A couple of days ago Irishman and I were sat drinking coffee at the kitchen table and discussing plans for a snorkeling and fishing trip with Theo.
Nyoman was in the garden watering the plants and tending to the orchids, and Wayan was listening to our conversation whilst pounding away at a mountain of chilies in preparation for one of her lethal ring-burning sambals.
Suddenly she stopped her rhythmic pounding and said ‘Pak Wayan has a new boat, he can take you fishing and snorkeling’. Irishman and I nearly choked on our coffee. What! A new car AND a new boat? Beyond any shadow of a doubt, Pak Wayan had clearly become a man of some substance.
Whilst visions of what Pak’s new Gin Palace might look like floated in our heads, Wayan went off to make a phone call. Five minutes later she was back, and excitedly told us that Pak Wayan would be picking us up at 8am the following morning to take us on a snorkeling and fishing trip on his boat. We were all pretty excited too.
The following morning we made our way up the coastal road out of Sanur and started to head north. As Pak drove us, we were able to watch some of the wonderful and not so wonderful sights of Bali. A small child with no inhibition squatting down having a shit on a pavement, an old woman carrying what looked like a ton of bricks in a basket on her head. Handcarts neatly stacked with corn on the cobs, a man on a scooter with his 4 children, one perched on his back, one on his lap and two behind him hanging on for dear life.
Fighting cocks in baskets were dotted along the roadside as were endless tiny stalls selling coconuts, bananas, watermelons and pineapples. Groups of women sat in doorways and on steps, chatting as they busily filled the offerings baskets with flowers, pieces of banana, crackers, daun pandan, and petals. We passed a man stuffing a dead cat unceremoniously into a plastic bag along with his household rubbish and a few miles further on, the tragic sight of a dog covered in bleeding patches, literally knawing on it’s own legs to try to alleviate the itching from mange and fleas.
Onwards and onwards we traveled, slowly winding up through the mountain passes, then down snaking our way round treacherous hairpin bends. We drove across bridges that traversed large deep dried up river beds now thirsty and parched from the dry season, and long stretches of road darkened by the jungle canopy that hung over them. We saw rice terraces, coloured in myriad shades of green, and farmers ploughing their fields with oxen. Ladies wearing coolie hats, knee deep in water and mud, pulling out the grasses and weeds from the growing rice plants. Well fed pigs fattened for months in their stys, now tethered under trees blissfully unaware that these were their last few days before being slaughtered for the big feast of Galungan at the end of this month.
With the journey being at least an hour or so longer than we thought, we could only imagine that Pak’s new boat was being anchored in some exclusive marina miles away from the jealous and prying eyes of his neighbours in Batur Sari. After 3 hours we eventually arrived at Tulamben. Although tired from the early start, and stiff from the long journey, we were keen to get onboard the boat and start the serious business of some snorkeling and fishing.
Bags containing swimming kit, googles, snorkels, towels, cameras and bottles of water were hauled from the boot of the car as we then followed Pak down to the waters edge. As we surveyed our new surroundings, it soon became apparent that something was missing from the picture.
‘Pak, where exactly is your boat?’ I asked him as my eyes scanned the empty shoreline from one end to the other. ‘Boat?’ replied Pak wiping away a large bead of sweat from his forehead. ‘Yes Pak, your new boat, where is it?’ Irishman and I exchanged nervous glances. ‘Ibu, I have no boat, but I find you one’. Theo looked down and shuffled his feet uncomfortably and Irishman started to do the thing that he always does when he’s not happy and that is to start rolling his head from side to side, a bit like a bull before it charges. I looked at Pak, and Pak looked at me, he then hurriedly got his phone out of his pocket and phoned his brother. It turned out that Pak’s brother couldn’t help us either due to there being an important ceremony in his village.
We traipsed back up the hill to the car with all the bags and made for Amed a small fishing village a few kilometres back down the coast.
To be continued………..