Bali 3- Charlotte's 18th
Trip Start Apr 11, 2006
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Eventually the others crawled out of their slumber and a family meeting was chaired after their brunch to see what was on the agenda for the day. After yesterdays bike ride the lasses only wanted to rest their weary tushes by the pool. Jess and I felt that this was a good opportunity to display our swollen budgies and don our 'Speedos’ and strut around the pool – the boy has a lot to learn yet about strutting around a pool. It was at this point I felt it was time to lay down some rules to Charlotte seeing as though I only had 10 hours left to boss her around. I pleaded and begged her to watch an English Football match with me that night, I crawled on hands and knees grovelling for two and half hours of her time just so she would sit with me and watch a Football match. There was method in my madness, you see I had to occupy Charlotte so that Di had time to ‘buy a special present’. Wink wink. Charlotte, with a roll of her eyes and a pathetic look of ‘I must be adopted, it is the only logical explanation’ and a not so enthusiastic ‘okay’, agreed to watch the football with me. Wink, wink…!
Really, though, I can understand Charlotte’s reluctance to watch the two ordinary teams who were playing. The game was between two virtually unknown teams, Everton and Man United, and an abysmal standard of play was expected from these two teams – oh well can’t have everything. Wink wink!
Bali this time of year is actually the rainy season. Two seasons; wet and dry. It is either raining or it is not – the temperature remains the same but the humidity will fluctuate a little if it rains or not. Our first week in Bali during the rainy season saw us experience very little rain – however the gods must have feared the impending arrival of Typhoon Charlotte at midnight that night and opened the heavens with torrential afternoon rain.
This rain drove the strutters away from the pool and into anonymity of doing their thing around the bedroom with only the mirror to impress. Think how good we would have strutted if we also had a ‘Bintang singlet’ to complete the picture. ‘Whose ya daddy!!!’
Since we had been on holidays in Bali the Duty Free Litre bottles of Gin and Vodka we purchased prior to leaving Sydney were getting a daily workout, and a Saturday afternoon with a tropical rainstorm was the perfect excuse to have a few afternoon nips and catch up on some typing.
The venue for the evening was the ‘Sports Bar’ a few hundred metres away from our hotel. Over the past week we had walked down the road and passed the ‘Sports Bar’ on numerous occasions. On the way there the same Javanese people tried to flog a vast array of goods and services to us as they did each and everyday. Their approach never changed – our response never changed – yet every time they persisted and every time we gleefully knocked them back – life does have some little pleasures.
On arrival at the ‘Sports Bar’ we were greeted with a packed bar full of stylish, classy ‘Bintang Singlet’ wearing ‘Blokes and Sheilas’. All sculling their beers, and eloquently expressing their opinion of what was transpiring in the Sydney Swans vs Geelong pre-season Australian Rules Football game which was being shown on the bars 37 TV screens.
Dinner was lovely – it actually was – at the back of the ‘Sports Bar’ was a very lovely restaurant, which by Bali standards was fairly expensive. We ordered seafood for entrée and then our main meal, followed by dessert, all washed down with cocktails, beers, cola and water for about $A120.
The ‘Aussie Rules’ had finished and the ‘Bintang Singlets’ were leaving in droves – shortly after swarms of ‘Bintang Singlets’ came in –although this lot of ‘Bintang Singlet’ wearers spoke like the Beatles and Steptoe and Son and they were all going to ‘smash them there @#$#@#$$ heads in – I will guvna’. Ahh sport, it is such an equaliser amongst waring tribes and mental giants.
The game started at 8.45pm Bali time; Jess, Charlotte and I found a comfy spot in the middle of the bar and could comfortably view 17 TV’s at the same time – they were all showing the same thing – you think 3D is good, this was mind boggling!! Di pleasantly excused herself and said she needed to go ‘special shopping’ wink wink, Charlotte seemed excited – not sure if it was sitting next to her Dad and watching ‘Footy’, or the ‘special shopping’ or the impending coming of age which caused the excitement, but she was excited nontheless.
