I met Nick (volunteer in Solok) at the airport, as he was also going across to Bali a few days before the Conference and on the same return flights as me. He arrived about an hour before me, which meant his transport from Solok had left later than mine as Solok is closer to Padang than Muaro. My travel car picked me up at 0700, then proceeded to pick up another 2 passengers in Muaro, then off to the surrounding areas to complete the passenger pickups. Then we were off. In the car was a young girl who introduced herself as Anna, saying that she worked for the statistical department in Muaro a government department, a 2 young men, 2 teachers off to training in Padang and a young girl who was also going to the airport. It took about 3hrs to arrive in Padang and roughly another hour to travel around Padang dropping off the passengers. I located Nick easily enough when I arrived at the airport as I’d seen him walking across from a building which turned out to be the warung he’d gone to get a bite to eat. We then waited inside the airport for about 1.5hrs for our flight.
There was a group of about 7 men, who it turned out were from Melbourne. They were friends and had had an extended “boys weekend” of surfing out from the Mentawei Islands about 2hrs offshore from Padang. It seems that most foreigners to Padang just stop long enough to catch a boat out to the islands. The flights were both uneventful, Padang to Jakarta, Jakarta to Dempasar as Padang has no direct flight except to Jakarta. In Jakarta we had an hours delay.
On arrival in Denpasar Nick was going to Kuta then onto Nusa Lembongan Island just out from Sanur. And I was off to Sanur, Kate had already booked a hotel there for us to share a room for 3 days prior to the conference and she was arriving the next day at about 1900. Nick & I decided to travel by ojek to our destinations as it was only half the cost of a taxi. That was great and it was ok as my backpack was basically empty. But might not work for the return trip to the airport!!!!!
Anyway by the time I arrived and checked in it was about 2300 when I got to our room. The next day I wandered the path along the beach front, checked out some of the stalls and went to the supermarket. There I bought Aussie groceries like packet soup, dip mix, pasta sauce etc. This I can tell you filled up my back pack when I got back to the room. I also bought a pair of SHORTS & SLEEVELESS TOP set, another tshirt and another top with capped sleeves, plus another pair of ¾ length black pants for work. Kate was bringing me 2 batik tops for work from Yogjakarta as they only cost 36000rp each.
The day after Kate arrived we caught up with each others news and spent the day just wandering around the main drag in Sanur. We booked a trip to Ubud to catch up with Deirdre and Vichara and also to visit the Green School. We also booked a Stand Up Paddle session for Monday morning. The Green School is located roughly half way between Ubud & Denpasar in an obscure difficult spot to find. It has been ingeniously built using all natural products except for the floors which are cement. So the buildings have been constructed from bamboo with the only building with windows being the lab. They have even constructed their own blow up balloon which they all sit in when it becomes too hot. It is then blown up using a generator and it keeps the students cool. There are also animals, rice & veggie fields. The curriculum is a combination of American,
British & Australian education systems. Of the 225 students from Kindy to yr 12 only about 18 are Balinese.
I’ll let the Stand Up Paddle photo’s speak for themselves. We went off in a boat to a sheltered lagoon as it was too windy the morning we went for our lesson. I actually thought that I may not get to stand up, but they have you standing up within about 5mins of your lesson starting. Unfortunately the instructor did not use the zoom so some of the photo’s are not as good as they could have been. Back to the hotel for a swim at the beach and the pool, showered and dressed for lunch. Oh, we enjoyed ourselves so much we booked another session.
Then off shopping as Kate wanted a couple of things, so I found a Guardian Pharmacy for a couple of things. Enjoyed some great meals and variety, what a change.
Then of course it was time to check out and relocate to the Inna Grand Bali Hotel for our conference. It was located at the opposite end of the beach to where we had been staying. But still within walking distance along the beach front path. But as Kate had a couple of bags and mine was now full we caught a taxi. I had noticed at our hotel that there were mainly Europeans and boy some of them should have looked in the mirror before stepping outside. Skimpy bathers and big big bodies are just not a pretty sight. Or have I been isolated in the hills too long? There were obviously Australians, Indonesians, Korean tourists etc staying around our hotel and some of the restaurants really catered to the Aussie’s with the footy on the telly. When we relocated there were even more Aussies, more Koreans and Chinese tourists. Interesting. As the Hotel is massive it has rooms, different types of cottages and convention facilities, there were a number of conventions, University Graduation Ceremonies etc held during our stay. Once again I was sharing with Kate. Our room was on the 8th floor overlooking the beach. So for the next 4 days we were indoors from 0800 – 1700. There was a field trip one morning which I quietly snuck away from and just wandered around, bought some shoes and swam. Then of course they were back for lunch and the afternoon session. Had an opportunity to meet other AVI volunteers and to hear about their assignments. Also met with the Austraining (formerly VIDA from Adelaide) volunteers and speak with them about their assignments. They also run the AYAD program which is for under 30’s and some of those assignments were so interesting. The Austraining volunteers are located in Jakarta, one or two sights on Java, Lombok, Flores, Sulawesi, Kalimantan and Papua. 146 volunteers and staff from the 2 respective organizations were in attendance. All paid for by Ausaid funding, including return travel, accommodation during conference and all meals. So how lucky were we, guess that must be where some of my taxes went.:-)
Then it was over and time to return to our respective localities and assignments. I received a text on the way to the airport informing me that the travel car would not be picking me up. But that Wawan and Augus (another Dinas Pendidikan driver). Well that was going to be interesting as Wawan speaks a little English and Augus hardly any. Oh,I forgot flight delays are common on Indonesian airlines, but however, Nick’s & my flight from Bali was brought forward 40minutes. So an even earlier start that morning. Then the Jakarta Padang leg was delayed by 30minutes. It was nice to be greeted by familiar faces on my arrival at the Padang airport. I am sure the boys had been waiting for a long time. Anyway we set off and of coursse, as all West Sumatrans do, we had to stop for “makan” food. So we stopped on the edge of Padang and we had ikan (fish) with the usual. Then we set off for the trip back to Muaro. Wawan did not appear to be in a hurry and we had lots of laughs along the way. We all learnt a couple of new words in Indonesian, Minang (local dialect) and English. Then when I found out that Augus plays soccer, we looked for kids playing so we could stop and join them. There were road works along the way which held us up for a very short time, it was worse for the others coming in the opposite direction as they were at a complete standstill. They looked like they had been stopped for some time as impromptu food stalls had appeared on the roadside.
I arrived home at about 1800, to no water, only what was still in my water dispenser. Also my gravel lane had changed, while I was away workmen had been paving it. Yep with approximately 10” thick cement. I guess it has to be thick to reduce the cracking? But that meant if I used the bike I would have to lift it up onto the pathway. Anyway a few days after being home they went through and made small access ramps at the entrances to the residences.