Awoke to a beautiful morning and a rat-a-tat-tat at the door. Dressed quickly to find Burti and Ron at our Bungalow door. They'd come for a quick gander at Sri Ratu's Bungalows to try and resolve future accomodation problems for their extended family. After a bit of a look
around, we all wandered up to Sri Ratu's breakfast area and had a lovely cuppa with Si Badak and the newly arrived Sunshine. The Badak was on his best behaviour, dressed in Top Hat & Tails for his best girl (actually he only changed his jocks).
After the departure of Burti and Ron a quiet day was had by all, as we awaited the arrival of BTF's International Photographer Extraordinaire. We all know him as Sharkie.
It was time to focus on one of the important parts of this trip to Bali for us. We were travelling with Si Badak and Sharkie to the Franciscan Orphanage in Tuka. This Orphanage is really not far out of Legian and certainly worth the visit. We took a large suitcase full of our childrens clothes, as well as some toy's, and a small cash donation. This experience humbled us, as the Sisters constantly offered things to us and our children in the way of food, treats and drinks, when all along they had 100 children in dire need. We as a family will never again travel to places such as this without something we can give of ourselves. We would urge any traveller to Bali to take something, anything, even just to brighten ONE life. It's amazing how uplifting it can be.
Even now typing this, the heart strings are being tugged. We have five beautiful and healthy children, and to help in some small way feels right.
After a couple of hours of chatting and taking great photos, Sharkie let us in on a dark secret. Today was Koala's Birthday. The problem was this, if the Shark didn't give the Koala a feed of Lobster tonight, then the Koala was gonna' rip the Shark a new one. OUCH!!!
Suffice it to say that Sharkie made it back in time but almost got caught by the outgoing tide. HAPPY BIRTHDAY KOALA.
After arriving back at Sri Ratu and sending Sharkie on his way, we packed up the Orient Express and went in search of the dining car. After the usual wanderings and many TRAANSSSPOT MATE followed by "Jalan Jalan Cobber" and exchanged grins, we again found ourselves in Garlic Lane. This was more by design than accident as the children had earlier spotted "Billy's Bar and Restaurant". This was met with an insistance by 4yr old Billy that we eat there every other meal. Billy picked this place to have a little toilet accident which was easily cured by the spare jocks in Mum's bag, and a quick shop across the lane.
Dinner at Billy's was O.K. but really just another feed. It was also our first non-Indonesian meal in six days. Wandered home down Garlic Lane, dragged ourselves past Joni Bar and home to bed.
Time to Wander
We were heading off around the Island for three days with no particular place in mind. Given that the Bungalow we were in was too large and had a stairway (to heaven, nudge nudge, wink wink)
Rae only type what I say please.
As we were saying, it had a stairway that was not great for a 14month old, very steep.
The decision was made to move our gear into the 2brm single storey Bungalow known as "Mawar". This proved to be everything we'd need.
Our new friend and Driver 'Wayan' was ready at 9am. Wandered around Legian picking up essentials for a long drive, then pointed the finger North East and away we went. Wayan asked us where we would like to go, we answered "Where would you like to take us?" We headed in the general direction of Sukawati, as Rae wanted to check out Quilts and we were hoping for a wander through the markets. This is where a bit of forward planning can help. Today was the opening of a huge New Temple in Denpasar and the President was flying in to do the honours. Getting from Legian to the far side of Denpasar was a touch slow.
On arrival at Sukawati the place was packed. Indonesian School holidays had begun. At least 30 buses from Java lined the main road and the chances of getting a bargain, let alone an easy wander through with the kids, was very slim. We decided to carry on through and this proved to be fortunate. About 4kms past Sukawati Markets we stopped at a Quilt Shop that had not seen custom that day and they were willing to Barter quite seriously. We picked up a magnificent Kingsize Quilt and a Winnie the Pooh King Single for 290,000Rp. The quality of these left us astounded and we realise now it is worth driving through some places as most tourists have already bought in town. We would also like to note that due to the quality the tip was enough to keep the shopkeeper thanking us profusely for ten minutes. This all came to an end when Wayan shouted "Here comes my President!"
Cracker hurriedly pulled out the Video Camera to film an entourage like we have never seen before.
At this point I can honestly say I am on nodding terms with President Wahid, I have video footage to show him nodding off as he drove past.
Onward for slow cruises through Gianyar and Klungkung. These are places we will spend more time on other trips, as they had a feel about them that we enjoyed. Rae would love to get out and shop!
