Saturday, September 29, 2007

Monkeying Around

Blog Location: Tanjung - Lombok, Indonesia
Blog position: 8 22.02S 116 07.06E

Current Location: Lovina - Bali, Indonesia
Current Location: 8 09.69S 115 01.18 E
Next Destination: Kumai - Borneo, Indonesia

After our road trip via "Monkey Road" I couldn't stop thinking about the monkeys and how cool they were. I woke up the next morning and decided I had to go back for another visit. After a quick discussion with Warren on Mico Verde (which means "little green monkey"), I had found my partner in crime. I loaded up all our camera gear (video and still) and we jumped on a moped for the hair raising ride to the top of the ridge where most of the monkeys were hanging out.

We came fully prepared with stale crackers as to not disappoint any of the alpha males; a whole cracker would make any of them happy (I found out earlier that a single peanut after giving them a handful REALLY pisses them off). I set up the video camera to film a family in their element and walked over to take some photos of Warren. I guess the crackers aren't high on the list of common monkey food because the first thing they did was smell it. They were so gentle when they take the cracker from your hand, and their hands are just like mini versions of ours. Some of the smaller monkeys would come rushing in while the bigger alpha males were busy chowing away. There facial expressions were priceless; So expressive!! After a while one male decided he would just sit there and keep taking the crackers. I decided to keep them coming just to see what would happen. After he filled his mouth, left hand and right hand, he sat down with his legs in front of him and started sticking the extra crackers in between his toes. I gave up after he had slotted four, he was too smart.

After about fifteen minutes, we became one of the gang. The baby monkeys came out and would eat crackers off your knee, and let you pet them. It was awesome thing to be a part of. We got to experience how they interact with each other. I watched one mother grab a cracker then try and fend off her baby by swatting him away. After a couple of attempts she finally grabbed him by the back of the head, looked him straight in the eye with a very angry face and scolded him violently. We watched others as they picked nits from each other, taking turns on who was the "nit picker". One baby monkey walked over to the tripod and looked up at it from the bottom, trying to figure out exactly what it was ... when he couldn't figure it out by looking alone, he gave it a little nibble - quickly learning that it wasn't that tasty!

We watched as one monkey tried to get some seed pods that were locked inside a plastic water bottle. The cap came off instantaneously but the pods wouldn't come out. He shook it upside down, and finally got so frustrated he held it in his feet and ripped it apart with his arms (maybe opposable thumbs on our feet would be a good thing, wonder why we got rid of those). They walked very easily on just their hind legs and it was funny to watch them jump like a basketball player when we put the crackers out of reach. Warren had a smart female that would only approach him from the rear. Once he was distracted by another monkey she would rush in and grab the bag of crackers from behind. One time she practically ran up his back to get at the bag.

The relaxed positions were so human like; Sitting on a branch with one leg extended and the other bent and held with an arm or sitting with legs crossed, both legs extended forward hands on their knees. It was so neat to watch. We saw fights, courtships, and even some monkey loving. The teenagers act appropriately and rough housed and jumped on each other. The younger adolescents bounded from tree to tree in their endless playground. The elders sat around, using stumps for stools, watching all the mayhem, just shaking their head. They even had variation in appearance; Some had mohawks, others a grey moustache and the real older ones had full beards. Babies swung under their mothers hanging on with a death grip with all limbs.

Warren and I really becoming one with the monkeys, something I had been looking forward to since I saw my first wild monkey here in Indonesia. I was off filming and Warren sat down to have a little chat. I snuck up behind him to hear .. "So what exactly do you think about the expression spanking the monkey?". Maybe we were getting a little too close.

I could have stayed all day, but after a couple of hours we decided we should return to the "real world". I don't think they were sad to see us go but the troop rushed to defend their territory as others came to see what was happening. We left as a huge gang war erupted in the forest.

