Sumatra and the Orangutans

Sunday 12:30 am ….. The only way to see ORANGUTANS was to TREK…..
So I had to TREK!!  But it was worth it!!
We saw a mother orangutan and her daughter playing in their nest up in the trees and then swinging and hanging around in the branches!!

Yes…. I also saw birds, snakes and interesting vegetation (ferns, two kinds of chocolate, rubber trees dripping milky white sap into funny little cups…) and yes ….. I saw primates (there are 8 species in Northern Sumatra) including ORANGUTANS!!!  We saw 4 different kinds of primates including a solitary big grey guy just strolling up the path!! He stood on his hind legs, decided we were too big and to many to mess with, and instead walked around us in the jungle and then continued up the path.  Nice monkey encounters and great plants

AND best of all:  YES ..  I saw

The sign in the jungle announcing the national park entrance
The sign in the jungle announcing the national park entrance
Along the river guess you really can't see the bridge??
Along the river guess you really can’t see the bridge??
A lychee-like fruit
A lychee-like fruit – Rambutan
Can you see the bridge?? The other one washed out in the most recent floods
Can you see the bridge?? The other one washed out in the most recent floods
And then there was rain in the Northern Sumatra tropical rainforest!!
And then there was rain in the Northern Sumatra tropical rainforest!!
Passing through the rubber trees
Passing through the rubber trees
That's a chocolate bean pod, I think!
That’s a chocolate bean pod, I think!

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Being all orange and furry, you would think that ORANGUTANS would be easy to spot .... But unless they are moving ....not so much!
Being all orange and furry, you would think that ORANGUTANS would be easy to spot …. But unless they are moving ….not so much!

… a mother and baby Orangutan!! Impressive!! Wonderful!!! Worth ALL of the effort to get here!!

At first the baby was rustling around in the treetop leaves that are her nest, throwing leaves around! With the mother hanging out on a nearby branch watching the Trekkers going by…

Then the baby put on a real show … Swinging in the branches, climbing on mom, and doing feats of strength … Hanging by one hand for a very long time and then hanging by one foot for a very long time!   Adorable

Another group of tourists had food ( a no no, but what are you going to do!!) so they came very close and ate cucumber and rambatams (red hairy little round fruit with a big seed and white flesh – a bit like lychee.  The mom just put the whole thing in her mouth, spit out the husk and then spit out the seed …. I think she gave a couple of pieces to the baby, because the people feeding only fed the mother …

A once in a lifetime thing!!

Nando, my Sherpa!, very politely asked me “You don’t do this very often, do you??”  We went very slowly!!  And the uphill steps were dreadful!! Treacherous for me with slippery mud, uneven surfaces, roots to trip you up, huge trees fallen across the way, and did I mention mid-day tropical rainforest heat!!

I didn’t go at the optimum time of day, but my viewing was delightful, and shared with only two other teams.  A couple with huge cameras, and a woman from Adelaide on her way to Sri Lanka.

In preparation for the trek, I had walked down to the bridge and back the day before and had a small beer at the hotel on the other side. ( mind you … At that point, IT absolutely WAS NOT trekking warm-up, because I still thought that I could watch a feeding!!)

Nando pointing to the baby, while she performs a"feat of strength!"
Nando pointing to the baby, while she performs a”feat of strength!”
Feeding is a no-no but being that close to these precious creatures is special
Feeding is a no-no but being that close to these precious creatures is special
Crazy uneven concrete step ms to get to the bridge
Crazy uneven concrete step ms to get to the bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bridge steps were difficult AND that round trip was an adventure for lazy me!!.

After our trek, I bought my guide, Hadi, and my “stick/Sherpa”, Nando, beers in the same place.. We were all happy for a refreshing beverage.

Back at my abode and I am now watching it RAIN in the Rainforest (at 5:10 pm).  We are having a pretty impressive thunder storm at the moment with more of that monsoon like downpour!!  Plus thunder and bright lightening.  It’s a great storm! The electricity is out!

Clouds keep rolling in so that more and more of the jungle side of the river is disappearing and turning white!!

