Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hati-Hati! My second morning in Bali

My body clock is still on Nelligen time: it's 4 o'clock in the morning here (or 7 o'clock at home) as I sit in my room under a fan to compose this blog.

My taxi-driver friend Suyasa took me from the Harris Hotel to the Perama bus stop in Kuta. Suyasa drives one of the 500 shiny blue TAXIs of the . Too many taxis, not enough tourists! The locals seem to prefer cheaper transport, including unmetered TAKSI.

Drove past a sign which read, "AGUS'S CO-OPERATIVE ART CENTER". If the Balinese can correctly handle the possessive apostrophe, why can't the Australians? Saw a lot of signs on lamp-posts and walls which suggested, "TALK LESS, DO MORE." What a great sign to stick on the walls of Parliament House in Canberra!

The 4-hour Perama bus trip from Kuta to Lovina (Rp.125,000) took me through Ubud and then into the cool, damp mountain country around Danan Bratan. The general area around the lake is called Bedugul which is little more than a hotel, a restaurant and water sports centre. Saw a chap wearing a tee-short which read, "I started with nothing, and I still have most of it left." I want one!!! It sums up my life beautifully!

As we came farther north, we encountered fewer and fewer tourists, although there's still the occasional bony, hard-faced whote woman of uncertain age with a young Balinese toy-boy in tow. I guess, what's good for the ganter in Bangkok is good for the goose in Bali!

Gradually, as we drove through countless villages, the real Bali reasserted itself. My advice to prospective Bali travellers: Head straight north and bypass Kuta unless you want to relive "The Adventures of Barry McKenzie".

On arrival at the Perama bus stop in Lovina, the few of us who had come this far received a free lunch - simple but filling - which was included in the fare. Then we were given a quick promotional tour of their little rental bungalows which were lovely and quiet and which - wait for it! - rented for Rp.80,000 FOR TWO NIGHTS - and that includes breakfast! That's AUS$5 a night! One drawback: there is no pool but the beach is at the back of the property or for Rp.15,000 a day the nearby hotel Celuk Agung will let you use their 25 m pool.

By comparison, Sandy and Gus's VILLA AGUNG seems outrageously expensive at Rp.200,000 a night for a fan-cooled room. The menu, too, is a bit expensive in this ageing and slightly derelict-looking establishment but it has a friendly clientele and the owner, 68-year old Gus from Washington D.C., is one of the few agreeable Yanks I have ever met. His wife Sandy hasn't put in an appearance yet but no doubt she will eventually emerge from their adjoining residence which they built some ten years ago, after which they also acquired VILLA AGUNG which had gone bust. After the first Bali bombing, they thought it would happen to them, too, as they watched their place remain empty for well over a year.

Back to bed for another hour before the mosque and the roosters wake me up again when I drop into the pool described in their website as 'intimate' which is code for 'very tiny', however, it does the job of warming me up (yes, you have read correctly: at the crack of dawn, before the sun heats up the air, it's warmer inside the pool than out.)