Getting home from Yogyakarta

When I was in my late 20’s and hadn’t yet passed my driving test, I bought a scooter. A cream Vespa, with a matching cream box and a 125cc nippy engine so I could zoom off from the lights like Evel Kineval. I wore a  petrol blue PVC wet look mac and sixties boots and thought I was pretty cool. I used to park it up near the nursery. I would push Daisy’s buggy, laden with her baby paraphernalia, her lunch, my lunch, my bag full of teaching folders, up the hill in Brighton, all the way to Young Sussex Daycare. I would dump all the stuff and then peel off the rain cover of my scooter and jump on it and speed off.

I lost my cool a few times as I couldn’t reach the ground with both feet at once, so sometimes the scooter would tip from under me and slide over, sometimes on top of me, sometimes on black ice. Usually, I was wearing heels. I would cry then and have to get a passer-by to help me lift the scooter back up and then I would get back on it, a bit wobbly, with ripped tights. It was worse when it happened in the school carpark as year 10 would be watching and laughing at me. But in general, I was scooter-pro.

Almost 20 years later and here I am in Java, Indonesia. It is 35 degrees outside and I am staying in a house in a village which is not next to a row of shops where there is food. The only way to not have to walk for an hour in the heat is to use the scooter parked outside. How hard can it be I think – I was ace twenty years ago, on my cream Vespa.

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Bali: whistle-stop temples

 

I’m standing in the glaring heat, trying to explain in school French to three retired backpackers that they must wear a sarong to enter the temple, according to the woman selling sarongs. But I am trying to add that I don’t think they need to buy one from her.  The strict 30 minutes we were given for the first temple on our Bali temple tour, is ticking away in the carpark . I sneak out my own (unfortunately bright orange) sarong , wrap it around my waist and sidle off without being noticed.

First, prepare

The first temple had three stone goddesses, ageless, washed away through time in dents and dints and crumbs. They were pouring water into a basin. I entered the grounds, ready to be transported into ancient holy peace. But it was the dead moon day, so the temple was full to bursting with bustle and chat – the women in bright yellow and the men in bright white.

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In the monkey forest, Bali

In the monkey forest, I follow the other tourists past the smiling, green-clad  guard and a grimacing monkey statue. I’m in the jungle – which for me, is a sauna and the Oxford botanical gardens and Indiana Jones all rolled into one. I am dripping with sweat. Austrailian twang, Spanish and French, American glass. Asian vowels I don’t understand. They follow each other with selfie sticks, and enormous-lensed cameras. Hushed somehow.

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