It looks wonderful AND every time I think I have never seen it rain THAT hard …  it rains HARDER!! And the thunder and lightening gets louder and brighter!!  The perfect end to a day of TREKKING!!

Borobudur in the rain

The top layer of Borobudur. There is a seated Buddha inside each "bell", sadly many are decapitated.
The top layer of Borobudur. There is a seated Buddha inside each “bell”, sadly many are decapitated.
Storm clouds brewing
Storm clouds brewing

I made arrangements after breakfast/lunch/ world wide morning food tastes, to have a driver take me the hour drive to Borobudur, the largest Buddhist stupa in the Southern Hemisphere!

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It's a pretty long walk to get to the base of the stupa and then MANY, off sized and irregular stone or wooden steps at the EAst, West, North and South directions
It’s a pretty long walk to get to the base of the stupa and then MANY, off sized and irregular stone or wooden steps at the EAst, West, North and South directions

 

 

 

 

 

 

The whole day was amazing! The stupa is SPECTACULAR! The rain came down in a torrential downpour!! An absolute monsoon! But it didn’t matter! As a result of the rain, there was nobody else there! And with cloud cover at noon, it wasn’t even HOT! ( trying to find the good in the day, wasn’t very hard!! Just followed the delighted little boy jumping into the puddles!)

I did need to buy something DRY for the hour long trip back to the hotel BUT that proved to be a challenge for a couple of reasons:
1- with the downpours, a lot of the shops were closed
2- most shops don’t stock garments for female giants like myself!!

I finally found the one dress that would fit me, trying it on in the rain, over my wet clothes in the middle of the market stalls!
I now love my blue batik Borobudur design mumu !!!
But where to change from the wet stuff into the dry dress.. And when?!
I found the driver in Parking A right where we parked. He drove over to the Toilet, a small building guarded by a couple of guys who were charging ladies money!!
I ran in saying “no toilet” and proceeded to discretely remove my wet blouse, put on the dress, when it covered my knees, I dropped the wet trow and left!!
A little girl, waiting, was wide eyed watching the whole process… Does she have a story to tell!!
It’s all good!!

On the walls of the lower levels, there are reliefs depicted the life of Siddhartha, the Buddha. These people are cleaning!
On the walls of the lower levels, there are reliefs depicted the life of Siddhartha, the Buddha. These people are cleaning!

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She helped me with the dress, he suggested that I try the biggest one they had!!
She helped me with the dress, he suggested that I try the biggest one they had!!
Instead of a Tshirt ... I got a batik mumu!!
Instead of a Tshirt … I got a batik mumu!!

A trip to the center of Yogja

I discovered a grocery store!! The REAL price of water! I discovered a grocery store!! The REAL price of water!

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My waiting SPOT
My waiting SPOT
This is the drop off and pickup spot!! If I had noticed that crazy empty sign post, I would have known EXACTLY where I needed to be at noon! But using the important travelers code, NEVER PANIC! It all worked out just fine!!
This is the drop off and pickup spot!! If I had noticed that crazy empty sign post, I would have known EXACTLY where I needed to be at noon! But using the important travelers code, NEVER PANIC! It all worked out just fine!!
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A perfume shop.
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Fresh, raw eggs in the grocery store. The clerk said she didn’t understand English but we were able to figure out that in fact those eggs ARE raw!!

016/07/image-157-300×225.jpeg” alt=”So much digging along the side of the road! It’s very challenging walking!! Being under the covered walkway works better, even if there are so many vendors!” width=”300″ height=”225″ class=”size-medium wp-image-344″ /> So much digging along the side of the road! It’s very challenging walking!! Being under the covered walkway works better, even if there are so many vendors![/caption]

Can you say
DUMB as DIRT!!
11:30 am

I got the 9 am free shuttle from the Hyatt that went straight down the street for 25 minutes (as in, it’s that far to get back there!) AND then dropped us ( 8) people off on the side of the road!! The guy drew a dot on the map for me to show me the pickup spot!! SO I figured I was good to go!!

WRONG WRONG WRONG!!
I have no idea WHERE the pickup spot actually is!!   Fortunately I have 20 minutes to moan about it before I have to start looking for some stupid car this a piece of paper in the back window saying “HYATT Shuttle!!”

