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Just Back Report

 

Cracker and Rae

 

March 2003

 

 
 

G'day to all.

 

Weíd like to share with you our account of our trip to Bali in March 2003.
 

Well we've been home a while now and realise that we are really missing Bali. This trip was different in many ways for us and has given us another view of Bali and what we get out of it.

 

It started out when we decided to take only the youngest two of our six children and leave the rest with family. Normally we would take them all. This decision was heartbreaking for us, but nowhere near as heartbreaking as driving away from the house with the kids running alongside the car waving goodbye and crying at the same time.

 

We arrived at Perth airport after a quick drive up from Mandurah, to find our smiling mate Paul standing there ready to help us with our bags. He also had a big pile of Goodies, Chockies and the like to give to his good friend Kim Patra, a midwife that lives in Bali. We worked our way through check in with Cracker eyeing the contents of the Chockie bag quite carefully. The Air Paradise staffs at check in were very friendly and efficient and set a high standard, which we were to learn, would continue throughout all their service. A few beers were downed with a couple of other friends and it was time to head back to Paradise.

 

We're Off!

 

Air Paradise proved to be everything they promised and everything we hoped for. Their staff were friendly, the service impeccable and the small extra touches were highly appreciated for a travelling family. The two of our children that we took were aged 8 months and 2&1/2 years. The 8 month old was carried onboard in a backpack, which the staff quietly removed and stored for us and was brought back to us at our seat upon landing. (The backpack, not the baby). The baby was also given a baby pack containing 2 jars of food, 2 nappies, nappy bags, cream, wipes and a bottle. The 2&1/2year old was given a well made back pack, brightly coloured in the Air Paradise livery containing sunglasses, hat, sleeping shades, socks, crayons and a doodle pad. As you can imagine Cheyenne was tickled pink and her new toys kept her occupied most of the way.

 

The food and drink on Air Paradise were quite good and nothing seemed too much trouble, service all the way.

 

The best part about any flight is the landing in Bali.

Right then, thatís enough schmoozing to the airline, now lets get on with the JBR.
 

After landing we taxied towards our favourite air terminal noticing that not one plane was nudged up. Great! We thought. No bussing across the tarmac here, after all, this is Bali's own airline they'll nudge up...Fat Chance!

 

Out into the heat we walked, greeted on the tarmac by all those beautiful smiling faces. Little Tui in the backpack immediately lit up with a smile straight back and Bali fell in love with her. We worked our way very quickly through immigrasi, got the usual nod and a smile at customs and wandered out into what can only be termed as the 'World's Friendliest Cattle Call'.

 

Waiting outside here for us was our mate Troy (Fatbastard), he had kindly offered to pick us up in the family car and take us to the Garden View Cottages. This was supposed to be saving us transfers, but he knew it was to get on the booze, his wife knew it was to get on the booze and we knew it was to get on the booze. So rather than let anybody down we went and got on it. We hadn't seen FB since April last year when he came for a Bbq at our place and blew the bbq up, vaporising dinner in the process.

 

We proceeded to the Garden View and checked in. This was our first stay at this hotel and we absolutely loved it. The staff is friendly, some of them bordering on mad, as with so many Balinese, they like to give a little stick and get a little back.
Once we settled the kids in for the night we wandered out to the front bar, which is right on Jln. Padma Utara. The three of us were sitting having a quiet drink, Cracker, Rae and FB and having a laugh when all of a sudden, in walks Roo-Ted. Five minutes later in walked old Arthur the expat pom and the party was well under way.

 

We found out that night that the front bar of the GVC is a happening place with a great band and good crowds most nights of the week. It didn't take us both long to settle into a routine of wandering back in turns to check on the kids. We were reasonably sure that most people just thought we had crook bladders though.
 

We had a great feed that night and a wonderful time with new and old friends. Bed beckoned before midnight and we left FB and Roo-Ted heading off seeking another bar and a few more hours of party.

 

We awoke Monday morning with that feeling of awe that you get on the first day. We had smiles like Cheshire cats and our blood was pumping like teenagers after their first kiss.

 

Damn we were excited!

 

Here we were, back in Bali, at a hotel we were staying at for the first time and we decided that we would do things quite differently to other trips.

 

We loaded up the backpack and with two ratbags in tow, we headed off in a road train decidedly shorter than our previous few trips. (Damn we were missing those four kids)

 

We wandered out of the Garden View and headed toward Garlic Lane. This was our old stomping ground and every crack and bump in the footpath felt as familiar as walking up the driveway at home to get the morning paper.

 

We wandered past Joni Bar and headed into Garlic Lane where those tingles of "Muu'ummm, I'm ho'oomme!" went racing up the spine.

 

As we cruised past the Indo National Restaurant we spied a lone Bule sipping a coffee and doing bookwork (Okay, reading the morning paper), in the corner of the restaurant, it had to be Milton, the new Ozzie owner. We introduced ourselves and promised we'd be back later. We then moved on to catch up with old friends on Garlic Lane.

 

Before long we found ourselves on Jln Melasti wandering past Bali Aussie, then we found ourselves wandering into Bali Aussie. Then we found ourselves having Brekkie at Bali Aussie. ;-)

Told ya we were goin' to do things differently, OK lunch will be somewhere new.
 

We ordered bracelets for all our kids and their friends as requested, from Eni, while we ate. Then we said G'Day to Gede and then Giddy-upped on outa there.

 

Time for Some Shopping.

