Wednesday, November 15, 2006


And so it was off across the Equator for the first time, no doubt I’m supposed to be tarred and feathered and hung overboard for Trident to devour should he wish, but I skipped this ritual by taking the plane. Arriving at Bali, Kuta is just a short taxi ride away. I got dropped off at the edge of Poppies 1, the small narrow lanes here are known as gangs. They are a bit small for cars to pass along mostly, although plenty do try. I navigated my way sucessfully to my guesthouse of choice (The Oberoi was full!), a minor miracle that I didn’t get lost. That however was not to last long, on the next days exploration I was lost quite a few times. Around here there are lots of small restaurants known as warungs, lots of tourists shops selling the usual clatter and lots of guesthouses. If you head the right way you will pop out at Kuta beach, a long curve of decent sands, with decent waves. Of course Bali is surfing land, people traipsing about with their boards talking about “barreling through tubes”, yeah like totally dude!

As you walk around Bali you will get assailed with cries of “Transport!”, guys with motorbikes or taxis looking to take you for a ride. If you don’t get used to ignoring them then half the your trip will be spent saying “No Thanks”. Although Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country, Bali itself is actually Hindu. Or a slight variation on traditonal Hinduism as they are allowed to eat beef. Good for steaks, bad for cows. Dotted around the ground all over Bali are offerings to the various Gods. These are small squares of banana leaf, colourfully filled with flowers, paper, maybe some fruit or rice and generally topped off with a Ritz biscuit! Back down on the beach a bit further north of Kuta at Seminyak, I encountered a ceremony, where people were decked in fancy clothes and had large parasols. I didn’t really know what was going on looked like some sort of ritual. They threw some food and a bird into the waves, and then turned around and left. The bird got thrown about a bit in the waves, but eventually made it back to calmer waters, looking somewhat worse for wear. One guy plucked it up from the waves and placed it on dry land, but it just keeled over backwards. Nobody else seemed interested in the fate of the bird, so it must of served its purpose.

As th suns drops down out the sky, Kuta beach has the perfect view for sunsets. The surfers are still out there, not much daylight left. A few locals have grouped together for an energitic game of volleyball. Further south, the beach is lined with makeshift football fields as the guys scamper around in the sand chasing a round ball of air. No jumpers for goalposts here, a couple of sticks or two mounds of wet sand will do.

I had chatted to a couple of people at lunchtime, a Swiss woman and her Balinese boyfriend who owns a bar, so I met back up at nightime. There was a small band playing some live music, who were pretty good. A few more people turned up and we headed out to some of the clubs. No cover charge here so people straggle from one club to another until one of the clubs gets busy. Anyway by the time I made it back I was near enough supposed to be getting up for my bus to Ubud the next day. Suffice to say I slept in a bit, still it was a good night and I managed to get the ticket changed so the day after I did head off to Ubud.

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