At the onset of our travels we planned to spend my 32nd birthday in Ireland for the grandest St Patrick’s birthday celebration of a lifetime!!! And then a few things happened that derailed our plans like, surprise visa restrictions plus the thought of spending winter in Europe when Southeast Asia sounded so much warmer. Ergo we were not in Ireland on my birthday, but while we were there it was an absolute must that I have my traditional birthday on Irish soil. As it turns out they clearly have a different name for the Irish car bomb there (Duh you idiot!!!) which awkwardly dawned on me immediately after ordering two from the bar keep. Staring into each other’s eyes we shared this uncomfortable moment together, which may have lasted days I’m not sure, finally ending with his grimace and reluctantly asking how to make it. I tipped him very well…
Replacing Ireland for my birthday was a tall order and for months, we were unsure what country we would be in for March. As our plans fell into place it looked like Bali was the likely winner and I suppose a tropical island famed for its beauty and surfing will just have to do 😊. This also gave me another rare opportunity to experience a birthday like one of you commoners whose day isn’t also celebrated by literally everyone around them. Will I miss all the hype? I was relaxing knowing I had a guaranteed survival rate this year from alcohol poisoning! You could say my friends get a little spirited on my birthday every year.
A couple weeks before my birthday Lauren started asking me every other day what I wanted to do. I normally don’t have to think too hard about my birthday because there is always a celebration going which makes the planning easy. I like going to the beach for a relax sometimes, but I don’t sit well for long periods without any type of activity, so I knew a beach day was not the right answer for my birthday. Surfing was near the top of the list after getting hooked during our lessons at the retreat, but that would only be a couple hours at best in the morning and then what? I also thought about scuba diving at the Liberty ship wreck site, but we planned to do that already while we are on Bali, so I wanted to find something different and active. I had no clue what I wanted to do for my birthday until just a few days before when I was desperately scrolling through AirBnb experiences searching for inspiration when it struck. I didn’t know they had white water rafting on Bali! It makes perfect sense once I thought about it with the mountainous volcanic terrain and tons of rainfall.
There are a couple different “rivers” to raft on and most operators offer transportation in the packages. I wanted to raft on the Tala Waja for only one good reason. I saw a picture of a big waterfall from a manmade dam that we would get to go down. Need any other reason? There is another river close by Ubud that would have been easier but we’re not looking for convenience I want adventure for my birthday!
We were picked up in a van that could seat about six comfortably for an hour ride to the starting point. We have done some white water rafting back home on the New River with typically about 8 people per raft. Here it was us plus another couple and our guide. The rafts are very small because the “river” is essentially a large creek. The “river” was at best twenty feet wide, quite shallow at times and fast moving. Lauren and I took the seats in the front at the request of the English couple since it was their first time ever rafting. Our guide was difficult to understand and I only got about half of what he said in the safety speech. The commands were simple though; forward paddle, hold on, duck, boom boom, and shake ya body! Boom boom was a warning for when we were going to crash head on into a massive bolder on the riverbank. On average I would say we had a boom boom about every three minutes over the two-hour ride downstream. We quite literally ping ponged our way down the narrow river laughing the whole way. To command us all to duck our guide would say “Quack quack” I think because it was easier for him to say that then duck. We had entirely too much fun on this rafting trip and loved being surrounded by the green luscious landscape and occasional waterfall.
Not far from our starting point we noticed every other raft on the river stopping ahead to be carried a short way downstream past some rapids and a small very narrow waterfall in the river. Our guide was feeling lazy I suppose because he made no such attempt to stop. Inches from the edge of the fall we got hung up in the shallow rushing water and did as we were told when he shouted “Shake ya body”. We bounced up and down like good little bunny rabbits to free our raft and mid-bounce we shot down the falls landing on our backs with our butts on the floor laughing hysterically while everyone watched us from the riverbank.
A little over halfway down the river was the long anticipated big drop over the dam. As we approached our guide pulled over to the bank just upstream and took away our paddles. I think this was to keep us from slapping each other or him when we flailed our way down the drop. I suppose he learned from the last waterfall and had us all sit on the floor of the raft and hold on with both hands. Our guide played his favorite joke on us pretending to send us down on our own saying “bye bye.” Inching towards the edge in the shallow water while bouncing up and down to keep the raft moving, we anticipated the drop. Our raft paused at the top with the nose hanging over the edge and with one more “Shake ya body” we sailed over the edge. It was over in an instant and the head count to make sure everybody was still in the raft was easy with all our giggling laughter.
Towards the end of our rafting adventure we got hung up again in a narrow and shallow section of the river because we were racing with another raft and playing bumper boats. We were so stuck our guide had to get out of the raft to pull us loose from the front of the raft. When we started floating down stream again, he was walking from the front of the raft to his position in the back when the raft jolted to a stop so suddenly the raft nearly flipped over. Our guide was almost jettisoned out of the raft and barely managed to stay on board because of the kung fu grip he had on my life vest and the tiger claw hold I had on the raft. I guess if he was going down, he was not going alone.
The next item on my birthday agenda was some craft beer and a game of pool, two things I have dearly missed. I was tired of Bintang, Indonesia’s bud light, and craving a German style wheat ale. I found a sports bar in Ubud called the Meltingpot which had craft beers and pool tables!
At the end of my birthday I had some business to take care of with JD. Every year for my birthday JD enjoys waking me up in the early morning with an Irish car bomb around 7am. I am not a morning person and so part of this tradition has also grown into me setting booby traps to deter or stop JD from waking me. He has somehow always managed to make it through my booby traps because of traitors in my midst. This year I knew I was out of his reach although he investigated shipping alcohol internationally which apparently is not cool. Also, this year I had an advantage I could use to pay him back for all those years of waking me up with a car bomb because in Indonesia we were 12 hours ahead, so his morning was my evening. Muahahahahahaha! When my revenge time came, I called JD and….no answer. I tried him several times with no answer. Not fair! Then I realized what had probably happened. Saint Patrick’s Day, my birthday, fell on a Sunday this year so everybody partied Saturday night and were sleeping off their hangovers Sunday morning. I was a little crushed to let the car bomb tradition die so easily so I started texting a bunch of friends to see if I could find one that was awake and willing to bomb with me.
No such luck.
Lauren knew exactly who to turn to with an emergency like this. Her mom was shopping in Trader Joes when she called and after the situation report, promptly put down her basket and walked out telling us she would report back in 30 minutes. We took several car bombs with Mom and Dad W saving the birthday tradition from extinction! Thanks Mom and Dad W for saving the day! JD you got some explaining to do.