We are sitting on the plane in Shanghai waiting to take off. Air Canada – what can I say? I will be delighted to share my thoughts about this later, but this is about some experiences over the last couple of days in Bali and Shanghai.
On Sunday (three days ago, we were in a bit of a quiet mood – we lazed around the villa and didn’t leave there until 1:30 when we went for lunch. First, the “sidewalks” in Semanyak. It is dangerous to walk along these. They are 18” x 36” concrete slabs which have been laid over the open ditches below. These ditches have running water and discarded garbage – cups, wrappers, cigarette butts etc. floating in them. The problem is that there are frequent gaps between the slabs or broken pieces missing. If you are not constantly looking down you may very likely step in one of these holes and break a leg or foot. You can’t walk very easily on the road either since there is so much traffic there. The other evening it took our taxi almost 30 minutes to go 2 ½ blocks.
Anyway, lunch. We were sitting in an outdoor café right on the street. Very cool, if noisy place to watch the people. I think there are more white people in Semanyak than there is in all of China. And, apparently, it is a good market for Viagra and Cialis since as we sat there I was offered both. The fellow next to me said not to take it personally, though – he too was offered it and he was about 24 and on his honeymoon. From there it was off to foot massage and pedicure for Terry and full slimming massage with oil and pedicure for Geoff! It was another interesting experience. The room is about 12’ x 12’, it has three massage beds, three foot massage chairs and a cabinet. I explain this so that you understand that it is a very tight space.
There were two women there – 24 and 36. The younger one worked on Terry and the older one on me. First, it is a little unsettling (at least it was unsettling for me) when a perfect stranger says to strip down to your underwear (what will the two of them think of my body?), knowing she is about to rub oil and cream all over me – and I mean all over me. She was only about 4’6” so when she was working on my back she had to – no other word for it – mount me. She worked the inside of my thighs right to the top, even going under the bit of cloth I was wearing, trying to retain some dignity. I won’t bore you with the rest of the details, but I will say that I was glad Terry was sitting at the end of the bed to protect me! Now to the pedicure. People who know me will not believe that I had one of these since I am insanely ticklish. The two girls were in gales of laughter as she worked on them, sanding, scrubbing, filing and washing. She was very lucky to come out alive!
Sunday evening we went to Djimbaran for dinner. There are 200 or so seafood restaurants right along the beach. You go in, choose your fish, seafood whatever then go out and sit at a table on the beach. They bring you rice to go with it. We had fabulous Red Snapper, acceptable, but small, mussels and very disappointing squid – but a nice bottle of white wine helped it all go down. Cost – $42 for the food, $45 for the wine. The owner asked me as we were leaving how it was and I said the snapper was excellent – he looked and asked again – same reply – foolishly he asked for a third time so I told him and he quickly disappeared into the back. If you don’t want to know, why ask?
Monday we had arranged to have Donny the driver take us to Kintamani which is an extinct volcano in the north. We have a wonderful Balinese tapas lunch overlooking the valley and watched the trucks loaded with volcanic rocks struggle up the hill.
As we drove back we encountered the first blatant act of corruption. Four police officers were stopping the cars and collecting money – for no reason other than, according to Donny, they needed cigarette money. We gave then 10000rph ($1.00) and away we went. A little surreal.
When we arranged to have Donny drive us, Charles told us that the day would be 350,000rph ($35) and that we should just pay him. Now Charles and Laurence have gone on at some length to tell us how greedy and lazy the Balinese are. We asked Donny if we should pay him or Charles and he said him. Terry asked how much and he said “Did Charles tell you?” and we said 350,000rph. He said right. Later Terry heard him telling Charles that we had paid him 300,000. Now either Charles thinks we ripped Donny off, or Charles was planning on ripping him off himself – we’re all for the latter.