- 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 didnt 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
wasnt 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
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 theyve 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. Its 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.
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 360º 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
Friendly little guys
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 theyd come together, in time with the dancers minute
hand and head movements.
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
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 volcanos 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
couldnt 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 hed 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
doesnt show, we should be able to do it on our own.
Tuesday, July 25 What a horrible nights sleep
motorbikes with loud pipes, dogs barking, people swimming all at 2
oclock 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 didnt show
up", I said. The man says that we have to get another guide, otherwise he wont
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. Theres a lot of yelling, arguing, pushing, and shoving. They say we
must pay $20 for a guide, we say thats not a law and that were free to go by
ourselves if we want. They say its their organizations rules, and either we
pay or we dont 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. Were 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. Were 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.
Wednesday, July 26 Left Bunutan in the
morning, and immediately got a flat. Changed to the (bald) spare, stopped at tyre repair
shop, but couldnt 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
didnt 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.
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
great, and we'll be back . . .