Friday 5 June 2020

1992 Indonesia I: Lombok, Bali

13.6.92 Gatwick airport

Here again – but all is so different.  Up in the Village – less plastic than it looks, waiting for the flight to Jakarta.  Flight not full – so hopefully we will have good seats.  Outside, a brilliant summer's day; if the weather is like this en route, then the view could be great.  Flying via Zurich and Abu Dhabi.  Delayed take-off – weight of air traffic…

The sensation of a Jumbo lifting off has to be one of the late 20th-century's peak experiences.  That sheer mass of metal apparently defying the laws of physics.  Flying into Abu Dhabi. Dotted on the right tiny candles of bright orange flames – gas burning off the wells, I presume.  

14.6.92 Jakarta

Overnight non-stop flying.  With so few people we were able to move and stretch out along four seats.  We slept well.  Bodies completely out of kilter (seven hours difference) but relatively refreshed.  Another meal.  Over Sumatra: huge, roadless, great masses of clouds, blinding white.

Now in the Sate Khas Senayan, the most upmarket place on Jalan Jaksa – which is a bit third world, as is the hotel, alas.  Here we have standard food with muzak in the background, and aircon blasting out.  Room is not bad – clean, bath (cold water only).  Just a bit tatty.  Jakarta is a typical mix of skyscrapers with hovels.  Not very appealing as a whole, and certainly not the best intro to Indonesia.  We shall see.

15.6.92 Jakarta

What a 24 hours.  We came to Sate Khas Senayan last night; food was good, so I ate too much.  Passed the night OK – mended the WC ballcock, but it soon broke again.  Up late – 9ish, and I soon felt diabolical.  Later on, we stagger down to the Garuda office – the events of last night focusing my mind somewhat.  The road we are on typically third world: stinking sewer with all its usual smells, odd colours, dubious object – by a roaring main road full of New Delhi-like mini taxis and fully-fledged versions, plus flash BMWs and Japanese cars.

Along to the main street, full of cars and motorcycles.  Very like India.  Up to Garuda, who helpfully send us to a travel agent nearby.  Very helpful, if slightly officious young lady.  We book a flight to Lombok tomorrow, one week at Sengiggi Beach Hotel, a flight to Bali, one week there, then on to Yogyakarta, plus a reservation at a hotel for one week.  

16.6.92 Lombok

Another crazy night, though for different reasons.  After eating at the same place – a huge, perfect dusky moon hovering over the detritus of Jakarta – we went to bed mind-blowingly early - about 8pm.  This was an attempt to be up at 4am, taxi at 4.30am to the airport.  Such a long, slow, sweating night, the body utterly at a loss.  The hours crawling by: 9, 10, 11 – surely later than 11pm?  Finally, release at 4am, the ayam jago aying outside, but still dark – you forget how short the days are here, assuming somehow that at the Equator the days will be long.

Strange, characteristic journey to the airport. The right one?  Broken conversations with the driver. Like any other early morning journey through a sprawling third-world metropolis – New Delhi etc.  People strangely going about their business: the warungs open, the street sweepers pointlessly sweeping.  Nearly dark – few street lamps lit.  Our taxi barely avoids running over somnolent wanderers in the dawn.

Boeing 737 – hazy day.  We fly underneath the topmost veil, below a misty landscape.  Alas, not much to be seen on our left-hand side except wispy views of the sea.  To the right, just visible ranges of mountains.  In to Surabaya (everyone together for the chorus…).  A small airport where we are now stuck, outbound flight delayed.  A little box of tea and cakes given to us.  Such a civilised people.  Two and a half hours late out of Surabaya, flying high, north of Bali, Lake Batur looking strangely small.  Lombok far lusher than I expected – hills thickly wooded.

