Sunday, June 26, 2005

Aside #1 - Mother Nature and Us

I have to confess: nature girls we are not. I was a little nervous; I wasn’t sure how well we’d cope with staying in the midst of padi fields.

Bali as a whole is a lot less developed, very much more a rural environment compared to Singapore. Living in high-rise apartments, we seldom encounter wildlife, certainly not more than the odd cockroach or small household lizard (we call ‘em chichaks) at home, or perhaps pigeons and stray cats in the neighbourhood. We would have to go out of our way, say, for a walk in one of our nature reserves or to the zoo, to meet anything “wilder”.

The thing is, nature can be an icky business. Day 1 in Ubud: on our first walk around, our eyes were glued to the ground, watching out for potholes, puddles of water, and other undesirable matter, when we saw it. There, in the drain, being buffeted by the torrent of rainwater, was a drowned rooster. It was a defining moment - “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore…”

Later that day, back at Tegal Sari, we demonstrated to ourselves how gormless we could be when it came to nature. We were out on our porch, still taking in that view. At some point, we noticed some bird that kept repeating the same call, quite monotonously. Couldn’t it sing something else? An hour or so later, a voice piped up in our front garden, “Hi, don’t mind us. We think there’s a lost duckling in your pond.” Our neighbours upstairs in Room 10 had apparently spotted a duckling in need from way up there and had come down to rescue the critter. Wow, good eyesight, we thought. Then it dawned on us, quite belatedly: what we had heard earlier had been the duckling’s distress call! D-oh…

Barely ten minutes later, we decided to move our rattan chairs further forward so that we could put our feet up on the balustrade. After we had moved HM’s chair, we started on mine, only to discover that, hidden behind my chair, was (A) what looked like a very dead and decomposing something or other, complete with a swarm of ants (B) a very live frog that was only too glad to hop away from us, down the stairs and into the garden pond. Ugh, gross. To think that I had been lounging in that chair the whole afternoon…

Mother Nature wasn’t done with us yet. That evening, just as we arrived back at our room after dinner and were about to unlock our room door, there was a very audible “plop!” sound. We looked down and, barely 30 cm away from my left foot, was a rather plump lizard that was, I swear, a foot long. It had apparently fallen from the ceiling. There was a pause during which lizard and humans were too stunned to move. Then the lizard came to its senses and promptly scuttled away. Good for it. We however were left to worry about falling lizards, especially while showering. It didn’t help that that thing behind the rattan chair looked an awful lot like ex-lizard.

And just to cap the evening off, we had a mosquito attack. Of course that was partly due to complacency on our part. Up to that point, we had been pleasantly surprised by the lack of mosquitoes. During our last visit, which had admittedly been during the wet season, we had not been so lucky. But that meant that we had to be suitably paranoid. We kept ourselves doused with insect repellent, lit mosquito coils and switched on all mosquito-repelling devices we were equipped with. This time, there seemed to be far fewer mosquitoes, especially in Sanur. Perhaps the strong wind was keeping them away. So, on our first night in Ubud, we thought it sufficient to go to sleep with just the mosquito coil burning. After all we had the aircon on and were well under the covers. We were wrong - we woke up with bites on our faces! The mosquito coil, it turned out, had accidentally gone out during the night.

As Melman the Giraffe from Madagascar would say: “Ahhhhh! Nature! It's all over me! Get it off!”

Footnote: The next evening, we used both the mosquito coil and the electronic device – problem solved!


Post a Comment

<< Home