I Remember how in India it was impossible to figure out where you were for the first few days because the landmarks you picked out MOVED!!
Well it’s kind of like that!!
The whole D A M N street looks the same!!
I don’t know if the “spot” is BEFORE the bus stop or after??!?!
Is it BESIDE the chicken sculpture in the middle of the road or after it!?!

The driver will have my room number SO I’ve positioned myself in the shade on a comfortable seat of yet-to-be-installed sidewalk tiles with a couple of other guys all using cell phones!
The sweeper people are working hard.  A guy with a funny broom and a trash bin on wheels went by and I got up to throw my empty water bottle away … SOME young Asian boy with a big black back ……….. took my spot!!

I told him to move!!

He didn’t … So I sat down right next to him!

Eventually he moved!!
11:50!!
Big loud
Call to prayer chanting, very loudly but I can’t tell from where!!
Being at the Hyatt is interesting. I don’t even know if they change shuttle vehicles based upon the reservations!! I’m not even sure what I’m looking for!!

ANYWAY

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Here’s a map! I marked where the hotel is and where the driver marked, the SPOT!!

My walk down the street was a grand adventure….
The real prices for things is incredibly cheap!!
I went into one shop and ended up inside a huge mall with a grocery store “like target” in the basement, a Car dealership on another floor.
I didn’t buy anything but I tried on a sale priced outfit that was only $18. ( very pretty hooded cape thing, think little red riding hood!).
Not a single Borobudur statue anywhere… That rain yesterday was very bad for business!! And tourism!!

From Ubud to Yogjakarta

Helpful signage
Helpful signage

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Now that I'm in Java, I really miss all of the wonderful Balinese mythological statues in ALL of the roundabouts! Great landmarks!
Now that I’m in Java, I really miss all of the wonderful Balinese mythological statues in ALL of the roundabouts! Great landmarks!

Leaving Bali
I’m leaving for the airport in an hour!
Hopefully my check bag is under 20kg
And my carry on under 7 kg
( I weighed them but I telling with their scales!!)

My 5 day stay in Ubud cost under 4,000,000 Indonesian rupiah!
Try wrapping your head around prices of things when $1=over 12,000!!
I haven’t figured it out yet!! To even come close to the “local” living costs…

Total bill at Uma sari cottage on Bisma was:
* 5 nights / breakfast ( remember those fruit plates?!) pool and ac

  • All day tour to volcano rice fields temples w/ dog in road

* Half day tour to the coast for salt factory and bat cave where there was a procession of umbrellas and white robes folks and w/ huge lizard crossing the road right in front of us

* Several large waters and a small beer

Fantastic 5 night vacation in BALI ( I got to see so much more than just Ubud!! )

Right now I’m watching them plant the seedlings into the rice field next door… When I arrived the field looked pretty much a mess with only one small area holding bright green shoots about 6 inches tall … Then they cleaned it up, sprayed some miserable chemical all over it, raked it flat so it was muddy on top, but not too much water, now they are putting in the tiny plants one at a time to fill 6 or 8 separate areas. I think they will probably get the whole thing done in just two days.

How to say goodbye to Bali?!?!
If it wasn’t so far away …. I’d book for next year!!! But I’m enjoying every minute because the plane rides to get to SE Asia ARE not much fun.

It’s easy to understand why people who landed here in the past, never left!! Imagine, even in the 1950s women were topless!! When the Moslem government came into power, they changed all that!!

The DRIVE to the AIRPORT

Agung drove me to the airport even although his grandfather ( his father in law’s father) told him to get someone else!!
We went the shortcut way, leaving Ubud at 11am and reaching Naighurah Rai International Airport about 14:45. There was a lot of road construction on our route … That just contributed to an adventurous road trip again! Today’s animal crossing our path was just a chicken… BUT once again we had to give way for obstacles in the roadway! The silly skinny white feathered bird just dashed across the street, right in front of us!! Since today’s construction was “Official!” With machinery/diggers, shoveler guys and other road worker .. They had flag men of a sorts to assist the traffic flow ! It worked pretty well especially since the rest of the way saying that it was a narrow road without a ” shoulder” doesn’t quite capture the fun!! Third world driving is a trip!! There are holes in the road, vehicles coming at you on one way roads?! ( seriously! As in ..” I’m just a small scooter, a can go this way if I like!”)
And nearer the airport, gigantic luxury buses that are truly to wide for the little roads!! Not to mention LONG!!

