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Published: November 15th 2016
Getting over to Bali from Java was quite the ordeal (it always seems to be). I won't really go into detail but the transport involved twelve hours, three buses, two minibuses, a boat, and some live farm animals. For all of my efforts it cost me around $IDR55,000 and I ended up saving about $5USD. Here's to budget travel. Once I finally made it to Denpasar (the capitol of the island) I was surrounded by the taxi mafia all doing their best to rip me off and I finally lost it. A few choice four letter words later I just walked off into the night without any idea of how to get to where I wanted to go. Lucky for me an honest ojek (mototaxi) driver pulled alongside me and gave me a fair price for the twenty minute ride to Legian - The Australian backpacker ghetto here in Bali.
Being in Kuta/Legian is a little intense to say the least. The place is filled with hawkers and touts all selling everything you can possibly imagine and more. Every one of them gets in your face and tries to peddle thier wares. It is frustrating and tiring. It got to
the point where I just ignored everyone and more than once I had to physically push people out of my way. Kuta beach is nothing to write home about either. It is dirty, crowded, and filed with the ever present tout. Maybe I am just spoiled. I have been to some incredible beaches in my day and Kuta will not make any of my lists anytime soon. The city itself is also filled with roaming hordes of drunken Aussie tourists who descend on this place like locusts, sucking up every last drop of alcohol they can. I saw fights, people puking in the streets, and just all around debauchery. To be fair everyone is just trying to have a good time on their two week vacations and had I had my crew with me we would have been right there with them (minus the fights and the puking). I would have enjoyed Legian/Kuta much more amongst friends than alone. It was however important for me to come here and pay my respects to the 202 victims - including seven Americans - of the bombings that occurred here in October of 2002. I did so at the memorial wall on Kuta's
main drag Jl. Legian. Seeing all of the names of young people killed by senseless violence by cowards hiding under the banner of religion made my blood boil and makes me sick to my stomach. That's all I will say about that.
After a couple of days in Kuta my head felt as if it was going to explode so I hightailed it out of there and headed south to the Bukit Peninsula. The public transport on Bali is pretty much non existent and any public bus you do manage to find it is like pulling teeth to get any correct information or the correct price. I swear it is a massive conspiracy against the tourists to force them into private transport. I'm tired of fighting the battle so I am resigned to take the tourist transport whilst here in Bali. So after $IDR100,000 I had made it to the Bukit Peninsula, found a cheap place to stay, and hired a motorbike to cruise around the different beaches in the area. I loved riding the bike around the cliff side beaches and soaking up the sun. The vibe here was much more chill and their were massive surf breaks
around every corner with surfers tearing it up on the waves. This is what made Bali famous and I really enjoyed watching the surfers enjoy themselves.
I also took in a traditional Balinese dance performance at sunset inside the ancient Uluwatu temple complex nestled high on a cliff above the surf of the Indonesian ocean. A memorable experience with the dance, music, and costumes absolutely spectacular. I really was impressed by the story telling and the fact that these legends not only in Balinese Hindu but Hindu in general have survived through the millennia by spoken word and traditional dance and art. Certainly no regrets for the $IDR70,000 spent for the ticket as the sun dipped away into the ocean below.
A few relaxing days on the peninsula and I wanted to move off of the beaches and into the mountains to the center of Bali. Getting back to Kuta was going to prove difficult and expensive so I decided to try my luck at hitchhiking and it worked out really well. I scored a free ride back to town and transferred onto a shuttle bus bound for Ubud. After I arrived I found a nice guesthouse to
stay at and wandered around town. This place is filled with women in their Lululemon Yoga pants all eating, praying, and definitely not loving, trying to find themselves. I've never received so many nasty looks by just saying hello to someone. God forbid you invade their space by just trying to be friendly. Anyway, I resigned myself to exploring the lovely surrounding areas by myself.
I went on some marvelous hikes in the hills and fields around the township of Ubud that involved impossibly green rice paddy fields and a sacred monkey forest with monkeys that were anything but well behaved. I saw many people accosted and a few lost sunglasses, hats, and flip flops to these rambunctious creatures. I had to laugh and it was good entertainment. I just kept in mind that I am the more evolved ape and any monkey looking my way was greeted back with an evil eye and they left me alone.
That night while at the cafe reading about - or lackthereof - progress on the NHL lockout I met a German woman who had left home three days ago to begin a four month tour of SE Asia. It was
fun to talk with her about my own travels and fears of when I had first left home. Now this life is second nature and I assured her she would get there as well. With my plans of renting a motorcycle the next day to visit some outlying temples I invited Stephy to come along and I was glad I did. Finally some company and someone to talk to. We had a great day navigating the chaos of Indonesian road rules on the motorcycle and viewing some amazing historical sites here on the island.
After laying on the beach, hiking, and riding a motorcycle around Southern and Central Bali it is time for me to move on. Tomorrow I head east on a ferry to Lombok. I will always remember the good and the bad of this place and I am glad to have spent some time in a location where one of my really good friends used to call home. Unfortunately (or fortuntely) I did not heed Josh's advice on staying away from Arak. That stuff is lethal.
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