Not a whole lot to say today, so I won’t pretend there is and waffle on.
We awoke at 8.30, went for breakfast, took the train to the Zen pool. Still no repeat visit from the eagle. We were so disappointed and would have very much loved another shot (ha ha) at photographing it.
And yes, there were noisy people at the pool today as well, and part of it was us. The Chief of Village came around and chatted to each person in turn to see if all was well. He truly was a lovely man and very easy to speak with. Though we did think he might have set an example and spoken quietly LOL
We took the train back up to the main area for lunch, and were joined by the beautiful Santi from Indonesia. Her English wasn’t fluent, but we had no difficulty communicating and I really appreciated how difficult it can be to speak in another language than your own. If only I could!!!
We walked all the way along the beach as far as the entry gate; the one with the boom gate that we’d arrived through on the first day and not since passed. After this we dawdled back to our room, and this was our first chance to photograph it because we had not needed to come this side of the building until now.
We explored along the pathway and saw some men working on the garden. They looked at us rather as if they wished we weren’t there, but it was very much a public walkway, coming from the furthest accommodation blocks back towards the main area. I was getting bitten, so hurried my steps a little, and then we saw monkeys in the trees so I hurried them even more. Yes, I was more than a little cautious of them!
There was also a fair sized lizard searching for his lunch in the grass. Yummmm, tasty grubs!!! He’d search them out with his tongue, grab them and then put his head up to nom nom them down. Blerk!!!
We went to our room and prepared for archery at 3.30pm. Here it sits, snuggled up into the edge of the jungle.
When we got there it was being run this day by Geoff, the Manager of Land Sports. Now this was a completely different kettle of fish. No silly 11 year old boys, and if there had been he’d have quite obviously sorted them out firmly but kindly. We *loved* Geoff. He was bright, bubbly and very funny!
As he spoke to us David told him that we would be there until 6pm when it closed down. Geoff told us at 5 to 6 that he’d actually laughed at this in his head, thinking “Ho, ho ho, I think not! Your arms will be hanging off long before then!” But of course they weren’t, though he did say he’d watch for us at the bar to see if we needed help lifting our drinks to our mouths LOL
Geoff gave David a 24 pound bow and he got on well with it. My ‘Artemis’ was 22 pounds. Whatevertheheck that means tee hee! I did have a try of David’s but that extra 2 pounds pulled on my left shoulder and after 3 shots I was glad to go back to Artemis again.
During the 2½ hours a family of one man and 2 ladies arrived, having never shot before. Geoff managed to give them training really thoroughly, yet kept the rest of us able to shoot and retrieve our arrows without being held up. The way he gave instructions to everyone was amusing and kept us all listening eagerly to him. Well, the new man managed his shooting very well but the 2 ladies not so much. So after 2 attempts Geoff smiled mischievously at them (as well as all looking on) and declared. “Oh, that was really bad. Off to Mini Club for you!” – which is the children’s entertainment area of the resort. Everyone laughed. And the whole session was fun and really entertaining.
A bit later a young teenaged girl arrived and kept shooting, but her arrow only went half way to the target each time. Geoff went and got the target and carried the whole thing bodily and placed it on the grass just within reach so that she could at least attain some degree of success. That was so beautiful!
This is Geoff (in the blue) taken later in the day at the beginning of the show.
At one point he went and got some balloons and half blew them up before attaching one to each target. First shot, and a guy further on from us shot his balloon with a bang. About 5 arrows later David shot ours – right through the middle – but it just sat there defiantly as Geoff, David and I looked on in amusement. There was no question the arrow had gone right through the absolute middle, and of course out the other side into the target. But then it began to fizzle and deflate in a most dejected manner, so we were laughing about that too.
I won the entire session by 1 game, it really was so close all the way! And then it was dinner time.
The evening show was done by the children from Mini Club and we really only went because there was nothing else happening at the time. Well we were really shocked! The talent, and of course the talent of the Mini Club staff in training the children, was absolutely incredible and the whole thing was a first rate show, with dancing, acrobatics and comedy.