 

We soon found ourselves at the Janji shop at the Melasti Art Market. We spent heaps here with Made on our last trip and did the same again today. Our 'Different' trip was still racing along beautifully.

 

We headed back to the Garden View, time for the kids to cool down, Cracker needed a beer and Rae needed to unload the bags and reload the wallet.
 

As we lazed around the pool the dayís new arrivals filtered through. Cracker nudged Rae and asked if she recognised the bloke that had just made his way to the bar. It took a few seconds then she said that he was the bloke that had bought our stockpile of furniture timber from the back of our block, only a couple of weeks before. Funnily enough, as he handed over the money to Rae, Cracker remarked to him that he had just paid for our next Bali trip. Unbeknown to Cracker, Rae organised and paid for that trip the next day.

 

We sat and had a few beers with Mick and his lovely wife Carla and made sure that they were treating our very fine timber with due respect. They were, we were happy and our feet were itchy again.

 

North this time, up Padma Utara, this walk didn't seem any different to the last time that we did it. Seemingly no less people and no fewer tourists. It's a strange section of road that ducks and dives, sometimes you seem like you are getting nowhere and other times you think "why have they built that there?". Then suddenly you are back in the thick of things. We turned right into Rum Jungle Rd. (Jln. Bagus Taruna?) and mosied our way past the usual assortment of shops, restaurants, bars, dive centres and car rentals. It was always amazing how some of these dive centres and car rental places stayed afloat before, the fact that they were still open now say's so much about a people that are always resilient and upbeat in the face of regular adversity.

 

Before too long we spotted a tiny White Elephant on a very familiar roof (Not Pink Elephant! Too early in the day for that) rounding the corner we came across his larger brother welcoming people to the Gajah Gajah Restaurant. Seems like doing things different has gone out the window. Samosa's and Bintang all 'round, mmm, mmmm.

Whilst we are savouring the taste of India, Cheyenne crashes on Cracker's lap and Tui becomes a hit with all the local school kids as they are passing by on their way home.

 

We could sit here all day, but with another one of our 'fixes' sorted out the Shopping God 'Visa-Nu' beckons once more. Rae took the lead and Cracker assumed the Pack mule position to which he is accustomed. (Trained)
 

After shopping for a few hours Rae was finally satiated and we worked our way back to Garden View, then onto Sammi and Suzie's. Here we caught up with Roo-Ted once more and after a quiet session, moved onto the Indo National for dinner.

 

Kerry (Miltonís wife) had only an hour or so previously arrived back from Australia and when Rae mentioned a highchair for the baby she proudly raced off and grabbed her newest purchase. She then assembled it in the middle of the restaurant and with a little fanfare whacked Tui into her new 'Top of the Wazza' Highchair. This was much appreciated as most restaurants either do not have them or have very wobbly ones.

 

Whilst at Indo National we ran into Bruce and Barb, fellow Mandurah-ites and fellow party-ites. After a chat with them and a bloody good feed we decided to check out Tropical Kubu. This house is in the village immediately behind the restaurant and after inspection with Gede on-site we've decided that we would like to spend some time at this property.

 

From the Indo National we meandered our way quietly down Garlic Lane with many a smile and many a 'Malam' on the way only to find that the 'Garden View' was in full crank and the Selamat Malam's were put away for a few more hours.
 

The party that ensued this night was one the most enjoyable and memorable that we've ever had in Bali. Old friends or new, sometimes life throws up one of those events where total strangers become as one and your sense of belonging seems just right.

 

Many of us had that feeling that night and said so later. We were soon off to bed once more. We had a long day coming up and a rest was needed.

 

We awoke on the morning of day 3 with limitless enthusiasm once more, albeit a little tempered by an encounter with 'Mr. J. Daniels' the night before. Even bacon and eggs and a good strong Bali Kopi had trouble removing the flavour of last night from the tastebuds.

 

It had been fun though and thatís part of the reason why we are here. It was now time to treat ourselves to a little relaxation and we had chosen Amed to do this.
 

Our driver Wayan Ruda picked us up about 10.30 knowing full well that we would not hurry straight to Amed. We told him we would like to shop our way there over a good number of hours suggesting to him that Sukawati, Gianyar, Klungkung and Candi Dasa were all probable stops along the way.

 

Cracker then casually asked him if he would go through Denpasar or around Denpasar, Wayan just gave his usual cheeky smile and said, "Is up to you". Bloody Hell! We've played this game with this Bugger before. This bloke's as non-committal as a politician the day after being re-elected, but as happy as a Frenchman carryin' a white flag.

 

We flittered and fluttered our way across the northern outskirts of Denpasar, taking side streets and lanes, watching Artisans and Tradesmen working their craft in their open fronted stores. Wayan knew that we preferred to travel along this way rather than along the bypasses or through the traffic jams of the city. At times it feels slow to do this but it is certainly very rewarding.

 

We finally found ourselves approaching Sukawati. The last time we were here and indeed many times before, the market area of Sukawati has proven too crowded to stop with the children so we have either shopped on the outskirts or carried on through.

 

This day Sukawati was like a ghost town. We got an easy park on the side street just a few metres away from the main market building and immediately outside an open-air fresh fish market, sans refrigeration, sans ice! Pooowwieee! Man that was on the nose! Poor little Cheyenne was dry reaching and we had to move along pretty quick.

We left Tui sound asleep in the car and Wayan kept the motor running so that she had the aircon. to keep her comfortable, not that it was too bad up here and inside of the markets really turned out to be quite pleasant.

