Pak Wayan has either had an unexpected windfall or, we’ve been paying him far too much for his taxi services; I suspect it is the latter.
It was the gleaming, dent free, almost brand-new car that came to pick us up from the airport last Saturday that was the giveaway. ‘Pak, you have a new car!’ I said to him when we were at last sat in the back of it and heading home. ‘Yes Ibu and look’ he said proudly pointing to the a/c controls which he then turned up so high, that my nipples instantly stiffened due to the unfamiliar sub-zero temperatures that we were being treated to courtesy of Pak’s all singing, all dancing, fantastic new set of wheels.
Theo, my youngest, has come out from London to stay with us for two weeks. It’s a joy to have him here, and it also gives Irishman an excuse to do ‘boy’ things with him such as fishing, snorkelling and climbing volcanoes. I shall be writing about their adventures in the next post.
Our recent adventure however was a trip to Balangan, a surfer beach down on the Bukit peninsula. Balangan is one of Irishman’s and my favourite beaches on Bali as it is relatively unspoilt and very beautiful. We happily sit for hours and watch the giant waves and the surfers and when we tire of that, we go for walks and collect shells or gaze into rock pools when the tide is out. Along the furthest end of the beach there are wooden beach shacks built on stilts with alang-alang roofs. The shacks are where the surfers hangout when they are taking a rest from the waves and where you can also get basic meals, and cold drinks. Most of the shacks have rooms to rent so I had the bright idea last Sunday, of renting one for this Wednesday night thinking it would be a treat for Theo and fun for us all to watch the sun go down, have some supper, and then go to sleep with the sound of the Indian Ocean and it’s crashing waves just a few feet away from us.
Against my better judgement, I booked the room despite us all knowing that the place was infested with rats. The evidence of large, vocal rodents didn’t seem to put Theo or Irishman of in the least, but I have a pathological fear of them as you will know if you’ve read my post ‘Ratus Vagina’. Not wishing to be a sissy, nor a killjoy, I paid 170,000 rupiah (£7.50 or $10) in advance to secure our room.
My secret plan to overcome my fears (aka Dutch courage) was to drink as much Bintang beer as I possibly could during the course of the evening so that by the time we all went to bed I would pass out in a stupor, rendering me comatose and blissfully unaware if any rats ran over my face or knawed my feet whilst we slept. The only trouble with this plan was that I knew that at some point in the night I would need a pee, and as the steps leading down to the bathroom were treacherous enough as it was when sober, they might well prove fatal if I were still under the influence. I decided to err on the side of caution, which was a mistake as I was to find out later.
After an enjoyable evening, a reasonably good meal and just about the right amount of Bintang so as to make me sleepy, we climbed the wobbly steps up to our room and lay down on the mattress on the floor. After a while the soporific sound of the waves sent us all to sleep.
I don’t know what time of the night it was, but I was woken up by what I can only describe as intense labour pains. These pains, where also combined with a distinctive percolating sensation in the lower bowel area, which I now know from previous bitter experience, heralds the start of a violent bout of diarrhoea.
Clutching my stomach and clenching my sphincter muscle with all the strength I could muster, I crept out of the room as quietly as possible and groped my way to the top of the stairs. As I gingerly felt my way down the steep stairs I prayed I’d get there without a disaster. Fortunately I got to the only toilet in the place just in the nick of time. I was in such a bad way that I was quite sure that the explosive noises now emanating from the toilet were bound to wake up not just Theo and Irishman, but all the other guests whose rooms were unfortunately not only within ear shot, but also smelling distance of the bathroom. (read bathroom as basically shit hole)
After my internal storm had died down, I washed (mercifully someone had left some shower gel in the communal bathroom) and then went back up to the room. Amazingly my boys were still asleep but I was still in pain and restless knowing that I would probably have to make several more journeys back to the toilet before sunrise. As I lay there I tried to calm my self by listening to the sea and the gentle breathing of my men folk. All was going well until I heard a loud squeak and scratching sound right behind my head and then more squeaks and suddenly an almighty crash as a saucepan lid hit the ground. The rats were having a ball in the kitchen and their nocturnal activity was going on just inches from where I was lying. This beach paradise had now turned into my idea of hell.
At last dawn finally arrived and my long and tortuous night was over. Irishman, Theo and I watched the early morning beach activity from our balcony and drank coffee. First the dawn surfers and then later on the sun worshippers arriving for their day on the beach. Irishman too had had to make several mad dashes to the toilet so I was not the only one struck down with Bali belly. Amazingly Theo was unscathed but then he’d opted for a pot noodle for supper and we had been rather more greedy and gone with salad and chicken. The plot was thinning rapidly.
A trip later on that morning to the kitchen confirmed our worst fears. Not only was it a playground for rats and cockroaches, but it was so indescribably filthy that it contained every known pathogen to man. It’s no wonder then that 30 hours down the line, Irishman is having to sit with his pants down on a bucket whilst taking part in an important conference skype call to the States, and I’ve been to the toilet at least 5 times in the space of time it’s taken me to write this. I’m sorry; this is probably way, way too much information from your S.E Asia correspondent.