After many stops including a Cremation ceremony we found ourselves in the area of Candi Dasa. We have heard many and varied reports on Candi Dasa and can now add our own opinion. Late lunch at the Lotus Garden 309,000Rp VERY ORDINARY! Prawn Cocktails were very chewy, BLT's contained all fat, no bacon, Chicken Curry only lacked Curry and BBQ Pork Spare ribs MAY HAVE BEEN PORK but definately no ribs! After a wander around chasing a hotel with a good Kids pool, we found ourselves at Hotel Rama Candi Dasa. Room rate $90US.++ Eventual rate $40US incl. Grabbed adjoining rooms and wandered off to swim, eat and drink. Unfortunately we found no Bintang available only San Bloody Miguel. So Bourbon it is!!!! Kids loved the pool, the dinner plate sized Pizza's were OK at 60,000Rp each and the view was great.
The following morning we had a breakfast that made yesterday's lunch look sensational. We left without anyone really eating much and mutterings of Candi Dasa not being what it once was. Que Sera Sera.
As we drove out of Candi Dasa heading for Amed, TirtaGangga and points North. 5yr old Jacqui broke into a Bali version of Bananas in Pyjamas Holiday Song....
B-Bali, B-Bali, Hol-i-day,
Candi Dasa - has Crap food
So stay away.
Maybe a touch too profound from a 5yr old, but it lightened up our day, and on we went.
What a FANTASTIC day! The bad start is behind us, the kids are singing, Rae and Cracker are giggling and encouraging and a HUUUUGGGEE family adventure is in the offing. Our marvelous Driver Wayan has informed us that Tirta Gangga, whilst being a tourist stop is definately worth a look. The forty minute drive to Tirta Gangga can be breath taking. The high speed hair-pin bends contribute as much to this as the stunning views. Being passed on the inside by a fearless motorbike rider whilst negotiating a tight right hander, begs the question, "Why isn't the World 500CC Motorcycle Champion Balinese?"
One thing we noticed on the drive between Candi Dasa and Tirta Gangga was a lushness, not only in Rice Paddy's, but in individual gardens that was not evident between Gianyar and Candi Dasa. It almost felt like a greater wealth, whether it be financial, or a bonus from nature was available in this particular area. It caught our attention in a way that it had not done in other parts of Bali.
Arrived at Tirta Gangga to find very few Tourists at this early stage of the day. Wandering casually to the entry gate, Cracker forgot to play the essential '2 pockets of money game'. Instead of having his wallet in his left pocket and just enough money in his right, the whole wallet was pulled out at the entry gate. Upon seeing this, not forgetting we were travelling 3-4 days, possibly without an ATM, we suddenly became very popular. The smartest Guide of all those immediately friendly gentlemen, stood back behind his friends, smiled over the top of them, and shook his head at Cracker "YOU IDIOT" was running through his mind in Balinese. We wouldn't normally bother paying a guide, but he had a look of knowledge about him. It quickly became a situation where we were happy to have found Made. His knowledge of this particular place was outstanding. It made us realise that when visiting places of historical significance that first hand knowledge is essential. To ooh and aah and take photos is great on the day, but to pull out that photo and give first hand knowledge from an umpteenth generation local, or possible Royal Descendant, to your friends and family is priceless.
Our impressions of Tirta Gangga itself changed after gaining knowledge from our Guide. The history of different buildings and statues, mixed with the Protocols of who could swim, fish and eat fish from which pools and when, reeked of an age when Kings ruled by decree, and life was over at the wave of a hand. Interesting, frightening and fascinating. You must visit, and look through their eyes.
Upon leaving this area we suddenly realised how high up we were and understood more of the lushness previously mentioned. This constant source of water was regarded with awe, not only for its religious properties, but because of the vast tracts of land it eternally nurtured.
We now come to the one Wish part of our trip. We arrived at the turnoff to Amed and decided it was too early to settle in for the day, it was before lunch. We had studied all the postings on Amed and Blue Moon Villas was calling. It was not to be, on Donner, on Blitzen, on Wayan....
Tulamben was the target.
Now we are not divers, whether it be Scuba or snorkelling. We quite simply felt an urge to pull up on the beach for a few minutes contemplation at the wreck of the USS Liberty. A site such as this is a marvelous spot for recreation, and hopefully we will use it as such in the future. It just didn't feel right knowing the cost in 1942. To us places like this have the same signifigance as the likes of Tirta Gangga or Besakih have to the Balinese.
