Escapades In The Murder Wagon

What a day. I think we just crammed the entirety of summer into ten hours. The day started with extreme scepticism, as we’d booked this dodgy looking tour online which seemed too good to be true. We rocked up at reception, eager and slightly dubious, and loitered there for a few minutes before giving up hope. My friend was just about to email the company when we realised that the guy had been sitting behind us the whole time. What little faith we had. My friend began enthusiastically and charmingly bartering with him, which resulted in a twenty minute call to his boss, during which we were thinking “he can’t say no, he’s already made the journey here”. Sadly, this was not the case, and we handed over our thick wads of cash unwillingly. I think we’ve spent enough time here now that everything that’s not dirt cheap seems hugely expensive. We paid 900,000 for the whole day, which included transport, several watersports, lunch, a tour of the temple and a traditional fire dance at sunset. This equates to $90, or £45, which is ridiculously good considering half an hour on a jet ski would probably cost just as much back home.

He finally got off the phone from his boss, and led us to his dauntingly huge black car, which my friend affectionately termed “the murder wagon”. We got in, massively behind schedule, but apparently this was okay as it was “only a twenty to thirty minute drive to the water complex”. What a lie. An hour and a half later we pulled up, hot and sweaty, wondering what water sports hideously lacking in health and safety we were about to partake in. First up was parasailing, and after waiting on the sidelines for twenty minutes, gradually getting more and more terrified, my friend was up. They shouted and enthusiastically beckoned to her, and she was away. Reassured by the fact that she had not come crashing to her death, I ran up next, and they hoisted me onto these hopefully sturdy hooks and pushed me off in the space of about three seconds. The view up there was as you’d expect- breathtaking. The dazzle of the azure sea marked a stark contrast to the wide expanse of sand, and dotted all around were brightly coloured boats, forming a microcosm of tropical seaside. Time up in the air was all too short, and soon I was being commanded by a man with a tanoy to “pull down on the blue rope, harder, harder!” I was kinda loathe to pull too much harder as I was rapidly approaching a hut where all the boats were kept, and I didn’t really fancy making a botched landing on the roof and breaking both my legs. I’m no 007, after all. If I escaped with broken legs I’d be lucky. As you have probably inferred from the appearance of the blog post, I’m okay, and landed ungracefully while a bunch of fifteen year old kids grabbed at my legs.

Still fuelled with adrenalin from our ten seconds in the air, we were told that our next activity was banana boating. We were all given life jackets which matched the boat, and we resembled a bunch of minions- bright yellow, clueless, unable to speak the language but still indescribably happy. We set off, clinging on for dear life. I was torn between desperately trying to hold on, and attempting not to grope the arse of the Indonesian guy sitting in front of me who was controlling the banana. I’m sure he sat that close to my handle on purpose. After whizzing around for a while, he made various gesticulations and we soon realised that he was gonna tip us into the water. When he tried, we all subconsciously leaned the other way to counterbalance, but the second time he was lucky and in we went. We found this totally hilarious, of course, and he was delighted. I’m sure he was even more thrilled by the fact that he now had to shove us back up onto the banana boat by our arses, as it was near impossible to climb up on your own. I bet he had all this planned out, the cheeky bastard (cheeky pun too on my part). Jet skiing was also exhilarating, as I accelerated as fast as I could, undeterred by the strange man behind me trying to control it. He did try to tip me in later though, to get revenge.

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Mystery meat

So I’d managed to tick three things off my bucket list in the space of half an hour. Not bad. The last thing on the agenda was snorkelling. After admiring each other in our flattering masks and snorkels, we were given bread to feed the fish. I, of course, ate all the bread before we even got out to sea despite the protests of the others, who argued that I had no clue where it had been and it was probably stale. It was actually delicious, and an hour later when they were all starving I was hella smug. Three pieces of bread later, we rescued our snorkelling destination, where pieces of rubbish were floating everywhere on the surface of the water. Lovely. We were told to put life jackets on and not go too far behind the boat as there were large waves, but of course we listened to neither of these instructions. The man didn’t care in the least though- gotta love Indonesian health and safety. We drifted happily, swept by the tide and our carefree thoughts, submersed in another world, and came across the largest anchor I’ve ever seen in my life. As my friend remarked, it can’t have worked very well, as it was sitting at the bottom of the ocean and had obviously been there for a long time.

Lunch was another adventurous affair, although sadly not as hilarious or spice filled as the previous meal. We did, however, try suckling pig, a traditional Indonesian dish. Some parts were delicious, and some parts were unidentifiable. I’m pretty sure they’d put ALL parts of the pig onto the plate though so I was somewhat dubious. I tried all parts of the meal, before feeling queasy once again from the previous night’s antics.

Suckling pig (what does that even mean?

Suckling pig (what does that even mean?

We hopped back in the murder wagon, feeling hideously hungover/sea sick, and soon pulled up at a random place. Our driver paid for our tickets, and ushered us inside. We had literally clue where we were or what the place was, but we eagerly explored. There were tall concrete walls lining the avenues (scenic), and through a gap in the wall I saw a man zoom by on a Segway. Curious. We continued, and came across a square full of weird things: huge plastic balls you climbed inside, segways, waterguns- a weird amalgamation of forced tourist fun. It was also an example of a tourist trap at its finest- paying to go in somewhere where they make you pay more…
We wandered for our allotted twenty minutes, and came across two statues- a giant bird and a woman. We spent a while trying to get a picturewhere it looked like we were being eaten by the bird, but the heat and perspective confused us too much.

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Curious bird statue

Then back in the car we scrambled, and headed for Uluwatu temple, which is perched precariously right on the edge of a 70m cliff which juts into the Indian Ocean. It is one of Bali’s nine directional temples, meant to protect Bali from all evil. The view was beyond incredible, despite the throngs of tourists milling around, and we got a few cheeky selfies and spotted some monkeys lounging about on the roof. For sunset we attended a Balinese

Uluwatu temple

Uluwatu temple

Kecak Firedance, a tradition which has been occurring since the 1930s. It also has its roots in ‘sanghyang’, a trance inducing exorcism dance. Although I hate cliché, it was somewhat magical, listening to 150 men chant ‘cak’ while the sun set and we watched phinisi boats cross the ocean. Of course, something had to spoil the occasion. I was sitting by this infuriating woman who insisted on taking photos every five seconds (I’m not even exaggerating) with her DSLR. She refused to take the flash off and she had no zoom so EVERY single photo illuminated the people’s heads in front of us. You couldn’t even see the dancers in the picture! Despite this, she obviously thought that she’d get lucky if she took about 100 photos so on and on she went, leaning into me with her sweaty body, click click

Kecak fire dance

Kecak fire dance

click. I swear to God I nearly punched her. They were other equally annoying people in the crowd: a man who kept talking loudly on his phone, and people so kept leaving throughout the performance. I was very tempted to stick my foot out and trip them up, but I resisted.

We hopped one last time into the murder wagon, and chatted to our now good friend Butu Santiker (I’ve probably butchered that spelling so I apologise). Still feeling queasy, we were craving familiar food, and found the perfect place- an all day breakfast and pancake place, something we were way too excited about.

Classic Indonesia

Classic Indonesia

Then we bartered for a taxi, booked our next hostel, before collapsing into bed, exhausted but content.

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