I go for a swim in the sea in front of the resort. There don’t seem to be too many other people swimming, and it doesn’t take too long to work out why. The bottom is stony and gets deep very quickly, the waves are choppy, and the current is dragging me in all directions. I struggle back up onto the beach, and decide that maybe that’s enough swimming in the sea for one day.
I decide to go for a wander while Issy relaxes. I walk along the road to the north of the resort and it takes me up a steep hill to a lookout point. I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be a lookout point because there’s a sign saying "Lookout Point", but I can’t see anything through the thick vegetation. I see other signs saying that if there’s a tsunami, you should run up the hill to the lookout point. Our room at the resort is on the ground floor right next to the beach, so I carefully file this information away in case we need it later.
There is a taxi parked at the lookout point, and the driver is asleep in the front
seat. It’s a very isolated spot, and there are no people, houses or other cars anywhere in sight. The driver hears me, wakes up, gets out of his taxi, and asks me if I need a ride. I tell him that I‘m just going for a walk. He says that he is having a bad day, and he can’t get anyone to hire his taxi. I resist the temptation to suggest to him that maybe he might have a bit more luck if he took his taxi to somewhere where there were people.
He asks me my name. It doesn’t seem to matter how hard I try, whenever I introduce myself to people here or anywhere else outside Australia they almost always repeat my name back as Dive. I think that maybe I need to take some elocution lessons when we get back home. As happened yesterday, he says that if my name is Dive, then I must like diving, and he offers to take me to a good place for diving for a cheap price. This is getting a bit tiresome. I think I might need to start telling people that my name is George.
down the other side of the hill and onto a very steep black volcanic sand beach. It is so steep that it is hard to walk along without stumbling over into the water.
We join Brian and Taylah and the four of us catch a taxi into the small nearby town of Senggigi. The taxi has a meter, and when we arrive the meter says that the fare is a bit over 15,000 Rupiah. The driver then tells us that although the meter says 15,000 Rupiah, there is a minimum fare of 20,000 Rupiah. I am struggling with the currency here and the concept that 1,000 Rupiah, which somehow sounds like a small fortune, is worth only about ten cents. I don’t think any of this is helped by the notes and coins. There are 500 Rupiah notes, which are worth roughly five cents, and silverish coloured 50 Rupiah coins, which are worth roughly half a cent. We didn’t know about the minimum fare, and start to feel very ripped off. The calculators then come out, and we realise that we’ve just ridden quite a long way in a taxi for a fare of around two dollars, and even
if we are being ripped off, we’re being ripped off for the princely sum of around fifty cents.
It looks like Senggigi survives on tourism. The main street is lined with bars, restaurants and souvenir shops, and lots of people come up to us trying to get us to buy things, particularly art and jewellery. The art sellers carry their paintings around in a roll, and if you even glance in their direction the paintings are then rolled out on the footpath in front of you.
Issy and Taylah are approached a few times by groups of girls offering them massages and beauty treatments. The menus for these places all include something called "ratus vagina". I should have known better when I thought that this was a misprint, and Issy asks one of the girls what it is. The girl starts giggling. It seems that this is a famous and uniquely Indonesian treatment, and we read that most Indonesian ladies have a ratus vagina once a month. It apparently involves sitting on a wooden chair with a hole in it, over a charcoal grill. A pot full of herbs is then placed on the grill, and the steam
from the pot then flows up into the lady’s private parts. I’m not entirely sure what this is supposed to achieve, but it certainly seems to be popular. Issy tries to tell me that they also have a version for men, but she’s struggling to keep a straight face. I wonder how often the charcoal grill sets fire to the wooden chair and burns the whole place down.
We walk down a narrow alley off the main street of Senggigi and emerge onto Senggigi Beach, where we set up shop at a restaurant on the sand to watch the sunset.
We are again surrounded by people trying to sell us things. A lot of the street vendors we saw in Europe were accompanied by puppies. Here, they come accompanied by impossibly cute young children. I think the theory is that you are more likely to buy something from someone associated with something cute. It seems to work. Taylah comments on the extreme cuteness of a little girl, and five minutes later she and Issy are the proud owners of new sarongs. The vendors eventually leave, satisfied that all hope of trying to extricate more rupiahs out of us
has now evaporated.
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