 

When we entered the main building we were astounded. The amount of sarongs, t-shirts, paintings and carvings on display in such a small area, boggles the mind. Each vendor has an area of about 1.5m wide and about 1m deep and they stack this area as high as they can reach. From the front of one stall to the front of the stall opposite would be little more than a metre wide. In this isle, stand the two vendors with tourists moving through in both directions. When we were there on this day there would have been no more than 30 tourists in the whole building. On other days when we have driven past we have seen them flocking in by the hundreds. We're not really sure that we would want to experience a day like that in there, but then again, you gotta try these things.

 

We headed off back to the car to find that Tui was awake and Wayan was standing cuddling her talking to the fishmonger inside his stall. We decided that the kid had no sense of smell or at some time next week we would catch her feeding from the cats bowl at home!

 

We loaded up and headed off once more.

 

We decided just to cruise straight through to Klungkung and have a bit of a bo-peep through that city. The last time we drove through Rae had remarked that she would like to stop here one day and wander around and a dear departed Expat known as 'White Devil' had advised us that it was a little gem, well worth a look. He said that he could never understand why more Tourists never took their time to wander the streets of Klungkung on their trips to the east. So thatís what we did. We had a good long wander around for about 1.5 hours.

 

Once more, like Sukawati, we had no great purchases in mind, it was purely to see, soak up and in some small way become a part of a new type of Bali experience.

 

For a few minutes while walking the streets of Klungkung, Crackers' thoughts went to Matt Wyatt, aka, White Devil. A smile came tinged with sadness, White Devil would be dismayed looking down upon his beautiful Bali right now, and he was surely a man Bali would have loved to have had here in her hour of greatest need.
 

It was time to move on again...

 

As we worked our way out of Klungkung we began to get better glimpses of Gunung Agung through a clearing sky. The adrenalin began to pump once more as your head swivelled between glimpses down deep chasms with fast flowing streams and rivers, sweeping ocean views across to other exotic islands and the all pervading Mountain from which Bali draws its life-force.

 

As we took all this in, the kids were strangely silent, both sitting up watching what we were watching and in some way understanding that Mum and Dad were feeling something special.

 

It seems somehow rude but before you know it, a huge fuel depot looms large and flashes by.

 

Bugger, time to think about a feed then.

 

Candi Dasa is not too far away, as some of you would know we have had bad experiences in CD in the past, but hey, this is Bali and we're gonna try it again.
 

As we drove past the entrance to the hotel that we stayed at last time, Wayan nodded towards the driveway and said, "You stay here tonight?" Never once taking his eyes off the road and with the silliest, bloody cheekiest, bloody grin that you've ever seen in your life, we just smiled and let him have his fun. Soon after we drove past the first Restaurant he ever took us to in CD, he smiled even brighter and said not a word. Vomit City, that one.

 

Finally the Water Garden loomed large in front of us. We had heard wonderful things about this hotel and we fancied a look. Not to mention that Cheyenne had been holding on so long it was leaking out her ears. The sound of all that water soon had everybody going.

 

The 'grounds'? of the Water Garden looked sensational and their street front restaurant T.J's Kafe looked very inviting. Hunger got the better of us and we took the plunge. All the while our kids song from our last CD visit ringing in our ears. B-Bali, B-Bali, Holiday, Candi Dasa, has crap food, so stay away.

 

WEEELLLL! What a bloody turn around! The food at T.J's was a bloody delight. Cracker only ventured as far as one of their burgers but thoroughly enjoyed it, whilst Rae bravely ordered the Indian Chicken Keema. Sensational chicken coconut curry in a cone shaped Tortilla wrap, served with yoghurt and fruit chutney dips. Mmmmm Mmmmm Mmmmm.

 

Candi Dasa is redeemed.

 

On to Amed and the two most magnificent days we have had in many years.
 

A few days before coming to Bali we had searched for somewhere in Amed to spend some time. For a long time we had given some consideration to places like, Coral View, Blue Moon villas and Wa Wa Wewe. But a quick perusal of BaliMic's site produced the Dancing Dragon. Something captured us about the name and the fact that it was a Feng Shui Hotel. After recently adopting a number of Feng Shui principles around our home, we have had improvements in luck in the areas that we worked on. Given all of that, if it didn't feel right when we turned up, we would have gone somewhere else.

 

We found our way into Amed and from the very first hill and the very first hotel, we were in love.

We cruised along the beautiful winding coast road, eyeing the many wonderful places to stay and marvelling at the crystal clear azure waters. This was a place to bring our family and spend a good deal of time.

 

When we finally reached the Dancing Dragon, it was like a homecoming. There was just something about this place that felt right. Maybe it was because we were looking forward to it, or maybe it was just the subtle energy that made us feel welcome.

 

The reception of the Dancing Dragon sits atop the property and you work your way down a less than subtle decline, down steps of varying lengths and depths, that curl their way neatly between 10 simple looking, yet superbly appointed Cottages.

At first glance, all look the same. But the subtle variations in style and exterior appointments are there if you have the time to look.

 

You can choose to be close to the beautiful horizon pool and nodding distance from the friendly, yet suitably withdrawn Bar and Restaurant staff, or somewhat kaja, toward the mountain, with sweeping views of Lombok, the reef and the never ending fleet of prahu's, as they flit to and from the vast fishing grounds to the East.

 

We chose Kelod, toward the sea, or probably more importantly, the room chose us. There were only two other people staying at the Dancing Dragon and they had chosen to stay at the top end of the property, near reception.

