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Hello Ubud, Bali !

INDONESIA | Friday, 11 October 2013 | Views [2341]

The last 24 hours have been a series of delayed events but all followed by a great result.

Last night in Singapore I went to see the fountain and light show held every night at 8pm (there are some later performances too) at the Marina Bay Sands. You may remember I mentioned this building during my trip to Singapore as being a sort of flagship of Singaporean success. I wandered through the maze of ultimate designer label boutiques and had a pleasant dinner in the food court. The heavens opened and the torrential downpour meant that even the likes of Cartier were not exempt from having a bucket hastily put outside to catch a previously undetected leak. Needless to say staff were only moments behind 'hoovering' up wet floors. You can't help but admire Singaporean efficiency! The show was postponed until 9.30pm, weather permitting - which, I have to say, it did - almost to the minute. The show was absolutely stunning. Fountains turned into sprays where film was projected alongside laser and fire effects. It was absolutely an endorsement, possibly even an advertisement of the merits of this tiny country and was the one thing I really wanted to see on this short stopover.

This morning I was up and at the airport well before the required time, even having checked in on line. This tells me that the hostel wasn't one I'd rush back to but more importantly that I'm really excited about my next destination. Ubud in Bali. Singapore obviously wasn't quite ready to relinquish me however and there was an almost four hour delay to endure. How better than a hand massage-which could equally have been reflexology or a fish foot bath. Changi airport is a good place to be delayed. Our plane arrives and soon we are on our way, oh and I had all 3 seats in my row to myself, so after an oddly presented lunch, feet up and a nap.

Noticed Lion Air's slogan earlier today. "We Make People Fly". Frankly this doesn't inspire much confidence especially when, I am told, one of their aircraft unexpectedly added a little acquatic sightseeing into its itinerary recently. I feel there is much mileage to be had here. Anyone have any witty remarks?

Arriving in Bali on a Friday afternoon I suppose one should be prepared to see some unusual sights as the Aussies head north in droves up to their playground. I guess Hawaii has the Americans in much the same way and probably Spain for the Brits. Surfboards, even from the plane the waves are very apparent, colourful Hawaiian shirts, all manner of hats - a beanie tops off a well cut back t-shirt emphasising some finely toned biceps. A young girl wearing a poker dot rah rah skirt & matching crop top. You're getting the idea right? The queue takes almost an hour by which time my backpack is suffering from motion sickness on the belt! Retrieved, we both set off for the world that, just beyond those doors is Bali. Just need the cashpoint and to cash a travellers cheque but where did I put that spare wallet with my main card in? It's not where it should be. Panic! I have now enlisted the help of a money changing office who allow me to half empty my luggage all over their furniture. No sign of it. The ensuing panic even entails a call to the hostel and then in the bottom of my new deep handbag is a shape I've been searching for! The relief is tremendous but relief doesn't cash travellers cheques and nor does anyone at the airport! Don't expect wifi either.

Going off in search of a taxi I recall warnings to proceed out of the building and turn left until you get to the taxi desk and do not let anyone help you with your bags. I'm almost caught by a driver who points to his embroidered shirt 'Airport Taxi Service'. Great, I say, let's go pay at the desk and we can go. He vanished and no surprise, his shirt is not at all like the official ones but as a tourist, how would you know? The fare to Ubud is published at IR 250,000. I've read it used to be IR200,000 but seriously, it's over an hour's drive and he will have an empty cab all the way back. Sometimes I think people try to penny pinch too much. 

The sun is setting and I'm craning to catch every sight that dusk affords. Perhaps any daytime shadows are devoured by the darkening skies and eyes drawn to colourful lights cleverly directing our gaze at their will. There are wooden carvings and ornate masonry everywhere and I can't wait to see (and photograph) them to share with you. I feel the excitement stiring again in that adventure seeker's whisper and I am so excited to be here. In part this is due to a workshop I am looking forward to. We arrive in Ubud to posters advertising a Travel & Writers festival this Friday-Monday! Perfect.

The journey has left me a little wide eyed. The small roads are full of cars and scooters and everyone determined that reaching their destination is of highest priority. In short it is a free-for-all game of chicken! My driver tells me he is exhausted being the end of the APEC conference held here, it has been a busy week. He is yawning so much I daren't join in. I suggested he find coffee before his return trip.

We pull into Bliss Bungalows & Spa. A small, affordable place close to the workshop I'm attending. It's a bit of a maze but I get to reception and am greeted with smiles and a delicious gingery tea, invited to sit down and fill in their form. I'm shown to my room upstairs which I walk into uttering an involuntary 'wow'. Now this I can do! It's big, airy, with sofa, bath, tv (which I'm unlikely to put on but...) and a good sized balcony with solid wooden furniture. I am so happy that once the bellboy has gone, I confess to doing a little twirl. We have walked past the infinity pool which looks out over rice fields and the walkways are lined with tropical vegetation.

It is from this balcony that my tale of the last 24 hours comes to you. Being at the end of the building there is some road noise, but mostly it's just the cricket and frog songs. I think I will like it here. If it feels this good in daylight too, then there may be a possibility that I will never leave here!

Tags: bali, bliss bungalows, marina bay sands, singapore, ubud

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