I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Anybody got any Viras?

Monstrous breakfast buffet on Friday. Three plates full of rice and noodles and stuff. Back to the room, via a stop in the Vira Bali reading room while waiting for housekeeping to finish cleaning my room and replenishing the mini bar diet coke. Most of the books were not English, but my eye was caught by the Mills and Boon book from its "medical" genre - "the surgeon she never forgot". That's, like, really really wrong, isn't it?

Spent the whole morning debating with myself whether I should leave the hotel that day, maybe do a tour. I was already way too late for a full day tour, but there were a lot of half day tours available which start any time between 2pm and 3pm, in particular ones which involve going to see spectacular sunsets.  And, I had a shitload of currency I could have done with spending especially as it wasn't enough to bother changing back to Aussie dollars or British shekels. There was a half day tour to a monkey forest, a temple, and then one more temple for sunset - so at 2pm I went down to reception and said, am I too late to geta driver to take me to see monkeys and the sunset? They said no, it would be fine, go get a beer while they sort it out.

He was gonna turn up at 1530, which seemed fair enough since I was only doing 2 out of 3 attractions. And I had no clue about where these things were, and trusted them. The bloke ended up arriving a bit late, but off we went. Chatted a bit about football, cos he was a Liverpool fan. But he didn't seem very chatty and it got a bit quiet as we drove. And drove. And drove. And drove. Turns out it was a bloody long way.

I got to see a fair bit of Bali's internals. The residential areas were littered by temples, which seemed to be at the start of little gated areas. There were massive amounts of craft shops, mostly stuff made of wood, which confused me - I've seen enough episodes of Nothing To Declare/Border Security to know you can't take wood into Australia, and since every tourist here is Aussie...

Also, it's election season, by which I mean every 20 yards there was a giant billboard with a picture of a man displaying fine millinery, asking for the vote. Like those ham faced David Cameron photos from 2010, only these guys hopefully aren't total cunts.

Eventually got to the monkey forest at 5pm. Sunset is about 6.40pm and an hour or 90 minutes to drive. Eek. Thankfully I probably couldn't have lasted the heat and mosquitoes much longer than 20 minutes anyway, and I was very happy with how much I saw - it's not a big place, the monkey forest, just a pretty small complex of trees and temples with free roaming macaques all over the place, from big angry adults to tiny ickle baby ones who wouldn't stay still for a photo. I didn't feed them but if you do, they crawl over you. Very cool. Less angry or outright thieving than the ones on Gibraltar.

So, back in the car for a race against the sun to Tanah Lot, a temple complex on the coast with the main temple actually built on a rock you can only get to at low tide. The driver took a few short cuts off the main roads to try and get there quicker, so we went through some seriously non-tourist areas, full of animals all over and kids playing with fires. Had to slam the brakes on at one point so as not to kill a bird. Why did that chicken cross the road? What a joke.

We just, and only just, lost the race, largely due to being stuck for 10 minutes behind a tourist who couldn't cope overly well with the driving on the ropey roads. We tried very hard to overtake him, on blind hills and corners with liberal use of the "I'm here and doing stuff" horn. The sun was obviously setting and the views across fields of extraordinarily vivid blues and greens and yellows were decent, but the brightness was just disappearing at Tanah Lot. I got one decent photo which I was very happy with, and it was a pretty cool place to explore but everything was shutting and I was swimming against a huge crowd of people leaving. At least I was late enough that the entry fee booth was closed...

Drove back to the hotel, another hour or so. I have no idea how you are meant to fit three attractions into one afternoon, even starting at 1400. Apparently this wasn't even bad traffic, and it's definitely low season. Still never mind - I did see what I wanted, just not for very long. Still hadn't seen a beach though.

Back at the Vira, Friday night was in full swing. This meant a really, really poor cover band covering Australian music like Men At Work and AC/DC, presumably to fix the homesickness all the Aussie tourists must be suffering in this alien environment. And they covered it badly. Very, very badly. But the worst was their version of Nothing Else Matters, which for some reason they played twice. I was almost out off music for life. Jesus.

Had a nasi goreng and a couple of beers. Thought about wandering down the road to the Irish pub just to get a Guinness, but apparently it was some kind of comedy night, and besides I had a long Saturday ahead of me starting with an early flight in the morning - and as I already knew, leaving Bali airport is a truly terrible experience, even worse than arriving. I'd tried to check in for both of Saturday's flights on my phone and had a bit of grief with each, so I figured, y'know, just go to bed, Arranged a cab for 0830, and fell asleep to the dulcet sounds of CNBC.

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