah did four lengths of breaststroke, several widths of backstroke and plenty of front crawl – with the breathing as well… Ellen got to the point where she could swim an entire 12.5-metre length with only one pause for breath, and she is now so confident in the deep end (we are always to hand, of course). Even I surprised myself by diving under to retrieve a ‘stone’ from the bottom of the pool (it turned out to be a mystery Kiwi-like fruit).

For supper we found a Warung (eatery) just along the street from our hotel where we had fried rice and fried noodles, along with two glasses of fresh fruit juice. It was a blessed relief to go somewhere where the staff don’t speak English (Kirsten demonstrated her command of Indonesian numbers) and the prices are not overinflated; we paid less for the entire meal than they charge for one sandwich at Taman Harum – before tax. I left a tip and they seemed surprised, keen for me to take the entirety of my change. How refreshing! I do hope that we can escape the dispiriting tourist trail every now and then during the remainder of our time on Bali.

Random fact of the day: many Balinese are named Wayan, Made, Nyoman or Ketut, and this is governed entirely by their birth order; Wayan is the first, then Made, then Nyoman, down to Ketut at number four.

To answer the obvious question, the cycle then repeats from number five onwards. And to answer another obvious question, these names can be given to boys or to girls, with a prefix of I or Ni to identify the sex. If you have twins, it’s still down to who pops out first. Right then, have you all worked out your Balinese name by now?

Read Full Post »

Cookery class

I’ve been on this Earth for some 43 years now, and this morning is the first time I’ve been woken by a kitten falling from the sky. One moment the early rays of dawn were sneaking stealthily into the room; the next, a tiny ginger/white bundle of fur plummeted from nowhere with a mewing thud.

There’s a loose panel boxing in a ceiling void twelve feet above the floor; the kitten must somehow have pulled back the edge, squeezed through the gap and lost its footing. It lay on its side on the hard tiled floor by the wardrobe, mewing piteously and unable to move. We scooped it into one of yesterday’s green and purple swimming towels and wondered whether we could return it to its nest (we could hear more kittens and their mother up there) but we couldn’t reach that high, even standing on a chair – and it looked injured anyway.

So Kirsten took it down to Reception to see if they could help. She was directed to a man in a red top who took the unexpected feline package from her – and then was last seen heading towards the swimming pool… Putting two and two together, it doesn’t look like there was a happy outcome for our early morning visitor; we didn’t mention anything to the girls.

At least we’ve had rather extreme confirmation that we have cats and not rats in this room; we hereby retract yesterday’s comments to that effect. But we have definitely seen rats in our first room, in the restaurant and crossing the footpath in the garden; we need a gamelan Pied Piper to sort them out.

So after yet another early start (this all happened around ten to seven), we breakfasted on fruit, toast and boiled eggs for Hannah and then went back to our rooms for a while.

[Kirsten]
Just before 10 o’clock we returned to the restaurant for the cooking class Tim and I had booked. The girls were going to join in and help wherever they could.

We were handed two sheets with the recipes of the three dishes we were going to prepare. There was a huge basket on the table with all the ingredients in that we would need: tuna, chicken, chillies, garlic, shallots, tomatoes, turmeric, salt, pepper, ginger, candlenut, gelangga, potatoes, lemongrass, coconut oil and coconut milk.
IMG_6711

First of all Tim and I had to make a basket out of young coconut leaves. Sounds easy? I can assure it isn’t! I somehow managed to follow Daynu’s instructions as she was standing right beside me, but Tim’s valid attempt was put to one side while he finished off Daynu’s basket.

We were then instructed to half fill the baskets with uncooked rice and lower these baskets in a saucepan with boiling water. Ellen was a great help filling up the baskets while Daynu was showing Hannah how to weave these baskets.
IMG_6729

IMG_6733

IMG_6771

All four baskets filled and boiling we moved on to our tuna dish; Pepes Tuna. The grown ups were busy chopping the ingredients for the sauce; chillies, tomatoes, candle nuts, garlic and shallots. All these were then hammered into a pulp using a big stone mortar and pestle – the girls had a really good attempt at this. We added the pieces of raw tuna and an egg and mixed it all together. This mixture was then rolled into banana leaves, pinned at either side with toothpicks and steamed for about 30 minutes.
IMG_6740

IMG_6766

Our second dish of the day was Chicken Curry. I’m not really a curry person, but this was my favourite dish.

