Leaving the jungle and village feel of central Bali was a challenge for us. We fell deeply in love with the area, but knew we wanted to also least experience the beaches of the coast at least briefly before we left. So once again Tana picked us up and drove us to Seminyak, a major tourist destination in the south. It was a sudden shock to drive through the congested and winding streets of the city, so full of people, and had a poignant goodbye to Tana at the entrance of our hotel. He made the experience of the Ubud area personal and very special.
At the advice of a new friend in Saigon, we had made reservations at the Oberoi hotel. We were met by charming hostesses with lovely leis, and entered another beauty experience! The hotel sits right on the beach, boasting “villas” that, like Chapung se Bali, include outdoor space as well as a bedroom and living area inside. A stone wall protects privacy, and there is a small water feature and umbrella’d patio for dining. The bedroom was huge, netted, and opened to a more public patio. And while the bathroom was not outside, the tall windows made it feel that it was open to nature.
It was after lunch when we arrived, so we enjoyed a very yummy pizza by the water in the hotel’s restaurant. After a wee nap and a shuttle ride around the town to get our bearings, we settled in to begin watching Ken Burns’ series on Vietnam...our ritual for most nights for the rest of the trip. Having visited Saigon we were keen to learn more and more.
We loved having breakfast in the cooler morning air every day and relished the quiet that the hotel allowed. The next day was slow and rainy, the quiet broken only by afternoon tea and a performance of Balinese music and dance. That evening we became aware of the volcano threat level rising. It was heart-rending to hear of the tens of thousands of Balinese who lived nearest Mt. Agung being evacuated, and exhilarating to hear so many stories of neighbors helping by offering pasture land for grazing animals and places to stay. I’m sure you already know that the volcano has not erupted, and there is some conservative return to homes in the area, but the threat warning has dropped only one level, and people are still evacuated. From being in Spain when the attack in Barcelona happened, to hearing of the hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, and then feeling the fear in the air in Bali...the idea of worldwide suffering came much closer to home. Our thoughts and prayers continue for those whose lives have been impacted by these disasters.
The next morning, Julian headed off for his anticipated adventure!...scuba diving in the surrounding waters. He had a glorious time! And if anyone would like specifics on the company he used and the experience itself, please be in touch. I was particularly moved by the fact that the boat captain mindfully placed an offering of plaited grass and flowers in the waters...Balinese Hinduism is indeed an enacted faith. Julian came back glowing and happy, and full of salt and sea! (check out the photos!)
We walked on the beach to the restaurant Ku De Ta, and loved the meal and the walking back and forth in the night. And then...
Julian and I have been married for 40 years, and I have never seen him throw up. Not once. Ever. But some tiny but fierce creature got to him. He started to feel unwell that evening, woke up a bit woozy, and by mid-morning, the inevitable happened. He was still wobbly for the rest of the day, nursed by rest and coconut water in the husk, delivered by the thoughtful staff, and slept and slept. The next day, Julian started to come back to life. I was feeling just fine, then all of a sudden it was clearly my turn. This was obviously a 48-hour bug...and we knew what to expect when it came to me. We took good care of each other, and are thankful that in 2 1/2 months our only real challenges were one monkey bite and two stomach bugs!
The next day was departure day. We were loath to leave. Julian was right as rain and ready to fly, I was slow and wobbly, but we headed to the airport thankful to Bali for the beauty, the kindness, the arts and the never to be forgotten memories! As we took off were able to see Mt. Agung clearly (and close!). It was a long flying day, with two long legs...and I admit I ended up on the floor in the back and slept for most of it. I have found very comfortable sleeping positions on the floor and across the back seats if anyone ever needs tips on how to sleep in a HondaJet!
We flew the same route, this time going north, and after a repeat landing in Malaysia, we headed to Taiwan. It was late, and I was woozy, so headed with bags to the hotel, while Julian and Travis went out to dinner with our amazing new friend, Danny, and his family. I have never met anyone so filled with life and purpose, and they were all a delight to meet.
We had a very brief stay, but before we left the next afternoon, Danny offered us a car which allowed us to visit 3 different temples and have time to enjoy a delicious Chinese Dim Sum lunch before we left. The temples were alive! We certainly noticed that religion in the east is a daily, open activity...the rituals are compelling and the people so sincere.
But then it was mid-afternoon and time to go! Next, Japan!