Anyway, things were about to get a whole lot more exciting, wink wink – you see coming to Bali when you turn 18 is one thing, but coming to Bali when you turn 18 with two girlfriends is another thing all together……………that’s right, the wink wink walked in – Sabrina and Vanessa, two of Charlottes friends from school pushed their way through the ‘Bintang Singlet’ Manchester wannabees and yelled surprise!!!!SURPRISE!!!!!!!!!! Charlotte cried!!! No it was not the poor standard of football that caused the rush of tears, it was the wink wink SURPRISE!!!!! That did it. Aaah I love it when a well executed plan all comes together – seven months of planning and she knew nothing!!!!
Of course watching Football with her dad was completely forgotten – Di had crept in and looked a bit bushwacked from her race across town to the airport to pick Vanessa and Sabrina up and then race back, drop the girls bags at the hotel and then scurry over to the ‘Sports Bar’ – Everton scored, Jesse and I jumped up, pumped the air with the budgies and strutted the Bar! Everton scored again, Jesse and I jumped up, pumped the air with the budgies and strutted the Bar, jealous eyes followed our every strut!!!!!! Go the 1%!!
The game ended, Di, Jesse and I bid the girls ‘fare thee well’ and we left them to gaggle. On the way to the hotel all the Javanese tried to sell something of some sort and we said ‘NO!!!" and smiled. Then it hit me like a bolt from blue yonder!!! Sabrina and Vanessa were moving in with Charlotte – that means Jesse will move into our room!!!! Looks like no more swinging from the chandelier and wearing Batman suites for us this holiday!!
The next morning I waited for the sun to rise – in fact I was relieved when the sun did rise, as I was a little worried Charlotte’s coming of age may have resulted in some biblical catastrophe – ‘end of days’, ‘plague’. ‘forty day flood’, ‘pestilence’, you know the usual stuff – but no all was peaceful.
Charlotte’s birthday was adventure day and we were all being picked up at midday to go ‘White-water rafting’ – we had booked the trip in the afternoon so the little darlings could sleep in and catch up on some sleep. As it turned out Charlotte woke with a sultry sexy husky voice – compliments of a very sore throat and a niggling cough – but she was eighteen now and completely indestructible, nothing was ‘gunna stop her now’.
A 5 year old Suzuki APV 9-seater fronted up to take us on our adventure – this raised the prospect of something memorable happening on Charlottes day of days. On the way out to the rafting Di was in her element as the journey took us down some street that was littered with furniture shops. She was comical as she tried to write down the names of all the stores – ‘Bangbangs Beds’ ‘Bagus Chairs’ ‘Boediono lounges’ ‘Suwardi chandeliers’, yeah right Di your gunna come back aren’t you.
Lifejackets were compulsory as were the traditional ill-fitting helmets. We were going to store all the valuables in the 5 year old Suzuki APV 9-seater, but our guide insisted we bring our money in the ‘Dry Bag’ – a nice sharing and caring kind of guy – maybe, methinks more, no money, no spend!!! It is sad you get like this – but normally it’s true.
The walk down to the river was a heck of a long way – 500 steps were plodded down by the six of us, we carried our paddles as well and in a few tight, steep spots the paddles were used more as a walking stick for those of us who had trouble remembering when they were themselves 18 years old. The trip to the river was very scenic. After about 317 steps we could hear the water the thunderous roar of the river below – the river is affectionately known amongst the locals as the ‘Widow Maker’, amused me and I had mentally spent the insurance money until it was explained to me that Di would be a widow not me!!!
We finally reached the bottom and the river was actually running harder than I thought it was going to be. Next moment we were told to move to the side and to my surprise our inflated raft came sailing through air from the trees above. Why carry when you can throw? The guide gave us a comprehensive briefing – ‘when I say forward – you paddle forward’ ‘When I say back – you paddle back”, "when I say stop – you stop paddling” Any questions? We were now well trained in White water rafting. All aboard!!
The rafting was fun, the guide guided us into rocks, over rocks and in places through rocks. We got wet, wetter and very wet. We paddled forward – paddled backward and stopped paddling - though some on the raft paddled forward when they should have stopped, or went back when they should have gone forward and forward when they should have …………… well you get the picture!! The girls laughed and squealed and to be honest you were in greater danger of having your head cut off by a wayward paddle than being struck by a rock.
The scenery was awesome. The river was very low, with vegetation filled cliff faces dwarfing us. We paddled under low hanging suspension bridges – ‘Duelling Banjos’ could be heard off into wilderness – we were now in ‘Deliverance Country’, ‘moonshine and kissing cousins’. Are we ever going to be seen again?