Lombok, Sengiggi Beach Hotel (Room 107), by the pool, the sun beginning to sink down towards Mount Agung.  In the background, the pentatonic bamboo instrument – reminds me of something…  Now the waves shimmer calmly behind the ten or dozen palm trees; Agung has a delicate necklace of clouds.  Dinner, in the open, in the restaurant.  Nearby, yes – a gamelan, a rebab squeaking, fast and furious metallophones.  Smells of food wafting up, lights of the distant Bali twinkling across the water.  Not a rebab, some wind instrument – but too rough for a suling.  The moon incredibly bright – you forget that this is what the ancients saw – and just as with the stars, it is a shock to rediscover it.

18.6.92 Lombok

On the veranda, 50 feet from the beach, the rain falling pleasantly and quite heavily.  Up at 7.30am this morning, then to the beach. But I notice – belatedly – that yesterday did not exist.  So, as ever, to backtrack somewhat.

Long, long sleep Tuesday evening – after all, we are still only three or four days into Indonesia, and our bodies were smashed sideways by the journey, and then mine by the food – now almost fully recovered, and eating like a pig again – and drinking the water, which makes life easier.  So yesterday, to breakfast at about 8am.  Buffet, lots of fruits, sweetmeats etc. - good start.  Then we changed rooms: from 134 to 107.  A good move indeed.  This is more or less the nearest to the pool/bar/restaurant.  Noisy neighbours alas.  But to tell the truth, there are few people here.  40, 50 at the most.  In the height of the season, probably gets pretty crowded, but paradisaical at the moment.

Took the sun sensibly yesterday, breaking for two hours at noon.  Clouds came in at 3pm-ish, as they have now.  Probably a blessing, really.  Certainly as island paradises go, Lombok, or this part of it, is pretty fine.  The beach shelves steeply, and the currents are strong, but the view across to Gunung Agung (hi, remember me?) is great.  The sunsets too have been chocolate box spectacular, framing Gunung Agung.  The flowers here brilliant, huge bursts of colour.  The smell of kretek cigarettes everywhere, the characteristic smell of Indonesia.  And last night – salaks, a little dry and bitter, but good to find again.

Out on the road at last, paying 45K Rp. for a two- to three-hour trip round the local temples.  Now at Mayura.  Basically, a large artificial pond, with a water palace in the middle.  Cocks crowing, pop music playing noisily.  Sun is back, a lovely warm liquid.  After Mayura, we unconscionably miss out Pura Meru, but go straight on to Sweta market by the bus terminal.  This is rather refreshing – the biggest in Lombok, and very lively.  We buy one kilo of salaks – 1500 Rp., about 40p.  Flies on the dried fish, bright piles of seeds and fruits – but not quite Egypt.  A crippled child – we give 100 Rp.  Then to Narmada, a small temple complex – where we buy two hard-boiled eggs for the eels.  Who refuse to come out – probably sated, judging by the egg whites everywhere.  On the way back, we glimpse one – a huge grey, slug-like thing. 

Finally, after a further bone-crunching ride in the back of the Suzuki jeep, to Lingsar – the best, because living.  Nearly dusk, a great red wash spreading over the sky.  Mount Rinjani clear of the clouds.  A longish walk down to the river, then left into the compound after donning the sash.  Two areas.  The first, lower, dedicated to the fascinating Wetu Telu religion – everything in threes.  Inside, people praying, to strange wrapped figures – animistic, offerings, incense burning.  Full of kids, playing.  Women bathing near the river.  Islamic wailings in the background.  

Then up to the Hindu part, very serene, minimalist, a man planting a new tree there.  Coconuts burning on the ground, part of the offerings, with circles of water around them.  The mountains in the background like the Annapurnas (ah, those other memories).  Later, back with the gamelan, a familiar diminished fifth sounding during a martial dance ostinato.  Evening cooler after the rain, which happily held off for our rattle round some of the sights of Lombok.  From Lingsar, the high point of the day, back here in a long dark twisty drive.  I found my little Indonesian useful – and genuinely appreciated.  

