Tuesday 24 June 2008 – Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia
Walked up the beach 25 minutes to the Pettitenget temple area, which is still closer than Bali Ayu, the hotel I’d stayed at last time and which had again been suggested by my travel agent this time.. The beach up this way was covered with litter. I picked up two pieces of broken glass from the shoreline and carried them back.
After breakfast, a lengthy walk down the beach to Melasti, then the laneways through Kuta. The touts are more numerous and more aggressive than in Seminyak, where really only the taxi drivers border on being a nuisance.
Paused for lime juice at a smart café ‘Aromas’ which has some of the finest toilet facilities I’ve seen here – almost as comfortable as the hotel. The site of the 2002 bombings was, as I recall last time, a vacant block. There was little or no evidence of memorialisation or interpretation this time – apparently there is a memorial elsewhere. The site itself looked sad and forlorn.
Wandered back to Seminyak along the main drag. The footpaths are still the death traps I recall, made worse by their indiscriminate use as passing lanes and parking spaces. In fact if traffic is not too heavy it is easier and no more dangerous to walk on the side of the road.
Back at the pool I found a spot in the shade just behind the barrier separating the hotel from the beach. An encampment of beach hawkers is well-established just over the boundary and they set up each morning with all the dignity that they would use if welcoming people to their own homes. A pair of iron-fingered Aunties is generally first to arrive. They sweep the sand around their massage tables. Then boys selling the latest batch of international newspapers pass, trying to catch the eye of anyone within range. Any hotel patrons who have previously succumbed to their exhortations and made any purchase are welcomed like members of the family.
The Aunties make their offerings at the shrine occupying the corner of the hotel forecot. The hotel’s written direction to guests not to engage in haggling with the hawkers across the boundary is frequently ignored, as the boys hawk loads of cheap watches, belts, wallets, knives and the rest. One would imagine the demand for this tat would be minimal but I suppose the beach hawkers are part of the Bali magic and the transaction worth more as an experience than the rubbish to be carted home.
Around sunset I walked down the beach to ‘Double Six’, past the bungy jumpers and the shell of Sing Ken Ken hotel, and back up Jalan Legian. Found a little massage place off the main road and had a one hour reflexology session. Now feeling fully relaxed.
Along Jalan Dyana Pura I came across a little restaurant that I’d seen recommended somewhere – ‘Antique’. Given the food thus far had been disappointing, I decided to give it a go. Tom Yum soup was fresh and spicy and a Javanese chicken curry was pleasant. Back at the Pelangi Bali, I almost fell asleep with a glass of Balvenie whisky in my hand.