19/11/11 – Saturday
The day begins with another beach walk in blistering heat. This time, when I leave our room at around 7.30am, I take a towel from the room before setting out. I decide that a cooling ocean swim at the end of the walk is the order of the day.
When I arrive back at the Pelangi, I drop my towel and phone on the sand directly in front of the hotel and wade into the water. The waves are what I’d guess to be at less than a metre, there’s maybe one or two surfers having a go (the smart money is at Kuta where the waves are much better value) and I’m only in water up to my knees. I enjoy some wave surfing and just general laziness in the cool surf. I know it sounds like a “first world problem”, but as the Pelangi pool gets no shade for the bulk of the day, the water is literally like stepping into a warm bath. The surf is much cooler and refreshing, although it is around 8.30 in the morning.
Some bigger waves begin to crash over me. I’m enjoying diving under the water and listening to the force of the water wash over me. I go to stand up and notice immediately that I’m in water up to my chest. A few more waves wash over me, this time in greater force, and repetition than about a minute or so ago. I turn around to the beach and notice that my gear is just a tiny speck on the shore, so I start to swim in. The water drags me back and while not at all panicked, I realize I have a bit of work to do. As I turn to swim in on a wave, I see one of the beach lifesavers on a longboard frantically paddling out to me. I tell him it’s ok, I’m heading in, but he orders me onto the board. I begin paddling and he orders me to stop. We ride a few waves in, and once we’re back in safer depths, he lets me off the board and walks away. I’m a bit shaken, but as he brought me in and just walked off, I figure he was just being cautious.
As I relate the experience to Emma after breakfast, her jaw drops. It turns out that there’s a drowning death or disappearance at this section of Seminyak beach far too often and she’s quite shaken up by what’s happened. For my part – and it’s not false bravado – I’m quite relaxed about the whole scenario.
We spend the day around the Pelangi Pool and manage to down around five or six Bintang’s via the helpful Agus of the Pelangi Pool Bar and around 5 or so, head back to the room to get ready to meet one of Emma’s closest ex-pat friends, Gaye. Gaye, or Mama Gaye as she’s known has been living in Bali for perhaps a decade or more. She does a mountain of charity work for the local orphanages and is relative well known amongst government and Banjar in Bali. We meet Gaye, her friend Leslie, Gaye’s son Wade and his girlfriend, Lee at an out of the way – but excellent Warung in in Legian. Leslie is Bali courtesy of a mystery Trifecta win on the Melbourne Cup. Wade works on an Oil and Gas rig in Bass Straight and is in the middle of his two week “off roster”, and Lee has flown over from Cairns to meet up with Wade and Gaye. I’m told that Wade – as most rig workers do – earns a tidy sum, and divides his time between Cairns, Bali, Lakes Entrance and Bass Straight. Not a bad lifestyle.
Over dinner, Ms Emma relates my shenanigans from this morning to Gaye, Leslie, Wade and Lee to similar effect as her response this morning. I begin to get the feeling that I was quite lucky that the lifeguard saw me when he did. Lee is a native of Belfast and relates a story to us of the time she and a girlfriend from home, almost straight off the plane, headed for Bondi Beach and found themselves caught in a rip. Lee is an accomplished swimmer (I don’t have the heart to make a wise-crack regarding the ‘proud history’ of the Republic or the North’s success in the pool at the Olympics. We have just met, after all), but such was the ferocity of this rip that as the Bondi rescue guys made it to them, they had both said goodbye’s to each other and we fully expecting not to make it out of the water. Scary stuff.
We adjourn dinner and head to Zappa’s Bar in Seminyak’s “Eat Street”. I’m assured that getting a table is easy and the place does a great Saturday night party. When we arrive, there’s a totally camp covers band composed of locals going at Guns N’Roses ‘November Rain’ with gusto. The place is so crowded with English tourists that if I had started to sing “And did those feet in ancient times…” the group could have easily drowned out the band – fully mic’d up and all – with a rousing rendition of ‘Jerusalem’.
The bar is hot and the humidity so brutally oppressive that everyone agrees to call it a night around 1am. Next to us, a reveller who is clearly dealing with a borderline case of alcohol poisoning is beginning what will surely be a horrific 24 hours. She is as pale and as white as the dress she is wearing, and is drenched in sweat. Mama Gaye and Leslie, God bless ’em, drive us back to our hotel and we crash out on the bed.
It’s 1am. Usually at this time on a Saturday night, I’m just getting home from work and am quite amped up as far as energy levels go. That I am knackered at this hour reminds me that I’m on holidays.