Cahya and Elpiji

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December 13th 2018
Published: December 14th 2018
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Today we have arranged to meet up with our friends Mark and Jane from Melbourne who are staying in Ubud. They have booked a tour which the brochure they sent us a link to said goes to the Tenenungan Waterfall and then on to Bali Swing. We decide to meet them at the waterfall.

We are picked up from the Sofitel by the same Wayan who took us to Uluwatu Temple earlier in the week. The traffic in Bali is frenetic, but calmly frenetic. If you don’t have right of way it seems that you just nose your way in and the other drivers will accommodate you. They seem to do so quite happily without threatening violence upon you and your loved ones as would happen if you tried this approach back in Melbourne. We pass cars parked on the wrong side of major roads and blocking entire lanes, but Wayan just shrugs his shoulders and says “no problem, police are family in Bali”. I’m not entirely sure what he means by the latter but he makes it sound like it’s a good thing. At one point he decides that he’s going the wrong way, so he does a U
Tenenungan WaterfallTenenungan WaterfallTenenungan Waterfall

We weren’t quite sure whether you had to pay 6,000 if you wanted both of items two and three, and if you only paid for item two or item three how they might go about checking that you weren’t abusing the system.
turn in the middle of a busy two lane road. He does this by casually turning in front of the oncoming traffic and then backing up so that he is now holding up long lines of traffic in both directions, and then calmly driving forward again to complete his manoeuvre. No one blows their horn at him; they just regard what he‘s doing as being perfectly normal. With driving like this it would certainly seem to be advantageous to have family members in the police force.

It seems that every second shop here has vast quantities of traditional Balinese stone statues for sale. I suppose there must be a market for them as every house seems to be decorated with a plethora of these iconic monoliths. They are however made of stone, so I suspect that it would probably take eons for them to erode away in the rain and require replacing, so I’m not sure that the local market can be quite as strong as the quantities that seem to be for sale here might suggest. I assume that the export market for them must therefore be massive. Some of them look to be nearly two metres tall, and must weigh hundreds of kilograms. If you were hoping to slip one into your hand luggage without anyone noticing I think you might be disappointed.

We pass some interesting signs along the way. One of them advertises “cat ovens” for sale. I really hope that this means something different in Indonesian to what it means in English. It seems that a number of English words have made their way into the Indonesian vernacular in a sort of fashion. If you want to rent a car you apparently need to call a company call “cahya”, and if the gas bottle on your barbecue needs topping up then it seems you should email the supplier and request some “elpiji”.

We reach Tenegungan village where the views of the spectacular falls from the top of the gorge are stunning. We buy an entry ticket. It says that it includes life insurance. It doesn’t however say anything about injury cover, so we tread carefully as we traipse down the 160 steps which signs tell us we need to descend to get to the river at the base of the gorge. To get across the river we need to negotiate two bridges which are made from five and six bamboo poles respectively, held together by some pieces of string, with no handrails. We hold onto each other for support. I’m not sure that this is all that sensible; all it would seem to ensure is that if one of us stumbles we’ll both end up in the raging torrent below. It seems that the vendor collectives on either side of the gorge are quite separate operations, and we find that if we want to climb the steps up to the opposite side, we need to buy another entry ticket. Fifteen thousand rupiah per person always sounds like a lot more than the dollar fifty Australian that it actually is, so we cough up despite feeling slightly taken advantage of. The views are equally as impressive from here as they were from our original vantage point.

We can’t find any sign of Mark and Jane. If their plane had crashed or been hijacked we assume that this would have at least rated a passing mention on the local news, so we decide to discount these theories and keep searching.

We made a reservation for Bali Swing yesterday and this is our next stop. The man at the ticket counter can’t however find our names and it quickly becomes evident that there is more than one Bali Swing in Bali and this is not the one we’re looking for. We eventually find our way to the correct Bali Swing, and are presented with the now customary disclaimer forms to sign. This one includes a warning that “even death” is possible here. Bali Swing is effectively a small theme park on the side of a deep gorge, and the “rides” are fifteen slightly oversized swings which propel you out over the abyss. The views over the gorge are good, but the swings aren’t much bigger than those you’d find in a children’s playground at a local park, with the only additional “thrill” coming from them being high over a gorge. Issy takes the first shift and looks to be at serious risk of falling asleep. I put myself in the “not brave” category when it comes to theme park rides, but even I can’t really get too excited as an attendant pushes me gently back and forth above the jungle.

We see some workmen building a small shrine on the side of the gorge, and manage to educate ourselves on some of the finer points of Balinese construction techniques. One man mixes a batch of mortar in a small plastic bucket and then lowers it down the hill on a rope to another man who uses it to lay his next batch of bricks. When the bucket is empty he throws it back up the hill so that the first man can fill it again. We get talking to the first man, which turns out to be somewhat unfortunate. We distract him, and he then gets hit in the back of the head by the bucket as it’s thrown back up the hill. We decide that now might be a good time to move on.

We decided that if we didn’t find Mark and Jane at the waterfall then we would surely catch up with them here, but again they’re nowhere to be seen. I begin to wonder whether it was something I said....

Next stop is Batuan Temple in Ubud. This is thought to be more than a thousand years old and is likely to be the oldest temple in Bali. It is large and spectacular with all the usual statues, pagodas, fountains, ponds and carvings that seem to be characteristic of most of the Hindu temples on the island. We watch on as an artisan works away with his chisel on a stone wall carving. We can’t see any evidence that he’s working from drawings; he just seems to be developing the design as he goes. His workmanship and skill are remarkable.

Wayan seems anxious to get us back to the hotel quickly, but it also seems that he is about to run out of petrol. He senses a chance to save a few seconds by leaving the engine running while he fills up. I’d always thought that the most likely outcome of doing this was that your car would explode, but we manage to drive away from the bowser with everyone still in one piece.

We email Mark and Jane. It seems that despite what the brochure said they were taken to the Swing first and then to the falls, rather than vice versa. Good to know then that we probably hurtled past them in opposite directions without realising at some point during the day. At least now we don‘t need to lie awake worrying about them possibly having been abducted by aliens, or worse still what I might have said to them to cause such great offence.

Issy orders a coke with no ice to accompany her dinner, but it comes out half full of frozen cubes. She then spends the next several minutes trying to extract them without touching them, using the only available implements which happen to be a pair of chopsticks. This is very entertaining to watch.

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