Today was similar to mine and Sarah’s time on the islands. The four of us didn’t do much, instead we sat on the beach for a while, took a stroll, and visited a market. Yet somehow having only done so little we still managed to walk so far. We walked for miles, at least that’s how it felt. And once again our day didn’t end until gone midnight.
• For some unknown reason Sarah felt the need to wake me up early this morning to know the time. There was no reason for this as we didn’t need to be up and ready until 10am. Just one of her many quirks I guess. Her defence was that she couldn’t sleep comfortably knowing there wasn’t an alarm set. After getting back to sleep neither of us woke up until 9:30am. Sarah was the first to get ready, with me leaving it until 9:55 in order to be causally late for breakfast.
• When we were ready we headed downstairs to enjoy breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant. The food was well presented, but that usually means you don’t get very much. In this case one small hash brown was all I received, when on the menu I could’ve sworn they were plural. After eating we returned to our rooms to apply sunscreen and pack the dry bag with goods. When everyone was ready we set off for the beach.
• Our hotel was perfectly located, no more than 500m away was the sandy beast. When we arrived the first thing I noticed was the size and frequency of the waves. No wonder there were so many surf schools around Bali, these waves were perfect for it. I’ve always wanted to learn how to surf, so by the time we leave the island, hopefully I will have partaken in a class or two. The sand itself wasn’t very nice. It was a dark colour, we presumed it was because there were a lot of volcanoes on the island, and the sand contained volcanic ash. A little way down the beach the waves were a horrible orangey brown shade. Why that was we didn’t know, but it made the place look dirty. Instead of sitting near the entrance to the beach we continued until we got bored. Along the way we passed luxurious looking resorts, one of which contained a really long infinity pool. There were sun loungers every 5 yards along the beach, each set had Balinesian men heckling to get our attention as we walked by. After walking for about a mile we could see a construction sight in the distance, and we were no longer coming across loungers. That was when we chose to turn around and hire some sun beds in the direction we’d just come. Sarah did the haggling, at first the man wanted 50,000 per bed, but after Sarah read in the lonely planet they should only cost 15,000, that’s what we paid.
• The waves were deceiving. One minute they’d keep at bay on the shore, then all of a sudden they’d come right in as far as our beds. Even coming as far as where we were led, leaving us surrounded by water until they went out again. By now I was miles behind on my blog, so for the whole time we led there I read over old ones hoping to catch up. All the while Sarah was trying to tell me fun facts about Bali from the lonely planet. I wish I could have given her more attention as everything she was saying sounded like great fun, and it made me wish we’d come to Bali sooner. But my blog was my curse, and so long as she was around I’d never truly be free. After a couple hours there was a slight drizzle of rain. In the distance we could see a huge team of storm clouds coming in, so we packed up shop and returned to our hotel.
• Just in the nick of time. As we were walking back the rain came down a little heavier, but by the time we’d reached our rooms the heavens had opened. Sarah and I both took showers to get rid of any sand stuck to our bodies. We moved around like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible. We were extremely careful not to get any sand on the bed or surrounding area, as it’s a horrible substance to sleep with. We also used the bum spray hose to push any loose sand down the drain, all in all the sand removal was a success. When we were dried and dressed we all sat in the restaurant while we waited for the storm to pass. As time went on the rain grew less and less, until eventually it stopped. This was our time to strike. We decided to take a stroll around Seminyak to see what we could see.
• Seminyak isn’t a pretty place. To say it’s in Bali, it certainly doesn’t look like a place you’d associate with it. As I’ve said before, the roads are of bad quality, the hustle and bustle of traffic is a nightmare, and it just looks outright dirty. Thanks to the rain the roads were soaked, large puddles formed in the cambers, so when any cars passed they splashed us. That wasn’t fun. The strange thing about the area were the salesmen. Every shop we walked by we were constantly heckled by the owners.
