Chris' 1994  R100GS/PD ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650

Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

August 01, 2000

Bali - Half way 'round the world to Paradise!

-- Story by Chris --

July 19th - Singapore:  After a few days checking out the city, arranging airfare, and making reservations on the internet, we purchased our air tickets to Sydney (Australia), with a stop over in Bali.  Mr. Murali had our paperwork forwarded to our dorm/guesthouse in S'pore, and the bikes were safely underway, due to arrive in Sydney around July 30th.

We decided that since we had come in under budget for the past 7.5 months, we would have a real "vacation" in Bali, not worry about how much we spent, and go out for nice meals -- this would all be a welcome treat!

Thursday, July 20 - We arrived at the airport in Bali around 9:30pm.  According to our calculations, we have now crossed the Equator, entered the Southern Hemisphere, and officially traveled halfway around the globe from New York.

The driver from the Adika Sari Hotel was at the airport to greet us.    Twenty minutes later we arrived at the hotel in Legion, we were offered a "Welcome Drink", then told they didn’t have our room.  This was a bit of a surprise as we had recently sent several confirmation e-mails back and forth, but apparently this sort of thing is not uncommon in Bali.  We didn't get upset (we've changed a lot), and rather than listen to the list of problems, inquired what we could do.  They made a few calls (why this wasn’t thought of earlier???) and arranged a similarly priced room for us in a nearby hotel.  Unfortunately it was dank and unpleasant looking, but we've stayed in far worse and it was late.

Friday, July 21 - The folks at the Adika Sari were expecting us back around lunch-time.  After breakfast we went for a stroll and found an even nicer place (Rum Jungle) for the same money ($25).  We got a great room on the second floor with a large terrace, overlooking 2 swimming pools that were surrounded by beautiful trees and plants.  The entire layout was spacious, and it was just what we wanted. 

not bad, eh?
The Rum Jungle Hotel

We rented a scooter for $3, drove around Legion and Kuta beaches, and watched a beautiful sunset.  That night, we ate with some Aussies (Peter, Brooke, and family), then went to a bar with them to watch Australian Rules Football.  Melbourne was ranked #1, and this was to be a match between the first and second place teams.  Many hours and even more Bintangs (local beer) later, we all stumbled back to the hotel.  We will see Peter and Brooke again in August as they’ve invited us to their place in Melbourne.

Saturday, July 22 - Rented a Suzuki "Jimmny", a small yet under-powered jeep-type vehicle for $7/day.  Deep purple in color with tinted windows and mag wheels, it's a real pimp mobile!  Of course the tank was empty when we got it, so we went to the gas station and waited 15 minutes in line to buy gas – the good new is that it was only $0.12/liter.   Fueled up and with a lousy map, we drove north some 45 kms (speedometer and odometer broken) in heavy traffic to Ubud.  It’s amazing how there were no road signs to posted along the way -- most people hire a car/driver or take the bus, but still, a fair amount of tourists drive around the island.  Ubud is a thriving tourist destination in the center of the island, with elegant bungalows, great restaurants, fantastic temples, and market stalls with great things to buy at cheap prices: Masks, batiks, fabrics, wood carvings, furniture, paintings, etc.

Scenic View

My parents were here back in February and recommended the Honeymoon g/h, which is owned by one of the best restaurants in town (Casa Luna).  We tried to get a room, but they were booked solid (if you saw the place you'd know why).   They brought us across the street to the Ida Inn where we were led to a big beautiful room on the second floor.  Situated in the center of the room was a large bed with an elegant white mosquito net draped over it.  It looked like something from an old romantic movie.  The room had 360 views of the rice paddy fields around us------this has to be the best place we've stayed so far!  Oh by the way, the room cost was $12/night with breakfast included (banana pancakes, fruit salad, coffee, juice, etc. -- served in the room)

Sunday, July 23 - After a leisurely breakfast, we took the back way to the Monkey Forest Sanctuary.  We got a little lost (no GPS) and had to trudge through some mud, but eventually we found it.  Most tourists had bananas, but the monkeys seemed more interested in the peanuts we brought.  In India, the monkeys were pretty aggressive.  Here, they were very calm and would eat right from your hand!

I wish this guy would hurry up

Friendly little guys

Whoooops, hang on!

We spent the afternoon wondering around, checking out this very artistic town.  The town streets are flowing with tourists and shops, but once off the main road, you're surrounded by tranquil rice paddies and friendly locals.  In the evening we went to the Ubud Palace to see traditional dancing.   Their performance lasted for about 1.5 hours,  it was a great show, and the costumes were fabulous. There were about 22 guys playing various xylophones, gongs, and flutes -- all hand-made from bamboo and/or metal.  It sounded like they were all playing their own tunes, then suddenly they’d come together, in time with the dancer’s minute hand and head movements.