Tim and I chopped some more ingredients and pulsed them into a sauce. Meanwhile Daynu heated up some coconut oil in a large wok and I half fried the chicken, followed by the potatoes. After I had removed the last of the potatoes, I added the sauce and fried the chicken and potatoes some more in the curry mixture. Tim took over stirring the sauce and Daynu added the coconut milk.
IMG_6749

IMG_6751

Both girls helped out whenever they could, whether it was adding chopped up ingredients or taking photos of the grown ups hard at work.

Our third and last dish for the day was called Satay Lilit, minced chickenmeat on lemongrass sticks.

Here the girls could help out again. We put the minced chicken in the stone mortar and added desiccated coconut, palm sugar, pepper and salt and chillies. Using the pestle we mixed it all together. We then stuck small balls of this chicken mixture on the top of the lemongrass sticks and pushed them down slightly. These were to be cooked on a small barbecue.
IMG_6764

Now it was time to eat! Unfortunately, most of us were still very satisfied from our big breakfast and in general the girls thought the food was just that little too spicy for them. The grown ups on the other hand tucked in and there wasn’t much left over at the end.

[Tim]
Incidentally, one big difference from our usual Western cooking is that we didn’t use any scales or measuring jugs; nothing comes in packets or jars – it’s fresh from the local land (or sea) – so it’s all done by the quantity of raw ingredients used (two cloves of garlic, one candlenut, half a large chilli pepper, etc.).

After our filling lunch we were in need of some quiet digestion time so we rested for an hour before making our promised visit to the pool. The girls continued practising, with Ellen staying in the water long after the rest of us had come out to dry off in the sun. She did her push and glide time and time again, face fully submerged; I keep wondering when she’ll remember to breathe…

Kirsten popped to the shop opposite for Oreos and jam tartlets, the bait to get Ellen out of the pool and back to the room. We had our tea snacks and then caught the shuttle into Ubud to look at some shops at the south end of Monkey Forest Road – Kirsten had seen some nice things as we drove past a few days ago. We pottered up the road, calling in at a pharmacy to get ibuprofen for the girls’ headaches (probably a combination of lack of sleep, too much sun and not enough to drink).

Hannah in particular didn’t feel great so we stocked up on books at the Pondok library and then sat for a while by the edge of the soggy football pitch. Some local lads were training, and in a far corner there was a group of what I first took to be jugglers, but who transpired to be doing fancy tricks with cocktail mixers and metal tumblers.
IMG_6774

Ellen and I went off to withdraw another cool million and a half from an ATM, then we all returned to our favourite Tutmak cafe for a leisurely supper. Everyone apart from me stuck with their order from last time, so enjoyable had it been, while I went for a Moroccan chicken salad to get my olive fix. Hannah was now perking up thanks to the painkiller and getting some food inside her, and we all had just enough room to share a cookie and a brownie for dessert, along with cappuccinos for the grown-ups.

We browsed in a few more shops before our 7.30pm pick-up (bang on time), turning down the incessant offers of “Transport? For tomorrow?” and tickets for tonight’s dance shows. Back at the hotel we attempted to distract the girls from the all-too-audible amorous exclamations emanating from a villa over by the rice fields.

I wasted time attempting to book a tour to an elephant sanctuary just north of here; PayPal wouldn’t play ball today. You have to book online (collection from your hotel included in the package) because apparently any local driver will refuse to acknowledge the existence of this place; they always take you to an inferior rip-off outfit instead (where the elephants are kept in appalling conditions) to guarantee themselves a nice fat commisssion fee. I’m still astonished at the degree of ingrained corruption and dishonesty in Bali (police included, so I gather); Peru and Bolivia are poor countries too, but we experienced nothing to match this.

It looks like another quiet day tomorrow – we haven’t managed to book anything – and then Saturday is a big festival when everything will be closed. That leaves Sunday, and on Monday we’ll be moving on.

Read Full Post »

Dong, Deng, Dung, Dang, Ding

Couldn’t make it up if I tried; apparently those five notes of the gamelan scale are named dong, deng, dung, dang and ding (in ascending order). I’m sure there must be a Eurovision song in there somewhere. Or maybe “Dong, a coin, a Vietnamese coin; Deng, a famous Chinaman. Dung, a name for excrement; Dang (and drat and darn and damn)…”

I also didn’t realise that each gamelan (i.e. ensemble of instruments) has its own unique scale and tuning; just like fingerprints, no two are alike. The craftsmen who make them ensure that the instruments within one gamelan are perfectly in tune with one another, apart from any intentional detuning they introduce in order to give pleasing interference beats between instruments. (Something akin to our opera singers’ warbles and string players’ vibrato.)

