Sunday, January 22, 2006


We're on our way to Bali! We left Calgary at 7:30 pm on Sunday. We flew from Calgary to Vancouver. We had decided to take all of our luggage as carry-on to make sure that nothing got "added" to our luggage. We had to keep them out of sight in Vancouver, though b/c one of the airport employees was going around inspecting everyone's luggage to make sure it wasn't too big.

The flight from Vancouver to Taipei was very, very, very long. They kept feeding us the whole time. It seemed that we were eating dinner over and over again. I tried congee for breakfast. Dewey told me that it was rice porridge. Boy, was I surprised when it had green peas and chicken in it. To me, porridge means sweet. It was still better than their "Western" option of sausage and eggs.

We landed in Taipei at 4:30am. We went straight to the Transit Hotel to have a shower. It made me feel almost human. We had a 5 hour layover in Taipei. I went and brought us tea and coffee. I ran into a "loud American" that gives the rest of us a bad name. He was loudly complaining about the prices of the food and talking loudly in English about the people around him b/c he didn't think they could understand him. Geez, some people!

We arrived in Denpassar at 4pm on Monday. We were very glad that we carried on our luggage since everyone else had to wait. We got checked into our hotel but they had to put us in a twin room instead of our king room that we requested.

We decided to explore the resort and get some dinner before heading to bed. The hotel was very beautiful with luminaries beside all the sidewalks. We can't wait until tomorrow to start exploring the island.


We were up bright and early at 6 am thanks to our early night before. Our breakfast was included so off we went b/c we were starving. The breakfast buffet was made to satisfy the different nationalities staying at the hotel. There was Indonesian (noodles), Japanese (fish and congee), salads, pasta, soup and the normal Western breakfast food. I tried the Indonesian noodles but found them too garlicky for first thing in the morning.

After breakfast, we asked to have our room moved (from a room with two twin beds). We also mentioned it was our honeymoon. They moved us to a room with a cake that said "Congratulations" and a carving to celebrate our honeymoon.

We decided to catch a cab into Kuta. We quickly figured out that hiring a cab outside of the hotel grounds saved tons of money. It took about 15 minutes to get to Kuta. The roads are CRAZY. You wonder how everyone keeps from getting into an accident. Kuta is very, very busy. There are cars, motorbikes and people everywhere. I immediately started shopping (Dewey was THRILLED). We walked up and down Poppies I & II. We ate at Ketut's Plase. It had Indo and Thai food. It was very yummy and came to a super cheap $3.25 for all. I could get used to this!

Dewey was in heaven with all the surf shop stores in Kuta. They definitely play to the Aussies (Quicksilver, Billabong, etc) since they are the vast majority of the tourists in Kuta.

After a bit more shopping, we walked along Kuta beach. Every few minutes we hjeard "transport?", "massage?", etc. Finally we figured out that we were going the wrong way so we caught a cab to Seminyak. We at dinner at the Living Room. It is a very beautiful restaurant with lots of twinkling candles. The food was pretty good but expensive for Bali. We had our first Arak drink and it tastes a bit like lighter fluid. They did have Western bathroom facilities, though (lots of places don't). Earlier in the day, I had my first experience with a "squat" toilet. I am not looking forward to ever having to use one of those again.


Up reasonably early again this morning. Still adjusting to Bali time zone. Breakfast at the hotel is very good. Damn that girl can make a mean omelet. Feet are still a little sore from yesterday's bargain hunting so after getting some tour stuff sorted in the lobby, it's off to the pool for a little RNR. Lots of different countries represented at poolside. Many Euros (mostly German. Some Danes, some French) at the pool. A few Aussies and quite a few Japanese. Took my transport Canada Flight Training manual along for some light reading. The sun can be pretty intense for a lily white Canuck so lots of sunscreen and periodic dips in the pool are mandatory.

Feeling hungry, but not wanting to pay hotel prices so we decided to walk into town for lunch. Went to the first restaurant we saw. Wilting Canuck syndrome make sure of that. At Lotus restaurant, we both had Indo and it was great. I ordered the beef satay and they brought a little bbq grill (still cooking) to the table.

