Karries ..fabulous just back , it is an epic

Have been planning this trip for 6 months now, all my friends are sick of it already and I haven’t left yet!!

Finally the day comes , can hardly lift suitcase into car boot…have already thrown out half the contents

But the rest is essential, can’t possibly arrive without good selection of clothes ! Luckily have splashed out on Garuda Business upgrade for extra $450 return and I think there’s a 30kg allowance ..Find that all the airport covered parking is already taken at 9am and have to park in the uncovered part miles from the terminal then drag case and hand luggage until I can see a trolley. Wonder if my car will still be here in 2 weeks time??? Once in the terminal pay over departure tax and call in to bank to collect travellers cheques..disaster!! They havent been prepared yet and won’t be ready until after the plane leaves!! The teller tells me that my humble BNZ eftpos card will work at ATMs in Bali - but can I believe her ??? Decide to take $800 cash and try out the ATMs asap once there. Another worry for little old worrywort !

And here’s the first good thing about the upgrade …there’s a queue of 20 people for check in but if I duck under the ropes I can get straight to the Business check in which is empty…hallalujah !! The Garuda rep has given me the front window seat 2A , which I thought looked the roomiest from the seat plan on the net-thanks David from the Forum !!! And my suitcase weighs 20.4 kgs!!

Once on the plane I can’t believe the amount of space! I am so used to economy class all squashed up in rows of 3 , no leg room, etc. This is unbelievable, the seats are HUGE - no worries about a size 16 here !!! You could be size 32 and still have room left over. Quite naturally I start playing with all the knobs etc, there’s a little TV which pops out of the armrest, lights, blinds, etc to play with and I suddenly notice we’re up in the air. Quite painless for someone who is afraid of heights. The cabin crew appear with hot towels (ouch!! They are REALLY hot) , OJ (juice, not Simpson) , copy of Herald, and a really smart navy toilet bag filled with fragrant skin care things, cologne, socks, etc. Then the real drinks and peanuts, and a movie called The Last Castle which was really good although I am most disappointed to see Robert Redford looking his age. -- he needs another facelift (or a holiday in Bali!!)

Lunch time , as I am diabetic had ordered diabetic meals, although have found in the past that they’re not much different from the other meals. But this meal is a real feast! First course an exquisite platter of sushi and large side salad , bowl of pineapple, melon, mango ,strawberries and grapes , and the usual warm rolls etc. I’m thinking that was a great feed!! When - the main course arrives!! Mine was fish in filo pastry with veges , then a platter of cheeses, grapes, mixed nuts, figs and dried apricots plus all the wine you could drink then cognac or port yummy yummy . And all on white linen with a napkin as big as a tablecloth. Nothing to do now but sleep for the rest of the 9 hour flight, about 6 hours to go.

Wakey wakey, it’s time for another movie, Shallow Hal with Gwynnie Paltrow which was really funny in parts especially when the boy in the pool landed up in the tree! Then more food which my itinerary calls a “snack”. Some snack!! Warm rolls, big salad, baked lamb chops and veges and a scrumptious almond tart with yes you’ve got it more wine and cognac….I am ashamed to say that I was so busy scoffing mine that I didn’t notice what the other passengers had! And remember mine was the diabetic version , they must have been stuffed to the eyeballs.! Did I mention that there were only about 10 passengers total in business class area. And so heaps of free seats.

Visited the wc ( as you do ) with some trepidation as it was well into the flight, to find that it was immaculate - where was the water on the floor and the soggy tissues ? And look, there is toilet paper, soap, and a little range of perfumes! Briefly remember the story about the lady who pulled the chain while on the seat and was stuck there as she formed a seal…or is this an urban legend ??? Decide against finding out.

Finally arrived in Bali … I love the last bit where the plane swoops over those green green islands - would that big one be Lombok?? A perfect landing, about 15 mins late due to a couple of turbulent patches. I always think it’s a surprisingly long walk through the terminal and down to customs and on this occasion a spooky one as the terminal was completely empty except for us. It was about 5.30pm Saturday and I had expected the airport to be busy .Would they care about the 1.25L bottle of Baileys which I was carrying in a conspicuous bright yellow Regency Duty Free bag ?? But No, big smiles from everyone and waved straight through. Sailed past the porters , grabbed my own trolley, collected suitcase, through customs, changed $100 into 410,000rp at the money changer then turn right , down to the window and one fixed price taxi to Sanur 35.,000 rp . All of which I learnt from the Forum - many thanks , you guys !!!

A smooth ride to Sanur, not a lot of traffic, was amazed at the number of scooters, some carrying several people, saw one in particular carrying a family of 2 adults 2 children with a new plastic wrapped mattress balanced on their heads! Nick the taxi driver very generously offered to take me on a half day tour to Ubud for a reduced rate of $200 USD - but thanks to reading the Forum I did not take advantage of his kind offer

Continuing the story, still on the way from the airport to Sanur.. Noticed lots of buildings under construction and even more finished houses, warehouses, rows of shops etc , all well built , modern and all ….. empty ! Never did find out why, one taxi driver later told me they were built by the Chinese but couldn’t say why , or where the tenants were. A mystery! Maybe someone can shed light on this ??

Anyway, arrived at Puri Dalem at last. Couldn’t really see what the hotel was like as it is surrounded by a high stone wall, then behind is the car park and some steps up to reception.

