After walking all up and down Singapore, I decided that Bali had to begin with relaxation. Swimming, sunbathing, reading, and lounging on the beach. Lots of rest – that is, indeed, what the doctor ordered! I wasn’t quite sure how El was going to handle Bali – having never been to Asia (apart from Singapore), Bali is a good introduction to Asia, however it is still quite a harsh introduction in terms of crazy traffic, lots of people, and shop owners grabbing at you trying to get you to buy their items any way possible. I have experienced many a time the ‘hello darling’, ‘morning price’ and ‘sunset price’ – but we experienced new methods. “Sexy price” and “Lady Gaga price”. They then got more inventive with “Hey I know you” or “What happened to your knee? Can I touch?”. It is all part of the fun though.
I forgot how beautiful a place Bali is though. I dislike Kuta for the fact that it is so touristy and the locals are very in your face and try to get money any way that they can. I prefer untouched Indonesia – such as more rural parts of Bali, Lombok, or my favorite place so far in Indonesia – Labuan Bajo in Flores. The people there are Christian, and you can walk the entire town in 5 minutes. There are no big stores – all roadside stalls. When I was there walking the street, a little girl grabbed my arm and just looked at me, and when I asked her name, she turned away as was too shy. In Bali however, you get touched by shopkeepers all the time as they try to pull you into their store. And the shopkeepers put on Australian accents to try to entice you – NOT a way to entice a New Zealander. Neither is chanting “Aussie Aussie Aussie” – damn those cheap flights between Bali and Australia – Kuta is overflowing with Australians left right and center!
Anyway, in our 2 days in Bali I made sure we did the typical must dos – we ate at a warung, walked the beach, visited the memorial and had a beer (or two) on Kuta beach for sunset. We also went out to bars and clubs – another must do that honestly I had never done myself. It was…an experience. This one bar just kept going and going – more and more rooms appeared, and more levels appeared as the night went on. There was a live band where you could sing Karaoke (I rocked “Can you feel the love tonight”), a group of guys with bongo drums chanting (I may have been dragged up to play the drums not once but twice – my palms are still bruised 3 days later!), two big stages with cages on them to dance in, and a foam pit for wrestling. When in Bali, right?
El also experienced being a celebrity in Asia – locals asking to be in photos with her. I always find this in Yogyakarta, but never in Bali, where there are so many tourists!! However within 10 minutes of sitting down with our beers on Pantai Kuta (Kuta Beach) Indonesians started to come up and sheepishly ask if they could take a photo with us. I was then asked a few more times, and more and more people kept joining in on the photo and trading cameras. God knows how many random facebook photo albums I am in from all these photos that Indonesians take of me!
We also managed to see monkeys without them going crazy and attacking us or trying to steal our stuff. We got a taxi to take us to Pura Uluwatu, about an hour south of Kuta, which is a temple on the cliffside. It is 70 meters above the Indian Ocean, and the ocean beneath is very popular with surfers. The temple itself is pretty average, but the views were absolutely beautiful and although we missed out on the kecak (a Balinese dance), we heard the chanting, and got to walk around the temple more after the sun had gone down – resulting in magical views that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.