Hoggtrotters versus the Balinese Bogwasher!

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January 30th 2017
Published: February 5th 2017
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February and I just don't see eye-to-eye! It's been a long time coming but we just don't get on. She insists on throwing everything at me – dark nights, cold days, rain, frozen fingers and soggy feet. We, having just enjoyed a wonderful Festive Season with our wonderful kids and grandkids, now look into the long dark tunnel which will lead to a breaking Spring. February agrees with me that she has little to offer except the gradual lengthening of days and the distant promise of a beautiful Spring. So, its time to pack the backpacks and head off to warmer climes dragging ourselves away from our loved ones. South East Asia should fit the bill!

After a mammoth journey, offset by the fact that we were travelling on the A380-800 super jumbo all the way to Kuala Lumpur (roughly translated – Muddy River). We resided at the rather aptly named Youniq Hotel in Sepang on the outskirts of KL. We have stayed here before. It serves as a breather for the knackered traveller and a few hours desperate kip in the horizontal position. Apart from the location and the price (£12 for the night 'en suite') there is little to recommend it!

A quick Air Asia flight and we arrive in Denpasar, Bali. There to meet us at the airport is the brightest of Balinese buttons, Katut. Katut is a triumph of enthusiasm over pigeon English. There is much smiling and vigorous hand shaking – the welcome is golden and glowing though not entirely comprehensible! We are shepherded towards a thankfully air-conditioned car and driven off into the chaos that is the road system. Traffic wins over sanity! A swarm of angry scooters hover around us and act like a stream of buzzing metal in which we float. Katut gives us a running commentary on various subjects - none of which we fully understand. Ironic that his constant question is 'You understand?'. The continual shaking of our heads does nothing to deter him and on and on he goes. his enthusiasm undeminished.

The Genggong Hotel is a petite, waterfront paradise that adjoins the Lombock Straits. We are shown to a room with a balcony looking out over this magnificent view. This treatment is due, in no small part, to our friendship with our Canadian pals Dick and Sandie Latham. We met very briefly on a slow boat
Meet the Balinese Gang!!Meet the Balinese Gang!!Meet the Balinese Gang!!

We seemed to be adopted by this Balinese family on their day out to the temple!
to China – well almost! We were on the same in vessel in Halong Bay, Vietnam. We got on well from the very start and since then have relied on their singular good taste to recommend places to stay in various locations. Dick and Sandie have stayed at the Ginenggong a couple of times and know the owner, Aldo. We were welcomed like long lost family. To be fair, everyone is!!

One of the more curious features of our new found home for the next two weeks is the 'eco toilet'. Now I don't know about you but this was my first encounter with sure a device and I was burning with curiosity! There was a hint as to its use on the underside of the toilet lid but, of course, being the impulsive type I was drawn to the little knob on the left hand side of the bog. I turned it on only to be hit, full in the chest, by a blast of cold water! A tiny tube had sneaked out from under the toilet seat and shot me with a blast of cold water and then, its aim achieved, it ducked back under the seat! I am, needles to say, now determined to try out the 'Eco Bog' but as yet haven't plucked up enough courage to do so! I can only imagine the impact of a cold jet of water on a warm arse!!

We have also met up with many locals – most of whom appear to be related in one way or another. They all have connections with taxis, accommodation and warungs (cheap local restaurants). One of these is Wyan at the local corner shop. In the blink of an eye and with no real formalities we found ourselves equipped with a fine shiny scooter who we call Black Beauty. She is a simply marvellous beast and for a little over £2 a day gives us the freedom to roam around the area at will. Wyan's sister proudly announced that there was 'no insurance' but that she 'trusts me'?! We found our soon after that there is in fact no insurance on Bali anyway! Not sure what to make of this but 'take it easy' is always my philosophy!! Our most notable trips are to the multi-named beach about 20 minutes up the coast. Not being satisfied with the local name (which escapes me for the moment) it is also called Virgin Beach, and White Sand Beach. The latter is a bit of a con as the beach itself is rather yellow on dark grey (being volcanic in nature). However the sea is crystal clear, warm and very seductive. A local lad by the name of, would you believe it, Rio Smith, looks after us from his warung on the beach. He is a polite and attentive 16 year old who beams with joy when he sees us! This may be due to the fact that we are one of the few customers he has who gives him a small tip at the end of the day! He serves us the most delightful fresh mango drinks and serves them with a smile as broad as the cliffs above the beach.

