Monday 12 July, 2004 – Bali, Indonesia
Werner, a diving instructor I’d contacted, called to say he’d take me diving on the wreck of the ‘Liberty’ at Tulamben Bay on the North East coast of the island tomorrow.
Today Wayan, the hotel tour operator, took several of us up to Kintamani, the mountain and lake in the centre of Bali, with terrific views of Agung Batur and the lake at its base. First stop was a Barong dance in suburban Denpasar, very touristic but interesting all the same. Various large, hairy creatures appeared to be terribly persecuted to the accompaniment of a Gamelan orchestra.
Then some very tourist trap stops at silver and wood working shops. Bought a small wooden box, but later they were being offered by aggressive hawkers for much less than I’d paid.
Mount Batur is a volcano in the centre of Bali; at its foot is a picturesque lake surrounded by precipitous peaks, looking a bit like a large crater in its own right. Very scenic. Our vehicle was blessed with an offering and consequently was filled with incense for some time. The view was quite alpine, with conifers and all.
Lunch was at another tourist trap, but one with a spectacular view of the mountain and lake, built high out over the edge of the hillside by the road. RP100,000 for a pretty ordinary buffet and drinks.
Our group comprised Jenny & Pete and their two girls (who had been at Jimbaran the previous evening), plus and Australian-German called Irvine, and a lanky middle-aged Aussie bloke from Queensland called Paul, but preferring to be called ‘Sticks’ by his mates, due to his extreme skinniness. He was quite a character. This was his first trip overseas to anywhere and despite clearly having seen some life (I would have been surprised if he had done time), he was an innocent abroad.
He had bruises and cuts on both knees, which he claimed were caused by his bumping into the corners of his hotel bed! Apparently while pissed out of his brain. He told how on arrival he’d wandered down to Kuta Beach and been mobbed by hawkers who charged him ridiculous prices for crappy t-shirts, and even managed to apply several temporary tattoos to his arms and feet, apparently without him being able to stop them!
He thought all the very kitsch wood carvings and silverwork was gorgeous. The very sticky hawkers at the Kintamani restaurant car park mobbed him and us in the car. Eventually he bought a tacky wooden chess set.
On the way down the mountain we stopped by the road to see the rice paddies. This time, Irvine was trapped with very aggressive hawkers, buying two boxes like mine. A crowd of sellers, smelling money, surrounded the car and would not let us go.
Having seen the somewhat rarefied woodcarving ‘workshop’ and show room, it was edifying to see mile after mile of woodcarving villages all the way down the mountain. This is clearly where all the stuff in the showrooms is made. On the way out and back we passed Denpasar Gaol, near Seminyak, where Bali bomber Amrozi is being held. Sticks was most excited.
On returning to the Bali Ayu I headed into Seminyak to check email and have dinner. Found a salon for a decent haircut, where the very nice young chap gave a very good shampoo and scalp massage. Wandered down through Legian and had dinner at a little warung where the other customers were Indonesian.
I wandered down as far as Kuta and ‘ground zero’ again before heading back to check out the Seminyak night clubs. They were only just getting started at 11.30 and I was tired, so headed back to the hotel to sleep.