Continue reading "Monkeying Around"...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Paradise Found

Blog Location: Tanjung - Lombok, Indonesia
Blog position: 8 22.02S 116 07.06 E

Current Location: Lovina - Bali, Indonesia
Current Location: 8 09.69 S 115 01.18 E
Next Destination: Kumai - Borneo, Indonesia

Eastern Indonesia is known for it's crappy anchorages. They are either too deep, too shallow, too rolly or are on a shelf that goes from forty feet to a thousand so if you drag you are royally screwed. Some of the better anchorages are full of locals used to boats who circle the boats in canoes and ask for money, clothes or cigarettes but don't offer anything to trade. On the northern shores of the islands the winds are dominated by land and sea breezes; Sea breezes kick in once the land has heated up enough and draws the wind toward the center of the island, NE breezes on the Eastern shore, Northerly in the middle of the island, and the North-west or westerly on the western side. We had left a nice anchorage in the reef at Gili Luang and tried to sail all the way around to the Gili's on the North western side. During each leg the wind was ALWAYS 10 degrees too high to sail. I kept thinking it would be perfect once we bore off twenty degrees for the next leg. We finally ended the last leg with 20+ knots on the nose..uggh you can't win.. if you get wind you usually can't use it!!

We pulled into a bay just east of the more exposed Gili's. I noticed immediately that we were in 50 feet of water and we still had a mile to go.. it was looking promising. We settled into the sheltered bay in 40 feet, with good holding (sand) and protection from almost all directions except due north. No shelf, just a couple of boats and there is a HUGE resort off the north-east side of the bay. Five star resort golf etc ... we were definitely getting to the more touristy sections of Indonesia. The locals weren't used to boats but were very helpful and willing to go out of their way to help. Fuel deliver to the beach was only 2 cents more per liter than the pump price and there was a nice little resort that was happy to have cruisers.

The Medana Resort was true paradise. After a walk around a local village, through the coconut trees (turn left at the cow), along a bamboo berm and over some large stones we arrived at the side gate. The resort had a beautiful landscaped pool, lush tropical gardens, cold beer, cheap fantastic meals and ice cream. We met the owners Steve and his Indonesian wife Resti, who were fantastically helpful and even arranged to have the immigration people come to the resort to pick up our passports to extend our Visas. Visa extensions by the pool.. yes!! We spent the first day just hanging out under the gazebo which hung over the pool. Cool drinks, lunches served, ice cream for desert; all a quick flop away from the pool water. The girls were there from 8am to 7pm and the boys spent the whole afternoon. Dinner was also fantastic. The resort only has six vilas and only had one couple staying there at the time of the cruiser invasion. Jim on Blue Sky.. Now know as "Big Mouth Jim" had enthusiastically described the anchorage to one boat on the radio. From what I hear it was a 10 minute marketing spiel and the radio is never just one on one so we returned to the anchorage with 25 boats.. but it wasn't over crowded.

We hired a driver to take us into the city to do some shopping at a real grocery store. Along the way we stopped along the Monkey Road. Here the wild monkeys come out of the hills and gather on the side of the road. You can feed them and they literally eat right out of you hand. I was feeding a big alpha male a hand full of peanuts, and he took the whole thing. I thought that this was going to go a little fast so I handed him three. He looked at my offering and bared his fangs.. holy crap they have big teeth. "Fine be that way".. so I handed him two.. now he bared his fangs and moved at me quickly. I jumped up but stood my ground. "Now you only get one".. He took it and decided that he needed to show me he was the boss.. after eating his measly peanut he chased me down the road. I didn't have on any shoes and he was coming on rather fast so I chucked some peanuts over my shoulder as I ran.. I could see him thinking.."White guy or peanuts".. luckily I escaped to the car with everyone laughing hysterically at my predicament. We stopped further up with a more tame group of monkeys and no overly aggressive alpha males.. I guess this group was smart enough to figure out who butters their bread. We had a great time interacting with the monkeys.. they were so human like. Anyone who thinks we aren't descendants of monkeys only needs to spend a little time with them before changing their minds.

The city tour was ok, with a big local market even though we had some annoying locals who followed us around harassing us and then wanted to get paid at the end. We actually ate KFC for lunch at the mall and then went shopping in the grocery store which actually had sections.. you know vegetable, meat, dairy.. unlike most of the grocery stores we had seen to date. We even got to buy a couple of Toblerone bars for our sin bin!!

