Sunday, September 10, 2006

Day 1 - Our first day in Ubud / Bali

Well, flying was quite okay as I mentioned in my previous post, we've not even felt that it was lasting for ~19 hours. Bangkok Duty-free offered an amazingly high amount of books about sex crime with Thai girls and Lost-in-Asia, written by europeans caught in the dark cells of asian prison, assuming cause of dealing or consuming drugs. A big advice in most of our guides and we took it serious: Don't fiddle arround even with Ganja in Indonesia (not like in Goa).

Other goods were orchids orchids in paper bags, booz and massage right on the airport - but the price was quite too high and we'd rather waited for the famous massage girls on Bali for less then 5 Bucks. Arriving at Bali was not as paradisic like someone would imagine - no Hula Girls hanging flowers arround your neck, but the balinesian type of smiling and always calm catched us already at the airport. We've joked and smiled arround with the police at the custom while finishing our visa, and the small airport at Denpasar has it's own charme anyway. Inside of the non-AC'ed cab, we've had our first expirience of the city itself, and the reason why most of the travellers coming to denpasar want to leave it as fast as possible. Even though there is a museum which is worth to give a visit and a very impressive temple, the dusted civilisation, thousands of shops after each other, millions of noisy motor-bicycles and an overall chaos on the street on Bali's capital pushes all romantic parts aside.

On a later educational bicyle tour half down from mount-batur we had a quite modern guide, who gave us the background story of why so much garbage lays arround all over the place. Coming back from the older days, the balinesian folks are used to eat all of their food on plates out of banana-leaves, even soup and the rice. After finishing their meal, they get arround of the dish-washing and get rid of the vegetal plate by just throwing it away, whereever they stay or sit and ate. After introduction of plastic to the island, the education in school and regular life for the difference between plastic and banana-leaves is totally missing. Even teachers on Bali don't know about it, and the gouvernment still only plans to invest more into educating the civilisation how to handle the rubbish. So at almost each place on the island you will find hills of plastic, which is obviously emberrassing and disgusting for the tourists - they even burn the plastic right in the dried rice plants and have no idea about the toxic consequences following on such behaviour. Let's hope that will change soon!

After 40 minutes and 150.000 IDR spent on the taxi-driver, we arrived at Guci, had a quick view on the superb garden arround our bungalow and jumped into the Mandi inside of our bungalow. A mandi is basically a shower without a roof, private and right next inside of your bungalow - it provides a total different feeling of a shower, embedded into palms and watched by the various different animals in such an environment. Guci is a middle luxurious accomodation, we had no AC (fan is way enough, even though the average temperature on Bali is 31° all over the year), but hot water - it was all what we needed after such a flight. Afterwards we started to look arround, the bungalow was situated in a splendid garden and out of bamboo, mosquito-net and a perfect terrace, which you can see in our previous post.
Ubud is famous for beeing the artist centre of Bali - as each Balinese is an artist anyway, in the 1930s lots of european painters and authors came to Bali and sticked here until the rest of their life. The most popular german one who came here and literally revolutionated the modern balinese painting is Walter Spies, literally everybody on Bali knows this guy. The guci house is managed by a german woman and her indonesian husband, a painter as well, where we had one evening an extravagant and very special session over his paintings which you can check out on their page. Our bungalows were a bit southern of the crowded ubud, right next to the Monkey Forrest and worth a walk instead of beeing in the middle of it. At the first evening we did this, walked to the north and just made ourself comfortable with the environment - again lots of shops, to many for the low amount of tourists, and each meter a local offers you transport (that IS the most often word you will here on Bali), and the big amount of flowers in the tiny sacrifice-pots on the pedestrian way, to pacify the deamons who live on the ground. (to be continued...)

After our walk we settled ourself in one of the very nice caf├ęs in Ubud, the silver, Daniel had his first Bintang and the overview of the city from the terrace of the restaurant was perfect. The first impression of the town of Ubud at this moment sounded like: Nice small one, populated quite rarely, as said before each house and the one who sits in front of it wants to sell or feed you with something, and we did what is not adviced anyway: Purchasing at the first day. But we needed to assimilate ourself into the environment, so we bought two typical javanese trousers, which you tie arround your hips twice, enought of air for your balls (if you own some), and so god damn comfortable. But thats enough for purchase, we left lots of handcrafted wood-works (looked so great, one guy in Kuta even tried to sell me a 2m bow including arrows, imagine the custom guys in germany!), a gigantic amount of painings and sarongs - some very cheap material, some out of silk with perfect handmade batik - aside. Even if all of these things looked perfect, we felt well prepared that you first need to get used to the pricing balance on the island to bargain more expirienced, Ubud is quite touristic, especially with high paying Japanese folks, and wtf you expect: We plan to travel throughout the whole island with our backpacks, shall we feel as donkeys and carry that stuff for the next 3W?
We've rescheduled the shopping tour already in advance to the very last two days of our stay on Bali, until then only this or that confusement-purchase was allowed, nothing more!