20.6.92 Lombok

On the terrace, bats flying, frogs hopping, rum and cokes being downed, the melting sun behind  Gunung Agung, the sea a ruddy mirror, a perfect day, hot in the sun, cool in the room…  The volcano almost a perfect cone from here, falling down into the sea (Singaraja).  Thick reds low down, lighter pinks higher.  Today, on the beach, the sea caught us out, flooding us – and soaking Penrose's "Emperor's New Mind" – symbolic or what?  Such a peaceful afternoon, the sun low, a breeze, the sea receding…

21.6.92 Lombok

We stopped off at Kediri to see the market – pretty much the same as at Sweta: lots of tiny stalls, flies crawling over dead fish, disturbing legs of cows – sans meat, various fruits etc.  The melange of smells, some good, some bad.  Then on to the turning for Sukarara.  Big mistake.  Market day, it took 30 minutes to get through, destroying a few warung in the process – and knocking out the bus, whose air conditioning was so bad that we opened the windows to let in cooler air. Weaving at Sukarara.  Pretty enough, but nothing so special. Most interesting was the loom: the weaver sat in it, with the back braced against part of it. 

Giving Praya a miss, on to Sengkol (ditto), then to Rembitan – first seen from the road as a clump of grey-brown forms, like shaggy mammoths, gathered on the side of the hill.  We stop to photograph and then approach, leaving the bus on the main road.   As we approached Rembitan village, we could hear the unmistakable sound of the gamelan.  The village band practising in the shade – a real, living gamelan.  Mostly young men, the leaders older.  Right by the village gate – which is a real gate, a thing in a real village, a cluster of thatched huts on a hill, set amidst hilly countryside.  Here is very Lombokian in feel. All the kids gathered around, listening, the women on a veranda.  All the players dressed in blue.  A recording being made...if only they were selling copies.

Walking round the village, amazingly intact.  The paths well beaten, mud.  The houses have two rooms: the living/cooking room, and above it, the bedroom.  A talkative boy takes us to his.  Inside, his old crone of a grandmother (?) chewing betel nuts.  We are offered the same, but decline.  Past the thatched mosque, and the great rice drying stores with their characteristic high thatched roofs.  Back down to the gamelan, still thundering away.  The boy explains that it is a visiting gamelan, from a nearby village.  Yesterday had been a nice harvest, he said, and today's gamelan was presumably in its honour.  The best rice around, they say, is from Lombok. He points out a particularly beautiful young woman, under a veranda, also from the village.  He wants her for his girlfriend he says… 

Down to Kuta, a beautiful beach with white sand, a ring of coves as far as the eye could see, and emerald-turquoise water.  Plus a natty market and a couple of warung.  A few bungalows popping up – I was offered one for 7K Rp.  There, our bus finally broke down, and a little man tried another – rather better, but we couldn't stop where we wanted, and so I docked him money: 80K → 50K Rp.  Still plenty, but I feel bad playing the petty imperialist. After lunch, to the beach, but by now, as so often, the intermittent clouds were gathering – but probably better for us.

Through the market, which is set up on the beach once the sun loses its force.  Practise my haggling ("what's your best price? - Too much…").  Eventually down to 3K Rp. For a t-shirt – initially 6K Rp.  50% discount seems about right.  A quick dip in the sea – currents and coral the main threats, then rum and coke – life can be a beach, as they say...

At dinner this evening, Nalayan music – voices, flute, "guitar" – very Lombok, the men all dressed in black, no gamelan influence, very drum driven, nasal male and female voices.  Reminds me a little of Nepal, but the drumming is very Indian in its tremendous complexity and cross rhythms.  Before dinner, rum and coke (I'm afraid), watching the huge bats, the slow, diffuse sunset framed by coconut trees, the shattered mirror of the sea.  Incredibly peaceful.  Looking at the hills from the curve of the beach you see bungalows creeping up one: I wonder if in 5 years the whole place will be developed?  Interesting the change in Kuta beach (where we went this noon) between my old Bali book (c. 1988) and the new Indonesian one (1991.92).  Kuta has moved on, but is still pretty quiet.

A strange day – one week after we arrived in Jakarta.  Glad there are still three weeks to go – I couldn't bear to be going back now, but glad to be moving on.  Here is stunningly beautiful – but alas a trifle too touristy, and getting around the island is a bit of a pain.

