"Photo: Konopka" means, that Klemens made the Photo with his digital camera. The underwater pictures are taken with the underwater camera decribed in the text. The other photos were mainly shot with a carena AF zoom70.
All pictures can be enlarged by mouse click.
After the superbowl we didn't go to bed but to the railway station, because the Garuda flight at 06.50 pm had been changed to Malaysia Airlines at 12.00 am. And from Hamburg to Frankfurt it takes 4 hours in the train. The 747 had monitors in the front seat providing about 8 films that I was not interested in. I listened to some repetitions of the classical music and may have slept a little. The connecting flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bali also passed without any problem. The transfer to the hotel was not easy to find, because we had booked the hotel "Paradise Cottages" and our drivers displayed a sign "Sorga Cottages".
Some years ago all hotels had to choose Indonesian oder Balinese names. Sorga means rather heaven than paradise. The Hotel Sorga is located in Jalan Sorga between Poppies 1 and 2, in central Kuta, but silent. We didn't regret to have chosen the cheapest in the list of all hotels that were bookable together with the flight. The other guests were not all tourists but also business people who stayed for longer periods. Luxury facilities as pool, air condition, toilet paper, daily cleaning and daily new towels are usually not provided in my accomodations. So the pool and the AC stayed unused. We made a long walk on the beach along Tuban up to the first public way south of the hotels. After a first Nasi Goreng spesial I made the bars until 11.00 pm. My sickness at night however was just caused by the shrimps in the rice.
Having got up just in time for breakfast, we were too late for a full day trip. So we booked Uluwatu with Perama at 04.00 pm. Still in Kuta the small bus ran out of fuel. After some waiting we got a replacement, even with AC. When we arrived, the rain was just stopping, and we could take pictures of the temple and the cliff. The monkeys there are trained on glasses. All spectacle wearers were warned, but I was the only one who didn't have it snatched away. Klemens wanted to see the monkey dance Kecak, and I went to a bale because some dark clouds were approaching. The monkey dance turned out to be a very effective rain dance. The building without walls hardly provided any shelter from the horizontal rainstorm. The dance was canceled, but we didn't all reach the bus until the rain was over. Drenched as we were, we had to ask the driver to turn out the air condition.
We went up and down the beach. I snorkeled as well, but didn't see anything of interest. Finally we visited Markus Niesen (Bali Discovery). For both ways we took the Perama shuttlebus. Bemos are less comfortable, and we would have had to change in Denpasar (Tegal).
In the morning we walked the beach north, further than Jalan Melasti. The new beach road was mainly frequented by bicycles due to a tollgate, thus rather tranquil. Then a tour in the afternoon, not organized by our quite dispensable agency but with the next tour guide in the street, which is much cheaper. Taman Ayun, Alas Kedaton and Tanah Lot were our destinations.
The entrance fees for most sights were still quite low at 3100 rupiah, maybe for the domestic tourists. Usually we give more when a undefined donation is expected. In the monkey forest Alas Kedaton the monkeys are less dangerous than in Uluwatu, but I like the big bats even better. A guide girl was included in the fee, and of course we were invited to her shop after the walk. Tanah Lot was cloudy once more. A metal bridge reached from the right outside the temple rock. Apparently they bring out more tetrapods building a reef to protect the temple. We were told, the building would not affect the appearance of the temple, because it will be below the water level.
Because I don't like to telephone in foreign languages and didn't get along with the device in my room, I asked the doorman to phone Yuliati House in Ubud and announce us. I also didn't know whether the homestay still existed at all. So we got registered and went by shuttlebus to Ubud. As far as I remember the old lady showing us the rooms was topless. In more countrified areas the old women reportedly go totally naked.
So it cannot be true that the Balinese people feel offended by topless Tourists. The women just must not be too young. But back to Ubud. I love to spend hours in the local monkey forest. Besides the monkeys and tourists a large banyan tree and the temple on the cemetery hill are worth seeing. On this day a small pond in the central square was well filled with water and the monkeys jumped into it from a little tree. In the evening we watched the Balinese dance performance at the Ubud palace. Aji, as the father is called in our host family, criticised us for not visiting another presentation, where one of his daughters danced at the same time. He should have pointed this out to us more explicit and earlier.
