Part II – 30th July 2006
The plan today was we would do a 10 km walk taking in a few temples and the traditional rice paddies around Ubud. Bless the Lonely Planet’s little cotton socks, but I had a sneaking suspicion that the little looping line with hardly any street names was going to be a wee bit difficult to follow – even for a navigational genius like myself – so I decided to leave the navigating to Kimberly. The paragraph describing the walk was even less helpful: go past the garbage dump, don’t be afraid to ask directions! We weren’t even out of Ubud when our first hiccup occurred. We had reached a roundabout, or was it a fork? Maybe a crossroads? Whatever it was, it was marked by a HUGE statue of ... mmm... what exactly? Neither Estrella nor I can remember exactly. I think there were wings and something standing on animals. Anyway, the point is it was massive and we didn’t know where to go. I did bite the bullet and go ask directions like the LP suggested. I left the shop with some new vocabulary: ‘Pasar Pejeng? Pasar Galiang?’ but still no real idea where to go. We tootled off in the wrong direction, scuttled back past the giver of bad directions and things seemed to go OK then.
We did the steep descent through lush forests, crossed a river which was hidden below the foliage and climbed again to see our first rice paddies. I had seen photos in the books, but seeing it for real was amazing. It was like travelling back in time when machinery was not invented and perhaps life was simpler. The only things which placed these fields in our time where the scooters piled with as many members of the family as possible, the loud easy listening escaping from the compound walls and the little boys. Why the little boys? Well, the little girls also shouted, albeit quietly: ‘Allo.’ ‘What’s your name?’ ‘How are you?’ But the more vociferous boys also shouted very loudly ‘Foto, foto, foto.’ Then they would lounge back on the steps and grin and wave their fingers at us. They would then jog up to see the results on our tiny little screens and shoot off leaving behind the sound of their hysterical high pitched laughter.
So at what point did we realise we were lost? Oh, probably way back there after the fifth paddy field. When did we start to worry? Well, it may have been as I had my head buried in the guide book looking up the phrase ‘Where is?’ only to be drawn out by the panic stricken wailing of a two year old who had probably never seen a white tourist before. “I’ve never scared a kid like that before.” Estrella confessed later. It was closer to the time we finally saw a sign saying Pejeng and we realised we had been walking for three hours and the walk was supposed to be three hours in total. Oh yeah, and it was definitely when we asked where Pura Pesering Jagat was and we were told two or three km's away. Not only had we not even reached the first of the temples, but it was now gone eleven and we had a Javanese Flower bath and deep tissue massage booked for two and we weren’t even halfway around the loop!
Eventually we reached Pura Peneteran Sasih. My toes hurt, my legs were weary, I was sweaty and this temple had a drum called the Moon of Pejeng which fell to earth about a thousand or two years ago. There was a moments hesitation when we saw that other tourists were donating 20,000 rupiah for a visit (the equivalent of 2€), but we were dog tired, so we slapped a 50 thou for the three of us down took our sashes and went off to find the drum.
That didn’t take long so five minutes later we had new priorities: getting back to Ubud and we weren’t bloody walking anymore. Forget Pura Pesering, the archaeological museum or Goa Gajat. Those are all things we passed as we sat in the back of a Bemo transporting flies, turnips and us.