22.6.92 Lombok

A long, lazy day on the beach, reading, sunning, soaking, eating…  Then a final dinner (after a double rum and coke) – fried spinach/water cress and meats, nice.  Followed by fermented rice – black, sweet, delicious.  This place is very well ordered.  Early in the morning, we eat breakfast (for us, buffet – fruit and Danish pastries), the pool is cleaned, the reclining chairs wiped, new towels fetched.  The whole place bristles with attendants, and yet the price – about $60 a night for 2, is nothing really.  We have been lucky that the place has been so quiet.  Today a big group of Dutch arrived – curious the old empires – and gave a glimpse of the horrors that could be here…

Bought our first pineapple on the beach – 1000 Rp. - expertly carved by a 15-year-old girl.  Bought two t-shirts for 6000 Rp. (haggled), ignored a tiresome little man who was still trying to sell us visits to the monkeys…

23.6.92 Denpasar

An hour or two to kill before leaving, that strange in-between time that is so often full of melancholy.  And should be: it should be sad to leave a place you have enjoyed – and you must leave it then, not later, when it has begun to pall.  We, at least, have the prospect of Bali literally and metaphorically before us, so this loss should be a gain too.  

Seeing the manager – in his distinctive black suit – I stopped to thank and congratulate him.  He seemed genuinely pleased.  I know from my own experiences that it is always pleasant to have praise given explicitly and personally in that way.  To the airport.  Clearest day so far.  Rinjani totally proud of its clouds.  Fierce heat.  All sorts of extras to pay: tickets miscalculated, 5000 Rp. insurance etc.  At least the plane has arrived already – turbo prop.  Above us a fan beats with the uneven rattle so beloved of Deep South films...

Here I am then, by the beach at Sanur, at what I find is the "La Taverna" beach bungalows – with the banners cracking in the wind as before, as have remained in my memory for four years, with  Gunung Agung as ever misty in the distance, the island in front of us.

Ajit's Beach Bungalows – well, a little run-down, but amazingly, the prices identical: $37/single, $40/double.  Lots of renovations underway, but I still find its situation pleasing, at the end of the tourist beach, by the fishing boats.  Java tea, we are drinking, my preferred beverage at this hour, as the shadows lengthen on the beach, and the world packs up its wares.  And the kites, of course, lunging in a wind even stronger than I remembered.  Great swooping (did someone say "skirling"?) birds of prey.

24.6.92 Denpasar

A long "hard" day at the beach.  Which remained almost empty for the entire day – even emptier than when I was last here.  (A lovely silver light in the air now, 6.20pm, I've tried to photograph it…)  Clouds hung mysteriously in the sky so as to block the sun just for us (really).  Helicopters came and went, throwing sound everywhere (that strange circular platform in front of the Hotel Bali – so that's what it is for…). We just lay there, soaking in the sun.  The wind tremendous – far stronger than before – but perfectly cooling.  As the heat few stronger, so did the wind.  The water provided little respite – very shallow, with rocks close in.  But pleasant in temperature.

Parenthetically, the day began with a fine sunrise, perfectly visible from our room (#20).  We took breakfast on the open air veranda – bread and tea, nothing much – perhaps we should try the Sunrise Restaurant, where we ate yesterday evening – for about £4 – well, and almost the only ones there.  Everything is so quiet.  What have I missed?  Some party elsewhere?

Lunch under the sign of the lobster – even better than I remembered – big portions of good food.  Under the shade of the trees, the wind tremendous.  Some new trees planted in front of the Bali Hotel, I notice.  We managed to confirm our flights to Yogyakarta today, in a freezing cold Garuda office in the Bali Hotel.  Then we blag some loungers, and bask and bask.

Then, perversely, we walk to the road.  I want to (a) check on the prices for a Suzuki jeep and (b) try to find Wayan Pater, who is said to hang out at one of the hotels further along.  We tried phoning his old office number this morning: it worked, but nobody answered.  It feels strange pursuing this dalang in this way.  Who knows what has happened to him in the intervening four years?  The heat on the road was hell's furnace to the beach's cool balm of heaven.  

