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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Motor-scooting Bali

INDONESIA | Tuesday, 21 October 2014 | Views [785]

After a rigourous journey through the Indonesian heart, Bali comes as a welcome surprise. Coming from relatively unvisited parts of Indonesia, Bali comes as an unpleasent surprise. Coming from well-ordered countries such as NZ and the US, Bali comes as an adventurous surprise. Having been to Norfolk Island, Bali comes as a huge surprise! Why? I shall explain respectively. At many bus stations I've had simple meals of rice, veggies or chicken prepared in (likely) less-than-hygenic conditions, and one too many cups of coffee overloaded with sugar and instant coffee mix. After spending time in Java where you'll be pestered by the odd tout or taxi driver, you quickly realize in Bali they swarm you like an annoying group of flies. I've never driven a motor vehicle alone or had a driver's license; in Bali "your money is your license" (in Ning's words). On a map, Bali appears to be about the size of Norfolk Island but it's gigantic! Even with a motor-scooter or a vehicle, it takes several hours to drive across the island in any direction, and don't expect to get anywhere quickly. Bali has it all! Cheap massages, vegan food, tacky tourist kitsch, hustlers, postcards, annoying taxi drivers, colonic therapy, cheap dental work, and an abundance of alcohol, cheap sex, and a mixture of visitors so diverse that you'd never want to taste the mixture if you blended all of them together! Having arrived in Bali yesterday I nearly punched a taxi driver, got ripped off on a bus, and ended up in a coffee shop with coffee so tasty I thought I died and went to heaven. Kim, from Florida is hosting me here in Bali. She's an interesting lady whom I met at Shannon and Rob's in March (check out my entry Linwood & the Digbys). She's been living in Bali for the past few months but by the sounds of it she's ready to leave. Kim picked me up on her motor-scooter and we immediately stopped for something to eat. Pumpkin lasange was divine topped with chutney and a side of salad.

Bali was supposed to be a week of detox but I'm tempted to have a blast with the food, though I've promised myself at least one full day of fasting, silence, and rest. Kim and I spoke in deeper detail about what's it's like living here. She first arrived in June and said the Balinese are all about money, money, and more money! As in the rest of Indonesia rubbish is a constant issue here, highlighted by a girl heaving her plastic bag from a motor-scooter when she was done drinking from it. Kim's pad is awesome! The windows and doors all open so you're living in tune with nature, and geckoes crawl around on the ceiling. 

Today I decided I would hire and drive a vehicle for the first time in my life. Being in a third-world country I knew I was unlikely to be asked for a license. At only 50,000 rupiah ($5) per day it's a real bargain, and petrol is only about 60 cents a litre. In a scooter it lasts a very long while! After a short test ride, off I was! Kim warned me that if I've never driven before, Bali isn't the place to learn. Throughout my life I've had people be paranoid of me doing things that would be simple to everyone else, such as driving and swimming. The chances of anything happening are exceedingly unlikely. You must remember, my loyal readers, that I've done nearly everything in my life via persistence. With my right hand on the throttle I drove into Ubud for something to eat, opting for pizza and a glass of local sauvignon blanc. Sauve blanc made on Bali tastes somewhat sweeter and a lot more acidic than in New Zealand. Though Bali is up there with Tijuana, Cancun, Las Vegas, and Ibiza as a party destination, alcohol is really expensive here. All three of these countries I've visited tax alcohol heavily, and even though it's Bali there's no leniency. After lunch and a cup of coffee I hit the throttle and drove toward the rice terraces. There are many of these rice terraces on Bali but these are perhaps some of the most beautiful. My ears have been badly clogged since arriving in Malaysia; I don't know if it's the climate or what, but it's annoying and difficult to hear. Here at the rice terraces I got perhaps my best photo in Indonesia.

From the rice fields I called in at a luwak coffee farm and sampled more than a dozen different types of coffee and tea.

On offer is ginger coffee and tea, coconut coffee, saffron tea, and so forth with a sample of Bali coffee at the end. Though I first sampled luwak coffee in Jogja, I saw in deeper detail how the beans are washed several times and then roasted. Coffee is very labour-intensive and a complex process; many of you don't think about how little coffee plantation workers are paid and the effort that goes into your $5 morning latte. Before setting off I wanted another photo with a civet.

Filled up with caffeine from 14 different teas and coffes, I hit the throttle and rode as far north as possible. The climate gets noticeably cooler the further north you go, and I turned around once I spotted a police checkpoint. Kim said to avoid the touristy areas (Kuta, lakes, etc.) unless I want to get fined for not having a license. Today I did so much driving that I nearly used a full tank, but I can't complain much when it's only about $1.60 to fill it. For dinner I wasn't sure where to go though I was back in Ubud. Earlier I had pizza so I wasn't up for that, so I called in at the same restaurant Kim and I went yesterday and got pumpkin lasagne with a side of papaya juice. My first day ever driving a motor vehicle alone went well, although I reckon I still prefer my bicycle. In two days here I reckon I like Ubud. It doesn't have the reputation of revelry that the rest of Bali has and there's a good variety of food! Tomorrow I shall hop on my motor-scooter and be on the road again. 


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