Monday, September 13, 2010

The Bali Report

Could you point me in the direction of the postcard rack?

The Missus, the kid and I returned to Melbourne on Saturday from a week in Bali. We had a lovely time thanks. While there, I pondered the place, its inhabitants and visitors.

Bali has a bit of a reputation as an Aussie bogan destination (rounding out the top 3 with Phuket and the Gold Coast). This is partly true. There are many Aussie bogans there. Many. Barreling through all cultural convention sporting Bintang singlets, board shorts and braided hair. Fortunately, the vast majority are confined to either Kuta or Kerobokan prison. And it's easy to avoid them.

Like in all countries, the best thing to do to avoid the tourists traps and the bogans is to actually turn down a side street once in a while. Or travel to some village or town that isn't listed in the glossy pamphlets or the Lonely Planet. Or hire a bike and pedal through regions seemingly unexplored by western tourists. This is greatly rewarded in Bali as there is an abundance of brilliant things to see: isolated beaches, fascinating Hindu temples, food markets, fishermen, farmers, mountains, volcanoes, rice terraces, jungles and monkeys. And people just going about their business.

This man wasn't in Lonely Planet but we found him anyway

Now I'm not suggesting that we didn't live it up to some extent, or that I'm one of those hardcore travellers who sleeps in some rat infested shack on a lonely beach smoking joints and only eats food cooked by a wizened old Balinese man who speaks no English other than 'Mister' and makes a mean nasi campur. In fact we stayed in some lovely hotels with pools, restaurants and laundry service. After all, we had a 5 year old boy with us whose ideal holiday consisted of playing with his action figures in the shallow end.

A monkey considering a dive with a 5.5 degree of difficulty

There are some annoyances. Mainly the hassle factor.



"Tomorrow maybe?"


"Good price."

"The price doesn't matter if I don't actually want one."

"Best price."

"Again, irrelevant."

"Where are you going?"

"I wouldn't consider that your business."


"We just did this."

And then there's the laborious haggling.

"One hundred and fifty thousand rupiah sir."

"How about 70 thousand?"

"No sir. I cannot make money at that price. 100,000."

"80,000." (Going through the motions.)

"Oh sir, my last price is 90,000."



Why can't they just put a price on it?

The locals react to poor haggling skills

Interestingly, during the return flight, on September 11, I managed to watch a documentary on the September 11 terrorist attacks on the in-flight channel. This included various shots of planes smashing into buildings. Fortunately my son was busy breaking records on Angry Birds.

You put your left foot in...the pot


Dr. Golf said...

Qantas flight 20, Denpasar
Meals and accom', Rent-a-car
I've been to Bali
I've been to Bali too

Took a two week course at a suntan clinic
So Lying round leggy and I wouldn't look anaemic
And you can't impress me
Cause I've been to Bali too

Got a ride out to Kuta in the back of a truck
Cost me twenty dollars and it wasn't worth a buck
Hustled to a lossman down poppy's lane
By a Javanese guy in a tropical rainstorm, Lock up your daughters
I've been to Bali too

Life is tragic hanging out at Kuta
If you haven't got a car, bike or a scooter
Show me the bike shop
I've been to Bali too

Got myself a Honda, had to get away
No brakes, bald tyres, five thousand
Rupes a day
I've been to Bali too.

Well I don't ride a bike much home in Australia
As a motorcycle hero guess I'm a failure
Bemos to the left, trucks to the right
The Honda was a wreck but I was alright, hello mecurochrome
I've been to Bali too

Wired home for money, short of cash
A dose of Bali belly and a tropical rash
Daddy came through - American express
Bali t-shirts magic mushrooms Redgum bootlegs
I've been to Bali too

Took my bag and mozzie coils to Peliatan
It's there were my Bali trip really began
Been there, done that
I've been to Bali too

Tourists from Holland, Britain and France
Late night puppet shows, leg on dance
Want to see my slides?
I've been to Bali too.

Well I wandered off to Ubud, just a little up the track
One week there didn't want to come back
Listening to Gamelon playing guitar
Janteris, tacos, Hotel Monara, two month visa
I've been to Bali too.