A real warm welcome, a form to fill in, nice cold juice and they called me “Miss Karrie” !! I was pretty tired by then, so followed behind someone with my suitcase for what seemed like a looooong walk to a really cute cottage at the back, and a lovely blast of cold air as he opened the door. Didn’t know how much to tip so gave him 10,000 and he said “what - $1 !!! “ . Well maybe it is a US dollar but its several of the Kiwi version so didn’t give him any more! When he had gone, looked around and noticed the twin beds instead of double, and the bathroom needed a good scrub - the ring around the bath was so black there must’ve been a chimney sweep in there ! Never mind, a swim will cheer me up so went down to the pool which I had passed on the way in……..Oh Oh Heaven on a Stick !!!! Like getting into a silky warm bath. Nearly dark, no one else around except a HUGE white butterfly which must have been almost a foot across, dipping and swooping over the pool, and the sounds of geckos and croaking frogs and someone sweeping the path… I could stay here all night ! Notice that the pool is surrounded by 2 storey lumbung style villas, but there are bushes and trees in between so the pool is not really overlooked . I count 11 loungers - the pool boy says they are full during the day but I doubt it as there are only a few guests by the looks of things…..tomorrow will tell !!! Finally wrinkly fingers force me out of the water and as I dash back to my cottage - Ugh!! - I tread on a big snail which crunches between my toes……shoes next time !! Decide a long swig of Baileys and a chocolate Freddo are just what the doctor ordered , sitting on those comfy looking bamboo chairs on the verandah. Throw myself on them with more enthusiasm than good sense … ouch!! They sure look good but are stuffed with three marshmallows instead of kapok.! Oh well, pile them on top of each other, sit on the lot, and no worries ! Two big drinks later off to bed - haven’t slept in a single bed for more years than I care to remember, feels very weird, hope I don’t fall out in the middle of the night !!

Morning comes, hear the cleaning trolley stop outside at 7am and then thank goodness go away. Have another look in the bathroom, no way am I going in that bath or use the shower. The wc is only about 12 inches off the ground , making a gurgling noise and the water level is suspiciously just below the rim…..hmmmmm , won’t go into any more details here, too much information !!!! Ha ha but you should have seen it !! Take a peek through the window, disappointed to see it looks quite overcast so survey the 20.4 kegs of clothes in my case … all carefully planned, this goes with that, etc ,decide on a stunningly coordinated outfit, open the door to face the world, and POW! Hit in the face by a dynamite blast of boiling air, like opening the oven while cooking the Xmas turkey. Naturally have to change into tropical version , equally coordinated, and now lipstick is the wrong colour, you know how it is… (Yes I know, but some habits are really hard to break !!!)

On my merry way past the pool to breakfast, there are 11 free loungers !! Ha , this looks good for later ! Full breakfast absolutely delicious with juices and all, 43,000 rp , what a bargain…..if things were this cheap at home I’d never cook again ! Not that I actually cook much now ! Arrange half day tour to Ubud and beyond with Made who is brother of receptionist., for 150,000. I want to get some fabric from the market at Sukawati and look around Denpasar. So, a quiet day today around the pool and get into one of the 6 new books I’ve brought with me ( and which have greatly contributed to the 20 kg suitcase!). Big surprise at the pool - while I’ve been lazily breakfasting a group of Dutch guests have appeared from nowhere and covered all the loungers…except one !! I race towards it so quickly that they all look up in astonishment ,and cover it with all my gear before tourist no 11 comes along.

Linda the massage hair and nails lady comes along and greets me like an old friend, which I will be by the time I leave , as I will have paid her so much $$$ !! She plaits my hair with blue beads - I had forgotten how long this takes but she makes an excellent job of it and it’s lovely and cool. Paid 120,000 for hair, finger and toe nails and massage , prob too much but it was a hot day and she was really good at bargaining! Shake my head, I feel like Bo Derek ( at least from the shoulders up and the hairline back ! ) Have a great lazy day snoozing, reading, eating and drinking , swimming and eyeing the pool boy ( Reecey isn’t the only one ! ) Back in my room find it’s all been scrubbed from top to bottom, musty smell has gone and I decide I really like it now. Was disappointed at first but now it’s starting to feel like home ! Have room service, Nasi Goreng with fried egg on top and roast leg of …..what ?? …too big to be a chicken, too small for a turkey…well, whatever, it was delicious ! Suddenly, an Adventure…..a frantic knocking on the door , to find a whole bunch of people on the doorstep led by the young pommy couple next door followed by several of the staff chattering and clutching brooms and other implements ( a rake ???) Apparently they could hear something scampering and scratching around in their ceiling - from the description it was obviously a rat - and it had to be exterminated NOW ! Much excitement while everyone piled in , as the roof access was over my bath ! Opening the hatch caused an avalanche of debris which made everyone sneeze and covered my newly cleaned bathroom with filthy muck…..naturally the wily rat would not allow himself to be captured by such an amateur posse and after a token try they gave up and mimed that the proper ratcatching person would be here in the morning . Everyone retired to bed with me nervously keeping one eye open for rats in the bathroom !

Well that’s the first and second days - next instalment covers big laughs at Sukawati market, confusion at Toot Sie ’s , I’m in major trouble at the Sindhu market, the monkey forest saga and the terrible trio at the Radisson buffet

Well, after the rat episode (part 2 ) , what else could happen? Today is the day of the trip to Ubud and beyond with Made, brother (?) of Puri Dalem’s receptionist. Up bright and early, to breakfast at 8.30, sun shining and already the Germans are sunbathing. Reminded Made as we set off that I wanted to buy some fabric in Denpasar, see the monkey forest again and also the Sulaweki market as I had read on the forum that it was really worth a visit. Off we go into the traffic, through Celuk, Mas, etc…Made had a friend at each of these places who made jewellery, kites, pottery, carvings, quilts, you name it but I was a girl on a Mission and to his obvious disappointment we continued on . However , he had the last laugh , as you shall see.