The way from Tebesaya to Pejeng in part rises steeply, but after you come up from the river valley, you pass rice fields and original Bali. In the Moon-of-Bali-Temple we met Ngakan Made Dana, who had shown me the surrounding area already in 2000.
He guided us higgledy-piggledy through kitchen gardens and rice paddies, over narrow dams and steep paths, showed us numberless fruit trees, shrines and penjors and finally the cave with the holy spring. That two naked women were just bathing there with their children, didn't bother him or the women. We even were beckoned. Afterwards we were having tea and papaya in his farmyard. There he showed us his krises, a pair of knifes, one male and one female. They had both undecorated rough wooden handles and the waved blades were rusty. Over the way we visited Pura Kebo Edan. Then we went from Pejeng to Yeh Puluh, where a nice old lady greeted us and splashed us with holy water. After biding another shower, we went back to Ubud by bemo.
Klemens, for whom the previous day was too exhausting, relaxed in the homestay, while I went to the post office and the monkey forest. In the evening we were sitting in the warung across the street with two girls from the next bungalow and had some glasses of brem, which was unbelievably cheap and really good there. We found out that they both were from Hamburg too, though one of them was Japanese. They took lessons in legong from Yuliati. When I stayed there in 1999, there were just four rooms for tourists and everybody was watching television with the family in the evening. Now the number of the guest rooms has tripled. The badminton field and a part of the garbage slope are used for buildings, and Aji is wondering where to put up a pool. The contact of guests and family has decreased, but now dancing lessons are given. By the way: the music is sung, and our neighbours reported, that already the basic legong position is most difficult.
Address of Yuliati House: Jalan Sukma No. 10, Br. Tebesaya - Ubud 80571 - Bali - Indonesia Tel.: (62-361) 974 044, Email: yuliatihouse10atyahoo.com or gasy15atyahoo.com
The shuttle bus stopped in Anturan, in the east of the part of the north coast that is called "Lovina". Those few steps up to Gede´s Homestay we managed on foot even with our luggage. As in Ubud we took seperated rooms, because we both snore and the prices are low. During all the holiday we didn't feel the need to bargain hotel rates down. At Gede's we even got towels but in other respects the rooms were very simple.
At first we had a short walk on the beach. Longer walks are hardly possible, because the beach is not wider than a fishing boat is long and you have to climb across boats and outriggers. The walking space is also delimited by runnels without bridges. The beach is black and peopled by chicken and other domestic animals. The sea is normally smooth in the north and convenient for snorkeling, but when we were there, it was windy und rainy. Probably the rain had flushed much rubbish from the rivers to the sea. Anyway we resigned bathing and snorkeling. Instead we went for a walk to the village of Anturan. Tourists are still rare enough to make the children shout out "Hello, Hello". The old banyan tree, that last year killed a relative of Gede with a broken branch in a storm, had been cut to short stubs. Its breadth is still impressive and the temple besides the tree still exists either.
Gede, the boss himself, combed all sights of the region with us: Pura Beji, Gitgit water fall, Buddhist monestary, hot spring. We enjoyed the hot spring in particular. Unfortunately it started to rain again, so we didn't change clothes after the bath but entered the car all wet. Gede suggested to me to get married at last. Meanwhile he has gathered some experience with the formalities. Consistently he needs new staff, because the girls always get married by tourists. So maybe it was not pure coincidence that I met the cute Wina again, even though just for a minute?
When we were traveling towards my actual target, the wheater had become better and maybe snorkeling would have been possible now, but surely not as well as in the Blue Lagoon. The road along the north shore is long, and in the badly cushioned shuttle bus we almost hit the ceiling. After Culik, where a road branches off to Amed, the bus climbed into the mountains, and again and again we enjoyed overwhelming vievs across rice paddies to the valley or to the opposite peaks.
Finally arrived at Padang Bai we waived the service of the porters and accommodated in Jalan Silayukti at Kerti in a two-storied bamboo house built like a rice repository. This time one house was enough for us because of the possibility to use the couch downstairs instead of both beds on the upper floor.
