Day 64 — Mar 06 — At Sea
Today marks the halfway point of our cruise. 60 days on the ship and 60 left to go. (Day 64 because we spent time in London before we boarded the ship) I attend a seminar telling us about our upcoming ports of Bali and Lombok, ports that are new to our itinerary.
Day 66 — Mar 07 — At Sea
Nothing new today and the ocean is again the Doldrums, dead calm for most of the day. Mandatory Lifeboat Drill uses up an hour of our morning. Shipboard games and quizzes fills our day. Our ship makes more ripples than the wind does. The show tonight is a very not funny comedian and we pass on the show.
Day 67 — Mar 08 — Bali, Indonesia
We arrive in Bali at 6 AM and are required to go through a corona virus test before we can get off the ship. The test turns out to be a line of passengers and a medic with a thermometer. They take our temps and we record 36.2 and 36.3 C which translates to 97.2 F. Everybody on the ship clears the test and we are allowed to board the tenders and go ashore. The tender ride is a half hour and we are delayed at the shore for another half hour before we can step foot in Bali.
Once ashore, we go through the terminal and on to the “Vendor Vultures” as we lovingly call the hoard of taksi vendors (that’s how they spell it) to find a ride for the day. A lady we have met on the ship who is traveling on her own asks if she can come with us and we agree. The taksi driver we end up selecting agrees to $100 USD for the three of us for all day or about 8 hours.
Our driver for the day is 1 Wayan Wiagus or “Wagus”. The “1 Wayan” only denotes he is the first born in his family. Wagus first takes us to an ATM machine so we can get local currency for the day and I arm myself with One Million Indonesian Rupiahs. Yes, you heard me right, I withdraw ONE MILLION Rupiahs. Okay, okay, that amounts to about $70 USD. Had you wondering for a minute didn’t I? So now that I am an Indonesian Millionaire, we head out for our day.
Wagus drives for about half an hour and brings us to the “Big Garden Corner”, a collection of Hindu Statues, Butterfly Garden and small restaurant where we are treated to “Banana Fritters” which are amazingly good and while we snack we are given neck massages. All this for only $300,000 Rupiahs. The amounts we are spending are staggering. Okay, again with the numbers. $300,000 Rupiahs is about $21 USD.
Then we drive a short distance and stop at a Batik Factory (pronounced Bah-tick) where fine silk cloth is woven and hand painted with elaborate designs. Then the cloth is turned into Sarongs, dresses and other clothing. They hope we will open our wallets and take some of their fabrics home with us but all we end up taking is photos of the workers and the end process.
We travel on to a coffee plantation where we sample approximately 20 different coffees, teas and chocolates. We also are intrigued by a coffee they call “Luwak Coffee”. This is made from coffee beans that have been processed through the stomachs of a kind of cat called “Luwak” that looks more like a Lemur or an Opossum. After the cat has ingested the coffee beans, it doesn’t ‘digest’ them, but just passes them through its system. Then the beans are cleaned, dried and roasted before grinding and brewing. The end result, which sounds disgusting to many (even us but we are adventurous), makes an absolutely delicious brewed coffee!
We end up liking the Luwak Coffee and the Mangosteen Tea, made from Mangosteen fruit, which we find is a delicious fruit that we buy to bring back onboard to eat with meals. We also see at the plantation all kinds of spices growing including Vanilla, Tumeric, Cinnamon, Ginseng, Ginger, Cocoa, Rosella, Durian, Coffee and many others.
Then, it’s off to “Bebek Joni” restaurant for lunch, situated next to Rice Paddies and all kinds of statues which seem to be a thing in Bali. We try a local dish, “Lumpia” which is like a Spring Roll and I also try a local Lemon Grass Soup and a Bali Beer called “Bintang”. All very good!
We go out and find Wagus and drive off again as driving rain sets in and we head for a coastal town called “Tanah Lot” which has a Temple on an island. Temples are all over Bali, it seems there is one every block or two. We question Wagus, our driver, and it seems that every home also has a temple inside on the east of the house. We drive on in the driving torrential rain and even have to cross flooded roads. The quantity of motorcycles here as regular transportation is staggering and even this horrendous rain doesn’t deter them.
We arrive at Tanah Lot and Wagus gives us an hour to tour the area. The rain has let up but not stopped and the first thing I do is pay $20,000 Rupiahs for a disposable plastic poncho. (About $2 USD) The desire to stay dry is not as high as the desire to keep rain off the camera lens. My camera is water resistant and I’m not worried about getting it wet. But water drops on the lens makes for poor photos so that is the main purpose of the poncho.
The rain is warm like the weather and it is not uncomfortable at all. We pay the $120,000 Rupiahs ($9 USD) for admission and tour the area. When we come to the Temple on the island, our cameras rejoice in song as they take control of us and nothing we do can stop their fun. It is also Low Tide and we can actually walk to the island, something that is impossible at High Tide. We try to climb the steps to the Temple but are stopped and it is indicated we have to pay a tithing and receive a blessing to do so.
We watch and witness others ‘rinsing’ their hands in a small waterfall and depositing money into a basket. So we play along and follow suit and a local ‘blesses’ us with a smear of a rice paste in the middle of our forehead and a Plumeria Blossom behind our ear and are pointed to one side of the island where steps begin. The local that stopped us before sees the rice smear and the flower blossom and waves us on. We climb the steps only to find the path blocked after 20 steps or so by a gate and that is as far as we can go.
So, taken for a ride, so to speak, we are a bit wiser and our cameras are quite the bit richer, but we never gain access to the Temple. So we walk around the island and marvel at the waves crashing and our cameras are pleased again. We walk away and find a path up to a cliffside restaurant with views looking down on the Temple and again our cameras play. Even though there was never a ‘sunset’ as we hoped for.
Quite wet yet also quite happy, we make our way back to Wagus and we are off back towards our ship. Wagus fulfills our requests to find us a store to buy a couple more local beers, aka “Bali-Hai” and a magnet for our room wall and he takes us back to our ships tender. We only wait a few minutes and a Tender shows up and takes us, uneventfully, back to the ship. We go up to the buffet restaurant and have a meal before retiring to our room to write this blog and say goodnight.