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Indonesia

Bali and Away

Friday 31st July 2015

sunny 29 °C

Our last few hours at the Chedi Club were really enjoyable and began with us going for an hour long walk with Bawanta through the rice fields that surround the hotel and then through the neighbouring village.

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The vivid greenness of the rice shoots makes the landscape look incredibly vibrant and the cyclical nature of the planting with three harvests a year in most instances mean that it is likely that several stages of planting to harvest will be seen. Bawanta explained the complicated and labour intensive process of growing the rice, the close planting to get then initial seedlings, then pricking out (back breaking work), removing the weeds that can grow and choke the rice and the need to come out to check the fields at night for eels (which get caught and then eaten).

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Other work includes the placing of offerings to ensure a good harvest and clearing out the massive amount of rubbish that seems to get dropped that could clog up the waterways. Much of this work, although not all is done communally.

Once in the village we were able to see some of the houses, with the separate buildings for adult children, parents, cooking and those for ceremonial uses. This village was known for its wood carving as is Bawanta's nearby, a trade that apparently returns quite a good income so the village was relatively affluent. He showed us some of the carvings, and the way in which some are painted and decorated with gold. The walk through the village took us past further rice fields where more planting was taking place, and then we were back at the hotel.

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We had arranged that we should go and have some breakfast before a driver was due to pick us up and take us for an hour or so into the main town of Ubud. We said our goodbyes to Bawanta and thanked him for his hard work and kindness, checked out and went on our way. Ubud was much larger than I thought it would be. We didn't have much time, but we where able to look round some of the shops and admire the architecture.

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I bought a little bit of jewellery which seemed very good value and had time for a quick beer before the journey to the airport to catch our flight.

There was time to have coffee and a quick look in the shops before making our way to the gate. We boarded the bus to take us to the plane, but it was not to be and after about 5 minutes we were all told that we would need to get off again. There were mutterings about a leak from the plane which didn't sound very reassuring. Fortunately after waiting about 30 minutes or so we were taken to another plane, past the one we were meant to be travelling on to see that they were still hosing down the Tarmac. The flight was uneventful after that, but by the time we reached Darwin and got through the complicated Australian checks and procedures we were getting pretty tired. We then had quite a long wait for a taxi, so were pretty glad when we arrived at our hotel and were able to relax in our apartment, which was going to be home for the next few days.

Posted by Gill's Travels 07:13 Archived in Indonesia Tagged buildings bali ubud Comments (0)

Chedi, Chedi Good

Thursday 30th July 2015

sunny 32 °C

We are happily settled in Ubud in central Bali, but aware that tomorrow will see us leaving to go to Australia. The transfer here yesterday went smoothly, with our driver arriving at the Kejora Suites at the pre-arranged time. It took us about an hour to get to the Ubud area, and our driver was chatty and informative and explained quite a lot about the history and way of life in Bali. It seems that most of the villages have a craft or trade that they are known for such a batik, silverware or wood carving and it became a bit of a challenge to try and work out each villages speciality before he named them. When we arrived at our second hotel, The Chedi Club, we were immediately struck by its opulence. Slightly disconcertingly all vehicles are checked thoroughly underneath by security men before they are allowed to enter. We were greeted inside the gate by Bawanta who told us that he would be our butler for the duration of our stay. We were driven the ridiculously short distance to reception in a golf buggy and after checking in he gave us a guided tour of the site. The villas, only 20 in number, are situated in large and beautifully maintained grounds with a large swimming pool, pathways giving great views of the rice fields and a large pond with both white and Australian black swans. Once we had been shown around, Bawanta took us to our villa, with its private pool, massive indoor/ outdoor bathroom and outdoor sitting eating area.

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We were happy to spend some time settling in and also took a dip in the pool, which although a little chilly was very refreshing and it was lovely to be able to swim with views out to the rice fields. As we hadn't eaten any lunch we decided to take advantage of the complimentary afternoon tea which was delicious.

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We had intended to explore the town after tea but by this time the weather had clouded over and it looked like rain. Instead we decided to wander the grounds a little more and then just relax in our beautiful villa before going back to the restaurant for dinner.

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The meal was of a very high standard and the waiting staff very attentive. When we went back to dour villa at the end of the evening we were feeling well fed.