Anyway, we were awoken around 6am by scrabbling on the ceiling – sadly not board-gamers up with the lark, but our rodent friends scurrying about in the roof cavity. Kirsten and Ellen even saw a big one on the rafters of the restaurant last night; why has no-one else commented/complained? The whole place would be shut down in the UK. (The girls are slightly less alarmed than they ought to be by all of this as a consequence of watching Ratatouille; we have explained that there’s nothing cute here, but we don’t want them to have nightmares either.) I expect the pesky critters are attracted by the endless supply of edible offerings that are placed on the ground and in mini-temples around the site.

We dropped off another load of washing this morning, and upon returning to our room I saw two male staff inside jump up quickly – like a couple of guilty schoolboys – from the chairs where they were sitting at our little round table. Another three men also piled out of our room; had we interrupted their cosy little get-together when they were supposed to be cleaning? A few days ago Kirsten saw one man who works here go into the room of a French couple who had just gone into town and then stay inside for hours. Are they hiding to avoid other chores?

We spent the rest of the morning and a good chunk of the afternoon at the pool, which we had all to ourselves. This gave the girls a great chance to practise their swimming, Hannah doing a few lengths of front crawl and even Ellen copying her, albeit with three pauses down the 10-metre length (I supported her in the deep end while she caught her breath). We all had fun jumping into the water and seeing how big a splash we could create; perhaps that’s why no-one else risked joining us…

We finished our packets of cereal for lunch and then the girls watched a DVD of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe while I put the last ten days of photos on the blog (enjoy). Our washing was ready by 5pm, after which we had showers and baths and then another pricy ricy (but not too spicy) supper at the hotel.

We have booked the adults into a cooking class tomorrow morning; the girls will come along and watch. We were supposed to begin with a trip to the market to buy the ingredients, but they then told us it would be too busy, “too many people”. Yet another occasion on which we get less than we’re expecting (and paying for), so we’ll be sourcing our produce fresh from the freezer instead. We’ll be making four dishes: something with tuna, a chicken curry, a satay dish and something else I can’t remember. Then we’ll eat them for lunch.

All our accommodation is now booked, and we’re working on transport from one place to the next (it seems that every hotel has its own van or else can recommend a local driver). The weather has been brighter for the past few days, without the customary late downpour, so we’ll make the most of the swimming opportunities as we enter our last fortnight on Bali.

Read Full Post »

Wayan’s World

Fortunately Ellen didn’t wake us up at 6.40am again and we went down to breakfast shortly after 8 o’clock. The girls and I settled for our usual choices whilst Tim decided to try the fried noodles.

Just before 10am we wandered down to Reception and were told that Wayan, our driver, was already waiting for us at the car park.

We had booked a half day trip in order to visit the nearby village of Celuk, famous for its silver and goldsmiths. Wayan suggested stopping at the Batuan temple on the way first.

Both grown-ups and Hannah were wrapped in sarongs and Ellen was given a shiny yellow ribbon to wear around her waist before we were allowed to enter the temple.
IMG_6619

The Batuan temple looked subdued and simple compared to the colourful temples we visited in Malaysia, but came across as very peaceful and quiet. Unfortunately we had no guide on hand to explain the different parts of the temple and statues and our driver had chosen to stay near the car. We only walked around for about 10 minutes before it became too hot for us.
IMG_6610

IMG_6616

IMG_6617

IMG_6631

We then carried on to Dewa Putu Turis, a painter’s workshop and gallery (again the driver’s choice). We were greeted by a young man as soon as we clambered out of the car, who then led us to the workshop. This was simply an entrance room where several people were sat on the ground finishing off their paintings. The “guide” explained to us that all paintings were done in three different stages. First they draw the picture in pencil, then they go over it using black Chinese ink and finally they would paint it using either oil based paints or acrylics.

We were led further down the room where we found the gallery. There were literally hundreds and hundreds of paintings depicting rural life, people, flowers and animals painted in either modern or more traditional styles and some abstract paintings.

As we were walking back towards the entrance, the “guide” followed closely behind me murmuring prices for different paintings. Suddenly I stopped enjoying admiring the paintings as I felt pressured into buying something, just so that he would get commission.

Needless to say we left the gallery empty-handed and waited for Wayan to return to collect us.

