I think I need to take journal writing breaks at midday or something. I sit down here at night with it, and I don’t even know how to begin writing down everything I want to remember since I last wrote.
I didn’t even really finish writing about yesterday, because after I’d finished writing we went across to the market. We took a leisurely stroll through the fruit and veg section, which was then interrupted by another deluge of rain. We took shelter to wait it out, but after watching all the rain pour down onto the raw chicken all nicely displayed on their tables for a while we figured we were out of luck and ran back to the hotel. Their restaurant was still open, so we decided to eat there instead of finding something to have delivered. I ordered nasi goreng (fried rice) which was interesting because the plate put in front of me had absolutely no rice visible at all. It was hidden under an egg, and there was also a couple of chicken sate sticks and a tiny chicken drumstick, as well as cucumber and tomato, and some little dishes of seasonings. One of these looked like shreds of something crispy, and when I asked Alyssa what it was she said it was ikan asin, which is actually teeny little fish. Once I knew what it was I actually found a couple that were recognisable as tiny little fish. I tried it but I didn’t like it – it was super salty and had quite a strong fishy taste.
Emma had spaghetti bolognaise. The idea of pasta in this climate really doesn’t appeal to me, but if that’s what she wanted I wasn’t going to object. I am basically giving her free reign on what she eats here – as long as she gets some fruit, veggies and protein into her occasionally I’m not fussing about the rest. She’s been willing to try some Indonesian foods, and that’s as much as I’m asking from her. She ate two plates of bread pudding for breakfast this morning, so I don’t think she has any complaints about the food situation either!
We’ve used the Indo version of Uber for getting around here a bit, and after we’d checked out of our hotel room (and left all our bags behind the front desk) we called for a car again to take us out to Tanah Lot. We were really lucky today and had a lovely girl for our driver – she was so nice and friendly. And while she and Alyssa talked in the car I was also able to understand the majority of what they were saying, which was quite exciting for me, ha ha ha. She was also willing to wait and drive us back, so Alyssa invited her to come in with us.
I loved Tanah Lot, which is a temple on the west coast of Bali. It was so nice to see the sea as well actually – it occurred to me that in all the time I’ve been in Indonesia this was the only time I’ve ever actually seen any of the coast. The temple is built on a little bit of land that becomes an island as the tide rises, and since we had arrived as the tide was coming in we couldn’t go across. I watched the last few people walk over in water up above their knees that threatened to knock them over at any minute and I thought we should stay safely on our side. As it was the people who crossed over then would just have to sit at the temple for a few hours until the tide went out again.
I just felt so happy when we were there. I love the space of the ocean, and I love how beautiful the temple is. I like to think about the people who made it in that precarious looking position, and wonder what they would think about how many people come to see it nowadays. I even liked all the other tourists around, I don’t know, it’s just so interesting to watch people here.
We talked to a group of Indonesian students for a long time. Well, Alyssa did mostly! But they were supposed to find people to practise their English with, and although I don’t mind talking to people in that situation it’s very hard to actually think of something to say when someone just wants you to start talking! I laughed though, they asked Emma what she thought of the boys in the group and she got so adorably embarrassed and her face went all pink, which they commented on too! She was so cute (although she’d probably hate me for saying that) and she was happy to take selfies with them, which is what they all did at the end of the chat.
We collected our bags from the hotel and went and had a restorative snack at the Circle K before we got another car to drive us to the mall, where we could catch a bus to Ubud. This drive took forever – the driver took us a different way in an effort to avoid some traffic and cut some time, but this completely backfired and we were about twice as slow. I totally didn’t care though, because I love just looking out the window at everything and this drive took us down some back roads and alleys which was different to the drive the day before. This time I got to see where people farm rice in the middle of suburbia, and even have cows and goats on little plots of land. I also saw a lot of cats and dogs, since Emma seems to have a gift for spotting every single tiny Balinese cat that we pass by. (The cats here are so tiny and delicate looking, and lots of them have naturally bobbed tails.)
