All pictures can be enlarged by mouse click, except for the water monitor.
The journey began in the train from Hamburg to Frankfurt. The flight ticket was accepted in the train though it said "Gdynia" instead of "Railway Germany". Before the start I took a photo of a Royal Brunei stewardess with that stylish scarf in the hair. Unfortunately the picture is a little shaken. At the stopover in Dubai I changed from the flight Frankfurt - Dubai - Bangkok - Brunei to the plane London - Dubai - Brunei. The travel agency had planned that swap to take away the additional landing in Bangkok. I hardly got a glimpse of the Dubai airport. We were hastily hurried to the gate just to sit and wait there for half an hour.
The Boeing 767 had no monitors in the front seats, but I could watch the movies from my place or choose between about 10 music channels instead.
The food was good and, as always when you are flying east, opulent, because the meals were arriving so frequently.
The airport of Brunei (Bandar Seri Begawan) is rather boring. Luckily the flight with a Boeing 757 to Bali was set one hour earlier. Therefore I had to wait a while in Bali to be picked up to hotel Sorga that I had booked together with the flight.
I settled in my room on the first floor, where I found a nail in the ceiling above the bed to attach my mosquito net. The mosquito net of Ikea was a purchase that paid off. It not just avoids mosquito bites and the sleep robbing buzzing by your ear but also holds off spiders and cockroaches. I am going to use it at home in summer.
The straw hat that had been totally crumpled in the traveling bag was put under the shower at first and then on the balcony for drying. This way it regains its shape.
Because it was getting too late to change money, I tried out, whether you actually can draw money from the cash machine using the ATM card with the maestro sign. Kuta presents a remarkably high concentration of those machines. I reached the limit of my English knowledge: "withdrawal", "savings account". The 600,000 rupiah I drew as an experiment were too little regarding the fee of 4.30 euro. It is more economical to withdraw the maximum amount.
Later this evening I went to the bar Nusa Indah that had become my favourite bar in Poppies Lane 1 already last year.
They serve breakfast at Sorga until eleven, and that was accomplishable even with a time change of seven hours. Then I strolled into the streets of Kuta. Everything looked basically the same as in February 2002. The crash of tourist numbers was not evident. There hadn't been too many already in the previous year.
A caipirinha in Warung Brasil, Jalan Benesari, really started up the holiday. Just a few steps from the Brasil there is the francophile Captain Haddock's, where you can watch time and again that the French don't like speaking English and prefer talking Indonesian to the waitresses. Strangely enough ice cubes in the red wine are accepted. The Sandwich Burger, made of an original crunchy baguette, is my favourite dish at Haddock's.
My walk brought me up north of Jalan Melasti, where I explored the actual position of the restaurant Glory to be prepared for the coming forum meeting. I gave three hundert rupiah to a beggar, but she was not satisfied and demanded one thousand, as if there was a minimum rate for alms. On the way back along the beach I was unpleasantly caught in the rain.
In the evening then between two showers I went to the forum meeting. Before arriving at Glory I tied my udeng around my head to make sure that the other members would recognize me. Yvette and Big Daddy, who arrived soon, were not dependent on that, because I was the only guest. Later on neither forum members showed up nor any other guests. The Glory however is slightly more expensive than for example Nusa Indah or Warung 96, which are always well visited. We had a good time nevertheless.
I had become acquainted with some webmasters on Bali through link exchange offers via email, and Mr Kumara of baliwww.com had invited me for a drink. Because it was raining heavily again, I took a taxi to his office in Denpasar. Since I was not announced I just met his staff and not Mr Kumara himself. I had a conversation with Diana and thus obtained an impression, to what I had put a link.
This evening I had dinner at Bali Brasil again. Besides the caipi the brasilian dishes are specially recommendable. It is enough to have an indonesian meal every second time during the holidays. One of the most interesting experiences is what they serve you, when you order western specialities on Bali as for instance beef Stroganoff.
I had printed a website with the balinese alphabet and already asked some people for further information. The waitress Ayu of the Brasil was the first who could help me. The name "I Gusti Ayu Ketut Merta" indicates her membership of an upper caste, in addition she is beautiful and educated. At Nusa Indah they sent me to the boss, a pedande, who knew the letters quite well, but I preferred Ayu as a teacher. My favourity dish at Nusa Indah is pork steak with chips.