 

At his point we saw something we've never seen before in Bali, our driver Wayan, whom we consider to be our friend, did something he had never done before, he passed judgement. He felt compelled to carry bags down through the hotel, even though there was many staff available for this job. He said he felt happy to be here. When we told him the price that had been negotiated he said, "It does not matter" Normally he would shake his head at a high price or nod his head at a low price. But this place even felt right to him. After helping us with our bags he sat out on the front porch and said "No need to pay me for the next few days, I just wait here 'til you're ready to go." We all had a laugh knowing that his wife was expecting him home, but he would've stayed if he could.

 

We settled in and in the first few hours, found the peace and quiet almost overwhelming. The kids swam and wore themselves out. Tui cruised happily in her floating baby seat while Cheyenne marvelled at the water flowing over the edge of the horizon pool and every now and then popped her head up to make sure that there was still a little bit of beach between her and the sea.

 

Rae's mind went straight to relaxation while Cracker, ever the tradesman, mused on the construction of the whole complex. It seems this place was built almost entirely on top of the ground, rather than excavate into the hill and disturb the 'Dragon', they built on top, including the horizon pool, which seems to have been built on the surface with minimum of earth disturbance.

 

The story of the dragon is quite enthralling, the owner of the hotel, Karen Kingston is one of the worlds foremost Feng Shui authors. When she found this plot of land it was deemed to have Dragon energy, but the Dragon was sleeping. Once construction began the Dragon was awakened and was so happy it began to dance.

 

We initially found the individual places in this hotel to be wonderful. From the beautiful coral growing just metres from the hotel, to the strange and yet delightful style of the Dancing Dragon Restaurant. This restaurant has seating for only about 30 people. From western, to an amazing hybrid Japanese style table where one could sit cross legged and barefooted on cushions on a low slung table, or simply dangle your legs into a pit underneath and eat in a way to which you may be more accustomed. All of this only metres from the lapping incoming or outgoing tide

 

Crackerís View

 

Now, getting me to come to a complete stop and do nothing at all is a task that Rae has found near impossible. The closest I get is after a good party and then as soon as I regain consciousness, I'm usually off to work or looking for another good party.

 

This particular afternoon that changed. I settled very comfortably into one of the lounges and became mesmerised with the gentle sounds of the ocean while having the great fortune of watching one of nature's miracle's explode in front of my eye's.
 

A massive shoal of Sardine's worked their way up the coast only tens of metre's from the shoreline, boiling and bubbling on the surface in a scene reminiscent of a Witches Cauldron. Throughout this teeming mass, arm length Tuna broke the surface, flew rapidly through the air and disappeared with a randomness that gave the appearance of staccato machinegun fire.

 

This bounteous feast was soon swallowed back into the deep blue, leaving once more nothing but serenity and a darkening sky. I soon found myself drifting into a slumber and suddenly bolted awake thinking the children were in the pool.
 

A glance over my shoulder showed Rae to be sitting quietly in the pool with the children with a relaxed smile and a well-earned G&T in hand. A glance over my other shoulder took in the ever attentive but unintrusive staff that was waiting patiently behind the bar with their knowing smiles.

They obviously knew the relaxation that this wonderful place gave to people and had seen it all before.

 

I began to drift off again with these wonderful, wonderful thoughts spinning through my head, nowhere to be, nowhere to go...nothing to do, nothing left undone...I awoke on dark as rested as I have been in many, many years, and this after only one hours sleep.

 

We ordered a beautiful dinner from their lovely restaurant and had it delivered to our table on the large porch outside our room. The restaurant has wonderful reviews on the balieats website and each and every meal here proved this to be quite true.

 

As we had our dinner the children began to dose and were soon tucked into their beautiful king single futon.

 

Rae and I meanwhile waited for the event that we had come to see. It was one night after the full moon and it had been so long since we had seen a moonrise over an ocean that we were starting to get little tingles at the thought. Unfortunately a low band of cloud prevented the moonrise from being as perfect as we had hoped, but hey, look where we were! Even people that live in Bali like to visit this place.
 

After sampling one of lifeís simplest pleasures...., no no, not that....I meant the moonrise, it was time for bed....errr, um, errr, sleep.

 

These magnificent hand stitched, king-size futons, grab you and whisk you off into the land of nod within minutes. They are the ultimate comfort zone.

After all this deep sleep an unexpected surprise came upon us. We awoke before dawn to a magnificent clear sky with just a sliver of light showing on the horizon, broken only by the silhouette of the dark and mysterious Lombok.

 

Within minutes, the sky began to lighten, the birds began singing and Lombok was suddenly bathed in glorious sunshine. It was so clear and felt so close that if I had stretched myself just a little, I am sure that I could have reached out and touched the peak of Mt. Rinjani.

 

Then suddenly, it was gone once more, stealthily absorbed in a cushion of cloud to become as nondescript as the rest of the horizon.

 

The day had fully bloomed and it was time to turn our attention to other things..........Now, where did I leave that sunlounge?

 

After a more than ample breakfast it was time to get on with my new found passion...doing nothing. Although I guess doing nothing is not the correct description as I am a voracious reader. I will read just about anything... and yes I have even read the safety instructions on every plane that I have ever flown on... just for something to read though, hell, I still don't know where the Exits are, do you?

 

So anyway, my choice out of the small pile of books suited this place perfectly. Sekala and Niskala, by Fred B. Eiseman, Jr. This book is the definitive book on Balinese Hinduism and it's origins through Western eyes.

