Shanna woke early to see the sun rising over our first day in Bali. She lay in bed for a while watching the world light up, but couldn’t stay in bed when Bali was waiting. So I got dressed and went for a walk.
Our hotel is around the corner from Jimbaran Beach and that was the first stop. Many colourful boats lined the shore and it was a beautiful sight! Exploring the main street, about 600m away was a little scary by myself. Although the people looked with curious if not friendly stares, there was no footpath so I was walking with the scooters and cars. Plus there were stray dogs walking around everywhere – some of them looking quite sick. I'm not scared of dogs anymore but wasn’t sure how these ones would act... And the smell, it was overpowering. Decaying piles of rubbish, strange food left out to gather flies and the remnants of Hindu offerings littered the streets. The main street of Jimbaran was much busier with scooters and cars, even though it was only just after 7am, and I quickly went back to the hotel.
Our hotel is cheap, reasonably clean and has friendly staff. It is US$16/night for a big room, private bathroom (including western style toilet), Wifi, free airport pickup and breakfast. When I got back they asked if I wanted toast or banana pancakes. Pancakes it was. Sam came down and we ate. The food was good and we decided to stay here another night and spend the day exploring.
We jumped on our bikes (which we’d reassembled the night before when we arrived) and headed to Kuta to find an ATM, tourist info and more food.
Riding wasn’t as scary as expected. We quickly realized that amongst the chaos, there was a bizarre kind of order. The lack of road rules, scooters weaving in and out of cars on the wrong side of the road, scooters and motorbikes driving wherever they pleased, cars driving on the wrong side of the road, children driving motorbikes, and cars pulling out on you from side streets, didn't turn out to be as much of a problem as we'd anticipated. After we were got used to it, it became fun to ride along with the scooters and watch the passing homes and shops.
In Kuta we quickly found an ATM and Shanna went in to get money. She put the card in and the screen didn’t change. She tried putting in the PIN number – nothing. Tried hitting ‘Cancel’ – nothing. Panicking she called Sam in. He had the same result so got on the phone to the bank. Meanwhile a local man from a shop who spoke a little English came over. Shanna explained the situation and he called over some security guards from a nearby shop (lots of shops have their own security guards). They explained that the bank branch was around the corner. Turn right at the lights, then 15m on the left. Sam was getting nowhere on the phone as they couldn’t speak English so we rode to the branch. But when we turned the corner – nothing.
Sam reasoned that maybe it was the next side street so we headed back to the main road. When we rode through the lights the bank branch was 50m on the right. I guess they got their directions mixed up.
Inside the branch Shanna was told that the card would be taken out of the ATM tomorrow. And then it could be picked up. But not at this branch. At the big branch in Kuta. And Aussie guy at the next booth who lived and worked in Kuta tried to help with the directions for the other branch. After 15 minutes, three different maps drawn by three different employees, we determined it was on the same road. Back past the ATM where the incident occurred, and further along. Shanna left without any of the maps and a knowledge that in Bali we are better off looking ourselves than asking for directions. Sam used the other bank card to get some money out while we were at the bank.
We rode around in search of food and a free map. We weren’t sure where we were going but it was fun to explore a new place. We eventually found the beach and tourist spots where we were offered sarongs and massages, but settled for a small food stand where Sam got rice, chicken and soup for $15,000rp (less than $2). Then we found a small shop with a tourist information sign out the front. They had no map, and spoke no English, but we looked at the tour brochures and asked about the volcano climbing tour. We couldn’t get any real info about the tour, like how to sign up for it or where it leaves from (just assurances that they would drive us there for small fee) so we left.
We found an internet place for $4000rp/hr (50cents) and decided to look up the tours ourselves. Sam found info on the biggest volcano in Bali, Mt Agung, which is 800m taller than the highest peak in Australia. We skimmed the accounts of some people who had climbed it and read that you could just turn up in the local village and get a guide. We decided to do that the next day.
We hired a scooter for $50,000rp/day (total of less than $20 for 3 days) so we could ride up and back. The guy tried to shortchange us when we paid and when he said $60,000rp/day we went to walk away so he went back to the agreed price. But now we had to get the bikes back to our hotel. Sam would ride the scooter back while Shanna rode her bike, then come back to Kuta and switch to get Sam’s bike back. As we left the phone battery died, so we were without GPS. Luckily Shanna remembered the way (despite Sam sometimes doubting her) until we came to a big intersection. Shanna thought it was a right turn and Sam decided to quickly ride down and check it out while Shanna waited at the intersection.
The smell was the worst of the day. There were big muddy piles of sordid who-knows-what and the stench was overpowering. Plus the sun was burning and we had no sunscreen (a casualty of Australian customs liquid rules). Shanna grew quite dizzy and wondered where Sam was? It should have taken about 10 minutes and it was about 30 minutes. Something was wrong. Shanna found somewhere to sit down and used her bike for shade while worrying about Sam.
Then he was there. Motioning to go down the street. And with scrapes down one side.
Someone had swerved in front of him all of a sudden from out of a side street and Sam ended up in a big ditch. Luckily someone in a house came out to help. They helped pull the bike out (the ditch was almost up to Sam’s shoulder!) put some dettol on the wounds and gave him some water to drink. Back at the hotel the staff fussed over him and gave him some alcohol to clean it out better and some more dettol. They all cautioned “Summa Summa” (“Slowly”).
We still had to go get Sam’s bike. Shanna was very worried about riding the scooter back through the chaotic traffic but we only had time for a quick lesson out the front before we had to go. We still had no GPS but remembered our way back to Kuta ok. We couldn’t find the side street with the scooter hire shop though. We rode around as it got closer to 6pm when the shop closed. We found it in the end and Shanna went to get the bike while Sam waited around the corner. This time we got back to the hotel uneventfully.
We were tired after a strange day but needed food. There were some restaurants around the corner so we headed there. The sun was setting and the boats on the water looked beautiful. We picked a restaurant with a big deck to sit and watch the water. The prices were ok, and the food sounded good (we chose Nasi Goreng and garlic prawns) and were ready for a great meal. But the service was very slow, the food just tasted like smoke, and they tried to charge us extra for “tax”. We paid the original amount and left, going back for some much needed sleep.
Sam and Shanna Evans are from Melbourne, Australia