Bali Trip – The following narrative describes a family trip we took from Jakarta across the island of Java to the island of Bali. It did not include our eldest daughter Marcie, who began her university studies a couple of years ago. Our second daughter, Valerie had also left the nest, but flew in from the states for the trip with us.
Day 1 – “Well, here we are on the way to Bali this Sunday afternoon. Valerie came yesterday by surprise. That is, we didn’t expect her until late today. But the itinerary was written wrong by the travel agent and so she took a cab home from the airport, arriving about 8am. I traveled to Singapore yesterday for a job interview with a company in Bangkok. The job has possibilities.
Anyway, I returned from Singapore last night, getting to the airport about one hour after Lori. Lili, our driver who was waiting for me, saw her and said to himself, that’s Valerie! But no, Mrs. Robertson said not ’til tomorrow. So she walked right past him and he didn’t say anything. She surprised me, being home already when I arrived.
Back to the story! We went to church today (Valerie slept in having spent the last two days in airplanes and a night layover in Tokyo. We got home about 11:30 & packed up to make our getaway for the week. Dan & Leslie have the week off for the Easter break and we’ve planned for two years to drive to Bali to see the sights. We have been in Indonesia nearly three years and haven’t seen Bali, a shameful state of affairs! So when Lori decided to come for a rest we asked if she could come early enough to make the trip with us. She was able to take some tests early and so, here we are now together in the VW bus with Lili driving us to our first stop, Bandung, the first leg of a long trip. Its about a 24 hour trip total. We plan on spending two nights in Yogyakarta. Then on to Bali for three nights.
Leslie had an opportunity to go to Bali with the senior class for Jakarta International School, as one of her friends folks are senior class sponsors and are going to Bali with the seniors for their senior trip. She was able to fill in for a senior who couldn’t make it. So she left Saturday with the group and we will meet her in Bali to return together. She hasn’t seen Lori yet.
We are now in the bus trucking trucking over Puncak pass on our way to Bandung. Finally left the house about 3pm. Just ahead of us on this climb over the pass is a large passenger bus that reminds us of “The Gods must be Crazy,” because there is one guy at the back door hanging out, with a large rock on the step. He jumps out each time the traffic stalls, puts the rock behind the wheel to keep it from crashing back down the hill onto us.
We arrived in Bandung about 7:30, stayed at the hotel Panghegar, a nice hotel with all the services. A very good day.
Day 2 – We left Bandung after a good evenings rest at about 7:30. After driving for a total of 8 hours we arrived in Yogyakarta at 4:30 pm. President Jones of the mission presidency had given the name of the Branch Pres. in Yogya. We had ordered batik murals of church history scenes from Sis. Moerjito in Jakarta last year. Her husband knew an artisan in Yogja who did this and he showed us samples we were impressed with. Before we received the batik’s Bro Moerjjto died and his wife left for Yogya and we lost track of her.
We had more or less dropped the idea. But when we were planning this trip, we thought we would talk to the Branch Pres. in Yogya to see if we could find Sis. Moerdjito. So that led us to Pres. Jones for the address for the Branch Pres. in Yogya, Hadi Pranoto. So, after checking in to the hotel, we got back in the car with Lili, leaving Dan and Lori at the hotel, and set out to find the address. After about an hour of driving and asking questions of many pedestrians and bystanders, (Indonesian note: it seems to be contrary to the culture to ever say they “don’t know.” So much of the guidance received in an address search as this is questionable). We arrived at a dark alley-way, into which Lili disappeared for what seemed like 30 minutes, returning with an Indonesian gentleman who turned out to be the branch president, Pres. Pronoto.
He got into the car with us as it was raining, and discussed through Lili (Pres. Pronoto did not speak any English) the escapade with Moerdjito’s and the batik paintings. He told us Sis. Moerdjito had long since returned to Jakarta and Bro Simpson had taken the batik paintings to the states. So there we were. We asked if we could possibly meet the artist and perhaps order more? It was difficult communicating as he just kept saying, through Lili, that there was no more stock.
He invited us into his house, down the dark alley, where we found out that he was indeed the artist and that he had pictures of the church scenes we wanted and could in fact order them right there. A young man was in his home named Johnny who had served a mission a couple of years ago in the Indonesian Mission and spoke English. We worked through him and ordered 6 scenes. It will take two months to finish the lot and he only wanted $12.00 for each one. These are real works of art, hand crafted taking two months to finish, for which there will never be another just like the ones made for us.
We bought two small batik’s he had finished, and left a deposit for the others. We will correspond by the mails to get them paid for and delivered. It was a very interesting experience. And Lili had a very good experience with Indonesian Mormons as he discussed with other members of the family in an adjoining room about our trip to the Borobudur temple tomorrow. Another very good day.