 

In between sleeping, gazing out to sea and cuddling my children as they took turns sleeping on my chest, I found I was gaining a greater understanding of a beautiful people that I thought I already knew a great deal about. Page after page and chapter after chapter, my world became shallower while their world to me became less mysterious and yet more mysterious, one day I hope I understand. One day, I hope we all do.

 

The day felt like it had gone on forever, what with reading, lazing, snorkelling on the beautiful coral reef and a sensational massage from Nyoman the resident masseur, when suddenly the sky was darkening once more. It no longer bothered me that the day was ending, I had learnt this day that all endings signal new beginnings.

 

We had dinner this evening in one of the most relaxed restaurant settings that you will ever find anywhere in the world. The food was superbly prepared and presented and after dining we were able to sit back and relax on the large cushions surrounding the table and watch another beautiful moonrise through the last remnants of a monsoonal trough.

 

We soon retired to the sensational, marble covered porch for an after dinner drink. We relaxed and chatted about our wonderful day, while the children settled quietly off to sleep. We then decided to pour one more drink and sat smiling in the candle light whilst listening to the trumpeting sounds of the gecko's and the gentle swishing of the bats as they hunted their nocturnal prey.

 

We soon found ourselves drifting off once more, itís amazing how tired you get from doing nothing.

Later that night something happened that I have been debating sharing with you all, but have decided to just to tell you all as I saw it and let you make up your own minds.

 

I came wide-awake after a few hours sleep, what time I can't tell you, but the moon was high and not far from disappearing behind the mountain.

 

I was compelled to walk out the front for a breath of fresh air and began to quietly walk down the stairs of the pathway toward the sea. As I approached the bottom I turned and looked up the hill to see the most awe-inspiring thing I've ever seen. The moonlight shone through the leaves and branches of the trees giving a dappled effect on the ground, which moved gently in the swaying breeze. The surface of each step shone brightly in the moonlight, giving the look of a serrated spine surrounded by shimmering scales running all the way from the ocean to the car park above. As it reached the car park, the final few steps are covered in bright white stone, as are the steps that rise seemingly in midair, from the car park to the foyer. The entry statement and car park that surrounded these steps, took on the effect of a gaping mouth with large white teeth. The curved pathways that left the spine, heading towards the larger cottages, suddenly seemed as claws and with the Dragon's tail, at the bottom of the pathway, happily slapping in the water, it truly seemed that the Dragon was dancing for me, and for me alone.

 

Before I knew it the wind had dropped and the moon disappeared behind the mountain, and after what seemed like hours, but could only have been minutes, I wandered back to the room and into bed, turned on the light and picked up a book, sleep would not come easy so there was no use trying.

 

Since that night Rae has told me that the description of the Dragon's spine is in Karen Kingstonís notes that can be found at the hotel, and that the steps of the hotel are built along the Dragons spine. I told Rae that I had not read those notes and to this day still haven't. I don't believe it was mentioned on the website, though I may be mistaken.

 

Either way, my belief is firm...

 

The Dragon danced for me... I hope one day the Dragon dances for you.

 

Thursday morning provided a rude awakening. Firstly, Cracker had to explain to Rae his feelings about what he had encountered just a few hours before and we had to face the reality of checking out and heading back to Legian.

 

Even more sobering news came after we had grudgingly followed the staff up the Dragon's spine, through its mouth and into the Foyer, we were informed that the war in Iraq had begun. A sense of guilt washed over us both as we realised the irony of being here, in near perfect tranquillity, whilst so many people in the world, minute by minute, faced an uncertain future, if any at all.

 

We helped our friend Wayan Ruda load our bags into his car and headed away from the Dancing Dragon, knowing that one day we would be back.

 

We drove for a while in silent contemplation but as we approached Candi Dasa the kids became a touch more raucous, and we started to get pangs of hunger realising that TJ's Kafe was only a few minutes away. It was Indian Chicken Keema's all round this time, washed down with a couple of Corona's and suddenly the energy levels started to pick up again. We knew we were well rested and we knew there was some fun to be had back in Legian.

 

As we wandered back into the Garden View Cottages, we were amazed by the amount of people that were around the hotel. The staff at the front desk advised us that they were now 80% full. We knew that meant lots of fun at the front bar tonight. After a few hours lazing in the pool chatting to people from all over and showing great pride in Cheyenne's newfound water skills, we decided to take the streets once more.

 

There's something energising and fulfilling about walking the streets at a casual pace, bantering with the storekeepers and having a laugh at some of their little jokes when they know that you're not really looking to buy, you're just wandering. After a few hours of doing this, without Rae's wallet finger getting itchy, we made our way toward the Mandira Cottages to catch up with some old friends on the beach out the front.

 

After a short search we found Mary whom has been on the beach there for about 14 years, but her mate Maggie, who Cracker had known for about 20years, had been back in her village for about a month or so. It was a shame because we had bought Tui down to meet Maggie on her first trip, just as she has greeted all of our babies on their first trips.

 

Itís not just the big things that have changed, itís also the little things that you find on a day-to-day basis.

 

As the sun began to dip we worked our way 100 metres or so up the beach to Sammi and Suzieís once more and marvelled at the size of the fishing fleet sitting a couple of Kilometres off shore. The massive shoal of sardines was apparently right around the island and everybody was getting their share, including the lifeguards who were paddling out on a wave ski with a throw net and coming back in with 4 or 5 kilos for the Bbq.

 

As we scanned this fleet and watched all the action take place, the clarity of the sky provided a view of Java very low on the horizon. Even a few of the beach sellers remarked that it was very unusual to see this time of year, as it is normally covered with cloud.

