Christmas in Bali, Indonesia

Getting up at 3am to catch a taxi to the airport is never fun… especially when your tired, hot and you know it takes at least an hour to get to the airport. What is even less fun is when your cabbie thinks he’s someone out of the film fast and the furious and is screaming along the roads overtaking everyone. Passing the Malaysian F1 track in Sepang I did wonder if he would veer left and do a quick lap, but he was obviously more intent on getting us to the airport as quick as he could.

Arriving at the airport in one piece we checked in and boarded our flight to Bali. Sat on the plane half asleep i started daydreaming about how nice it would be to be back on the beach with a beer relaxing over the Christmas break. As we started to descend, I realised this might not be the case. It was cloudy and generally pretty grey and nasty looking. It was only 9am though and so I thought it may brighten up…. That afternoon it rained.

Not ones to be scared off by the rain we went out and sampled the bars and some live music before ending up in some night club on the main street right accross the road from an empty plot of land with flowers attatched to the railings. We later discovered this was where the Sari club had been before the Bali bombings in 2002. :-S Before we’d booked the flights we checked the embassy web site and it strongly advised tourists from going to Indonesia and those going should be extremely cautious. It told you to avoid crowded areas on religious holidays… so that would be night clubs on christmas eve right?!

Christmas day we woke up a little bit hungover and suprise suprise it was raining. The rain eased up and so we went for a walk and it started throwing it down again. Where better to take shelter from the rain than the nearest bar. This became the theme for the day. When the rain stopped we’d quickly drink up and start walking again, it’d start again and then we’d walk into the next bar. That night we made it back to the hotel not feeling to bad at all, we had a shower and a sleep before heading out again. We realised it must have been raining pretty hard whilst we’d been in our room because to walk from our hotel to the bars you had to walk through water up to your knees in some places. It was all part of the fun though. Half way to the club it really started to rain hard. we found shelter in a door way thinking it would ease off enough to walk in a few mins. It didnt…. we waited and waited and in the end ran all the way to Paddy’s Bar (which i have just discovered was where the first of the ’02 bombings was, its ok mum…. i’m alive aren’t i?). Like drowned rats we went to the bar and got a beer and proceeded to dance like lunatics to warm up and dry off.

We’d booked a rafting trip for Boxing Day and so got up and when the mini bus showed up we jumped in to be met by a 30 year old american guy and his Korean wife. They were on the Bintang already and he couldn’t understand why if we were English why we weren’t. He shouted to Pudu our driver to stop at the next shop and then he jumped out and bought us a load of beers and we set off on the hour and a half journey to the river. This American guy was a lunatic, extremely funny, but quite clearly a nut case. He was a car sales man in Korea and had so many funny stories, a lot of which i’m sure were bull shit but he was buying the beers so what the heck.

Beers finished we turned up in this valley filled with rice paddys, it was pretty spectacular and would have been even more so if it was sunny. We walked through the rice paddys to the rafts and everyone set off. We loaded into our raft only to be told to get out right away. Turned out our raft was sinking… good job we’d found out then. A different raft arrived but it looked a bit shabby so our guide Yoman (pronounced Yo-man) said hey guys we take the pump.  Laughing and joking and probably a little bit merry after topping up from the night befores antics we set off down the river. Although the river was graded III-IV it never really seemed that  bad and as we floated down the river we just kept soaking eachother and generally mucking about.

We stopped half way down the river at a big waterfall where we could buy refreshments and take pictures. Al and I headed over to the waterfall to take pics but suddenly we hear some shouting from this American fella. He’d bought more beer for us…… Looking like typical brits we had our photo taken in all our rafting gear under a waterfall with a beer in our hands! haha. Everyone had already left so i knecked the rest of my beer thinking it was time to go, but our guide was in no hurry becuase he said we were good paddlers so we could have more if we wanted. Next minute another beer is thrusted into my hand!

Making it to the end of the river we climbed some steps up to the changing rooms got changed and were served some really good indonesian food before getting back in the bus and heading back to Kuta. A combination of beer, partying and rafting meant we slept all the way back. I’d had the window open though and when i woke up i had a wet face and shoulder… yeah, it was raining again.

That night we had a quiet one and stayed at a bar close to the hotel where a little band were playing. We call them a band but it seemed more like a bunch of mates playing a selection of instruments. They had a double bass, two guitars, a set of bongos and a tambourine. They played all sorts of classic tunes with their own twist which all sounded suprisingly good. They finished at 12 and the bar staff came round and told us the bar was closed. The lights went off and then there was only me and Al, the band and an australian couple in there. Next minute, the staff come over and say “the bar is closed now guys, want another beer?” we were like er yeah ok, we moved away from the windows and sat with the band and had another beer. A jamming session then started and they were playing quietly and we were all singing along and requesting songs. Turned out to be really fun and we made friends with them all.

The next day a few of them passed us in the street and stopped and started chatting to us asking if we’d be coming tonight and asked if we’d sing with them. We agreed and said that we’d need to have a few beers before we did any of that. That day the sun was out, typically our final day and the sun comes out and boy was it hot. We spent the rest of the day chilling out around the pool reading our books.

That night, Chloe and Dip were flying in and we’d arranged to meet them as it was the last time we’d see them. But before we met them we went to see the band at the bar near the hotel. As we walked in, they stopped playing and asked us how we were and where we’d been before carrying on with their song. Yet again we’d randomly made friends with the locals and it was fun. It was time to go and see the girls though and so we drank our beers got up and started to leave. The music stops, “where you going guys”, “we’re going to meet some friends, we’ll bring them back”, unfortunately though we didnt make it back. As per usual, the girls were a bad influence on us, Al and I had said that we’d go home at 1am which gave us 6 hours before the cab came to pick us up and take us to the airport. Chloe and Dip had other ideas and before we knew it it was 3am and we were in a club.

I was just suggesting that it was time to leave when some Indonesian fella walked straight into me, blatently on purpose. I pushed him out of the way and he started giving me shit. In the end i told him to go away in a very polite manner then turned to look at Al. Al then called him a wanker, which he must have heard over all the music becuase he suddenly turns around and starts telling Al he’s gonna knock him out and blah blah. Stood in between this wirey little indonesian fella who obviously thought he was usher and Al, I was thinking, hmm this could be interesting. in the end some Australian guy dragged Usher out the way and we made a quick escape out of the back door.

We woke up to someone knocking on the door. Turned out we’d slept through our alarm, frantically packing we ran out to the Cab and drove to the airport, checked in boarded our flight and headed back to KL.

Bali had certainly been different to what we had expected, we expected sunshine, surf, and perhaps to feel the underlying tension within Indonesia. In the end it wasn’t sunny and like we expected all that nonesense on the Embassy’s web site was rubbish. Other than the drunk usher look alike did we ever meet anyone who was other than friendly. Most of the people there were great and always happy to chat and help you in any way they could. I’m not sure that i would go back though. Nothing to do with the weather, or the people though. More to do with the fact that although we were in Indonesia i may as well have been in Australia. The place was full of australians, most of the bars were australian. It was like a mini australia in the middle of Indonesia. Having been to Indonesia and realising that the place isn’t anything like as bad as it is made out to be i’d like to some day visit some more ‘Indonesian’ places.

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