I was amazed at the display of goods along the roadside - fabulously coloured kites and quilts, huge stone and wood carvings ( what about those life sized Red Indian ones ? Certainly a talking piece when you get it home!) And wonderful wooden furniture, garden seats too nice to be left outside! I could imagine setting them up in the garage to keep them out of the rain…also lots of dogs everywhere , men sitting in a circle playing - dice? or cards , everyone smoking…finally we arrive at the monkey forest. I pay my 3000rp entry , Made says he gets in free. Also pay 10,000 for a bag each of bananas and pineapple , looking forward to wandering up to the temple to distribute my goodies to gratefully accepting cute monkeys. But of course nothing goes to plan! Had only taken a few steps down the path when a male monkey casually accosted me, reached up with one hand , split open the bag of bananas so they all tumbled out to the ground , then - peed on them !!!! I couldn’t believe it, he actually peed on my bananas !! Then ambled casually away as if nothing had happened. Obviously one overfed simian with attitude ..must be a teenager !! haha! The rest of the walk was really irritating as none of the other monkeys liked pineapple ., and for some reason Made wouldn’t keep up with me but was always a few steps behind, like the Duke Of Edinborough following the Queen . But the baby monkeys are soooo cute with their weeny furry dark brown faces . One had an expression exactly like a man at work -when I showed the photos around later everyone said “Oh look, it’s ----” !!!! Back into the van , on through the beautiful countryside , rice paddies, a passing glimpse of villagers doing washing in a stream , all so peaceful and so far away from my usual life that it could be another planet . Soon we are turning into a gravel carpark which I realise must be Sukawati market. It’s packed with milling people and I feel a minute’s panic as I hate being hemmed in . I pleaded with Made to come with me but no go, he was sensibly staying inside the van with air conditioning and a new packet of cigarettes . I was on my own. Stepped out of the van into the throng and was immediately swallowed up and surrounded by a 5 deep circle of traders, curious shoppers, children pushing through to get front view, etc…I was face to face with 2 sunglasses sellers, a little lady with a tall stack of a dozen hats on her head , a mysterious man with a carved object half wrapped in newspaper which he kept unveiling as if it was an ancient treasure , an elderly lady with tiny silvery bracelets for sale, a young boy with a bicycle hung about with woven and beaded jewellery, and numerous children and followers. As I walked they all followed along with someone even trying to grab the ends of my hair. One lady was very nice and offered to show me through the market. I agreed as obviously there was no hope of just browsing around on my own, the heat was getting to me and I really needed some new handbags. She led me through a maze of little stalls with the crowd following like the Pied Piper until we stopped at her friend’s handbag place. It was packed to the roof with fabulous bags , hundreds of them all tucked inside each other - handbag heaven !! And so cheap ! In a short time I was the owner of 5 new handbags - 1 beautiful leather, 3 basket and 1 fabric, for a total of 280,000 . Then back into the crowd to a t shirt stall ,which was really funny. I wanted 2 new sarongs for my sister and some shirts for my son (6’3”) and my Dad who’s nearly as tall. I found myself standing on a step just outside the doorway describing what I was looking for, while my self appointed guide translated for the benefit of the gathered crowd and the stall owner who was unravelling and throwing garments around , and draping things from every surface. With every new translation there were loud collective Oohs and Aahs and other words of encouragement as the crowd followed the negotiations with intense interest. When I lifted my hand above my head to show how high, there was a loud hubbub and I looked around to see 50 upturned faces looking at me in amazement, no doubt thinking I was related to Giants. It was all soooo funny that I couldn’t stop laughing and every time I laughed so did everyone else! In the end I bought 4 gorgeous silk shirts and 3 sarongs for total 220,000 and everyone including me seemed very happy. Then had to find my way back to the van resisting carving seller, hat lady, etc - what an amazing experience ! I had really enjoyed it but also was relieved to see the van was still there and Made sitting on the bonnet with the usual ciggie . When he saw me he handed some money to a man wearing a uniform with “parking “ hand written on the lapel. I had noticed a stack of 5000 rp notes on the dashboard, which he handed out the window to smooth our path, in one case when we were in a long queue in Denpasar, and a policeman indicated we could overtake on the inside by getting two left wheels up onto the pavement , one hand on the horn and go for it. Oh Boy! Nearly at Denpasar and I reminded Made about the fabric - and he said the best fabric was at Sukawati , where we had just been ! Wasn’t going back, so on to Denpasar , but soon noticed the road looked familiar, and we were back in Sanur ! All that way with the primary aim to buy fabric, then back without it !! Thanks Made !

Back to Puri Dalem, had a wonderful massage by Linda. I had a bit of sunburn on my back and shoulders, and she used a lemon and coconut oil which took out all the sting . After 2 days of torture have decided my braids have to come out. The rubber band knots on the ends are hell on my sunburn and even tied up at night it’s like sleeping in curlers. It takes an hour and a half to unravel all the plaits , and hilarious ! My hair stands out like a huge halo of crimped yellow candy floss …really weird as it’s quite long so you can imagine what it looked like ! As it’s dusk I decide a dip in the pool is just the thing for me and my wild hairdo. Put on my togs and sarong, down to the main pool, hopefully no one is there, break into a little run to get there quickly, everything bobbing and jiggling, hair like a mad witch ….it strikes me that if that young pool boy sees me like this , it’d put him off women for life !!!!

