We have rented a car for 16 days, which clearly delights the local rental company. They tell us they have given us an upgrade, but when we see the car we are doubtful. They explain that the car hasn’t been upgraded, but instead they have added something. We immediately think GPS. But no. What we have is a plastic daisy sitting on the dashboard.
We might have been a little disappointed if it wasn’t for the fact that it has a tiny solar panel on it and whenever the sun hits it, it starts to wobble and wave. We love it.
Driving in Bali is a little like a video game.
As a tourist you are told to drive on the left hand side of the road. This rule appears to be only for tourists as everyone else drives where ever there is a gap in the traffic and a road surface without potholes.
The scooters swarm like angry mosquitoes. There will be at least a dozen of them buzzing around us at all times. They are on the inside of us, the outside of us and inches behind our back bumper. Those are just the ones going in the same direction as us. Then there are the ones coming directly at us.
As you swat one away, two more take its place. If the street is so packed with traffic that it has come to a standstill which is often the case, then the motorbikes take to the sidewalk. Driving is a nightmare but is far preferable to being a pedestrian.
The motor bikes are driven by the very young – it seems that they start at around 12 years old
Parking is always a problem. You have to pay but there are no parking meters – just Balinese men running to catch you as you pull into an empty spot and demanding the equivalent of 20 cents.
They too have to pay to park. Parking spots for them are so crowded that the meter man has to move them all the time to fit one more in, or let one out.
After a week at the Kunja Villa we drive to Ubud in the center of the island. Until recently there were no street maps of Bali and even now there are very few street signs. Navigating is mainly done by guess work and we always take a compass. It is 26 kilometers ( 16 miles) to Ubud and the drive takes us an hour and a half. This is not because we get lost, but because the traffic is so heavy.
Ubud is a world away from the beach resorts. It is up in the hills, a little cooler and a lot wetter, which is a really bad sign right now. It is a spiritual and artistic center. This means that very few Australians go there as the only art they appreciate are the labels on their beer bottles and their understanding of spiritualism is that it must have something to do with vodka shots
The town is delightful as are the people, but the countryside is the star. It is incredibly beautiful.
The town is one long artwalk, the streets full of tiny shops
inside you can watch the artist at work
This is a Hindu island and so the sidewalks are full of the tiny, but beautiful offerings that the store owners make to their deities
You have to be careful not to step on them.
They make these offerings several times a day and there is a distinct and quite lengthy ritual that goes with it. If you enter a shop while the offerings are being made, be prepared to wait for service. Tourists come in a distant second place to the spirits
Even more offering are made at the many shrines around town and some are so popular that the offerings are piled high on long benches:
Flowers are very important in these offerings, but they are also used everywhere as decoration,
They can be found in restaurants, hotels, courtyards and gardens everywhere
Here is a beautiful example of a water lily:
And to show you the size of the water lily and the insects that feed of them, here is a bee, a lily and me!
Then there are the flowers. Mostly they are tropical and species we know and recognise