The perversity of being stuck on a tropical island waiting on a "deliverance" had not been lost on me, attended as I had been by my "Man Friday" at the Sports Bar in Kuta. Friday was one of the barmen at Kuta's sole 24 hour drinking joint, happily close to my digs, and one who had apparantly taken a special shine to me. Maybe he was a special guy or maybe it was laced with the ulterior motive of chasing a tip, a combination of the 2 I rather suspected. But probably also it was just an interest in one who would spend half his time relentlessly rattling away at his diary over a bottle of Bintang, which must have singled me out from the other punters. It was unusual for me to break my shell and fraternise with the locals to the extent that they might consider me anything more than just a passing face, but then I did spend a lot of time there and his nightshifts must have been somewhat boring. In reality I should have grabbed the opportunity ofr befriending a local, the considerable insight it would have undoubtedly rendered should have been a real draw, but then I resolved that perhaps that is why I didnt, it would have been me the one taking advantage of the situation with an ulterior motive. Very nice friendly guy though, and it pained me that in my new found release it just didnt seem right to say goodbye, I just left it to fall away.
Though I should have been inspired to promptly decamp pronto from Kuta after my interminable delay, the enforced lethargy it had induced in me meant that immediate readoption of traveller mode was too much to contemplate. In clearing up a few final practicalities, I availed Kuta of a further 2 days in a carefully balanced effort to reassume the requisite focus for what would undoubtedly still be a shock to the system. One priority was to at least decide how I was finally going to get the hell out of there, and though I would have normally instinctively plumped for the grass roots Bemo option, the availability of a dedicated tourist bus service on Bali short circuited the otherwise necessary 3 leg marathon in favour of a direct service at still an acceptable price. Though under pressure now to make tracks fast in deference to my impatience and sadly depleted visa limit, my decision to afford Bali little further attention was compromised in learning that the Perama bus to Padang Bai the port town for Lombok routed via both Sanur and Ubud on the way. At another time the allure of the allegedly more refined and limited beach resort of Sanur might have justified a brief stopover, but certainly Ubud was a renowned drawcard which could not be resisted. It had been a self inflicted frustration that my unprecedented and ridiculously convoluted 20 night forced encampment in Kuta had not been redeemed by more than a couple of day trips, but reluctance to avail myself of a hire car or motorbike was now actually qualified in seeing that the eternally heavy traffic on narrow partisan roads persisted almost unmitigatedly for the hour or more it took to climb up to Ubud. The claustrophobic vibe was further engendered by a constant roadside sweep of shopfronts, houses and temples so similar in architecture that one would not be able to readily distinguish between the 3, redeemed only by the odd pagoda, grassland area or architectural wonder. Most prevalent however was the anticipated relentless cavalcade of roadside crafthouses which littered the pavements with their wares. Most prolific were the stone carvings, whose religious idolatory in figures of Buddha, Shiva and Hanuman the monkey god amongst others betrayed one of the defining characteristics Bali as a alnd of artists. There were whole villages dedicated to wood carving and silver smithery and more paintings than one lifetime could afford to appreciate.
No surprise then when Ubud materilaised as a relatively up-market tourist centre dedicated to that persuasion, added to by the preponderance of venues where one might appreciate the culturally ingrained practice of traditional dance ensembles. The tourist bus services' terminus was stupidly poorly placed within the town and so although I would have habitually resisted the advances of the predictable touts, for once I plumped for the deal offered by one youing hopeful, the price was good and the standard would be undoubtedly acceptable and I really didnt care about relative merits, the free motorbike transfer was the real deal in sparing me from a long hot slog and doubtless persistent pestering. It didnt mattter that I ended up in a quite incongruous spot then since tourism had rendered that likeness to the whole town it seemed, my curiosity kindled by many good reports from previous indulgees I had met left me sadly underwhelmed. To be honest the real allure of the place to me lay in its location, with easier access to a beautiful countryside characterised by fluorescent green rice terraces and palmeries, though this had up until now been little witnessed. An afternoon reconnoitre revealed the place to be unremarkable, overpriced and underfrequented, the propensity of temple-like architecture proving so prolific that it actually detracted from the temples themselves. In a haven of assuredly more upmarket tourism, I witnessed a plethora of arty farty boutiques in a tour of almost the whole town until I eventually traced an acceptable restaurant with sensible prices, promptly being forced into prolonged patronage by a full on downpour. The wet season was upon me sure enough.