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December 9th 2018
Published: December 10th 2018
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Issy wants to sleep so I set off on my own south along the beachfront to the Garden of Hope Peninsula Island. I wonder how something can be both a peninsula and an island but then decide that I should probably start wondering about things like this a lot less. The small peninsula’s (it’s joined to the mainland) main attractions are two very large and impressive Balinese statues, and a feature known as Waterblow where waves supposedly force water high into the air through holes in the rock. There are signs everywhere warning that Waterblow is closed today due to hazardous conditions, but no one takes any notice of these and there are lots of people on the two observation platforms. The sea is flat calm and it‘s low tide, so it’s a bit hard to see exactly where the hazard is going to come from. There’s certainly no chance of any water being flung high into the air today. The only possible hazard might be death from boredom waiting for something to happen. I decide that maybe I should come back another day when it really is a bit more hazardous here.

On the way back I pass some Balinese craftsmen facing a concrete wall with small hexagonal rocks only a few inches across. We saw some of these walls yesterday, and Issy was convinced that the facing must have come in prefabricated sheets. It doesn't. Each of the hexagonal rocks is a slightly different shape and size, and I watch as the craftsmen chisel each one individually so that it fits neatly in amongst its neighbours. The skill and patience required to do this is extraordinary.

We have booked a couple’s massage in a small cabana on the beachfront, but before our massage can start we both need to fill in forms. One of the questions asks whether we have any allergies and it then provides some options to chose from. One of them is ”weather”. I wonder what you do if you’re allergic to the weather. Another question asks whether there are any body areas that the masseuse should avoid. Given my aversions to massages I’m tempted to write “all” but I suspect that this might put marital bliss at risk. The last question asks what massage pressure I would like. The last time we had a couple’s massage I had to answer verbally within Issy’s earshot, so I had no choice but to say “firm”. This time I tick “medium” and hope that she doesn’t see my selection. I then need to sign a disclaimer acknowledging that having a massage is an intrinsically risky undertaking and that if the masseuse accidentally manages to snap off one of my legs I absolve her and the hotel from any blame. I’m feeling more nervous by the minute. I relax a bit when I meet my masseuse. She is a tiny Balinese lady. Surely those tiny arms and hands can’t be capable of inflicting too much pain. I couldn’t be more wrong. The agony is intense. Surely they must have swapped the forms over and I‘m now getting the firm massage version that Issy requested. I feel tendons snap and bones scrape and there’s still nearly an hour to go. The relief when it’s over is nearly as intense as the agony and I’m reminded again of the man who hits himself on the head with the hammer so that it feels good when he stops.

There are lots of signs here showing you where to go in the event of a tsunami. The signs at the Sofitel say that you need to get above the the third floor level. This is a bit worrying because the hotel only has three floors. I wonder if they want you to go up to the roof, and decide to investigate further. There are many stairwells, but only one of them leads above the third floor. It is however being guarded by an angry looking man who is clearly hellbent on ensuring that none of the guests can get anywhere near the roof. The tsunami evacuation route signs all lead up to the third floor, and then along the third floor corridors towards reception. Reception is however on the second floor, so as I follow the signs I’m now being led downstairs. I’m not sure that this makes a lot of sense. I walk on through reception and out into the car park where I find a very small area, still on second floor level, advising that this is where the hotel’s thousand or so guests should congregate in the event of a tsunami. I think that maybe they’ve sized the area on the assumption that most of the guests will have been washed away long before they get here. I report back to Issy, and soon find her Googling “four storey or higher hotels in Nusa Dua”.

We have lunch, swim and laze by the pool. It’s somebody’s birthday and we listen in to a rendition of the traditional song. A few minutes later we hear it again, and then again, and so on for nearly two hours. We wonder if there are multiple births involved or maybe this is the annual reunion of the 9th December birthday club.

We book a taxi to the Uluwatu Temple which is about a forty minute drive away on the other side of the peninsula. Our driver’s name Is Wayan.

Wayan points out an apparently well known local landmark where five temples/mosques/churches all sit happily side by side - Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Catholic and Protestant. The world clearly has a lot to learn from Bali.

We drive on past a very large and spectacular building which Wayan tells us is a University. He says that it specialises in tourism, and locals come here so that they can learn to be tour guides and waiters. They can even learn to be how to clean hotel rooms. I’m not sure that I’ve heard of anyone having a Bachelor of Room Cleaning degree, but then again I probably never thought to ask.

Uluwatu temple is one of the six main Balinese temples. The temple itself is quite small, but its setting atop a seventy metre high cliff is stunning. Wayan had warned us on the way here that the site is swarming with monkeys and that we needed to take a lot of care to put all our sunglasses, phones, hats and wallets in our bags and then zip them up tightly. He wasn’t wrong. I’m still wearing my hat. A local warns me to take it off and before the words have left his lips I hear Issy yelling and turn around to see a monkey trying to tear her headscarf off. His claws have got tangled up in her hair and it takes quite a few long seconds before they manage to separate themselves. Issy’s scarf was tied on so she still has it. As we move further along the cliff top we see that others haven’t been quite so lucky. We see a monkey holding a large colourful cap that he’s managed to separate from its owner. He tries to eat it, and when we come back past him twenty minutes later he’s still trying to work out how to get it in his mouth. I think he might be in for a long night. An elderly Indian lady and her teenage grandson are so spooked by the monkeys that they ask us if we can escort them to the exit.

The views from the cliff top are stunning.

Back at the hotel we decide that perhaps tonight we should use a voucher that entitles us to a free barbecue dinner in an open air restaurant on the beachfront. The restaurant is very big, but when we arrive the only other diners are a pair of elderly Indian gentlemen. It’s fairly obvious why. We are right next to the resort‘s beach club, and duff duff music night is in full swing. I think the Indian men might be deaf, and if they weren’t before there’s a fair chance they will be now. We abandon all attempts at conversation. The food is superb but a few days of talking loudly so that we can hear each other might be the price we have to pay.

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10th December 2018
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11th December 2018

Thank you for your kind words.

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