Day Trip To The Big Smoke (Denpasar)

Sunday is the only day most Indonesians have as their weekend and on that day it is common for families to head out to spend the day together. On Sundays, public places are usually very busy and consequently too the roads in the late afternoon is crowded with everyone heading home.

So yesterday, we joined the throng of Indonesians out and about with their families. We booked a car a couple of days beforehand from a friend of a friend and got a very good deal. Rp200,000 (AUS$20) for the whole day! I offered to be the driver but when Kadek suggested that her brother might be available, I was delighted. Apparently he used to drive around Denpasar quite a bit when he worked in Denpasar 10 years ago and still visits Denpasar frequently as his wife’s family still live there. Lukily for me, he didn’t have any commitments and was happy to be the driver, and as an added bonus, his children too were keen to join us, which was fantastic. His children are exactly the same age as Kadek’s which worked out very well. The last member of our party to be invited was Kayun, another cousin slightly older that Ari. So our group consisted of Kadek, her husband, Ketut, their 2 children, Ari & Made, Kadek’s brother, Wayan, his 2 children, Tia & ‘DeGud, and Ketut’s nephew, Kayun. Four adults and five children. With Indonesians, it is always a case of the more, the merrier!
When deciding where to go for our family day out, Kadek suggested Tiara Dewata, a large department store in Denpasar, because apparently a lot of Ari’s school friends have been talking about it lately, so Ari was dying to see if it was as good as everyone had said it is. Kayun, though, was apparently not impressed with our choice of destination and suggested Bedugul, which was thankfully not enthusiastically received! While Bedugul is a beautiful spot to picnic and is close to the Bali Botanical Gardens, it probably wouldn’t have been as memorable as Tiara Dewata for them all. As I have been to Bedugul many times, I was much happier with going to Tiara Dewata which I remember very fondly from when I lived in Bali and was thrilled to have a chance to see if it had changed at all.
With everyone wearing their best clothing, Wayan arrived on time at 8am with the 8 seater Avanza and his 2 children to collect us.

20130729-192935.jpgL-R Ketut, with young Made wearing the blue hat, Kayun and in front of him, DeGus wearing the angry birds t-shirt (angry birds is ridiculously popular for children in Indonesia), Ari, Tia, Wayan & Kadek.
Our trip into Denpasar was the first for Ketut and Kadek in over 10 years and the first ever for Ari & Made, so they were all agog for the entire trip except however for poor Ari, who was very car sick and spent most of the drive to Denpasar either sleeping or looking into a plastic bag. The motion sickness pills she had taken did not work at all. I think also sitting in the middle bank of seats didn’t help much either.
The road into Denpasar is the main road connecting Denpasar with Jakarta and is incredibly busy with all sorts of buses and huge trucks all trying their best to complete the trip as quickly as possible. They take enormous risks when overtaking and often I see overturned trucks or the remains of a truck by the side of the road. This doesn’t deter the drivers at all! The road is also very windy in parts with many tight turns and thankfully it is finally being upgraded with many of the tight turns being replaced by long bridges spanning rivers and valleys to create more straight and safer stretches. When the roadworks are finished, the road will be significantly safer.
We arrived at Tiara Dewata around mid morning and found a park in the car park in front of the shopping centre which was brilliant considering the small number of parks available and the large number of people also spending their Sunday at Tiara Dewata. We walked inside to discovered that absolutely nothing about Tiara Dewata had changed. Even the desk where loyal customers could choose a gift and the window displaying the selection of gifts available depending on the number of points you had accumulated was just where I remembered it to be! Kadek and I used to have so much fun choosing our gifts there and we walked past reminiscing about the last gift we had chosen which was a camera that apparently Kadek still has yet I doubt that she would use much as it predates digital cameras! Just passed this counter, was the enormous children’s play area set around pillars making it feel more like a basement or underground carpark. There were children of all ages playing play station games either in pairs or by themselves and then beyond that was an area mainly for very young children with very tame rides just like the ones found in Australia inside shopping centers. There was also a bank of trampolines! I found it very difficult to explain the concept of a trampoline to Kadek who found the idea of jumping in one spot for enjoyment very odd! We put both boys on the train which they both loved

20130729-195533.jpg However after that, while Degus had fun on several more of these rides, Made was content just to watch. He was totally overwhelmed. So many people packed together doing things he had never seen before, let alone even imagined existed.For a 4 year old from a very small and rural community far, far from any large towns, it would have been totally over the top!