At the beginning of the show, the lady who we had taken to be the Chief of Village told us all that she had been doing this position as relief for the real one, Eduardo from Mexico. Eduardo stepped forward and spoke in excellent English, then switched to *very* fluent French. He sounded like a native to me! At the start of every show there were brief announcements in an assortment of languages and I always listened, wrapt, to each one. There was always English first, then Chinese, Japanese, another Asian language (it had been Korean at the Phuket Club but I wasn’t sure here) and then Malay followed by French, all of which was heaven for me, the wannabe linguist.
Afterwards was a ‘Flashback Cabaret’ which was fun and we sat on a lounge chair enjoying drinks and watching Manu, the dining manager, laugh at the show. Afterwards it began to rain, so the staff pulled our big lounge chair safely undercover and we enjoyed a long and entertaining chat with Allyn. Allyn was an American G.O. in the Mini Club, who had also been in Bali when we went to that Club Med. He was really interesting to speak with and told us all sorts of amazing facts about Club Med.
When we went back to our room around midnight there was a note on the bed inviting us to an exclusive ‘Aussie BBQ’ for dinner the next night, and we had to RSVP to reception by 11am the next morning. We went to bed at 12.30.
At 8.30am there was a knock at the door to give us our leaving details. Was it *really* necessary to knock? Twice at that! David did the ‘huh? what?’ trying to come to his senses while I grabbed the sheets to pull over me because the bed could be seen from the door. Couldn’t the guy just have slipped it under the door? Admittedly we had left our key in the door overnight so perhaps he was only knocking because of that. There were only 2 rooms on our balcony and the other room had only had occupants for 1 of the nights so, fortunately, nobody was going past our room to have seen the key anyway – and it was night-time so the monkeys weren’t around.
We went for breakfast and stopped off at reception to RSVP our ‘No thanks’ for the Aussie meal. We were going home tomorrow, we could have plenty of Aussie food after that! In the driveway were 4 full-sized tourist coaches. We’d arrived in a small 21-seater bus!
And guess what? Yes, we caught the train to the Zen area, swam a little and read a lot. There was no eagle again. And today’s rowdy people were 4 South Africans standing in the pool speaking in loud voices for 30 minutes or more. In the Zen pool at the Bali resort David had been shushed for doing overarm swimming!!! And the staff member there had made regular circuits asking people if they wanted drinks, this one never did that at all, though he was friendly and kind which is more important.
We caught the train back to lunch where Karlien met us and talked us into saying yes for Aussie dinner after all. Even though we’d missed the RSVP deadline she said she’d arrange it for us and we asked if she and Sasha would be able to sit with us. We asked her about the 4 coaches we’d seen and she said that every 4 days they get 4 coach-loads of Chinese visitors. It seems that a Chinese travel agency chartered their own jet from… (location unknown by me, she did say)… direct to Kuantan, specifically for them all to come to Club Med. Wow!
As I was seated at the lunch table alone (David was away getting some food), a G.O. approached and asked in French if she could join me. I replied, after a second’s thought, “Mais oui!” Needless to say, my accent was a dead giveaway and she started to apologise, saying how hard it can be to guess what language to use. I bet it is!!! Anyway, she was the boutique manager, also the wife of the Chief of Village and, again, we enjoyed a wonderful chat about children, grandchildren (in my case) and life as a Club Med employee. And of course this explained why Eduardo’s French was so fluent!
We returned to our room for a shower and to apply lashings of ‘Bushman’, the strongest, chemical mosquito repellent that I’d taken with me but not yet used, (I definitely preferred the natural course where that was possible) because David had had an ‘Idea!’ I wasn’t too sure I was as excited as he was!