Dancer at the Palace in Ubud

Afterwards we had a delicious dinner at a very luxurious restaurant – the total bill was just over $10. We sat on an elevated bamboo structure, overhanging a large lighted lily-pond, with a large ancient temple in the background.

Monday, July 24 - Drove up to Mount Batur, a creator with a large dormant volcano in the center. The roads to and inside the crater are paved, but absolute crap -- They make the roads in Cambodia look good.  We drove around the southern rim, then down into the crater where several villages surround a huge lake.   Many tourists come here for the 4:00am climb to the volcano’s summit to watch sunrise. The towns themselves have little to offer, so many tourists stay in Ubud and come up just for the day.  Up until last year, a group of 4 could hire a local guide for less than $3.  Recently, some capitalists here formed an organization, and only "trained" guides are available, at the outrageous price of $20/person. 

We found a basic room (clean, large, on the lake) for $5, then walked around town to find a "cheap" guide. They all stick together and we couldn’t find one for less than $10/person.  We climbed the foothills to see if we could find the proper path, and a local boy agreed to take us up for $5 (he started at $12).  Not sure that he’d show up in the morning, we got a local farmer to guide us to the base of the volcano trail (about 2kms away), for just over $1.  If the boy doesn’t show, we should be able to do it on our own.

Tuesday, July 25 – What a horrible night’s sleep – motorbikes with loud pipes, dogs barking, people swimming – all at 2 o’clock in the morning!!  We finally got out of bed at 3:38am – 2 minutes before the alarm, and headed out the door at 4:00am. At the entrance to the g/h, a man accosted us on a motorbike: "Where is your guide?" "He didn’t show up", I said. The man says that we have to get another guide, otherwise he won’t let us up the trail.  We walk a half-kilometer into town, with motorbikes zipping by asking us about our guide. As we approach the parking lot to enter the path, 6 young men block our way. There’s a lot of yelling, arguing, pushing, and shoving. They say we must pay $20 for a guide, we say that’s not a law and that we’re free to go by ourselves if we want. They say it’s their organization’s rules, and either we pay or we don’t go. Things quickly get out of control and in the ensuing struggle, Erin is hit.  I jump in to her side (and am kicked) -- we're outnumbered, and they are pumped up.  We’re shouting for the police, and eventually the small group of us walks the 100 meters to the small police outpost. More arguing and bickering.   Obviously, this organization is using Mafia tactics, and we soon discover this includes buying off the local police.  The young officer is at first on their side, but scowls and is unsure how to proceed when he learns they hit Erin.  We get the name of the main aggressor, go back to the g/h, pack our bags, load the jeep, and at 5:20 in the morning we head out of town.  We’re angry and upset, but we drive through the darkness up to the edge of the crater to watch the sunrise.  It was nice, but not a "must see".  Almost every country we've visited has a special place to watch the sunrise -- I just wish it wasn't always so early!  Anyway, the top of the mountain we had intended to climb was under clouds, so we got a little satisfaction ;-)

Afterwards, we drove about 75 kilometers (2 hours) up, around, and through the mountains to a small village on the East Coast: Bunutan.  We found the Good Karma bungalows and moved into a large and beautiful bamboo hut, set back a few meters from the beach, in a jungle environment.  Attached to the back of the bungalow was a large out-door bathroom.  After a good nap, we had a nice lunch and spent the afternoon relaxing and watching the fishing boats.

Bali.FishingBoat2.JPG (57116 bytes)

Local fishing boat

Wednesday, July 26 – Left Bunutan in the morning, and immediately got a flat. Changed to the (bald) spare, stopped at tyre repair shop, but couldn’t find the problem.  So, we filled the original up and remounted – probably a pebble got caught in the rim.  We decided to drive back down to the Rum Jungle in Legion, and spend our last few days in Bali on the beach, near the pool, or getting messages.

A ceremony outside an old temple in Ulluwattu, surrounded by monkeys

Friday, July 28 – Happy Anniversary:   Today is our 4 year wedding anniversary and we're in Bali, a true paradise -- life could be worse!  Rode down to the southern tip of the Island. Went to Ulluwattu temple, the cliff overlooking the nearby surfing beach, and had lunch at Puri Bali.   PB is a hotel that was built several years ago to be a $1,000/night resort, but it didn’t fly.  Rooms are currently about $140/night, and the place is pretty deserted.  Fortunately, they have a beautiful terrace where we had a delicious lunch, high up on a cliff, overlooking the beach and surf far below.  In the evening we had evening drinks on our deck, then went to a seafood restaurant for a wonderful dinner.

Surfer Beach

Saturday, July 29 – Well, it's the last day in Paradise -- Lots of shopping, more messages/reflexology, and hanging out by the pool.  In the early evening we met Bruno and Alain, 2 French guys who are starting a BMW m/c import business in Bali – great guys who invited us back (with free use of bikes!).  After a late dinner, we went to the airport for our 11:00pm Red-Eye flight to Sydney.

Bali was great, and we'll be back . . .

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