Day 3 & 4 – We started this day with Lili picking up Johnny, the young man living with Pak Pranoto, who stayed home from his university studies to guide us to the sights this day. They picked us up at the hotel at 8am and we traveled first to the Borobudur temple. This is a magnificent edifice that has been restored the past several years. It is a very large shrine built on levels, depicting the Buddhist belief that there are three levels or degrees in life. The temple itself has ten levels or steps, which are somehow designating the three levels of life. It is difficult to describe just how magnificent the whole thing really is. Hopefully our pictures will do it some justice.
After a couple of hours, we returned for a quick look at the sultans palace, but decided not to go in. We next went to an address Lili had which is the only Bansai garden in Indonesia. The owner was a ex-soldier in Sukarno’s army and in 1945 he studied under the Chinese and learned the ancient art of Banzai. His Banzai have been honored and taken to Suharto’s palace and and has successfully grown a Banzai coconut tree that is four feet high and about forty years old and had grown one coconut. He says it takes over twenty years to grow one coconut.
We saw giant Banyan trees in Sumatra last December, with massive root systems growing down into the ground. The trunks were probably 20 feet across. The roots very strangely would come down from the massive limbs and then grow into the ground, forming small room-like passages. This Banzai artist in Yogya has successfully grown a Banzai Banyan tree that is about three feet high. Lili seemed disappointed that we weren’t going to buy one to take home with us. He would like one himself, but their cost was between $200 and $500 each.
After a quick stop at a silver smith to get a look at Yogya silver work, we made another quick stop at Kentucky Fried Chicken, then Lili dropped us off at the hotel and took Johnny home. We checked out at 1pm and decided to get a jump on the long ride to Bali. Figured we could go as far as Mudian and spend the night there. That would be about a four hour drive, which would then reduce the final leg of the trip to Bali about eight hours. If we stayed the night in Yogya as we had originally planned, it would be a 12 to 14 hour drive. So, we left the hotel, packed and filled with the Colonel’s Fried Chicken at 1:15 PM. We stopped for about 20 minutes at the Candi Prambanan only 2 KM from the hotel (Candi is the word for temple, pronounced “Channdy,” which is a Hindu temple of the same vintage as the Borubudur (the Borubudur temple is Buddhist)… and on we went.
After a while on the road, and discussing the matter with Lili, we decided to drive straight through, all the way to Bali. That would save a hotel bill that night, and as the kids would be sleeping most of the way the long trip would not be the same problem. We felt like Lili needed a bit of rest before beginning the long night on the road. So we decided a movie would be in order in the early evening if we could find one, and Lili could then rest. Well, we did find a theater in a relatively small city, which had started 30 minutes earlier and they wouldn’t seat you after the flick had started.
So, back into the car and on to the next town to try again. Success! We found one that was ready to start in about 15 minutes. So wait we did. Certainly the fairest skinned troop seen around that location in many a year. Everyone seemed to get quite a kick out of us waiting also. So in we went, sat in the middle section. All seats around us quickly filled up with Indonesians, who five minutes after the flick had started, seemingly on cue, lit up their Indonesian clove cigarettes. Carol and Lori decided to go to the lobby, wait a few minutes, then find another seat in some remote location. Dan and I followed a few minutes later, but in the lobby we decided that wasn’t for us so back to the car and on our way. Lili, all the time, was agreeable and understanding. He said to me, “Indonesian people always do that, where it says ‘Don’t smoke,’ they smoke. Where it says ‘Don’t park,’ they park. “
So, through the night we drove. I sat in front talking with Lili, Carol in the far back with Lori asleep on her lap, and Dan asleep across the near back seat. Lili told me about the wild-life living in that part of Java. He said if we watched closely we might see the black panther (or leopard, I’m not sure) that is plentiful. It is against the law to shoot this animal in Indonesia. We didn’t see one crossing road, but Lili came bolting back into the car at one point, seeing one in the bushes where he was relieving himself.
We arrived at the car ferry that was to take us to the island of Bali from the far east end of Java, at 3:30am. After a 40 minute ferry ride we were finally on the island of Bali. It was another two hours on to the city of Danpasar where our hotel was. We were able to check into our rooms at 8am where we cleaned up and took a two hour snooze. We got our act together just after 2pm and called Leslie who had been here since saturday with the senior class. Dan and Lori went down to the beach and snorkled. The air-cons in the rooms were the pits so we checked out the hotel where our reservations have us the next two days, finding it close and less expensive. We considered checking out but it would cost us 50% of the fare where we first checked in. This hotel is quite new, the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel, and very nice and expensive, but clear out in the boonies on the very southern tip of the island, about a half-hour by car to the next anything.
