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Published: June 30th 2009
Five months to the day after first crossing into the Northern Hemisphere on our trip, we were going to cross the equator again, back to the south.
We got a bemo (tiny mini-bus) to the airport, 5km away. It was so tiny we struggled to get our backpacks in. After checking in for our multi-million Rupiah flight we had a long wait in the airport lounge. We saw one other white guy! Amazing!
We finally left Tarakan, flew over the equator, had a brief stop-over in Balikpapan, then left Borneo for good. As we arrived in Surabaya, the capital of east Java, we had to set our watch, phone, laptop, video- and three digital cameras back one hour. One might say we have too many time-pieces...
Once off the plane we checked with all the agents to see if there was by some miracle a cheap flight to Bali. There was none, this being high season (school holiday) and all, so we went for Plan B (B stands for Bus and we would regret this later). We got on the airport bus and after waiting a while for it to fill up we headed to Putaraya
bus station. Here we were led to a night bus to Denpasar in Bali. It's 10 to 12 hours away and it wasn't a sleeper bus like we had in Vietnam. This was a sitting bus. It had a toilet though, which was really convenient. We had to wait an hour and a half, during which time about a thousand hawkers came passing through the bus, selling everything from food, pens, books and hats to hand held sewing machines and beads. People came on-board and sang songs for donations. Again we were the only western folk in sight. We were ready for the ride to be over long before it even began.
We set off at 4pm and after an hour we stopped for diesel. It costs a mere 4500 Rupiah or ZAR3.50 per liter! Unbelievable! If fuel is so cheap here, why is transport so expensive?
Soon we were stuck in a horrendous traffic jam, caused by all the people going on holiday (it seems we chose a poor time to visit Bali). The Indonesians drive just like the Africans; if the two lanes stand still, they make three more by driving on the shoulder and then forcing
Putaraya bus station
Guided through the chaos
their way in somewhere toward the front. 'No smoking' signs also mean little here. It wasn't long before someone was puffing away somewhere in the bus (later we saw it was the driver).
Three and a half hours into the trip something came loose underneath the bus and dragged along the road, making a hell of a noise. We had to stop so they could make repairs. We were worried for a moment, but soon everyone got back on the bus and we set off once more.
Dinner was at a small restaurant and we were happy to find that it was included in the bus fare. It was over quickly and off we went again.
1. Arriving in Java.
2. Getting the right bus to Bali.
3. Dinner included in bus fare.
The bus was a noisy and slow affair. As the clock struck midnight we'd been on the road eight hours and, according to the road signs, we'd only covered about 200km.
At 2am we arrived at the port where we waited for our turn on the ferry. While we waited, an endless procession of hawkers boarded, selling coffee
and snacks. Two guys with a guitar got on the bus to sing for money. At 2am in the morning? While we were desperately trying to get a little sleep? Are they mad?
At 3:15am we finally got on the ferry. For safety reasons we had to get off the bus, so we ended up in a very noisy common area with hard plastic chairs and karaoke blasting at full volume. We were starting to think that these people are completely off their heads. And guess what? We were the only white people on the ferry... again...
At 3:35am the ferry set off for the island. We just wanted to get to a bed as soon as possible. 45mins later we docked in Bali. While disembarking a bus in front of ours got stuck on the ramp. Eventually, at 5am we got back on our bus, only to stop in a parking lot close to the ferry. Talita got off to go to the loo cause the one on the bus was blocked by luggage. The bus promptly left without her. Ferdi tried to talk to the driver but, as usual, no one spoke English. Eventually the bus
stopped and Ferdi ran back to get Talita. That was too close!
With dawn starting to creep over the horizon we set out for Denpasar, the hub of Bali's transport system. We liked what we saw of Bali. It's beautiful, cultural, and looks like a prosperous place. Our enjoyment of the view was hampered by our exhaustion and the girl next to us puking on the floor.
With very flat bottoms we finally arrived in Denpasar. It was 8am and we'd been on that bus since 2:30pm the previous day. We'd been on the move since yesterday morning, hadn't slept much, and were totally exhausted.
We hugely over-paid for a taxi, but we didn't care. We just wanted to find breakfast and a bed. The first two hotels we checked were full, so we ended up at a very expensive one. Ferdi walked out but Talita negotiated them down to a more manageable price and after she nearly threw the guidebook at Ferdi we decided to stay.
We had a huuuuuge and delicious breakfast then headed to our room to bath and get some sleep. We've not been this tired on our entire trip. The room
was humongous, 11m x 6m! In our tired delirium we ran around the room waving our arms, just because we could. The hot water is only on for two hours in the morning and two hours at night, so Talita boiled a bunch of kettles to see if we could enjoy a nice warm bath. The bath was too big and the kettle too slow so she had a cold bath.
We were dead to the world till 3pm. After dragging our sorry butts out of bed we went in search of the bunch of beers we had promised ourselves for surviving that bus ride. We walked around town enjoying how different Bali is from any other place we've visited so far. The religion here is mostly Hindu and they have a refreshingly different look to all the Muslim we've been subjected to in Malaysia and Borneo. During our stroll we found an Internet shop where we were able to confirm our dive accommodation booking. We can't wait!
After walking around a bit we found a small Chinese eatery where we had an early dinner and some ice tea. Afterward we found a small shop that could organize
us a couple of beers. Back in our cavernous room we enjoyed our well deserved beers while looking through our latest pictures.
1. Finally arriving in Denpasar.
2. Nice hotel and huuuuge breakfast.
3. Victory beers.
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