Friday, 22 February 2013

Day 5 – I can’t believe he wore a skirt!

Weather: 32 degrees | thunderstorms | 88% humidity
Exchange: 9,690 Rupiah = $1AUD (hotel) | 9,800 Rupiah = $1AUD (street)
We start the day with a shower, breakfast – usual selection and out the front just after 8:30am.  Luckily I’m so organised and had everything packed last night, as a quick call to reception has our large suitcase full of donated resources for the school and a small suitcase for our two night stay in Ubud loaded on a trolley and taken downstairs. A text from our driver, Alex (Made) tells us he is nearly here and by the time we get downstairs, we can see his kind, smiling face looking for us.  The reception staff seem momentarily confused and think we are checking out, but a thorough explanation of our plans reassures them that we are coming back – we decided to keep our room so that we did not need to transport all of our luggage/purchases.
On the road and heading towards Denpasar, with no strict plans for the day except to end up at Beji Ubud Resort, Alex decides we should see the Barong and Kris Dance at Kesiman as it has just started.  Well worth it for 100,000 Rupiah each ticket - an entertaining show, with exquisite dancers and interesting costumes and theatrics (there was even some humour thrown in and a member of the show whose beard was actually longer than hubby’s).  As soon as the show is finished, Alex is right by our side and ushers us up on stage to take our photo with the Barong (mythological “good spirit” animal).

Back in the car we drive to Celuk and Alex picks a silver shop at random, Cahaya Silver in Sukawati/Gianyar for us to look around at.  The assistant takes us to the workshop where we watch four silversmiths making intricate pieces of silver jewellery.  We wander through the amazing shop checking out beautiful items, but the only thing I’m really looking for is a weeping Buddha pendant – no such luck.  I think I will need to specially order this next time.
The next stop is Puseh Batuan temple, where of course you cannot enter unless you wear a sarong.  Hubby innocently remarks that he will wait in the car – I don’t think so.  Moments later, he’s all dressed up pretty and we are allowed in to view the temple and surrounds.  Alex explains about the “bouncer on the door” – otherwise known as the temple security, but formally the statues named “Apit Lawang” that protect the temple.  We take photos, return the sarongs (which hubby happily hands over) and leave a donation when signing the guest book.  Hubby takes note that not many Australian names are on the pages and Alex confirms that mostly European tourists visit this temple.
Our next mission is to visit a wood carving village and we end up at Gallery Marka in Kemenuh village/Gianyar.  Such an amazing collection of word carvings can be found in this gallery.  I ask to be shown any Weeping Buddha pieces, which I have to demonstrate a visual of as the shop assistant knows them to be called Yoga Buddha.  I immediately find exactly what I am after and purchase three Buddha statues (my favourite being a double, with one standing on top of the other) and two pair of wooden hair clips, which I think could double as bookmarks.  All items are priced in US dollars and once she calculates the total, she deducts 60% and we end up paying $84 AUD.  Sorry, no pictures as I forgot to take before she wrapped the pieces up like fort Knox.  Happy with my find and the fact that our suitcase wouldn’t fit the $75,000 USD work of art that took three years to create, we are escorted back to our car by the shop assistant who carries our bags.  We give her an Aussie dollar coin and she happily tells us she will have it made into a necklace pendant.  When we reach the car, Alex points out the Mangostein tree in the garden telling us this is his favourite fruit.  The shop assistant leads us down to the trees and shakes a few loose for us to take.
A busy day so far, but it’s not over yet.  It is around 1pm, but we are not very hungry so decide to keep moving.  Alex takes us to the Holy Water Spring Temple Pura Tirtha Empul.  We spy our future home, a past president’s living quarters and watch people bathe in the crystal clear holy spring.  A couple of westerners are praying/meditating close by and the serenity catches my breath.  We wander around taking a few photos before hubby realises he must wear another sarong and firmly stands his ground about not going in to the temple area.  We return to the car and drive to Mt Batur.

