25 September 2005

bali report card - day 1

bali day 1: 11 august 2005

[warning - lots of pictures ahead. slow download is a real possibility]

too much work and not enough play had made my life miserable lately. the people are nice and the places i get to go is great, but even machines have preventive maintenance. we have not found perpetual motion machinery, because everything is meant to have a break every once in a while.

i decided that i needed a break when i started becoming grumpy and stressed out from all the work i've been doing. true enought that the professional part of things is going well, but at a personal level, i'm all messed up, and this break was godsent.

< leaving kuala lumpur. here's the kl i left, haze and all. it was literally choking down there in kl. the haze from sumatra forest fires pushed the air pollution index up about 500 points by the time i left. i thought i was leaving bangkok, where i was based to cleaner air back home. yeah, right.

taiko also had a lot of free time and decided to join me at bali. since he had been in bali only about a month back, i'm counting on him to be my bali guide, or at least, bali advisor.

> mt rinjani? and here we were nearly in bali when a volcano peeked out of the clouds. i believe this is mt. rinjani, over lombok, an island to the east of bali. i'm making this assumption based on the shape of the crater lake (not visible from this picture). rinjani is a major attraction, and supposedly a good track. maybe i'll do this someday.

we arrived in bali on a full air asia flight around 2 at noon. a quick taxi ride to our hotel in legian, followed by a quick check in and i went about happily for a quick snack at a small restaurant opposite our hotel.

damage assessment:
taxi ride = 30,000 rp from the airport to legian.
quick snack = 90,000 rp for a pizza, 2 desserts, 2 deliciously delicious fresh fruit juice.

< snackerlicious: my snack ... the great banana flambe @ la monde restaurant opposite my hotel. the hot banana went very well with the cold cold ice cream, and the orange + cognac sauce sealed the deal. i'm sold.

the slogan for the restaurant? "helping ugly people have sex since 1892". yes, those who can't get sex, remember: la monde restaurant, jalan padma in legian, bali.

ayu at the reception remembered taiko from his previous trip to bali, where he stayed at the same hotel, and we took the opportunity to make our transportation arrangements for our trip.

and also the dinner for tonight at jimbaran. i heard it's good, taiko says it's good, so it must be good. looking forward to dinner :-) we stayed at the cheapest hotel in the air asia go holiday package, the saphir mabisa hotel in legian. i figured i won't be spending much time in the hotel, and i was right.

saphir mabisa inn hotel, legian. a simple hotel for simpletons like me.

< low rise. saphir mabisa inn from across the street, taken from the la monde restaurant. one thing i admire about bali is the distinct lack of high rise development. there is a lack of high rise clutter that characterises gold coast or hawaii.

Saphir Mabisa Inn Hotel < $12 view. i suppose for a dirt cheap price, this is about as good a view as you'd get. here, the view from the room. if you squint really hard and if you're a trained forensic scientist, you could just about see the sea off the beach in legian. when the waves are strong, you can hear the boom when it hits the shore.

< ventilated lobby. here's the open air reception lobby at the saphir mabisa. it's very cosy, like most of the hotel. i must say that the staff is friendly and do make you feel very much at home.

< blue blue pool. here's the pool at saphir mabisa. small and cosy, it makes the place look much classier than it really is. it's a low rise hotel with a very family feel to it.

then i went out to the beach at legian near our hotel. near is a little deceiving.

i can hear the booming waves from the room, i can peek out and see some sea between the trees, but walking to the beach involves walking.

first, walk along the main road on jalan padma, then turning into a small lane (small == 2 people walking side by side) towards the bali niksoma, then turning into a smaller lane (smaller lane == 1.5 people walking side by side), then turning into an even smaller lane (even smaller lane == single file. if you're a fatso, don't attempt this lane).

amazingly, the lanes are all shared with motorcycle traffic. for variety's sake, there are a few 90 degree turns thrown in. nice.

< natural litter. shells litter the entire shoreline, along with corals, crabs and surfers ! that bali is a volcanic island (with active volcanoes) explains the blackish sand

< my favourite bali pic. a piece of coral on the beach. the beach has brownish sand that turns dark brown when it's wet.

