Travel Blog: Week 46

Bali: Ubud Week 46: 23.09.2013 – 29.09.2013 Monday:- This morning, having met two travellers yesterday, I pondered what I would do with the remaining time in Bali. I had a week. Gusti was a wealth of info and of course had some relation or other who would be able to assist me with any plan I might have. My room was booked by someone else in a couple of days so I would have to move out anyway. Seemed an opportune

Bali: Ubud

Week 46: 23.09.2013 – 29.09.2013

Monday:-

This morning, having met two travellers yesterday, I pondered what I would do with the remaining time in Bali. I had a week. Gusti was a wealth of info and of course had some relation or other who would be able to assist me with any plan I might have. My room was booked by someone else in a couple of days so I would have to move out anyway. Seemed an opportune time to do something different. The bonus was I could leave my bag with Gusti and just take my small day bag. It’s always a toss up between taking everything with you so you have total freedom to flex your plans or travelling light but having to return to the same place. I would give it all some thought.

It was another beautiful day and so after breakfast I decided to walk the trail from yesterday’s excursion with Gusti. It was already hot but as I turned the corner into the open rice fields the most refreshing cool breeze rippled across the grasses and followed me along the path.

This was glorious. Apart from the occasional walker, cyclist and motorbike it was pretty peaceful and I stopped to browse the craft work in the little huts along the way. This is not the rainy season but the rice fields are constantly flooded with little fish swimming between the plants which are a lush, lush green. Some of the plants were starting to show signs of the rice forming. Considering the intensity of the work required to grow and harvest rice I can’t quite work out why it is such a cheap food source!


I stopped at a place called Sari Organik and enjoyed a fresh coconut. I was becoming addicted and I’m convinced the amazingly powerful water is helping bring my body back to some kind of balance. The place was popular and gradually filled with tourists who had also taken the trek along the path. The food was great and I ordered a grilled veg and rice salad – Nigel I raised my glass (coconut) to you as a connoisseur of such dishes.

Eventually, I raised myself, paid my bill, visited the toilet and left. I’d been sitting on the upper veranda and the toilet was downstairs. There was only one and it had a curious sign on the door. Inside was even more curious although there was a great view from the window.

One urinal on the wall (there is no way I’d be able to effectively navigate my wee into that) and a drainage hole in the middle of the floor. The sign as usual said put the toilet paper in the bin which to me seemed obvious given the circumstances. Anyway, I really needed to go and when in Rome…….so I squatted over the drain hole. The sink was outside the door so I washed my hands and turned to leave. That’s when I realised there were actually another half dozen toilets. I’d used the mens and not in the way ever intended!! Sometimes I really embarrass myself!!! Chuckling and slightly red faced I rejoined the path and carried on along my way.

The path twisted left and right and I just kept on going. Many more artists huts, chatty locals, chickens, ducks, dogs, butterflies and swallows who took turns in doing very close flybys. Gusti had told me that the path went nowhere but after feeling I’d gone past the point of no return I pushed on.

I asked one of the locals if I could get back to Ubud this way and I got a ‘yes’ – ‘turn right at the main road’.

On and on I went until I found a small tarmaced lane. Ah, the main road! It went on forever and as usual en route I was bombarded with taxi requests. I was determined to get there under my own steam and it felt good to be walking at a good pace. Just when I thought it looked like civilisation was ahead I realised the bridge was under construction. Could I cross on foot? Well, I did and just like construction sites anywhere else in the world I was whistled and jeered. All harmless fun. At last I recognised where I was – my legs were aching already tough. Tomorrow will be fun!

I was going to go back to my room but I passed the bakery and had a tea with ‘killer brownie’ – brownie with vanilla ice-cream. I did eventually get back to my room. And very content I felt too.

I went out quite late for dinner and just had soup and fresh spring roll. It had been a great day and tomorrow would probably be the last in Ubud for a few days, as I was going to the Gilis. I had a 30 day visa and was also contemplating staying a week longer. We’ll see!!

