With dirty, sore feet and eyes propped open with a proverbial pair of Swan Vesta’s finest, we reach Sanur, Bali.
Our journey involved a minibus based hop from the mountains of Ijen, a ferry boat skip across the narrow channel which separates Java from the holiday island, and finally a minivan jump down the coast to the far South-East corner, where we plan to out our feet up and relax for an entire week in the environs of the capital, Denpasar.
The beach resort of Sanur is nicknamed “Snore” on account of it’s laid-back nature and considerable population of retired ex-pats. Appropriately, the idea of sleep is most appealing when we arrive that evening, having been already awake for 15 hours following a second consecutive pre-dawn foray to a volcano.
I am therefore as amused as Queen Victoria on a particularly off-day when “The Boy” chooses this night of all nights to have a bad teething episode.
Instead of snoring loudly from the depths of a beautiful and well deserved slumber, I find myself out on the Jalan Tamblingan thoroughfare at 1.30am, 4am and 5.30 am, rocking and soothing an agitated baby as I step rhythmically in a half-dead trance.
This wasn’t in the brochure.
The island of Bali is distinct from its near neighbours on account of being the only predominantly Hindu landmass in the entire South East Asia region.
On the face of things, Bali resembles its big brother of Java in many ways. Rice paddies, volcanoes, traffic jams and roadside food stalls abound, it is only the presence of numerous small Hindi temples which set it apart on a macro level.
To spot the real differences though, you have to look a little closer.
Hinduism is a religion that pays great homage to its pantheon of Gods in each of their plentiful avatars. The Balinese variation adds an animistic touch to proceeding including ghosts, spirits and the like amongst the recipients of the offerings.
You cannot walk down a street in Bali without chancing upon a niche cut into a wall upon which perhaps you find a Ganesha idol decorated in garlands as the recent recipient of a mixed puja offering of flowers, food and burning incense.
Even the surf dominated party zone of Kuta has ornate temples hidden amongst its Bintang branded back-alleys, and for every MacDonald’s, KFC’s or Pizza Hut, there is also exists a traditional place of worship to act as a counter balance against modernity.
The surf of Bali is legend, and Kuta is a Mecca for the Quicksilver clad masses who wish to ride waves by day and party by night.
The streets are packed with bars and restaurants, whilst side alley shops sell beer-branded singlets aimed at working class Australians, their t-shirt stock bearing such incredibly hilarious logos as “I’m not a gynaecologist but I’ll have a look”. I mean, Iesu on a bicycle, please!
Ten years ago I would have loved it, but an older, slower me is happy with the lethargic pace of Sanur and I am now hard-wired to get out of bed at around the same hour that Kuta is winding down.
Instead of disco beats, I now move to the rhythm of “The Boy” and his body clock, joining the power walkers and yoga stretchers on the lagoon beach promenade for an early spot of buggy-based exercise.
Nothing too energetic of course, the hour and my demeanour do not lend themselves to a work out right now, and anyway, biting the bullet this morning buys me the 6-7am slot in bed the next day when the 0.5 will be on “earlies”.
The beach of Sanur is nothing special, but it is one of the few places suitable for children on an island battered in the main by big surf.
It also turns out to be a pleasingly photogenic spot early in the morning with its cyclists, joggers and yoga practitioners all being backlit by the sun rising above the ocean.
Off the road on which we stay, I spot a playgroup cum nursery named “Cheeky Monkeys”, which it seems is well attended by ex-pat children. After seven weeks on the road the temptation to give the boy his first taste of paid for daycare proves to great a lure to ignore.
It is a strange goodbye on the day we first loan “The Boy” to his new charges, but he seems happy enough in his new environment. I say that as he wasn’t in the slightest bit bothered when we left him and was immediately distracted by other goings on, plus ça change.
Discharged of parental responsibility for the next five hours, we decide to take a taxi to Kuta.
With it’s consistent surf and a much younger vibe, Kuta will offer the first opportunity of our trip to kick back, enjoy the waves, sunbathe read a book and sink the odd bottle of Bintang without any interruptions.
The Kuta surf is big, the Bali sun is hot.
Shades, towel, beer.
This is exactly what beach holidays used to be about.
Upon our return and having collected a contented boy from school, we also agree to plan a trip to Pura Tanah Lot, a Hindu temple built upon a rocky outcrop whose causeway is submerged at high tide.
At the end of his second day at Cheeky Monkeys, we set off on the hour-long roadtrip with a driver named “Made”.
He must be the fifth “Made” I have met in the past few days and after enjoying an atmospheric sunset at the (not so impressive) temple, I engage him on why his name is so popular.
His answer amuses and bamboozles me in equal measure.
It appears that, each Balinese person receives one of four names based on birth order.
These four names are (in order) Wayan, Made, Nyoman and Ketut.
If a couple sire five sons, then the fifth born will receive the same name as the first-born.
Thus, a procreationally busy household may contain amongst its number a few young Wayans along with a more senior generation Wayan.
But wait, this is where it gets brilliant.
Not only are boys destined to receive one of these four names, but the girls are too!
With myself, the better 0.5 and “The Boy” all being first borns, we are indeed a full house of Wayans. Any more additions and we’ll have a great game of odd-one-out on our hands.
Chuckling under my breath, I now envisage the” Spartacus” influenced crucifixion scene in “The Life of Brian”.
It strikes me that with only a slight phonetic twist from the Monty Python script; there could be a fabulous retort to the question “Which one of you is Wayan?”
A gathered group of Balinese awaiting execution could genuinely be able to answer.
“I’m Wayan, and so is my wife….”
They really need to rethink this system.