“My friend, good’ay mate, hello my lovely”, were just some of the many terms of endearment they used to try and pry us in. I was actually in the market for one particular item… a plug adapter. Everywhere else we’d had no problems charging our devices, except for Indonesia. It had a different socket to the others. Instead of a three pronged plug like home and Singapore, and instead of the two flat pin plugs like Thailand, Vietnam, and the others, Bali required two circular pinned plugs. Even attempting to stretch our current plugs didn’t make a difference, so an adapter would be something we’d need given the fact we’d be here for 3 more weeks. I enquired at one shop but after the man said 100,000 (£6) I said “no thanks”, and walked away. There would be other cheaper places to go.
• As we continued around the many different roads, two more things made themselves apparent. The road users didn’t care how they got around, and there were countless offerings to the gods lining the pavements all over. In fact you had to go careful not to kick them as you walked. They were only small decorative pieces comprised of a banana leaf, some small colourful flowers, and a few incense sticks. It wasn’t much, but to the people it was a huge deal I’m sure. As for the traffic, Sarah and I were completely used to the mayhem by now. Especially after visiting Hanoi, Vietnam. This was tame if anything, but to Ann and Simon it was pandemonium. Every junction had no lights to control the flow, it was a case of do or die. Every driver manoeuvred around the other in a vehicular ballet of horn blasting and narrow misses. As we walked along the pavements we had to watch out for the odd scooter rider who was too impatient to wait on the road. It made Simon and Ann laugh, but to Sarah and I this was day to day living. They made sure to capture the sight on camera, and I’m sure this would be one of the things they’d take home with them to tell to others.
• We didn’t achieve anything by the end of our walk, only learning that Seminyak was quite a dirty place. Fingers crossed for Ubud – our next stop. When the four of us couldn’t stand the constant honking and swerving traffic any longer, we took a side road which lead to the beach. From there we could easily navigate our way back peacefully. Seeing as it was 6pm by this point we decided to stop in one of the many beach bars for a beer. We located the best one with large beanbags outside, which made for really nice chairs to relax on as we drank. I had a large Bintang, as did Simon, whereas the girls only had small ones. We were hoping to see a great sunset because of how cloudy the sky was. Past experience had taught us it usually made for the best ones. However, tonight was an exception. It was too cloudy and dark. The setting sun still reflected on the shore whenever it broke through the odd patch in the sky. Instead of seeing a sunset, we were treated to the hilarious sight of a dachshund attempting to mount a much large dog. Where the dachshund was so small it fell over every time. There was also a brief moment where Simon fell asleep, which Sarah cheekily caught on camera. After our drinks we found the exit we wanted and returned to the hotel.
• I took the second shower of the day when I got back to the room, for the same reason as the first. To get rid of the sand. Because I got back ahead of Sarah and her parents (because they all walk so slowly) she gave me the bad news. They had been discussing it and came up with the idea of going to another market. At first I said I wasn’t going, and would instead stay behind to work on my blog. I even went as far as sitting in the shower and folded my arms like a toddler to show my distaste for the idea. When I got out and dried I put on my pyjamas bottoms and began reading through old blogs. It was then Sarah said this night be our last opportunity to get clothes, as they had removed the big markets in Ubud to make room for new building, thanks to the increase in tourism. This could’ve been, and probably was, just a ploy to trick me into going. Either way it worked. I then got dressed and the four of us went to reception. There Sarah got information about a so called “good indoor market” named Krishna market. The receptionist then told us it should cost no more than 50,000 rupiah for a taxi. After finding one outside, that’s all we paid.
• When we reached this indoor market we were greeted at the entrance by a lady with stickers. These were welcome stickers you received just for showing up. If only everything in life was so rewarding. It turned out to be a complete dive. Inside it was like a hybrid of Lidl, Primark, and TK Max, all rolled into one. It appeared to be a wholesale place where all the locals went to buy clothes and household items. It wasn’t what we had in mind, and I think we were the only foreigners there. It’s safe to say we didn’t stay long before finding another taxi driver outside to take us away.
