Greetings from Bali!
Welcome to my first newsletter, I do hope you’ll enjoy reading about my adventures in the newsletters to come.
Well, I didn’t think my year away would begin quite like this.
I’d decided to stay in Ubud because as the Lonely Planet advices it’s all about spiritual awakenings and after last year I needed some of that. I booked two weeks at the Puri Garden hotel, which to be honest, needs a bit of an upgrade but the garden is like an oasis, with a swimming pool, fountains, trees, and exotic plants. I have it all to myself except when a tour group is booked in.
On my first day, I went exploring down Jalan Monkey Forest Road. Essentially the shops and cafes are exclusively for tourists, and it’s not an attractive street. You see European guys stripped to their waists, not caring or considering how this offends the local people.
How I managed to cross the road I don’t know! Scooters buzz around 4×4 on extremely narrow roads. The beeping of the horns is constant, and walking along the pavement is a serious hazard! Most of the paving stones are broken, cracked or missing. On day 3, I nearly fell down a large hole, and strained my back. If this was New Zealand, ACC would be inundated with claims. But this being Bali nobody seems to be that bothered. You can’t walk in the road as you’re likely to be run down by a scooter. Ubud is not a pleasant destination if you like walking to see the sights.
As you continually have to look down at your feet, you can’t miss the beautiful flowers positioned on a green leaf. The Canang Sari are prepared daily by young women and left as offerings to the Hindi gods. Each of the five flowers must be placed in different directions, and a blessing is performed over them.
Before I became sick I visited the Agung Museum of Art. It’s just a short stroll from my hotel. The gallery features Balinese masterpieces, and there’s an interesting exhibition of Walter Spies life and paintings. Why I recommend visiting are the gardens. Down a very steep flight of stairs lies an incredible Balinese garden. A river rushes through it, and rice fields sit at the back. While I was walking down a path I saw a lizard around 36cm long sunning itself on the side of a rice field. It scurried away before I could take a photo.
On Day 4 I had Bali Belly. As I vomited and sat on the toilet all night, I tried to remember when I had last felt so unwell. I think it was Lesbos in 84, but I could be wrong. I stupidly decided not to see a doctor the next day because I thought I’d get better. No way!!! It got worse! The next night was more horrendous, if that were possible. The next morning I asked one of the hotel staff to get me a doctor. A man and a woman arrived within the hour, and I assumed the man was the doctor. Wrong assumption Jaye! Dr Made examined me, and prescribed 4 different types of medication, and gave me instructions on my diet for the next seven days. I’ll be following all her advice to the letter.
Having an enforced rest at the hotel has been interesting. The owner of the hotel a lookalike Imelda Marcos comes every day and sits in the dining room and goes through a ledger and then speaks to her employees one by one. Quite why she needs to do this every day I haven’t worked out.
Somebody told me every hotel must employ 30 local people. This must keep unemployment costs down. So far, I’ve only seen a few women beggars with children.
Getting sick caused me to question the wisdom of travelling solo especially in Asia, but I did cope and I did survive.