Having farewelled my job, my work colleagues, our friends and son, seen our belongings put into storage and our house ready for the tenant who moves in on Saturday, our flights to Bali on Friday night were for 4 day’s of indulgence and time with our daughter. Chelsea’s flight arrived from Darwin around 1 a.m. and we’d arranged for a driver to take the three of us to Ubud. This was a drive of about 1 hour 15 minutes, and at this early hour roads were virtually devoid of traffic. Our villa was beyond the road end. A motorcycle appeared and our large bag soon strapped onto the rear. As we were trudging with all the remaining luggage, along paths we could barely see, Nev was reminded of the website notation that this venue was not suitable for large suitcases. But of course at the time of booking we never envisaged that would be us!
With our bags already stretched to capacity (as we have most of the gear we need for cycle touring and camping when we get to Europe), we’ve no room for items, so shopping here is only to buy services. We’ve each had a massage, a pedicure, and for me a manicure and reflexology. Nev has had a haircut and beard trim. We’ve eaten tropical fruit and local dishes, we’ve drunk Bali coffee and local beers. In between we’ve dropped into the pool to cool down.
On our last day Nev and I hired the services of Infinity Lifestyle Adventures www.infinitylifestyleadventures.com and Rudy guided us, as we mountain biked from Mt Batur to Ubud. 35km of mostly gentle downhill, following a mixture of seal, dirt roads, paddy field paths and occasionally single track that joined villages to roads.
Mt Batur is an imposing feature in this landscape, but it is the smaller Mt Agung that has been recently spewing ash and volcanologists have warned of an impending eruption. Apart from Chelsea’s 30th celebration in Bali last year, we had not visited Bali since 1981. The growth of tourism in those 37 years has spoiled the memories we have. Back then a bemo took us over dirt roads (now paved the length of the island) from Kuta to Legion. We went to Ubud because we’d heard there was a going to be a Balinese funeral, and rather irreverently, we went to observe the procession of the body on a tower of bamboo to the cremation ceremony. I have memories of attending celebrations at the temple, watching the dancing and puppetry, listening to the music, seeing offerings of stacked, puffed rice cakes, along with flowers and bananas, that were occasionally stolen by monkeys. Little did I know that many years later packets of rice cakes would sell as a snack item in our supermarkets. We did what most young people do, and hired a motor scooter to ride from Ubud (that had no tourist shops) to Lovina on the north coast (that had little in the way of accommodation to stay at). Our memories are of lush terraced rice paddies, locals bathing and doing laundry in clear fast flowing streams, and village road-sides edged with temples. Bali had been our last stop on a three month, South-East Asia back-packing holiday; and I had stored the idyllic experience away with a touch of the romantic.
The mountain bike ride revived those feelings of peace. It was lovely to ride through villages where people went about their day as if tourists did not exist, and see the homes tucked behind temples instead of shop fronts in the foreground.