The AIRPORT

I have time to get this post written because I’m now in “Flight departure LIMBO!” That MEANS while the check in process was quite thorough and speedy, even with a complete security check at the entrance door and another AFTER getting my boarding pass, I was directed to the Garuda Indonesia gate 1…. Now the fun starts. The brand new shiny airport is cavernous, which those all too long distances between gates and a delightful mix of shops, decorations, restaurants and other international amenities including prayer rooms, separate for men and women, and toilets with a choice of either western or Asian styles!! ( sit or squat!) actually a great idea, so that folks don’t try to squat on the seats of the toilets we are familiar with!
As you’ve probably already guessed .. Gate 1 is enormous and it’s at the very end of all that other stuff!! To add to the entertainment value, my boarding pass says Gate 1, but not the required A,B, or C because the arrival is ( wait for it) DELAYED!! Hopefully not for very long, a representative said, maybe 13:10 and to sit by gate A, and listen for the announcement ( which is impossible to understand in Indonesian and marginally unintelligible in English!!) the last time I checked … My flight to Yogjakarta wasn’t even listed on the departure board. At first that made sense because my boarding time was 14:50 and the last line was for a 14:40 flight. Now, unfortunately, they have added flights that leave after 15:00 and there isn’t even any mention of GA253. That’s one way to keep it from saying “Delayed” all over the place.

Well when I checked the departure screen, it said Gate 2!! Which is fun because a flight boarding at that gate is to Jakarta.. The folks boarding the Jakarta flight did say it would be 2 and then someone walked around area 1 saying Yogjakarta was really leaving from gate DUA (2). But folks are still wandering up to join the Jakarta flight!!
There was a lovely young guy sitting next to me on my first “assigned” bench who wandered over to gate DUA when they did the walk through announcement, so hopefully we are in the right place!
And counting 2:31 pm
The passenger viewing is exceptional so I’m really having fun… And it is my own fault that I tried to squeeze in the dance TONIGHT!!
We just added the required screening child to this waiting area .. So we are collecting everything necessary for a flight!
Yippee the update says
Ga253 Yogjakarta “Go To Waiting Room!”
By 14:55 I have gone through boarding at the gate, for BD a seat on the bus and boarded the B737-800 flight. Now from my window seat I can watch the incoming planes and beautiful white waves breaking on the beach in long wind blown breakers. There is a lot of Indonesian information being announced but fortunately it was followed by English.
Look they just offered candy! My row mates are two big French guys

But the plane wasn’t full so one of them moved!! We landed on time!!
I saw wonderful volcanoes out the window surrounded in clouds

Salt Factory, Bat Cave Temple and The Don Antonio Blanco Museum

Throwing the sea water to dry
Throwing the sea water to dry

So on my last day in Bali i can truly say

“Eureka ” I found it …… WHY it is such a magical paradise in the middle of truly third world poverty and chaos!
After another day on the road .. We went to the salt factory and then across the road to the bat cave temple ( Goa Lawah)!!

Going to fetch the sea water
Going to fetch the sea water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wish I could have gotten the salt but I was advised against carrying a package of white powder through a few weird custom checks!!
My drivers English isn’t 100% but we have fun….
Today’s roadway vs ANIMALS incident involved a gigantic LIZARD that ran right in front of us as the light turned green !!
We just waited for it but the lizard did have a bit more trouble with the motorcycle beside us who had to do some serious swerving to avoid it!!
And as far as road issues go … Today we were driving along and the road was closed … No “detour” signs …. no nothing!! We just couldn’t go where we needed to go !!
And there are not a lot of drivable roads around here!! To choose another route!