It was just ten minutes walking from the hotel to the Blue Lagoon, and I shot a whole 36 picture film with my new underwater camera on the first day. We went for dinner to the Ozone, a non typical restaurant, where they mostly run blues music. It is high priced, but many regulars are willing to pay. We didn't come back. Then for a beer to Pak Pica and his Warung Kasandra. Also high prices and regulars who love to pay. The big round table, that is standing halfway on Jalan Silayukti, is also called Captain's Table, showing it is not just any warung but an institution. It is a meeting point for Europeans/Australians/New Zealanders, who live on Bali for a longer time, some having Balinese wifes. Foot and service are inessential. Who knows the place a bit, takes the beer from the freezer by himself. The empty bottles stay on the table to save the host from counting.
Pictures can not be processed in Padang Bai, so we went to Candi Dasa by bemo and delivered the underwater film. We spent the time of processing it at the lotus pond. There were roofs against the starting rain and we had an access to the beach or what is left over of it. Then two guys with fresh tuak showed up at the bale where we had settled. Already knowing the stuff I refused in thanks. Klemens tasted and decided it lousy as well. Then we went to have a tasteful drink and then to another restaurant for eating. The spicy fried noodles were not good for my stomach, but other than in all previous stays the Bali belly this year lasted just one day. Even so I lost some kilos of weight.
The photos being finished we went back to Padang Bai by bemo. The rain had become steady and a fallen tree was lying on the road; fortunately at a wide spot, so that the traffic could go besides. Our hotel room was partly drowned. The rain had reached just half a meter of the balcony upstairs, but for the floor sloping to the inside the water concentrated in the middle to drip down brown like tea off the ceiling timbers into the living room. Because no togs or bags were lying at the concerned places, it was not too bad. The beds also were save and dry. The hotel staff wiped the floor dry and distributed rags and buckets under the dripping spots, but with the next rain the mess returned. The ceiling lamp also being at a wet spot there was a short-circuit some days later. In the afternoon we had some sunny hours and went to the beach Bias Tugal westward from Padang Bai until the next thunder-storm approached.
Because Klemens does not swim, I spent the morning without him in the Blue Lagoon. The first series of underwater pictures had brought the result that the camera worked and the brightness as well as the sharpness were acceptable. It is a cheap camera with a plastic case that is kept waterproof by a rubber seal ring and two latches. The device by the producer Concord is called "Le Clic" und costs about 30 euro at Karstadt. You should approach very close to the fishes because the wide-angle can not be changed.
Then muddy water is less bothering, but in distances of less than a meter the sharpness goes down. The film counter works in steps of three and little reliable. In fact all films were transported faultless to the end and yielded 38 or 39 pictures, but the display once stopped at 15. So you have to count yourself. The instructions for use (the German version is a source of laughter) recommends 400 ASA, but 200 is also sufficient. The flash can be added, but when I tried it once, I failed because I didn't wait for the loading light to glow. It is not too obvious while diving, but looking at the pictures you see that everything below four meters gets blue.
In the afternoon a quite wimpy caipirinha and later some beers at Captain's Table.
We walked the through the village without a specific target and bought some salaks. Then I joined the chess players at the ferry port. They play on the ground, which is not only rather uncomfortable but also kind of dirty. In this environment I put my wallet, that is otherwise kept open in my bag, into a trouser pocket. In the evening we sent greetings via internet. It was not possible to post in the baliforum.com from the internet cafe at Ozone. In the german Indonesia-Forum.de I lifted the opinion, that tuak tastes lousy, to a majority.
This morning the offerings at our bamboo house were bigger than usual. Already knowing that a great dance ceremonie was planned for the night, we didn't take it as a method against the infiltrating rain. I used up the second underwater film in the morning. Overall I accumulated five films with 36 pictures each.