Late morning, off to explore the Sanur markets and find Toot Sie’s shop and also Flower and Petal , Tailors, who apparently have a shop opposite Toot Sie’s. I had brought along a couple of favourite blouses to be copied and some fabrics. It will be a relief to find a fixed price shop as I’m feeling a bit stressed by the past few days of bargaining and being constantly hounded by hawkers , hotel staff, taxi drivers etc, and there’s still major shopping to be done , so I need some idea of prices. I’m not a browsing kind of person, much preferring to just go into a shop and take this and that without quibbling and leave! But of course Bali is not like that !!

The Puri Dalem shuttle dropped me at the shops and I proceeded to count along the shops for number 28. Boy it was HOT wandering up and down, taxis slowing as they passed, offers of everything from all sides, even - Yes! - the infamous “jiggy-jig” !! In this heat ?? He must be kidding !! Finally found number 28 but it was called Cindy’s, she didn’t speak English, and there was no tailor anywhere in sight . Retraced my steps, same thing - by now was desperate for a cold drink so sat in a little shop with a Diet Coke which did absolutely nothing to cool me down . Why oh why did I undo those braids yesterday? They may have been torture but on a hot day they’re the closest thing to a bald head for coolness ! Carefully studied my hand drawn map, turned it around and upside down , to realise that I was in the main road shops when I should be at the beach market - DUH!!

Took a short cut through Gazebo Hotel (lots of towels on loungers at the pool !! LOL ) to find the beach, and was pleasantly surprised by how nice it is. Not a wide expanse of deserted beach as in Aussie or NZ, but more like an English beach with a compact white sand area divided by breakwaters with a pretty paved walkway separating the hotel pool/garden areas from the sand. The tide was in and plenty of heads bobbing around in the water. The beach markets are lovely with lots of the usual sparkly things for sale.

As I stepped onto the path in the search for stall 28 I was joined by a lady in a red jersey who in a few brief minutes introduced herself , told me all about her family, interrogated me until she knew my life story, and offered to accompany me to Toot Sie’s. What a blessing ! Or so I thought at the time . Finally saw Toot Sie’s sign, what a relief ! I sat on a comfy sofa in front of 2 fans going full blast playing with her adorable 2 yr old daughter Made while she pulled out T shirts , sarongs, (lovely lined wrap ones for 20.000), shirts, bali bags, watches, shoes, quilts….I couldn’t buy them quick enough! The things I bought there are some of my best buys ever and all are good quality.

Then over to Flower’s with my materials . Nothing was any trouble, a free lemonade while I looked at hundreds of fabric samples as I had decided to get extra done. Flower told me she has 13 staff now , all continually employed , mostly as a result of the good publicity she has received from this forum. And she wants to say a special Hi ! To Mike . We arranged that I would return in 2 days to collect the finished blouses, no need for a fitting . She charged 75000rp for each , and they were quite complicated shirt style with collar, etc . I didn’t try to bargain on this as I thought it was reasonable, not sure if her shop is fixed price or not. The fabric samples were pretty although a bit ornate and over-patterned for my usual taste (you know us Kiwis, any colour as long as it’s black !! ) Nearly all fabric priced at 48,000rp per metre .

On the way back along the path, everyone knew my name - how ?? Finally realised it must be the lady in the red top who I had been talking to. She suddenly appeared and wanted me to look in her shop . I said that I didn’t want to buy anything but she grabbed my elbow and hauled me inside, but on looking around I quickly realised that the stock consisted only of sarongs, and I already had more than enough. How to tell her nicely that I just wanted to get back to the hotel, already had 10 sarongs and anyway after Toot Sie’s I only had enough money left on me for a taxi …..as it turned out my attempts at being tactful just weren’t enough, and to my horror she accompanied me all the way back to the Besakih, shouting insults all the way, like “do you think I am a dog, you can throw me a bit of rice “ and even “you bullsh*t lady I hate you” … what a nightmare! Everyone else, especially the other locals , looked really horrified and embarrassed - obviously I had insulted her in some way , but I honestly never promised to buy anything, and it was she that pulled me into her shop. I wondered later whether I should have just bought something with the taxi money and waited for the shuttle, after all a sarong is only 20.000 and she was obviously desperate , but once she started shouting I just wanted to get away. This episode still haunts me as it was so awful.

I discussed it with Flower when I collected my blouses and she said it has happened before, and when it is reported the person has to shut their stall for 2 weeks. Had no intention of doing that as it would only make her situation worse.

Still upset back at the hotel so I decided to have a little outing for dinner and check out the Radisson Hotel on the opposite corner. However - a major intersection between me and there !! True there are traffic lights and a pedestrian crossing but I had previously noticed that these things were mostly cosmetic. After watching the traffic for a few mins there was a sort of pattern to it, so judged the moment and went for it like a shot out of a cannon, only to be nearly mown down by a group of motorcycles from around the corner. Made it at last , and looked for the Radisson entrance but went along the wrong road , finally climbed a chain barrier to find myself in the chauffers’ garage , which was packed with stretch limos ! Must be some sort of do on here I thought, this looks interesting. Located what looked like an ATM -yes!! Tried it for the first time and my BNZ card worked perfectly, put it in and out comes Bali money - miracle!

Up to the front entrance……compared with Puri Dalem this place is huge. Tour buses outside, with a proper bellhop in a tightly buttoned uniform looking down his nose at me arriving on foot. The lobby is busy with tourists milling around. I have always hated the photo of this hotel in the Garuda brochures as it shows long wings of rooms looking down into a rectangular pool and that is just what it’s like. But still I thought the place had a nice buzzy atmosphere, liked the lobby and the restaurants looked good. I decided to splash out on the 75,000 buffet and eat and eat (comfort food !! ) The lovely smell of curries was soooo good !