Walked to the local supermarket (Tragia) to get an ice cream and have a look.
Turns out they've got an extensive wood carving inventory there. Didn't pick anything up but probably will next week.

"Found" a driver outside and arranged transport to Ulu Watu then to Jimbaran beach then home for 150k Rp (around $15). Headed out to Ulu Watu for the temple, monkey, Kecak dance combo. The temple sits atop jagged cliffs with monster pounding surf below. A popular suicide spot I am told. Looks like it should work on the first try every time. There are lots of maqaque monkeys here. You have to watch your hats, bags and sunnies since the little buggers will grab them and run off. This temple has been here and in constant use since the 1300's. It is the only Eastern facing major temple in Bali.

Merry snapped about 10X 3^8 monkey photos here. They are pretty irresistible, especially the little ones. Gout our tickets for the dance early and went to the stands to get a good seat. The dance area is about 5 meters from he edge of the cliff. Amazing costumes, singers and dancers combined with cliff top view of surf and sunset make it an experience I'll not forget any time soon. A "chorus" of 70 male singers with a unique Balinese style. As much loud fast chanting as it is singing. The very quick syncopated "CHECK CHECK CHECK" chanting/singing was very cool. Sort of an ancient Balinese rap with one guy keeping time and another "calling" or leading the pack. Oh forgot to mention that this is sacred ground so I had to wear a sarong and a yellow sash. Also, no Shelilas allowed during "that time of the month". I'm guessing they go by the honor system on that one. Got out of there as soon as the dance ended to beat the crowds. Found our trusty driver and we're off to Jimbaran Bay for dinner.

There are many small seafood restaurants right where the fishermen come in with the fresh catch of the day. Our driver had a "friend" at one of them and he took us straight there. Table on the beach about 20 m from the break. The waves sound like claps of thunder from this close and then suddenly all its quiet again. You order your seafood by weight. Prices are per 100 grams. We had lobster, squid and crab. Picked out the 2 meanest crabs and ate them. Yum! The lobster was grilled and tasted awesome. Not really a bargain but still an excellent meal in a fantastic setting. We finished with some fresh fruit for dessert and then back in the van to head for home.

Oh, I forgot to mention the "beach band". There were 3 guitars,, drums and a stand up bass. Pretty sketchy musicians but their reqertoire made up for it. I nearly peed my pants laughing when they busted out "Country Roads" by John Denver. Got back to the hotel around 10pm. Merry was asleep in less than a second and me about the same. It was a long day but it was fantastic!


Really, really early pickup at the hotel today so it's a 5:30am wakeup call. I'm pretty tired since Merry woke me up at least 4 or 5 times thinking we'd missed our wake up call. She'd wake me, ask the time and then be back to sleep in seconds. I, on the other hand, had to lay there for a while. Repeat as necessary, yeesh! Met our guide in the lobby right on time. His name is Agus which rhymes with Bagus (good), hopefully it's a good sign. In the van and off to Sanur to pick up some other customers for the Bali Eco Tours bicycle tour.

No traffic at this hour and we see far fewer than normal life threatening potential motor vehicle accidents. I continue to marvel at the skill exhibited by drivers of all types of vehicles. Motorbikes, cars, vans and busses all within mere inches of each other traveling at times at speeds that seem about 5X faster than safe. As if that isn't enough, the motorbikes cut in and out of traffic constantly in what I'm told is some kind of "system". To me it just looks like total madness and constant flirtation with death and the subsequent requirement of ceremonial cremation. Apparently, there are no burials here. Cremation is required as per Hindu custom.