In the evening the film in my above-water camera was spent also, long before the barong appeared. But Klemens had his digital camera with him, providing some material for this report. I was not the only european to wear the full balinese costume. The other tourists were wearing displaced looking sarongs or at least a scarf around the hip. Before the performance started, the little children took possession of the prepared gamelan instruments, and they were not chased away until the real musicians took their seats. The procedure of the barong dance differed a little from the one I knew from Batubulan.
As an opening three young girls performed a bird dance. The costumes were glorious and the moves synchronous. I couldn't tell a lack of quality to the performances in Ubud, but I am no expert either. Then a witch appeared with a white flannel, who supposedly was casting out maledictions against the audience. Finally the barong showed up and overwhelmed her. The barong costume, that is worn by two persons, also was not worse than the ones in Batubulan or Ubud. The barong then had to fight some demons or animals. Those creatures were completely new to me. The first part of the ceremony was not very long. I even could have hold out longer on the low kerbstone, because I was sitting on a plastic bag with my shorts inside. It was a luck to have such a auxiliary pillow with me, and an advice for similar situations.
The two hour break gave some room for dinner. Afterwards we strolled to a tiny beach bar at the end of Jalan Silayukti that was just celebrating its reopening. Some semiprofessional musicians played and the singers were excellent too. When the bar crew continued the open air concerts every night, the standard faded distinctly. Later the same evening I had a look at the second part of the classical dances, while Klemens went to sleep. Two pretty girls were just performing the legong. Then two less pretty girls danced the legong, followed by two more legong dancers. Though other costumes were waiting in a queue, I soon turned back to the beach bar. "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" not being in the guitarist's repertoire, I sang a a-capella version together with the Dutch Daniela.
Padang Bai was too boring for Klemens. Snorkeling was not one of his favourites and to my suggestion, to go by bemo to Klungkung and to the bat cave, he preferred the immediate return to Kuta, maybe also for the better hotel. We had booked the first and last six nights in Kuta, because at least twelve overnight stays were part of the package with our flight. We had used only four of the first six nights, and I planned to use only four of the last six. Now Klemens had to pay some expensive nights, because he went back to Kuta early. The bamboo house now was 30000 rupiah a night for me alone instead of 40000 for two.
We had to clean our house at Kerti by ourselves. Much dirt was falling into the open bathroom especially to the washstand. The shower was just dripping and there was no toilet tank or toilet paper. For me the bricked water tank with the scoop made all these deficiencies good. Once I made it totally empty to let in clean water, but the water fleas came right out of the tap. Years ago in Kuta I found dead mosquito nymphs in the tap water of a cheap hotel. How much better are living water fleas! Without the big water tank I wouldn't have noticed them at all. It was virtually impossible to dry wet towels and togs at Kerti, maybe due to the many plants. When the sun shone on the balcony at Hotel Sorga, everything dried at once. And the breakfast was richer and the beds were made and the towels changed and so on. At our Kerti house only the upper floor was lockable and hotel staff only entered it to wipe up the rain water. The hotel consisted of a patio meanwhile filled with plants, that is framed by bungalows and two-storied bamboo houses. At the entrance there is a shop with the restaurant above. Breakfast is brought to the rooms after a paper with the order is handed to the kitchen. I am looking forward to spending a big part of my next Bali holiday at the same place.
Without Klemens I could concentrate on the Blue Lagoon totally uninhibited for the next five days. Though it is rather small, it never gets boring for me. I can find something new every day, and I also enjoy meeting the fishes again that I already know personally.
When snorkeling in the Blue Lagoon you are guaranteed to see: Moorish Idol, Surf Parrotfish, Brown Tang, Latticed Butterflyfish, Whitecheek Surgeonfish, Cornetfish, Feather Stars and different corals. Also present but not visible at first glance are: Trumpetfish, Crocodile Longtom, Clark's Clownfish, Threespot Dascyllus, Teardrop Butterflyfish, Melon Butterflyfish, Unicornfish, Shoulder Tang, juvenile Orbicular Batfish, Blackbelly Triggerfish, Giant Triggerfish, Black Boxfish, Indo-Pacific Sergeant, Scissortail Sergeant, Cuttlefish, Tassled Scorpionfish, Lyretail Anthias, Blue Damsel and more that are not easy to identify even with photos and a book.