We drove just after dark to see Leslie where she was staying at the Kartika Plaza Hotel, and stopped at the familiar house of the Colonel on the way for some finger-licken chicken on the way. After we had finished our meal, which was served on large porcelain plates, I stood up and walked to the large metal garbage can and just tipped the tray so all the goodies dropped into the can the way I have done it a hundred times. What I forgot was that the large plate was not disposal and it made a terrific crash as it hit the bottom of the large metal can. Everyone in the place turned their stare on stupid Me. Talk about embarrassing. And mown family laughed loudest!
We did then find Leslie, who had been involved in an accident where a motor-cycle had hit the bicycle she was riding the day before. She was unconscious for only about five minutes. Scarfed up her knee a bit. After a visit and planning session, we returned to our hotel. The seniors are leaving tomorrow morning so Lili will pick up Leslie and bring her to our hotel first thing. Dan and I went down and saw a video movie in the hotel video room (no TV’s in the room). Then back to the typewriter for this two-day summary account. This has not been the best two-days in my life. Hopefully tomorrow will being great and exciting developments.
We checked out at the hotel about 7am, then waited in the lobby for Leslie who arrived with Lili about 7:40am. I had misunderstood the desk clerk about making plans for a tour this day. It seems I should have made reservations yesterday, oops!
So we went to the other hotel, not too far away, Lori and I walked over. It wasn’t as elaborate as the first, but adequate. Lili brought the other bags then. Didn’t hardly know what to do with the day. Lili took Dan and I to the Kuta Beach area to check out renting motorcycles driving about 20 minutes away. Found a rental, but my Indonesian license was grade “A”, Dan didn’t have one, and Lili’s was grade “C” as required. After some persuasion he rented us two bikes, one road-bike, one trailer-bike, on Lili’s license. It cost us about $32.00 for both for two days. The guy asked me if I’d ever driven one before. I said sure, once. That was in Moab on Ken Stiles bike in 1972, I think it was around the block once. I got on, Lili showed me how to get it started & away we went, charging down a small, very busy Indonesian type street. It killed on me after about half-block & I couldn’t get it started again.
So Lili finally came running down & suggested I drive the bus and follow he and Dan on the bikes until we get out of town where he would give me some quick instructions. So I did, and we did, and he did, and we trucked back to the hotel like Marlin Brando or Peter Fonda at about 11.00. Lori was asleep on the couch in the lobby, she transferred to the hotel room to resume her sleep. Dan, Leslie and I went to the rec room where we watched a video, “H-Bomb,” a spy thriller. Leslie slept with her head in my lap, while I dozed on and off through the movie. I think Dan saw it all.
Carol tool Lili on a short tour while we watched the flick & saw some neat stuff we must see tomorrow. After the video we got on the bikes and just cruised around the hotel. I took Leslie on back with me for a while at first, but she is not in love with motorcycles so she didn’t stay very long. So Dan and I snooped around in the boonies near the hotel. About 4:30 we all gathered and went to Kuta Beach to swim and try the surf. Leslie and I were the only ones to get into the water, but it was great. The biggest surf I’ve ever been in. When we would jump to catch a big wave to body surf it would just throw me everyday but loose, and each time I would come up with my swimming suit around my ankles. Kind of a new look on the beach!
But it was nearly dark so we didn’t stay too long. After a bit of shopping in the stalls by the beach, we stopped at a good stall & ordered two bags full of fried bananas. Then trucked back to the hotel where we all crapped out. A better day!
Carol woke with a bang, with noise that we should get on the trail! Since it is the last day before we leave. Our flight is scheduled for 9:00am on Saturday, and here is it Friday. So while we got ourselves ready, she took the horse carriage down to the beach where she met a buy named Rachman who was going to Surabaya Saturday on his motorcycle!
We met the tour guide at the hotel lobby at 8am who we had booked the day before, then waited for Carol, who missed the return horse carriage from the beach and had to walk. Here she came, with tell-tale sand and moisture on the bottom of her Levi’s. I didn’t ask any questions… and away we went for a day of Bali tour.
The guide was a happy little guy with reams of info on Bali in his mind that just kept pouring off his tongue. And when he realized after about 30 minutes that nobody was listening to him he just turned around and kept on talking to himself. Our first stop was the Monkey Forest where there are hundreds of monkeys in a very beautiful forest of very tall trees. They are camp-robbers of the very worst breed and expect you to feed them after you enter the forest. And they are all over you.
One of the guys held a banana over Carol’s head until one jumped on her head. Then he said, holding his polaroid camera in his hand, “Do you want a picture?” He wanted $2.00, but she would only offer him 50 cents, so he went away. But the monkey wouldn’t get off. But then as I waked on the scene one of the blasted things jumped on my shoulder and proceeded to relieve himself, totally without even saying thanks! I got I’m off at once, then our guide cleaned it off with leaves as best he could. But I shortly went into a stall and bought myself Bali shirt and walked out with a newspaper wrapped package under my arm.