We walk through La Taverna hotel – beautifully kept – pity about the $120 price – to "our" table, and I take tea under my banners.  A tremendous cracking like rippling water.  The usual beautiful end – Agung mighty in the distance – to a perfect, lazy day.  Off tonight to the Legong dance at the lobster – better than nothing.  Out on the road we passed a school or something: sounds of a gamelan inside...tantalising.

25.6.92 Ubud

We sit under the stars at Peliatan, awaiting the start of "Semara Madya" kecak dance.  We arrived here in a bemo (our first), from the well-organised arts centre in Ubud.  What looks like a netball court – and probably is – in front of a great gate – very fine example, the clothed demons/gods in front.

We arrived here after a long day.  Up early, in to central Denpasar after breakfast – alone at the Sunrise Restaurant – the sea breaking on the sands below us.  Denpasar very large – the road in long, straight, hot.  The tourist centre – empty, people lounging around, waiting for business.  A helpful chap – laughing gently when I ask for a programme for the current Balinese Festival – they had one for themselves, and that was all – but a more useful guide to the dances in Bali – when and where.  We also raised the vexed subject of hiring cars.

He of course knew someone.  We got embroiled.  His mate brought the car round – not the newest, we somehow went off, but gradually fell out of love with it – bad tyres etc.  Said "no" – and they proceeded to take mortal offence, and demanded money to drive us back to the tourist centre.  Pity really.  Especially because the chap there knew of Wayan Pater – confirmed he was still around, but a little elusive now.

We passed a little time at the Denpasar Museum.  Rather good really, well laid-out, interesting exhibits.  Then a taxi to a place we encountered yesterday.  Seemed more professional – but inevitably the nice white ones – new etc. - were gone, and we were left with a rather battered black one, but the tyres seemed quite good, test drive threw up only a dodgy hand-brake (great), so force majeure, we took it – very cheap, about $80 for three days including insurance – another reason I was unhappy with others.  Ah well, we shall see.

Back to Alit's, where everyone proceeded to sulk because we didn't use their suppliers for the car.  To Sunrise for lunch – alone – then on the road.  Petrol first – at the station I'd used before, four years ago.  I must say that I'm not overly happy driving here – they are such maniacs that you never know what will happen.  The sense of responsibility…

We stop off at Celuk, and see huge rooms – warehouses – full of silver, intricately wrought, very cheap – and there are hundreds of such shops.   A Borgesian vision of hell.  Gradually, the road climbed, the fields grew more lush, more Balinese.  And before we knew it, we were in Ubud.  A long, long, main drag, lots of shops, very busy – lots of Westerners, lots of hire cars – shown by their "Rc" – Rental Car – on the number plate.  You learn something every day.

We drive through Ubud, descend to the river, then across the bridge up the other side – straight past the Hotel Tjampuhan we were looking for.  U-turn, and back.  No wonder: it is a facade, a shell.  Uniquely, in my experience, it hangs down a gorge, the bungalow rooms found down steep steps.  As is a beautiful pool, tennis courts etc. – an old palace this, where the artist Walter Spies stayed for years.  Our room is newish, but huge, with a high roof, wire netting instead of walls, and a huge rotary fan in the ceiling – no air conditioning.  A separate bedroom, veranda overlooking the gorge, trees and flowers everywhere.  Only $52. 

Waiting for the bus here, dancing practice in Ubud opposite the palace.  The teacher shouting out commands, the gamelan muted, then surging forward.  Everyone in t-shirts.  

Now at the Lotus Café – very swish, very cosmopolitan, very nice – for dinner after the performance.  Lovely pond.  

26.6.92 Ubud

Sitting on our veranda, the sun directly before us, as we wait for breakfast.  Surprisingly cold last night – the difference a little altitude makes.  

