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Tulamben and Ubud

av Heather Almers

Tulamben and Ubud - Feb 2010
av Heather Almers

It is time for the Almers gang to head off on a new adventure. Last year we were in Malta, Canada, the Azores and Egypt. This year we are off to Indonesia again and we are so excited. Our last trip there was to North Sulawesi and it was fantastic! This time we get the pleasure of visiting Wakatobi and Bali.

The thought of laying on the beach in WAKATOBI (just the name sounds fabulous!) is making my feet itch. Although I am a little embarassed to say it, I have already packed my bags!! I am proud to have only three bags in total including dive gear though. Not bad considering we are dragging along a bag of sand toys, a blow up floating raft for the kids and loads of cookies and candy to keep my darlings happy between meals and on the long transfers.

Have ordered our new beach shoes from Cressi and now it is just to get the medications (why does there have to be a huge outbreak of tonsilitis (halsfluss) just when we are going to leave?? Only one hundred and three hours left until we take off. I hope that I get all of my work done before that...

Only two and a half hours left until we go. The snow is falling and I am shouting "yes, we are out of here!" Elinora did her 300 m Barn Vasaloppet this morning, so we have done the winter sport event for the year and now we are off to the sun. Even managed to swing past the hospital to pick up our powdered antibiotics that we can use just in case someone gets sick on Wakatobi. Phew.. I think that I have it all packed now. Next time I blog I will be sitting in Bali. Ciao!

Right well, forget that last sentence. Its been 24 hours since we arrived to drop off our bags in Gothenburg and we still are only sitting in Amsterdam! When we arrived at the airport, the big red letters DELAYED UNTIL 18:30 got my heart going. We had two and half hours in between the flights, so there should have been plenty of time even if we did depart later. Ok, calm down. Go have something to eat and head for the playground. Well, the plane finally arrived, delayed due to the fact that Heathrow can't handle when it snows, and a technical issue. I don't care. Just lets get us going. No, first we have to de-ice, then they need to re-clear the runway. I can feel the acid in my stomach starting to build... 

When we do get to Amsterdam we have missed our landing slot and get to circle for another ten minutes. "No problem" says the cheery flight attendants. "You can still make it to your gate in time." I have learned from all of my years of traveling that you wear running shoes, and we needed them. We threw (not literally) the kids on a trolley and ran our butts off towards the gate. You can only imagine my extreme relief when we arrive twenty minutes before scheduled take-off and they are still boarding. "No problem" says the yet again cheery staff member. "Just relax, you have made it in time." We shout hurray and head to the bathroom to splash water on our faces to cool down. BUT, when we get back she won't let us in. "I am sorry to inform you that you have been rescheduled to the same flight that will be departing tomorrow night. You will be put up in a hotel and given vouchers for food." Cheery me, became angry me. The flight to Wakatobi only goes once a week and we need to be there for it. She didn't seem to care too much though...

Now we are stuck in a huge line with other pissed off people to arrange a hotel. As we didn't expect to have to stay in cold Amsterdam on-route, we didn't have more than a sweater with us. As we were the last ones to get help, she put us in the hotel within the airport. So thankful for that! Anyway, the story gets better. She re-routes us via Kuala Lumpar to Bali leaving midday today (6th) and we are happy because there is a slight chance that we could get on the Wakatobi flight, and if not then we are at least not sitting around the airport all day.

Henrik got a single room and I got a 10 m2 double room for the kids and I. We make do and zonk out. At midnight we had our "tur i oturen" or luck with our bad luck. I started to throw up and got a text from Henrik that he had also started! At three in the morning Elinora started and Sam luckily slept the night. He had been sick on Friday. Needless to say, I was actually happy that we were in a hotel and not on a flight to Singapore with all of this happening.

Now we have spent almost the entire day just resting and eating loads of fruit and drinking Coke. When we arrive in Bali we need to decide if we are going to stay there for the whole time (not a bad option), or if we are going to face two domestic flights and a three hour boat journey to Wakatobi. One day of sunshine and relaxing in Bali seems mandatory right now, but we will have to see. First we need to get to Bali! So hopefully the next part of my blog will be from there...