We've done dinner in another place where we can't remember it's name, but it looked a bit more smart then the others, was not on the main monkey-road and still had reasonable prices. Daniel had another premiere with his first Gado-Gado, a cold salad out of mixed vegetables and sate-sauce, with Krupuk (you know these fish-chips from your chinese restaurant) added to it. Ksenia had a good chicken with rice and sate-sauce as well, plus another Bintang (headache next day proofed it) and wine: $6, tschitsching! Speaking about prices, we already started to look arround for another bungalow area, as the 13Euro for Guci were probably reasonable, but you can get similar places for 5-9 as well. Some were embedded in the middle of the rice-fields, some more others were looking more nice, and all had vacancy. The tourist amount again helped us to stay in the middle of our travel-budget, even though our monthly income allowed us a bit more then most of the travellers we met on our ongoing journey.

From our walk away from the restaurant home, we dropped by to one of the world-famous balinese dances, this one was legong. We came to late and were to tired to make one at the very first day, but we've had a cool chat with some of the locals guys watching that noone enters without paying. They were funny and we really enjoyed the music. Important for your note for the next bali-trip: Book at least two or three evenings for the dances, preferably Barong, Kebyar Duduk and the mentioned Legong. It costs not that much, even though it's very touristic, the balinesian folks are all artists and perfect actors: You won't find a difference between the highest form of perfect dance for the holy ceremonies, where most of the tourists won't find an entrance or the 100% toury-dances in ie. the Ubud Palace, north of the town. This is an expirience you will never forget, but more detailed at the day were we entered one for real.

Afterwards we fell asleep early as the jetlag and the missing sleep in the plane started to catch us - but that helped to wake up early at the next day - it is suprisingly early getting dark in SE-asia, arround 7pm it's dark like in a monkey ass. So no big terrace chilling for today, let's get asleep honey, and while eyes closing, we went on a trip of dream... so nice.

K & D

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Day 0 - Our Journey to Indonesia 2006 retrospective

Our departure was set for 3pm from Frankfurt Airport with Thai Airways International, enough time to arrive without any stress. The recent terror trouble at London Heathrow let me reconsider our arrival 2h before seem enough, but we had plenty of time - the only harassment at FFM was to get rid of any liquids from our handluggage, the check-in was straight forward and without any delay.

Ambra & Alex were so kind to lend us their backpacks, and obviously we've taken way to many things with us. From Frankfurt Thai brought us over to Bangkok, and with only 2h transit time, the next 747 brought us over to the Indonesian Island Bali, Denpasar, our final destination. The Airport's runway looks kinda funny, I wouldn't like to imagine what's happening if the plane's breaks are not working once (*splash*). Both Boing were quite comfortable, our travel-agency in Duesseldorf booked our places quite in advance very smart: The very last places at the end of the plane (row 72), we had our own two seats just for us own. But as Singapore Airlines and Emirates are the only airlines with seat-entertainment yet, this meant we needed binoculars to see the movies.

However, the economy class at asian airlines still allows to get drunk quite fast, they react on each finger-snip and bring wodka, whiskey, wine, water or whatever you else like to get asleep fast. The food from FFM -> BKK was quite nice, way better then on the trip back. Even though I hate long flights, we found enough time to entertain ourself, playing cards or finetuning our travel-plan (thanks to Stefan Loose & Lonely Planet).
On the BKK airport we had our first contact with the asian-type of shops and selling: A enormous amount of places in the duty free to get rid of your Baht, and for each tiny stand you found at least 5 asian girlies awaiting to service you.

As we arrived in Denpasar, the holiday was about to begin: at 5pm local time (CEST - 6) we made it quickly thru the customs (don't forget your visa fee), joked arround with the local police, picked up our baggage and looked out for a local Bemo to get us to Ubud as fast as possible. We haven't had any place in south-bali on our travelling plan, as
a) Kuta / Legian / Seminyak is supposed to be the touristic fassade of Bali with almost nothing typically local left but shops, hawkers, surfers and bars
b) The past two Bali Bombings kept sticking in our head, where 200 people died and more then 200 were injured
c) The first 60% of our holiday period was planned as cultural travel over the whole rest of the island

After bartering the driver down from 200% of his initial price, he brought us over to Ubud, famous to be Bali's artist and dancing center. If you are looking for balines culture, that's always the place where the travellers start their journey - and we were not disappointed. Guci's guesthouse was the first station, we've picked a room for 13euro / night, which was almost the most expensive acommodation for our whole stay. But this is going to be continued on our Day 1, as from now on:

We're on Bali, and our adventure begins!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Seperate holiday blog opened & started

Heyhooo!

Ksenia & I decided to preferably split my blog from our general holiday-blogging. It's for free anyway, and so we can keep the chronological entering of posts. As announced in my primary blog, we'll finetune and put in the first real entries this weekend, ETA for official announce is sunday night.

Until then - Stay healthy everybody
Ksenia & Daniel