So, the performance last night.  The lights dimmed, and at least a hundred men, naked to the waist, entered from the right-hand temple door, shrieking and screaming and generally making monkey noises.  Impressive sight.  Then they formed into a circle around the lit shrine.  A priest entered, blessing the players with holy water.  The kecak itself began – a huge minimalist pulsing, led, I notice, by one Charles Bronson lookalike who gave a high note repeatedly as the marker – with considerable force, and exhaustingly, it seemed.  They swayed, raised their arms, shook their fingers, a huge sea of bodies, shouting and waving.

Gradually, the other characters entered: the princess, the prince, the baddie.  All were of a consistently high standard, the women supple and delicate – the princess an absolute stunner, the prince a semi-comic character, all tics and hunched shoulders, flicking fingers.  I have never before felt that I could read the gestures and actions so clearly; it was also so wonderfully explicit.  The kecak sometimes subsided to low chants or a voice narrating the story.  Wonderful unison notes, a perfect fourth apart, very strong.  The only annoying thing was the constant barrage of flashes – blinding, distracting.  But under the Balinese sky, before the temple, magic, basically, my first kecak dance.

Then back to Ubud in a confusion of bemos (is that the collective noun?), then to the Lotus Cafe for dinner.  Very swish, the lotus pond outside exquisite, the food very upmarket.  More expensive, but very good.  Gamelan music as background, but rather too many world-weary Americans for my liking… After, to the Bridge Café – almost alone – interesting contrast to Lotus Café.  This is much more traditional in architecture – beautiful portal, lovely traditional stonework, similar open roof. Fine view of the river gorge.  Coconut tree outside the window – including smaller ones growing – bright orange.

Anyway, back to today.  Up late-ish, because we thought breakfast only served late.  Worth waiting for: two pancakes – one ratatouille, one banana (a green pancake), the fruit salad, toast, tea etc.  To Ubud, to buy tickets for tonight's performance – alas, it turns out that the Barang had been cancelled – because there is a special performance of a grand new work – with 120 performers – to be entered in a national competition in Denpasar on the 29th.  This will take place at 8pm in the academy next to the palace, where we saw a rehearsal last night.

Then we went to the market – and it was market day to make things worse – to buy some nuts to give to the monkeys in the monkey forest nearby.  This took a while, since mostly on sale were sensible things, like vegetables.  But we found some.  So, staggering through the temporary one-way system, we made our way down to the marshy forest.  No monkeys at first, then one.  We feed him/her.  It wants more, grabbing hold of my trousers.  I give more.  It still wants more – and then starts biting.

I have antiseptic wipes with me, and we use those.  We ask the guard at the entrance if the monkeys are dangerous; he rushes off for some antiseptic – I hope not more dangerous than the wound.  Then back to the hotel where I ask for a doctor to be called.  But today the doctor appears not to be around – so there is the clinic.  The address is complicated, so I luckily get to take a taxi.  Luckily, because it turns out the town's doctor is at the clinic – and about to leave.  We just catch him.  He reassures somewhat: not serious – he's had to suture cuts before – the monkeys aren't rabid.  More dubious-looking antiseptic from a crusty bottle – I hope these are OK – and then sent home.  A really worrying episode.

This is a wonderful hotel – I set now on the shaded veranda, looking down on the river gorge, a couple of temples visible (this is Room "Bukit 2up"), and thatched roofs of other rooms.  The place is a maze of pools and rooms and huge trees.  The view from the bar, a split-level affair, is stunning, with one particularly huge tree notable.

27.6.92 Ubud

In Klungkung, in the judgment hall by the crossroads.  A gamelan – yes, another - plays nearby.  I recognise Klungkung – lovely name – but seem not to have been here before.  Strange.  Called in at Goa Gajah, nice enough coming to the cave, huge fingers in the rock.  Inside, suffocating, lack of oxygen – and the smell of paraffin.  Deep in a river gorge, down to the pool, lily-covered – with a frog.  Small headless Buddha… Then to here, traffic busy, survived so far.  Main drag of Klungkung really attractive; again, familiar…

Back at base. So, last night.  After eating again at Lotus Café ("our place"), still full of Americans and chain smokers – along to the performance area opposite the tourist office and palace.  Fifteen minutes before, already filling up.  Glass of water and cake handed to us as we went in.  Hard metal chairs.  People bundling in around us; tourists, but hundreds of locals – notably grannies and mums with tots – some less than a year old.  Complete with squeakers to amuse themselves. The band arrives – forty-odd, gorgeous purple costumes, bright golden headgear.  More audience pile in, onlookers climb walls, pillars, temples etc. - this is the event.  It starts late – 8.15pm, and will go on for a long time.

