Beach bums in Bali
Australia was expensive - pretty crippling to our budget, so (no offence to australia) we were very glad to be leaving for cheaper living in indonesia. So on the 7th august, we spent our last few precious australian dollars in Perth airport and boarded our flight to Denpasar, Bali. (Note: Ian spent his last dollars, not on Duty Free alcohol...but on a book! Suited me fine - it kept him amused much longer and more quietly and also turned out to be a very good book by the way - My Colombian Death)
We landed early, only around 9pm, and happily trotted into the airport....only to find that we needed to pay $25 each for a visa (something i had already found out but completely forgotten about) and had absolutely no cash on us. Ahhhh, no problem, they'll let us through security to use the cashpoints and then we'll come back and pay. Except.....the cashpoints (5 of them) rejected our cards. Between us we have debit and credit cards from three different banks....and all of them were rejected. Eventually after 40 minutes managed to pay for the visas on one of the cards, but still had no cash for a taxi to our hotel.
Way back in colombia, I had found a $20 (USD) note on the floor of a grubby bathroom, and folded it up into a tiny square in the pocket of my jeans for "a rainy day". It had been there ever since, and now seemed like a pretty dark and cloudy moment to finally remember to use it. Unfortunately these jeans had been washed many times between colombia and Bali, with the note still in the pocket, and it was subsequently faded, creased and a little torn on one edge. Which meant that the first 5 moneychangers we offered it to rejected it. eventually the taxi office directed us to one who would change it, albeit for a very low rate...but still, it was enough to get us the taxi, with a little leftover.
We collapsed gratefully into the taxi and relaxed a little - until he started driving, that is. after half an hour of nerve-shredding near misses with motorbikes, buses, bemos and other taxis, we finally stumbled out on jellied legs to the forecourt of our hotel, all thoughts of renting scooters permanently wiped from our minds. We just had to spend our pedestrianised days trying not get run over by the motorised maniacs, whilst fending off incessant offers of transport from every car/minibus/motorbike owner we passed. After a while this becomes so wearing - repeatedly saying No thank you, no not tomorrow either, or the next day thank you, - that eventually you are reduced to wearily shaking your head and just walking on. So you cant help but smile at the taxi driver who is clearly as tired of this game as i am. sitting on the pavement beside his car as you pass he holds up a printed and neatly laminated card bearing the ever ready phrase "Do you need Transport??". As you smile at the resourcefulness, shake your head and start to walk on, he flips over the card to reveal the words on the reverse: "Maybe Tomorrow.....?"
As for the cash situation - well to cut a long story short, eventually we got some money through cash advances on credit cards etc, and hopefully will get the rest sorted in the next two weeks by various means. But ohhhh how i want to kill Nationwide when i get home.
In the meantime we set about enjoying Bali, feeling extremely thankful for some hot weather at last! Ian and i speedily set about the serious process of getting tanned, since our blindingly white limbs were possibly visible from space by this point. our hotel was lovely, a much appreciated bit of luxury (and still so cheap), and had a nice little pool,tv, air con, etc etc. We spent our days in Sanur lazing by the pool, wandering around the town and trying not to buy the entire contents of every shop we walked past. On the second day Ian decided to get his hair cut - an hilarious episode for all concerned, since the hairdresser spoke very little english and didnt seem to have many skills in the hairdressing department either. After almost an hour of miscommunication Ian took the clippers off her and finished it himself, much to the amusement of the group sitting outside the shop. watching thru the window!We decided in future we should just ask how much to borrow the clippers for ten minutes - it would make life so much easier....
Taking a walk one day we unexpectedly came across a street parade - it turned out to be Sanur festival, and was really interesting to see, with hundreds of people in fantastic costumes, and floats and giant papier mache figures, drums, etc etc.
We were surprised by how many Europeans we found in Bali - having had such trouble getting flights there from Australia at an reasonable price, i thought it unlikely to be affordable as a holiday destination all the way from Europe, but everywhere we turned there were europeans - particularly French. At first we thought it was just this town, but it turned out to be the same all over Bali and Lombok. Strange to hear all of the locals speaking english, but none of the tourists!
Indonesian food turned out to be far tastier than i had expected. After more than 7 months in latin America I never wanted to see a plate of rice again, and had been dreading the food of Asia for this reason.....but it turned out to be so so different, so much more interesting. whilst South American food had been relentless variations on dry meat/chicken/fish, with dry rice and maybe some salad, Indonesian rice dishes were filled with vegetables, eggs, tiny morsels of meat, and doused with delicious sauces of chilli, peanut, soy, ginger, lemon.......We happily munched our way thru the menus, washing it down with Bintang (local beer) and fresh fruit juices. The friendly restauranteurs chatted as we chose our dish of the day, and Ian found that the Italian ex-pat who owned one of the restaurants used to live on the north coast of Kenya, in Malindi, very close to where ian grew up. I sat in amazement as they chatted in Swahili, once more astounded at what a small world it is after all.
A small world indeed but there is still so much left for us to discover, and so much more to write about.....but i can't write it all tonight so i will leave it here, and tell you about the Gili Islands in the next installment.....See you soon.