Flying Kangaroo out Denpasser
Left me camera in the airport bar
I've been to Bali
I've been to Bali too

Touch down, touch down Tullamarine
Sprayed me on the plane so I'd be real clean
Coming though customs
I've been to Bali too

Went through my bags like McCartney in Japan
I didn't have a thing so I didn't give a damn
You can't trick me
'Cause I've been to Bali too

You've been to Paris and you've been Boston
You've been to Fiji and you've been to London
But you can't impress me
'Cause I've been to Bali too

wari lasi said...

I've been to some really interesting places in Thailand and all over Asia lately, but I just can't tell a story like you Bob. The haggling bit in Thailand is limited to them punching numbers into a calculator, showing it to you and you nodding or shaking your head. Getting off the beaten track is nice but NO ONE speaks English so you need to have a translator with you or you're pretty well fucked.

patchouligirl said...

"you want bemo, you want massage, plait your hair?"

My first husband was fairly buff and the Balinese were scared of him so all he had to do was give them a fixed stare and smile and they would back off. He is the only bloke I've ever known to look marvelous in a sarong and I still have a photo to prove it.

I've been twice. I loved Ubud and a spot on the East coast called Padang Bai, which is the main port to the next island Lombok. I recommend the Rai Beach Inn at Padang Bai if it's still there. The beach is littered with little colourful catamarans and grass hut restaurants with sand floors.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Good to you see back and posting Bob.

Now, if only we can coax Perseus out of his fortress of brooding solitude.

Puss In Boots said...

Dude! Angry Birds rocks!

Lewd Bob said...

Thanks for that trip down memory lane Dr Golf.

Wari, the Missus and I once hired a car in Bangkok and drove, circuitously, to Chang Mai. My goodness what a suicidal sport that turned out to be. Maniacal drivers, gun-wielding militants along the Burmese border, murderously pot-holed roads. But the nameless villages in between and the ancient ruins and wonderful countryside made it all worthwhile.

Ubud is brilliant PG, my favourite place. Angry birds does indeed rock Puss (the Kid and I are addicted) and Ramon, good luck with the coaxing.

squib said...

I've never been to Bali and I think this makes me a bit special

Everywhere I go in this house, there's someone playing Angry Birds

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I've never been to Bali either, Squib.

I don't "do" tropical heat.

Puss In Boots said...

I've never been to Bali, and I don't intend on going.

I'm trying to work out where to go on the honeymoon next year - so many places, so little time! How to choose?!

wari lasi said...

I don't "do" tropical heat.

Do a year in the tropics Ramon and you'll never want to do a winter (except for a skiing holiday) again.

wari lasi said...

Bob, you are an adventurous type. That would have been a great trip but in the remote areas how did you go communicating? I've now done a fair bit of driving around North Eastern Thailand, around Udon Thani, Nong Khai and the Mekong border with Laos, and as soon as you get to a populated place driving is a complete nightmare. The villages are great though and the food is fantastic and incredibly cheap.

I'm back there next week as a matter of fact, via KL, where I've never been before.

I've not been to Bali but reckon I will one day just to have a look.

Lewd Bob said...

how did you go communicating?

I think I was drunk.

wari lasi said...

I'm trying to work out where to go on the honeymoon next year

Puss, haven't you just come back from some gigantic European jaunt?

wari lasi said...

I think I was drunk.

Ahh, the universal language.

Anonymous said...

I won't be able to make any suggestions, sorry Puss. I'm the sort of person who doesn't go anywhere unless there's a pressing need to.

Also, Angry Birds?

patchouligirl said...

I loved Bali so it stands to reason you would hate it Puss, because we are opposites on everything except unsolicited mechanics stickers.

Using this reasoning, Paris doesn't appeal to me much as a travel destination so you'd probably love it.

Puss In Boots said...

Yes, Wari, I spent 3.5 months travelling from Chile up to Mexico, and then the same amount of time travelling around Europe. It was a great trip, if not a little lonely at times, because I was by myself the whole time.

And yes, Patch, I loved Paris. It was amazing. But Barcelona was my favourite European city. I would fly back there just to go to the food market (La Boqueria).

patchouligirl said...

Regarding the haggling over price, the best idea is to do most of your shopping at the end of your trip, when you've got a bit of a suntan. Otherwise they know you've just arrived and jack the prices up accordingly.