Written: Wednesday, 19th October
We slipped into Benoa, Bali at around 7.30 this morning – we watched the arrival from the treadmill in the Gym!
Strangely (and unlike yesterday) the Gym was deserted and we were able to ‘do our thing’ much more easily. Then, as usual, we headed for breakfast in Blu that was also a lot quieter. We picked up our Tender tickets and headed to more more familiar territory – the queues and chaos associated with going ashore!
The Solstice gets a lot right, but disappointingly, moving its passengers by Tender is most definitely not one of its strengths. With 95% of the passengers all cramming themselves as close to the queuing point a possible all scrambling for chairs (and when the chairs ran out – tables, or anything horizontal), we were settling in for the inevitable long haul, whilst we waited for our group number to be called. By the time Ann and I arrived, they we only on group 1 – and we were Group 16! I guess we hung about for around an hour before we were called – and there were still plenty more waiting behind us!
You could almost the sound of the ship’s photocopier running off extra complaint forms in readiness!
Eventually, we were called and we headed for the shores of Bali by way of the Port of Benoa. Boy, it was hot, and very, very humid. We’d been warned about the ‘3rd World’ nature of the country, but I could see that it had high-speed mobile internet and there were some fancy boats moored in the harbour nestling up against the tugs and fishing boats.
Our plans were minimal and although it looked like a beautiful place with fab beaches, we’re not beach-bunnies, so our plan was to get ashore, soak up some of the local atmosphere, and then head back.
Scenes around the drop-off point in Benoa (1)
Scenes around the drop-off point in Benoa (2)
Bali – A 3rd World Country???
Welcome to Bali, where the Green Ninjas await…
But first, we had to battle the ‘Green Ninjas’ - aka the local taxi-drivers, dressed in their bright green tops. I called them ‘Ninjas’ because one minute there were none… and then in the blink of an eye, we were surrounded. We had been warned about their presence and their persistence, but we weren’t prepared for their sheer numbers. A early count suggested approximately 17,157… but they were moving about a bit, so the figure is an approximate one!
Not all of these Ninjas are created equal and some were more ‘in-your-face’ than others. I’m pretty sure if my leg hadn’t been greased-up with so much with sun-tan lotion, one of them might have ended up clamping himself to my right thigh for the rest of the holiday! Boy, they were certainly persistent, but not a match for two Brits who’ve managed Friday late night trading at Sainsbury’s back in the 80s.
With the Ninjas thwarted, we thought we’d look around the local market. The vendors had obviously been trained by the Green Ninjas, and they weren’t taking ‘no’ for an answer. We battled our way through them all without spending a dollar - and just as smugness set in, we realised we were literally at a dead-end, so we had to turn round and face them all again.
And in spite of us heading back in the direction of the Tender, and away from the town, the Green Ninjas were in in hot pursuit still trying to sell us a taxi-package around Bali!
Eventually, after applying more sun-tan lotion to my legs, I was able to give the majority of the Green Ninjas the slip and we boarded the Tender for our return. One of the benefits of returning early was that the Solstice was almost completely deserted! No-one in the Café… no-one around the deck lizarding! That meant a quick (and quiet) lunch followed by the pick of sunbathing location – perfect!
All-in-all it’s been a good day. From the home of the Green Ninjas, what could be better than sailing out of Bali to view like this..?
We’ve now got another two days at Sea coming up. We’re then we’re leaving the Solstice in Singapore where we’ve got an overnight stay before flying back to the UK.