We are the first to admit that while Flores was nice (it wasn’t), we were quite (understatement) glad to be out of there. We even left a bit early to scout out the Australian Ibiza that is the island of Bali before my family and friends got there. Exploring Ubud was nice until Flores’ last revenge struck me down with Dengue Fever. I’m a brave man who never makes a fuss about anything (lol) but unfortunately three days bed-ridden with fever and then a rather unattractive rash spreading through my body (finishing off with my fingers and toes, sort of like a final “fuck you” from the mosquitoes) was not my idea of relaxation. Weaker men would have fallen, yet I, a titan of a fellow, got better in a few days with a combination of pills and greasy noodles.
Aside from dermatologically afflicting illnesses, Bali was the holiday equivalent of that annoying little brat at family event who constantly prods you in the back and speaks in a whiney voice. Ubud is a small town up north with cutesy little shops and more vegan products than in a Greenpeace convention. Wandering around with everyone was nice; catching up; recovering from Dengue; and trying to spot how many people could practically fit on a motorbike (the answer is four). Watching our friend James, a fully trained accountant, haggle for a small picture was an interesting new hobby as without access to an Excel spreadsheet, he seemed completely bemused by the fact that a price tag was a variable (and biased against how gullible/naive you look).
A shaking rudely awakened us the following morning as a minor earthquake hit the peaceful villa we were staying at. Thought I’d let everyone know, roughly three weeks later, that we are all fine. Calum, my second of two friends, however seems to have developed a strange aversion to morning toilet time after that day. After recovering from this, a day trip left up to our new friend, our taxi driver – let’s call him Len, had us squished in the back of his car for two hours to reach a waterfall. Here, we helped him get a selfie of himself, watched my Mum and Phoebe visibly recoil at the toilet being a small plunge pool and sat in lukewarm water from which was sourced from the aforementioned squat pool. We then, in a sitcom-esque manner, hopped back into the sardine can of a taxi and drove to Tanah Lot. Tanah lot is a water temple sitting on the coast of Bali which becomes isolated at high tide. As would be expected in a tourist destination in Indonesia, a fringe of mask and magnet selling stalls coat the area like an oil which you have to fight through to see the temple. The temple was a hedgehog of selfie sticks but actually very impressive with the waves washing over the cliffs. Set inside a shallowly sloping cliff came the most entrepreneurial man I feel I had seen. Painted in half-legible black letters was “See the holy snake – 30,000 rp” (2 quid)). There a man was sat, with a box on his lap, apparently showing people his holy snake. Make of this what you will but I am under the strong impression that the man was no herpetologist.
On the saddest side of the metaphorical rusty coin that is Bali lies Kuta. Aside from having decent clubs with possibly the nicest staff I have ever met, the strip is an artificial agglomeration of Starbucks, aggressively looking Indonesian men and rather obese Australian families. Luckily (and unluckily) for us, we had arrived just before Nyepi, the Balinese new year. This was good as lots of giant statues of demons were all over the streets which is everyones idea of a party. The cost of this however, was that the whole island shuts down for a day – airports and roads are closed; all lights have to be dimmed and a rumour has it that sex isn’t even prohibited. Luckily, with a bit of English ingenuity, we decided to leave at midnight the night before, lest we not be able to have a joyful game of Perudo. Unfortunately, the seventh great plague of Bali, drunk Aussies, had a similar brainwave and so the airport stank of kangaroos and empty Bintang bottles. I suppose James, trained accountant, finally working out the currency 15 minutes before we left was a plus?
From Alec (back from the brinks of death), Phoebe (unquietly glad to be heading to Japan), my Mum (still traumatised by the idea of a squatty potty), Graham (Taxi drivers best friend), Marcus (dickhead), James (Trained accountant, man of mystery and purveyor of fine art) and Calum (Forever afraid of the loo).