Ari was still quite nauseous and weak, poor thing, however she was determined to enjoy Tiara Dewata and for her first ride, was content to be her cousin’s passenger.

20130729-200245.jpgIn retrospect it seems odd to suggest to someone recovering from a horrible bout of motion sickness to jump on a motorised bike! However they both enjoyed themselves and were then keen to dry to dodgem cars. They hopped in one car while Ketut and Kayun hopped into another.

20130729-200711.jpgThis part of the day gave us many laughs because the girls wedged themselves into a corner just freeing themselves as the session finished while Ketut & Kayun had trouble with their accelerator and the steering. We then moved to the arcade section which had something for everyone. Kayun amazed us all with his skillful basketball shooting while the girls tried various games trying to earn tickets so they could choose prizes. Once the girls had chosen their prizes, we headed back to the car to find a warung where we could buys some lunch. We found a babi guling warung that looked nice however while the food was good, we discovered when paying for it all, that the price we were charged did not reflect the quality of food and service we should have received. So needless to say, I do not want to promote the place, so all I will say is be careful if buying babi guling on Jalan Sesetan!


The next place we visited was for the adults; Nusa Dua because Kadek & Wayan’s younger sister, Nyoman, now lives and works there in her own shop. I hadn’t seen Nyoman since 2001 whereas Kadek had yet to see Nyoman’s shop!

20130729-202058.jpgHere they are standing in front of Nyoman’s shop, which is just like the millions of little shops found in popular Indonesia destinations for tourists. It is amazing how much stock they have displayed in such a tiny amount of space. The shop would only be 2m x 2m at the most! So if anyone has any questions about the life of the people who own and/or work in these shops, Nyoman is only too happy to explain. Strangely enough, Nyoman was the quietest and shyest of the 3 siblings, and the one I would have least imagined to have choosen to work dealing with tourists! Isn’t it funny how things turn out! Her husband is a ‘koki’ (chef) at an international restuarant and as he does the night shift, they don’t see much of each other! Luckily he turned up briefly on his way to work to drop of their house key so I got to meet him! He too comes from Pengeragoan!
Before we left, I got some whole family photos. Their parents have both passed on, so the 3 siblings are very close and it was a perfect opportunity to get some photos with them together, although it would have been much better had Nyoman’s husband been in it too!

20130729-202856.jpgPoor Ari still looks ill!
We sat and chatted to Nyoman for a while. She had a couple of tourists visit and look at some of her shirts but didn’t make a sale at all. It was so lovely seeing her again. It was also fascinating to sit and listen to her spiel and wondered what I could suggest to her to say that would amaze her future customers enough to help them loosen their purse strings! Any suggestions?
Around 3pm, we began our goodbyes while discussing what to do on the way home. Kadek was keen to drive past Kuta Beach but I vetoed that idea quickly because it could take an hour just to get to Kuta Beach and then possibly another hour to get passed it with the terrible Sunday afternoon traffic. So instead, we drove home passed the school I’d taught at in 2001 and where Kadek, Matthew, Rebecca & I used to live and reminisced pointing out places along the road we remembered. This road took us the back way into Tabanan which is much nicer than the main road and also meant we passed several klepon sellers.

20130729-203534.jpgThe klepon stalls are set up right on the side of the road.

20130729-203629.jpg We bought enough packets for all of us to have once we got home

20130729-203757.jpgand some as oleh oleh for Kakek and Nenek who stayed home.
We made another stop at the night market in Bajera for some vegetables for dinner.

20130729-203939.jpgWe bought some urap (vegetables with coconut spice) and some gorengan (fried foods including spring rolls & tempeh) which were delicious as always.
We got home around 6pm which was perfect, especially as Ari, Tia & Kayun had school the next day. We sat in the bale eating our delicious ‘take away’ while each recounting to Nenek & Kakek the parts of the day that they had enjoyed the most. I was also thrilled to hear that poor Ari had enjoyed her day even though she’d spent most of it feeling ill! She had loved Tiara Dewata and had fun recounting her version of how she & her cousin had become wedged in the corner! Apparently Tia had slightly exaggerated her dodgem car skills and experience! Although Made fell asleep soon after we got home, I think what he enjoyed most was the car trip itself. He stood the entire time mesmerized with the traffic, especially the traffic lights! He was perplexed though whenever we drove through a red light which amused me no end! Welcome to driving in Indonesia! A brilliant day with a brilliant family.


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