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Bali-wood Baby!

Sharp at 8 the mini bus came to pick me up from Da Rifi hostel in Surabaya. There were already about a dozen people in it and the only seat was in the last row. Fortunately I had plenty of leg space and a lively young Dutch couple sitting next to me.

The two of them had been the first to be picked up and already been in the van for two hours and not even left the city. But, like me, their excitement to go to Bali was keeping them in a good mood.

The driver was in no hurry; we made plenty of stops along the way and missed our ferry. More waiting. The van got onto the next scheduled ferry and I discovered that I get seasick! Five hours later, iPod battery dead and entirely too much coffee in my system… we finally docked in Denpasar.

Off the boat, onto the van and another 4 hours of driving around north Bali and we were finally dropped off on Poppies Lane no 2 in the Kuta area.

The Dutch couple and I had no accommodation fixed. All of us had been advised that ‘just land up, walk around and you’ll find a place’. Two hours later… we still didn’t have accommodation! We’d walked the length and breadth of Kuta and hadn’t found a decent place we could afford.

Time to downsize expectations. We checked into a run down little place called Taman Mekar Guest House. Stained sheets. Check. Filthy toilets. Check. Rude manager. Double check!

Oh Well… at least we’re in Bali!

Even though we were staying at the same guesthouse, I never saw the couple again. I guess none of us were interested in spending too much time indoors.

Bali is the middle class Australians Ibiza! They come here by the truckload and outnumber the locals two to one. They love their beer and are incredibly friendly right after they’ve had a few. The first night I was there, I went to a tiny pub that could seat no more than 15 people, but there were at least 50 people there.

One of the girls, who worked there, came up to me and asked where I was from. I told her I was Indian and her face lit up. She hugged me and said Balinese people and Indian people ‘same same’. Obviously refereeing to the fact that both are predominantly Hindu. Her name was Ayush and my beer was on the house! She then went around the place and told half a dozen people that- This is my friend from India, take care of her! And that was it… End of my ‘alone time’.

The place had a live band, the singer, a lovely local called Tony- asked me for my request.Predictably, I wanted anything by Bob Marley. He sang ‘Satisfy My Soul’. Put me in my happy place right away! Later in the evening, he and I talked about the music scene in India and he said he loved Indian Ocean and Kishore Kumar!

The next day, I walked around the entire Kuta area, eventually spending time from the afternoon till sun down on the beach. For the number of tourists there, Kuta was surprisingly clean. The sunset was quite spectacular. But I found my attention getting drawn to an elderly gentleman in a thong. He strutted across the beach in his teeny-tiny swimwear, stopping gladly when approached by Korean tourists for a picture. I never saw him without a beer in his hand… or a big smile on his face.

Bali does that to you. Even with the milling tourist crowds, the place has a slow, laid back vibe. The local people are sincere and friendly- as long as they’re not part of the tourism industry that is. The food’s pretty fantastic and cheap and the party never stops!

I will say though, that it’s not the best place to travel on your own. Bali is the town that I want to come to with my girlfriends and go a little crazy. I saw big groups of friends, a wedding party and countless honeymooners making the most of this town… made me feel a little left out!

Be careful what you wish for! The next day, a very dear friend of mine who had been traveling across Indonesia with her lovely gentleman friend surfaced. She and I have a history of getting pretty wild together. It was time for an encore. More on that next.

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4 Responses to “Bali-wood Baby!”

  1. mom says:

    hi baby
    I’m sure bali was a ball. Missed your aticle in HT and was told they had to skip it for last Sunday being Independence Day. Looking forward to the coming Sunday read.
    How is Australia? U there?
    Love. mom

  2. Magician's Code says:

    You’re getting around real fast, I would suggest slowing down a notch, no?

    Brave of you either way, march on

  3. Depti Poola says:

    Do u keep in touch with all the ppl u meet or only some? u’re meeting ppl from across the world, must be exciting, do you feel scared sometimes?

  4. mushtak afridi says:

    not bad, i’ve noticed u r takign better pics. worth it to get a good cam. you should have a photo gallery with high res pics. mayeb u can do a photo exhibition when ur back, i can help :)

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