OK, lets up the tempo...
Ridin' down the highway, goin' to a show, sorry, got AC/DC on in the background.
Driving quietly down the North East Road, heading for Air Sineh, we passed a smallish sign saying "Bali's Highest Waterfall". Now not being one to take a boast lightly, Rae immediately told Wayan to turn around. Going back to the intersection we read the sign again and asked Wayan "How far?" He simply smiled and said "I don't know". We said to him "Do you want to go for a look?" He said, "I don't know". God its like being married! Up the road we went. A short 1.5km later, up a very steep road, we had passed through the small village of Les and found ourselves at a small Warung. This beautiful place had views of the ocean about 2kms away, and a relaxed attitude that we found refreshing. The young gentleman that seemed to be in charge out of 20 odd locals eating and playing pool, was a man named Made Ahgita. Now this fella was quickly rehandled Made "Air guitar" because it was easier to say.
Les Village Waterfall is now our favourite place in Bali!!!! From this beautiful starting point, it is about a 1.2km walk to the waterfall. An easy walk, which in the main is about a 1 in 10 incline, with some sections in the end at a 1 in 5 incline. Not hard but testing due to the humidity, in some sections the jungle becomes very close overhead and the cliffs of Gunung Penulisan don't allow for much breeze. The kids did it easy, and we all found the waterfall spectacular. As enjoyable,was the simple experience of crossing Bamboo Suspension Bridges, being the days entertainment for the stabled Balinese Cattle close to the track and the realisation that we were the only people, locals or Tourists, within Cooee. After 4hrs of having this wonder to ourselves, other tourists arrived. We let them have this place to themselves as we had and wandered back to the
Warung. Young Jacqui was still desperate for a coconut, which our new found friend "Made Air Guitar" soon provided from a palm next to the Warung. With an ecstatic Jacqui and siblings crammed back into Wayans Kijang, we headed once more for Air Sineh.
As we headed off, Chontelle, Jacqui and Billy's antics with coconut bongo drums became quite animated. Mum and Dad filled in with some lyrics and managed to keep "Nantucket" out of every song.
On the way to Air Sineh, Cracker kept an eye out for a place he had seen on the BTF called Cilik's Beach Garden. Again only a small sign flashing by but a quick u-turn and in we went. SENSATIONAL. Unfortunately it was closed for 2weeks for maintenance. This place is definately on the list for THE Big Trip. Finally, onto Air Sineh. While Mum checks out the accomodation over the road , Dad takes the Kids for a look at the pools. At this point it is about 5.30pm and bad judgement by Mum and Dad has come into play. The pools that look beautiful in the bright light of day, look dark and dull in the evening. Our Babies did not want to go in. Now we must say, this is a place that we fell in love with and are disappointed with our kids reaction. Still its their world, we only pay for it.
The decision now is to move on to Lovina. Wayan had a place in mind and we were tired enough not to argue. The thing we had to do first was to get supplies for the kids. Stopped at Dewata Supermarket on the other side of Singaraja, and had a ball. Not only did we get our supplies of food and drink for all of us, but the prices of baby clothes and toys were stunning. Suffice it say that Rae cleaned up, and Cracker didn't do a bad job himself.
Found ourselves very soon at the Padma Hotel in Lovina. 300,000Rps for a family of 7, 2 rooms including Breakfast. Room and Breakfast for the Driver included as well. Rooms were basic, view was sensational, food will arrive soon.... This place has a story that will only ever be told in private... Going back... Sorry, No.
What a day! The beginning and ending are forever etched in our minds. But from that inauspicious start to the ending that would stun a mule, we had without a doubt our greatest day together as a family.
Singing and smiles, humour and history, fun and fantasy. From here we could not and would not look back.
The kids awoke at an early hour, Mum followed soon after and all headed for the pool. After the previous evenings events breakfast didn't seem a priority. Cracker arose soon after and when the staff queried him on his wants for Breakfast, "Coffee and Raw Dry Toast" was his answer. They managed to screw up the Coffee and the Toast wasn't raw! But Hey, who's complaining?! We're not! No! We would never ever complain here, our eight European friends did the night before, but not us , no never. (Imaginations will be running wild).
On with our lap around Paradise.