 

It was soon dark once more and it was time to visit Joe Cool at the Legend Bar. Joe, as usual, has everything going at a frenetic pace, from his smiling staff on the street trying to cajole you into the Legend for dinner, to his ever attentive wait staff that tend to get you well fed and watered in a relatively quick time. The one thing that you've got to be aware of with Joe is that if he gets the chance to put you on stage with one of his dancers, in a scarf and a sarong, then he will. This night he got Roo_Ted and Gary, a first timer that was staying at our hotel. The food at the Legend was great, Joe deejayed after the show with his usual aplomb, but finally it was nigh-nighs time for the kids and back to the Garden View.

 

We settled the kids into the room once more and sat on the small veranda discussing the previous few days. It didn't take long for the sounds of the band to draw us, we love to dance together and to have such a good party band going so close to the room was just a bonus for us. When we reached the Bar there must have been 50 to 60 people there and the party was in full swing, with the usual Aussies on the second microphone helping to belt out their favourite tunes.

 

The bands at the GVC alternate every second night. In one of the bands there is a young fella who goes by the name of 'Klik', he also turns up on his off night and guest sings with the other band. Now this bloke is a bloody good entertainer, but if you want to hear something amazing, drop in there and ask him to do Shaggy. Most nights the crowd went silent as he did Shaggy and jaws hung slack everywhere you looked.

 

Another late but great night, but we had to go. Wayan was booked for 10am to take us to Pacung to catch up with David and Moira. We then planned on visiting the 'Adopta Co-op' and spending some time with the team there.

 

Tomorrow is a very special day for us as we finally get to meet the people that we were striving to help with our Fundraiser after the bombing. We'll try to do our feelings justice, but some things are very hard to put into words.

 

Friday morning didn't arrive 'til late. We were over indulged, under slept and overbooked!

 

We were supposed to be heading out to Pacung to surprise David and Moira and catch up with them for lunch, then head to the Adopta Co-Op to meet the team. Our mate Wayan arrived at 10am to drive us up there, the phone rang in the room a little after 10 and we awoke with a start! We knew we'd need a strong coffee and a quick bite to eat before we went anywhere, all of which was going to make us late, late, late. The phone soon rang again by which time we almost had one fully functioning mind between us.

 

Surprise, surprise! It was David. He'd done a bit of detective work and tracked us down and a bloody good thing too. As it turns out he was not in Pacung, Moira was in Perth and the 'Adopta Co-Op' was only 10 minutes from the Garden View Cottages. We made arrangements to meet him at the Co-Op an hour later and went and tucked into a great breakfast and a sttrrooong Kopi.

 

When we finally got ourselves in the car with Wayan we casually mentioned the 'Adopt Co-Op' and he immediately said "Yes, yes, okay, jln.Pemogan" It dawned on us then that of course he'd been there before when driving Peter Ryan. We were then able to relax and take in the sights of some new streets while Wayan quietly picked his way there.

 

BTW. If ever you are wandering the streets of Kuta/Legian, wondering where all those Bluebird Taxi's have got to, we found where they all sleep while on shift and waiting for a call. In front of a newly completed building, on a side road just off the Sunset road about 50 taxi's were parked in a haphazard formation in the shade of the 3 storey umbrella. They all had one or two doors wide open, driver's seats laid back and drivers fast asleep with feet on dashboards or stuck up over open doors.
It had the effect of a herd of resting elephants awaiting their handlerís calls back to work shifting logs in the forest.

 

Umgawah!

 

Our short journey was soon complete as we caught the flash of blue of the 'Adopta' sign on their front wall. We made our way tentatively into the front yard, hoping to see a familiar face.

 

David was soon spotted through the windows of the front office but was busy doing a T.V. interview with a local expat reporter. We made ourselves comfortable on the huge day bed out the front (Looove them day-beds!) and kept ourselves busy by chatting to the family that lived in the house behind and listening to some of Davidís responses to the Interviewers questions.

 

It soon became very clear just how passionate David is when it comes to sharing the success that the 'Adopta' team were having in the way that they were recovering from their experiences. When the interview was over we were invited into the office and then through to meet the Ladies and Gents who currently make up the team.

 

We weren't sure what to expect but what we saw was nothing short of sensational. This was a wonderful and happy environment. Lots of fun, lots of joking, lots of horseplay and huge amounts of love and respect. The effort that David and Moira have put in to pull all this together has been awesome, but the results are outstanding.

 

We sat there hour after hour and chatted to people as they came and went, most of whom had the same sentiments, this was not only a great way to make these people self-sufficient and give them a chance at a better life, but it was also the most marvellous form of group therapy available. Each story was very similar and each now had a new extended family on which they could rely to help them through the dark days.

 

And there are still dark days!

 

Time and love, these will be the two most important ingredients that they will have for each other. We can all help them in other ways, but first and foremost, lets send them our love.

 

When we reluctantly left the Co-Op, among many hugs and many Terima Kasih's, we began to discuss what it meant to have helped in some small way to improve their futures. We were happy and we were buoyant and then we suddenly realised, we had visited the victims of the bombing but had not yet visited the bombsite. We asked Wayan if he could drive us there now, he smiled, shook his head and said "No, not today". He's a smart fella that Wayan, he could sense the high that we had gotten and somehow knew the low would have crushed our spirits once more.
 