After a clear night there was no more rain in sight. I had my hair cut in a street east of Jalan Legian where few tourists go. Including shampoo, head massage and Indonesian conversation in sufficient time to think the price was just about two euro. Of course I had a sunburn on my ears some days later in spite of my straw hat.
I even went swimming, not in the dirty waves of Kuta, but further south in Tuban where a lot of plastic waste also limited the fun. I took advantage of the enhanced presence of guards in front of the expensive hotels to store my belongings safely during the bath.
Certainly I went to the Brasil again to Ayu who forewarned me that the restaurant would soon be renovated and she would not be there when I came back two weeks later.
Before I went on to Ubud I put all the things that I wouldn't need into the hotel safe and informed the staff that I not just departed prior to the booked date but also intended to spent just three or four instead of the last six nights at hotel Sorga. Then I went to Ubud with the Perama bus. The transport to Tebesaya charged half the cost of the distance Kuta-Ubud, but for this vacation I had planned not to worry about cents.
They recognized me in Yuliati House and they had vacancy too. I got one of the new bungalows at the slope. The 80,000 rupiah per night were relatively expensive, but I wanted to help the balinese economy and this family in particular. The living room was accessible also for the guests. Aji (the father) gave painting lessons there and the daughters taught dancing.
In Murni's Warung I started another try to meet one of my link exchange partners, but just found a co-worker again, who had his "office" at a bar that benefited from the natural cool of the river valley far from the noise and dust of the road. Similar to the Yuliati House Murni's Warung had been built further and further down the slope. He told me about his domicile just a few kilometers from Ubud. The neighbours use to stay in the village all their live. The Balinese religion is also called Hindu-Dharma, and Dharma means duty. It looks like the Balinese would accept how they are born into the world and fulfil their duties: have a family and give offerings to the gods. They do not feel any desire to see the rest of the world or change their live anyhow.
In the evening I attended a dance performance of Tirta Sari in Peliatan in which one of my host family's daughters participated. I actually can not tell apart those three daughters, and now in this show some more girls with the same face were dancing, all made up and magnificently dressed in the same way. Because this performance just had an artistic purpose and not a religous one, the Legong might be performed by women who were virtually too old. By the side of the stage the outlines of palm trees were silhouetted by occasional flashes.
After the dance I had some glasses of the wonderful brem at Rizka, diagonally opposite to the Yuliati House. Then I went to the Jazz Cafe in the same street, where music was performed live. I got into a panic when I recognized "Lady in Red" (just imagine what would have turned out of the old Chris de Burgh croon in the Agung Karaoke Bar or by the beach musicians in Padang Bai), but the jazz band not only painlessly edged out of the distress, they even made listening enjoyable. After I had gone to bed it started to rain.
Just in time for the journey I had purchased a digital camera: Ricoh Caplio RR 30 and a secure digital card (SD-card) of 128 MB. The handbook gives thumb rules how many pictures it can store, but I would rather see the camera display how much space is left. With more than hundert pictures in default size the card wasn't yet full anyway. Now I don't want to miss the conveniences of a digital camera. You can see the images at once on the little display and possibly delete them. You can photograph without flashlight in the gathering darkness, but the pictures tend to blur then, or moved objects get fuzzy. To complete my equipment I had a charger and rechargeable batteries that I could also use for my underwater camera or my alarm clock.
I used the battery charger in Ubud for the first time, so I could go to the monkey forest with fresh energy. Though I already knew the place, I had a decent look at everything again. Needless to say I carried no food, but the fact that I refused the view into my bag was a reason for one big monkey to bite my finger, fortunately not with all its might.
In the afternoon I went to Petulu, the village of birds, on the back of a motorbike. I remembered it would be a sleeping place for the white herons but found out that it was also a nesting site. Thus many birds were visible even before dusk. The street was covered with excrements, and here and there I saw dead herons, mainly young ones. Some were also hanging in the overhead line. It is astonishing that those birds who otherwise are visible only from a distance let you approach to two or three meters in the village.Later in the evening I enjoyed the brem at Rizka again and bought a whole bottle for future use.
