Saturday, August 14, 1999

Vacation in Bali

Bali, Indonesia is a world unto itself. I spent about a week on the island. This is where my story begins.

Hong Kong
I woke up around 6:15 AM and was dressed by the time my alarm went off. I caught the 6:50 airport bus--there was not one person in line until a minute before hand, then there were ten guys. How do they know? Checked in right around 8 AM and had to visit three different money changers to find Indonesian Rupiah. It was about 8,000 Rupiah to the US Dollar, so lots of bills. Breakfast was my usual McDonald's hash browns again, hopefully the last time this trip. Chris had asked me to look for a Hong Kong shot glass for his friend, and I found it at a duty free store, but I'm not about to carry it around with me. I'll pick it up when I return or when I leave again. It's overcast, the clouds can't be more than 900 feet off the ground. Some time this morning, my watch light (the Indiglo kind) stopped working. I hope my watch isn't next.
I watched "The Matrix" on the plane. Crossed the Equator at 1:23 PM local time over Borneo, just east of a mountain range. We arrived 2:44, landing over waves breaking on the coral reefs. It took an hour to get through customs. I picked up a cab for the set fare of Rp 15,000 (about USD $2) and he took me up to the beach by Kuta and drove me to some different hotels that probably give him a commission.
The room is, oh, three times larger than the apartment I stayed at in Hong Kong, just off the beach, and they even gave me a complementary lemon based fruit drink, all for Rp 130,000. And it includes breakfast. Room service prices are about 2-3 dollars. I went out to the beach and watched the sun set, but there were too many clouds for anything amazing. Walked by the Hard Rock Cafe, then down the street to confirm my reservation at Bali Adventure Tours for the 15th. It's dark now (but I guess you figured that out) and I want food. After getting distracted by some stores, I found myself following the crowd to Poppies Restaurant (editorial aside: this is a block away from the Sari Club, which I passed by, that was bombed in 2002.)
After being ignored by some of the waitstaff while waiting to be seated, I remarked to a woman "This is part of the down side to travelling alone." Magically, the waiter appeared and I gestured for the older couple to go ahead, saying "It's okay, I'm just going to eat at the bar." Well, before I was attended to, the woman came back and asked if I would like to join them for dinner. Cool! Richard and Gabby are Australians from Adelaide, vacationing in Bali for the twenty-somethingth time. We had a very broad range of conversation topics over a dinner that consisted of satay beef/ chicken/lamb over our own little charcoal grills, just like the shish kabobs after them. I washed it down with a pinapple daiquiri. The total? About $12 USD, but I don't know exactly because they picked up the bill. I guess that's part of the up side to travelling alone.

From there, I walked up Jalan Legian and turned on to Poppies Gang II, an alley with some shops on it. It was a solitary walk down an unpaved, dark alley, populated with motorbikes, dogs, and darkness. But I wasn't really afraid, except for one second when I thought I was at a dead end and a guy appeared from the shadows. Turned out that the road just bent 90 degrees. I made it back to the hotel, Puri Tanah Lot, around 11 pm.

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