Day 6 – Bali 21st Sept 2011

Awoken by the usual machinery, cockerels and the odd dog barking Tania and I embraced the new day, our last in Jimbaran. With the little cherubs still in the land of nod we crept like church mice as we prepared breakfast and set about packing the rucksacks. Today we were bound for Ubud by public bus and Bemo to spend a few days there before heading off to Flores or Lombok, depending on flights, costs etc. The evening before we had ensured that all hand held portable gaming devices had been fully charged to keep the little cherubs occupied on the journey, so we were all set!

Anit kindly offered to give us a lift to the bus stop at the end of the road so that we didn’t have to carry them in the sweltering heat, but it hadn’t occurred to us that she meant all of us and the luggage. In some ways the lack of health and safety legislation, or is it flagrant flouting of the same, is quite handy at times. In Europe getting a family of five around in taxis is challenging as they normally only have 5 seats. But so it is here in Bali that we all jumped in the back, with , Anit and the driver in front, and drove the 300 metres or so to the stop. After unloading ourselves and the gear, we hugged Anit goodbye and waited for the next leg of the journey to arrive.

This time we got to ride the lovely new air conditioned bus all the way to the end of the line – Batubulan Terminal. With this being a shiny new bus, you may expect to arrive at a shiny new terminus from which to take your connecting transport. What greeted us was a wasteland in which was deposited a collection of ramshackle concrete stands that had seen better days, each bay with a sign above announcing the occupying Bemo’s destination. Picture an abandoned petrol station without pumps or handy get-it-all-here shop that has had several years of accumulated dust and decay, and you’ll get the idea.

No sooner had we alighted that we were greeted by the hungry avaricious eyes of the collected Bemo drivers circling the recently arrived tourist prey. Announcing our destination we were taken over to the Ubud stand where Tania leapt into the negotiations and beat the driver down to 120,000 Rp for the journey. The Bemo business has taken a decline with the advent of Taxis and Chauffeured cars and this was obvious when you examined the road-worthiness of the assembled minivans. If there exists an MoT or Controle Technique in Bali, this vehicle had somehow managed to avoid it for a good many years. Painted brown (presumably to disguise the rust) the floor was eaten away in parts and the door was held open or closed using a stick. The air con had not worked since 1974 and the engine sounded like it was on its last legs. There were moments on the journey when I seriously doubted that it would make it up the hill – if I can quote Mr Blackadder, it moved slower than an asthmatic ant carrying heavy shopping.

The journey itself was fairly uneventful and as we drew nearer to Ubud we passed sweeping fields of rice uniformly arranged and the odd village or two. Arriving at the lower end of Ubud, we passed the Monkey Forest, to the delight of the children several of the cheeky chappies were visible as we negotiated the bend and struggled up the final hill. Getting out at the Tourist Information office, we headed back down Monkey Forest road then up to Karna Street to Gandra House. Described in the guide as having “Modern bathrooms and spacious gardens” we blagged one room for the five of us with two large beds, no a/c but a large ceiling fan – so it was out with the mosquito nets for the first time on the trip. The little enclave away from the hustle and bustle was tranquil and the staff welcoming with banana pancakes and mixed fruit for breakfast. We settled ourselves in and put up the nets and laid out the sac-a-viande specially tailored for us by Mamika – some old sheets sewn together like a sleeping bag. More importantly, we had WiFi!

After catching up with the world, posting some blogs, sending emails, and generally surfing for Lombok and Flores information, we took the children back to Murni’s Warung where we had had a delightful meal a few days ago. This time we were seated in the lower tier of the restaurant with a backdrop of the hanging gardens tumbling into the ravine.

The food and staff were once again delicious and welcoming, and replete and content we headed back to Gandra House for a hopefully long and cock-free, machinery absent slumber. Tomorrow we were off to see the Monkeys, so three excited children found it a little hard to drop off, but eventually they were carried into dreamland as were Tania and I, snuggled safely in our sacks surrounded by the nets suspended from the ceiling.

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