I am pleased to say that we are in BALI. Yeah...! Stepping off the aircraft to feel the warm air embrace me was heavenly. We were greeted by a lovely lady in pink that was barely taller than my five year old, but a smile on that was bigger than any smile that you could find in Sweden. You got to love Asia for its smiles!

Thank to the Wakatobi VIP service, we were whisked through the visa and pasport control cues and taken straight to the baggage pickup area. At this point we are so excited because we have arrived and everything for the last ten minutes has been perfect. HA HA! We stand and wait for the bags to arrive as other passengers come and go. I start to get that familiar knot in my stomach, but then suddenly I see a familiar red bag. PHEW, clothes for the children and I show up, as well as our trusty Moby bag that we have all of the medicines, sand toys and other goodies in. Now where is that last bag with the regulators, the kids shoes, all of Henrik's clothes? To the claims desk we go. 

After that we are again whisked outside to yet another super smiley Wakatobi agent that guides us to our waiting car. "Mommy, I think that it is just a little too hot here" is about the first thing out of Elinora's mouth and all I can do is laugh, after all of the struggle we have been through to get here (did I mention that Samuel was sick on the flight to Singapore?), that is the appreciation from my five year old.

After a swim, a hot bath and a long nights sleep, we wake up feeling much more cheery. But the decision still has to be made - Wakatobi or no Wakatobi. We speak to yet another very nice representative who gives us great advice about Bali if we would choose to stay here (he even bought us a guide book - Bali with kids), and tells us about the transportation to Wakatobi should we choose to carry on. He also mentioned that a very famous Australian artist also missed the flight to Wakatobi on Tuesday morning, so he just chartered a whole plane for he and his wife. Great if you have 18,000 USD extra just laying around.

As we haven't got all of our dive gear, clothes and other necessities, nor am I so keen on taking the kids on a three hour boat ride where they cannot provide life jackets for the kids. So, we today we accepted that we have gotten this far, but we are so sadly not going to get the whole way. But, looking at the bright side as I like to do, I am in Bali for the first time and we are going to explore this island and see what it has to offer families, divers and all the rest of you out there.

So far we know where there is a huge shopping centre to buy clothes that may get lost and more track for Samuel's Thomas the tank Engine set that we bought in Singapore two years ago. I was excited because you can't buy it in Europe or Canada!! I can see us buying a new suitcase just to haul Thomas toys home. :o) 

Here is me signing off for the night at 02:49 with a room full of people that are wide awake. The kids are watching Dora on the Ipad, I am blogging and Henrik is reading everything there is to know about the hotel. We are in Kuta, just south of Denpasar at the Holiday Inn Resort, which is right on the beach.

Our new itinerary is as follows: four nights of relaxing here, then off to Ubud for two nights and then to the north-east coast for some diving with Werner Lau's dive resorts. Kids, culture, then diving. No matter what, this will be a fantastic holiday!

Starting the vacation off with relaxing in Kuta was a great idea. It was super close to the airport, the price of food was pretty cheap and we were able to just chill out. The last two nights we have been here in Ubud, the cultural centre of Bali. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it has been quite a nice little place with plenty of shopping, a Royal palace, temples and great restaurants.

Yesterday we went to the Elephant Safari park, a mandatory outing with kids. A private driver came to pick us up and with no line ups, we were ushered into the museum. I wasn't expecting much, but it was very impressive. They actually have a full skeleton of a mammoth that was found in the mid-west United States in the 1990's. They also had plenty of elephant artifacts and paraphenalia such as 3000 year old tusks, carved ivory pieces and much more.

After the museum we headed to our elephants for a ride through the jungle. After five minutes of fighting this urge to panic (I swear that the seat felt like it was going to slide off to the right!!), I relaxed and got into the ride. Both kids loved the ride and the fact that they could catch the leaves that were way up in the trees and could see the bananas up close. The highlight of the ride was going into the water and having the elephants spray!

The safari park is located in Taro and is about a half hour drive from Ubud. The scenery along the way was worth it all. Rice fields, local villages and jungle views made the trip exciting.

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