Back at the GVC a swim and a cold one beckoned, but sleep is really what one needed. So we put the kids to sleep and went and had a swim and a cold one, thatís a fair compromise. We didn't have that long until Wayan returned to take us to FBís home for a Bbq. By the time we should have been ready to go the kids were still sleeping, Rae was still swimming and Cracker was still Bintangulating. You know how it is, ever tried to wake up a 3 yr old that hasn't finished sleeping? Uh uh, no way, no how! You do that once and you learn NEVER to do that again. The upside of all that is, when you go to visit people with kids and you tell 'em which one was asleep that made you late, they just nod knowingly, Yep, good move!

 

We finally got to FB's just before 8pm, after Wayan got us lost. We eventually located his house by calling FB and he went and stood at the end of his driveway, waving a torch, we thought for a minute we were approaching a train wreck.
 

Once inside the compound and after saying G'day to his wife Izumi and their 3 beautiful kids, we at long last got to meet Kim Patra and her son Ben. Kim tries to play down her role in the things that she's done in Bali, but like FB, is a bit of a bloody legend!

 

FB then took us on a magical tour of one of the great loves of his life. He has created one of the most amazing gardens you are ever likely to see anywhere. Tropical plants of amazing varieties and sizes abound throughout his garden and greenhouse areas. Some you recognise after a while, but realise that they are huge compared to the plants of the same variety we have back at home. He has some rare and exotic species there that he has brought back over years of trekking many of Indonesia's high island peaks and tropical valleys. He has even been fortunate enough to have discovered and named two new species himself. (Named one of them after his Missus, the Romantic Bugger!)

 

All of this passion for Botanical perfection has led him to a recent change in career. He is now Curator of 6 hectares of Botanical Park in Tohpati just north of Sanur. We will make appoint of touring it when we have more time next trip.

 

Back to the Bbq!

 

We had a wonderful evening all round and plenty of laughs to boot. It was actually quite a cross-cultural exchange, Rae (NZ), Izumi (Japan) Kim, FB, Cracker (OZ), Bintang (Indonesia), Jim Beam (USA), we all got on marvellously. While we were there we remembered to give Kim her big bag of chockies from Paul and Ann here in Perth, which she promptly hid from the kids and denied their existence to them later. Tsk, tsk, tsk, Kim think of those calories :-)

 

At the end of this superb evening FB helped us to locate transport back to Legian, kinda hard to do in Sanur at 2.30 in the morning.

 

No time for sleep-ins the next day, only 2 days to go and only one suitcase out of 4 was full. It was time to pull out both our Visa cards and startle our Bank manager like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a car. Work as a team and they are easily confused.

 

Did we say there was no time for sleep-ins today?

You can call me anything, but the thing we like being called most is 'Late for Brekkie' in Bali. We love a good sleep-in without too many ratbags around to shake us and wake us at an un-godly hour in the morning. The two little ones we have with us are more than happy to snuggle in with us and goo and gaa and pull each otherís noses and ears until we're ready to wake up.

 

After lazing our way through another scrummy breakfast with a gallon of Kopi, we just sort of oozed our way over from the restaurant to the sun lounges by the pool. Cracker says to Rae "What do ya want to do today?" Rae replies "Hell, I'm already doing it mate." This was going to be easy, we'd already learnt how to come to a complete stop on this trip, after all that training at Amed, putting it into practice here shouldn't be too hard at all.

 

The traffic at the GVC is pretty high, people coming and going everywhere, doing the usual, 'how much was this?' 'Which shop did you get that?' It felt good to hear most people openly saying that they were prepared to pay well above the going rate in most cases. We have always found the most enjoyable part of the bargaining to be the interaction and then a fair price. Screwing someone because you can is pointless. In the big wheel of life all that happens is you find your government at home shelling out your hard earned tax dollars in handouts to countries where we go and screw the people for bargains. De-rail a Politician, pay a fair price while you're there, and let the local people earn their dollar. End of lecture...:-)

 

Now.... talking about fair prices, Cracker had a new wardrobe to pick up, his last one shrunk... Rae that's not very nice, its definitely a Thyroid problem, not a Crown Lager problem ;-)

 

He had ordered heaps of shirts, shorts and singlets of varying styles and designs from Made where we normally get our gear. We kinda flipped, flopped and floundered our way down there after lunch in no particular hurry at all. There was a huge pile of 'Fat Bloke Stuff' sitting in the middle of the shop floor when we arrived. Rae eyed it up and down and gave it the 'How much have you bloody spent' look. She then proceeded on the 'I'll see you and raise youí three card trick! There were kids clothes, dresses, sarongs and towels flying from all directions. All landing smack dab on top of Crackers' pile.

 

Right here is where that little bugger Made got us a bit. The total came to 2.4 million! Cracker eyed Rae up thinkin' 'What the bloody hell have you bought?' Rae was eyeing Cracker up thinkin' 'You bloody men are hopeless at shoppin' Neither of us fully checking, just trusting Made as we usually do. When we got back to the room and started to fill the suitcases, question marks started to arise and as we tallied things up with reasonable generous amounts allowed on each item, we struggled to bring it near 2 mil. Rp. No matter how we tried we came up short, but hey...We live and learn.

 

Unfortunately, so will Made. Last time we came back we recommended him heartily. He even told us when we arrived this time that he had over 100 people walk in with the price list printed out, that we had posted, and spend good sums of money.

 

Not this time, he will just have to work hard along with everyone else. Que Sera Sera.

 

We were soon back to the pool, enjoying the afternoon sun and revelling in the fact that Bali is beautiful and Bali is magical. EVERYBODY was having a great time and saying how they would be back time and again, we enjoyed being in the company of people that obviously loved life and knew how to grab hold of the good bits and just hang on. The day flowed through in a natural progression until suddenly the garden lighting was on and the swishing of batwings could be heard once more.