Walking a little down the path towards the Zen was a bit of a dirt track that I truly hadn’t even noticed until now, but we took it; right into the jungle. Just far enough in to the hidden from the main path was a small, open-on-three-sides building with lockable cupboards filling the fourth side. Just to the right of this was a park bench and a rope ladder up to the start of a ‘Tree Top Challenge’. We watched as a child of about 12 was up there, moving around with every confidence as the parents looked nervously on. The challenges were about 9 to 12 feet off the ground so not ridiculously high, but enough!
Another couple were watching and swatting mosquitoes so I offered them some of my ‘Bushman’ which they gratefully accepted, and they offered it around (with my permission) to the parents of the child and also the 2 G.O.s working there. I was happy to help, and offered my lavender oil to treat bites they already had as well.
We walked a little way down the course and I began to get a nervous excitement. I wanted to do this! This is little, quiet, nervous me who has always been affected with sheer terror at heights! The other thing was that I knew David would love to do it but, for some reason, I don’t think he would have done if I hadn’t. Whether he didn’t want to make me hang around waiting or what I’m not sure, but I just knew it. I told him my news. And then I helped him pick his jaw off the ground. “Are you SURE?” he asked. And I said “Yes. I *think* so!”
I went over to the little hut and a very kind, gentle and patient Asian G.O., Jake, helped me to put on the harness, a hair cover and the hard hat, which clipped shut with a sexy (not!) chin-strap. My knees began to shake a little. Then there was a little setup of a thick steel cable, supported on wooden posts, so that Jake could explain how very secure the clasp on the harness was, and how to transfer it at the resting posts on the course from one safety cable to the next. Amazingly, I didn’t even consider that the clasp could break, the cable could break, the support trees could fall, the harness could break and all of the things that would normally make me feel so at risk that I’d be unable to participate. Once I had time to think about it afterwards I was incredibly proud of myself even to have reached this point, and I hadn’t even climbed the ladder yet 😀
But I did climb it. I got a bit slow towards the top, and particularly as I had to get from the ladder onto the wooden platform around the first tree, but do you know what? Andy was up there. He was the most amazing aerial artist, as well as a flamboyant and very artistic dancer and stage performer and I had total trust in him – and his strength, even though he wasn’t a large guy by any means. I know through all of David’s younger years that you don’t have to have huge muscles to be strong.
As the lady before me crossed the first obstacle and was reaching the end of it, mischievous Andy rocked the horizontal rope ladder she was walking over and she did a little shriek. But Andy had fully known that she was capable of handling it, and in fact she’d enjoyed it as much as he did.
Then it was my turn. My knees were knocking and I really wasn’t *quite* sure. Andy asked me “How do you feel?” and I told him “Sick, nervous, short of breath. In fact, where’s the loo?” and we (and David below) laughed. Strangely, nerves about the flight home began to show themselves too. How interesting! But putting the feelings into words instead of just quietly enduring them seemed to dissipate them – which I’m betting Andy knew would happen – and, before I knew it, I was stepping out into partial thin air along the horizontal rope ladder. It was actually amazing, thrilling, a true ‘buzz’ and, if I’d had time to think about it I suppose I would have understood, for the first time in my life, why people do rock climbing, bungee jumping and the like. For me, this was just as much of a conquering of fear as parachuting may be to others. As I got about three quarters of the way over, the ladder started to rock more from side to side than it had and I said “Is that Andy doing that, or just me?” and Andy declared his innocence from his perch at the first tree as David assured me from the ground below “It’s all you!” I laughed, and soon reached the second tree with a platform and did the necessary steps to move my harness clasp awkwardly over all the bolts and onto the next cable.
