Shunning the organised tours of the travel company, we braved the frowned -upon taxi in the street outside the hotel to take us on a tour of part of the island of Bali. The young driver insisted he was the best in the street and for 400,000 rupiah (about £30), would give us a wonderful tour.
We were in the town of Sanur, at the Puri Santrini Hotel, one hour’s driving time from the airport at Denpasar, the capital. By the time we arrived we had covered some 8,000 miles, taking about 23 hours to do it. A great idea of the travel agent, especially when we heard two days before travelling that there had been magnitude 6 earthquakes on the island!
The hotel with its strange name was wonderful and was set in extensive gardens on the edge of a beach fringed by palm trees.
After two days we took the plunge and hired the young man; he picked us up promptly at 8am and we set off through the manic traffic. The only thing I can say about the driving in Bali is that they drive on the same side of the road as us. Sometimes! Nerves of steel and tolerance are great attributes of the Balinese drivers.
After seeing a Balinese dance show on the outskirts of town, we proceeded through decreasing traffic to come to a stop at a beautiful view of rice terraces. Onwards then towards our ultimate destination, the resort area of Kintamini, where the huge volcano, Mount Agung, at 10,308 feet loomed over us. Still active, it had last erupted in 1963, killing 1,500 people. The lava flow could still be seen as a black stain amongst the greenery and small villages clung precariously on the higher ridges above.
The resort was positioned on a ridge not more than 100 metres wide but commanding fantastic views of the volcano on the one side and the lush green forest of Bali on the other.
We had a Balinese meal in a restaurant that literally hung over a vertiginous drop into the valley below with an open walkway on the outside of it. As we walked around the restaurant I tried to keep as close as possible to the walls of the building – the outside edge did not look too safe and it was a long, long way down to the tree tops below.
Reluctantly we left the sights and wonders of this beautiful place and joined the road down the mountains, taking a different route where we walked round a huge, colourful temple. Later we took time out to climb down a steep stairway to a river where a waterfall plunged over a cliff into the gorge. We also sampled various teas in a spice garden and walked amongst pineapple plants, pepper and cinnamon trees.
Eventually we arrived at our hotel to bid a grateful farewell to the young man who had given us such a wonderful tour, then topped off the day swimming in the balmy waters of the Lombok Strait.
by Terry Took © 2013
Terry Took was born in Yorkshire but has lived in Tynemouth for over 50 years. He spent 45 years in the Merchant Navy which included 27 years as North Sea Pilot. He then spent five years as a lecturer at the Marine Department of South Tyneside College.
He is now an Elder Brother in Trinity House and Marine Director.
If you have any comments or would like to contact Terry then please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.