Walking back to my room through the rice fields the frogs were in full voice. I’d forgotten my torch again, which I was reliably advised was the best way to see them at night ne at all. My mobile didn’t shed nearly enough light. Alas, I would have to wait for another opportunity. Or so I thought. Just as I reached the steps to the hotel I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. There is was ……meandering across the tiled floor…..a little…… brown….toad, I think. It didn’t hang around but flung itself off into the surrounding greenery. At least I got to see one.

Tonight, whilst sitting in my room, I experience my first earthquake. Initially, I thought someone was running around downstairs but then the furniture started to shake. It was over in seconds but still weird!

Tuesday:-

I woke refreshed and not nearly as achy as I thought – bonus! Breakfast was fried egg sandwich which I think is my personal favourite. I stayed at the hotel for most of the morning. Savouring the cool breeze and sounds of nature, whilst chatting to Gusti about the Gili Islands. I made a decision. I would go to Gili Air and I would go tomorrow. I agreed a price for an open return ticket with Gusti (reassuringly the same price as the guy I met at the dance evening had paid) and handed over the cash. It would mean a 6:30 pick up – I only get up that early for special occasions now. I took to the internet to look up details of the islands and just check out the general cost of accommodation. I’d decide where to stay when I got there. I also sent an email to my helpful local travel agent to see if it was possible to put my flight to Chiang Mai back by a week or so. My energy was returning and now I wanted to see a little more of Bali.

Lunch was at a new restaurant. It overlooked the lotus pond and I had a table with a fabulous view. Tomato, olive and feta CHEESE pasta just topped off the whole experience. Well, and the chocolate cake with ice cream. I’ve never eaten so many desserts in one week. It was a peaceful place to sit and I just drifted into the afternoon.

The high heat of the day had passed and so I took a wander down Monkey Forest Street. I’d read there were limited ATMs in Gili and the exchange rates were not very competitive so I drew out some cash. I also browsed the craft stalls and found a bargain mask. Tucked away at the back of a large shop, covered in cobwebs, was an old looking mask. I bartered down and although the owner was rubbing her hands I felt I got the deal of the century.

Time for a celebratory drink. I decided to have a fresh coconut because frankly it gives me just as much as a high as a beer. On the table was information about wheatgrass shots. Never having had one I thought I’d give it ago. It’s not something I would rush into again as it pretty much tasted like new mown grass smells. However, anything which tastes that bad must be good for you.

Whilst I relaxed in the restaurant garden an American woman and her daughter sat down next to me and were talking ten to the dozen about last night’s earthquake. So I was right……my first earthquake experience! It was then that I noticed the poster on the wall. Apparently, this restaurant had been set up by a women mentioned in the ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ book. I felt like things had come full circle as reading this book, lent to me by a dear friend (yes, Tammy I mean you), was one of the things that finally helped me decide to chuck it all in an see the world. On the way out I visited the bathroom – it deserves a mention as it had its own little fountain adorned with fresh flowers. I’ve attached my view from the seat.

I carried along down Monkey Forest Street and dropped into another shop. I’d seen a wood carving there and if I could get a good price I’d make a deal. The shop was a big one and one of the original in the road. The owner told me his family had run the place, and carved the pieces, for over 20 years. In that time Ubud had changed a great deal – I bet!! He was a kindly man and we chatted for quite some time. Eventually, I made my purchase. As it turns out his father had carved the wood which was actually a traditional shield for ceremonial use. He’d made it about 20 years ago. The owner called his father to ensure he was happy with the price and the deal was done. I’m never quite sure if this ‘phone a friend’ negotiation, which happens a lot, is genuine or just for the fun of it. I guess I’ll never know. So with purchases bundled under my arm I headed back. Both the shield and mask are on the large side so getting them back home will be interesting. During my travels I’ve bought back many an item which in fairness not many people would attempt, but thankfully it’s always worked out and I’ve got them home safely. Fingers crossed for this time too.

