"Watch Out for Eeyur's"

Trip Start Feb 12, 2011
Trip End Nov 19, 2011

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Where I stayed

Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Thursday, March 10, 2011

Our morning breakfast was a bit nicer than our previous accommodation, and we were thoroughly entertained by the Ubud Inn's pet bat who enjoyed his breakfast of papaya a few feet from us. Apparently he took refuge with a hurt wing some time ago, and now lives in the compound full time.  We caught our 8am shuttle to our river rafting excursion and met Craig, a Canadian living in Australia.  We were dropped somewhere north of town and had time to get to know Craig while we waited for others on the tour to arrive, including Adrienne, a felllow American.  We were somewhere in the jungle and eventually were fitted with silly helmets, life jackets, and paddles and sent down hill, an extremely steep traverse down the side of a narrow canyon.  I eventually realized the paddle given to us as a walking stick as it would prove useless on the river.

Our boats were waiting for us in a beautiful jungle canyon, with steep 200’ slopes on either side.  Once our dry bags were sorted six of us piled into our raft with our guide.  He went over some menial instructions and commands and I was immediately confused.  If both sides row forward or backward we are not going to be able to change direction, only speed.  This was all very sketchy as I pondered if our guide had more or less teeth than English words at his disposal, a silly proposition considering both were less than he had fingers.  Nonetheless, I was game and we pushed off.  It was quickly apparent that it was ridiculous to have Craig and I in front, the heaviest and strongest paddlers, but our guide didn’t seem concerned as we all struggled to control the direction of the boat.  Within minutes we were flung into some pretty descent rapids and baited into a water fight with the other boat.

Craig and I immediately became suspicious of our captain’s ability to command the ship as we sat waiting for other rafts to go over our first big rapids.  At our turn we ventured through the rocks and over the rapids slamming into a rock wall.  We were unscathed and it was a good ride and it wasn’t too soon before we were turned around our guide was instructing us to row backwards.  Thinking we were trying to get the boat righted we rowed as fast as we could until we slammed into a rock wall behind us nearly casting Craig out of the boat.  Our guide thought this was funny.

At a lull in the river, we were encouraged to jump in the water and swim for a bit and this is probably a good time to note my infatuation with the charming inability for many Southeast Asians to pronounce their L’s.  I had been joking with Erica and Kristen for weeks saying that everything was "Coo-er" instead of “Cool”.  My favorite word was “Eel” or “Eee-yur”, which we saw for sale (alive) in Chiang Mai.  This couldn’t be more appropriate as I joked with Erica to watch out for the “Eee-yur” while swimming in the refreshing water.  Saying “Eee-yur” never fails to make me chuckle, never more so than when as I swam to the shore in this jungle river, did a 3 foot eel appear on the surface, swimming inches from me as I reached for the stone wall of the shore.  Completely startled, the irony was not lost on Craig, Adrienne or Erica as they saw one of the nastiest of water creatures lurk past, and Erica had just admonished me about creeping her out.

This gave us all a good laugh and a little extra motivation to get our asses back in the boat.  Craig and I joked back and forth about the big gap between the bottom and front of the boat and the futility of our paddling as we continued to spin around and run into things, taking rapids every which way but straight on. We pressed on, enjoying the scenery and the waterfalls until we stopped at a little spot where the rock walls were covered in Balinese carvings.  It was impressive that anyone would take the trouble to do all this intricate stone work some 60 years ago before there was any tourist activity or motivation to create such a thing, other than just to do it.

After several more rapids and a near death experience for Craig when we were slammed into a jagged, sloped wall that came within an inch of his face, nearly twice the distance to mine.  I’m sure we both yelled like little girls, but it was still funny, all the more so when we slammed into another all a few minutes later.  It wasn’t until then that we realized our captain was in complete control and he was guiding us into these walls on purpose.  Of course he does this every day and we began to admire the level of service he had been providing, something you can’t get in North America due to “Safety Regulations” and “Liability Restrictions”.

It wasn’t long until we crept up on a giant waterfall where we were lucky enough for our guides to jump out and push us into it. Having 10,000 gallons of water dumped on you turns out to be quite refreshing!  We got a chance to stop and have locals sell us $5 cans of beer and it didn’t take long to walk back under the waterfall and help push other rafts into it as they came past.

All in all it was a great little rafting trip in some pretty amazing scenery.  It finished up with us walking up a few hundred steep steps carved into the canyon walls and on to a small spot where lunch was waiting for us.  We got back to the hotel in the early afternoon and after changing we spent a few hours hanging out with Craig figuring out what to do after our stay in Indonesia.  He recommended flying to Darwin and checking out that area as flights were cheap.  In fact Erica was able to get a flight from Bali to Darwin for $60 each.

I had never had a massage, ever, so it wasn’t difficult for Craig to talk me into going with him.  We found a good deal down the road and after some gelato we ventured into a salon/massage parlor on Monkey Forest Road.  I quickly realized I was still wearing my swim trunks and Craig thought this amusing, especially when they gave me a pair of disposable underwear, something only an Italian would even consider putting on.  It was clear this was a joke amongst the massage industry and I can only imagine how amusing it is for the Balinese girls to deal with hairy westerners in silly underwear every day.  If Craig’s tears of laughter were any indication, our masseuses would be joking about me for at least a few days.  The massage was truly relaxing,  so much so, that I was actually getting into the Kenny G Christmas album they were playing in the background, $7 well spent.

That evening, Erica and I enjoyed our last meal in Bali at a little hippie joint serving a descent burrito.  Our first few days in Ubud were a bit rough, but the last couple of days had made up for it and we lamented that there was more to see in Bali, but were excited to go to Dive School.  We hung out with Craig a bit after dinner and made tentative plans to try and catch up with him in Alice Springs, Australia.  We would have slept like babies, but were awakened by what I thought was an earthquake, Erica’s first, early in the morning.  The room seemed to shake for a bit before we dozed back to bed.
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