I left UK on May 19th for 10 months of freedom and exploration with a Round the World ticket. Will I find New Zealand as perfect as it was fifteen years ago? How has Australia changed? Will I learn any Spanish in S America?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Arrival in Bali 20thApril -Sanur

Soto Ayam - chicken soup

Sanur Beach crowded with Balinese on a Sunday

My brilliant One World RTW ticket allows me to change dates and routes and even to add stops as long as they are in the same direction of travel ie you can't go back on yourself. To give my left foot ligament ( fascist foot) a chance to recover so that I could better travel round China with my backpack etc and after discussing the idea with Mum and also Lisa - who very kindly offered to have me back to stay in Auckland (Rich was far from dismayed apparently at the prospect of reduced washing up !) But in the end a ticket back to NZ during Easter holidays was not a cheap option and a call to Qantas confirmed that I could add Bali as an extra stop as I was only using 5 of a possible 7. So for the paltry sum of $Aus 213 inc taxes I added a stop in Bali and here I am now in Sanur,north west of Denpasar, where it is hot and humid but lush, green and beautiful and right by the sea- this is my second time in Bali - of course I was lucky to see it in 1989 - I think a lot has changed since then - a lot more hotels , a lot more cars and a culture centred on money and tourism.But it is still lovely - I am staying in small hotel called Segara Agung - which is on a quiet side "gang "- or lane - in a bungalow with adjoining bathroom with cold water only- but it is so hot you don't need hot water anyway - I have a small verandah outside with table and chairs which faces onto beautiful gardens which are tended by a small army of gardeners all in blue hotel uniform. It's a small place only 10 or so rooms and mine is in the standard category - I am paying $20 US a night which includes breakfast ( coffee, fresh fruit and white toast) and the 21 percent tax - I managed to bargain $2 off the price - but I am sure Lisa would have done better!
It is going into low season now - Easter holidays are nearly over. From Perth it is only 3 and quarter hours to Denpsasar airport - and it is 5 hours to Sydney - so you can see why Bali is so beloved by Australians! I met a very friendly couple last night in a restuarnat by the sea - they invited me to join them - avid surfers - they gave me directions to the fish market - pasar ikan - in Jimbaran where you can eat the best seafood in Bali fresh everyday - there was apparently a bomb here last year which killed about 30 people - but really the risk is pretty low unless you go to the poshest hotels or hang out in the western style bars and clubs which is hardly my idea of experiencing a culture .......
I also choose to stay at the Segara Agung beacuse it was described in the Lonely Planet as having a large swimming pool and only a 5 minute walk to beach - pool is not enormous but at least I can exercise a bit adn try and do aqua aerobics - believe me it is not easy to stay still and forgo walking - I did do a short walk along beach and also up the main drag - and caught a ride on motorbike back to hotel. for about 70 pence.
You can eat in a restuarant marketed at westerners for about 50,000r - 100,000r - that's a main course , and a beer and perhaps a fruit salad or banana pancake too . exchange rate is currently 1 Uk = 15, 823Indonesian rupiah . Holly if you read this I think youand Antonio should really try to add Bali as a stop if you are heading to AUstralia or get Charlie to meet you here - it is very affordable and all sorts of good flight deals from London. You don't have to stay in main resorts- smaller personal hotels are better and cheaper and transport round the island is cheap.Dairy free food on the whole- lots of fruit and rice. But I would reccomend Segara Agung - you can pay a bit more for a room with hot water. You would love it I know .
The culture is so beautiful too - every home adn business has a shrine where offerings are given every day - it is beautiful to watch - incense burning and offerings placed and a little graceful handmovemet to waft the incense around. Balinese are Hindu - so there are little hints of India - but it's also very distinct and unique - you have the dances( kecak and barong) and gamelan orchestra - all of which I saw last time I was here - I stayed mostly in Ubud then, which is inland and the centre of the arts, woodcarving and painting - this is first time in Sanur . I would like to go back to Ubud but I know it will have changed a lot - it is still though surrounded by rice fields - apparently. I rememeber staying on Monkey Forest Road - and sharing a squat loo with other people - think that will have changed a bit now!
Sarongs,the headress worn by men, sandals, yellow umbrellas, trees dressed with black and white check material, stone statues also dressed in black and white sarongs - frangipani flowers in the hotel garden dropping into the pool and floating there, British guest wearing a frangipani flower each day behind her ear- more offerings on a shrine in the bar just outside this internet cafe - little green banana leaf boxes or dishes , containing bright red flowers of the japon tree( I htink) ,and cream and yellow frangipani blossoms and small pieces of fruit , mango, pineapple etc. At night I sit out on my verandah and write and watch the geckos that live upside down on the ceiling motionless by the light until a hapless moth comes by and then snap, gecko has mouthful of insect, huge wing still in its mouth. the other geckos move in hoping to get a bite - there is a scurrying and a tut tutting - the sound they make. Last night too I saw a frog in the undergrowth - but it hopped away before I could take a picture.
The birds start singing at first light at 6am - I coudn't sleep last night and at 6am went down to the beach - where there were lots of primary shcool children gathered for the annual beach clean - the bats were still winging across the sand and through the trees heading home to their roost in a beach umbrella made of some kind of grass.- or perhaps coconut matting
Little food carts everywhere on wheels - I ate gado gado - glutinous rice with green beans, chilli and satay sauce at a small beach stall under the trees yesterday - I was constantly hassled along the beach, massage lady? you see my shop? transport? Where you from? what you want? At last seemed to be past worst of it and this woman with face I just trusted caught my eye - her name is Rutini and she used to work at the Bali Hyatt which is just up the road but has been layed off as it is so quiet now - so she sells drinks and gado gado and hires out "canoes" - open kayaks - anyway she made me the most beautiful gado gado in front of me - pounding all the spices and chilli etc in a pestle and mortar in front of me - she speaks a bit of just about every European language there is and told me the correct fare for a bemo ( little minivan bus) up to the night market.
My biggest problem today is that I don't have correct adaptor for my battery charger - which means I cannot take any more photos until I can find one - no one seems to sell them here and I may be forced to get a cab/tourist bus to Denpasar but today is Sunday so no good. How could I have forgotten to check this? I assumed the addaptor I had would work but it doesnt fit my new camera's charger. Oh well - its's not really a drama - sen ken ken - no problem - in Balinese.


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