Back to the room and on with the packing. I am an awesome packer but I have to build up to it. It’s really not my favourite pastime. One day I WILL learn to travel light. I divided my things between those I needed for a few days in Gili and everything else. Sadly, everything else looked big and I would have to carry it sometime! After the packing ordeal I ventured out for a quick dinner. I just popped into a nearby Italian restaurant which served one of the best pizzas I’ve had in awhile. The real bargain was there was no tax added. I did ask if this was correct and I got a rather shifty reply. They weren’t charging tax, a government tax apparently, because the restaurant was new. I asked no more questions and paid up. If time allowed I would definitely go back.

Wednesday:-

My alarm went off at 5:15 and I seriously considered going back to sleep and staying in Ubud. But I raised myself from the bed, showered and finished the last bits of packing. It felt great to be leaving the majority of my things here and just be travelling light….especially as I’d made a few bulky purchases yesterday!

True to his word Gusti had breakfast ready around 6am then took my bags to the safe storage room. Around 6:30 on the back of his motorbike he took me to the pick up point. There was another couple waiting there too and the three of us bundled into the minibus when it arrived 10 minutes later.

We did the usual double circle of the town as we picked up people in a random order. The mini bus was full and we were off. I love these short journeys. It was probably just over an hour and a half and the roads took us from bustling Ubud and it’s morning markets, into quiet open roads and then back to busy roads around the harbour. We were dropped off, and much like Thailand there was copious form filling and bits of paper, tickets and coloured string to tie on your bag. I met a couple while we waited for the call to get the boats and they kindly gave me a street map for the islands. They’d bought one and found that it was actually two stuck together so I was the lucky recipient of the spare one.

We were soon called and in true tourist fashion, like sheep bahhhhh, bahhhh, bahhh, we were herded along the seafront street, through the market (just in case we wanted to buy something) and out along the jetty.

The Gili Air boat was first to leave and I was grateful for that as I’m not keen on sitting on a stationary boat. I’m not that keen on boats period so the 90 minutes (not 60 according to Gusti) of vomit free travel was quite an achievement. Boy, was it a rough trip. It started off smooth and exciting but as soon as we got into the open channel the waves got big any the boat pitched and yawed. Water came flooding in through the doors and windows as the water crashed over the top of the boat. I was glad I chose to sit inside. Those on the outside soon came in looking green and like drowned rats. We had a brief stop at Meno, the middle of the three islands, and then we arrived at Air.

OK, so where do I start. I walked along the beach and saw a sign for Lucy’s Garden. It was one of the accommodation options I’d seen on the internet. As good as anywhere, so I followed the signs which then completely disappeared. I now found myself in quite a quiet area with very few hotels and what there were looked very pricey. Just to add to the excitement I was being hailed by a group of male locals!! Looking around I noticed a very bronzed looking lady leaving the beach so I asked her if she knew how to find Lucy’s Garden. A blank look! So I tried I different tack – do you know of any reasonable accommodation around here? The lady was Dutch and luckily spoke some English and, not only understood me, but took me to the place where she was staying. It was about a fifteen minute walk so it gave me the chance to have a bit of a look round and get used to the small horse drawn carriages that they use here for everything – transporting tourists and just about anything else. The small horses are bedecked in bells so you can hear when they are coming up behind you. There are no motor vehicles here at all – no trucks, cars or scooters. My helpful guide was called Saskia and of a similar age so we got along really well. Saskia was staying in a room which cost 200,000IDR. I saw a similar one but just couldn’t face a pipe for a shower. I upgraded to a slightly better room at 300,000IDR. It was more than I really wanted to pay but it was right on the beach and now I knew someone who stayed here. It was still pretty basic – no toilet seat, a wrench was needed to turn the shower on and off, the water was brackish, and it took several attempts to lock the front door each time – but it was clean and private. I checked in – there was a minimum booking of two nights – dumped my stuff and joined Saskia for elevenies.

Saskia bought me a fruit smoothie and, having had breakfast around six, I ordered fish kebabs. Just as well as they took well over an hour to arrive.