The Balinese are a lovely, sensitive lot! Their peculiar brand of Hinduism firmly believes in karma – if you are unkind to another being Fate will bite you back. On the other hand, if you are kind and helpful to another you will be paid back in kind. As a result the Balinese generally try to be kind and courteous to you. There is a warm smile and a greeting from the vast majority which has to effect of making you feel very much at home and comfortable. The warmth can sometimes be a little overwhelming. The other day we took to a local taxi for a trip to the Agung Temple at the top of one of the highest mountains on the island. There are 300 steps up to the temple which is climbed by young and old – some racing and some struggling to manage the next step. At the top is a beautiful temple. Women in glorious rainbow clothing make their way to the inner courtyard to pray laden with gifts for their god. When I decided to take a photograph of one particularly colourful family group they drew us into their family photo and welcome us like long lost relatives! Further on a young lady begins to laden me with gifts – dragonfruit, a boiled egg, some bananas and finally some candy bars. I find myself embarressed by her generosity but she insists I take her gifts. 'For later' she says. We are the only non-Balinese at the shrine but we are made to feel comfortable and at home. We are surrounded by warm smiles and welcomes. On our way down the 300 steps dozens of locals climbing up wish us 'Om swastias do' (Hello or God be with you). Few walk past without a chat. This makes the process of decending the steps slow but wonderfully sociable!!

At the bottom we decide to visit the toilets. These are a concrete bunkhouse with a desk and attendant at the entrance. A 'price list' is sellotaped the the desk. It would appear that one needs to make ones intentions in the toilet clear before entering!! What would happen if you go in for a 'deficate' and sneek in a crafty 'piss' we wonder!! Sorry about the language - theirs not ours!!

We have met up with a couple of charming Swedish folk - Lars and Greta! Having spent some time acquainting them with my theory that Swedish is, in fact, a made up language, we have spent several lovely evenings together sampling the local 'warungs'. They are great fun and share our rather wacky sense of humour.

Today we decided to visit the local beach courtsey of Black Beauty. About an hour after we
Snake Fruit or salackSnake Fruit or salackSnake Fruit or salack

Prickly little buggers but taste a little like apples!!
arrived the heavens opened, as they often do at this time of year in Bali, and the rain heaved down. There was nothing for it, after about an hour of waiting for it to subside, but to cover ourselves in our beach towels and make a break for it back to our hotel. At least here the rain is warm! The roads were awash with water and a few new rivers crossed our path. Nevertheless Black Beauty continues to give us flexibility and freedom. It always feels like we have been let off the leash – free to explore at our own speed and whim. Thankfully the Balinese showed remarkably good taste in choosing to drive on the correct side of the road – the left – so despite the choas on the tiny roads which act as local superhighways, there is a grain of familiarity!

George, our adopted gecco, continues to wait outside our door for his next feast. He is a large fellow of about 5 to 6 inches and doesn't seem to pay any attention to us. When the nights are really warm, swarns of moths are drawn to the lights in our coridoor. George loves it! He gorges himself on the moths rather like a small child who has been given a free pass to a pick and mix shop.

Update! I have now summoned up the courage to try the Eco-bog washer!! Feels rather like an invisible force is attempting to pressure wash your arse! Eco it may be but comforable it ain't! Needless to say there is no temperature control on the aforesaid device. Oh no, it continues to blast away with gay abandon whilst you struggle to locate the knob to halt its onerous task!

Anyway, only a few more days left here before we move on to Australia and Claiire and John's wedding in Margaret River! We have had a great time in Bali and will miss the lovely staff and entire population here in Bali who have kind of got used to us and our sense of humor! So, as the rather marvellous Bay City Rollers put it – Bye bye Bali, Bali bye bye!!

Additional photos below
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5th February 2017

Keep Trotting Hoggers
As always, great to received Master John's highly (sometimes too highly) detailed Travel Blog about the latest excursion up the Irrawaddy or wherever. Must admit, he always makes it seem most attractive with his delightful turn of phrase (? Bill Bryson's Apprentice) and as we read it here in the shivering, damp South West of England, even the doubtful delights of the bog-washer must add some light to the gloom. Enjoy the rest of your journey in the Tropics and look forward to the real delights of Perth and the wineries of the Margaret River. You lucky people !!! Much love to you both xx
6th February 2017

John and Janey So glad you're having a great time in Bali,and enjoying the locals hospitality All well here,and the weather has been superb !!! Have a fab time in Oz,and enjoy the rest of your holiday Love P and C xxx

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