Using the Perama bus once more I came to Lovina and the fishing village Tukadmungga where I stayed again in Gede's homestay. This time I attached my mosquito net to the ceiling fan which I didn't intend to use anyway. The room cost only 35,000 rupiah and didn't impress by luxury or cleanliness. I chased away one cockroach and let another one live in the toilet cistern. Gede's restaurant is always a nice meeting point and the food is marvellous, particularly Sate Lilit and Ayam Betutu which is served in a banana leaf. In Kuta and Ubud I had found places to refill my water bottle, but now I was forced to buy a new one.
At a nearby dive center I organized the tour to Menjangan for the next day that barely came about after another participant had registered in Kalibukbuk. In this way the price was 180,000 rupiah (20$), you can also go to Labuan Lalang and try to get to Menjangan cheaper.
At eight in the morning, the agreed departure time, certainly nobody showed up. A little later the guide appeared and announced the car that picked up the other participant first, who thus was driven back and forth for a while. The trip to the port took about one and a half hour. The driver stopped on the way to pray and to have the car blessed. On the quarter-hour passage there were two more tourists present.
While the others prepared for diving, I alredy snorkeled at the edge of the reef about hundred meters from the coast where it goes down steeply. Near to the jetty I was attacked by a giant trigger fish, but apart from that Menjangan is a delightful snorkeling spot. Many species occur and most of them are not shy, probably because they are fed frequently.
My underwater camera proved itself full functioning even in the second year and was used extensively. At noon the meals were served that we had ordered before leaving. Cold fried noodles on paper instead of plates are somewhat unfamiliar. Fruit and a drink were included. After lunch we were taken out with the boat, but the second snorkeling place was another part of the same wall. Swimming at the surface was occasionally unpleasant for the lots of litter. After the return to the port it was not obvious where to have a shower and change the clothes. A representative of the WWF asked me to fill in a form, but I was too busy sorting my wet and dry things into my bag without losing sight of the car that might be ready for leaving.
Due to less numbers of tourists Perama had taken the northeast route off the schedule, and so I mounted a bemo with all my luggage. A bemo is a small bus used as a public transportation mainly by the locals. Starting in Lovina you get just to the terminal Banyuasri in Singaraja at first, then to a terminal in the east of Singaraja and then on the road to Culik and Amlapura. Handicaped by my lots of luggage I had no chance leaving bemo terminals on foot. According to experience the bemos pass on the road every two minutes, while you can wait in the terminal twenty minutes until it finally starts. On the way to Tulamben it got tight every time a class of school children entered. Then I could understand why I paid more, occupying more space together with my bags than three of those children. I asked the driver to stop when I thought to be in the center of Tulamben and checked in at the next hotel called Puri Matahari. I asked about the exact position of the wreck and went snorkeling there.
The beach of Tulamben mainly consists of round stones. Next to the wreck there is a stall and a orange coloured litter bin that forms a good landmark. Not far out the stones change to a muddy ground. At the wreck I was greeted by numerous fishes that are obviously used to feedings. The surgeonfishes with their sharp blades in front of the tail actually were too close according to my taste, but later I was told that they would never hurt accidentally. The wreck reaches nearly up to the surface, and at the highest spot there is an arch that invites to be dived trough. Everything is overgrown with feather stars, anemones, corals and shells. The site is more interesting than Menjangan and much easier accessible. The village of Tulamben was rather bleak. Sure there were bars and restaurants, but most of them were empty. The internet cafe had the worst connection that I ever experienced on Bali. I went to bed already before nine.
Because the underwater camera had not been at hand while snorkeling the day before, I went there again, but now the water was so muddy that I even could not find the wreck.
Turtle, Blue Lagoon
So I got on the way to Padang Bai, where the snorkeling conditions are known to be disturbed less by the raining season, again by bemo. The route is most beautiful in the mountains between Culik and Tirtagangga. In Amlapura I had to change bemos and was miffed again by sitting in a light green car with my luggage, while some hundred meters further one orange bemo after the other was going to Padang Bai.
I arrived nevertheless and carried my things to hotel Kerti, where I got a big two-storey bamboo house for 40,000 rupiah per night. I didn't need my own mosquito net, because the beds were already provided with nets. I stayed nearly two weeks in Padang Bai. Most of the time I spent in the Blue Lagoon and in Warung Kasandra. Even in the Blue Lagoon the surf can get so violent that you hardly can get through with snorkel and fins. At the other dream beach Bias Tugal the waves are yet higher. But there were also calm days when I could see turtles, octopusses and morays.