Saskia and I chatted for a few hours and then I went back to my room for a snooze. The travel had really taken it out of me, more than I had expected. I met Saskia for dinner around six and we shared a large pre dinner Bintang.

We walked the strip to find a nice looking restaurant. Every restaurant offered BBQ kebabs and fresh fish so there were fires and smoke all the way along the seafront. We found a table and ordered. I have to admit it wasn’t my best night so I probably wasn’t good company for Saskia. I was really tired and really hungry and the food took over 2 hours to arrive. If I had been on my own I think I would have left. Anyway, the food came and it was very good. So good that every cat within a mile radius seemed to come to our table. Once we’d finished Saskia handed over her fish left overs (the head and bones) to each of the cats. Many were very young females who already looked pregnant, but on the whole they looked healthy. There are lots of cats here and they have the funny looking deformed tails I saw in South Thailand. I’ve not seen any dogs so far.

Saskia wasn’t ready to finish her evening so she wandered off in search of the night’s beachfront party which was in the reggae bar. I headed to my room and was asleep before 10. Shattered.com!

Thursday:-

Up earlier than I have been in a lonnnng time. I was having breakfast before 9am. Talking of breakfast, it was free with the room. I was kind of expecting the same as Gusti would make but it was only the very poor relative and served on a very chipped plate. It was tasty and free and my stomach held so I guess all was well.

I met Saskia briefly but then went on my trek around the island. It was still coolish and would take about an hour – an hour that is if I took the direct route, which I didn’t. I walked around following the beach for about 20 minutes and then cut into the middle of the island. This is obviously where the locals lived. They looked like they lived a pretty basic life. And as is almost to be expected in this part of the world had cats, chickens and cows running around the place. No dogs though! I reached the other side of the island by the harbour.

There was a strong fresh breeze blowing along this side of the island and I sat and basked in it a while. I then changed direction and walking clockwise walked back around the island following the beach path. The beach scene changed along the way, with the tide being much further out and revealing seaweed beds in some places more than others.


I met Tony, a local who was collecting shells to make jewellery. He was very chatty and I found it quite hard to get away. When I did eventually shake his hand and turn to leave he grabbed me to give me a kiss and then had a good old grope! What is it with men? Does just talking to them and being civil give them some unspoken right to do as they please. Apologies if this sounds like a bit of a rant but I’m getting tired of it!! I should be flattered as it’s just harmless fun, although I’m not sure they’re overly fussy about who they chat up here.

I carried on around the island and eventually ended up at the place where I’d cut through the island. I stopped and had a fruit drink then carried on to complete the circuit back to the harbour where it was even windier than before.

I wandered back and browsed some of the shops along the way. I’ve been spoiled by the variety and quality in Ubud. There was very little that inspired me here and the one thing I did consider was full of termites when I picked it up.

Now for lunch. Learning from yesterday I ordered before I was totally ravenous. Today I had pasta – something that would sustain me for longer into the evening. I went to one of the nicer restaurants, which because there is no tax charge here, was still a bargain. It was delicious.

I found Saskia reading on the beach and I dumped my stuff and went for a snorkel. The sea is very shallow and rocky so getting out into the deeper water and keeping your feet in one piece means you have to be creative. I just wore my Keens. Not the same as wearing fins but they did the trick. The water was clean and clear and teaming with fish. So great that I can still identify some to the species from my Madagascar days.

The shallow ledge around the island soon drops away in a long drop and the colour of the water changes. As does the current. It’s pretty strong out there and with less fish at the surface so for a snorkeler there’s really nothing to temp you – I think it’s probably a different story if you SCUBA. I came into shore to give Saskia a chance to go out, whilst I watched over our belongings. She came back in with the most beautiful conch shell. It didn’t have the mollusc in it anymore but something resembling a very long armed starfish had taken residence. I convinced Saskia to put it back. I went out one final time without my shoes this time and came face to face with a small but very determined Trigger fish. It charged me a number of times, right up to my mask, so I gave it some distance. They’re known for being territorial.

