Beautiful Bali: Day 3

Sideman! (Sid-ee-man)

But first, a cycle around the glorious Ubud countryside! Today I have woken to dazzling sunshine! It’s 9 am and not quite sweltering, but perhaps not an ideal day for a 2 hour bicycle ride, but let us see!

Okay the bike ride was fantastic! 

Cycling fast provided a breeze so it actually wasn’t as hot as standing still. It was great to cycle through the countryside, although it was busy in parts, even featuring warning signs telling cyclists to stay left. The drivers are pretty good here, they beep their horns when they’re behind you or passing you – it’s not like when they beep at home, this is just to let you know they’re there.

Lunch: Gado Gado (from now on, I’m going to start writing down the name of the food because I clearly cannot remember it after the event).

Not my favourite, but maybe that’s because yesterday’s was phenomenally tasty. However, I would like to add that the Tofu was really delicious, and I’ve only had good Tofu once before (so I’ve generally avoided it).

As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m on an Intrepid trip, so, as a company that’s really big on responsible travel, they’ve set up a foundation here for children. We’re going to visit it next – I’m not really sure how I feel about this, or even what it’ll be like. I’m usually pretty weary of these experiences, I’ve read horror stories about ‘volunteer’ opportunities at orphanages in parts of Asia and beyond. But this is not that. So let’s see!

We’re at a birthing clinic and it’s very interesting! So, here are key notes based on the questions asked by my group: there is no doctor here, only a midwife, so if there are any complications, the patient is sent to the local hospital. They don’t use any drugs here, they try to use natural birthing techniques like breathing, exercises, maybe acupuncture, amongst other techniques.

The oldest person they’ve had in the clinic was 46, but she was an Australian, not an Indonesian. She said the typical age of women coming to the facility is early to mid twenties and they are usually married. But there have been younger girls of 16 but perhaps they put their children up for adoption – but the clinic stressed, they are not involved with the adoption process, only childbirth and after care.

Notably, apparently Russian women are coming to the clinic to have their children. The reason cited is apparently the mother and child are separated for the first week, and c-sections are high there. (I can’t elaborate on this any further because I really don’t know – this is just what I’ve heard. If anyone knows anymore about this, feel free to share).

The clinic offers a range of services from birthing, sexual health, contraception, antenatal care, and emergency services (just to name a few). Student midwives also come here to learn about gentle and natural births as part of their training and studies. They have a laboratory here so they can run tests such as HIV. 

I asked if HIV was a common issue, she said only in certain areas, for instance where they have night Kafes (night clubs) because maybe their husbands go out and they don’t know they have contracted the disease. After one incident of a woman coming here and having a child that was HIV positive, they actively promote testing and advice on safe sex. 

As an alternative there are health centres in each village, government hospitals and private midwives too, as an alternative but this centre has between 30-60 births a month! The clinic is for everyone but whether or not a person comes here may depend on their economic situation. 

They used to offer water births, however they got a notification from the health ministry stating they’re not sure if this technique is safe for the mother and child. So until they receive further notice, it isn’t happening here. 

As I said, I’m skeptical about visiting places like this, I question whether or not they are actually of benefit to the people they claim to be helping. But this place was great, I mean really great and I genuinely believe they make a difference to the lives of others. So I made a small (optional donation) which is doubled by the Intrepid Foundation at the end of the year, and honestly, I’d donate again.

It’s day 3, so I suppose I should introduce my group! They’re really great actually, a good mix of 1 Canadian who currently lives in China, 2 Aussies, 2 Singaporeans (one lives in London), 2 Americans, 1 Glaswegian currently living in Thailand and 4 English. (I don’t usually differentiate between English and Scottish and just say British, but in this instance, I think her Scottish roots are important). I really like this group, I think it’s got a really good mix of people.

We got to Sideman at around 5pm and the place we’re staying at is beautiful! 

It’s like a jungle retreat, and each room, although next to another, feels very secluded. It’s paradise! We joined the group for dinner at 7pm and, I don’t know… The food was disappointing.

Now, I can’t tell whether this was because the food I’ve eaten so far in Ubud has been so good it’s spoilt me, or whether the food further out just isn’t as good? I’ll get back to you on this one! Although, I am happy to report that so far, I’m sticking with the ‘local / authentic food only’ option and I’m enjoying it! 

Remember what I said about the place being a tropical paradise? Well, when my roomie and I got back to our room, we passed a cockroach on its back, and a host of other bugs. (In case you don’t know… I love animals yet have a real dislike for bugs!). We stood at our door, one hand on the handle while we prepared ourselves to run in (to prevent other bugs from flying in). We dashed in and made it! But wait… 

There was a huge – I MEAN HUGE – spider (possibly dead from all of my excessive bug spraying in the room). It was this weird grey colour, and huge! At first, I couldn’t tell if it was moving because we kept moving while shining our torches on it, so it’s shadow kept moving. In the end, I grabbed the door handle – but not before jumping out of my skin in terror as I brushed past the curtain with my leg (an indication as to how jumpy I was by this point), and my roomie grabbed an umbrella and golf swung it out the room! 

If anyone could’ve seen us, this would’ve probably been the most hilarious sight ever! But for us it was pretty traumatising! And a lot of people probably heard us screaming.

So that was the beginning of my restless night in paradise, as I stayed awake most of the night, watching out for bugs.

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