The clasp was never unattached at any point, it just had to turn sideways and go through ‘biscuits’ while transferring from one cable to the next. The next obstacle stretched out very far in front of me. It was a single cable to stand on, and a single cable overhead to hold onto. It looked very, very far to the other side and I wasn’t totally sure I could do it but I’d got this far! We think the distance was around 20 metres/yards. I got hold of the top cable and stepped my right foot onto the bottom one, and my foot slipped along the wire, which of course was drooping downwards slightly. It made me intake breath, but not panic, and I was proud of that. I tried again, but my foot just slipped again because, it turned out, my running shoes don’t have any grip/tread under the arch of my foot. I tried again, this time using the ball of my foot on the cable but I didn’t feel secure; the ball of your foot is not much area and doesn’t have the natural curving to keep the cable central on your foot so no, this was not going to happen. I was a little sad, because I’d have done it given the grip on my shoes. It would have been a *very* long way across that cable and I think I’d have been shaken and emotionally exhausted had I got to the other end, but I could have! You’ll see a photo of this and the next obstacle soon!
The following obstacle was a cargo-net and I had actually really looked forward to that one, but I couldn’t get there. I had no choice but to turn around. Thankfully, and I’m sure wisely, Andy had not let anyone else follow me because then I could not have come back. Once attached to the steel cable you can’t pass anyone else on it and just have to keep heading forward if someone is following.
So I did not do the walk of shame. I returned the way I’d come, but this had been such an achievement. I actually feel a tiny bit choked up as I’m writing it. I returned very confidently across the rope ladder, though I was nervous about getting over the edge of the platform onto the descent ladder again. But Jake held the ladder very firmly at the bottom to keep it as steady as possible and Andy was so beautiful, telling me where to put my hands and feet and helping me from the top. I was so in love with Andy, he’d have made a precious third son LOL He told me at some point that he was America’s Sweetheart and I have no doubt that was true. He was mine!
And then I was down on the floor once more and helped David to get ‘suited up’ for his turn. He didn’t need the demonstration, he’d apparently been watching when I had mine, and he shot up the ladder onto the platform and over the first obstacle before I could get my camera ready. I just managed to get him towards the end of the single wire, while yelling “Oy! Slow down will you?”
And you can see the cargo-net that I’d so looked forward to doing in that shot too. David grappled his way very happily and with very little trouble to the far side. After that he had a choice. He could take the flying fox and complete the route, or turn to the advanced course, and there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind which choice he made. Jake climbed a rope ladder to the tree platform, made sure David was standing safely and firmly, and unattached his big ‘G-clasp’ from one route, and put it safely onto the next. You can see how carefully the jungle trees were protected from the wires in the following photo, as well as the next obstacle David had to work on.
Needless to say he scampered over this like a monkey too! But next, even his agility was in for a work-out. The lady in front of him was really struggling with this and she was truly exhausted before she reached the resting platform at the half-way point. She ‘fell’ a couple of times, which only means that she was supported by her harness instead of her own arms and feet but she was puffing as if she’d just run a marathon and I could see that she’d given everything she had, and there was still half of this obstacle to go. Jake and Andy both came to give her encouragement, and a little advice, but she was amazing and kept going and got to the end like a champion.
You can see what this obstacle was like. Trapeze-style rings to step into with a single cable overhead to hold. David stepped into the first ring and it swung out, leaving him almost doing the splits. And that was with one foot still on the safe and stable tree platform! This one really put him through his paces and his breathing and heart-rate climbed rapidly as he struggled not only to get his feet from ring to ring, but to keep his legs from splaying out. The resting platform at the half-way mark was obviously very, very welcome indeed and he stayed there for a couple of minutes gathering his strength and breath for the next part.
Obviously tiring by now he did fall once – later finding a massive bruise on the tricep area of his right arm, but he wasn’t aware of that at the time. Jake and Andy were still below with me and both of them were totally in awe and telling me how shocked they were at David’s agility and balance and, most of all, the speed that he righted himself after the fall. They really were amazed at my little monkey, but I wasn’t.
And then, lastly he had the flying fox to enjoy. Whether I’d have been able to actually get my feet off the platform to do this, had I got that far, is anyone’s guess, but here’s Mr SmartAlec with one hand waving a greeting as he sailed past me.
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