Trip Start Nov 02, 2003
50Trip End Mar 01, 2005
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After chilling out for a bit in Ubud and the pair of us recovering from a stomach upset too, we decided to get the bus to Padangbai to be by the sea again. It is normally a stop off point before people embark on their journey to Lombok, or vice versa, so it was quite a surprise to see some travellers at last. So far we have only seen a collecion of mostly middle aged Dutch and German people. The Brits seem to have forgotten that Bali is here. It is a shame as most of the Balinese livliehoods have depended on the tourists, but as there are so few after 2002, they are now having to work the rice fields as there is nowhere else for them to go.
Our stopover in Padangbai was a very dark one. It seems the intermitent electricity flow has resulted in people giving up on high voltage light bulbs, so with reading being the only entertainment when it is raining and with the village taking 10 minutes to walk around, we found ourselves in the local fish restaurant watching a bad pirate movie called Passion of the Christ. It was quite hard to follow, due to the subtitles being chopped in half, and had a very brutal ending. A bit like our snapper and chips, which had been forgotton for about an hour on the grill.
The next day we made our way to Tirta Gangga, another very small village with one money changer (came very handy, after realising we ran out of cash) and a couple of Warungs (eating places) and a couple of stalls selling a few basic items. The main reason for our stay here was to admire the gorgeous padi fields. It was not too hard to find somewhere to stay, as our new friend Gusti, led us to the Water Palace homestay. The Water Palace Garden was built for the king many years ago (I don't know when, I have forgotten) and is simply stunning. You can also bathe in the large water pools, but we decided to enjoy our outdoor sunken marble bath behind our bungalow. We did not however manage to enjoy it until dinner time, as it took a few hours to fill up due to the dribble of hot water. We ended the day high on the rice terraces, sitting in an empty restaurant slurpping noodles, watching a glorious pink sunset reflecting in the pools of the padi fields. And dicovering I had run out of camera film.
The next day, Gusti had us up nice and early for a gentle stroll around the rice fields. We walked along the muddy paths and balanced along the irrigation canal, crossing little bridges. We met lots of locals busy working, ploughing the fields with thier cows and resting from the hot sun under their makeshift shelters.
The views were amazing, it was a clear day, so we could also see the volcano in the distance. Then just as we thought we had it easy, we climbed lord knows how many hundreds of steps (the most exercise I have had in ages after being in bed for a week), to a temple on a hill. The views were gorgeous, although I spent the first 20 minutes clutching my chest and thinking I was never going to make it. Gusti was patiently waiting for us at the top, smoking a Marlboro light and reading the footie scores.