Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I'd like to wish you all a very merry Christmas from Kuta, Bali.

And to my friends and family... huge hugs coming your way. We've been thinking of you today. xx

Christmas tree on Kuta Beach

All set for a bout of the craps

I hope we never need this little mini bar staple!!

First Stop: Bali

Written on Wednesday 22nd December 2010, the day after we arrived in Bali.

Relates to Tuesday 21st December 2010, the day we arrived in Bali. Yeah, I know. I've been slack at getting this posted. Too many Bintangs to drink.

Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip.

Now say that really, really fast and whack exclamation marks at the end of each word, and that pretty much sums up the weather we’ve had since arriving in Bali. We were told it had been raining for days, and that, “every Christmas it rains 24 hours”. Christmas is in 3 more sleeps. Drip. Drip. Drip.

“I think it’s raining everywhere in the world, mum”, said my five-year-old as a 6-foot wave shot up from the wheel of a passing car and broke over us. He casually continued, “Yeah, it was raining in Australia, and then it was raining in Kuala Lumpur (Yep, I remember clearly, buddy. I watched it on the windows during the longest-six-hours-of-my-life transit stop from 3am today in KL airport while you and your brother wanted to laugh and play and mummy and daddy just wanted us all to SLEEP!!), and now it’s raining in Bali”. “Yeah, you could be right, mate”, I acknowledged as another blanket of murky street water shot up into my face. “At least these big trees are like umbrellas”, he said.

I wiped the sludge from my face and looked up. There were massive fig trees with twisted trunks. Hundreds of straw-like roots hung at different lengths from their branches, and each dripping root fell lazily towards the ground. Nestled amongst the trees was a dark, intricately carved stone Balinese temple covered in bright green moss. There were many flower offerings in square, palm-frond bowls left at the main statue. Leaving such offerings is meant to bring good luck. We passed a lot of these Hindu temples and shrines during our stroll down that water-logged street in Kuta.

We also passed a variety of tropical plants shining in the rain, including different palms, yellow irises, bright pink bougainvilleas, vivid red hibiscus, and ginger plants bending with the weight of their long orange and red flowers.

There were shops selling a myriad of goods. Surf wear, jewellery, Balinese wood carvings, plastic crappy toys. One shop professing, “No bullshit and set price”, which must be a relief for those not into bartering. And some of the least aggressive and most creative street-sellers we’ve encountered on our travels. “Boy. Hey Boy!” one shouted to our three-year-old. “No thanks, mate”, replied my husband. “No, not you, the boy! Do you like Pokémon, boy? I have good Pokémons here. Come and have a look, boy!”Clever sales tactics. Very clever. Cut the middle-man (aka mummy and daddy) and head straight to the one with the screaming power. What three-year-old isn’t going to fall in love with a cute little goddamned Pokémon? Or not bung on a big, fat tanty if it doesn’t come his way. I clung to my kids like the toy Nazi. “No Pokémon for you!”I thought, Seinfeld style, as we toddled, toy-free, back to the hotel.

The kids swam and the rain held off during Happy Hour at the pool. High-five to Mother Nature! Jugs of Midori Cocktails and bottles of Bintang Pilsener all round. Yay for Bali. Now why have we waited forever to come here??

It’s now about 5am on Wednesday morning. My hubby and kids are still sleeping the long flights away, bless their cotton undies. And I’ve been awake for an hour already. Damn jetlag. Can’t say I care, though. I’m sitting out in the balmy air watching squirrels jump through palm trees, listening to the rumble of thunder and the sound of rain playing with the leaves. I feel I should be doing some frantic, naked dance to the sun-gods, beckoning them to part the clouds and bring on the sun. But I’m too exhausted. All I can manage is a monotonously hummed rendition of, “Turn on the sun. Turn on the sun. Light up the world. Come everyone”. It sounds more church choir than Native American Indian. But I’m sparing the locals and tourists from the “eeeeeeeeewwwww” factor. I’m sure no one reeeeaaaally wants or needs to see my naked butt. Then again, I’m sure they’ll soon get sick of my humming and be hanging for the change of atmosphere.

And besides. The rain adds something quite beautiful to this place. I’m trying to maintain my positive outlook and take solace in my son’s words. I’m sure that it is raining all over the world right now. That means it’s bound to stop somewhere soon, right? I bet the first ‘stop’ will be Bali.

The Jungle Boardwalk, Kuala Lumpur International Airport

Waiting for a taxi at the airport

Welcome to Bali

Ginger flower

Tips for Parents and travellers

- Airport Taxis: As usual, it’s much cheaper (and it’s easy!) to get a taxi from the airport than to arrange it through your hotel. There’s a pre-paid taxi ticket booth just as you walk outside the exit doors of the airport. It cost us just over AUS $6 to get to our hotel in Kuta. It would have cost us a bucket-load more if we’d organised hotel transfers.

- Caution to strollers & little feet: It’s possible to take a stroller along the footpaths here in Kuta. However, you might find yourself lifting it up and down stairs, and big kerbs at entries to hotels. There’s also broken drain covers, some with substantial holes in them that could pose a risk to stroller wheels and little ankles. I also noticed some cracked pavement and some make-shift ramps of broken or splintered masonite timber. And, of course, there are the puddles and flooded entry-ways to some hotels when it’s raining! So bring a hovercraft.

- Slippery when wet: The streets can get mighty slippery in the rain. For some reason, there are a lot of shiny tiles used at entries to mini marts, shops and hotels. One drop of water and you’re a goner. Bucket-loads of the stuff and the place is a down-right death-trap. We saw a man and his daughter slip down some tiled stairs in the street. Both of our kids came a cropper many times on smooth concrete, mossy surfaces or glassy tiles. We’re staying here with family. Pop slipped on the hotel tiles a couple of days ago, split his face open and had to get stitches. He now calls a Balinese hospital his home away from home.


We're off again! This time to Bali, Kuala Lumpur and Malaysian Borneo. Even though we've left Australia and have started our five-week trapse around Indonesia and Malaysia, our itinerary is still evolving. So Brunei, Langkawi and Penang haven't been ruled out. Ahhh, look. To be completely honest, I'm not sure where the hell we'll end up! But please join us for the ride. We can explore it all together.

This is my first ever blog. And my first ever blog post. Hopefully it won't be too much of a crap read. I'm pretty new at all of this. So feel free to give me feedback - good or bad. Or feel free to just comment or say hello. It gets mighty lonely on the road :)