Attempt to Break and Enter Thwarted

The approach to the Indus Restaurant’s broad staircase flanked by two lions, and the grand rotunda with a full-winged Garuda, awes me. It’s the same every time.

Tonight a friend is treating me to dinner at this elegant site. We sweep past masterpieces of Balinese art in the yawning gallery space and pause before descending the second flight of steps. Overlooking the vast, grand restaurant itself, I suck in the magnificence of the view. It’s not only the stunning decor, and it is stunning, but the vista just beyond the terrace makes this a one-of-a-kind experience in the Ubud area.

We’re escorted to a table by the rail overlooking the Campahuan River Valley. Just as menus are placed in our hands the rain starts.

We’ve come early on purpose. There’s a lot to catch up on. So we scramble to a grouping of cushy settees under shelter of the roof to wait out the downpour with a couple of cocktails and an appetizer. My friend has a Margarita. I opt for a benign little number called Killer Coconut.

P1090263The combination of Bicardi Rum (75% alcohol) and Midori Liqueur (20% alcohol) makes my head hum.

Hours later, after a satisfying meal of chickpea curry, raita, chapati, and a shared caramel custard reminiscent of creme brulee, a band sets up. Seductive Latin rhythms begin and professional dancers hit the floor. Entranced, my eyes follow the sensual interplay between the stiletto-ed beauty and her alluring Don Juan. The first number ends and a second begins, slower this time. But when the music starts for the third set, the dancers’ eyes scan the audience for guinea pigs. It’s our signal to leave.

The downpour has slowed to a mist. We catch the shuttle to Casa Luna, a sister cafe, then disembark to walk the remaining distance home. At the corner we part ways. It’s still early and Taxi? or Massage? queries ring out as I pass holding my long, swishy pant-legs at mid-calf to avoid the sludge.

At last I turn off Monkey Forest Road and slosh the muddy lane, breathing a sigh of relief as I round the corner to see the familiar garden lamp and the stairway to my home.

At the top I drop my umbrella on the landing and use both hands to fish the key out of the coin pouch in my billfold. Coin pouch…coin pouch…? I unceremoniously dump the entire contents of my purse and verify the unhappy truth. No coin pouch. No key.

Ketut has a spare. He left earlier for a day off with his family in Kintamani but maybe it’s hanging with the other keys in his kitchen. I hurry back downstairs. Mindful always of the security of his beautiful B and B, this door, too, is bolted.

My mind spins. How tough can it be to pick a lock?  I try a bobby pin, a nail, a random piece of wire, my hands sweating in the sticky night. But nothing makes the door spring open.

Okay, so lock picking isn’t one of my skills. What about the window over the stairs? I could slide my feet along the ledge…grip the insides of the frame and hoist my body through the narrow…very narrow…opening.

P1090266From the landing it appears to be my best option. I move a few steps down and grasp the sill while hoisting my left foot to the ledge. The right foot follows suit. I’m suspended over the stairway and the bottom of the window is still above my bustline. I can do this, is the last thought before I remember Killer Coconut. Could my judgment be just a tad bit impaired? Are my reflexes all they should be if I start to lose my balance? But that drink was hours ago now, followed by curry and dessert. Surely the effects have worn off? Surely the alcohol is out of my system, all 95% of it…! A wave of vertigo crashes over me and I remember that I’m terrified of heights. My body goes weak and shaky. Get off the ledge you idiot! 

The right foot searches for the step. I stare straight ahead, afraid to look down. Ah! There it is! I creep back to the landing and ponder my momentary lapse of sanity.

A quick check of the clock on my cell phone says it’s now 10:45 p.m., too late to enlist the help of a neighbor. I descend the stairs to the terrace and consider other possible points of entry. If I stand on the bench and…

P1090267or maybe the roof to the kitchen window…

P1090268or a ladder…I think there’s one in storage….I check storage and there are three ladders, all far too short.

P1090270The truth settles over me. My house is secure. I can’t break in and neither can anybody else without equipment and advance planning. In the midst of this inconvenience I feel happy about that.

The room that Jessa and Dan occupied until this morning is unlocked. There’s a king bed with a satiny-soft duvet. I let myself in, lock the door, and draw the curtains closed. A hot shower leaches any remaining energy from my pores and I exhale exhaustion as I pull the blanket over me. A quick text to Ketut: Forgot key. Door locked. I’m in the blue room, lets him know not to be surprised when he finds an unexpected guest in the morning.

Light seeps in as the cacophony of dawn erupts. Where am I…oh. Right. Just then there’s a polite tap on my door. I slide it open and peek out to the grinning face of Ketut. Good morning! he says. Then, in his finest schmoozy-guest voice, You want breakfast?


Bye-Bye Bali at the Indus

A fabulous, farewell dinner seemed appropriate as my departure date looms ominously closer. I didn’t know what to expect from Indus, a legendary eating establishment outside of Ubud, but what I got far exceeded whatever I could have imagined. When our driver pulled up to the entrance I thought he’d made a mistake. I was visually blown away. It looked like we had arrived at a palace. A flight of incredibly wide buff colored steps flanked by lions lead to a spectacular door, blue highlighted in gold. Stepping through the doorway we entered a gallery space with exquisite Indonesian art adorning the walls. Passing through yet another portal we found ourselves at the top of a second broad staircase overlooking the restaurant itself. Anyone who stands there for the first time and does not feel like Cinderella entering the ball is in the wrong story!

A gracious Balinese hostess welcomed us and led Karin, my friend from Manhattan, and me through the inside dining area to the terrace. The view of the Tjampuhan River gorge plummeting hundreds of feet downward, just the other side of the railing, absolutely took my breath away.

There are layers of terraced yards stepping down to the rushing river at the bottom. I had specifically requested a “table on the edge,” and that’s what we got. From our seats we could see another of the restaurant’s terraces below us and then nothing but down, down, down!

The fragrant breeze helped maintain a perfect temperature.

The little table for two hugging the railing is our table on the edge!

This is the view looking back into the restaurant from our table.

The menu was one of those that makes you salivate just reading the descriptions of the food! It took awhile, but I finally chose the Tempe Curry with Sweet Potatoes, Shredded Bean Curd and Red Rice.

Oh! Oh! Oh! I never get tired of eating in Bali! Every dish is an adventure and they all have happy endings!

This time I yielded to temptation and ordered rice wine with lime juice and seltzer. It was remarkable.

I had dessert too of course, my favorite, coconut ice cream, but I forgot to snap a photo. It looked just like coconut ice cream!

I happened to look across the gorge just in time to see the faint outline of Mt. Agung before the clouds once again piled up around her obscuring the view.

Here’s Karin in her new silk sarong and me in my flowy, tie-dye pants!

We had stretched dinner out for 2 1/2 blissful hours, but these cliff-side tables all have reservations and our time was up. We paid the ridiculously reasonable bill and I asked the hostess if I could use their phone to call a taxi. She asked where I was staying then said, follow me please. She led us out of the restaurant and told us that their complimentary driving service would take us back to our hotel. What a lovely ending to another perfect day. But if I thought it would make me feel better about leaving…not so much.

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