• The driver was really friendly and spoke great English. He told us of the many things to do in Bali, and even said any longer than 3 weeks would be too much. As there are day trips you can do which last around 10 hours, and they take you all around the island to see the hotspots. With trips like that you’d see the island in no time. We asked him how much it would cost us in a couple days time to get a taxi to Ubud. He said it would cost around 400,000 if we wanted to make stops along the way to various tourist attractions, but if we wanted to go straight there it would be around 250,000 rupiah. He then gave us a business card so we could contact him on the day, and told us when we reached Ubud he had a friend there who could drive us around.
• The driver took us to Legian street (pronounced Leg-e-an), as there were market stalls and shops which were still open. By now I was still unhappy because of the ever present thought of having my blogs to attend to. This is what I mean when I say it’s a curse, when I’m on top of them it’s great, but when I get behind, it plagues me and won’t let go. We did a whole loop of the block, looking at each shop as we went. It wasn’t until the second time around that I cheered up, and began to forget about the blog. At first I was annoyed by the constant presence of the shop owners watching over me as I looked at their goods, but after a while I made a joke of it. I found the more you had a laugh with them, the more fun the bartering process became. They tend to use the “good’ay mate” phrase a lot, on account of all the Australians that fly to Bali for their holidays. These shops were amazing, granted they stocked the worst quality copies in Asia, but for the prices they were asking, it was practically a steal. It also kind of made me wish I’d bought more clothes in the previous countries because of the poor quality. In the first shop I managed to buy a pair of Quicksilver board shorts for 80,000 (£5.40). Bargain. In the next shop I had more of a laugh with the shop owner. He noticed I had a bag with a newly purchased item in, so he asked me how much I’d spent. I lied and said 70,000, and pointed at some board shorts he had for sale so he knew what was in my bag. He then said quietly to me, “I give you good price, 60,000”. I wasn’t interested in any more boardies until then. Instead I had my eye on a bright pink pair of Bintang swimming shorts. After rifling through the boardies on offer, I found a pair I liked. I managed to buy both for 100,000 (£6.74). They’d probably fall apart in less than 24 hours, but for the time being I was ecstatic with my haggling skills. I left the store like a merchant buying god.
• The next, and possibly most important item on my agenda, was a pair of trainers. Seeing as I’d slacked off exercising for so long, and the rebuild of Ben Norris 2.0 went out the window no sooner than it started, I’d need some good trainers for the gym in Oz. I really liked the light weight Nikes on offer, but after asking in several stores, nowhere stocked my size. One shop owner even said I had Kong Kong feet. Sometimes I wonder if they know they’re being offensive and just say it anyway. I only laughed before we continued on the search. Eventually, when we reached the end of the shops, we found one more shoe store. This was my last hope. We asked about their biggest sizes in the light weight Nikes, but they too only went up to a UK 9. That was too small. To give them their due, they are very god at estimating your size just from looking. He predicted I was around a twelve, and said he had some which were bigger. He pointed to the Vans, but they’d be too thick and sweaty for what I wanted them for. He then found a different pair of Nikes which were incredible. They were a little grubby looking around the bottoms, but that could be fixed. They were a pair of purple and black Nike Airs. These would be perfect for the gym. He said he had sizes 11 and 11.5. Before leaving England I was a UK 13, but could just about get away with squeezing into a 12. I tried them on anyway, not thinking they’d fit, but much like Cinderella, they were a perfect fit. Perhaps because I’d lost so much weight this trip my feet had too, or perhaps the shoes measurements were off. Either way I was elated to find out these beautiful knock offs fit me. Next came the haggling process. He started off asking for 550,000 (£37), they were nice looking shoes, but at the end of the day they were still fakes. Sarah did the haggling for me, for some reason, and they both spoke in Aussie dollars.
“He doesn’t want to pay anymore than 35 dollars”, speaking like I was some high class client of hers who operated behind the scenes.
“No, you give me a better price”.
We were adamant I wouldn’t budge. When he thought we were about to leave, and he was about to lose custom, he cracked.
“Ok, ok, you can have for that price”.