When we returned to the anchorage there were now 35 boats, and I was a little nervous about staying for dinner at the resort because it was such a small place. Resti and the staff handled it amazingly well. They took dinner orders early and asked what time you wanted it served. At the specified time you sat down and got your fantastic meal. I'm not sure how many dinners they served that night but I know they filled the restaurant three times and it went like clockwork. The next day, as the new arrivals dealt with filling tanks with fuel and water and arranging rides to town, we enjoyed the pool and cold beers and ice cream ... not necessarily in that order. One day I even went ashore while KT worked on the computer -- because I could!! I wasn't sure how I was ever going to get KT back on the boat.

The last day I was walking around the grounds and I came across a small local boat buried in the ground as a flower pot.. it was named Paradise.. and I had found it.
Continue reading "Paradise Found"...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Dragon Tails

Blog Location: Rinca Island, Indonesia
Blog position: 8 39.11 S 119 42.82 E

Current Location: Lovina - Bali, Indonesia
Current Location: 8 09.69 S 115 01.18 E
Next Destination: Kumai - Borneo, Indonesia

KT and I had both read a little about the Komodo Dragons and we were very much looking forward to the experience. We left Labuan Bajo for the quick motor-sail to Rinca (only Rinca and Komodo have easily accessible dragons). We anchored in the narrow bay off the park headquarters and decided to stumble ashore to arrange our dragon trip the next morning. As we got out of the dinghy I noticed a large dragon sitting under the entrance sign trying to get some shade. At first KT couldn't believe it was real because it was so perfectly situated, almost like a carving. After we cautiously passed the dragon we had a bit of a walk to get to the headquarters. We passed hundreds of monkeys on the way. They were a little skittish and had a well defined buffer zone (of how near they would let us get to them before running off), but they were fun to watch.

We talked to a guide and got some information about the available morning trips, and then he pointed us towards the ranger cabins and the dragons just hanging around the place. We got a chance to follow a HUGE 3+ meter (10 feet) dragon down a trail. Their walk is very macho; they swagger with leg muscles flexed and sway their entire body, easily taking up the walking trail designed for two people walking side by side. They are awesome.. this is not just a little gecko steroids. They have massive claws and large teeth but the scary thing is their saliva. A Komodo can easily kill a small deer or pig in one fight, but a huge water buffalo is a different story. They bite the water buffalo, usually in low hanging places like the bits, and then come back later. The bacteria is so septic it causes blood poisoning and kills the buffalo in a couple of days. The rangers told us a story of another guide who fell asleep and let his arm droop down. A dragon took a bite and it took two trips to the hospital including a one month stay to get him right again... YIKES. Needless to say we were excited for our trip.

We started early at 7:00 to stay out of the heat of the day. From the start the inland of Rinca has a very Jurassic feel to it; High volcanic mountains, fossil cliffs, dry plains and watering holes. We spotted our first dragon in the "Dragons Nest", where we came upon a female tending to the various holes/caves they the lay their eggs in. They only have one which they actually use and the others are used as decoys to keep the cannibalistic elders from eating the young. The female lays 15-30 eggs and they hatch in 8-9 months. Once born the young dragons spend their first years living in the trees (eating bugs and geckos for food) because the larger adults can't climb them. This female was doing a lot of digging as were a number of nearby, strange looking flightless birds ... both were kicking up a huge cloud of dust.

We walked through a thick blanket of trees, filled with monkeys and smaller lizards. The lighting and sounds of various animals created a very eerie uneasy feeling. As we were walking across the savanna we came across numerous water buffalo skulls, propped up on stones by the guides. It literally looked like we were walking into the Jurassic wild. Dragons hunt by waiting next to game trails and pouncing on the unsuspecting prey. A single 50kg Dragon can eat a 40kg deer. As we walked through the knee high dry grass, guarded only by a guide with a stick, I wondered if we were next. As we neared the watering hole our guide suggested that this was a VERY dangerous place and we must be on constant lookout. Just moments after his warning we noticed a 2+ meter dragon bulldozing through the grass up a hill five meters away (a smaller dragon can run faster than a human)! The dragons we found we pretty relaxed, in fact our guide even suggested we touch their tail ... "Dragging the dragon". He also gave us a few suggestions; "If their head is down, OK. If their head comes up and they start licking (smelling), be on the look out. If they get the smell of meat (blood), nothing will slow them down!" Having properly prepared us he said, "Okay, now you touch". As I was the last (of four) to touch the dragon's tail, I felt a little like the movie "Wild Hogs" where they are smacking the bull on the butt ... all is good for the first guy, but as the second gets ready a local mentions "nobody has ever done it twice in a row" ... and then all hell breaks loose!!! Luckily our dragon wasn't as sensitive as the bull in the movie. His tail was REALLY heavy, and I just couldn't let it go ... I had to give it a shake!!

We continued up the hills, through taller grass, until we reached a huge plain where we came across a couple of wild horses (last year there was three but the dragons got one). I can't imagine one of these huge dragons chasing down a horse. No wonder the horse were so skittish. Our guide also was kind enough to show us the various types of dragon poo. There is the pile of white, which is the bones, teeth, and hooves of whatever they have eaten. He even picked up a small deer hoof off the top of a dried turd and handed it to KT, who handled it quite inquisitively until she realized it had just come from Dragon poo. Then there was the fur ball poo. If you think Bill the cat coughed up a lot of fur balls, imagine the dragons ACKKKKK after a 40kg deer. He even showed us "the rest" poo, which is just what you'd expect.. only a little bigger. Since a dragon eats the whole lot, its digestive system compartmentalizes the various portions to get the most efficient use of each bit.

We continued our beautiful walk, with panoramic views into the valleys below, stopping for water breaks and long stories from our guide. He started out rather slowly but seemed to pick up the pace as the morning wore on. During one long quiet break I heard a rustle in the bush and watched as a dragon came out of its hiding place a short distance away. We had no idea it was even there. Our four hour hike ended with a nice cold beer surrounded by more dragons in the cabin area. I guess you can even rent one of the rooms, although make sure you get a good nights sleep BEFORE you see the dragons. I don't think you'd sleep very well AFTER the tour ... not with all those dragons hanging around while you slept (talk about a new type of anchor watch).

After a hot hike we couldn't think of anything better than a nice cold ocean dip.. but Dragons CAN swim. We moved outside the lagoon and rafted up with Island Sonata on a mooring ball. We watched the monkeys and deer raid the beach as the sun set.

Continue reading "Dragon Tails"...

Friday, September 07, 2007

Billabong in Bali

September 23 - 28, 2007

We were one of the last boats to arrive in Lovina on the north coast of Bali. We knew the anchorage would be almost full of boats because Bali is one of the traditional favorite stops in the rally, for no other reason than it is a beautiful touristy spot. Bali attracts over one million visitors a year and the local culture is dominated by tourist related activities. Once again a great local stage was created on the beach, complete with seating in the shade and water to wash the black volcanic beach sand off your feet. We spent the day enjoying the more upscale side of life including our first Internet in over two months (even had wireless to the boat), and a nice lunch with friends we hadn't caught up with in a while. We got the skinny on some good places to eat, fun things to do; ah the joys of having someone to do the "hard part" of scoping out the place out for us.

As we walked around we immediately noticed the aggressive nature of the people selling things here (ah the joys of tourism). They would literally run out and practically beg you to visit their shop or stand. "Hey mister needed transport, need t-shirt". They have an amazing memory and the rest of our stay we were greeted by "hey Chris come have a look", "special happy price for you Chris". Kt was forever known as "Mrs Chris" but we found that the only way we could avoid the onslaught of attention was to be on the cell phone. They would quickly interrupt a regular conversation but for some reason they had infinite respect for someone talking on the phone. We regularly walked by "fake chatting" and talking to each other because it worked so well.

The Balinese religion is called Agama Hindu Dharma, and is a unique blend of Hindu, Buddhist, Javanese and indigenous beliefs. The first thing you notice is all the offerings. Fire, water and flowers are all the basic components of an offering and once you know what to look for you will see them everywhere. The most common are small offerings placed in front of shops, driveways, and even on the motor scooters. They are made with small woven baskets of palm leaf, and are usually filled with flowers and a small piece of food (rice or Ritz cracker). Other small offerings are presented after cooking or before eating. It is hard to walk more than a couple of minutes without noticing some sort of offering or small temple. The most noticeable offering is called a penjor and is a large decorated bamboo pole. They are intricately decorated along the entire length of the pole, which gentle curves down at the top end and is finished with a beautiful palm leaf creation that hangs off the top. On the side streets of Lovina they covered ever inch of the edges of the street. I felt rather strange when I first noticed the Swastika in a couple of very religious places. Little did I know it was the original Hindu swastika, which has been their symbol for safety, peace, happiness, and blessings for thousands of years. It was NOT the Nazi swastika, which is a rotated version of the same symbol.

The first event was the welcome gala dinner, which started with some fantastic dancing. I can't even begin to describe the beauty and intricacy of the dances. The costumes are so colorful and bright and every piece of the costume was used in the dance. Extra scarves or shawls quickly become the highlight of one dance while some of the male dancers used masks, weapons and finger extensions as their extras. The women even used their eyes to accentuate a dance move. They would open their eyes so big and then shift their eyeballs quickly to complete the expression. It was truly amazing and sometimes rather freaky. The music is very upbeat and perfectly in sync with the dancers every move, which might just be a quick flick of the finger and an eye movement. I don't know how they choreographed the dance and the music so well. It was explained to us that they spend years learning the dances, as everything from their facial expressions (smiles, frowns, wide-eyes, eyebrow movement, etc) to the slightest finger moments are considered part of the dance. The dancing was followed by a fantastic dinner, where separate tables highlighted traditional dishes of various main ingredients. There were tables for everything; seafood, vegetarian, pork, chicken and even a dessert table. It was funny trying to watch the other tourists sneak in for the free food.. "Which boat are you on?" someone would ask.. "Um,ah, we are friends with THAT boat," they would point. There was plenty of food to go around and everyone had a great evening.

The next day KT REALLY got into the decadent offerings of Bali and had a four-hour "spa day" complete with massage, body scrub, facial and pedicure; all for $25. John and I went to the neighboring town to hunt down some Gado-gado sauce (a great local peanut sauce mix) and some light bulbs. It was a very busy town and market, complete with a full-blown grocery store. After a couple hours of searching John finally found the light bulbs and I bought some highly sought after streaky bacon (last seen in Australia). We headed back to check on the girls, they couldn't have been more relaxed and loose if they were Jell-O.. "We are never going to get them back on the boat again" I said to John. We had another amazing display of dancing on the beach before we joined some friends for dinner and drinks at a back alley restaurant. The food was ok but half the staff was missing so Warren (from Mico Verde) became the bar tender after the waitress unlocked the booze and I had to restock the tonic water after we drank them out of it with Warren's heavy handed Gin and Tonics.

The following day KT took a Balinese cooking class with Steph on Mico Verde and learned how to make nine tasty Indonesian dishes. I bumped into the rest of the gang at a fantastic hotel called Chonos. Irena from Moose raved about the Dutch French fries and said they we almost better than at home. The best part was the wet cool scented towels they gave you when you first sat down. Nothing felt better then a cold towel on your neck and a good wipe down. I liked it so much I took KT back for dinner, where they added a welcome drink to the towels as we indulged in a romantic dinner all by ourselves at the pool. I had smoked salmon and cream cheese linguini that was as good if not better than any meal in the states. Yummm!!