On we went to the village of Celuk, where we had hoped to walk around by ourselves visiting jewellery shops at our leisure. Tim had read in the guide book that the shops on the main street were pretty expensive and that shops on the side streets would offer jewellery at a much more favourable price.

Our driver had a different idea and insisted on dropping us off at a factory shop called “Angel to Angel” where we would be able to see the silversmiths at work. The visit to the factory was indeed interesting. We saw 7 or 8 people all designing their own jewellery, one was adding precious stones to pendants, another was making tiny curly thingies using pliers, others were finishing off large rings.

Celuk silversmiths.
IMG_6637

We were then led outside again and up the stairs to the main showroom. The room was large and airy and the shiny silver jewellery was displayed on huge glass tables. It was very impressive and yes, I could have bought several items because almost every single piece of jewellery was beautiful and well finished. Not only was the jewellery extremely expensive, but I prefer spending my money in one of the much smaller local shops. The girl who had shown us around the factory was more interested in pleasing the girls and took them upstairs to let them choose some sweets…

When we met up with the driver again, we explained we would rather walk around on our own instead of visiting these big factories. He didn’t really seem to get the message as he offered to take us to a smaller factory which happened to be run by his friend. His excuse was that he had nowhere else to park!

Out of politeness we visited the smaller factory and saw only two people at work. We had only set one foot in the shop when the first offer reached us – “if you buy more than one piece of jewellery, I will give you 30% discount!”. The room was filled with cabinets packed with earrings, bracelets, pendants and rings. As soon as we moved on to a different cabinet, so did one of the assistants, persistently pestering us to buy something. “What about this ring for your daughter?” “And sir, what about this for you?” The assistant approached the wrong person there as apart from his wedding ring Tim doesn’t wear any jewellery.

We left the shop and insisted on the driver leaving his car in the car park here so that we could walk around on our own for half an hour or so. We walked down the main street in the hope of finding a little side street, but no such luck. It was big shop after big shop and by now we were feeling really hot. Instead we returned to a small cafe and refreshed ourselves with fresh orange juices.

We explained to Wayan that we had had enough of being taken to shops and galleries and that we wanted to get away from the touristy places and enjoy some typical Balinese countryside. So he offered to take us to the Elephant Cave Temple… a must on every tour organiser’s list and undoubtedly packed with tourists!

We wanted him to take us to Sidemen Valley as it is meant to be one of Bali’s most beautiful valleys offering excellent views of the rice fields and the river. We were surprised to hear that it would take us two hours to get there so we wouldn’t be able to do it today (we had already used up two of our four hours). Wayan suggested we book another half day tour instead, but we didn’t fall for that. Our next hotel is in Amed, so we’ll ask our driver then to make sure we pass through the Sidemen Valley on the way.

Then Wayan did have a brilliant idea and he decided to take us to Relief Yeh Pulu. There we walked along a stone path amidst rice fields to a carved cliff face. This was the Bali we had been waiting for, it was peaceful, green, with waving rice fields on the left and tropical forest on the right.
IMG_6642

IMG_6650

IMG_6659

The 25-metre long wall depicted a horseman, a frog hitting a snake on the head, a man carrying a shoulder pole with two wine jugs, Ganesha (the elephant-headed son of Shiva) and many more scenes.
IMG_6661

IMG_6652

IMG_6653

When we arrived at the carved wall we were met by only two other tourists and an older lady placing an offering.

We decided to walk back to the village (buying a soothing bamboo wind-chime on the way for £1.50 – a rare bargain) and go in search of a light lunch; a tomato jaffle for Tim, a cheese jaffle for Ellen, a cheese sandwich for Hannah and a salad for me. It did take quite a long time before we were served and I was worried we might run out of time (our driver didn’t look too happy). In the end we arrived back at our hotel only a couple of minutes late.

Cafe view.
IMG_6663

IMG_6669

The first half of the afternoon was spent cooling off in the pool, before retreating to our rooms to rest and enjoy afternoon snack.

View from the pool.
IMG_6684

IMG_6691

IMG_6694

We caught up on diaries and blogs and had a light supper to finish off the day. We still had a little room for dessert, so the girls opted for strawberry ice cream and Tim and I tried Dadar Gulung. These are Balinese pancakes filled with a mixture of grated coconut and palm sugar. We were surprised to see bright green pancakes due to a typical Balinese leaf they use in the pancake mix. There were absolutely delicious!

Tomorrow will be a quieter day when we hopefully have time to add more photos to the blog – watch this space!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »