I had read that you should wait to buy your Rupiahs after you land in Indonesia. The rate is much better than you would pay at a Canadian Bank. It was also suggested that you only purchase enough at the airport (worst exchange rate) to get you to your destination. Since I had the villa owner arrange transport in USD I saw no need to get Rupiahs at the airport. I had also arranged for a motor scooter but, unfortunately, Yulie advised that they would only accept Rupiahs and would be delivering the scooter before the money exchanges were opened. Made offered to drive me to a local exchange so we set off on his scooter. No helmets! Luckily the roads were not busy and I did get my money exchanged. So, back to the Villa to settle in for my first night.
The first time I plugged in my fancy converter, I thought I had burnt it out (and was cursing my cheapness that led me to buy it). I shut everything down in order to conserve batteries and started a plan in my head for a solution the next day when my motor scooter and helmets would be delivered. $100 US for the month with two rather “used” helmets. Yulie told me that the Nirmala Market would have electronics so I resolved to head off on the 7th. Night came and I had no lights in the kitchen, living area and bedside. Found the breaker panel and there was a circuit breaker in the “off” position. However, it refused to reset and I gave up and went to bed after crushing a few candies.
On the 7th, the motorbike arrived with Yulie. Of course, thinking I knew it all, I didn’t listen too closely and found I couldn’t open the seat to release the helmet. Yulie showed me how, and off I went for the first time. She has also had to show me how to open the salt shaker.
By the third attempt Yulie had the breaker fixed, my nose was burnt (even after SPF 50 Sunscreen) and I decided to write down the directions.
I set off a 4th time. Oh, and once the breaker was reset, my converter worked. I was advised not to plug my Ikea multi-extension cord into it – go figure – but I’d burnt it out anyway (big spark and acrid smell of burnt rubber). I made it to Nirmala Market on that 4th attempt. Electronics up and running, $40 worth of groceries. $20 was for a bottle of wine, Two Oceans Shiraz. Sadly, this one must also join the growing list of vintages that are part of the wine aversion program. Two days later and there was still half a bottle. There wasn’t much selection at Nirmala, mostly condiments and packaged food appropriate for the Scandinavians who are here in hordes. Made suggested that I go to Pepito Market further down the road because it is “more complete”. He means larger variety but I like the way he says it. Went to Bingin Beach my second day here for dinner ($4) and met a father and son from Perth who are on a surf holiday and we ended up having a few glasses of wine (okay two bottles). There was a deluge and I couldn’t leave until 9 pm. There is very little street lighting in the rural areas, Bingin Beach included. Pitch black and like climbing up a waterfall as the runoff was using the stairs as a way to the sea. I was scared out of my wits because it is about a hundred uneven rock steps up from the beach to the road. Luckily, the few glasses of wine seemed to have fortified my climb back up. The vintage, best described by the British TV character, Horace Rumple, as a fine bottle with the bouquet of the Thames Left Embankment at low tide . Surprisingly, I made it home, soaking wet, but with no injuries.
Now, a tour of the place that will be my home for the next 40 days. First the street side:
The door in the first photo is the entrance to the villa. Above it is a loft bedroom and the outdoor shower is behind the colourful crotons. Below the loft on the other side of the door is the “scooter” port. The best feature is the pool. My morning routine is to put the kettle on for coffee, clean the leaves that have fallen into the pool and skimmer, make my coffee and watch the sky and birds while I enjoy my first cup. Then I have my morning swim to get rid of bed head.
The kitchen is raised, but I can’t figure out why or what is underneath. The propane tank, for typical Balinese safety reasons and convenience, is just below the sparking gas hob. I can occasionally smell gas, but try not to worry because the place is well ventilated. “To the moon, Alice, to the moon”. In terms of cooking utensils, what you see is what you get – not much. The idea of preparing meals became an impossibility due to the lack of proper pots, pans and utensils. I did try cooking, but the lid from the pasta pot has a deep indent under the handle which is deeper than the frying pan so you have to shape the food like a donut in order to cover the pan. Also, once you start cooking, hordes of ants appear out of nowhere. I do get my heart rate up running the dishes and silverware up and down the kitchen steps to the china hutch in the sitting area. No matter, eating out is very reasonable. Observe the wood cabinet over the sink. It has a starring roll in an upcoming post.
The dining table seats eight and is handy as a place to type my blog and dry my Rupiah after it and I went for a swim.
Breakfast is eaten standing up otherwise I’m sharing with an ant or two. In all fairness, you can hire a cook to come in and cook, serve and clean for a reasonable price. There is a serving station with sink below the back kitchen counter.
The house’s architecture is considered traditional Balinese. However, after being here a month, I have determined that no person in Bali wants to live in an open air house. Their’s all have doors and windows which comes in handy during the rainy season. The villa does have polypropylene rain blinds that roll down from the ceiling. However, because it rains rivers the water ends up as far as the couch (if the wind is right) before I get them down and tied in place. By that time, too, the floor is wicked slippery and a deadly trap if you try to navigate the furniture too fast.
Both bedrooms have AC. You do need it to reduce the humidity otherwise the bed feels damp like when I was little and shared with my younger brother. The beds are very comfortable and Yulie makes them everyday and ties up the mosquito netting.
Each bedroom has a bathroom with shower and large open skylight. It may sound like a great feature, but NOT during the rainy season. When it rains, the bathrooms and everything gets soaked. Wiping hands and face with a wet towel defeats the purpose. Trying to be optimistic, I looked for the positive:
All said, it is a very special place to escape the winter and I’m glad I came.