The service was great, only a few other diners and tables groaning with dishes - looking good !! Off to the starters, bypassed the soups - in this heat ??? Filled my plate with fabulous exotic salads and little chicken thingys, warm rolls and butter , etc, and made my way back to my seat. YumYum , one forkfull and - was that my imagination, or did something just move ??? I have one firm rule about my food and that is that it must be dead! Waited with fork frozen half way to mouth closely watching the plate and to my horror three little spiders ran out of the foliage to the edge of the plate and disappeared over the rim and onto the tablecloth. Appetite vanished in a second! Should I make a fuss ?? No, decide that it’s probably par for the course on a buffet, and anyway insects have to eat , too ! Well off to the main course, that’s what I was really looking forward to anyway. And I have to say it was absolutely scrumptious. Huge hot containers filled with every kind of curry you can think of, even seafood , fluffy white rice, vegetable dishes, little containers of different chutneys and spices , and at the end - what’s this ? A big container of roast potatoes !! Weird with curry but what the heck, live dangerously , and don’t we all love roast potatoes ! I must say that this was one of the best meals I have ever tasted. Thinking of the spiders, gave dessert a big miss , and decided it’s a la carte for me from now on ! Ambled back to Puri Dalem and carrying on the Live Dangerously theme had a delicious ice cream from KFC next door.

Had a bit of a diabetic incident that night, no doubt due to the big dinner and the upset at the beach market, but also I had run out of water so when I woke with a raging thirst in the middle of the night I stupidly drank Fanta which raised my blood sugar level , which made me even more thirsty , so I had a lemonade etc…by morning was feeling terrible and it took most of the day to get my sugar level back to normal even with extra insulin. A hard lesson ! If you are diabetic- please remember to check that you have plenty of water available at all times.

The following day was check out time. My master plan was to pack and check out, leave my case at reception then Made the driver would take me to collect sewing from Flower’s and we would be off to Legian where I have a week booked at Puri Dewa Bharata. First did the rounds giving tips to the staff, not sure whether this was the right way to do things but everyone was thankful . It’s hard to do this discreetly as word spreads quickly and everyone comes to visit and say goodbye !! All the staff at Puri Dalem have been really nice and fun, and I’ve enjoyed my stay here very much. At Flower’s, the blouses were perfect copies, beautifully made and it didn‘t look as if the originals had been unpicked - don‘t know how they do it but the result was great. Then , Whoopsie !! once outside, stepped on an uneven bit of ground and did a weird spinning thing , then in what seemed like slow motion pitched forward onto the sand…..this was not the kind of fall where you injure yourself but one of those really embarrassing rear end up things ..and to make it worse I landed right on one of the Hindu offerings and squashed it flat! It seemed as if everyone for miles rushed to pick me up , luckily no damage except a grazed knee and skinned hands - and of course the blow to my pride !! I was dusted down by a whole group of people and it made me realise how kind people really are. If you were one of those people, then many thanks !! I don’t think I had my wits about me enough to say anything at the time.

After checking out of Puri Dalem loaded cases into the van and set out with Made for Legian, where I have booked a week at Puri dewa Bharata. This is the place I saw on the net -so far had not paid anything so will have a look around and find somewhere else if it looks grotty. On the way over we stopped at The Galleria in Tuban for some shopping. Made dropped me off at the entrance and said to take as long as I liked. It was heaven to walk into the icy cold air conditioning! Lots of shops, even Mataharis, which turned out to be a sort of supermarket. The prices for most things were cheaper than home - eg - I noticed that soap powder was half the price, some electrical goods such as toaster for 40,000, shampoo and cosmetics also cheaper. Feeling a little peckish (as usual!) and completely forgetting about Made out in the sun , I investigated the bakery - what a surprise - nearly everything was green! I don’t mean mouldy or anything, just that they must have gone overboard with green food colouring ! Or they have a new Irish chef ! Haha! There was green icing, green madeira cake, green puddings, even what looked like green bread! Couldn’t quite bring myself to choose any of it, but tucked into a huge thick cheesy crust pizza for 3500 rp. ( Can you believe it, 3500 rp is about 80c, this would be $5 at home !!) Browsed through the bookshop and my eyes nearly popped out at the prices, paperback books which I can read in about 2 hours flat 120,000 - magazines also around that price. I have already read 5 books in 7 days , only 1 book left, will have to ration myself to 40 pages a day……! Also picked up 10 PC games from a stall by Mataharis for 4000 each (all work) and some cds from a music shop for 75000 each. Finally - whoops! - remembered poor Made still waiting, took him out an ice cream and coke as apology, but he was very polite and didn’t seem to mind.

Finally arrived in Kuta - it’s frantically busy compared with Sanur, the traffic jams are unbelievable, the heat and noise and dust, and the sheer numbers of people about on the streets. I can see Made frowning as he concentrates on watching the traffic and trying to find the hotel. We have no address but he thinks it is off the main street. Suddenly, we both spot a little sign at the same time, and turn right off Legian St into a narrow one way street . A little way down, there it is and we roll through the gate and past a security guard outside a sentry box - and he salutes as we go past !!! Are they expecting royalty , or think I’m a VIP ?? Haha who knows, but it cheers me up no end !

So far so good - it looks clean and interesting,, open air reception up several steps, lots of plump comfy brocade couches with newspapers to read, marble floor, desk, tables, and a magnificent carving covering the whole wall behind the receptionist. They know my name, have my booking, key ready, nothing to pay now, just settle in first. Wonderful! This is looking good for $25 a night! Follow the porter along paved path to my room , and here’s another surprise. All the rooms have their own walled garden with carved wooden gates. We stop outside one gate and the porter unlocks the padlock and opens the door. Wow! I’m in an open air living area with a central raised marble platform containing a giant sized bamboo 3 piece suite and coffee table. There are gardens all around the walls with flowering hibiscus and other greenery and a pond in the far corner. Opposite are 3 doors, one a kitchen ( HaHa! As If !!) , the middle to a bedroom and the third to an open air bathroom.

