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.
There are some annoyances. Mainly the hassle factor.
"The price doesn't matter if I don't actually want one."
"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?
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.