A halp hour (the Balinese can not say "F" sounds, it's almost always replaced by a "p" sound) later, we stop in Sanur on the SE coast to pick up some Aussie's who will be doing the trip with us. Turns out they're from Melbourne very near where I stayed while visiting there years ago. Doncaster, which is just down the road a spell from Box Hill where I was. The lady was even a Collingwood supporter. The Collingwood Magpies Aussie rules football team is sort of like the Edmonton Oilers of old. You only liked them if you were from there, if not, you're favorite team was whoever played them. Another forty five minutes and we're at the rim of the volcano, Mt. Batur. The second highest point on Bali at almost 2000 meters. We're dropped at a restaurant which is cliffside on the inside of the crater for a fantastic breakfast of presh pruit and banana pancakes. The kopi here is realy good too. Very strong....very, very strong. sort of like espresso. It takes lots of milk to make it change colour but it tastes so good! Took lots of pictures of the crater, the lake inside it and the cinder cone at it's center. Looking carefully, you could see smoke from the lowest of the 2 vents on the cone. We're told that the last major eruption was back in 1963 and there were over 1000 people killed. Turns out there is a village in the bottom of the crater and it's still there. Natural selection at work? Possibly.

After breakfast, we went down the hill a bit to a plantation. Saw BBC (bananas, bamboo and coconut) growing. Also saw kopi, cinnamon, snakefruit (Salak), star fruit, vanilla, jackfruit and pineapple. They were roasting coffee beans over an open fire and Merry got to help stir. Drank some atomic powered kopi and some hot chocolate. Oh yeah, I forgot we got to eat part of a cacao fruit which they make chocolate from. Then across the road to pick up our bikes.

They were nice bikes once, probably about 10 years ago. Oh well, they worked for the most part and it wasn't like we were going to do any major off-roading. The rest of the day was spent cycling downhill about 30 km in total with various stops along the way at a temple, bamboo mat shop, rice paddy and a family compound complete with authentic Balinese family. Dad - artist, oldest son of 10 years was a musician playing the woden xylophone things and he was very good. Merry says she'll never complain about our kitchen again after seeing theirs. We'll see about that! Next we stopped and dropped off the bikes and they took us for lunch. The food was awesome and a couple of Bintangs went down pretty easy. A quick stop at the monkey forest after lunch and then back down the mountain to drop off the Aussies in Sanur (with a couple of Bintang's for the road) and then back to Nusa Dua. A long, long day but a most excellent adventure indeed.


After a long day yesterday, a bit of a sleep in was in order. Breakfast at the hotel is a given. Very good selection of great food. After brekkie, we're off to the pool to chill. Despite many other "free spirits" at the pool, Merry still says there's no way she's taking off her top. After some light reading on stalls, spins and short field take-offs (studying for my pilot's license). We decide to hit the road. We decided Sanur looked cool the day before and that we should head back there today for lunch/shopping/dinner. Sepenty pipe thousand Rp for transport gets us to the Sanur beach market. The beach is nice here, quiet compared to Kuta Beach with more fishing boats. Same stuff in the shops here. A nice boardwalk led us quickly to a good place for lunch. The menu had some hilarious translations (Chicken Gordon Blue, Grilled Filled of Beef, French Frieds, Sessional Fresh Fruit) but I guess I shouldn't laugh too hard as their English by far exceeds my Balinese. Great lunch for very cheap, then walked south along the boardwalk. Came back up north on the main shopping street. Lots of little shops. Stopped for a Bintang at Randy's. Very Cold. They had a Molson Canadian sign on the wall but none in stock. While I sat and had a second one, Merry went down the block and picked up some really cool cushion covers. I found a really nice little carving in stone. A "thinking man" for 30k Rp. Went for dinner at Benno's and had our best meal yet. Merry had chili squid and I had chili snapper. So tasty! Went back to Tootsies where we had lunch earlier for dessert. Black rice pudding for Merry, Kopi for me. A Beautipul night on the beach as the tide cam in and a nearly full moon shone brightly.

Caught a bluebird taxi back to Nusa Dua for a mere sipty pipe thousand Rp. After such a long day, I think I might have been asleep before my head hit the pillow.

Saturday.....last diary entry b/c we turned lazy

A scheduled day off from big trips today. We're both nursing sun burns from yesterday's session at the pool. After breakfast, we walked to the local market for some quick shopping. Scorching hot while walking down there. I'm sure it's less than 2 km but it felt kinda like crossing the Shara.

