I woke at 8am but, very unusually, David was still asleep so I tried to lay still and quiet so as not to disturb him. By 8.40 he was still asleep and I had a feeling that breakfast finished being served by 9.15 so gently kissed him awake and we dressed and went over to the restaurant. As with last night, and all meals to follow, there were the different cultural cuisine sections. The western foods had things like omelettes made fresh with ingredients of your choice while you wait, sausages, fried eggs, baby hash browns, hot tomatoes, then the dessert section had pancakes (and on other days crepes or waffles). The pancakes were a different flavour every day so we got coconut, grated apple, sultana, plain and there were accompanying bowls of maple syrup, honey, chocolate or strawberry sauce. Well to be honest, I think I had pancakes every day. I didn’t go for the aforementioned hot foods that David mainly stuck with. There was also a section for pastries and we both gave that quite a run for its money most days with the croissants, Danish pastries, muffins etc. There was a bread section with a toaster which we really didn’t use, a section with yogurts, jams, marmalades and butter, plus all of the Asian cuisine areas that quite turned our stomachs for breakfast. Rice, pumpkin and all manner of things I would only eat for dinner, not at this hour of the morning. But each to their own. Here’s the fruit table which I have not mentioned yet. This actual photo was taken on 14th July for the French Bastille Day celebrations, but you get the idea anyway.
We had a family on one side of us who had barged through a narrow gap between the tables making a heavily-laden waiter stand aside for them so we knew they were not our kind of people but another lady with a little girl came and sat the other side and smiled and we struck up quite a lovely conversation. It turned out she was from Yallingup, a couple of hours drive south from where we live. She was gorgeous and it was a lovely friendly start to our day.
The restaurant was upstairs with all sorts of seating sections hidden around corners but the main ‘outdoor’ area (open at the sides but with a roof) looked out over the main pool and had a richly decorated ceiling with 2 huge wooden dragons which were very impressive. Their heads met at the spot where everyone entered the restaurant.
During our meal we saw the most delightful little squirrel scampering along the wooden balcony balustrade. His gait was a tiny, fast scamper with all 4 legs at once and then a hesitation with his little tail aquiver to see if he needed to retreat and he certainly won a lot of attention and a lot of hearts! He stole a potato gem from my plate and retreated to the safely a roof beam to eat it.
The crowning glory was when the people 2 tables away left and the little tyke sat himself down for a feast in style!!! Muffin with a fruit salad lined up to follow LOL
And a slightly wobbly (sorry!) video to show how much of it he ate!!!
Here’s the view of the main pool taken from the restaurant. It was huge.
Once breakfast was done we decided to go to the quiet pool which was just divine. This area was over in a corner of the resort near the day spa through a glassed-off wall and featured a nice sized pool with sun beds around it. Some were single, 2 doubles, and then 5 special ‘rooms/cabanas’ with double sunbeds in them and burgundy sheer curtaining around them. The area supplied towels with a frangipani flower arranged artfully on them and had a really friendly smiley young man who came around offering, in whispered tones, cool drinks. It was adults only in there and there was also a spa bath which seemed rather noisy considering you had to swim breaststroke, not overarm, because of the noise in the pool itself. But it worked. It was a really lovely area to swim and lay around in.
One day in here we were wondering where to sit as 2 ladies were vacating a cabana and as we went to move in one of them said “I know you!”. Sure enough it was a friend of a friend from back home in Perth. You can’t go anywhere! Here’s a cabana anyway. You got a beautifully carved box at the foot of the bed and a pretty circular mirror on the wall above the head of the bed. Also a small drink table either side of the bed. I took a photo of David walking towards me and was so excited to see his back reflected in a mirror from across the other side. I completely adore this photo. He does not but I’m the boss of this website LOL
After this we went back to our room and showered and got dressed and went to the excursion booking desk to see what we were going to do with ourselves for the week. We spoke to a really lovely girl who spoke 5 languages!!! She too first greeted us in French but soon switched to English. Anyway, we decided to go on the elephant safari and also decided that this afternoon was as good a time as any. Asking if we would be travelling in a small coach she replied “Oh no! It’ll be a private car!” Now this was a big surprise and made me feel a little nervous between the thought of going through all that traffic in something small as well as not being sure what was in store with the elephant ride itself. Yes, I’m chicken.
We didn’t really feel like lunch, having had a large breakfast not so very long ago so we didn’t bother to eat. David packed the tiny, tiny bananas and apples from the plate in our room into his backpack and we went to the front of reception to meet our car at 1.30pm as appointed. We were met by a very friendly man named Moh with a big smile and excellent English. It turns out he’d lived in America for 3 years so he was really easy to understand and speak with. He loaded us comfortably aboard his car, which we were totally convinced was a normal width vehicle, it seemed so from the inside, and off we went.
Once through Nusa Dua and into the busier traffic we were stunned once more by the number of bikes and mopeds and what was carried on them. Moh was very informative and told us that there are 3 million bikes in Bali. Incidentally, there are only 40 ATM machines! It seems that the death toll is about 300 a year, a fact that seemed stunningly low considering the bikes just went everywhere. As we drove down single-lane roads there would be bikes passing us literally left and right and sometimes they drove towards us on our side of the road as well.