I always feel bad when they give in like that, like I’m giving them a bum deal. But at the end of the day I am sure they start their prices off at an insultingly high level anyway. for now though, I had managed to buy a great looking pair of trainers for just £23. Just as I was about to pay, Ann and Simon stepped in and told me to put my money away. They said they would buy them for me as a birthday present (which by the way readers is on the 24th of May). I thanked them sincerely for their kindness, then shortly after my purchase Sarah was blinded by all the shoes, and even more so at the possibility of buying a cheap pair for herself. It was too much for her to handle and she cracked. She ended up getting a pair of bright blue low top Vans for just £6.50. Another bargain. After that, Ann and Sarah bought some coasters for their home, then we called it quits on the shopping. We then walked around the block one more time until we found somewhere to eat.
• We found one of the best restaurants yet. It was called “Mozzarella”, and they sold dishes which were out of this world. We each had a different plate, and were each happy with what we got. I don’t remember the others orders because I was too wrapped up in what was going on on my plate. I had the wrapped chicken steak. For the first time since being away I actually got a whole chicken breast, not the scraggly little bits you wouldn’t even give to a dog. It was a chicken breast wrapped in bacon and came with mashed potato and a mushroom cream sauce. One word. Delicious. At the end was where it all fell apart. We had the monstrous job of figuring out who owed what, and who owed what to whom from earlier that day. It all became very confusing, so I sat back and watched Ann the banker and Sarah the stress ball work it out. The right money was paid, and the correct change received. We then left for our hotel.
• We decided against a taxi when we learned it wasn’t too far a walk. Around 20 minutes they said. I still wish we’d got one, it would’ve saved a lot of time, and would’ve meant we got in before midnight. On the walk back were constantly beeped at by passing taxis to let us know they were available if we wanted. We walked and walked but didn’t recognise any of our surroundings. Simon was the only one with the keen eye, after remembering what he’d seen in the taxi earlier on. Ann and Simon needed to get money out on the way back, but had to go without when none of the machines worked. I was always much farther ahead than the others, not because I was in a mood, or because I didn’t like them, it was just because my legs were much longer, and they walked a lot slower. I stopped several times for them to catch up, but time and time again I found it kept happening. I was always about 15 metres ahead. In the end I gave up waiting because I just couldn’t walk at their pace. I got back to the hotel before them and was in my pyjamas by the time Sarah reached our room. We said our good nights at the door, then got comfy on the bed.
• We put the telly on to see what sort of channels they had. It was when I found the MTV channel that I discovered possibly the worst tv show ever created. Why tv companies waste good money to make atrocious television like this, and why people invest their time watching the idiots on it is any wonder to me. The tv show was called “Geordie Shore”. It’s a reality show set in Newcastle, and it follows a group of mid-twenty something’s who can’t have a single brain cell between them. The guys are all about fake tan, muscles and women. And the women are all about fake tan, make up, and daddy issues. What a crock of **** that show is. I was both captivated and appalled at the same time. I found I couldn’t stop watching it just because I wanted to see what stupid thing they did next. It was funny to see subtitles running across the screen each time they spoke. This was so the American viewers could understand the drivel that came out of their mouths. I remember Cheryl Cole was kicked off America’s Got Talent’s judging panel because nobody could understand her Geordie accent. Speaking of which, she is just as bad as the cast on that show. God, I knew watching that show would irk and irritate me. The cast get glory for nothing. Why do people like that exist, off screen no doubt they all have god complexes, believing they are celebrities. All they are, are bottom of the barrel Z-listers, who have amounted to nothing but boozing and swearing in tv. Take that away and what do they have really. Now, that’s enough about that. My little rant is over. The second the tv show went off I began working on my blog. That was, after I got the phone back from Sarah of course. She had sent our friend Beth a massive message. I think Beth would need a book mark to go along with it, it was practically an essay. It was 1am when I started, and it’s 3:30am now that I’ve finished. Oh the joys of being a writer. Hopefully tomorrow I’d have caught up and I’d have a little more time to myself.