Merry decides to stay in for the afternoon while I'm off for an adventure. I saw a paragliding movie once called "Bali High" where they soared a coastal ridge for hours on end with a seaweed farm down below in the tidal pools behind the reef break. I was on a mission to find that site today. I was going to need a good guide to find it though. Walking outside the property, I started to see the jackals waiting for their "transport" peay. Amongst them was one guy with dark glasses who's english was impecable. Very rare for Bali where most of the locals speak Bahasa Bali, Bhasa Indo and a smattering of English, German, Spanish and Japanese. I asked the whole gang where I could go to see paragliding. I may as well have asked where I could buy an ultrasonic dog polisher. I resorted to charades and we quickly came to concensus that I needed to go to a place called Bali Clipps. The guy with the dark glasses told me he knew how to get there but it would cost 75,000 Rp. No problem, off we went. Turns out his name is Paul and he has a driver as he's got "troubles" with his eyes. Paul is an excellent commentator however and we had a very interesting talk on the way up the hill toward Ulu Watu. Once we reach the top, we need to turn off the main road to UW and follow the Bali Cliffs signs. As we approach the coast I can see paragliders in the air above the ridge about 1.5 km away. Damned if we could find a way in to lauch though. Every local we asked gave us different directions. I'm not sure how much off roading my driver had done before but he was undaunted by the dirt tracks and cow trails I had him follow. We tested the shocks on that old Suzuki van many times (if there were any), and finally got to launch. There was the most amazing view from atop the cliffs. About 100meters to the beach below and seaweed farms in the tidal pool (lagoon) behind the reef. Huge surf here (3 m maybe 4) with nice barrels at times. There were 2 instructors at launch hucking Japanese beginner pilots left and right. Some sketchy launches and landings but extremely docile conditions are about as forgiving as it gets. These guys wouldn't last long in Golden. About 13-15 paragliders in the air at an given time, no hangies, boo hoo :) Stayed for about an hour then back to the hotel to pick up Merry for dinner.

A short trip to Jimbaran Bay to a restaurant called Mata Hari. The same deal as the other restaurants here, order by weight. Then they cook it up and bring it out to the beach for you. Just finishing our first Bintang when the sun sets. A truly amazing scene. Sun setting, waves crashing, seafood grilling, hawkers peddling and an acoustic band of locals covering "Sweet Child O'Mine" by Guns N' Roses at the tops of their lungs. Need I say more? Dinner was excellent as usual. Stuck with the squid, prawns and crab. No lobster since it is quite expensive. Some "presh pruit" for dessert then it's off home to bed.
Our hotel.....The Melia Bali. Posted by Picasa
Inside the hotel, near our room. Posted by Picasa
Every morning this guy got up super early to draw new designs in the sand in the hotel. We saw him the first day b/c we were up at 6:30am b/c of jet lag. Posted by Picasa
Shops in Kuta. Posted by Picasa
Dewey buying his "authentic" Tag Heuer in Kuta. Posted by Picasa
Bali Aussie in Kuta. Very cold Bintang....YUM! Posted by Picasa
You think they know who their biggest market is? Check out the giant stone Austrailia on the wall of Bali Aussie. Posted by Picasa
Lots of Aussie's have left their "mark" on Bali Aussi. Posted by Picasa
Kuta Beach Posted by Picasa
Balinese dancers in the lobby of our hotel. Posted by Picasa
The grounds at our hotel. Posted by Picasa
Umbal umbals made of palm or banana leaves. Posted by Picasa
The gates to Nusa Dua where our hotel was. Posted by Picasa
The cliffside amphitheater where we would later watch the Kecak dance. Posted by Picasa
Dewey and our guide for Ulu Watu. He had a slingshot to protect us from the crazy monkeys. Posted by Picasa
Dewey and I at Ulu Watu. Doesn't he look cute in his skirt? Everyone has to cover their knees and wear a sash. Since his shorts weren't long enough, he had to wear a sarong. Posted by Picasa
Dewey and I in front of the cliffs at Ulu Watu. Posted by Picasa