Bali, Ubud and Plane tribulations.

We came back on Sunday and I am recovering ever since. Am wearing a blue fluffy morning coat with the pockets stuffed with hankies, both paper and cotton. ‘Crook as Rookwood’ they used to say! Rookwood is one of the largest cemeteries in Australia and even had its own railway station whereby the inhabitants of coffins could be unloaded for an uncertain but cool future below ground level. Another apt expression of feeling below par was ‘ I feel I am ‘on the train to Rookwood.’ They are lovely expressions but are at risk of disappearing when so much of the local Lingua franca gets overtaken by United States terminology.

I have a good cold. A direct hit given by a small child on the plane back. She was coughing all night between Bali and Sydney. Poor little girl.

We flew with Jet-Star. Little did I know what stood ahead of us. No food, no water. Can you imagine? Apparently the latest in economy fares. Soon there will be cheap flights whereby we will just stand up hanging from a strap. I booked ‘on-line.’ I picked direct flights between Sydney and Bali and never even thought to order food and water. I have never been flying anywhere whereby there would not appear (soon after take-off) the familiar little carriages, stooped over by flight attendants, with food and small bottles of wine. ‘Would you like a shiraz or a smooth chardonnay Sir or Madam’, was a common question, soon followed by a tray of all sorts of foods wrapped in cellophane that needed a chainsaw to open. Even a toothpick individually wrapped.

We used to be greatly comforted that everything was done to make the flight bearable with at least including some food and liquid. Not anymore now though. If you thought Isis was tough, try and take a cheap flight somewhere! Avoidance of DVT (Deep vein thrombosis) is greatly helped by staying hydrated during the flight. Well, you try and get water on board a Jet Star flight! I finally managed to get water from a water tumbler in the kitchen at the back of the plane. I was feeling very dizzy by then.

Of course Bali is still Bali with hordes of tourists scampering over everything possible, especially the bars and nightclubs. God, how tourism destroys everything, like locusts.

Of course we were tourists as well. But at least tried to escape. No elephant cave, monkey forests or Hindu temples for us. No tours or trips to rice paddies or local Ikat factories, wood carvings or silver smithing. No trekking or sunset watching, surfing or sampling of dodgy cocktails including the arak laced with kerosene.

We were within 100 metres of the main street in Ubud and elevated above street level catching the cool mountain breeze and waving palms with bits of kites suspended in mid flight. It was lovely and re-vitalising just watching the locals and hordes of tourists. I noticed that many tourists like running around maniacally. Why is that? Perhaps they are so wound up that, having spent money on fares and accommodation, they do not want to risk missing out on anything? They run around frantically like chooks without heads. Their mouths twisted in tenseness and set at twenty past eight o’clock. Chill out, dear European. The end is not nigh.

Ubud is the centre of Balinese culture with music and ceremonies the order of the day. Despite the influx of foreign tourists, Bali’s culture seems to have survived and homage to their Gods is practised everywhere with smoking incense and offerings given at any time of the day.

The togetherness of its people, the smiles and laughter and above all, the inborn desire to make beauty from table settings to wood-carved furniture, tables with marble tops, the lighting and ‘cosiness laced with feelings of intimacy. Schoolchildren with arms around each other, laughing and joking. Cheerfulness in bucket loads.

We are now back in Bowral and it feels all so dreadfully serious. Where is our ‘joie de vivre?’ Perhaps, all on the train to Rookwood!

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20 Responses to “Bali, Ubud and Plane tribulations.”

  1. ytaba36 Says:

    Get better soon! Crikey, no food or drink all the way from Bali?! Bl**dy Jetstar.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      We will not be using Jetstar again. In Bali we were prudent enough to buy water in two bottles (just in case) for our return to Sydney only for the water to be taken away by custom officers . Any container with more than 100mls is now seen as a lethal bomb and confiscated.
      I had to take my belt off and my shoes. The ignominy of it all.


  2. algernon1 Says:

    Rookwood is also the only suburb in Australia where no one lives. Get better soon Gerard.

    Ah Jetstar, OK on short hauls of an hour but never for anything too long. Had the misfortune of flying to Perth last year. Had a seat on Qantas at the right time at the right price. I was checking with Mrs A then the whole site went down. When it came back up Jetstar was the only direct available. It was awful.

    Ubud is such a beautiful part of Bali I remember it fondly from my visits there


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I crawled on hands and knees along the isle to the back of the plane for water. In the kitchen I was put on a fold down chair and revived by a kind flight attendant. She cradled me in her arms and administered the water, a spoonful at the time. I soon yielded to her kindness (and softness) and perked up ever so spontaneously and recovered quickly.
      Back in my seat I had to deal with a very large man next door with a grotesque knee that kept invading my space. He was snoring so I did not want to push this knee back.
      Ubud is still nice and we feel almost ready to live there, perhaps ten minutes inland or so.
      We flew Qantas to Thailand’s Samui and had lovely food and as much water as we liked, as well as wine.
      Jetstar no more for us.