So after the salt and the bats, Agung dropped me off at the Don Antonio Blanco Museum and restaurant !!
Don Blanco was a character!!! and an excellent artist except for the fact that his preferred subject was the female nude drawn for full frontal sexual impact. And that’s not even in the ” for adults only” section.
I guess when he first got to Bali in the 50s the women were topless !! Given his interest in breasts he must have thought he died and went to heaven!!!
The king of Ubud gave him the land on the top of a hill outside of the old town center and he created a palatial playhouse and studio and gardens that now are home to lots of birds … So you kinda have it all
Great / spectacular views, sculpture/fountains, gardens and a strange / eccentric minds sometimes pornographic Art !!
No wonder people like Bowie want their ashes here!!!
I’ve never been anywhere like it!!!

Blanco has a couple of pictures of Michael Jackson and Mike Jagger!! He thought of himself as like Miro and Dali
I’d say Dali …. For sure!!

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Wash the sand .. Starts here ..
Wash the sand .. Starts here ..
This final drying process should take two days.... But she explained that it wasn't HOT enough ??? And would take 3!!
This final drying process should take two days…. But she explained that it wasn’t HOT enough ??? And would take 3!!
Procession at the bat cave temple ( my guide/ driver did a wonderful job coordinating all of this!! Lol)
Procession at the bat cave temple ( my guide/ driver did a wonderful job coordinating all of this!! Lol)
Since I was dropped at the top of the hill/ entrance, I only got a picture of the gateway when I was leaving
Since I was dropped at the top of the hill/ entrance, I only got a picture of the gateway when I was leaving

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Front garden fountain
Front garden fountain
Entrance to the museum collections No photos allowed
Entrance to the museum collections
No photos allowed
I had lunch in the restaurant Looking down on Ubud
I had lunch in the restaurant
Looking down on Ubud
Entrance to the bat cave temple.... It's literally a cave full of hanging and flying bats!! You can't go near it!
Entrance to the bat cave temple…. It’s literally a cave full of hanging and flying bats!! You can’t go near it!
To the right of the yellow umbrella... The top of the cave is just BATS!! They fly in and out of the dark cave interior!
To the right of the yellow umbrella… The top of the cave is just BATS!! They fly in and out of the dark cave interior!

The Holy Spring

Part of the President's Palace
Part of the President’s Palace
My guide with his bottle to collect the sacred water for his use in daily ceremonies.
My guide with his bottle to collect the sacred water for his use in daily ceremonies.
Temple carvings
Temple carvings

It’s a very good thing that I purchased a green and gold sarong at the volcano panorama because I needed it to get into the temple with the Holy Spring. The former president Suharto’s palace is perched on the hilltop ridge above this temple complex.

There were lots of people from all over the world! In addition to sarong, women had to tie back their hair. On the exit “Way Out” there was a long and winding gauntlet of shops with vendors selling every imaginable tourist product!! Lots of very colorful things to see!

To the holy spring temple complex
To the holy spring temple complex
Standing in front of the holy spring. It bubbles up into a large pool and is then directed to the wading washing pools where the visitors can swim in the water ( fully clad!)
Standing in front of the holy spring. It bubbles up into a large pool and is then directed to the wading washing pools where the visitors can swim in the water ( fully clad!)
Bathers in the pool of holy water
Bathers in the pool of holy water
A priest blessing the water and the people to his left
A priest blessing the water and the people to his left
You are supposed to start at the left and visit each one of the water spouts
You are supposed to start at the left and visit each one of the water spouts
The coy pond We saw them breaching the water!! They were huge
The coy pond
We saw them breaching the water!!
They were huge
The marketplace to the carpark
The marketplace to the carpark

Rice Fields, Volcano, and Temples

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This is the picturesque panorama of the Tegalalang rice fields! They are on the road out of Ubud to the north, on the way to Batur volcano and the largest lake in Bali
Gunung Batur (1717 m)
Gunung Batur
(1717 m)

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Danau Batur, the largest lake in Bali! It’s considered sacred!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

don’t worry … The neighbor’s are a lovely couple and they have offered any help I might require!?

