Bali Adventures…

After a month in Australia it was finally time to fly to Indonesia. We took a flight from Darwin to Bali near Denpasar. Our flight got in about 11.30pm and our hotel was only a short walk from the airport, so after unsuccessfully bargaining with the taxi guy who told us that “for 10,000 Rp we could walk,” we decided to do just that. We had a slightly cautious walk to the hotel but arrived safely. Most tourists arriving on Bali go straight to Kuta, which is the main resort (think the ‘Magaluf’ of Bali). We decided to avoid this completely and head straight to Denpasar, where we were pretty much the only tourists. We had a wander round, acclimatising to the country, the smells, the ramshackle pavements and monkeys playing on the swings at the park. We wandered around the bird market which also had lots of other pets for sale including monkeys and exotic birds. Most were in small cages but thankfully looked healthy. We also visited the cultural museum and had our first Nasi Goreng for dinner.
The next day we had our first experience of Indonesian public transport and took a Bemo from Denpasar to Ubud. (Bemos are basically small private minibuses where you negotiate with the driver and try not to be ripped off). On our way we saw lots of heavily laden motorbikes, including one with about 1000 eggs, a guy with a crowbar (which would have been quite worrying to see in the UK) and another with a rabbit! We spent a few days in Ubud and visited the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, which was full of Balinese long tailed macaques and had temples that looked like they were straight out of an Indiana Jones movie. We went on some relaxing walks across the hillside and through the tranquil rice paddies surrounding the town. Ubud itself was quite touristy and full of Yoga enthusiasts. The pavements were even worse than in Denpasar with missing manhole covers over 3m deep holes, missing bridges, some slabs half a meter higher than the previous ones, broken tiles and motorbikes constantly crossing the footpaths. We calculated that we got asked if we wanted a taxi on average about every 15 meters we walked and Alex got very good at using his best Indonesian to reply: “tidak, terima kasih!”
One night we went to a Balinese dance performance at the palace. The location was amazing and the costumes and dances were mesmerising. The stories however didn’t seem to match up to what we were told would happen and Barong (a mythical lion-dog creature) made a special guest appearance- perhaps by popular demand, or perhaps just because they had the costume- in a totally different story!
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From Ubud we took a bus to Candidasa, a town built as a resort, but where the beaches have mostly eroded away and we stayed in a place owned by an Australian couple. Tomorrow we are going to visit the traditional village of Tenganan and then head to Padang Bai where we will catch a boat from Bali to the Gili Islands.

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