After a couple of hectic days when we arrived in Ubud, we hit the proverbial wall. It was bound to happen, given the stresses of the week before we got to Bali and the number of emergency medical appointments I had to face.
We spent most of our days trying to relax, reading, sleeping and generally doing nothing. I did get some new lenses put in on old pair of Police glasses frames, cost 200,000 for +4 single vision. I used the same optomestist in December and was happy with the new glasses I'd received, so wanted a spare pair. Our dinners were at Warung Pojok most nights, and generally cost less than 90,000.
On our last afternoon in Ubud, we decided to go for a drive. We took one of our favourite routes, turning off Jl Raya Andong near the Arjuna statue and heading through the back of Pejeng to the Tampaksiring Road, then back though a different part of Pejeng and back out near the Arjuna again. The ricefields were mainly harvested and yukky, but one of the nicer areas were still growing. Then coming back though Pejeng Kawan we stopped for me to photograph a home decorated for a wedding. With true Balinese hospitality, the owner soon came out onto the road and got me, took me inside and showed me around. His wife came and offered me a drink and food (which I had to accept of course). The bride and groom had just left to go to the bride's home so I only got to see the wedding photo of them. I was invited back the next day for the tooth filing ceremony - but had to refuse as we were leaving for Tulamben. What a wonderful thing for this kind man to do, it's these experiences that make Bali the very special place it is.
On Wednesday we packed our mountain of gear and "supplies" and driver Moyo phoned to say he had arrived and was in the hotel carpark. I always love to see the drivers eyes widen as the suitcases, bags, boxes, backpacks, laptops bags etc start to arrive at the car. and they wonder how it will all fit in. And it always does. The owners of Saren Indah were waiting to give us goodbye hugs and once again waved away my offer of payment for our inward airport transfer. This was our 20th stay at this delightful hotel, and we plan to return later in the year if I am OK to travel.
Soon we were on our way. Tulamben is about a 2.5 hour driver from Ubud but Moyo said it had taken him 3.5 hours to come down to collect us as there were a lot of trucks on the road. Luckily, the traffic wasn't too bad and we made good time. What a joy to get our first sight of Mt Agung, it's such an amazing volcano and very beautiful (or is that handsome - seeing it's a "he"?).
Our arrival at paradise Tulamben was met with lots of hugs and huge smiles. Staff soon transported the luggage to our room and the stuff we leave here was waiting in the room. I wandered out to greet the restaurant staff and was accosted by one of the hotel dogs who lavished my hand and arm with licks, meanwhile her mother, a very elderly dog, who has claimed me as her own (along with the doggie treats she know I always bring), came and gently growled at her daughter and took over the arm cleaning.
Our little hotel doesn't have a fridge in the room, and we've always borrowed the small one belonging to the owner's wife. It broke down last trip so I asked her to please buy one for us and we would leave it in storage between trips. So, a brand new bar fridge has pride of place on the bathroom floor - but when I asked how much we owed for it, was asked if she could use it when we are not here. I said that was fine....and now she has refused payment, saying the fridge is ours whenever we are here, but because she will use it most of the time, will not accept payment. Then the hotel owner made us a gift of 2 large bottles of Bintang, which we have left in the restaurant fridge with our names on them for whenever we want them. It's so wonderful being back in our home at Tulamben and we have another month to relax and do lots of diving. Two of our friends from Austria are here, and we also caught up with Wally Saigian who was just heading off when we went for dinner.
The only "downside" is that our dive porter has a serious injury. He chopped the end of this thumb off a few days ago and has had surgery in Denpasar to remove it down to the knuckle. He can't get the wound wet at the moment, but I think he intends to bring his eldest son to look after us. Meanwhile, he's still working at whatever he can using his good hand. No work=no money=no food for his family.
Time to go and unpack dive gear and start setting up the underwater camera. Slowly, slowly.......in Bali time!