The chorus of cocks and industrial invasion was joined by the gentle cacophony of various phone alarms in order to ensure we awoke at early enough to be ready for our trip to Ubud. Breakfast done, we had time to chat a little with Anit only to discover that we should not have paid the driver from yesterday the 300,000 Rp, but given it to Anit to give to her friend. In my naive belief in human decency I awaited the arrival of our driver, but 9am came and went and no sign of him. To an Indonesian, £30 was an awful lot of money that he shouldn’t have had, and so that was the last we saw of him.
Another driver had turned up for Anit, but as she had no use for him, it was quickly arranged for us to hire him instead, and so, an hour later than planned we were off. Once more on the lookout for an HSBC ATM, we toured Kuta, Seminayak and various other places for an hour or so to no avail, and so we capitulated to the bank charges and stopped at Carefour (yes there are two of them near us) to withdraw several million Rp.
After a brief chat with the driver, a very nice chap called Agung who spoke pretty good English, we decided to head to the volcano for lunch and then on to Ubud to see the palace and the monkey sanctuary, and more importantly for us, the very good Tourist Information office. We had intended to attempt the walk up to the crater, but time was against us so we ended up going for lunch and settling for a beautiful view of the volcano and the lake beside it.
The restaurant was called Lakeside View and was pleasant and welcoming with an all you could eat buffet – however, it should really have been called Tourist Trap as it was 135,000 Rp per plate and the whole meal cost us 500,000 Rp. It’s rare to say you spent half a million on lunch, especially in Bali, and still walk away disappointed. Thankfully they only charged us for 3 meals otherwise it would have been much more.
Tania told the driver in no uncertain terms that this was not our kind of restaurant! And to be fair, he was pretty shocked when we told him how much it cost. So, with a slightly bitter taste in the mouth, we headed to Tirta Empul, another stop on the usual tourist trail, but never-the-less it was a stunning example of a Balinese temple with an entrance fee that bore no resemblance to the posted charges but seemed to be cheaper somehow than expected.
We wandered around for a couple of hours intermingling with Dutch and French tourists with guides, but at our own pace. The kids were captivated by the gargoyle-like statues along with the lizards, strange wasps, and the coy carp in the ornamental pond by the restaurant. Tania and I snapped away as we absorbed the fabulous architecture and vistas presented to us. A myriad of reds and golds intertwined in delicate scroll work upon the beams and poles of the pergolas whilst armies of grotesques lined the perimeters softened by the exotic flowers parading from the plants behind them.
Time marched on and cannoned into our consciousness and so we called time at the temple and made to leave. Now there is a sign which clearly marks the exit, and like any great monument or museum you expect to have to exit through the gift shop. The gift shop was a maze of alleys that zig-zagged away from the temple towards the car park. At each turn you expected to glimpse the silhouette of your designated driver, but instead it was another 20 metres of shops selling “I Love Bali” merchandise or ethnic artwork and sarongs. The vendors were never pushy, but were happily resigned to calling out to you with little expectation of a sale. However, there was always delight on their faces at the sight of our 3 lovely boys.
Gift shop negotiated and driver found we headed for Ubud and duly disgorged from the people carrier into the Tourist Office to research how to get to Flores – our next intended destination. The staff were all right, but clock watching as it was now 5pm, and as we had no time to see the monkeys or palace we resolved to return to Ubud on the 21st to spend a couple of days and to head to Flores on the shuttle bus from there.
Dinner beckoned and we decided to walk from the Tourist Office down the hill to Marni’s Warung – purported to be THE place to have Bebek Bebutu – a duck dish with Balinese herbs cooked in banana leaves. The walk was our first taste of the heady aromas of Balinese traffic – the 400m walk was bathed in a thick soup of motorbike and car exhaust fumes that was a little hard on the lungs and pretty offensive on the nose.
We arrived at Marni’s and entered into a different world. An oasis of calm over 3 levels with an old world charm, we were gently guided to the Lizard Bar and seated next to a sleeping Buddha not 10 metres from Marni himself who was seated at the bar.
We ordered the Bebek, some chicken noodles, chicken and rice, and a chicken soup and settled back to enjoy a sumptuous meal. Not a shoestring budget meal at just over 300,000 Rp, but I have to say the duck was amazing. Mateo was definitely a fan, and all of the plates were emptied without much cajoling at all. Guess what, the food wasn’t too spicy at all! In between the main course and dessert (Vanilla ice cream) the boys had time to explore and to count the lizards in the bar – there were 8 in case you were wondering.
Replete and happy we left via the gift shop to the waiting car and headed off home. It had been a day of mixed feelings and wildly different experiences to say the least, but most definitely ending on a high.