It’s been quite a hectic pace for over three weeks now! It’s really time that I do start feeling like a SEAsian traveler! And not just someone passing through! I’m here to be “a local”, as much as possible!!

it doesn’t seem to want to upload any more pictures now so I’ll try to start another post of the temples and see what happens!!

 

Chanderi Homestay and Restaurant on Monkey Forest Road

Chanderi's
Chanderi’s
Nasi goreng vegetables
Nasi goreng vegetables
Street view
Street view
Inside the garden, preparations are underway for today's wedding!
Inside the garden, preparations are underway for today’s wedding!

A friend had stayed at Chanderi’s ” in the early days!” And she recommended that I seek out that spot for an authentic Balinese traveling experience, even though Ubud is now awash in upscale, extremely expensive spa resorts ( which I haven’t actually bumped into yet!)

I found Monkey Forest Road and then Chanderi’s where I had my first real travelers meal, Nasi goreng vegetables. At this beautiful little place the rice dish, tea and a bottle of water cost around 57,000 Indonesian Rupiah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(The official exchange rate is 13,109 = $1.00) but I didn’t  get that rate at the airport, more like 12,000 =$1)

 

Following a little sign pointing up an alleyway

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The beautiful Ubud landscape
The beautiful Ubud landscape


image image I turned right at the end of my street and from myself on the very bustling ( even MORE so than Bisma!) Main Street With two lanes of traffic, it’s quite crazy!! There is a constant stream of walking tourists .. I saw a small sign that pointed down an alleyway that said “To Rice Fields!” It was, for me, a narrow, treacherous, muddy path with lots of slippery narrow stone and wooden steps that led between a steep drop off and a huge wall, as it had promised, into the rice fields. Continue reading “Following a little sign pointing up an alleyway”

Welcome to Jl Bisma, Ubud BALI

Breakfast fruit plate of watermelon, sweet banana, pineapple and pawpaw
Breakfast fruit plate of watermelon, sweet banana, pineapple and pawpaw

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This lovely guy was tending these potted plants. He let me take his picture. The last picture from Bisma....
This lovely guy was tending these potted plants. He let me take his picture. The last picture from Bisma….
There are two rows of tiles along the middle of the one lane road... I guess everyone was involved in the addition of this street?!?
There are two rows of tiles along the middle of the one lane road… I guess everyone was involved in the addition of this street?!?
There are also gift shops and LOTS of taxi and touring companies for hire, and representatives recruiting the many walkers/ tourists to take a lift instead.
There are also gift shops and LOTS of taxi and touring companies for hire, and representatives recruiting the many walkers/ tourists to take a lift instead.
I really want one of these bags
I really want one of these bags

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A Jube next to the road and rice fields ... I was told that most of the shops on Bisma have sprung up in just the past three years ... Before that Only rice fields this far from the center of town
A Jube next to the road and rice fields … I was told that most of the shops on Bisma have sprung up in just the past three years … Before that
Only rice fields this far from the center of town.

there are a lot of roaming dogs .. Is this one a”Jube” dog ( like we saw in Tehran) or a rice field dog?)

 

Temples and offerings to the Gods are also everywhereWhen my friend told me not to step on " Pujah" I thought she meant ... While visiting temples..She really meantWatch Every Step you take!!

Frangipani in fragrant flower everywhere
Frangipani in fragrant flower everywhere

I arrived in Bali, at the Denpasar airport around 10:45 pm last night and stayed in a wonderful hotel right next to it in Tuban. Everything about the Harris Hotel was the perfect introduction to  Bali for TOLD!!

I got my limo to Ubud at 8:30 am and arrived at the Uma Sari Cottages before 10:30 am ( even with rather serious third world rush hour traffic! All of those  scooters, mopeds and motorcycles !)

After a lovely breakfast I took a walk down my new ” home” street….. Jl Bisma:

 

The garden entrance to Uma Sari Cottages
The garden entrance to Uma Sari Cottages

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The smell of incense
The smell of incense

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s completely magical!! All of these mysterious and wonderful things and I’ve just walked to the corner of the street!! I’m not ready to visit ACTUAL tourist ATTRACTIONS… The whole place is one giant ” roadside attraction!”