< checking out the surf. that's me before i started to fall into a hypnotic trance induced by the waves. i ended up taking a plunge although i was not dressed nor prepared to swim. this is at legian, just next to kuta. i later read that this is a friendly surf suitable for beginners

< all the sand in the world the long stretch of beach you see here is from kuta at the far end to legian where i stood when i took the photo. the surfing season is almost in full swing, around september.

< wave power i fell in love with the booming waves @ the entire beach. i was telling myself these are pretty powerful waves i am seeing, but i would later learn that these are in fact genteel things compared to the uluwatu monsters.

what a world of difference from the smoky haze i left behind in malaysia ! just the feeling of sand between my toes, the gentle winds on my face, and the sound of ocean waves pounding the beach made my entire day. all my worries disappeared that instance. in bali, beaches either have black or white sand. the beaches in kuta, legian and seminyak (which is really a single unobstructed stretch of beach) are all black because of the volcanic soil. in fact, beaches along the western coast of south bali all have black sand. beaches on the eastern coast have white sand. nusa dua is the most famous eastern beach.

we made it in time to catch our 5 p.m. transfer to jimbaran for seafood / sunset. we were driven to jimbaran in the famous indonesian kijang to our dinner. we arrived at around 5.40 p.m. and promptly selected our dinner - 2 fishes, a very stubborn crab and some mussels.

our table was the facing the beach, looking into the setting sun, the sea and the beach. i set up the tripod and got myself ready for some dinner / photography session.

< strolling kevinchai walking along the jimbaran bay beach, near the seafood restaurants. the opposite shores in the background is where the intercontinental and four seasons is located.

< enjoying balinese beer tripod all set, and seafood ordered, the next thing to do is to sit down to a bottle of bintang beer.

< before our seafood, selected fresh. two fishes, a crab and mussels. the crab fought hard for dear live, and nearly gave the handler at the restaurant a nasty bruise.

< after finally, the food got here. looks delicious, doesn't it? unfortunately, looks are often deceiving. in this case, the fishes were great but the crab was crappy, and the rest so-so.

< glowing till the end sun setting at jimbaran beach, and some sea lovers took the last opportunity for a dip before sun's down. the small strip of land in the background is the runway of the ngurah rai international airport in bali. there's a small fishing village next to the airport, the source of all the seafood consumed along this coast.

< kaleidascope sun has set, but nature's display has just begun ... the colors of the sky reminded me that there's plenty of reasons to live a full life.

< calm there's no better way to end a day than to see a beautiful sunset in a beautiful setting. the sound of the waves lapping the shore had a calming effect on me.

< natural show off this is what i call a natural show off. i only wish i chance upon show offs like these more often.

while waiting for the food, i walked along the beach, which had a brownish sand of fine consistency. the waves were big as well, probably good for some body surfing. all along the beach, there were seafood restaurants, all with views of the sea (of course). i discovered that jimbaran is famous for it's grilled seafood, reputedly the best in bali.

seafood arrived before sunset, so i set myself on the food, which was so-so. the famous grilled fish turned alright. what they do is they cut the fish in half, then grill the fish with some mildy spicy sauce. the 2 fishes we ordered turned out a little dry, and the sauce, imho, did not go too well with the fish. the mussels were baked in their shell with a sweet sauce - also so-so, and the crab was boiled - turned out terrible - they probably overboiled the crab - resulting in a very salty, very shrinked crab.

seafood damage assessment:
so-so seafood = 400,000 rp. not very so-so price. not for the food i've been served. :-(

sunset turned out much better than the food did. we had a clear sky, void of clouds, so it was just up to the sun to work up an amazing sunset. the setting sun and the reflections from the sea made a very colorful day's end. a good sunset always make my day. thank goodness the sunset made up for the food.

we were driven to the main street in legian (jalan raya legian), where taiko and i walked along the street, looking for things to shop or photograph. the street is full of shops targeting aussies and surfers, the main visitors to this island. you'll find rip curl, bilabong, quick silver wares all over the place. and tonnes of circle k (our 7-11 counterpart) and also lots of polo shops. i wonder if all those polo shops sell anything? there's probably 1 every 100 yards. taiko bought himself a pair of shade to look cool for the trip.

he broke his pair in the luggage. and then we walked, walked, walked, walked, walked, walked and walked to get back to the hotel. the whole place is all commercialized. hotels, resorts, restaurants, pubs, and discos. you get the idea.

and then - lights out - and i started dreaming about the next day. can't wait to explore the bali i've been sold.

No comments: