After a very enjoyable 5 weeks chez Jacques & Sonja with the odd visit to Mamika the hour approached for departure – the journey’s start. We whittled down our belongings to the bare minimum
and then packed it all up into our rucksacks each one then weighed to check against our allowance, and not least our physical strength!!
I chose a Karrimor Jaguar 55-75 ltr which was 16.1Kg fully packed. Tania had a Karrimor Cheetah 50-70 ltr which was 16Kg fully loaded, Oskar has a 25ltr rucksack which was 6.1Kg, Luca had a 20 ltr rucksack which was 4.2Kg, and Mateo a lovely rucksack we’d got from the National Trust which was just under 4Kg when packed.
So packed up and ready to go, we set off to Orly airport in convoy with the French family and a fair number of butterflies in our tummies. No real time to say goodbye as we were a bit late (no change there then) and we were off through security. Counting us through, we all made it safely except for Mateo who set the alarms off by touching the gate as he went through!
A quick hop across the channel to Heathrow T5 later, and we emerged from baggage collection to see the familiar faces of Nanny and Grampy waiting for us. Whoops of delight from the boys as they raced to fling their arms around them, and a special treat of Nanny’s chocolate buns whilst we waited for the flight to Singapore from Terminal 3. Just time to get some spending money in US Dollars and Indonesian Rupiah.
Soon enough, we had to say goodbye to Nanny and Grampy – the last and somewhat tear-filled contact with our known world – and we headed off to catch the plane. A Boeing 777, 9 seats across in 3 banks of 3, we managed to blag 3 seats with 2 seats behind on the window side, each with its own tv screen and remote to provide us with virtually non-stop entertainment for the whole of the 14 hour flight – I say virtually non-stop as each time they made an announcement it interrupted the transmission, much to the great annoyance of the boys.
Watch, eat, sleep, watch, listen, sleep, eat – or indeed any combination of the aforementioned – saw us through to Singapore arriving 2pm local time. I must say that Singapore Airlines were excellent in their quality of care, and they were warm and welcoming, and very attentive to the children. On arrival we took the sky train to Terminal 3 to wait another 5 hours for the flight to Bali.
This was an opportunity to buy some cheap electronics – portable hard drive and some speakers for the iPod, but otherwise, it was probably the most difficult part of the journey as we were all pretty tired and fed up of flying. Whilst we waited we managed to catch New Zealand thrashing Japan in the Rugby World Cup, before seeking sanctuary in the kiddies play area where the boys burned some energy on the slides and ladders.
Then it was on to Bali. Another Boeing 777 with in-built entertainment – unfortunately not enough time to see a whole movie – and then we arrived at 9.30pm to be collected and taken to our accommodation for the next 2 weeks. We experienced our first introduction to the intricate ballet that is Bali traffic. Try to imagine an army of marching ants with workers, drones and soldiers. The workers are the motorbikes, the drones are the people carriers and taxis, and the soldiers are buses and lorries. The bikes swarm through every available space but are managed by the cars who overtake on blind corners or when there are no other larger vehicles approaching (bikes don’t count), and the lorries take second place to cars here. It’s difficult to explain the spectacle or even the rules of the road as you witness motorbikes carrying Mum Dad and 2 children scoot past and traffic weaving from lane to lane in a great effrontery to European road regulations – but then again, we’re not in Europe any more, and at least most of them are wearing helmets.
We were greeted at the gate of our new home by Anit, the mother of Ratna (an Indonesian friend of ours) and quickly settled into our bungalows. Before long, we were in the land of nod where we remained until 1.30pm the following afternoon – I think that we could have slept for longer, but we were compelled to drag ourselves from our slumbers and get out and do things. Anit kindly gave us a lift to Jimbaran beach where we spent a happy if wave-battered few hours before heading back home to change. We were then dropped off at a little restaurant run by a friend of Anit, in a car from a company run by a friend of Anit, where we had a relaxed if somewhat staggered dinner, the Western restaurant tradition of not serving the food until all the dishes were ready was not in evidence here. So we had our first introduction to Indonesian cuisine. Tania and Luca had a chicken and rice dish, Oskar and I had a mixed Satay dish, and Mateo had Spaghetti Bolognaise! We returned home to bed tired yet sated ready to begin the adventure proper the next day.
The journey begins. We have no real idea about what we will experience in the next 8 months, but so far seems to be so good. The people we have met so far are very welcoming, and the Indonesian people’s reputation for loving children in particular has certainly proved to be true. However, according to the children, the food is too spicy – well now, there’s a surprise!!!