The bedroom is a bit musty but I figure a few hours with the door open and air conditioning on will get rid of that . There’s a queen size 4 poster with a cream lace canopy and drapes , bamboo dressing table and wardrobe, TV., and a red hibiscus on the pillow !!!!! Wowee ! The bathroom has a half roof and a big garden in the corner, is all marble with a shower over the bath and plenty of room. It’s much better than I expected

and I decide I will stay for the week - what a relief, was not looking forward to having to find somewhere else.

First decided to hit the shops which are a couple of mins walk away. On the way I pass Vilah Rumah Manis which is where I stayed about 3 years before. I’m sure back then there were hardly any shops in the area, as I remember taking a taxi to do shopping. Love the shops, more variety than Sanur although a lot of the clothes shops seem to sell the same stuff. Still, what’s new? They do that back home, too ! Walk all the way down to Mataharis in Kuta Square - boy that’s a l-o-o-o-n-g way ! And a most interesting walk, what with the shops, the bumper to bumper traffic and pedestrians, the state of the footpaths and the attempts by shopkeepers to get you inside ! They all seem to know I’m new - how ?? I’ve been in Bali a week and have a reasonable tan - it’s probably the way my head is madly swivelling from side to side to take in all the sights ! And that’s not easy to do when you also have to watch where you’re walking !

At the watch stall outside Matahari’s I bought 5 Baby G’s (which I have since found out are sooo 4 seasons ago ! ! - maybe they are up to Baby K now ?? Haha ) plus 3 Rolexes and 2 other ladies watches for total 420,000, with spare batteries for all. They are all still going except a couple of the Baby Gs have gone bad and are waking the unlucky owners in the middle of the night with dozens of beeps which can’t be turned off. I am about to try to dwnload the brochure to fix this !! ) Had tea at top floor of Matahari’s - a sort of food hall where the table and chairs are all in the middle and the food places around the walls. You order what you want , they give you a docket then you go and pay at the cash register in the middle, sit down and wait for your dinner., which takes quite a long time to arrive. You can see the first timers who are sitting foodless with worried faces realising they have paid their money and no dinner has arrived yet ! I had a yummy satay with all the trimmings for 15,000 and the best fruit juice ever for another 15,000. The only thing I have noticed is that there are no desserts , wonder why this is ?

Back to the hotel, time for beddy byes , it was all a bit creepy in the dark - “locked” the front gates by sliding a wedge of wood between the inside door handles , but of course an intruder could still climb over the wall….realised I could lock the bedroom door the same way from the inside but if I had to say use the bathroom during the night I would have to unlock the bedroom door and there could be a baddie ……my imagination was running away with me again! “stop it ! “ I said to myself, “remember the security guard in the sentry box, he’ll look after you “ ( lol ) ! Once locked inside, scrambled into bed and noticed for the first time that the walls were covered in a sort of woven bamboo which moved with the breeze from the air conditioning. .nearly asleep when I heard a frog croak from the pond !! Pulled the covers right over my head and amazingly slept like a baby till morning.

The $25 deal included breakfast so up in good time, sorted out another co-ordinated outfit from my 20+ kg luggage and followed the sounds of splashing to the back of the hotel where I figured the restaurant is. Sure enough! A brilliantly sparkling blue pool with one lone swimmer and a thatched roof building behind. Three kitchen staff and Wayan the waitress produced a lovely full A/breakfast - strange tiny sausages with a sort of smoky flavour, not a bit like the huge porkers we are used to but very tasty., divine coffee and banana smoothie. Yummy, that lot should last me for the rest of the day ! Raced back to get into togs, the other swimmer has gone so I had the whole pool to myself ! Stayed in for over an hour when - whoosh !! without warning the skies opened and down came a torrent of rain so hard I could hardly see a thing. The drops stung like needles - I have never seen rain like it ! Scrambled out of the pool, rescued my dripping wet Walkman from the lounger and dashed back to my room like a drowned rat . Took a couple of minutes to undo the padlock then jumped over the step and through the doorway , onto the marble floor - oh no-o-o-o-o-o-o- why didn’t I remember how slippery marble is when wet ????? Please, not the splits !!! Luckily just managed to save myself from a fate worse than death BUT in the process brought down the aluminium drying rack with an earsplitting clatter and landed on hands knees and chin in a most undignified pose !! Ow Ow Ow the pain ….. and dripping wet, too ! A big bubble bath seemed like the only thing to do. I had bought along a trio of flavoured scented bath salts from the Body Shop as a treat - at home I only ever have showers ( time and the rat race, etc ..) so had been looking forward to a leisurely soaking in a bath. Now - Lavender, strawberry or Lemon ? Ok Lavender it is, poured it under the tap and swished it round, got in, sat down, ouch! What’s that? A great big clump of undissolved bath salts as hard as concrete ! As I look around there are bits of soggy purple things floating in the water and it feels as if I’m sitting on sand - back to the showers from now on !!

The rain had set in and it poured for the rest of the day. Stayed inside and read my last book, did cryptic crosswords, listened to walkman which amazingly still worked , wrote up my journal and watched Tv - bit of a waste of a day but what else to do in such a downpour . It was so humid that at the end of the day my togs were just as wet as in the morning.

