Running low on sleep from our recent binge of sunrise hikes we boarded a bus bound for Bali as soon as we could upon our return from Ijen. We were lucky enough to get a pair of seats as they continued to cram people on until tourists began getting fed up and leaving. It was sweltering hot without a breeze of fresh air and the seats were so close together our knees were jammed into the ones in front of us. Luckily we got a reprieve on the ferry, where we watched local children from the top deck as they swam up to ferries and grabbed onto them for a ride. We spent the next four hours uncomfortably sweating on the bus. I was amazed by the beautifully detailed statues adorning nearly every street corner on the island of Bali, and equally bewildered that there was at least an equal number of trash piles lining the streets, apparently there’s not much left over from the art budget for waste management. From the bus station we took a taxi to the city of Kuta, where we sampled brain (from an unknown owner) with our supper – it reminded me of the raw sea urchin I tried once in Hawaii, I don’t recommend either.
We had really hoped to get to Komodo Island and Borneo while in Indonesia but after hitting obstacle after obstacle we decided it was best to find a cozy place to stay and lay low over the holidays, avoiding the crowds and extortionate prices as best we could. We stayed in Kuta from the 21-25. It is extremely commercialized (especially compared to where we had been) and is infamous for its party scene. The large island of Bali in general is a very popular vacation spot for Australians and they seemed to form most of the crowd. Kuta is also infamous as the location of the Bali bombings that took place in front of a nightclub in 2002. We checked out the crazy night life that still thrives on Legian street. Over a couple Bintangs (Indonesian beers) we enjoyed some of the craziest people-watching I’ve ever seen: there were two stick-thin Asian girls dressed in Santa attire welcoming people into their pounding nightclub from atop stilts, one vacationing couple even handed their infant up to one of them for a picture! There was a “nightclub supercomplex” of 8 different clubs, each one with views of the people partying inside displayed on camera screens on the main street. We even saw a fight between an enormous black man and several short Indonesian security guards, the latter eventually won out and we figured the drunk antagonist was in for an unpleasant night. All the while a drug dealer who seemed to have the rights to the stretch of sidewalk in front of the bar we sat at hassled every person who walked by, and it was entertaining to see the range of reactions he got.
I enjoyed a day of shopping without the guilt of dragging Sean behind me, and to the surprise of both of us I didn’t even get lost once! Another day we walked down the store lined streets to the neighbouring city of Seminyak, although there was no distinction at all of where one city ended and another began. There we tried my first passion fruits and mangosteens which we found in a supermarket, and also bought some snorkel gear and a Go Pro camera for recording the amazing snorkelling and diving we’re anticipating. We even tried a fish spa, where “doctor fish” chew the dead skin off of your feet, it’s a very strange feeling! We walked back to Kuta along the beach, which was nice. All in all it was pretty laid back as we waited for the holiday season to pass so we could get moving again. A highlight for both of us were Christmas calls from our families, and thanks to Sean’s parents we discovered Bali was an hour ahead of Java and we had been on the wrong time for days! Luckily we found out before we had to catch any transit. On Christmas day we took a minibus two hours inland to the city of Ubud.