I went back to my room to shower. I wouldn’t say clean up because the water here is brackish and a bit stinky. Still it’s a slight improvement on the sea water. I had a very short snooze and then went out to meet Saskia for dinner.

After having a sundowner we chose a different restaurant which was offering a really good deal on a BBQ dinner.

Two kebabs (this time with a good serving of meat), baked potato and unlimited salad from the buffet for 65,000IDR. We watched them cook our kebabs whilst we helped ourselves to salad. I think this is the most food for the least money I’ve had in Indonesia so far, and it was bloody delicious. As we ate our meal the sound of fantastic music drifted towards us. We realised it was live, and the local singer had the most amazing voice. He sang classics from Pink Floyd, Arrowsmith, U2 and some more current stuff too. It drew in quite a crowd and so after eating all that we could Saskia and I joined the throng. The throng being mostly Dutch people, so Saskia was in her element. Bless them all despite being very drunk most people managed to talk to me in English. Always impressed with language skills as it’s something I’ve yet to master. We danced away the hours barefoot in the sand. The evening became late evening, then the early hours. At the stroke of midnight we sang happy birthday to a Dutch guy – reminded me of my birthday in Belize. What a great way to celebrate your birthday. I think the guy was a little overwhelmed as he was bombarded with kisses from random women. Saskia by now was pretty drunk – you have to admire her balls. She had an early wake up call and then a 4/5 hour boat trip back to Bali. Why anyone would chose the slow boat I’ll never know – there’s not much difference in price between that and the much quicker fast boat.

I got back to my room around 1am and not surprisingly fell straight to sleep!

Friday:-

I woke unpredictably early. I think is was the sound of the garden around my hut being watered – that’s enough to make anyone want a wee.

I took a comfy seat on the beachfront and had breakfast whilst watching the locals bale water out of their boats, a daily ritual, and head off who knows where. This morning I wanted to get out in the sea before the boat loads of tourists arrived on their snorkel trips. I’d heard the turtles graze the shallows in the morning and I wanted to see if it was true. The tide was out and the water was even more shallow than yesterday. I managed to get to sea by just floating and skimming the sea floor. The current was strong and it pulled me quickly along parallel to the coast. It’s a little disconcerting in such shallow rocky water to travel that quickly and not really be in control. I kept this snorkel trip short but I have to say it was very fruitful.

Lots of fish AND 2 separate turtle sightings. Up close and personal too. They seemed completely oblivious to me which was fabulous. I made it back to the beach but sporting a few scrapes from the rocks and some tiny spine in my finger. I’d gone out without shoes which was not a smart idea. I did a spot of sunbathing and ventured out snorkelling again – this time with shoes – which was just as successful.

It’s not the easiest of snorkeling conditions and in the late morning the boats started to arrive so I had to dodge them too. Paying tourists get priority.

I had lunch at the ‘Waterfront’ – it ended up being soup, sandwich and a few drinks. And I made the most of the wifi. I booked my return ticket to Ubud. I’d need to be at the harbour around 10:30 in the morning. Hopefully arriving at Bali’s harbour around midday. I bought a fresh coconut along the way, but sadly it was anything but fresh. The coconut water inside was fizzy which is never a good sign. I dumped it. I went back to my room to snooze and shower and then headed out for dinner. I browsed a small art shop I’d found and bought a beautiful little painting and a butterfly hair pin. Little reminders of my trip to Gili Air.