We planned a road trip to the tourist center on the southern side of the island with stops at some of the more famous Balinese spots on the way. We hired an air-conditioned van complete with a driver for $75 for two days, and discovered it is not a bad way to travel. We stopped at some places like the Gitgit waterfall, Ulun Danu (temple by the lake), and the botanical gardens. We rose up into the volcanic mountains and into the fertile growing plains which had every crop available. It was amazing to see ever surface covered in crop, they even terraced the land that I thought was unreachably steep. The main produce is coffee, copra (dried coconut), spices, vegetables, and of course rice. We arrived at one temple and bought fresh strawberries, a very unexpected treat. The mountain air was cool and refreshing, a treat compared the humid hot air of the northern side's beaches. We traveled on to the Tanah Lot temple (pictured left), which is beautifully built temple built into the rocks over the ocean. KT and I had seen it on a video and promised ourselves we would visit it if we ever got the chance. It was a very beautiful spot and the southern ocean surf was pounding. I was glad we didn't try and anchor here!! But like all famous spots in Bali the path leading up to the temple was completely covered in souvenir and craft shops. It was amazing. Some people even got harassed inside of temples that they went to. It was a little much. One vendor had a flying fox (fruit bat) on display that you could feed for a small donation. It was amazing to see one of these creatures up close after we have seen so many flying in the wild. Their face definitely looks like a small furry fox, complete with big teeth.

We continued onto the Tourist center Kuta. When you arrive, you realize that you might as well be in a large beach city in the states, with some slight subtle differences. Sure they have all the nice shops, Versace, D&G, and on and on. The prices are even straight from the states as well, no special "happy price" here. We "splurged" by staying the night at the Hard Rock hotel, making it more affordable by getting a three-bed loft room and splitting it three ways (with Mico Verde and Island Sonata). The pool was huge and overlooked the main surf beach in Kuta that was filled with tourists. Warren and I really wanted to take some surf lessons so we strolled down the beach trying to find a way to squeeze in a surf lesson before sunset or in the early morning. The surf was huge (at least 6 feet) and quickly breaking, just getting ready to dump us in the shallow sand; and that was the inner break. The outer break, which was about 1/2 mile out, was even bigger. Warren got this crazy look in his eye as he ran down the beach, out to try and body surf the inner wave. I got ready by searching for the nearest lifeguard tower, and had my cell phone ready for the inevitable emergency phone call to his wife. He emerged about five minutes later looking like a drowned rat and said "holy crap that's big!!"

I don't know what it is about cruisers but we start to obsess about food we haven't had in a while. We all had the typical Pavlovian drooling response when we saw the McDonalds, KFC and Dunkin Donut shops. We had the evening and morning planned out, and it mostly revolved around junk food. We started out with a double cheeseburger and fries appetizer at McDonalds. Then we stopped at Dunkin Donuts only to find out they didn't have any Munchkins, which was highly disappointing for KT. We completed the night by having dinner at KFC and dessert at New Zealand Naturals, a great ice cream shop we discovered in Australia of all places. We bought some pirated $1 movies and then returned to the room for a night of air-conditioned TV watching.. Ah heaven!! The others returned with strange stories of a Krispy Kreme donuts bag they had seen in another tourist hands before they attacked them for specifics of the shop's location (Krispy Kreme was now on our morning agenda). Ok a full belly of junk food and three couples crammed into one room didn't make for the best nights sleep but we survived.

Now it was breakfast time. I headed off in search of the Krispy Kreme Donuts store only to bump in to Stephanie who was returning from her failed attempt to find said paradise! I went a different direction and must have walked five miles before I found it!! But it didn't open until 9:00. Same as the Starbucks. How on earth these people can survive until 9 am without coffee is beyond me. I decided to check out McDonalds and was drooling over the thought of a Bacon, egg and cheese biscuit breakfast sandwich. Ok, in reality I know that there is no concept of biscuits, as we know them in the southern hemisphere ... their biscuits are crackers or cookies (they have no idea what they are missing). So I was really ready for a Bacon & Egg McMuffin. I almost cried when I asked for the breakfast menu and the guy pointed to something that looked like fried chicken. They didn't even have a breakfast menu!! On top of that the Dunkin donuts still hadn't made the munchkins.. I felt obliged to tell them that you don't really have to make them they are just a by-product of the donut making process but I held back. uggh!! Warren was on such a McDonalds kick that he gorged himself on a Big Mac and fries for breakfast.. Hey get it while you can. The others checked out of the hotel as I ran to Starbucks to pay an obscene $6.00 for two cups of coffee. Hey that's 1/5 our daily cruising budget. I must say it didn't meet expectations. Our driver was amazed when we told him our first stop of the day would be a donut shop. We ordered two dozen and did the completely dorky thing and had the counter guy take our photo; complete with the Krispy Kreme hats on our heads. Now I must say if you have gone YEARS without a Krispy Kreme Donut the first bite is heaven. Even Warren wolfed down a couple to complete his junk food breakfast. We offered one to the driver who thought we must be crazy to spend $9 on two-dozen donuts. His only comment... "Sweet"!!