The fish guide book is nearly as funny as the manual of the underwater camera (the German versions). The assumed see snake just was a Banded Snake Eel. Sometimes the water of the bay gets muddy when the waves are big, and getting the fins on becomes a problem (still easier than entering the surf with the fins already on). This morning there were hardly waves at all, but the surface of the water was consisting of little jellyfish that disappeared after some hours. In the afternoon I played a little chess and took part in the volley ball training until my clothes were completely soaked with sweat.
At first I swam out of the Blue Lagoon into the next bay to the left that is supposedly called Teluk Jepun. There I saw my first sea turtle. Then I snorkeled to the right along the lava rocks. People on a boat passing by advised me to return.
But there is nothing dangerous in the water, except maybe for the boats themselves. Their motors, however, are heard under water from a great distance. Many coral fishes have poison stings that are used defensively only. Also the sharks around Bali are harmless if not provocated. I have seen sea urchins always hiding in little holes in stones, so that a contact is not probable. The little jellyfish also proved to be harmless. Even the triggerfish known as aggressive did not pull. Only the little clown fish assault courageously when you come close to their anemone.
In those days a young Balinese died while snorkeling at the beach Bias Tugal. They found vomit in his snorkel and the course of events stayed obscure.There hadn't been a deadly bathing accident in the Padang Bai area since years. But often people get hurt while bathing in the strong surf.
In the evening after the obligatory visit at Captain's Table I had dinner at Puri Rai. It is just a bit upper classed than the surrounding restaurants. I took a seat beside the old french painter who dwelled in the same hotel as me, and I discovered that he lived in Germany, when he was not spending half a year on Bali. Nonetheless I could hardly understand his German. He gets up at five in the morning because then it is not yet to hot to paint. With sweaty fingers certain techniques are not possible.
According to my notations this day ran just as the previous, including the dinner with Jean-Marie. Since there was no rain for a while, the big puddle on Jalan Silayukti was slowly decreasing.
For a change I went to the black beach in the west of Bias Tugal this time. There I was told not to go into the water for the sharks. An unfounded warning, if the diving instructors are right. One of them saw one Bull Shark once in seven years and harmless species otherwise. And even at the black beach you have to be lucky to see a shark at all. However the whole beach that reaches many kilometers to the west looked kind of bleak: no tourists, just sand. I expected nothing great in the water too and went across the lava rocks back towards Bias Tugal. But there is no passable connection. Vicious cactuses denied a detour via the inland. I spent the next half hour picking the broken spikes out of my hands and feet. After a fruitless try to progress swimming with my bag above the head, I snorkeled on the spot then and even saw a sea horse (gone of course after I fetched the camera) and a Snowflake Moray. Then I went back the way I came. Dinner once more at Pak Pica. Mainly non-Indonesians with Indonesian wifes were present, and needless to say they suggested that I should take up with the waitress. On the one hand they love jokes of that kind on Bali, on the other hand you are not a full member of the community as long as you are not married. So my answer to the respective question is always "belum" (not yet).
Up to then I would always have recommended the Perama shuttle bus as the most convenient transport on Bali, but at the hotel Kerti I could book a cheaper transfer to Kuta. The name on the receipt might be read as "Wanen Bus". While Perama offices are easily found in every tourist place except Nusa Dua, I don't know where to find Wanen again. The small bus stopped in Ubud, Sanur and Kuta at the same spots as the Perama busses do. Already before reaching the hotel Sorga, I met Klemens in the street. He had chosen a room without AC, that was cheaper than our first room, but of the same size. I joined him, and it was not simple to explicate to the hotel management that we abstained from the better room. In the evening we enjoyed the Kuta sunset. Mainly at weekends the spectacle in the sky is beaten by the one on the beach. Hundreds of Indonesians, seemingly pupils, are carted there with busses, take photos of each other, enter the water in full clothes and vanish again already before the sun dives into the sea. The rainy season was hardly noticeable any more, sometimes there was a shower in the evening.
