After an hour’s drive to pick up some other guests, we passed our hotel again. A further 10 mins up the road we arrived at the rafting centre, after being warned not to discuss our ticket price with anyone…
We were kitted out to look like Minions and bundled into the back of a pick up for a short ride up the road. We then hopped out and had a surreal walk thru a jungle, down lots of steps into a deep gorge to where boats waited for us.
Our guide, Bagus, was a loon. Giving us a quick fire round of instructions we immediately forgot, we pushed off from the bank into the flowing river. We had signed up for white water rafting, but it was most certainly brown water, having had some rain the last few nights. He was a good laugh making jokes and slapping the paddle hard on the surface of the water shouting “ANACONDA!!!”. In between the nuttiness he did have a few moments of silent prayers sitting behind us.
The trip progressed swiftly, with occasional shouts from Bagus to go “FORWARD” and then “STOP” and we would all bring our paddles inside the boat. It was pretty easy going as the river did most of the work. The rapid bits were good fun and bounced us around. No one fell out, but we got splashed lots.
There was one bit of bad luck that the gods didn’t stop from happening. In one set of rapids the boat spun around past a bit of driftwood. It swiped across the top of the boat so Aimi and the mother of a little girl in the front had to duck. Unfortunately the little girl was caught by the log and it pinned her leg to the boat. With a bit of pulling and wiggling she was set free and we carried on, surprisingly without injury. I think Bagus was a little shaken after that as he was very apologetic and checked on her lots of times to make sure she was ok. Just some bad luck, no harm done.
Maybe to make up for it, or just continuing his enthusiastic style, at one point he said we could jump out and go swimming. We didn’t believe him till he was already in the water and floating away! We didn’t need telling twice, so jumped in and abandoned the ozzy parents to the boat. We were coming up on a huge waterfall where lots of boats had stopped, so I grabbed ours and swung it into the throng. We spent 5 mins here wading thru the chest deep water and fooling around in the waterfall. It was pretty strong landing on us from a good height. If we are going to get Bali-belly, today is probably the day.
After rejoining the boat, and Aimi demonstrating her graceful re-entry technique, we continued our float down stream. It was a really nice way to enjoy getting out into the jungle, keeping cool and having a bit of fun along the way. The cliffs were magnificent, in places rising straight up from the water, covered in vines and leaves. In others the gorge took a typical V shape with plenty of trees. There were lots of rafting stations were companies had set up to take guests on the water. It was a very popular activity.
So popular that about half way down, we pulled into the bank alongside a couple of umbrellas. Here they had set up a snack shack selling drinks and crisps, with a bit of a markup. Everyone was having a great time, some even dancing to the music playing. The ozzy dad and I had a beer and watched the rafts bumble past.
I think any rafting instructors from the UK would have looked at the setup and the safety here and been shocked, let alone beer on the banks. Some of the rafting stations used ziplines and winches to lower boats down to the water. Others had built concrete and tile slides for the boats to ride down the cliffs. It was refreshingly free of regulations, but maybe taken a bit far in places…
The finale obstacle was a weir. We took a route to one side where a slide had been built. We plummeted down maybe 5m and splashed back into the river at the bottom. Bagus offered his final prayer of thanks and we landed at a concrete slipway, the end of our rafting ride.
I had wondered how they move so many boats around and here we found the answer. They deflate, fold up and then give it to one strong old guy. He balanced it on his head and then climbed the 200 steps (at least) up to the waiting trucks. The steps were no issue for us, (just a little painful on my knee) but I think they would be with 40kg(??) boat on our head. It was impressive and a bit sad to watch him work his way up with that massive load. I wanted to help, but he didn’t need it, and even beat the fat Americans to the top with time to spare.
After such hard exercise, where most of the work was done by fluid dynamics under the effect of gravity, I thought I’d treat myself to a massage. Meeting a Balinese version of Miss Trunchbull, she showed me to the spa and introduced me to the pants I should wear. Made from dinner lady hair net, these provided minimal support, whilst simultaneously preserving none of my dignity. I opted to maintain wearing my own bright orange dinosaur pants. The same ones, coincidentally, I was wearing last time I paid someone to beat me up.
I feel like every time I get a massage, I really enjoy parts of it. And other parts, when they get to lean into the crook of your back with their elbows, for example, they are testing your manliness. I feel like they are just trying to make me yelp. Well a few times she succeeded. Especially when she started massaging around my right knee. That’s a no-go area.
I was released an hour and half later feeling very floppy and relaxed. Then it was Dinner + Bed = Good Night.