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During the whole stay I got by with just one plastic bottle, because I always found occasions to refill it with drinking water
Four hours ICE from Hamburg to Frankfurt, two and a half hours later departure to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific. From my knee to the next seat I had 10cm space, not being the largest one. There were plenty audio and video channels with mostly asian contents. The screens were attached to the front seats. "The last Samurai" was worth seeing and so was a Kylie Minogue-Concert. "Matrix Revolution" was inappropriate for the displays, because it happens mainly in the dark.
My neighbour tried a video game and then didn't make it back to the movies. There are always problems with the entertainment electronics, I noticed that before at Air Malaysia and Singapore Airlines. On the return flight "Kill Bill" should have been the main movie but there was just sound without pictures.
The Airbus A330 from Hong Kong to Bali was half-empty. After the landing at 14:30 I reached the end of the first queue at 14:45. After paying 25 USD I stood in the next queue for the visa at 15:00. Then queueing once more for the entry. But this information is useless, because the system might have changed several times since then. Meanwhile my traveling bag had been taken off the carousel. The customs had a look inside but had nothing to object to. At 15:35 I came out into the heat. The driver of Transorient nobly stayed in the background, but you find each other anyhow in spite of the turbulence at the airport's exit.
The hotel Rosani conforms to the expectation regarding the cheapest hotel of the choice (contrary to hotel Sorga last year). No garden, no balcony, but pool, TV, AC and minibar. Maybe my requirements are too uncommon if I would prefer a hook in the ceiling for my mosquito net instead of this equipment and a bucket and dipper instead of the toilet paper.
Romm 212 was ok, rather over-equipped having four tables (plus two bedside tables), six chairs and two Picassos next to a Balinese relief, but later in room 210 I was saluted by a large spider that I caught and delivered at the reception desk. There it got instantly freed and scrunched. The water pipes sometimes carried grey water and air erupted explosively when I least expected it. The water stopped away twice while I was having a shower. With a bucket and dipper that wouldn't have happened, and you could check the water before using it.
I arranged with the hotel management to stay four nights now and four at the end of my journey instead of the booked twelve nights. As an equivalent for the unused accomodation I was allowed to use the safe all the time. There I kept my ticket, a part of the money, a jacket and the raincoat. I did not leave the passport in the safe because it is needed sometimes to check in to a hotel. By the way it was a shock not to see the entry paper inside the passport, but it was just smaller than in the previous years and totally vanished in the passport.
In search of a proper ATM I tested all cash points from Jln Melasti along Jln Legian to Poppies 2, demanding four million rupiah every time and watching the response. Sometimes no amount was refered, often a limit of 600,000, once 1,250,000. Finally after a dozen attempts I was satisfied by a BCA-machine close to the turnoff to Warung 96 that chucked out 2,500,000. The charge fee was 4.50 Euros. Some days later I also changed Euro banknotes.
In most bigger streets of Kuta the drainage was renewed, and there was just one side of the pavement usable. A Baliforum.com dinner took place on March 17, and as far as I remember I was the only non-Australian participating.
The next day I went to Padang Bai with someone I met in the hotel because he wanted to do some nice snorkeling.
Unfortunately it was Melasti day, and on the otherwise speedy freeway Sanur-Gianyar there was just stop-and-go due to ceremonies in all sea side temples. We visited the bat cave at first, and in Padang Bai we just went to the Blue Lagoon, because our driver urged to return soon to have the chance to attend to his ceremonial duties on the same day.
On the 19th I made a tour that was part of the flight and hotel package: butterfly park, Batukaru and Tanah Lot. The butterfly park is not as big as the bird park but you have the chance to take close pictures of the butterflies. Batukaru was beautiful as always, and in Tanah Lot there was no sunset, as always.
The day before Nyepi I went to Ubud, Yuliati House. Henki from Holland was there again. I had already met him there three years before. The other guests were Japanese. I visited the Monkey Forest once more, drank the marvellous brem at Rizka and some beers at the Jazz-Cafe. Unfortunately there were no Ogoh-Ogoh due to the election campaign. I enjoyed the Highway Internet Cafe in the main street of Ubud. You pay more than in the other places but you don't get angry about lame connections.
Then came the silent day. The host family served coffee, noodle soup and a form of a breakfast buffet where I liked best the nangka (jackfruit) which, in that preparation, could be distinguished from pork only by the softer consistency.
It was forbidden to walk in the streets but we left the property on the other side, slipping down the (garbage) slope to the river. At night it became rather dark because no light was allowed and furthermore it was new moon. We were all sitting together but just the twinkling cellular phones of Yuliati and Bidani were visible.
The next day I hiked once more from Ubud to Pejeng and Bedulu and had more cultural details explained. I didn't notice before that a shrine (meru) is decorated with elephant heads at the base and further above with Garudas.
On the 23rd of March I took the Perama boat from Sanur to Lembongan. You can get fairly wet trying to get on board and later during the crossing. I did not like Lembongan too much. They want lots of money there for a simple accomodation, and an unpleasant wind was blowing from the sea all the time.
The best part of Lembongan is the view back to Bali when the peak of Mount Agung appears above the clouds. The next day I visited some snorkeling spots (Gamed bay near Nusa Penida and the reef outside Lembongan), but those aren't better than Padang Bai. That's where Captain Sanur brought me in the afternoon. The crossing was exhausting. I hold a cover against the shower water and bailed out water from the floor. My luggage got wet nonetheless. The engine stopped twice and most of the stretch we had to fight crossing waves. In Padang Bai we landed just in front of Hotel Kerti.