Pak Pica's Warung with Captain's Table is the best place to meet people. You happen to see some freaks there: the Dutch with a hole in his throat who gets rid of the sarong sellers by heavy flirting, Wally from Bandung with his four dogs, and Bob. Sitting in a street cafe and being entertained by the passers-by is less usual in other places on Bali.
I liked Kerti best for eating. There I prefer simple western dishes like chicken with chips. At Pak Pica's semur ayam is tasty too. At Puri Rai I rather choose local specialities, because everything is good and expensive there. Not really expensive of course, just expensive for Padang Bai.
The culinary highlight actually was Martini's buffet. All you can eat for just 15,000 rupiah, and there was plenty of sate, vegetables, tahu, tempe, fried noodles, fruit and much more. You can eat even cheaper in the warungs frequented by locals. At Warung Lombok in the alley to the mosque the nasi campur with small parts of chicken and fish was just 5,000 rupiah. It was rather spicy and I had to communicate in Indonesian.
I had seen a Barong dance in Padang Bai already the year before. Today it was the last of a series of two-weekly events. Last year they had told me after the dance that the performance was less successful because nobody had fallen into a trance. That should be totally different this time. Before the start every tourist was handed a paper with rules of conduct and explanations what to expect.
Tourists were admitted as spectators but the larger part of the audience was from the village, for which these events also have a spiritual significance. I had supplied myself with a towel in a plastic bag to sit on the hard curb and just came in time to gain a good place without waiting too long. The performance started with a baris dance. Than the masks were carried in and not much later the witch Rarung started her evil action, which sounded to me like a vituperation of the audience. The good-natured mythical creature Barong, that is always figured by two persons in an animal costume, soon occured to put an end to this activity.
Thereupon the witch got help by several wild creatures (Lenda-Lendi) who partly resembled animals and partly demons. The Barong fought successful against all of them, and it really was closer to a fight than to a dance. Meanwhile the first spectators already fell into a trance and wanted to come down on the enemies but were hold back by their neighbours. When the greater witch Rangda made her entrance and mobbed the Barong the scene became tumultuous. Every few seconds somebody fell into a trance, roared and wanted to fight Rangda. A large ceremonial umbrella with a concrete base fell down and the children had to get out of danger to the backrows. Still it was not allowed to get up, because that would have disturbed the ceremony. After the performance was over, the men who were still in trance were carried together and behind a ring of Balinese people I just could see how now and then someone jumped into a straw fire. The explanation tells us that they give them eggs, fire, black chicken and arak, because these all represent Rangda. The trance is meant to be solved by holy water, but I couldn't see this.
I didn't attend the second part of the show. Until deep into the night actors from the village performed various dances.
The MS Europa visited Bali. She anchored in the bay east of Padang Bai and constantly ship's boats shuttled to the port. The passengers hardly appeared, but there were more hawkers in town than normal, trying to sell hats, T-shirts, watches and woodcarvings. At night the crew was around. The Philippine part got on a bus to Sanur while the Germans and Austrians went to the beach and caused record sales in the Kinky Reggae Bar.
Because I had no underwater pictures of my first stay in Tulamben, I went there once more. The first film was full in a jiffy, and I bought a new one at a warung near the beach. The snorkeling conditions were perfect this time and there were many divers and snorkelers. As I did in the morning I enjoyed the beautiful views in the mountains again on my way back, and I was pleased that I just could walk and stop a bemo with my light luggage.
I delivered the films while passing through Candi Dasa. When I fetched them the next day the pictures were a little pale. I had some of them reprinted in Kuta, with better results.
Snorkeling in the harbour bay I hoped to find sea horses but didn't find any. I was sursprised to see big coral blocks and accordingly lots of fishes. One brilliantly designed fish escaped all tries to take a good photograph.
I decided on the spur of the moment to do a diving course of four days in the last five days of my stay in Padang Bai. Though there is a German diving school I chose Geko Dive, because I knew some people there since years. A Balinese named Coral was assigned to be my teacher, and after I was equipped, we went to Candi Dasa where a hotel pool was available. We had theory lessons in the morning and some diving exercises in the pool after lunch. Blowing out the mask was unpleasant to me and the buoyancy control was difficult, but all in all the course's physical and mental requirements were easy.
