It was so good to get on the bike and go. We headed off around 8am, ponchos in hand. You never know quite what the weather’s going to do here. It’s our day off. Let’s go and find out.
Over the years, and in everywhere we’ve lived, we’ve found that we share a love for exploring. Quite simply, all we do is set off with a direction not a destination. We have a look at the map, get orientated and then go. We love it. Simple discoveries that may have been taken for granted become memorable discoveries. And decisions of which turn to take at a junction become full of intrigue. We can always retrace the way we came anyway.
So we set off from the coast and headed towards the centre of the island. That was it. The whole plan. As we motored through the first set of rice fields we caught sight of our first Balinese mountains. Neatly laid out across the horizon. They looked as if they each stood alone like a monument. Llittle did we know how far we would climb through them later on.
One of the beauties of the bike is that it’s even easier to stop and check things out. Far from whizzing along we found ourselves ‘pootling’ through these fascinating new landscapes. A roadside river with a small waterfall. The back gardens of houses sprawling over a hillside. The endless roadside temples and ornate balinese family homes. It was sunday, and every village was making huge temporary statues of Ogres! Guessing this is part of the upcoming new year festivities (which includes an entire day of silence for the whole island!) Huge 20- 30 foot statues were being made of gruesome Ogres. I can’t wait to see them in procession.
A pet love (is that the opposite of a pet hate?) of mine are the words and phrases you come across when travelling. I love to roll new unfamiliar words over and over. Guessing meanings and pronounciations, and laughing at what it could possilby mean if you took it literally in english. We saw a guy at a birthday party later on in the day wearing a t shirt with a cup of coffee on it. It simply read ‘Fuck Cups’. Love it.
We carried on toward the mountains and all of a sudden there were tourist buses everywhere. And massive fruits. I mean huge. Like the size of 3 year old kids. Seriously, google ‘giant jack fruit’ and you’ll see what I mean. Literally the size of 3 year old humans. They were everywhere. Stall after stall after stall of these gargantuan beasts. Slightly intimidated we kept on rolling by. If I find out what all the buses were there for I’ll let you know.
From then on the road bent uphill. And it didn’t stop. Our little moped handled the entire trip courageously as the long straight roads started folding into excessively steep hairpins.
And then came the view. Looking southeast, a wide expanse of lowlands. Two volcanic peaks in the distance to the left and the coastal islands of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida straight ahead. It was hazy and the air temperature was starting to get very fresh too. Time to switch from vest to t-shirt. It wasn’t yet time to double up my layers.
Switching to downhill is always a strange experience after a consistent climb. The wheels roll freely, there is an absence of engagement in the engine and everything gets quieter. This vacuum was soon replaced with an instant heavy downpour. It was time for a break. The ponchos can wait. We saw a sign for a farm/restaurant up a track. It turned out to be incredible.
The restaurant was a wooden structure that jutted out over a playground with a wide view of a lake beneath a mountain. All around were trees, tall bamboo and small huts. It was proper junglistic.
There was even, to our amusement, a birthday party in full swing. The MC was rocking the party beats and the crowd were loving it. In a post lunch digestive haze (best chips so far in Bali!) I suddenly jogged into cognition: I know this tune! It was only one of the first keyboard pieces I learnt to play a couple of years ago. So that’s how it’s meant to sound. It’s called Sakura which means cherry blossom in Japanese. Cherry Blossom is one of Jen’s absolute favourite things…..
We wandered the orchid garden, Jen got attacked by a massive turkey, (no really, we were beating it off with our bags and we had to be rescued!) We found Buddha statues throughout the grounds and then a beautiful nest of yurts that were big enough to accomodate a lot of people. It would be an epic place to have a party. Even a wedding. We called the place Bali Matara as it struck parallels with our wedding venue back in England.
Back out onto the road and within 5 minutes another congregation of buses appears. We roll past slowly, eyes wide, what’s it all about? The flash of a sign for a water temple. Looks pretty cool. Let’s do it.
‘He’s my husband’, Jen replied. ‘Wow!’ Came the reply. We laughed as we remembered that now we too were part of the tourist attraction. By now I imagine we are all over Indo facebook 🙂
The Lake and the Temple
A badass temple sits in the lake just off the shore. It’s a beauty, with many ‘meru’s’ or layers of roofs stacked high. I think this indicates the level of spiritual importance. This is one of the lakes that drains into the irrigation channels of the island. I’d say that’s pretty sacred. The heavy black clouds that darted instantly over the adjacent mountain only added to the ambiance.