 

What to do? Hit the streets again and walk for the sake of it or maybe dinner here at the Garden View.

 

But wait...Is that the band setting up once more? Okay, its another one of them 'Night in/Night out' Deals. There was quite a large crowd this night, about 70 at its peak. It was one of those nights when those people who don't normally get up and dance, got up and danced. Everyone felt comfortable and the crowd was a strangely varied bunch from all around the world. Some of them barely spoke English but by the end of the night, the spoken word had gone by the wayside and the International language of music and dance had taken over.

 

It was so good even the Band felt compelled to play for an extra hour and a half. Okay, it cost 200,000Rp. But hell, this crowd was drinking that by the minute.
 

Finally, the party wound down and we sat, almost shattered, in the conversation pit by the dance floor. We were reluctant to go to bed, only a day and a night to go.
 

We walked slowly hand in hand back to our room, staring at stars, taking deep sniffs of the air and listening to the eerie quiet that our Bali has become.

 

We slept well once more, yet sensing an end to our New Awakening.

 

Sunday arrived so very differently to the preceding Sunday. Last week we were rushing around excitedly checking for passports, tickets, credit cards and cash, this week we were thinking, 'If we just don't catch the plane, and don't go home, will anybody really notice?'

 

Ah bugger! We were missing the kids, it was time to go.

 

24 hours left. Shop hard, party hard and get dragged out kicking and screaming.
 

We had to go and pick things up at Matahari's in Kuta Square for some friends. We thought we would take this opportunity to drive past the Bomb Site. We actually had not been south of Jln. Melasti since we arrived. We are not fans of Kuta and never have been.

 

We grabbed a bluebird from GVC and headed off in the usual round about way, finally coming out onto jln. Legian, just north of the bombsite.

 

It was certainly a strange feeling, we asked the driver to slow right down, but for some reason we never felt compelled to stop. The pedestrian traffic was flowing past quite well on either side of the street, the shops in the general vicinity seemed to be open and trading. The two corrugated fences guarding these two desolated sites strangely made it seem like driving past construction sites in any city or town in the World.........then your eye's are drawn to one spot.

 

You can clearly see the patch in the road and the recently remade section of kerb that signify everything we have come to loath in this world. Regardless of what are eventually built on both sites, that few square metres of concrete and asphalt will forever represent the greatest awakening the Australian people have ever had. It brought us somewhere that we never thought that we would be, but it has forever entwined us with a people that most of us have loved and respected for a long time but to whom all of Australia now owes a debt of gratitude.

 

All too soon we found ourselves driving into Kuta Square. This was not somewhere that we particularly wanted to be, but we had requests from close friends that needed fulfilling.

 

From the moment we stepped out of the taxi, the driver of which truly did not have change of 50,000Rp, this place just proved to us, why we hate it

 

PASSIONATELY! Cracker stepped into MacDonaldís to get change for the Taxi driver and by the time he got back, Rae was working on a 'Questionnaire' Cracker just shook his head, grabbed her by the hand and dragged her away. "But it's not a Timeshare Questionnaire" Rae adamantly said as Cracker marched her off. The young lady following with her question sheet then began to ask, "Which hotel you stay at Miss?" "Your room number please?"

 

Okay, okay, but she sounded so innocent, just wanting to know why we come to Bali, is this your first time? Hey, we live and learn, AGAIN!

 

We couldn't find what we came for in Matahari and quite frankly, needed to leave. The whole experience of this area of Bali leaves us cold.

Cracker would love to pull down Kuta Square brick by brick and throw it into the sea. He feels uneasy while he is there and that there is something not quite right.
 

Anyway, we skedaddled back to Jln.Melasti in a bluebird and just wandered the streets looking for bits and pieces for the kids.

 

We were soon back on Garlic lane shopping once more. Little Billy back home was desperate for a Spiderman suit and Garlic lane was the place to get one. Cracker was bitterly disappointed that there wasn't one in his size, but a tailor offered to stitch 30 suits together to make him one. The little bugger ducked a backhand and wouldn't come out to play anymore.

 

We found the last few things we needed, bid our farewell to Milton and Kerry and made our way back to the GVC to catch the World Cup Cricket Final. They assured us it would be on, which naturally, it wasn't. Ah well, on with the party! Fatbastard and his Russian friend Gleb joined all the usual suspects and ourselves in an evening of fun and frivolity at the hotel. We were once again reluctant to finish, but when the referee in your head calls 'Game, Set and Match' then it is truly time to go.

 

The startling wake up call at 7am got our day off to a fractured start from which we still have not recovered. Home, home, home...No, no, no, were some of our first thoughts. Those thoughts are soon replaced by the real images of your children going to school each day and coming home each day without your guidance. Missing the little chats at breakfast, poor attempts at getting a day off school, sitting around doing homework and arguing over whether they deserve an ice cream tonight before giving in, as they knew you would.

 

Yes, it was time to leave.

 

Our good friend Wayan picked us up and had us at the airport in plenty of time for our Air Paradise flight.

 

Many times we have left Bali with the uncertainty of when we would be back.
 

This time we left with the certainty that it would be sooner rather than later. Each time we come we seem to be looking for something new. This time we found what we were looking for, and so much more.

 

We hope that somewhere in this, you found something too.

 

CBE

 

Cracker and Rae , Cheyenne and Tui ;-)