Dinner was kebabs again but the evening was anything but routine. I sat at the only table which was free which happened to me a big one. I was lost in writing up by blog when a girl asked if their party of 7 could use the table. I assumed they wanted to join me but actually they wanted me to move – they just didn’t ask me that outright. There was now another table free but it was right next to the BBQ. I moved but was actually pretty wound up by the way they managed me. Breathe, breathe, breathe. It was a reasonable request just not handled very well. Anyway, mid meal, I was approached again. This time a party of 9 French tourists who wanted to put my table together with another one so they could all sit together, with me. Did I mention, I was mid meal. I was quite happy to join them but really didn’t want to leave my food while a second table, and numerous chairs, was brought across from the other side of the restaurant and put together with mine. I asked if I could finish my food first and they were very understanding, especially considering they now had to find a different restaurant. By the time I’d finished, other tables became free and the French group came back. Bless them – they still asked if I’d like to join them. Not sure I could face sitting with 9 French whilst they ate dinner.

I graciously declined the invite to join their table and headed back to my room. Why was I so tired? I put on a movie but even that couldn’t stop my eyes from getting heavy. I must have been knackered as for the second time in only a few days I was asleep before 10 and tonight, that was with a live band playing just down from my bungalow!

Saturday:-

I didn’t know a thing until around 6:30, and then I dosed for another hour. Time to pack up the few things I had and have breakfast. Am I just in a really tetchy mood at the moment or is it inappropriate to sit of your bungalow veranda at 8:30am singing and playing your guitar? I need to work harder at feeling the love!!!

I’d definitely caught the sun yesterday, probably whilst snorkelling, as my bum was a tad sore. Note to self. More sun cream!

Breakfast was scrambled egg on toast with a couple of slices of pineapple and as usual I looked out over the beautiful glittery ocean. The sound of the waves crashing on the shore in front of me, and the sound of the horses bells jingling behind me was wonderful.

I collected my bag from my room and checked out. I had half an hour to kill before I had to be at the harbour and then probably another 30 to 60 minute wait for the boat. I wouldn’t get into Ubud for a while so walked along the strip and stopped at another restaurant to have some more fruit to keep me going.

I got to the harbour around 10:40 and took a seat – the queue at the office was long and not the quickest. When the queue cleared I went to check in. This place is so funny…..at the check in desk I was told to find the guy with the black baseball hat as he looked after the ‘Marlin’ boat company and show my ticket to him. I found him on the beach, passed over my ticket and was asked to follow him. Where to? Back to the same check in desk where I had to wait for my ticket to be stamped so that I could take my place and wait for the boat!! As a project manager I can see an obvious time and cost saving here! I was told the boat would leave between 11 and 11:30. I should know better by now but I can’t shake that punctuality gene.

The boat, which was questionably seaworthy, didn’t leave until after midday and then it had to stop at Lombok which was in the opposite direction to Bali. That, coupled with the tides?, made the journey 2 hours. It was another rough crossing and I now saw the logic in taking the slower, more comfortable, slow boat. A few people were struggling with motion sickness including me. But with the chant rotating in my head….keep it together girl, keep it together girl….I made it back to Bali with my stomach contents in tact. We disembarked and were directed to our various awaiting mini buses. The Ubud one didn’t arrive for 20 minutes so I bought a can of Pringles which helpfully came with free bananas!! I managed to get on the first bus back and as a special bonus got to sit in the more spacious and cooler front seat. I chatted with the driver and watched life going by outside the window and so the hour’s journey flew by.

Now, would I have a room at Surawan? I hadn’t managed to phone Gusti to tell him when I’d be back so it was all down to fate. The good news was – there was a room available.

I unpacked my things, showered in blissful fresh water, and then braced myself for a call to Virgin Atlantic. My local travel agent had advised me that Virgin had blocked any changes from local offices for some reason so I’d emailed days ago about changing my flight dates and not heard back. I Skyped the UK call centre, waiting for 15 minutes for my call to be answered, only to find they couldn’t hear me. I tried the online chat service again but sadly with no luck there either. I truly despair of their service. It put me in a really bad mood, again. I refuse to let this company affect me so. I got dolled up and went out. A walk and a good meal were definitely required.

