After landing in Bali, making it through the visa, immigration and customs process and out the door, I finally find a working ATM. There’s one on one side of the airport entrance for MasterCard and one on the other for Visa. I head on over to Visa and withdraw 1,500,000 Indonesian Rupiah because this pretend job is just so darned lucrative (or maybe it’s because that’s only about US $115; I forget).
I step outside to negotiate for a taxi. I’m headed to Jimbaran Bay as a friend of mine is staying at the Intercontinental on business (oh so fancy) and has invited me to shack-up with her for a couple of days. While the sign at the taxi desk inside lists the price as 100,000 Indonesian Rupiah (IR) or about $7.72, I’m curious see if I can get a cheaper price outside. When I step outside and talk to the men who are offering me rides (taxi drivers, I assume and not simply creepy guys offering strange women rides), I’m given the low-low price of IR150,00. Wait, that’s more than inside. After starting to walk away, I eventually get them to match the inside price. It’s tough to negotiate a cheaper price when you’re asking for a ride to the Intercontinental.
By the end of the twenty-minute ride to the hotel, my driver, Wayan, and I are great friends and he’s told me about some interesting places to go in Bali, as well as congratulating me on remaining single.
We pull into the hotel and I’m reminded of my former careers in corporate meeting planning and tour managing, as I stayed in some fabulous hotels. I exit the car, grab the key my friend Gina has left at the front desk, and am escorted up to the room. It’s fantastic. I immediately take my bathing suit from my luggage and head down to the pools to investigate. When I say pools, I mean all six of them. Plus, of course, the largest pool, the Indian Ocean.
I spend the next hour jumping from pool to pool exploring the pathways and waterfalls within. Balinese statues spit water out of their navels while fish sculptures spew water onto my back, massaging away any leftover tension.
I make my way over to the Sunset Beach Bar where I enjoy the piña colada I’ve been craving for a week, before moving over to the tables placed under beautiful dim, colored lighting to enjoy some Mahi Mahi and a couple of beers. I honestly don’t want the second beer but, the scene is so beautiful I don’t want to leave and it feels weird just sitting there. The only thing ruining it is the table of, what appears to be, Japanese students who are screaming and toasting so loudly that they’re making it difficult to hear the beautiful music and crashing waves. This is not Carlos and Charlies, people! I want to walk over to their table and give them lessons in restaurant etiquette. (God, I sound old.)
I head back to the room (my friend Gina is still working) to take my first bath since Germany in January. I mean, I’ve showered and stuff since them (really, I’m not that smelly), but tonight I lounge in a luxurious bathtub.
This morning, I wake up and head out of the beautiful resort to see explore a bit. I really don’t want to leave this cocoon, but you don’t pay me to lounge around a resort and tell you about each of the swimming pools. Wait, you don’t pay me at all. Hmmmm. I head out to explore anyway. I walk up the main road outside the hotel, buy a SIM card, check out a cheaper hotel in case I return to this area on the way to the airport, and have some lunch at Balique, a local restaurant (I highly recommend the orange juice, carrot juice and ginger concoction). I chance a Greek salad although I know they wash the vegetables in the water which I’m not supposed to drink if I don’t want to get sick. Between the vegetables washed in iffy water and the coconut water direct from the coconut which I later drink, I’m sure to have no irregularity problems. (Have I over-shared?)
Following lunch, I head back to the hotel for some quality beach and pool time. I lay on a beach chair writing and drinking my coconut water, take a dip in more of the swimming pools with water circulated by spewing fish and waterfalls, and relax.
A few hours later, it’s time to get out of the resort and check out the surrounding village of Jimbaran. I’ve signed up for a bike tour offered by the hotel. As I check in at the activity hut I meet my guide, Gedae (pronounced the Australian way, as in, “G’day mate!”). This tour is offered to all hotel guests for the nominal fee of IDR100,000++ including the bike rental, which is actually IDR20,000 less than renting a bike without a guide for two hours. As I’m the only one who’s signed up for the sunset ride, my tour is private.
Gedae and I hop on our bikes and head out of the resort and onto the busy street. I follow close behind, as motor bikes and cars pass us. I use my Indian street-walking skills (wait, not the dirty kind of street-walking) knowing that as nobody is driving too fast, I should be okay as long as I don’t make any sudden moves. Ten-minutes later, we arrive at a temple complex containing three temples; Pura Puseh, Pura Desa and Lan Bale Agung. We walk inside where Gedae explains the importance of temples in Balinese communities – the temple is the main part of their life. We step past offerings which people leave each morning. Gedae explains that offerings left for gods include food, sweets and flowers. I notice a few offerings with small rolled papers. Thinking they’re prayers, I step closer. Gedae says, “Oh yes, sometimes cigarettes too.” Apparently some of the gods have yet to kick the habit.
We climb back on our bikes and continue riding. The people here are wicked friendly and they smile at me as I ride past. Even a policeman directing traffic shouts out, “Hello!”
Gedae shows me a temple which seems to have some beautiful sculptures and is currently being restored.
“How old is it?” I ask.
“Built around fifty years ago,” I’m told.
Hmmm, somehow it’s less impressive when it’s not so old.
After a bit more riding, we arrive at the beach of a fishing village. The small fishing boats resting at anchor on the calm water makes for a picturesque scene. We’re here to watch sunset which should take place in about forty-five minutes. It should, if there weren’t clouds covering the horizon. As it probably won’t be a spectacular sunset tonight, I ask Gedae if I might buy him a beer and a snack.
We lock the bikes and walk down onto the beach and take a seat at a local restaurant serving the catches of the day. I look at the menu and notice that they have no snacks or appetizers, only meals. And these meals cost the equivalent of over US$70 for two people. I apologize explaining that I’m a poor writer (hard to get that point across when you’re staying at the Intercontinental) and that I can only afford to buy him a beer. He graciously accepts.
We share beers and watch the non-sunset while I ask him questions about religions, geography and culture in Indonesia. He teaches me some important words in Indonesian like, “Check please,” and we sing along to the piped music playing, Love Hurts.
Just as we’re leaving, a band arrives to set up. While I wish we could stay, I take a moment to take a photo of the banjo player (what? The banjo player in Bali?) and we head off on two wheels into the sunset.
I take one last dip in the pool tonight before heading off to meet Gina for dinner in the resort where a small show of Balinese dancers surprises us during dinner. India seems like a year ago and Germany a lifetime. So many experiences, so many new friends, so many lessons learned.
Stay tuned tomorrow for a trip to Ubud
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