On Saturday January 3rd, we took Mick and Pip to the airport for their flight to Melbourne, then went to our photography workshop in the Perth CBD. It really didn’t teach me anything that I hadn’t already nutted out with the help of my friends Barb and Fay and a couple of good magazines. As we only took one camera, I gave it to Russ to use-I think he came away a lot more confident at using the camera in manual.
Sunday we went over to Todd and Deb’s for a family BBQ to say goodbye to Deb’s parents as they were to head back to the UK the following Tuesday after a 5 week stay in Perth and up at the farm at New Norcia. It was a really hot day so the kids stripped off all their clothes and played under the sprinkler-something I remember loving to do as akid.
Monday, Blair and Leah flew home from Bali after a 5 night stay. It wasn’t the greatest time for them with Leah falling sick early in the trip and it raining every day.
Tuesday, we took a taxi to the airport as we were heading to Bali at 1pm for a 7 night holiday. We got to the counter only to be told my passport had expired! I stood there close to tears as we’d paid for the flights and accommodation already and we weren’t going.
The lovely girl at the counter changed our flight to and from Bali, gave us the phone number and address of the Foreign Affairs Dept and suggested we call them. On the phone, we were told there was an appointment available on the 14th and I’d have the passport by the 16th (the day we’d changed our flights to to come home).
Back in a taxi to go home, the driver asked where we’d been and when we said “nowhere” and told him the story, he said”go to the office right now”! We did, filled in some forms, got my photo taken, paid the money, got the passport the following afternoon and were on our way to Bali just a night later. Boarding the plane, we got a change of seats to the more spacious exit aisle with just the two of us sharing three seats. I’d like to think that was payback for not becoming hysterical at the counter when we couldn’t fly. After all it was my fault.And so we actually ended up with 8 nights in Bali and are here right now. This is about the 8th time we’ve been but the first time we’ve been on our own. I love all the people we’ve ever gone with but this is really good too with only the two of us.
Up til now, we’ve always stayed in the same hotel but over the years, the staff has got more familiar/intrusive so you can’t sit by the pool or your room without someone plonking down on a chair to gossip, and the place has got dirtier and dirtier. This hotel is old and tired, but it’s nice to have the staff friendly but not too friendly. We are closer to the beach and town and feel it’s been a good move. This morning we walked on the beach and heard a loud roar like 100 woks burning flatout nearby. It was a cremation, and by the looks of it, there were several more bodies waiting after the one being done. Yes, we could see it all as we walked by. The remains of the bodies are floated out off the beach when the cremating is done.
The hotel we used to stay at is next to one of Bali’s main temples for funeral services-called Pura Dalem, it means Death Temple (roughhly translated). We are so lucky not to be there as funeral services can go on for days, with road closures and people all over as the services are held. The most important funerals happen first, then other families sort of tag along afterwards fare-welling their less important loved ones.We’ve had a quiet and relaxing stay, sleeping late, walking long and slow to find cheap and cheerful lunches, do a bit of shopping, then taxi home. Afternoons have been spent by the pool to keep out of the high humidity (it’s the rainy season here right now) and dinner has been a bit of a treat each night as we’ve looked for somewhere a bit interesting (and more expensive) to eat. We’ve found a good cheap laundry service, and a masseur nearby so it’s a great spot.
Yesterday (Sunday 12th), we took a day trip by fast boat (25 minutes) over to Lembongan Island for our first ever visit. Lembongan is only 8ks long and we’d been told we’d be able to hire push bikes but we never spotted a hire place or even a bike on the roads. Even small kids were riding motor scooter. Russ hasn’t ridden a motor bike for 30 years but we decided we had to do it or we’d be sitting on Mushroom beach for 5 hours.
We got our scooter with no helmets or no insurance and only $7 for the day, and off we went. What fun. We basically rode over all the island visiting various beaches, stopping for lunch and stopping to take photos. It was great andI reckon Russ’d go back over tomorrow to do it again!
Tonight, we had a special Balinese duck dinner. We had to order it 24 hours in advance, so they could buy and deal with the duck, smoking it, then steaming it stuffed with aromatics, in banana leaves. We’ve had this a couple of times over the last 14 years and love it so I was pretty excited. I had soto ayam (chicken noodle soup) for lunch today in anticipation. The verdict? It wasn’t the worst duck but it wasn’t the best duck I’ve eaten. We were advised to just have one duck between the two of us but it was tiny-definitely a duck but as small as a chicken. Years ago we ordered the same dish and thought “Balinese ducks will be tiny, we better order one each”. We got ENORMOUS ducks with breasts that’d win a wet T Shirt competition-they were massive. Not tonight. I could have eaten a duck on my own. However the duck was tasty.
As always with us, it’s all about the food and we’ve had some great meals. Bali is known for it’s knock offs of clothing, jewellery, sunglasses and cheap DVDs. It’s the same with food. There is very little in the way of “real” Balinese food. The Balinese people mostly graze on rice and sambals and a little protein (fish, chicken pork etc). Fancy dishes like our duck dinner tonight and suckling pig are the stuff of festivals. Bali does Indian, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, English etc and often does it bad, so it’s good to find the places that do it well. This week, we’ve eaten good Indian, Japanese, German and then had some yummy local stuff too. We avoided the hotel breakfast of pretend orange juice, 2 eggs any way you like and sweetish white bread toast this morning and had Maccas instead!