Monday, 15 September 2008

Asia Update #1 - Bali

It's only been 5 days since we landed here but it feels like a month with so many new things to take in. The main things so far have been cheap food and beer, motor scooters, heat and monkeys. So many monkeys...

Couch surfing has been awesome, it's great staying with people that live here so you don't just see things that are in Lonely Planet, and you know how much stuff is actually worth. Made a few good friends and have offers to stay again on our way back from Lombok.

Ubud was our first couchsurf, with an artistic Italian couple who were really cool and living in an amazing open air house. We went for a walk through rice paddies, scooter expeditions at night through the fields, saw temples, and visited the awesome Monkey Forest - twice. There are no cages, you just wander around and feed the monkeys or they jump on you, check out the photos: (Ben has some more really good ones which I will hassle him to get online).

On Saturday afternoon we headed to Jimbaran (which is just south of Kuta and the main airport) to stay with a local girl, Tia. Yesterday we hired more scooters and finally got to spend the day at the beach, where I promptly got fried to a crisp. (Yes Mum I used sunscreen, and spent the whole time in the water or under an umbrella so I don't know how it happened). The beach was called Dreamland and although populated entirely by tourists, was appropriately amazing.

Today we braved the insane traffic to ride into Denpasar and see the animal market, where they have a bunch of monkeys and birds cruelly cooped up in cages or chains waiting to be sold. Tia bought a monkey from there a month or two ago to give it a better life but it died last week.

The traffic is absolutely mental, road rules are optional and all the space not taken by cars is filled with an endless stream of scooters. You just keep straight, watch the space in front of you, and hope to God everyone else knows what they are doing.

Anyway that was fun, and we're getting used to the heat although now I have to wear long pants and shoes since my legs are burnt and my feet blistered from sandals. Currency is still weird, since $1 is roughly 10,000 rupiah so there's just way to many zeroes on everything. Mie goreng and a longneck of Bintang (the standard fare these days) will cost about 25,000Rp or $3. Scooters cost $5 a day to rent, and $2 to fill the tank.

The plan is to spend a few more days in Bali, then head to Lombok (the next island over) and get our diving qualifications. Then we'll come back through Bali, across to Jakarta and on from there.

Until next time...

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