The Homeward Bungee
We decided to head back towards home. Retracing our tracks down the mountain would be fine. Still a new experience. A quick check on the map showed a possible new route that would lead us back toward a main road on the west of the island. It was 2:30pm loads of time before it gets dark. Let’s do it!
There is a completely different experience between heading away from, and heading towards home. That instant fear that the fun is coming to an end can only be played with through distractions. We took lots of little detours to delay the imminent return home. This IS our day off after all!
The change of direction was amplified by the mountains. The persistent effort of gaining height into the mountains was now completely inverted. It was like the mountains couldn’t wait to get rid of us. Now the breaks on the bike became a constant necessity as these smaller back roads warped and weaved down mega inclines. I am glad its not raining right now.
The quietude and the views all made it worth it. Breathe it in. Smile it out.
We wound down the back roads through villages of open mouthed and then spontaneously-happy-to-see-us locals.
The roads got bigger, the houses denser. We followed the main routes toward Tanah Lot, the well photographed island temple just 30 minutes north of our house.
We heard it was touristic and they were right. Maybe luckily it was cloudy and there would not be the epic sunset that this place is famous for. It was beautiful. And busy. Our second ‘tourist attraction’ of the day started to weigh heavily. After being whipped along the conveyor belt pathways, we took a back seat to gather our rapidly fraying patience and goodwill.
Spirits in tact we recalibrated our raison d’etres and were able to enjoy it more. Enjoy the crowds. Enjoy the hanging bat with his lil’ cock and balls hanging perfectly for all to see. Enjoy finding out what Luwak Coffee is. (No thanks!) Enjoy watching the big python (from a distance).
We had a quiet beer overlooking the temple as the sky darkened and the crowds dispersed. A short ride home, some local food and an epic video call to Sarah Boo. I love my adventure days.
Welcome to the first post of the JenderBenderWorldWide blog. Here are a couple of photos from around the garden at our current home. It’s definitely full of life. Just earlier a Weevil was being held aloft and paraded down the patio by an army of ants!
We have 8 kitchen geckos who hang out on the ceiling and make little croaking noises at each other. (That’s when they are not being hassled by some inch long bee thing!) There’s 2 bigger lizards (blatently getting it on) who live up one of the roof columns. They are around a foot long and have tiny tails. We’re keeping an eye on their regrowth. Then there’s ‘Tiny’, a mega cute super teeny lizard who lives on the wall above our bedroom. He’s about 2 inches long. Go on, do it with your fingers, it’s tiny!!!
‘Petit’ lives across the road. We haven’t seen him the past few days but for about a week he’s been consistently coming and getting some street love off of us. He/she is the smallest cat we have ever seen. I would say if you think about a guinea pig on stilts then that’s pretty accurate.
It rains a lot here. Nearly daily and when it rains it wants you to know about it. There’s been less thunderstorms since we first arrived, but it still loves a chuck down. It’s funny because everything is so outdoorsy. Ponchos are the way forward. As for water loving animals. Holy moly! Frogs are everywhere! We have two that live in our kitchen underneath our hob. They often make me jump when I turn the corner and see them!
We had a cockroach in our bathroom for a bit. We got him in a tub and put him out into the garden. We think he prefers it out there because he hasnt’ been back. If you see him, his name is Franz.
High Pitched Screams from ‘Les Frenchies’
Last night the french girls renting the other room let out some seriously impressive high pitched screams. Not one to be a curtain twitcher I timidly tapped on their window enquiring everything was alright. Apparently not. A spider was mentioned and a fist was shown (to equate size) and a broom was pointed at the corner. A quick broom joust of the curtain followed by a flash of something whizzing out the backside of the sliding doors was all that followed. Thank God. That was that. Oh, and they found another one today. I can only say that I hope I never meet one of these ‘furry friends’ personally.
Ballz the Monkey
Ballz the monkey is getting along just fine. There’s even a bakery up the road that uses banana flour. It will be his birthday treat in February.
We are fortunate to have some fairly regular contact with some lovely locals. Aside from ordering food in cafes and bargaining for local prices at the fruit and veg markets we get to practice some indo lingo daily with Dewi (which means goddess). She comes round with her daughters nearly every day. You can see Cinta, her 3 year old starring in some of our photos.
A maid and a gardener.
Yep we’ve got a maid. And a gardner. They come with the house. I’ll write more on this later, but for now lets just say it is great to be able to provide employment. Made (that’s his name) the gardener has got his work cut out. When we arrived we were like ‘What is he going to do for 3 days a week?’ Well, these plants are pretty hell bent on shedding most of their leaves daily only to pump some new ones out. Seriously, check the photos. Some of the leaves are bigger than my top half!
That’s it for now, more to come and don’t be shy with the messages. Big love to you all wherever you are.