The following day it was fine again. The frog was still in residence in the pond and I named him Kermit even though he was grey instead of green. He was kind of cute although I had to be careful to keep the bedroom doors closed ! The outdoor lounge is one thing, but the bedroom ….oh no !! As a result of sitting outdoors the previous evening my ankles are covered in mossie bites and they are driving me crazy, so walk up to the main road in search of a chemist or somewhere to get some calamine lotion. Once on the main road, I spot a Bintang on the other side, but it takes 10 mins to cross the road! In I go in search of a magic cure to be surprised by the range of goods which I can recognise - Pringles, Mars bars, Fanta, etc . Ask the man about mossie bite stuff and he recommends a little yellow screw top jar, called Tiger Balm, about 6000 rp ( and it worked like magic, menthol smell, stings for a few secs, then all itching gone like magic ). But, guess what happened next !!! He added up my half dozen items on his till and indicated the total on the screen, 105,000. I had added it up in my head as about 85,000 so questioned it and he made a big show of adding up on his calculator twice, both times came to 85,000. I had unfortunately already given him 3 x 50,000 notes and when I pointed out in no uncertain terms his “mistake “ he gave me 15.,000 change. I asked him again for the rest and he threw a note at me which I thought was 50,000 but in fact when I got back to the hotel I saw it was only 5,000. What a crook! I was so furious at being deliberately conned like that - I kept telling myself “calm down, it’s only 45,000 “ but that’s $10 and if he does that 20 times a day he’s earning more than me !!! So, recommend you stay away from that Bintang in Legian , or be really careful counting out your change.

Still at Puri Dewa Bharata, lying around the pool one day I take notice of all the Hindu statues dotted around the grounds. There is an especially large and magnificent specimen overlooking the pool, a many armed God holding a yellow silk umbrella who is meticulously looked after by Ni Wayan the waitress. Unlike many I have seen whose black and white checked skirts are grubby and tatty, this one is pristine. He is swept and dusted and offered tidbits all day long. Probably he is looking after us in the pool, I think, what a lovely idea! Wayan had already explained that the black and white checked fabric seen everywhere symbolises the struggle between good and evil. As many have faded to shades of grey I guess that’s life ! When I next saw Wayan I asked what exactly the wonderful God was for, and she explained that he was there to look after the staff, especially the kitchen staff, as they went about their work so they were safe and happy . But, I asked, what about the guests when they are in the pool, don’t they have a protector??? Oh Yes, she replied, he is over there by the steps, pointing to a neglected half size wizened little statue all covered in moss with a droopy red hibiscus as his only decoration !! I guess we are on our own in the pool, then !

Later while I was floating around gazing up at the clouds drifting overhead pretending I was a film star and had won Lotto (as you do) the cook bought along an adorable little girl he was looking after to say hello. She looked about 2 years old and her face was like a little pixie with huge round brown eyes. She stared at me as if I had two heads and never blinked once the whole time. We both tried to encourage her to talk but no go, she just stared and stared like only children can , and refused to say a word despite my best efforts to make her laugh. I really wished I had thought to take some toys to give away, will definitely do this next time.

Later the pool boys began the job of cutting down some sort of melons from the trees around the pool., probably to stop them from falling on the guests’ heads. They went up a ladder with a big knife and half the melons fell into the pool As no-one else would get in to retrieve them it was up to me as the only person who was already wet .The melons were football sized and quite heavy so it was not easy ! Apparently they are no good to eat but you can drink the liquid. I was presented with one with a straw stuck in to try ,and have to report that it was very disappointing and completely tasteless.

Back to the villa, peeled off wet togs and went into outdoor bathroom for a shower, closed door behind me and froze on the spot - OH NO , on the wall was the biggest spider I have EVER seen, bar none - as spiders go this was a real doozy, at least as big as my hand, and it was between me and the door…..be still my beating heart, I told myself, it’s probably not poisonous.. but what if it is ? Will it jump or run, or is it asleep ? Should I scream? No, that’s too much even for a drama queen like me - and remember I was starkers !. Inched my way towards the door, the handle squeaked and Shelob moved slightly - through the door and RUN !!! into the bedroom and throw on any old clothes ( this will tell you how agitated I was, as the clothes were not coordinated at all ! ) ..now a dilemma, as I have obviously woken it up and if it has moved then where will it go ? Call reception to babble about a spider as big as a house and soon someone arrived with a little broom made of twigs -that’s no good, he needs a blunderbuss or one of those flame-throwing things you put on your shoulder to deal with this creature ! Was it my imagination or did the poor boy go pale when he saw it ? Oohhh Big bugger he said as he skilfully stabbed it with the twigs and whisked it down the drain in the floor. But I was not convinced, I had to see the body !! Sure enough it was in several pieces and was definitely (hopefully) dead. Wonder if it has a family around ? This is the last straw, no more outdoor bathrooms for me, in the past few days I’ve had close encounters with 2 geckos , a grey frog , a rat, The Spider , another spider in the kitchen which hasn’t moved for 4 days, an ant colony in the living area , mouse droppings and mozzies the size of Budgie the Helicopter! I know this is the tropics but the wildlife is encroaching fast ! It’s obviously an ongoing battle - the cleaner told me he has to clean 20 villas a day on his own because of the cost cutting , yet I have seen several young boys around the pool and kitchen area who seem to do very little , surely they could be redeployed … would love to help reorganise this place , all the staff are very pleasant and eager to help but it needs some overseeing to make it all run more smoothly.