We continued onto Mas, a touristy area known for its woodcarvings. They do have some amazing carvings, some of them are so huge I have no idea where you would even put them. I guess a lot of their market must be for export because they had a lot of western looking carvings of bears and salmon. But the top seller seemed to be a Southern California beach girl in her bikini. The guy who sold those wasn't even into bargaining for other items because he exported so many of his girls. The labor must be so cheap here. I had one local offer me the most intricate bone carvings, which must have taken weeks to make. Four dollars for two.. But they weren't my style so I said no. He kept trying and trying before he finally gave up as we drove off. The next stop was Ubud, a very crazy tourist shopping market. It was insane, everyone trying to get you to buy something. By now we were on to the seller's tricks; starting out about 10 times what the item was worth so that you felt good when you only paid twice as much. We were also getting a little sick of being taken advantage of when we asked the price of something (in other spots) only to be told twice the price because we were white. It was actually kind of fun to walk through the market and not care. If someone started out to high we just walked away. KT came up with concept of the "walk away price". KT would name her price that she wanted to pay. They would try to get her negotiate up but she stood firm. Then as she walked away they would call out "okay, okay", and she usually got exactly what she wanted for her price. It was really funny we talked about a "Bali-bong" T-shirt. She asked me twice what my walk away price was before I realized that SHE really wanted it and was willing to pay a little more.

Sometimes when you purchase something, they feel that you have made them lucky and many times they rubbed our money on the rest of the items in the shop. We bought huge sachets of saffron for $1, and even managed to buy a couple of cool pieces of artwork. By now we were shopped out.. Done.. finito!! We headed back over the mountain and stopped at the volcano view only to be accosted by the most aggressive peddlers yet. These women chased us around trying to sell us sarongs and wouldn't take no for an answer. One woman grabbed me and actually wrapped it around me.. Yikes. She kept asking, "What you want". Finally Warren tried to explain in his broken Indonesian that we just wanted her to go away. "But I live here" she replied!!

Turns out we picked one of the best times to spend the night off the boat. It was very rolly when we returned but people said the previous night was even worse. We spent the morning on the boat trying to get some blogs and web updates completed before we decided we could be doing it on land in an air-conditioned building. hmm duhh. We had lunch at Chanos again ... this time a smoke salmon baguette sandwich. Then, we even returned for dinner to show Island Sonata and Mico Verde our little paradise, once again filling myself to the brim with smoked salmon. Hey you never know when you'll come across it again.

We had a great time in Bali, and I think we got the complete experience. Our trip to the "other [touristy] side" was a fun break but I really enjoyed just exploring the neighboring villages and beaches around Lovina. One day I took a camera and headed down the beach. The local boats are colorful and some have the face of a marlin carved into the front. One of the smaller local boats was named "Window to the World" which got me thinking about our trip. I also bumped into a local boat named Billabong. Away from the hustle and the bustle of the tourists these were people trying to make it - anyway they could. It was nice to lose myself in the rice paddies and the fishing boats. Every once in a while you'd walk around the corner and get a strong whiff of cloves. You'd look over the wall past the brightly decorated temple and find a huge patch of cloves drying in the mid-day sun. Bali, A complete sensory experience.
Continue reading "Billabong in Bali"...