We soon realised that our car was surely, in actual fact, a tardis. It fitted through the narrowest of gaps and even then a bike or three would come along side us! It was decidedly only 6 inches wide on the outside while we sat spaciously inside it.
I saw one lady riding a bike using her right hand and in her left arm was a baby of only a few months of age, fast asleep.
There was quite a lot of beeping going on but we soon realised that vehicles did this to warn another that they were about to pass and not to pull out on them. There was no aggression, everything was gentle and patient! We often travelled 3 vehicles wide, plus bikes, along 2-lane roads and nobody was bothered. This photo was of a road 2 lanes wide.
After travelling from city conditions to even narrower roads the buildings began to be a little wider and the road started to climb up some hills. Moh told us we were nearly there. It had been a 2-hour drive and the final driveway was so steep we were stunned the vehicle managed to climb it!
We were ushered into a hut/shop, gave them our vouchers, and they gave us a greeting tea to wait the few minutes until we were called for our ride. Then off we went up some steps to where we could finally see some elephants and sure enough, one was heading towards us with her handler. We climbed up some more concrete steps onto a platform and watched our elephant approach. I looked at the wooden seat tied to her back with string, wondering if it was tied on securely, because it sure would be a long drop from her back if it started to slide sideways!!! I’m very pleased to report that the seat was well padded underneath so that it wouldn’t hurt her and she pulled up next to us. I sent David on first so that he could sidle along and I could just step over and sit. David had his backpack on and I had my camera bag, and got the camera out as an assistant bolted the front bar onto our chariot – the only thing holding us in there.
The handler introduced himself as Mardi and the elephant as Mary. His English was lovely, with a strong, pretty Balinese accent and he told us he’d learned all of his English from tourists. I guess he’d had a lot of those as he spoke well.
Anyway, we’d taken a few steps forward which had a surprisingly broad left/right lurch to them and then suddenly we were heading down a very steep slope. David and I both found ourselves forced forward against the wooden bar with not a thing we could do about it. I had my camera between my stomach and the bar and couldn’t lean backwards to free it. My whole life depended on this matchstick not to break, splinter and fail – and I wondered if my camera would survive the forces of being trapped between the two. Help!!!
Mardi, blissful and unaware of our fears and struggles, continued to talk to us about Mary, his job, and the surrounding plants and trees, and we continued slowly, step by step down this steep hill and I could see an even steeper part coming. Eeekkk!
Finally we reached a level path and could wriggle ourselves back properly into the seat – oh thank goodness! I took a photo, purely to see if the camera still worked, and thankfully it did. And now we were along a flat path the swaying, rhythmic walk was really enjoyable. Mardi showed us a coffee plant, a carob tree, a wild deer and all sorts of interesting things and then pulled up next to a small hut where there were some young coconuts partially opened at the top. He took a large knife and plucked a hole in the top of 2 of them and inserted straws, handing them to us to drink. They tasted different to the Thai coconuts that we’re used to but were very nice.
Mardi then asked for my camera and walked off. Alone on the top of a rogue elephant with David and no clue how to drive even if we could have got to her neck where Mardi had been seated. It had become apparent that her ears were the accelerator and break and we could reach neither. I’d had my long lens on the camera so every time Mardi tried to take a picture of us he was still too close and was moving further and further away. Mary kept trying to go join him – she didn’t like these amateurs on her back either it seems – but he kept calling a Balinese word to her to stay. She didn’t. But in the end he did take a wonderful photo – as long as you weren’t hoping to see Mary’s pedicure.
Eventually he came back and effortlessly hopped aboard and I felt so relieved and a whole heap safer. We then started to climb up a hill which was a lot safer feeling but David commented that the fruit in the backpack was now probably mush. It sure was!!!
From the woodland pathway we then set out along a narrow road and passed some homes, some incredibly cheery children playing football, some beautiful rice terraces, a poor chained monkey and several women, all of whom Mardi introduced to us as ‘his honey’. They laughed at the title and in a friendly way made it obvious they were telling him to take a hike.
By now we’d finished our coconut drinks and Mardi took the huge husks from us and said a word to Mary. She reached back her trunk, cradled one of these huge things in the curled end and put it in her mouth and ate the thing whole in a very few bites! Then the next one. We were stunned!
Here are some photos of things we saw along the way.
These tall decorations along the roadsides had been everywhere as we drove along in the car but this is the best photo that I got of them. They all appeared to be hand woven from grasses and were beautiful works of art. Each had a small pigeon hole about chest height and each day had gifts to the gods put into them as offerings. It was very touching to see the dedication for their customs.
By the time we got back to the start we had a ride through the ‘elephant wash’ – a large pond of water that came up to Mary’s tummy. I hastily put a plastic bag over my camera in case Mary chose to suck and blow but she was very well behaved. We had been gone on the tour for 1¼ hours. We were so stunned! It had been a wonderful time after the initial down-hill scare and we were sorry to have to get down!
Mardi helped us to take some more photos. He was a lovely man and I hope one of those ladies does become his honey one day.
Well, although this is not the end of the day I think I will call it quits for this page as I’ve written quite enough for you to put up with for this page. More later!
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