The story seemed to be the usual good versus evil stuff – and wayang wong, with the dalang doing all the funny voices.  Plenty of slapstick, plenty of noble pathos, lots of attractive young women – very good dancers, lovely fingers.  The music: very loud, very energetic, very Balinese.  And impressive in keeping up a 2.5 hour Wagnerian backdrop of sound – now fast and furious, now gentle and sad, now minimalist, now thunderous.  Lovely syncopation, triplets even – adventurous.  The plot long and seemingly never-ending – this must be the end, I thought, but again and again, always one more scene.  Some nice touches: the field of plants hiding the baddies: men with leaves; the river of blood bled by the same, a long silk train.  Brilliant use of twirled umbrellas for chariot wheels, gods raised up on shoulders, supported by spears as the third prop.  Great stuff, utterly quintessential.  

Two things: on a bend in the road, high above rice fields: a beautiful temple, simple, and two oxen ploughing the field.  Also, in Klungkung, next to the palace, a museum.  In it, the most touching thing I've seen: old Dutch newspapers from the beginning of the century, when the colony was still strange and new.  To the Lotus Cafe, after buying two books with promise: Sumatra, Irian Jaya… Outside, the lotus leaves sway hypnotically.

28.6.92 Denpasar

Well, back in Ajit's Beach Bungalows, on the veranda by the the sea – Sunday in full swing, despite the absence of sun.  The sea full of bobbing dark heads.  Good to be back, for all its faults – that curious sense of home from home, when you can go back to a hotel you have used as a base for an extended excursion.

A procession passes by, out on the beach, a long snaking, singing file of people.  A Sunday procession, almost.  (For some reason, my thoughts keep turning to Aldeburgh – the Festival is on now, and it's the first year for many that I've not been there.  Perhaps it's "Prince of the Pagodas" that is doing it…")  Amazing the building going on here.  We are now in room #69, but many more are being built.  Does it really get that busy in July/August?  Perhaps the capital outlay is low.

Up early today, a final breakfast on our Ubud balcony with its splendid view.  Then the laundry back – about 18 items for £4 – we pay our bill and leave.  Traffic surprisingly busy for Sunday.  Stop at Celu, for some haggling over silver – basically to 50%: 80K Rp. for three pieces, quite nice.  Then to Alit, change, round to Laghawa Beach Inn.  I had been told that Wayang Pater gave wayang kulit performances here.  And miracle of miracles, so it proved.  The place seemed deserted except for the receptionist, but he was helpful – probably bored - and had a number for Wayang.  We rang it and there he was.  He remembered me when I reminded him of the trip to the hills.  Unfortunately he was rather ill at the moment – diabetes – and so would not be performing Monday, as normal.  But he kindly said he would try to meet us beforehand at 6.30.  So it will be interesting to see if we can meet up.

Then to the beach – driven there by a man from the car hire, who tried first to demand an extra day, the cheek.  By the lobster again, soaking up the sun.  Curious thing though: the tide was out, and kept on going out further.  Until it was impossible even to dip in the water.  The wind got up even more, and the kites came out, until finally one about 20 feet across and 40 feet long was hoisted aloft – very impressive as its cords drummed in the wind.  Then back here for tea.

29.6.92 Denpasar

Near the puppet show, hoping that Wayan will make it despite his illness.  Gamelan (recorded) thundering away behind us...

1992 Indonesia II: Yogyakarta, Solo, Jakarta
1988 Hong Kong, Bali

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