Even in a taxi and after dark, you know you’re in Bali. The flute and gamelan music on the stereo with its distinctive jaunty tempo (so different from the stately Javanese version), the frangipani trees squeezed into every available space, the elaborately carved stone gateways, the black and white check cloths and umbrellas wherever spirits might gather – it’s unmistakable.
Although we were only staying a few days we’d decided to return to Ubud, even though it meant a long taxi ride from the airport. In spite of what had happened I still like it, and I wanted to see again the friends we’d made there.
It was really lucky that we stayed in the Pering Sunset Bungalows last year, otherwise we’d have struggled to find the neighbouring Swan Inn – down a lane from the main road, then a long, narrow, badly lit alleyway that looked like it went nowhere you would want to go. A lot of Ubud hotels are like that, tucked away off the main road, invisible unless you know where to look, accessible only to pedestrians and motorcycles – but often charming when you get there. The Swan Inn’s traditional style bungalows were set in a spacious garden around a lily pond and swimming pool – it promised to be lovely in daylight.
By the time we got to our room it was after 21:30. We probably could have found a restaurant that was still seating diners, but we were too tired to bother. Food pickings at the convenience store were very slim, but we made do with beer, crisps, and some leftover banana cake that we’d brought from KL.
After breakfast (a banana pancake delivered to our balcony) the first task on our agenda was a visit to the police station. It was unlikely that they had recovered any of our stuff, but we needed to be certain before we jettisoned all the obsolete cables that belonged with our stolen IT kit.
Getting into a Balinese police station is not as straightforward as in the UK, where they try to project a welcoming image despite the obviously defensive function of the high desk. Here the desk was low – but it was outside the building, and manned by an armed and unsmiling officer who studied our copy of the police report carefully before disappearing inside with it. He returned to lead us inside, to a side office with 3 desks. Eventually the officer who had visited us on the Monday, the one who spoke good English, appeared. Unsurprisingly, there had been no progress on the case, but he did seem interested in what we had to tell him about the fraudulent debit card use. He didn’t take a proper statement though, so I doubt anything will come of it.
I can’t say I was particularly impressed by the Balinese police inasmuch as they didn’t inspire any confidence that they would catch anyone. On the other hand, we experienced nothing of the corruption that is reportedly rife among the Balinese/Indonesian police – I have read stories of people having to pay bribes to get the police report that they need for their insurance claims. Perhaps it was because we were dealing with more senior officers so they were a bit better paid, or perhaps it was because it was so obviously not an insurance scam. They did seem rather surprised to see us – I suspect not many tourists voluntarily visit the police station when it’s not absolutely necessary!
We made up for our poor dinner the first night with a belated anniversary meal at Ibu Rai, complete with wine and dessert – unprecedented extravagance! Although the total bill actually came to less than £20, so hardly expensive really. I think we’re too used to Asian prices – Australia is going to be a bit of a shock.
Mr V still had things to download to restore us fully to the pre-burglary position, but we had some time to go calling. Lunch with Connie was at the Three Monkeys this time – much nicer than Bendi, where we went before.
Tomek happened to be at the cottage when we wandered down there (a guest had just moved out) and called Made to come. The cupboard handles had been replaced by some that were bolted through the door, so would be less easy to remove, and a padlock had been supplied. But no safe, and still only the one flimsy lock on the sliding doors.
We walked down to Bali Bohemia to find Jessica on reception, and she joined us for lunch. Wesam was in Denpasar, so we called back again on the last afternoon before another meal at Ibu Rai in honour of my birthday the following day, since it would be a travel day.
I was glad we returned to Ubud. It re-set the clock back to before the burglary and put us back where we were supposed to be on our journey. It meant that we left for Australia after a pleasant stay in Bali – the way it should have happened a month before.