Heading West from Lovina we bypass the hot springs. We,ve been to the hot springs on other occasions and don't feel that they are significant enough to take the children in. It is one of those places that the locals now use more for the Tourist trade than for its cultural significance. Not far past the hot springs is the town of Seririt. Cruising slowly through the shopper notices a Toy Shop. Upon closer inspection it is a Toyshoppers Dream. You name it, this shop has it! It is only small, but it is CHEAP! Even our driver, Wayan, is buying a number of toys for his children. He even mentions to us how much cheaper the toys are here than what he can get them for in Denpasar. Seririt is a town well worth an hour or two's wander. From this town we slowly and quietly meander our way up the mountain, heading for Munduk. This mountain climb is very scenic and a drive such as this should be savoured. The reasonably short run from the coastal flat lands into the mountain region brings with it a vast change in weather. Before too long we are in a light drizzle and soon after, driving through the clouds, much to the kids delight. After many zigs a couple of zags and just a few more zigs, always with an upward motion, we arrive at the entry of the Munduk Waterfall. This was something we are hoping to go and see, but the combination of wet weather and a proliferation of children, put paid to that. Upward, ever upward. The climb contains so many places that we could happpily spend an hour or two, but we have a target. Bridging the top of the mountain we come across a marvellous picnic area with a beautiful view of both Lakes Tamblingan and Buyan. BBBBRRRRRR, COLD up here today, the coffee shop over the road looks very inviting, but we have a target, late lunch with a Kangaroo in Pacung....
Onward and now downward, rain and rain cloud lead us into Bedugul, not much to see, nothing at all. The fog is very thick. The kids ask Wayan to please put the heater on, he smiles and shakes his head. "NO heater in Bali" It may be time to warm their bellies with a feed.
AAAHHHA There it is! The Kangaroo we have been looking for. Pacung Indah. Somewhere inside are David and Moira, the owners of this fine establishment, and BTF Regulars. Well what can we say? This is one fine feed, ignore all the crap food postings of the last few day's, this has made up for everything! We chose the Buffet for ourselves and the children, and were not disappointed. Plenty of food, the hot food was hot, the salads were fresh and crisp and the Bintangs were BLOODY COLD! As for the view, it was to die for! We would recommend this restaurant as THE place to eat on your Mountain tour. David joined us for a Bintang as the lunch crowd thinned out and happily gave us a quick tour of their beautiful bungalows. Whilst probably not the place to stay with five kids, this would make a great base for couples touring this region. PS. The child that was asleep in the car through lunch did not go without, as David organised a lovely Take a way portion for her when she awoke.
Downward, ever downward.
We've stopped to feed some wild monkey's on the side of the road, not far down the mountain. The kids are thrilled , we are very wary, Mum has been bitten before. After the throwing of many bananas the monkeys personal Security Guard asks us not to throw the bananas on the roadside as the Monkeys may be hit by passing vehicles. Cracker mutters something about Lancelot Link being able to tie a tie, so these monkeys should be able to dodge a bus. Oh well, down the mountain again.
Another quick stock up at a supermarket and home to Sri Ratu.
A very quiet day after our little adventure. We are now in the smaller Bungalow known as 'Mawar'. Cracker slips out and grabs some more VCD's to keep the children entertained, then Mum takes her turn and slips out to shop for C1's Birthday.
Mum wandered up to jln. Legian to a Hobby and Toy shop she had previously spotted, quite expsensive, but great crafty kids things. Ended up buying a Shoe, with an Old Woman with ten children inside it, a velcro door, very well made. 120,000Rp.Onto a watch salesman, got a nice watch, a Pinnochio, Bathers, all around our area. Had a great time. Last stop was Loji, wrapping paper and cards, all readily available. Back home to the family all snoozing on the Kingsize day bed in the courtyard. What a sight!
Wandered the relatively short distance to Glory for dinner tonight. BBLLLOOOOODDDDYYYY BBEEEWWWWDDIIIIFFUULLLL!!!! The kids were well fed on Promite sandwiches and noodles and consequently were happy playing and watching the fish in the ponds until later in the evening. Mum and Dad pigged out! Rae had the Black Pepper 200g Fillet Steak, and Cracker had the LARGE Pork Ribs with Kuta Hot Sauce. Both these meals rate a 9+ on the Ringstinger Scale. This rating was well proven the following morning. Dinner was followed with Banana Splits all round for us and the kids. Banana Splits may have a soothing effect on the tongue in the evening, but do not help the Clackervalve in the morning. OWWW!!!
[Days 1 to 5] [Days 11