We made no more excursions in the last days of our vacation. Our travel agency finally became useful and reconfirmed the flight. They also gave the advice to get rid of pushy hawkers by saying "No, thank you". That seemed to us like a secret code, but by and by we had gained a thick skin and ignoring them would have helped as well. We checked the movie offers of the restaurants in Poppies 2 every day, but we found nothing worth seeing. The Lord of the Rings was given only when we had not that much time. It is very cheap to watch a film while eating, but normally the street and the other guests are too noisy. Instead we ate almost exclusively at Warung 96 (close to Poppies 2) and Bali Brasil (Jalan Benesari). While we felt sorry for some restaurants that always stayed empty, those two were full for lunch and dinner. We were surprised that "vegetable" normally meant carrots and green beans.
I had already found a wooden dolphin on the beach and bought a little basket with three bottles of brem at Pak Pica's, now I added a Ganesha made of stone, who is supposed to help me with my stock dealing, and a watch that I succeeded to bargain down to a quarter of the first price. And certainly two bags of Balinese coffee. Klemens had left a package of cookies in his bag on the floor of our hotel room, so we had the chance to study an ant trail. Even in the better hotels food should be hung up not to be found by the ants.
We spent two hours before noon in the shade under the watchtower of the lifeguards sponsored by the Hardrock Hotel on the only bench at Kuta Beach and we got a slight sunburn in the face. Possibly it was caused by the reflections of the sun from the sea. A special eye-catcher was a young tanned Japanese girl, that was sent out by the surfboard lenders, when Japanese tourists arrived. I supposed, she would act as a translater, but when I asked her to pose for a photo, I found out that she did not understand Indonesian, no English, not to mention German. In Kuta the beach hawkers speak Japanese quite well because the Japanese are the most profitable target group. I had my hair cut in the afternoon and from now on I had to be extra careful not to burn my ears.
Before packing I fetched my goods from the hotel safe, that I had deposited already before the depart to Ubud: money, ticket, wooden dolphin, jacket and rain jacket. Though I visit Bali mostly in the rainy season, I never used a rain jacket or an umbrella. At day time I wear shorts, t-shirt, sun shade and sandals. A bag with camera, sarong for temple visits and a bottle of water is always at hand. At night the trousers are long and sometimes the t-shirt is replaced by a shirt with collar and the sandals by gym shoes. While snorkeling I also use a t-shirt against the sun. I wear socks only when I want no flies on my feet, or when I want to touch a lot of dry clothes. The passport does not belong into the safe because it is needed for the registration at the hotels and incidentally for changing money. I had all money in cash with me again and needed only 250 Euro, in spite of consuming beer.
We wanted to photograph the big sculpture at the bypass, that shows Bima fighting with a snake. To do so, we had to cross a big road at first. The crossing was provided with traffic lights, but there were none for pedestrians (at the crossing Bypass/Hangtuah in Sanur only acoustic signs seem to be guiding the pedestrians?). In a moment a policeman, who had noticed our uncertainty, stopped the traffic for us. Then we went south along the bypass. On the other side there was a big shopping center (Galleria) where we would have loved to cool down, but this time is was impossible to cross the Bypass. At the turnoff to the airport we took photos of another sculpture: Gatutkaca fighting with Adipati Karna. I bought a kilogram of salak to show them to my fellows at home. On the way back to the hotel we spent our last rupiah that we didn't need for the departure. The transfer to the airport was twenty minutes early but had to collect more leaving tourists. I had a shower at the airport and changed my clothes there. That was the last day with a departure tax of 75000 Rp. The previous raise brought a remarkable success: in 2001 cockroaches were merrily running around in the pizza desk, now they were lying on their backs in the waiting room and hardly moved their legs anymore.
The return flight cumulated one hour delay in Kuala Lumpur. Firstly there was only one lane to control all passengers of the jumbo, then two passengers were missing, and their baggage had to be found. The movies were more interesting than on the outward flight, but now the consoles were defect. After the unsuccessful try to switch to the radio, an intervention of the cabin staff was needed to make at least the films available again. A stewardess rushing down the aisle just shortly presented the red wine but did not pour it out.
If anything doesn't work, please email home@HalloFreun.de. Last update 2011-02-01