Waterfalls littered the canyons and it was so much better being in rainy season – that had not rained too much – as the water was gushing – the guide steered us under several water falls for a shower. This prompted squeals of laughter – the biggest squealer was the guide himself. Asian males seem to have such high pitched, almost feminine voices – and our guide was up with the feminist. At one such waterfall the guide let us out of the raft to stand under the waterfall and take some photos. It was all so lively and a special Charlotte Birthday moment.
Whilst paddling the guide tried to get us to paddle in unison – good luck – we had to paddle on the number – one, two, three, four, five six – each number the paddle hits the water – stroke – next number paddle hits the water – stroke - these four kids are supposed to be bright, how hard could it be for gifted kids – how hard can it be!!!!!! The guy became desperate thought that we did not understand English – so he tried 1 -6 in Japanese – still the paddling was atrocious – 1-6 in Thai – Nung, Song, Sam, See ……. No luck!! Bloody NSW education system.
The guide then said I looked like I needed a nice big Bintang beer – well actually a ‘Bintang Singlet’ would not go astray. We then pulled into a small ‘shop’, well actually a wooden bench with two women standing behind it selling drinks. Why was I surprised that the drinks here cost more than at our hotel? One of the women said we should buy our guide a drink when she could not sell one to us. I know what your thinking – ‘go on buy him one, you cheap skate’ – yes I am cheap – okay!!!
Back in the raft and we had the misfortune of catching up to a raft with Taiwanese in it. It was all fun and games the first 27 times splashing each other – but enough can be enough and these Chinese refugees just did not know when to stop splashing – like little children they gleefully splashed water at us and then giggled. Ever time we paddled to get away out guide would sabotage our feeble efforts and keep us within striking distance of these Chang Kai-Shek descendants. A word to our guide and he realised that trade relations were at stake here and it was time to move on. Our dysfunctional paddling easily powered away from communist rejects.
Two hours on the river and with bulging biceps the river deepened and slowed. The guide said we could float to the meeting place from here, my kids don’t need to be told twice, they jumped overboard so quickly and actually twice the effort they did jumping overboard compared to what they put in paddling.
Floating down the river in our lifejackets was really a lovely way to finish off the adventure. It was kind of spiritual, so becoming, so enlightening, so ………… well I needed to pee actually, it was so relieving.
We scrambled ashore, thanked and tipped the guide, then looked at the climb up the stairs – what goes down, must come up. Fortunately we were told there were only 300 steps here, unlike the 500 we had come down. In front of us were Balinese ladies of about 80 years old, no joke, who were walking up the stairs carrying the raft and other belongings of a group of Taiwanese that finished before us. The women were carrying these things on their heads. I just love how in Asian the women have to do the manual labour.
We all took off up the steps and smart kids who were paddle retarded decided to show how smart they thought they were and counted all the steps = 267 was their count.
It was then back in the 5 year old Suzuki APV 9-seater for the return to Kuta and find a place to celebrate Charlotte’s birthday. Unfortunately there were no dramas on the trip back. Once back at the hotel we showered, had a couple of Gins and dressed to the nines and tens and then we were all out to a Thai restaurant for dinner.
Charlotte’s voice was deteriorating as the cold took hold and was now coughing and spluttering – welcome to adulthood – it is all downhill from here.
Once out of the restaurant I thought I knew a short cut to the beach through a five star hotel – we only got lost and had to wander aimlessly around. We stumbled onto the pool area and were shocked that not one single person had a ‘Bintang Singlet’, yet at our hotel everyone, except us of course, wore a ‘Bintang singlet’. Maybe the wealthy are just not cool enough for a ‘Bintang Singlet’ or they were waiting for the Yvette St Laurent version to come out. After wondering around the hotel for twenty minutes I gave up and admitted I could not find the beach – so we retraced our steps and went back to our hotel the way we came.
Once back at the hotel, we all went down to the beach bar and had cocktails – Charlotte could finally have alcoholic ones. Then the cake came out and the whole bar sang happy birthday to Charlotte – I bought another round of drinks (see I am not cheap), the young girls stayed on to have a few more legal cocktails – Di had to come with us. Jesse and I watched the dull boring Man City vs Liverpool boring draw in our bedroom. City not losing capped off a memorable day for me.
Overall Happy 18th Birthday Charlotte I hope you had a good day and hope you will always remember it.