We ate lunch at the mall, at CFC. (Which Alyssa informed me stands for California Fried Chicken, and which uses the same font and colour scheme as KFC). Emma ate chicken fingers that were the colour of no food I’ve ever seen before, and I had their fried rice, which was not as nice as the restaurant fried rice of the night before but actually pretty good considering it was fast food and all.
The bus ride to Ubud was good. We went on the ‘Turtle Bus’ service, which are a fleet of little green buses that run throughout Bali. It was a cheap way to travel, and they were nice enough to not to charge us any extra for our bags, even though they filled up two seats. It was nearly dark as we arrived in Ubud, but we saw some monkeys just outside the monkey forest gate which made Emma happy. The bus dropped us off outside the Museum Puri Lukisan (art museum) and then we shouldered all our bags and headed off to find the Swan Inn, which is where we’re staying for the next couple of days. It was slightly challenging to find in the dark, since it was down a few twisting little alleys, but we got here and managed to sort out a booking snafu and then the man showed us our room. I love it – it’s a big room with a bathroom, but the best thing is the front porch. Although the word ‘porch’ doesn’t really feel grand enough to describe this outside sitting area, with it’s pillars and the decorations on the room’s façade!
It has been the most relaxing evening since we got here though. Sitting outside it’s almost cool, and there’s a lovely breeze. I can hear frogs, and somewhere there is music playing – I think it’s live music and it’s close enough to hear but not close enough to be annoying. Just relaxing. I had a shower so my hair is clean, and I actually tipped all the washing that Emma and I had into the bathtub and washed it, so I feel like all my work is done.
And today I even saw my first cicak (gecko), running up the wall behind us while we sat in a shelter and ate our Circle K snack. Then there was another tiny one on our verandah here, so that made me happy too. I love cicaks.
I have lost my power adaptor and feel like I’m running through money like water, so there is that. But on the upside, I bought Troy a present today, so even though this is only the third day of our holiday I only have a Nicholai-souvenir left to buy.
I just feel so good today. I’ve seen so much already, and there’s so much here to love. I’ve asked a million questions of Alyssa and usually she either knows the answer or can find it out for me, so I just feel like I’m really gaining a whole new understanding of this place and this language. I still completely clam up when the idea of actually speaking any Indonesian comes up (I have begged Alyssa not to tell anyone that I teach Indonesian, because I’m so ashamed!) but I am listening and reading and thinking all the time. It will come.
I still struggle with anxiety here, and there are some aspects of the culture that I find hard. It sounds like the most ridiculous complaint ever, but the courtesy and eagerness to help is so full on! Everywhere we go there are dozens of staff, all ready and more than willing to offer you any help you might need. I think it’s the deference that makes me uncomfortable – it’s not like that in Australia, this type of behaviour would actually feel really insincere from an Australia, and so I feel like I’m floundering in how to respond. I don’t want to be rude, and I don’t know what is the proper thing to do. So I follow Alyssa’s lead where I can, and otherwise smile and nod a lot and hope that it’s all taken in the spirit in which I intend it.
There is also the fact that I don’t like that much attention, and this is such a service oriented society that there’s a lot of attention, especially since I am such an obvious tourist. Most of the places to eat at the mall, and restaurants on the street, have staff whose sole job is to stand in the doorway and greet people and invite passers-by to come in. The market stall people immediately offer to sell you things if you stop to look at the produce, and if you say no they will move to offering you something else, in case you might prefer that. I think it’s definitely one of those things that you just need to get used to.
But I feel like I’m hitting my groove here, at least a little. We’re taking time to lie around the hotel and relax, as well as doing activities. Taking a couple of long drives today was really good – it’s fascinating to see this place from that viewpoint. I miss my boys fiercely, but there is so much I’m looking forward to seeing before we go home.
I’m just happy.