The pressure compensation actions you learn for diving are also useful for snorkeling when you like to go down. To prevent the mask from being pressed against your face you blow some air into it through your nose. For this purpose the nose must be enclosed within the mask. The negative pressure inside your head can be cleared by holding your nose and pressing air against it.
The hotel was almost empty. We hardly saw any guests, one women used the pool once when we worked with the book.
After my successful theoretical test we eventually turned towards the sea on the third day. From the beach in front of Geko Dive we went to the Blue Lagoon by boat. We passed some exercises in the shallow water where I had been many times before and then dived down to about 15 meters. I only saw few animals that were new to me: a colourful slug and a spotted eel. After the first dive led us out of the lagoon to the right, we later dived at the wall to the left. There I saw a ray, a lionfish and lots of fishing lines. There was just a very mild current this time.
Later that day it started to rain. My plan to stay at Martini's buffet until the rain would finally stop was not practicable. But all in all the rain has been so rare in my holidays that I had to cancel also my other plan to visit internet cafes only when it rained. I substituted the picture postcards mostly by emails.
Once more Tulamben, this time for diving. During two dives I could look at the deeper parts of the wreck that had not been accessible to me while snorkeling. At the surface the water had a temperature of 31 degrees Celsius as well as the air, and in a specially cold layer the computer at my wrist showed 28.
As usual 24 pictures were full when I thought it would be 8 or 9. The underwater camera stayed waterproof also in the second year but the counter that already didn't work well the year before never got beyond 15. Every time the camera stopped working I thought the battery would be finished, but after developing the film always turned out to be full. While diving it was useful that the flash is activated automatically by the water pressure. On the way back I fetched a set of photos in Candi Dasa at Asri Foto and thus could show the pictures of my first dive to Coral.
Opposite the photo shop I drew money from the automat to pay my diving course. The choice just reaches up to 600,000 rupiah, but over "other amount" you can get up to 2,000,000. You have to make the first number move out of the display, because it has just six digits. To write 1,800,000 I entered the 1 at first then the 8 and then zeros until the display showed "800000". In fact 1,800,000 rupiah were paid out. To withdraw 280 US-dollars I needed two transactions, which both charged me a fee of 4.30 euro, though the automat printed just one receipt with both amounts.
I still needed a photograph for my diving certification, and showed up at Geko Dive in time, but the photographer had delayed the appointment. One and a half hours were just right to take advantage of the greater freedom of snorkeling compared to diving and jump into the Blue Lagoon once more. I enjoyed the free swing and the light-flooded water.
In the afternoon Wally and his four dogs picked me up to rescue the emails in his computer in Candi Dasa. Then we drove to one of his favourite places on a hill beyond Manggis, from where we had a marvellous view over the sea to the islands Nusa Penida and Lombok.
Again the trip from Padang Bai to Kuta was cheaper than the other direction. While Perama took 30,000 rupiah, I was given the ride with Pasir Putih Tour+Travel for just 25,000 rupiah at hotel Kerti. I never found their office in Jalan Camplung Mas in Kuta, but the trip to Padang Bai would have cost 50,000 there as at any other company. So in Kuta Perama is cheaper. Fortunately we didn't go via Ubud but turned to the new coastal road in Gianyar, which is ready-built up to Lebih and was still being built further.
They had no problem at hotel Sorga with my flexible date of return. This time I got a room on the ground floor, again with a little hook above the bed. I slowly started shopping in the afternoon. Jeans seemed reasonably valued to me, and they got cut to the fitting length immediately. In the evening I watched one of the Ali-G.-movies in Pub Bagus, which were very popular on Bali then, and ended up at the Nusa Indah, where curiously enough I met the same folks again as two weeks earlier.
I wanted to buy a bottle of Martini for Bu Martini, because she has big letters at her warung announcing "Martini on the Rocks", but she has none. In the Matahari supermarkets there are beer and wine but no other alcoholic drinks. In the supermarket Galael at the road to Denpasar I finally found what I was looking for. The liquor was locked up in glass cabinet. The woman at the fruit stall next to it didn't understand English, but I managed to build a whole sentence: "Siapa bisa membuka lemari minuman keras?".