Once at Mt Batur, Alex locates a restaurant with a good view of the volcano where we can buy a drink and visit the toilet.  Obviously, we are up fairly high into the mountain area and the cloud cover is very low.  We just manage to view the mountain, Alex takes a photo and a few drops of rain fall so we find a table (if you can call it that – Japanese style seating) under cover.  I tell Alex the clouds are Bali snow – he smiles.  Hubby has a coffee, Alex has a hot tea and I finally get to try my Soda Gemberi (kind of like a Raspberry Spider, but no chunks of ice-cream – more like milk and VERY sweet).  This plus a plate of soggy fried potato (hot chips) because we are rather peckish by now cost us 102,000 Rupiah.

Our last sightseeing stop is Tegallalang Rice Terraces.  It’s raining fairly steadily now and Alex thinks we might give it a miss.  It’s been a long day and I start to doze in the car on the way there.  The rain settles so we continue and once we get there, it’s just a few quick snaps of the terraces.  I don’t have the energy to look in the stalls and barter, so we get back in the car and Alex knows it’s time to take us to check in to our hotel in Ubud.  We’ll definitely have to come back here on our next trip.

We arrive at Beji Ubud Resort about 5pm, check in right away and farewell Alex until next Tuesday when we will meet his family and he’ll show us the East part of the Island.  He literally spent the whole day with us, was so pleasant and spoke English really well and only charged us 450,000 Rupiah.  We drink our welcome drink and as soon as the glass is put down, we are guided to our room – there are no stairs and one of the male hotel staff carries our nearly 30kg suitcase full of donations up the steep stairs.  What a gorgeous place Beji is, with multiple levels overlooking a ravine and five infinity style pools – one right outside our hotel room door.  We settle in, have a coffee then decide to find somewhere within walking distance to eat tea... we’re starving!
We wander up the road towards Ubud centre – it’s so much more calmer and quieter than Kuta.  We get as far as the local supermarket and purchase some water and Bintangs before heading back to a restaurant a few meters before, but first stop to chat with a couple of local guys offering transport and organise a ride to the school the following day.  We decide to eat at Warung Pulau Kelapa – just up the road from Beji – and are so glad we did.  The most delicious food I have tasted so far and for an absolute bargain price, minus the mosquitoes biting at our ankles.  We order (Entrees) Pecel Blitar (boiled veggie with fried/fermented soybean patty and peanut sauce), Soto Ayam Kampung (chicken soup, vermicelli, cabbage & boiled egg), (Main) Nasi Campur and Nasi Kuning (I said we were hungry), a large Bintang and an iced lime juice.  I couldn’t help but clean my plate, but it had nothing to do with the cost, a total of 161,700 Rupiah.

I convince hubby to pop into Putri Bali Spa on the way back to the hotel, where I decide to have a pedicure (long overdue) and organise for him to have a 1 hour massage.  As strange as it seems, he really doesn’t enjoy this kind of attention, but I guess figures it would be a better choice than sitting around waiting for me for 1 hour.  I completely enjoy my pedi, although feel uncomfortable at first because I’m in a room with two other older ladies who obviously enjoy the peace and quiet, and I LIKE TO TALK!  They soon leave and I breathe a huge sigh of relief and get to know the beautiful Wahyu who has much more in common than I would have ever guessed.  We are the same age, although her birthday is a few days after mine and coincidentally falls on mine and hubby’s wedding anniversary.  She has two daughters; the eldest a few days before my birthday and the youngest a year younger than our Miss 7 but with the same date/different month.  I am a real numbers person, so when the numbers match I take this as a sign and figure I was meant to meet Wahyu for some reason.  I think I’ll go back to visit her tomorrow to see if I can find out why and maybe just squeeze in a facial while I’m at it – and yes, hubby will stay at the hotel this time.  Let’s just say he didn’t enjoy having a Balinese lady climbing all over his back and is still complaining about the red marks down his spine.

A long day, filled with lots of good memories.  I sit here reflecting on the events of our day, listening to the rain pounding on the roof, the occasional call from our gecko intruders and realise how lucky I am to be able to experience all of these wonderful things.  I can’t wait to share these feelings with the children of Pejengkawan Village School tomorrow...

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