The airport in Bali was much the same as Malaysia with the big difference being wait time at Customs and Immigration. We sailed right through and were out in the open air in mere minutes. No busses or trains for this leg of the trip, however, we just sauntered over to the taxi counter and paid a fee for a direct drive to our hotel room.
I spent my first twenty minutes on the streets of Bali fearing for my life. The taxi driver drove at such reckless and terrifying speeds that I gripped the “Oh Shit” handle with all my might. Speeding up to the rear bumper of cars in front of us only to slam on the brake at the last possible second, avoiding collision by millimeters. White knuckled and pale faced, we finally turned on to The 66 section of the beach front where we would be staying. Karen, consummately prepared as ever, had pre-booked us into the Tune Hotel, in an effort to minimize expense on this leg of the trip. Tune hotel advertises itself as a 5 star bed with a 1 star cost. The bed was quite nice. Of course, a bed was all there was. It was the smallest hotel room I had ever seen, just big enough to walk around the bed and enter the bathroom, which was just a swinging glass door. Fair enough, as we did not come to Bali to hang about the hotel room.
The beach was incredible. White soft sand as far as you can see. The waves were massive and there were many surfers out on the water taking advantage of the early breaks and long rides. Kicking off the flip-flops, Karen and I walked along the waters edge for a long time before settling into beach chairs and just taking in all of the sounds and scenery. The beach touts were out in droves all selling the same thing. Henna tattoo’s, cigarettes, bracelets and knick knacks. My polite nature kept them hanging on longer than normal and I had to harden up fairly quickly. It is harder to be a jerk when people are as friendly as the Balinese. In Hanoi it is very easy to tell someone to piss off, as they are generally nasty and indifferent. The sellers on this beach were all smiles and polite conversation. After the fourth or fifth occurrence where the exact same questions were asked about my place of birth, length of stay etc, It was beginning to ruin the enjoyment of the beach that I had travelled so far to get to. I adopted the hard look and stern “no” practice that kept them mostly at bay.
We spent the first day shopping, swimming, eating and drinking the local offerings. I was disappointed with nothing and had a great first day.
Day two in Bali had us a little more adventurous and we rented a motor bike and drove ourselves to Kuta beach, which is the touristy area. We stopped at a money changers and got ripped off through some magician like slight of hand, that was a lesson well learned. We watch them like a hawk now. The sand at the beach was rough and brown and not nearly as enjoyable as the beach where we were staying so we opted to sneak onto a resort and pretend to be guests. We spent the afternoon lounging in their pool bar and drinking Bing Tang beer. It was here we noticed our purse was about 300,000 IR less than it should have been. We worked out that we had been hustled and decided not to let it ruin our day. We left the resort and headed to The Hard Rock Café where we could only afford to order two draught beers due to our misfortune in dealing with the tricky money changers. I talked to the manager about possibly having The Props do a show there. We hopped on the bike and headed back to the good beach, where we showered and changed before going to the beach to watch the spectacular sunset. After another good meal in another good restaurant, we were once again exhausted and in need of a good night’s sleep, which we got in our tiny little hotel room. We had another early morning wake-up call as a taxi was coming at 7am to pick us up and take us to the high-speed water ferry that would be transporting us to Gili T. We have one more evening in Bali at the end of our trip and I am looking forward to it. Bali is a beautiful, chill place and a great way to spend a few days and a few dollars.