Of course the Martini was relatively expensive. But coffee was cheap. I bought one kilogram of the brand Kupu-Kupu Bola Dunia. Again I saw a film in the evening: Goldmember (Austin Powers). At Warung Fajar however the sound and video quality was miserable.
After the returns from Padang Bai to Tulamben, now I returned from Kuta back to Padang Bai. The Perama bus broke down after ten minutes on the bypass between Kuta and Sanur, but just twenty minutes later there was a replacement. The route was via Ubud as usual. In Klungkung we were stuck again for some time, while the driver discussed a payment or whatever with the police.
When I reached Padang Bai at last, I refilled my water bottle once more, handed the Martini to Mrs Martini, received a bag of pineapple as gratitude and left to Klungkung by Bemo. The co-driver shifted halfway onto the driver's lap and drove the car. So that's how they learn driving on Bali. In Klungkung I would have loved to leave the terminal towards the road to Gianyar, but this saving of time failed due to my lacking knowledge of the place. So I changed and the next bemo soon started moving just to stop again on the spot. The driver crept a circle around the whole terminal before he finally pulled out to Gianyar.
One scheduled activity of my holidays was to eat babi guling in Gianyar. Having arrived there I orientated towards the market, and when I saw a warung with "Babi Guling" written on it, I asked the ojek drivers if this was the famous warung that Baliman of the Bali-Forum.com always talks about, but they didn't understand. I asked if there was another and they said as expected: "yes, far away, need transport?"
So I ordered my babi guling here. Babi guling is the balinese version of suckling pig. The meat was cold and fat but tasty, and the vegetable was fine. But the skin was so hard that I lost a corner of a molar tooth. Meanwhile Baliman has told me that this was the wrong warung.
For the way back to Kuta I fell back on the service of the ojek drivers. Using a bemo I would have had to go via Ubud, and the trip on the back of a motorbike was not much more expensive. We went forward quickly on the coastal road. There was blue sky to the left and dark clouds to the right. I would surely have been caught in the rain in Ubud.
The Brasil had been torn down, but just around the corner the business went on in a smaller shop. Ayu was there again in contradiction to her recent proposition. At the Matahari I bought a big package of fruit chips to bring home.
Before "Go Vacation" picked me up from the hotel, I bought a kilogram of salak for the colleagues at home. Some years ago I had asked at the customs, and since then I rely upon the declaration that fruit is allowed to be brought into Germany. Inside the airport I took pictures of the world time board where the days are never correct. In the open air smoking sticks had rather delighted than disturbed me, but inside the cold airport building the smoke was most displeasing.
Just after the start I had a nice view to the beaches between Jimbaran and Uluwatu, and I would have liked to take a picture to determine the names and positions of these beaches. But the camera was not at hand, and maybe the use of a digital camera would have been forbidden so close after the take-off.
I had a stay of nearly five hours in Brunei, and the passenger area is boring there. Later in Dubai it was much more interesting, but the signposting to the transfer desk was misleading. At a passage with a metal detector there was a sign "Transfer Desk C", and because I wanted to go there I went through. Then I went down a stairway and could already see the gate for the flight to Frankfurt. But it was still closed. So I had a look at the stores selling gold and watches and of course at those strangely dressed travelers. Later they told me at the gate that I had to fetch my boarding pass at the transfer desk at first. So up the stairs again and through the checkpoint in opposite direction, and as a matter of fact there were some counters with unmeaning inscriptions.
After I finally had received my boarding pass, the queues to the checkpoint had grown excessively. I gradually ran out of time, and just in front of me an Arabic dressed couple with flowing robes caused the alarm beeper again and again and was sent back at least five times until the security man lost his patience and just let them pass. When I reached the half-empty waiting room with my boarding pass, the other passengers weren't aboard yet but were just leaving the plane that also had arrived from Brunei but via Bangkok. On the flight to Frankfurt "Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets" was shown. The delay had the fine consequence that we crossed the Alps just at the time of sunrise. The peaks were lit pink by the first sunbeams. From the hotel in Kuta to my home in Hamburg the return journey took 35 hours.
If anything doesn't work, please email home@HalloFreun.de. Last update 2011-02-01.