Kuta airport, Bali. Very
late at night. No Lonely Planet guide. No worries. We are the masters
of the Universe. We booked a cheap hotel (which on the Lonely Planet would
figure in the "mid range" section) at the airport and a talkative
taxi took us there.
Oh, luxury! Big room
with red wooden dragons, cocktail bar, swimming pool.
We knew it would be super-touristy, super honey-moony and expensive but
we were only going to spend a few days in Bali so, what the hell!
Nice beaches with Australian
surfers, good restaurants, shops, tourism pretty full on, parties and
even a Hard Rock Cafe. Fun place for a holiday. On the other hand, if
you took the trouble of leaving the main streets you could lose yourself
in some interesting narrow labyrinthine back streets.
Oh, shopping! I had to go shopping
for Indonesian clothes, beautiful colorful dies much neater than the Indian
or Thai ones, crocheted bikinis and dresses and other flowery cheap stuff.
On the beach there was an invisible
line five meters from the sea all along which the beach sellers and masseurs
couldn't legally trespass to assault tourists with their insistent offers.
We forgot about that and got trapped into a massage session that turned
out to be quite disappointing.
We stayed in Kuta a few days
more than planned hoping to meet up with Miles's friends who were honeymooning
but it was not going to happen so we took a bus to the north top of the
island, Lovina, with the intention of doing some diving.
The town was peaceful, pleasant and tiny. Not much to do there, no night
life, quite a contrast with Kuta.
Our bungalows by the beach were marvelous, with colorful wooden Balinese
carved ornaments, with arches and garden and patio and an unreal deep
cobalt blue swimming pool coming out of a rock waterfall. The bungalow
itself was designed like in a rocky landscape and while you showered on
pebbles and a wooden podium you could see the stars through the open ceiling.
The beach was nice, with the
usual sellers who really made me angry and fed up one day. I had enough
of being looked at as a walking bag of money. From breakfast until going
to bed, every time, everyday. False smiles and friendliness before the
direct attack. Also around this time it got to me quite badly the "traveling
crisis" which had caught up with Miles a month ago and was still
There's many things. It's missing home, family and friends, sometimes
even work! It's sometimes exhaustion, sometimes the trip feels meaningless
or a waste, sometimes you start to question everything around you and
inside you and so on, ad infinitum.
It had been seven months in Asia already and we thought that might be
the reason. Once we got to Australia everything would be different, it
would be a kick of new energy and new experiences.
We went to see a Balinese open-air night dance performance. It was all
right, but it smelt a bit of not the real thing but the tourist thing.
Very particular joint short and sudden movements of head, shoulders and
hips, colorful costumes and percussion. We were forced one by one to go
on stage and dance with the exotic lady. I had the privilege of being
first and Miles escaped with the excuse of an achy neck.
I went for a dive with a group
of people. I had heard Indonesia was one of the best places for it in
the world so I was quite excited about it and also very nervous because
it was the first time after my course and without my teacher. I was the
most novice in the group, there was a German Swiss bloke who'd done more
than 500 dives!
Marie I met on the longish bus trip to the dive location and we got chatting
in Spanish the whole day!!! God! It was the first time in seven months
and I was missing it! I couldn't find my words. Marie was French Swiss
but had spend a while in Mexico and spoke perfect Spanish. She'd also
traveled all over the place. Then there was the German couple on a honey
moon. The bloke had just lost his wedding ring in his last dive and we
all thought that must be a sign...
For the dives, Marie -who was
also experienced- went with 500 bloke really deep and I went with the
honeymooners who were a bit fussy and the Balinese Master diver who would
be my buddy. The German girl seemed to be having some problems. Lunch
on the beach, more Spanish chatting, what a laugh. After lunch, we all
gave up to the sun and collapsed for a bit on the the sand.
Second dive site. It was all right, German girl kept making us stop and
then Master brought us in a cave where I didn't feel too comfortable.
It was dark and enclosed and I had the feeling I couldn't breathe but
I knew it was all psychological and managed to control my fear. German
girl panicked and soon we were on the surface. I was glad I didn't do
too bad for being a beginner. The dives were fine but not as impressive
as in Thailand. Bit disappointing.
Honeymooners told me I had to dive in the Great Outer Barrier Reef, north
east Australia. The best, they said. And more Spanish with Marie. It was
a fun day.
After that, we had nothing
else to do in Bali.
Bus back to Kuta where we spent
the last few days in Asia. I got quite ill and had to take an overdose
of antibiotics. Hate them.
Bye bye Asia.
arrived from Singapore quite late and booked the cheapest hotel available
from the airport as we were "Sans" Lonely Planet for the first
time. It was quite a bargain for 10USD per night having a nice pool and
a cocktail bar, the rooms were big with huge wooden sculptured doors.
Kuta was massively overtouristed, the main visitors and holidaymakers
on a 2 week vacation with money to burn and the prices and local attitudes
reflected this. An old school mate had emailed us to say here was here
at the same time (on his honeymoon) staying in the exclusive resort are
of Nusa Dua, but after several unsuccessful attempts to contact him
The beach was a lenghty affair (several Kms) with bigish waves that the
surfers enjoy. We had massages on the beach that a day later left me with
a terrible pain on one side of my neck/shoulder.
We lazed around in Kuta for a couple of days then headed by bus over the
island to Lovina. Lovina was less commercialized than Kuta or to coin
a phrase I've picked up - has not been coke-colonised too much. The beach
was black, apparently because of the volcano (which we passed on the way).
There were a few restaurants which the owners begged you to dine in and
a few bars, but not much else. Our room was really nice, carved wooden
terrace and a funny open air bathroom that we could see the full moon
through. The swimming pool was quite kitsch with its rocky fountain/waterfall.
evening we went out to see some Balinese dance (the audience totaled 8
westerners - the band totaled about 20). One of the dances was a supposed
courtship ritual where the beautiful dancer would entice a member of the
audience to dance with them, I was the first to be victimized (naturally)
but I could hardly move my neck because of the dodgy massage from a few
days earlier and I had to decline (damn damn damn!!)
Yolanda went diving for a day so I spent the time installing (and subsequently
unistalling) Windows 2000. Great fun.
After a few days it was time to go...
We went back to Kuta for a
couple of days, did some final shopping and then it was time to say good-bye
to Asia after 7 months. No more funny toilets and no more crazy bus rides!