      • algernon1 Says:

        Did you catch her name, something nice Svetlana perhaps, what did Helvi think of all of this


      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Helvi was just as ropable and swore never to fly Jetstar again. I managed to get a bottle of water from the same attendant to take to Helvi.
        Don’t get me going on the state of the toilets. A fold out table to change baby’s nappies was directly above the toilet seat just inches away from aparture of the toilet and lid. Flushing the toilet resulted in a dreadful swishing sound. Does all that waste get jettisosned above the sea or above land?
        Does anyone know?


      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Ah yes, the beautiful Svetlana. I remember it well.

        Years ago I took the overnight train from Moscow to St Petersburg (Leningrad) in midsummer and shared the sleeper with a couple and an ample-bosomed and beautiful Russian woman by the name of Lilly.

        Most of the sleeper cabins behind me had groups of American choir singers, both boys and girls of around 20-30 years of age. They had performed in Moscow and were booked to sing in St Petersburg. Being midsummer, and so far north, the days lasted forever. It had also been very hot with thunderstorms in the late afternoon. The Americans were pleased to meet someone from Australia and, as proof of it, I was asked to give an impromptu impersonation of Crocodile Dundee star Paul Hogan and say “goodiaye and hozygoin” over and over again.

        This was nothing compared with what would follow next. The beautiful Lilly in my cabin spoke some German and so did I. The train was air conditioned but it was stifling hot and, as Lilly and I got acquainted, she, now and then, modestly dabbed her bosom with an Eau de Cologne sprinkled silken and embroidered handkerchief. She kindly asked what I did when I was not travelling and I told her I painted pictures. Ach nein, du bist ein Artiest? Wie ist das möglich? (An artist, how is that possible?) The hanky started working overtime.

        The secret was out and went like wildfire through the whole train. The next thing, passengers were lining up to meet me, vodka was offered and Lilly unpacked some ‘kuchen’ with cubed sugar soaked in almond essence. (I remember it well.) I was almost carried around on shoulders and tears were flowing. I was feted like an emperor.

        Some hours later, when darkness finally announced itself – and consider Russian sleeper trains are not gender separated, and the vodka had settled – the four of us, including the beautiful Lilly, calmly undressed. I hopped in the top bunk and she underneath. I slept on a cloud of Eau the Cologne and almond essence.


  3. Loni Says:

    Poor you!


  4. Andrew Says:

    Welcome back, Gerard. I understand paying for extra legroom etc but no water???? Is it legal? It sounds very dubious and risky. Sue the bastards.


  5. M-R Says:

    I don’t really like it at all, Gerard – you write of things that make me both sad and angry. JetStar is tha Irish shit’s pet, of course: I’m sure he’d rather kill Qantas than JetStar ! How OBSCENE that they wouldn’t even give you water – that must be against all health regulations.Get litigious.
    And I’ve seen footage of how gentle and religious the Indonesians can be – I believe it was Rick Stein (sorry !), but it was still very informative. And of course, it’s all going to be hidden ere long; because otherwise the Indonesians won’t be able to follow it !


  6. Lottie Nevin Says:

    Jet Star sounds perfectly vile – what a bunch of meanies not even providing their passengers with water, what the hell is that all about? Actually I did read something quite terrifying the other day about budget airlines thinking about doing away with seats and just having the strap handles – that coupled with no water….I think I’d just rather walk! Glad you had a good time but sorry to hear about your cold, hope you feel better soon 🙂


  7. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Glad to see you back in civilization again Gerard. It sounds like a horrible flight. I hope the trip itself was marvelous.


  8. chris hunter Says:

    Well it’s certainly nice to hear a good Bali story. They kind of lost me with the bombing. When young I spent quite some time in Asia but have never returned. Probably, out of guilt, I would return to Vietnam, and make my humble apology to the Vietnamese people. No, I did not actually shoot anyone, but I take my share of the responsibility, I was there, a young turk on the run from boring street, Christchurch, NZ, in the late 60’s.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Glad you like this Bali Ubud story. My brother has visited Vietnam and he and his wife were received with open arms. There were no bad feelings. I find the people in Bali very cheerful. They like joking and with a few words of their language it never fails to get a smiling and friendly response.


  9. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    This post led me on a wonderful, but unsuccessful, search for a 1960s (?) sidesplitting comedy piece on budget air travel. We thought it was Bob Newhart, but can’t find it anywhere, so it may be someone else.


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