Last day today and lots to do. Make a final trip to Mataharis tp pick up some things which I can’t live without.. some of that amazing costume jewellery which looks like something Joan Collins wore on “Dynasty” - shoulder length earrings encrusted with dazzling fake jewels ! Goodness knows when I will ever wear them but never mind. And a last look and laugh at the clothes on 2nd ? floor by the cosmetics. The centrepiece today is a ball gown with yellow silk shirt top and blue floral skirt with a red cummerbund. Who on earth would wear such a thing ? It looks about a size 4 and the price is 3.2M rp !!! The whole section is full of clothes like this and some have to be seen to be believed, especially as in Auckland everyone only wears shades of black - I can imagine the looks anyone would get wearing those bright colours! Pick up a couple of cds and a VCD of Bridget Jones Diary which the assistant swears is a “genuine copy” for 15000rp.and stop for a final divine fruit smoothie from the stand at the bottom of the escalator. I love these drinks, can’t bear to think that there will be no more for months until I return - we just don’t have the variety of fruit that’s available in Bali, or at least it’s at huge cost, about $5 for one little melon.

The plane leaves at 10-30pm and I have a late checkout till 6pm. Pack the cases sadly ..but what a lot of things I’ve bought! Really looking forward to giving out presents ! Give donations to the staff - my favourite is the cleaner, who only looks about 18 and says his wife is due to give birth any day and they have no money for baby things., so give him the most and he nearly cries with thanks. It’s really sad how little some have. I also left him the half bottle remains of my Baileys and he looked like he would enjoy that, too !

I hated the ride to the airport - always sad on the last day, thinking about going back to the crowds, cold weather, routine of work , motorway driving, housework, grocery shopping, etc…..am determined to save every penny ( famous last words !! ) to get back here as soon as possible. But also looking forward to seeing friends and family again. Wonder if I should try bargaining at home? Could start a trend…what would the Foodtown checkout operator say if I asked for Morning Price ????

Finally to the airport, and I tell the driver that I don’t want my cases handled by the hordes of porters waiting, but before the van has even stopped two have opened the back doors and loaded my stuff onto a trolley and are rapidly walking away. Just time to pay the driver and dash after them - what a cheek !! By the time I reach them my things have gone through the xray without me ! and are being put back on the trolley to be wheeled to the desk. They both know I am really annoyed and won’t look at me. When we get to the checkout desk my cases are dumped off onto the ground and they both put out their hands for a tip - haha! Now who’s in charge !! I consider giving nothing at all , but give in and give the “nicest” one 10,000. At this, the other rude one says Me, I get 100,000 !!!! I tell him with relish, No, You get Nothing!! Thank you and Goodbye !! He was mighty angry and refused to move until asked to do so by the Garuda rep . I was so cross at having this as one of my last Bali memories.

Anyway, good news as my cases weighed over 38 kgs but no problem ! I was allocated a window seat and made my way to the executive lounge - it was only 7-30 and still 3 hrs to wait. I am looking forward to seeing if the lounge is worth it. Finally after a long walk, down some stairs and there it is …holy moly, it’s great !! Almost empty, with great comfy armchairs and tables, continuous free buffet of hot and cold dishes, bar in the corner serving anything you want, clean fragrant toilets, and a voucher for a 5 minute foot massage……heaven ! Head for the massage first, there is something about having your feet tickled by a handsome young man which I can’t resist !! Then coffee and relax listening to Sting on my walkman and reading a magazine….hope I don’t fall asleep and miss the plane ! Over the next couple of hours people come and go but the place is never more than 20% full. Suddenly the speaker booms an announcement that the 10:00 plane to Perth was being cancelled for “personal” reasons, the passengers were disembarking and would be put up in hotels for the night, and the 10:30 plane to Auckland would depart at 12:00. Much consternation and speculation about what the “personal “ reason could be….the message was repeated several times but no-one was saying any more. Hoped it wasn’t a problem with the runway etc….but sure enough we were called at 11:30 and in the air without further incident by 11:45 .

Another wonderful flight home, 2 more Gene Hackman movies, gourmet food and wine, only a few passengers so had the whole row to myself. What luxury, that extra $450 was the best value ever ,and thanks to those on the forum who recommended it.

First off the plane at Auckland, down to the carousel for luggage , to wait..and wait..and wait. the whole plane must have emptied before I noticed the others waiting were all Asian people, searched for help and noticed I was at the wrong carousel, as the Bali flight cases were way down the other end…and sure enough just my huge case and 2 new Bali bags riding around on their own !! Swooping and hoisting a 38kg case off the carousel and onto a trolley nearly darn killed me , I must get to the gym more often and strengthen up these puny arms !! Customs was very thorough, sniffing dogs everywhere and a close scrutiny of my wooden and bamboo painted mobiles but luckily no visible bugs so was allowed through - nearly 2 hours late !! And there are my worried looking parents still waiting in an empty airport ! So glad to see them, and I’m looking forward to seeing my Mum’s face when she sees her new huge (fake !) diamond earrings and watches !

Also pleased to see that my beloved car was still in the carpark after 2 weeks - and the alarm had not even gone off in that time ! Wonder if I can still drive ? The streets seem almost deserted after Bali , and so quiet !!

Well, that’s it - 2 weeks full of excitement and adventure come to an end and back to real life!

The highlights ?

The friendly people

Conversations with other travellers

Talking and listening to locals

Beautiful countryside

Delicious food




A good night’s sleep every night

Soft water ( hair looks like a Wella ad !)

The buzz of Kuta

The serenity of Ubud

The calm of Sanur

Sunshine nearly every day

Bali Kopi

Nasi Goreng for breakfast

Flower’s tailoring

Compared with this, the downsides are few..

Some of the hawkers

A few rainy days

The Spider

Several falls when I wasn’t looking where I was going

Airport touts

Rip off at Bintang supermarket

But overall I really loved this holiday !! And like Arnie, I will be back !!