I took a walk along a different road and found a place selling young coconut – a must. I finished the coconut water and whilst scooping out the flesh an Aussie guy stopped for a chat. He recommended heaps of great restaurants so I thought I might try somewhere new that night. The road was really interesting and would warrant another viewing in the daylight. I found one of the restaurants the Aussie guy mentioned but didn’t like the music, so carried on a little further. I found a vegan restaurant and ordered some wholesome ‘raw’ food, and a mint infused water. I have never had water quite like it. I was expecting water with mint leaves floating in it, but as in so many areas I’m completely uneducated in this raw deal. The water was infused with essential oil and was blow your head off strong. I did like it though. The food was good too and because I was hungry I ordered two dishes. They were enormous. I took a doggy bag back to the room. I made it back to my hotel and crashed out.

So, thinking back over my last few days in Gili Air, I considered whether it was worth it. I’m not sure it was……..for me anyway. I’m very glad to have met Saskia and to have had the chance to snorkel and see turtles, but I think I’m still feeling jaded and this was too much effort for the pay back. At any other time of my life I would have relished the chance to come and relax here and if anyone is thinking of going I would say…do it! For me, right now, I just want to settle in a place of my own, away from the banter that comes with tourism and get better. It might sound like I’m a bit despondent at the moment – that’s because I am. Trying hard to look on the positive side which is most definitely the side of life that I find myself on.

Sunday:-

I had a great night’s sleep and woke up feeling fantastic. Gusti was on good form and he made me a ‘special’ breakfast – ie the usual pancake, honey and fruit – but it was delicious. Feeling super positive I decided to give Virgin Atlantic another go. If I couldn’t change my flight I’d be leaving tomorrow.
Well, despite my best positive outlook, amazing patience (even if I say so myself) I had a fruitless two hours or so. Once again Virgin had succeeded in dampening my free spirit. Was I down in the dumps??? Yes, I bloody well was. All I wanted to do was curl up and cry.

If this was going to be my last day in Bali, I decided, then it was going to be a good one. It was another beautiful day and I took another look at the street I visited yesterday evening. It had a totally different vibe to the rest of the town and was brimming with healthy organic, vegan, and raw restaurants. With all those eye level menus dancing in front of me as I walked I had no choice but to stop for lunch. I sat next to a really interesting lady who was taking a break from her family and was doing just as she damn well pleased. During our conversation she reminded me that sometimes decisions can’t all be about the money. We have to go with our heart!! I think that’s what I needed to hear, that and a fab track from Natashia Bedingfield. It gave me an idea. For me is was a bit radicle and very uncomfortable but I felt excited. Time for me to dictate when and where I would go. I went back to my room to use the internet. I could get a direct flight back to Chiang Mai myself. I found a cheap flight and um’d and arh’d. Eventually I decided that’s what I would do. I would forgo the Virgin ticket and organise my own flights. I cannot tell you how much relief I felt. I hadn’t realised quite how much the pre planned schedule had been playing on my mind. And I know in the grand scheme of things the stress from having to deal with Virgin Atlantic’s “customer service” is minuscule (especially having just watched a short film from Advantage Africa about their work with SPOU – much kudos to their work and strength) but it’s all relative, and this trip is about being free and going with the flow.

So with the springiest spring in my step I went back out into town considering just how vast the choice of activities left in Bali could be – sleeping, eating, shopping, and………! I still needed to get my Thai visa sorted so I could go back to Chiang Mai and now this would be doable. That’s assuming the various Presidents, including Obama, visiting Bali would allow life to go on as normal in Denpasar.

I wanted to find a new place to relax, use the wifi and later have dinner. I went to the restaurant I’d dismissed yesterday because of the music. Today it had a good vibe and I was able to sit upstairs in the comfy squashy seats. Another infused water – this time with lavender. Not only would my insides be squeaky clean, but I’d sleep like a baby too. I had a vegetarian meal with hummus, falafel, tzatziki, and tabouleh.

My, my I was on a roll with the health kick. I stayed there all evening until I was almost the last to leave. I felt really at ease now and enjoyed the walk back through the rice fields. Impressively, I had remembered to take a torch so I could scan for toads. Not so impressive was the flat battery. Doh!!

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