We were nervous as we touched down in Denpasar, Bali. Indonesia was the next country on our trip, back in Asian culture, and our research had consisted of booking a hostel in Kuta.
This was going to be a test of patience.
Now let me tell you about Kuta if you’re thinking about going. Don’t. It is a tacky, lout infested hell hole and as we’ve found since, this is not Bali. There are three things we learnt quickly:
1. When you eat street food and the guy can’t tell u if it’s spicy or not, it is!!!
2. I can find ecstazy/viagra/magic mushrooms really easily.
3. I can have a “massage” at pretty much every dark corner.
On the plus side, we didn’t have to stay there for long and we did meet a forever hungry French guy and self confessed complainer, Alex, who we ended up having a few too many beers and then travelling with for the next couple of weeks.
So, moving swiftly on, we hopped on a Perama Tour bus lacking anything in the way of suspension bound for Ubud, famous for being the arty centre of Bali, along with the hope of catching a Legong Dance that Ruth was so keen to see, and with luck, a few less hawkers.
Well, two out of three’s not bad I guess. Ruth wrote a post raving about the arty side of Ubud by the way, check it out here. Indraprastha Homestay gave us just what we were looking for, a free upgrade to a superior room with balcony! I’ve never been upgraded in my life. Win! I’m trying to forget that I booked the room not realising it was price per person, not per room. We pottered about the town, haggling with store owners, bought Ruth’s third (that’s right, THIRD) temporary engagement ring, and looked on as three guys forced another off the road (and his scooter) and came sliding towards my feet laughing his head off.
We took a stroll through rice paddies, on the hunt for a few pictures of the ‘real Bali’, and were greeted by a friendly farmer. He gave us his sales patter which we swallowed whole, as well as a couple of coconuts, that he’d shimmied up a tree to fetch. A gorgeous meal at Sari Organik (top rated restaurant in the area and worth every thousand rupiah) and then back for the highlight, a Legong and Barong dance at a local temple.
Now, if I’m honest, I’m not one for these sorts of occasions but this was one of the most enthralling live shows I’d ever seen. Strange, clockwork like movements, spooky rolling eyes and costumes to make your head spin, we left feeling considerably more cultured and intrigued by this new and interesting country.
Oh, and here’s another thing we like – smile at an Indonesian (you have to do it first, mind) and they’ll beam back at you. Go on, try it.
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