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The original world nomad "Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance." - Confucius.

The other Bali

INDONESIA | Thursday, 28 December 2006 | Views [1736]

Ah, Bali. Tropical, friendly, easy, stunningly beautiful, lush, and interesting, somehow even the crass commercialism of Kuta doesn't dirty the experience. The Balinese know only too well how to alter their environment to best effect, turning the smallest yard, rice paddy or corner of the jungle into a delicate paradise garden. As Seminyak continues to develop, the old rice paddies lie idle and then developed into luxury villas, hotels and restaurants. You might mourn the loss of space and the traditional environment, but this is exactly what they have been doing for hundreds of years.

Seminyak is surprisingly nice with quiet streets, little traffic, and up-market developments. The rooms where we are staying are decorated with tall psudo-ethnic sculptures probably supposedly from Papua New Guinea. But you have to laugh: where the female genitalia are usually highlighted they come with carved wooden panties. I guess the missionaries in all their prudishness got here long before us.

Everywhere seems quiet with few tourists. Even Kuta. While terrorism is firmly on the minds of both tourists and the poor Balinese, any sort of security is nigh impossible: guards on the gate would only stop the most casual attempt at a bombing and as we drove down the main street of Kuta in our taxi, loads of mini-vans were just parked up on the kerb, no driver in sight. Any could be a car-bomb.

Scary. Unpredictable. Uncomfortable.

Traveling with young kids in hot tropical climate isn't easy since between about 11am and 4pm its both too hot to do much outside and the kids need a nap or they get cranky later and then it's dark at 6:30, which doesn't leave much at that end of the day to do much. But it's all pretty relaxed and the boys love the pool.

Both boys managed to sit pretty much enthralled for the hour long Kecak dance, which was a good effort since it was late and we hadn't eaten. We then made the mistake of allowing our taxi driver to take us to Jimbaran, where they have seafood restaurants on the beach. Apart from being absurdly expensive, it was so dark you couldn't see what was being served ... which was certainly quite deliberate since it was crap by any measure. Just one of those travel experiences you put down, well, to experience.

Kai. Kai. Kai. He is quite a two year old: fine when he wakes up and it's all downhill from there. At the other end of the day he thinks nothing of hurtling around a restaurant, wailing his lungs out as he writhes on the floor ... and then charmingly standing up as we make to leave and in that angelic voice says "Goodbye!" to the patient waitresses and toddles off.

When parents are discussing their offspring it can be quite amusing to see the difference between those with boys (us) and those with girls (who disapprove of us). When I happened to say boys and girls are so different, a Dutch chap staying here who has two young daughters said "Children are what their parents make them". True maybe mate ... but you don't have two boys so simply have no idea what you are talking about.

Just 50km from Kuta and we're on another planet. A dirt track leads down from the warungs on the main road until all you can hear is the roar of the surf and the gecko's calling as evening descends.

It's quiet. Wonderfully quiet.

Surrounded by rice paddy's that go right down to the very edge of the black volcanic beach, the place we are staying has seen better days; we wonder if they just don't get the numbers since the Bali bombings to maintain it any more?

The pool is 32ºC which means that for two days we just eat and swim. There isn't much else to do. Which is just fine!


Tags: bali, culture, fear, gods, island, magic, terrorism, travel with children


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