Sunday, 5 August 2012

Bali Day 3 - Lovina and back

Bali Day 3.
This morning I awoke with a rumbly stomach and all the signs that I had potentially contracted Bali belly. Not the best way to start the day before a long car trip. I made my way to breakfast but ate sparingly and mainly took the opportunity to fill up on fluids. By the time the taxi driver turned up I had vented what I could and was as ready as I was going to be for the journey.
We left Seminyak, and to be honest I had no real idea where we were going, other than later in the day we would make it to Lovina Beach.
Our first stop was a Temple. A small entry fee and I was able to wander around at my leisure. I am writing this up a month later and too be honest I have forgotten which temple it was and what it was devoted to. It had lovely grounds and a huge sign suggesting that menstruating women should not enter the temple. It also had a toilet and I made good use of that. It was a nice day and very serene and a pleasure to be there.
A nice Balinese Temple
You may need to schedule your visit
Our next stop was a water temple. The Lake Bratan and Ulun Danu Temple at Bedugul. Bedugul is in the mountains and comparatively cool. It was once more a pleasant spot with the lakes and the mountains and lovely lush grounds. On the downside it is very much a tourist attraction, even for the Balinese, and it had more a feel of a botanical gardens with amusements included. Boats for hire, performances, which I missed, from local acts and a very private ceremony in one of the smaller temples, that attracted a lot of visitors and some security to keep the visitors out. A religious ceremony that foreigners would not and should not be invited to. I saw some of the ladies afterwards in their lovely costumes and one of them flashed me a smile. My heart went boom,(stop it Bludger there is no hope there), and she passed on by.

I also found a toilet here and made good use of it.
Along the way we had stopped at a the top of a mountain pass, at a Strawberry farm. I am not sure why we stopped, I think that it was an opportunity for me to eat. But food was pretty low down my list of priorities. I had a pot of tea to keep the fluids up. It did have a magnificent view across to Gunung Agung (Mount Agung) a large volcano - not quite extinct.
So we headed onward toward Singaraja and then to Lovina Beach. We stopped at the GitGit waterfall so that I could visit the falls. I was happy to do so, but was put under duress to hire a guide. I was given a rather pathetic story about how he took no money and all the takings were donated to a local orphanage. He wanted an outrageous amount of money. One of those situations where you end up having little choice, unless you want to create a scene. I bowed to the blatant rip off and allowed this man to lead me around. Shortly after it peeved me to see other tourists, without guides, walking around quite happily. Crappity crap.

However there was a plus side, the guide was happy to take piccies of me, it is not often that the person with the camera gets into the pictures, and he also provided 2 cold and very welcome beers, which he was happy to carry around for me. The waterfalls were nice, the break from the car was nice and if I had been prepared it would have been a nice spot to spend some time and cool off in the pools beneath the falls.
Next stop was Lovina, I had a cat nap in the car on the way. In the process missing some beautiful tropical rainforest countryside.
Many tears ago, (yes I meant "years" but I made a typo, in hindsight it is not a bad mistake to make. There have been many tears.), probably around August 1983, I spent several days at Lovina Beach. My memory is vague, and I have very few photos of that era to remind me. At the time it was a remote destination, the Lonely Planet Guide of the day had little information. I remember staying in a grass hut, a Losman, and that the beach was a volcanic beach. I took a boat out and snorkeled a reef a little bit offshore. You had to live and eat with the locals. There were very few backpackers and the only permanent "white man" was a person called "Kiwi John". One of the early pioneers of a Westerner living in Bali.
Black volcanic sand at Lovina beach
Anyway modern day Lovina Beach is a tourist resort area. Not as built up as Kuta and Sanur and Seminyak, but well on the way. It has a seafront walk, with a myriad of shops and people selling all of the traditional Balinese things, i.e. shells, massages, drugs, beach ware and whatever. Also some very nice looking restaurants, cafe's and assorted bars and eateries. Probably worth a longer trip next time.
Anyway I took a walk around and did not recognise anything and made my way back to my driver. Incidentally I never got his name. It was foreign and remembering unusual names is something that I have difficulties with. I need to see the name written down and I need to hear it several times. Even for common western names I have learnt when meeting new people to repeat their name several times under my breath or else I will forget it. That applies to "babes" also, it isn't a disinterest or sexist thing.
The trip started getting a bit creepy at this stage. Previously my driver had asked if I minded if he dropped in on his sister in law. I did not mind at all, the opportunity to see a Balinese family going about there daily business was a good thing for me. One of my likes of traveling is the opportunity to learn about other cultures.
It turned out that the sister in law was the sister of his wife. And she was single. And she was looking for someone. And I was placed right next to her when we had a coffee (Kopi). And one of her sons suggested that I should stay the night. And if I came again to Bali I would be welcome to stay there. And she was struggling to make ends meet. And she needed a "good" man.
The warning bells were triggered and ringing in my ears. The lady was quite nice, somewhat younger than I, so I made polite conversation. My thoughts were roaming back to last years Vietnamese encounter and how that had not turned out very well, so I went into "protect myself mode". I didn't make any overt suggestions of interest but was polite and hopefully interesting.
I was saved, if that is the word, by the passage of time. My driver told me that to get back to Seminyak we should leave now. It was almost 5pm and we got back to my hotel at just after 8pm. During the trip back I decided that I would not mention his sister in law and leave it to him to make a move. He never said a word about her. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe it was not creepy after all.
 We parted on good terms. I had paid the equivalent of AUD 50 for the private use of a driver for the day, had seen some lovely places and not crapped my pants. He had a days pay and seen some of his family.
But for The Bludger the day was not over.
No a day of forbearance of food had left me hungry and I decided to risk eating.
After freshening up I walked a few minutes from the hotel and came upon a Restaurant called Piduh. It looked really nice, although almost empty, and one of its charms was 3 for the price of 2 cocktails. I sat down and ordered a Mojito. Nowhere near as good as the ones from Vivai. Pity about that. I ordered a meal and then was promptly ignored.
OK, the picture is, an almost empty restaurant with 2 bar staff and 3 waiters. I was ignored. My meal was brought out and I took the opportunity to ask for another Mojito. My first one had been emptied 10 minutes ago. No one noticed.
As I was eating a group of people came in. About 10 of them. An imperious acting woman demanded drinks and menus and acted as if she either owned the place, was a regular expecting good service, or was some sort of starlet. All 5 staff leapt to attention and pandered to their needs.
Situation: 5 staff, 1 group of 10 customers and me. After some difficulty I managed to get my free Mojito.
Once I had finished that I could not attract attention of anyone to get my bill. I seriously considered doing a runner. When I did finally get attention, the person who brought my bill turned his back on me and paid full attention to the group. I had to shout at him to get his attention to pay.
Basically I will never give this restaurant my money again.
I went home. Final trip to the toilet and sleep.
The Bludger was pretty knackered, too long in a car.

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