Thursday 18 January 2018

An Irishwoman’s summer holiday in Bali

Orla Brady

Moving to Perth in Australia at the beginning of last year was a big move for myself and himself but we did it. And now it's holiday time...

The big move

Getting ourselves set up in a new country was more difficult than we thought and after months of buying furniture and picking out plants, the new house is looking pretty dandy.

In the midst of all of that we had full time jobs that were demanding more and more of our time and driving the stress levels sky high.......a holiday was in order.

Despite what you may think, living, working, paying taxes and keeping a home in another country does not equate to a holiday just because it's in another country!

So where to go?? It had become pretty obvious after moving here that western Aussies love a bit of Bali, narly waves and cheap beer are an aussies dream (oh God, did I just type narly???)

After living through the coldest winter Perth has had in a long time (don't start on me about how I should be used to the cold....I'm not, I have absolutely no ability to regulate my own body temperature), I was looking forward to/dreading the heat.

Himself calls it Goldilocks syndrome; I'm either too cold or too hot.

The holiday

Bali is pretty interesting. One of the islands that makes up the greater country of Indonesia, apparently tourism is its biggest source of income and boy is that obvious!

The drive to the hotel was first and foremost, terrifying. After that time I rear-ended a Merc in my wee Opel Corsa on the Red Cow roundabout, I've been somewhat nervous about getting too close to other cars.

I won't lie, there's often tension in the car between myself and himself when I wince and grab for the door handle while simultaneously slamming my foot on my imaginary break if I feel we're too close to another car.

Bali traffic was not exactly good for this temperament. There are no apparent road rules and there are scooters everywhere carrying any manner of random crap on them.

Not only can you fit entire families on one scooter but you can load it up twice if not three times your height and drive it with a small child hanging off your arm the wrong direction down a one-way street. In the end it was better for me to just shut my eyes and pray for survival.

Fitting in

Our pasty freckly skin made us stick out like sore thumbs. Almost every non-Balinese on the island is a tourist but they know the fresh arrivals, the ones that have never been there before, oh they know!

We spent 20 minutes talking to a guy about a new hotel and the amazing iPad we had just won, all we had to do was get in to this free taxi and go visit the hotel to pick up the prize.

Well bucko, I didn't come down in the last shower, my mother warned me about men like you, I wasn't falling for that again.

I'd also heard a lot about how the merchants hassle you and grab on to you. I was ready for that too, no one was going to force me to buy something.

Turns out, they didn’t have to – I was raring to have a go at this bargaining thing. I had a fair idea of the exchange rate and how many dollars I was spending.

It went rather well and although the merchants were always encouraging us to go in to their shop, they weren't rude. In fact, they were incredibly friendly and chatty, always keen to know where you come from and how your holiday was going and if you liked Bali.

The markets are pretty big but a lot of stalls have much of the same wares. The first remarkable thing we noticed were the tiny trays of flower petals and incense at every entrance and then I started noticing them on car dashboards.

A quick Google search informed me that they were offerings to the various Balinese Hindu Gods. They were laid out every morning and more added during the day, some had sweets or rice included along with flowers and some had coins.

The smell of the incense wafted up and down every street. It’s quite a pleasant and amazing thing to behold, some are left at the side of the road and traffic just goes around them, some are left on the footpath and people just step over them.

The next day it was pool time, pool bar time. It took some time to find the right spot and some maneuvering of the lounger but I managed to get my entire body in the shade.

I'm somewhat similar to a vampire except my skin will burn quicker than theirs in direct sunlight. It was just me, my Kindle and a steady flow of Bintang beers. Where was the boyfriend? I don't care, I came here to relax, I'll track him down later. 

Exploring

On another day we decided to head to the beach, it was a long trek across the road but we made it.

Himself was convinced that surfing lesson we took in Lahinch a few moons ago was finally going to be worth it, he's always wanted to be a Riverboy, now was his chance to give it a go.

I watched on proudly as he ran into white water, surf board under his arm as the sun beats down on the shimmering....oh woah, the sea just put him wrongside up, oopsie.

I decided to take the safer choice and rent a boogie board and float around for a bit. I remember that surfing lesson well, I did not need to relive that humiliation.

Somewhat bored of the immense relaxation, one day we booked a trip, hired a driver for the day and went to discover the wonders of the monkey forest of Ubud. Well there's no room for interpretation in the name, it was a big forest full of monkeys.

The entrepreneurial spirit was alive and well there too. As we pulled up a spritely young woman was selling bananas to feed the monkeys. Also, these monkeys were not shy.

Not five seconds later, himself was fighting off three hairy animals trying to get at his bananas; much like an average Saturday night in his youth no doubt.

During my earlier Google search I found out that the forest is an incredibly special and spiritual place with a Hindu temple at its centre. We were able to enter the temple after donning sarongs in keeping with the Hindu tradition.

The designs and sculptures were astounding in detail. During our walk around the rest of the forest there were more monkeys and more sculptures surrounded by the beauty of nature.

Spiritual cleanse

We finished our day trip with a visit to a temple cluster of sorts. Three small temples built on natural cliff formations that jut out into the sea.

We arrived just as the light was dimming to watch the sunset from the beach; it would have been romantic; if it wasn't for the hundreds of other people oh and if he had a romantic bone in his body, yeah that would be required too.

But still, the views were breathtaking and the sunset was beautiful, could we have ended the day any better? Apparently so, I bought a really weird teapot that is now my current pride and joy of choice, with matching cups and saucers, oh excuse me.

Had to get another one for my Mam. Surprise mother, I know you'll love it.

All in all, Bali was a great holiday, we got some sightseeing done and a whole lot of nothing done too. Back at work now and the stress levels are severely reduced.

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