Then on to the volcano and a view of Gunung Agung,the biggest volcano on the island. A fantastic sight with the very large crater, probably over 10 miles across, with a large lake and the cone of the latest volcano rising high from the center of the crater. This volcano erupted in 1969 and you can see the lava flow paths down its side and into the lake.
We had lunch at a restaurant just before the volcano. Our guide expressed sincere interest in our church as we traveled and asked many good questions at the restaurant. He is protestant, but a native of Bali with much history and traditional ties to the local Hindu religion. You see, Indonesia was at one time Hindu and when the Muslim religion moved in a few hundred years ago, the Hindu people moved to East java and finally found their home on the island of Bali. It is not the same exacting Hindu religion found in India, but a blend seemingly of Balinese culture and Hinduism. The cows is eaten in Bali. There main meat is pork and beef.
After the volcano and many pictures we started back towards Denpasar and stopped by a turtle farm (so called) which is a staging area for turtles imported from other islands and then picked up by trucks or cars to be taken to restaurants & markets around the island. Turtle meat is forbidden to Muslims, but no problem on Bali with the Hindus. They eat 80 tons of turtle in Bali each year.
By now, it is around 4pm and little time to get to the Cliff Shrine Carol saw with Lili yesterday, so we asked if he could drive fast. Whew!! We dropped our guide off at the hotel. Then on to a shrine built on a very high cliff over looking the ocean on the southern tip of the island. Dozens of monkeys which I stayed clear of. But a very beautiful scene of the sun set into the ocean on the west (yes, it still sets in the west in this part of the world).
Back to the hotel with dinner on our mind, Leslie had trouble finding something on the menu that she liked, so we planned on Dan and Lili driving back to Kuta Beach and KFC on the motor cycles. We are now waiting their return, having eaten supper from the hotel menu without them. I hope they return. They returned unscathed. An evening on the motorcycles without a scratch.
This day began as I left the room at about 6:30 with everyone else asleep. I had Lili drive me to the American Express office above Denpasar, about an hours drive, to see if I could get some cash to tide us over. You see, our plane tickets had us all leaving at 9:30 this morning for the return to Jakarta, with Lili driving back across Java by himself. We got the tickets changed until Sunday at 3pm and Carol and Lori decided to drive back with Lili since they didn’t have to be back to Jakarta for any pressing reasons, such as work or school. So we need a bit of Uang ($) as they say in Indonesia.
The Amex office had to telex Jakarta for approval, so I had to be back about 11:30 to pickup the Uang if approved. I stopped at Galael’s, the western type grocery store and picked up some peanut butter, jam and bread, all the essentials for any trip or occasion, and got back to the hotel at 9:30am. Carol stayed at the hotel and really got into the culture and ways of life with a book on Bali.
Lili & I took the kids to Kuta beach where we dropped them off for a couple of hours on the good Indonesian surf. After Lili and I finished our business with Amex, we started back to get the kids when a motorcycle ran into our side and buggered the driver up a bit. Lili jumped out, assessed the situation, ran back to the car, got his first-aid kit out, went back & pushed the bike off the road, bandaged up the driver, and they were arm in arm by the time we left. The guy even apologized for running into us. Lili is a very special person. I wish we could take him with us, wherever we go.
A note on yesterday’s visit to the volcano, as an insight to the routine you follow when you go to the trinket or clothing stalls where the hawkers ply their trade, one of the little gals was trying
to sell Lori something at one stall, and the conversation went something like this: “You want to buy this? Only 4,000 rupiah.” Lori said no, but she came back in muffled tones, kind of under her breath,”You don’t say no, you say maybe 2,000 rupiah, then I say maybe okay, 3,000 rupiah,“ with kind of a giggle. Lori got quite a kick out of that kind of that approach.
After getting the kids back to the hotel, Carol and I went with Lili to look for genuine sandal-wood fans, something she had read about in one of the books. One magazine suggested one good place to buy with a price indicated that looked much better than anything she had seen before. So with the scant instructions indicated in the magazines given to Lili, away we went. It only took him six question stops to find the place. Still open though it was now after dark, it was the genuine true scented sandalwood fans at the pace where they are manufactured with the owner & main artisan present. The price was about double what the article suggested, which got the owner a bit uptight. He was ready to call the guy who did the photographs for the article, who he knows well and find out where he got such info! A very interesting side trip.
We returned to the hotel to find the kids in the rec room watching a video and the evening came to an end. A good day.
We boarded our fight the next morning, taking us back to our home in Jakarta. Lili began the long drive back. A very good experience.
“Any idiot can face a crisis… it’s this day-to-day living that wears you out.”