From March 24 to April 5 I stayed at a large Kerti house in Padang Bai. There was a bucket and dipper in the bathroom, a mosquito net and a balcony with a clothesline. They just wanted 40,000 Rp per night for the two-storied building, and after I mentioned I would stay longer than a week, it was just 35,000, without bargaining at all. The small bungalows are even cheaper. Having bought sandals and a sun hat in Kuta I completed my equipment now with one more sarung, autan and a new underwater camera. The old one had stopped working after two years. The new one was meant for single use, but it was possible to open it and to change the film. After six films I did not close it with the necessary accuracy and water dripped in.
Next year I am going to watch out for a better camera with tele- and makro-adjustment. When watching the underwater pictures it is annoying to have anything closer than one meter looking blurry and anything beyond five meters looking tiny.
My spots for the snorkeling photo safari were the Blue Lagoon and the white beach on the other side of Padang Bai. There I found some coral rocks not far from the beach that reached from the ground at 7m to about 2.5m under sea level and were riddled with holes and clefts, where typical cave dwellers like sweepers and soldierfish live. But also fishes of the open water tend to frequent this place. Sometimes I had to wait for calmer moments to make it through the surf with all my snorkeling equipment. You can tremendously play in the waves there and let yourself be washed up the beach. But that is not safe. I remained unharmed of abrasions and dislocations, but I understand that such things can easily happen.
Though I knew the Blue Lagoon before from three holiday stays in Padang Bai, I succeeded in finding lots of new animals. Apart from Clarks Anemonefish I spotted the Clown Anemonefish, better known as Nemo, another kind of anemonefish with just one band and one more anemonefish without stripes. I had heard before, that there are Giant Clams in the Blue Lagoon, but didn't find any last year though I searched a lot. This time I found even two. The bigger one was not actually a giant with a size of about 25cm, but yet clearly larger than normal shells. Other spectacular novelties were the Blue Tang, the Radial Firefish and the Mantis Shrimp.
One day when I was snorkeling at the white beach (Bias Tugal) I was accompanied by a young Golden Trevally of just 3cm size. Except for five dark stripes it was bright yellow like the bottom plate of my camera housing that attracted its special attention. While I swam up and down the bay for an hour it always stayed right below me. However it was too close and moving too fast for a good shot. I couldn't chase the little fish away at the save reef, so it didn't leave me until I left the water. I found out later that juveniles of that species swim together with sharks and groupers.
I spent some hours in the water every day but went diving just once. I simply enjoy snorkeling better: more light, more freedom, less equipment, no costs. If there was a guarantee for mantas or mola-molas I would dive again, but I encounter sharks and morays also when snorkeling. Every time I had shot some films I went to Candi Dasa by bemo to have them developed. That is still impossible in Padang Bai.
I just made one longer tour: to the temple Lempuyang and the water palace Ujung. Pura Lempuyang (lamp of the Lord) was renovated some years ago, and I had been lucky then to experience the new stairs and gates shining and decorated. Regrettably the large dragon-snakes (Naga) meanwhile are tarnished black. Anyway I think that this magnificent temple is not adequately promoted and visited too rarely by tourists.
Last time I was there, Ujung was a conglomeration of ruins and an empty bungalow village aside. Now almost all pavilions and statues are renewed but instead of that the bungalows rot. Walking through the grounds as the only tourist around I asked myself why they put so much money and work in that project, and whether it would be more crowded without the bomb, SARS and visa fee. One of the new statues had already fallen down again during the last earthquake some months ago.
In Padang Bai you easily get acquainted. You talk to other hotel guests, meet them again in the afternoon on the beach or at night in a restaurant, though there are many places to eat.
Kerti, Puri Rai and the nearby beachside restaurant had very similar menus this year. For instance chicken and rice or chips and vegetables for 15,000 Rp. An interesting alternative is Megibung, where the path to the white beach turns off: imaginative dishes in big portions. The animal live in the restaurant is also richer than in Padang Bai City. On the ground toads are chasing cockroaches while mantises whir around in the roof.
Bu Martini didn't arrange her popular dinner-buffets any more, but there was another one at Manggala. Captain's Table at Pak Pica's Warung Kasandra suffers a bit from the relocation of Geko Dive.
The weather was always fine. The sun was rarely clouded and serious rain happened just once until half past nine in the morning. But on another day a waterspout could be seen above the sea between Bali and Nusa Penida.
Further to mention is the joged-performance in Padang Bai that was held apparently along with a wedding. A female dancer had come from Bangli. The choice (raffle?) of the dance partners escaped my notice. While the young lady danced alone I could still watch, but when the show was kicking into gear the scramble grew too close, and I escaped from the cheering crowd. I wouldn't be surprised if there were plans in Indonesia to prohibit also this dance for its sexual gestures.
When I wanted to go back to Kuta it was the election day and there was no driver for the direct bus. So I went with Perama via Ubud where I extended the stay to buy a bottle of brem. But Warung Rizka was also closed on this day.
I stayed in Kuta only two more nights instead of the intended four - just enough for some shopping: coffee, jeans (that dropped the rivets the first time I wore them), gym shoes, 12 CDs for together 105,000 Rp, 6 DVDs for together 75,000. Most of the copies have small mistakes. Some shops sold the DVDs for 15,000 while the CDs started at 70,000 Rp, because the latter were meant to be originals. I would have loved to buy a purse also, and there are hundreds of shops in Kuta that sell purses, but they offer altogether just about ten different models which all provide plenty of space for credit cards and papers, but I just wanted one for coins and paper money.
If I understand the import regulations right, problems could have occured only with the quantity of coffee I carried along, whereas the bootlegs and fake brands are tolerated for private use. In consideration of the entry I just took a photo of a specially beautiful cowry shell (Cypraea argus) that I had found in the Blue Lagoon, and left it behind.
If anything doesn't work, please email home@HalloFreun.de. Last update 2012-07-02.