Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Bali

I think more Americans would come to the southern hemisphere if they knew it was like this. Also if Hawaii and the Caribbean weren't, like, right there. This is the actual vacation-y part of my vacation. I don't see how Bali could really help being anything else. It's bloody hot, there are palm trees everywhere, and my hotel is 5 minutes from the beach. And everything is cheap. Really cheap. Bottled water goes for about 20 cents. Cocktails (the fancy ones with umbrellas) are less than four dollars, and can be gotten for much less at places other than my hotel bar, which is where I've spent a fair amount of my drinking time, largely because because it's next to a rather nice pool. The hotel is the best part: for the price of a Motel 6, I have my own room--with a nice, soft, king-sized bed, which stands in stark contrast to the last place I stayed--complete with TV, minibar, and a bathroom with a decent showerhead. This room is in a hotel that has two pools, both with swim-up bars, one of which is open 24 hours. My quest for the 24-hour bar ends right here in Kuta Beach.

Since being here I haven't strayed too far from the hotel, or at all from Kuta and Legian. Not that things have been dull. My first night here was spent at said 24-hour bar, where I decided to work my way through the table top cocktail menu, a total of 9 cheesily-named tropical drinks. By the time I finished around 3, I'd made the acquaintance of a fair number of Aussies (I've only met one visitor here who wasn't Australian) staying there. The following day I explored the Kuta-Legian area, seeing what shopping was like and looking for the beach. I got lost. I think this will prove to be a common thread in my travel stories. I made it back to the hotel a few hours later with a newly-acquired tank top-shaped sunburn. I spent the rest of the day hanging out by the pool, hoping for the sun to come back out so I could try and even it out, with no luck. Weather has been the same each day: sunny in the morning, overcast in the afternoon and then rainy at night. I took a walk along the beach that night hoping for a nice sunset, again no luck. Then that night I met up with some of the guys I'd met the night before and we hung out at the hotel for a bit before heading out to Paddy's, where there was an open mic night that ran a lot like a karaoke bar. One of the guys I was with is a singer in a cover band at home in Melbourne, so he spent a bit of time up there. The one time they convinced me to go up he'd chosen an Australian song that I didn't know. That was fun.

I don't really remember the rest of the night, but I do know what the aftereffects were the following day. I was woken up by the phone at 11 by someone who'd come by to pick me up for the surfing lesson I'd signed up for. I still wasn't, um, thinking clearly and made the (poor) decision to actually go. Needless to say, I didn't really come away with much surfing know-how, though I did acquire a couple of really bad bruises and a tan line from my board shorts, which was the result of trying to take a nap during a "break" that extended to the end of my lesson. Yep, money well-spent. After that, I hung out all afternoon with a Canadian I'd met there, walking around looking for the internet cafe I'd visited the day before because I'd left my passport there. We got lost, of course--all the streets here look the same, and they curve around so you're heading in a completely different direction than you thought you were!--and the entire venture lasted several hours. I was eventually reunited with my passport, which had been taken home by the guy who'd worked there the night before. He dropped it off at the hotel and demanded 150,000 Rupiahs (17 or 18 US$) for it. A small price to pay really, considering. Oops. It has to be the stupidest way to lose a passport ever, too. I took it out and used it as a fan because it was so frickin' hot.

I've spent most of my time since reading and watching movies. Tomorrow night I fly to Perth and will have to reacclimate myself to a backpacker lifestyle (or at least my version of it). And as for being able to confirm or deny reports that water swirls the other way when you flush the toilet in this hemisphere, my hotel toilet isn't the swirly kind. Better luck in Perth, I guess. Assuming I remember which way it's supposed to go in the first place.

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