I looked out over the calm, unbroken surface of the water, waiting for a sign of life. But the river remained still. I scanned the surface again, my head turning left, then right. And then I saw it.
“Will you take tea on the terrace this evening?” A turbaned man in a starched white uniform with big brass buttons enquired of me, as I stood on a terrace surveying the lands around me, as though I was queen of it all. “Yes please. I’d like to watch the sunset.”
I stood poised on the edge of the small boat, ready to jump in. The waves were crashing against the side…a few metres away was the rocky outcrop of Manta Bay… ‘There!’ shouted the boatman, pointing into the distance. I jumped in with about a dozen other snorkelers in a flurry of fins, masks and snorkels, and swam in the direction he’d pointed, praying for a manta ray sighting.
As I wander through bustling streets, the soundtrack changes with each turn I take…first jazz plays, then hip-hop, rock, even a full gamelan orchestra… Mingling with the music in the air is a delicious aroma of spicy and sweet sauces, especially the Indonesian specialty sambal, rising up from little warungs or street-side food stalls serving up ayam goreng (fried chicken with rice; $1) and gado-gado (a salad with peanut dressing; $1)...