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island of the gods - Bali

PHILIPPINES | Thursday, 1 January 2009 | Views [1408]

i landed at the famed island on the wee hours of the morning last dec 27. i was about to meet my friend, but he arrives late in the evening. so ive got all day for meeself.i wanted to poke around alone to practice my bahasa indonesia. thinking its just as small as boracay island (philippines), i was in for a shock. i took a cab from kutta beach to canggu, where the icononic tanah lot is. by heavens, the cab ride cost me 210,000 rp (about 600 pesos). not worth it, dont get me wrong, the view is spectacular, but i only get to take a few shots i needed to fly back to kutta because i booked a bus ride to ubud. i missed my ride. so i needed to sit still and wait for a few more hours. i decided to check out the beach. its weird i dont get to see, hear, smell and feel the beach from where i am seated- the starbucks chaise.

first off, i needed to eat, my stomach was waging war against me. i was looking for a place where i can grab cheap meal. 'there are warungs there,' a friend tipped me. warungs are small 'canteens' to our standard. cheap yet they serve genuine javanese and balinese meals.

after a full meal i decided to walk towards the beach (or i thought was the direction towards the beach). i followed the dripping men carrying boards of different shapes and sizes. really you can get lost here. buildings are as high as malls and alleys go on forever. its not the typical puerto or boracay (famous beaches in the philippines) scene wherein you smell, hear and feel the beach. no sands to signify hey this is beach area.

in short i was a bit scene shocked (not culture shock, been living in indonesia for quite some time, but i was surprised to see a very few locals). anyway after a ten minute scorching hot walk. i finally saw the beach. its not so inviting.

strong current and surf, the sand is not as white as they say, the beach is somewhat dirty too. there were hawkers everywhere. when i say hawkers they really are, they'll hawk til u scratch your eyeballs out.

after a few minutes i was on my way to ubud. a village said to be the heart of balinese art. as i biked around, im quite disappointed to see foreign shops lining along side of art shops. there were CK, DG, Ripcurl etc. well they spoiled the quiant peaceful atmosphere. i originally planned to stay overnight but i decided against it. i visited small art galleries and the Ubud museum. i fell in love with balinese art. after a few more bike trips i went back to catch the bus ride back to kutta. on our way we saw a roadside gathering of hindus, in time for their sunset prayer. they were seated by the road (creating a well received traffic) a priest showers them with flowers and water. in front of the crowd is the famous bull god.

the trip to ubud is around an hour and a half. but the traffic in denpasar is so heavy. we arrived in kutta around 9pm. i was getting worried about my friend not showing up so i decided to call an amal, an english speaking ojek driver(a motorcyce) whom a friend of mine referred. i asked him to help me look for a cheap place to crash just in case my friend doesnt show up. my chances are a little slim because it was holiday season after all. fortunately my friend saved me from my dilemma and finally gave me ring. he just landed in denpasar and he is on his way to Bali Dynasty. so i headed to the 4 star hotel and met him up. took a badly needed bath then headed on to check out the night spots. unfortunately it rained. my long thin dress was no match to the heavy rain falls so we decided to go back and grab our jackets. we walked an excruciating 20 or 30 minutes along the coast looking for a good bar. not quite happening. we ended up at hard rock, were surprisingly the in house band are filipinos - the redemption, a rock show band.

they were awesome, a relief from the none too great local bands. we met the bassist of the band (forgot his name teehee) so great to hear and speak tagalog! after a few self induced dances, two pitchers and two sets, we headed (light headedly) back to bali dynasty. havent slept a wink for 26 hours straight and my friend just came straight from kuala lumpur, soon enough we were snoring to each other. I was risen out of my coma by a phone call. it was near noon. i decided to dress up and explore the wonderful hotel. i left my snoring friend at his retreat (i am not too keen on waking a drunk snoring man). so i lounged by the pool area, drank coffee and read chinua achebe. my growling stomach reminded me to go back and drag my friend somewhere we can eat. we headed to a nearby warung. not the same one where i ate. its a little upscale. i wanted my friend to try a local dish, beef rendang. it was heaven and hell. its delicious and tender and spicy!

after the sumptuous meal we went to the beach and get our hands on one of the boards. not too good because people are everywhere like swarming flies. i decided against surfing and took on the role of photographer. we wanted to wait for sunset, but we got bored and headed back to the hotel to take a dip at the immense pool. the pool is like an oasis in the dessert. its jam packed. i lounged by the 'lounge pool.' chatted away with some westerners. this is the life i may say, i grabbed a cocktail drink to top it off.

time flew and my friend almost missed his flight. he needs to go back to KL. we parted ways. after prepping up i went to the irish pub then moved to paradiso bar. endured a couple of 'insisted' drinks, a bad band, worst conversations, even worse looks, then i headed back to the hotel before dawn. i booked a trip to padang bai, which i missed once again. i was on the 10 am trip packed with backpackers with oversized backpacks and oversized boards. the trip is around 2 hours. we arrived around lunch time. i headed to look for a beach front hotel. there were a lot. and they are way cheaper than kuta's. mine particularly is just 70,000 rupiah around 350 pesos. spacious, clean, western bathroom that has an open roof. quite nice ;) i immediately collapsed into the bed and dozed off. woke up around 2pm to my growling stomach. i went out to grab a meal and biked around. i found a great reggae bar to hang out later that night. i biked more towards the pura. but its too far i biked back and decided to just lay by the beach and watch the sunset. i took a couple of shots with my camera then i headed back to my room.

i met a couple of german divers. amazingly they speak bahasa indonesia. they invited me to go with them to the bar. padang bai might not be as upscale as its sister, kutta. but i like it better here. i felt the beach vibe here more than in kutta. people know each other and reggae music has never sounded better. i left the bar after a couple of bali hai. i can hear the ocean from my room. this is more like it. i got a good night's (or morning's since its technically morning) sleep.

Tags: bali, bali dynasty, denpasar, indonesia, kutta, padang bai, pura tanah lot, ubud

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