This morning we had a fairly early start as we were being picked up from 8:30 onwards to be taken to the Petanu Valley for a forest walk. We had arranged with Bawanta to have our breakfast brought to our villa. Our driver duly arrived and took us the half hour drive to the forest area of Bayad near the town of Tegalalang. He then introduced us to our guide who lived and farmed in the valley. We started off with a cup of tea and then began our walk with a tour of the garden. He grows fruit and vegetables but also lots of herbs and spices, used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. The garden seemed to blend pretty seamlessly into the forest which seemed to be a mixture of naturally occurring and cultivated plants and trees. The walk was advertised as gentle, which in many ways it was, but there was quite a lot of up and down, and given that there had been recent rain, a bit slippery. Our guide, whose name I sadly cannot remember, was very patient with me when I explained that I needed to be extra careful having broken my ankle last year. He continued to talk about the vegetation and local, planting practices. At one point we stopped at a little hut and another elderly local man showed us how he roasts and grinds the coffee grown in the forest, and then made us all a cup and entertained us by playing a bamboo flute.

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We then continued on our walk reaching the rim of the valley from where we could see some rice fields prepared ready for planting. From there we continued back down and entered an area of narrow tunnels and ravines. It is believed that these were originally produced for irrigation but we're also used as hiding places in the Indonesia 1965/66 anti-communist purges in which approximately 5% of the Balinese population were killed. In this valley alone they stretch for about 1.5km and it was easy to see how local people would have been able to escape using them.

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They also contained several small Hindu temples hewn into the rock, decorated with offerings of flowers and fruit by the local people. After our walk we returned back up a series of steps to the restaurant. We had a delicious lunch of soup made from garden grown oyster mushrooms and Nigel had satay and I had a delicious chicken noodle dish, all washed down with a small beer.

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After lunch our guide went off with his next group of walkers and we were transferred back to our hotel. Our pool was a welcome place to relax and to cool off and late afternoon I went for a bit of pampering in the form of a pedicure and later we went for refreshing cocktails, later returning to the restaurant for another delicious dinner.

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Posted by Gill's Travels 00:20 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali ubud chedi_club Comments (1)

Off to Bali

Tuesday 28th July

sunny 30 °C

We were up early yesterday morning in order to catch our 7:30am flight to Bali. No time for breakfast in the hotel, but checkout was dealt with as efficiently as ever by the staff at the Ritz Carlton Millenia and they double checked we had our passports (without being aware of my troubles in Poland) and they organised a taxi for us. The transfer to the airport was quick and the driver friendly. We arrived in time for coffee and a quick bite to eat, but sadly not really enough time to explore some of the features that make Changi Airport so popular. These include a butterfly garden in terminal 3, an orchid garden and the sunflower garden where we were in terminal 2. The flight to Bali was uneventful and short and within about two and a half hours we were in Bali. We had arranged a transfer with the hotel and our driver was waiting for us as we came through immigration and customs. My name seems to cause confusion and most people have presumed that this is a man's name. Hopefully I won't have this problem when we get to Australia!

When we arrived at our hotel it was every bit as good as it had looked on the Internet.

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We quickly settled in and spent a little bit of time by then pool before going to take a look at the beach. This was a little disappointing as it shelved very gently so the water was very shallow and had a lot of seaweed all of which made swimming quite difficult. After a while we walked along the beach and then stopped at one of the many bars and had a Mojito (well two actually). There was a religious procession taking place with lots of ringing of bells and beating of gongs.

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As the sun started to go down we returned to the Kejora Suites and the neighbouring Glasshouse restaurant for a lovely meal which included a portion of lemon meringue pie for dessert.

In the morning it was back to the Glasshouse for breakfast. We spent a few hours on the beach with another halfhearted attempt at swimming. There were a number of brightly painted Balinese boats pulled up on the sand.

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It had been suggested to us by Liz, the Australian owner of the Glasshouse, that we could get a local to take us out on one but in the end we decided against this. A little way off the beach there seemed to be a small coral reef and quite a few people were standing in the shallow waters fishing with rod and lines. We also noticed that there was a lot of dead coral on the beach, and wondered whether this was normal, or an indication of more serious damage. The beach was followed by lunch which consisted of a wonderful chicken salad for me and a wrap for Nigel. The afternoon was mostly spent by the pool, but later we had a short wander around the town with its numerous bars, restaurants and tourist shops. Rather predictably we ate again in the Glasshouse and both agreed that it was the connection with this restaurant that really made the hotel extra special.

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For more photos take a look at my Singapore album at https://www.flickr.com/people/gillharvey/

Posted by Gill's Travels 04:07 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

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