Shortly after we arrived in Pemuteran, one of the boys elaborately vomited throughout the restaurant at the resort where we were staying. Over the next couple of days, his brother and I also became unwell. None of us were able to see anything the area had to offer, we were all miserable, and we felt suffocatingly insulated at the resort.
We had actually booked a driver back to Denpasar and were about to change the tickets for the flight home. Australia was less than twenty fours hour away, but then suddenly, everyone felt better. We decided to stay, and I am very glad we did.
Next day we chartered a boat to take us snorkelling out in the bay. The conditions were just incredible. Three kilometres offshore, there were absolutely no waves or swell. The water was so still, it was like swimming in a pool. It is such a shallow bay that even out that far, we were still only in about five metres of water. The hills surrounding the bay look just beautiful from the water. We could easily see Java on the horizon across the straights.
The boys have been snorkelling in a tea tree lake before, but never in the ocean. They don’t generally like the waves. This was a perfect introduction for them.
I was not able to get any photos underwater, and am only able to name a couple of the things that we saw. There were different corals covering most of the sea floor. There were also a multitude of different fish of all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some swam individually, and others in large schools. I often think of fish as being silver or sandy coloured, but these were all kinds of iridescent and vivid blues and yellows and purples. Also wandering around the reef were large numbers of big blue starfish.
Diving and snorkelling is a major attraction to Pemuteran. Some of the local businesses go to a lot of effort to repair the reef which has been badly degraded from overfishing, explosive/cyanide fishing techniques and anchor drag. The aim is to restore and maintain a healthy growing coral reef. The reef itself actually runs right up to the beach. We went to another area in the bay where they are building an artificial reef for coral to colonise. There was a sunken boat there as a little something extra to look at.
The boys loved it, especially my eldest. We were out for two hours from start to finish. We went out the next day as well, this time in a wooden outrigger canoe. We studied outriggers when we were looking at ocean going canoes and learning to make bark canoes. It has been quite a point to see so many and now to have been in one.
At the dive centre where we hired the boat, there is also a turtle conservation area. They were incubating a cluster of 416 eggs. There were also a couple of sick sea turtles which were recovering from something – eating plastic bags probably. It’s an unfortunately common problem with turtles. As magic as the reef was, the beach itself was littered with plastic and rubbish washing up on the sand. I get the impression I am used to uncommonly clean beaches at home.
We didn’t originally plan to go back to Ubud, but we figured that some familiarity would make the boys more comfortable. Also the logistics of trying to organise things without a proper internet connection was very difficult. When our time was up, we hired a driver and began retracing our steps.
Just on the edge of town we came across a large troop of monkeys going for a swim in the ocean. I guess they get hot just like everybody else, but I had not expected to see them jumping off the rocks and diving underwater. We stopped for a cautious look at them. This was a much tougher group than the ones we met at the temple.
Finally, to the sounds of Kylie Minogue’s ‘the locomotion,’ we set off up the mountain. A while later, my eldest boy asked the driver to ‘turn that horrible music off,’ and then shortly afterwards started throwing up. Travelling with carsick kids is never much fun. It was a long difficult trip across the island.
Back in Ubud, we have spent our time just relaxing. The only real thing of note we did here was visit some silversmiths. The Lord of the Rings has quite an influence on the boys’ imagination, so they have been wanting to get some ‘magic rings’ while they are here.
I have never seen a jeweller at work, so I was a little surprised at how simplistic their set up was. The silversmiths worked either on the floor, or at banged up little desks under the verandah of the jewellery shop. We were given a little talk about how they alloy pure silver ingots with copper before working it. They used a paste of tamarind and salt to polish the final piece. We probably ended up paying more than we should have for the rings we finally bought, but that seems to be the nature of holidays. The boys were happy.
So we head home this evening. There is a tropical cyclone just crashing into Brisbane where our plane lands. It has been working its way down the coast with winds of up to 200km/hr, and is expected to keep going some way further south past our house leaving flooding rains, cut roads and plenty of storm damage in its path.
It should be an interesting trip home.