Well, I was listening to Belle and Sebastain while I was writing the title, but then it ended and something else came on and it was Tuesday's gone by Metallica and friends and well this is a good song too but I don't want to lead any astray by my title; this blog no longer powered by belle and sebastain.
So before I get started with my 'rest 'o Bali' blog, I want to address the fact that I just watched Elisabethtown, and fucking loved it. I hadn't seen it until now because the critics massacred it, and I try to not waste my time with movies that like 90% of the critics hated (unless it's a comedy. Critics just don't get comedy), but I loved this movie. Maybe I was seduced by the best soundtrack I've ever heard, maybe I'm a sucker for great romantic flicks, all I know is that I'm offering my props to Elisabethtown right now.
Right as the insane drug binge was winding down and we were basking in the afterglow of the night, wishing we had some pot and sitting on our back balcony, bare feet dangling in the pool and stars being way too beautiful for their own good, someone had the thought:
"Maybe we should have saved this sort of crazy night for sometime when we aren't going river rafting tomorrow."
We were headed 3 hours up the island to go river-rafting on the Ayung River and we maybe got an hour of sleep before that.
We woke up to the rafting guy calling our rooms, obviously everyone slept through the various wakeup calls and alarms that went off for a while, to be killed in favor of blissful silence.
But this man would not be slienced (I thought about killing him, despite his good intentions in trying to take us rafting through a rainforest) and we pulled ourselves out of the hotel and into his van.
Driving around Bali is really scary. They drive on the other side of the road, which always takes a bit of adjustment on my part ("DEAR LORD WE'RE ON THE WRONG SIDE AIIIIIE" every time I'm dozing and wake up) and they really like passing each other all the time, on crowded, two lane roads. I'd say 70% of the people on the road are driving mopeds (gas has recently become very, very expensive on Bali. The Hindus blame the new Muslim government entirely, as Gas prices have gone up 300% since the Muslim government stepped in 3 years ago. At least this is what Wyan says)
Anyways, so you'll be drivng along the road somewhere in a mountainous rainforest area, and a pack of mopeds will swoop past you, managing to get back into their lane mere seconds before a huge truck zooms by. This is whith everyone honking the whole time. In Bali, a honk just means, "hey, I'm behind you," or "I'm about to pass you," or "hey man, what's up?" or "fuck you, son of a donkey!" (that last one was a rough translation from the literal 'honk.' The two languages don't translate exactly, you know.) Therefore, people are honking continuously, and strangely, honking ceases to bother you after a while.
Anyways, on this particular drive I saw none of this, as I passed out in the car and didn't wake up until we were in the small town (I forget the name) where we were to begin the rafting trip. We suited up, found our guide, and started down the 500 or so steps into the rainforest basin where our rafts were waiting. (The picture on my pictures page is during a pause in that walk down).
The rapids were only class 2 and 3, so it was pretty mild, but still fun as all get-up. A two hour ride under gigantic, several-hundred foot waterfalls, through the sort of rainforest I always imagined there would be in 'tropical' places, with a long pause to play in the biggest waterfall and really, just to yell a lot and have mud in between my toes. They fed us a Balinese buffet on the side of the river at the end of the ride, which was served on wooden plates covered with huge leaves. No waste! whoop!
Three hour drive back led to even longer naps. I woke up and didn't know where everybody was, so I went to the massage area of the hotel, and got an hour long massage with some sort of crazy milk bath and stuff (I am still a man) for 12 dollars. I became addicted (as well as in love with my massuse) and got four more hour long massages during the rest of my time in Bali. The 12 dollar one was the most expensive one I ever had, too.
The bath had me feeling all spiritual (the stone tub was in this room filled with stone idols and little fountains and ferns and stuff) so I meditated for a while (not for an hour though...crazy Wyan) and then we went out to dinner again (this time I spent a whopping 6 dollars for several courses...haha awesome).
We made a half-ass attempt to get wasted but were too tired, and hit the sack again.
After beating the poor sack up, we crashed.
After crashing into things, we went to bed.
The travel package that we had purchased in Saipan got us three nights in a nice hotel in Bali, and now our three days were up. We needed a place to stay. The Guam Clumate girls were staying some 'really cheap place' elsewhere in Kuta that sounded good (ie cheap) and so we packed in a hurry, grabbed a cab that kept getting lost in the chaos of Kuta, and eventually found its way to the hotel where the girls were staying.
At checkin, we found out that the room was going to cost us 25,000 rupies each (for two rooms, actually), which is around $2.50. The girls, however, had already bailed for the day with Wyan, which sucked, 'cause now we didn't have any transportation.
We grabbed our own cab an hour and a half north to Ubud, a sort of cultural center of Bali, where we spent four hours eating at restaruants and cafes, shopping for knicknacks and stuff, and getting more messages. This time, my massage was outside, in a sheltered stone courtyard, and halfway through, it started pouring. It was pretty cool. Afterwards, I got tea with the massuse until the rain subsided, then I found John and we watched monkies run around and have sex with each other until we heard a honk and Wyan arrived. Amanda and Mandy wandered up and then we piled into the car. Wyan wanted to 'take us somewhere.' So we went.
This temple (another Hindu temple) was also located at the beach. I was sort of reminded of some of the coastline near big sur and Santa Cruz, but with more spectacular rock formations rising out of the water like twenty feet out. One of these rock formations had a small temple built into it. There were huge crowds here (I guess this temple is really famous...I wish I could remember what it was called), which detracted a little (as it always does), but it was still pretty cool. We watched the sun set behind the temple and a surfer who was riding the huge waves around the temple (which was probably really, really dangerous. Attention-seeker), John and Mandy had their picture taken with a huge snake, and then we went home.
It was during the car ride home that I started feeling a flu come on. I decided that I wasn't going to let anything hold me back on my vacation, so had Wyan help me buy the Indonesian equivalent of Theraflu. We got back to the hotel, started drinking again, got dressed to go out, I laid down on my bed, saw John lay down on his, and just...rested...my...eyes...for...a...second.
John and I both woke up, completely dressed to go out, and looked at each other in suprise. It was morning. I started laughing. John said 'fuck.' Mandy then came in, dressed to go out, too. "You guys, we're so lame!" Mandy yelled, then sat down heavily on the bed.
We got up, headed down to breakfast, found the Bali girls (it was their last day there) and then Wyan showed up. He 'wanted to take us somewhere,' so I put on my swimsuit and got in the car, blindly.
It ended up being another beautiful beach, right next to the Bali club med. We decided that we were all going to apply to Club Med (we figured were were all very, very qualified from being Clubmates) and took a hike through the Med facilities, until we finally reached the man who who had the authority to tell us that they weren't hiring, and if we wanted a club med job, that we had to contact club med international, see our website, blah blah blah so we went to the beach, played on a Flying Fish (speedboats pull this raft with wings at high speeds until it takes off and flies. Ended up costing us 9 dollars each, but I messed my hands up on it, so it wasn't that worth it.)
We drank beers at a small cafe on the beach until Wyan arrived, then we went back to Kuta for the afternoon. A long walk around town ended us up at Vicks,' a small hippy bar that sells...magic shakes.
John and I split one, mandy had her own, and then we went running through the markets for a while. John decided to take a nap, and so Mandy and I went back to Vicks,' drank...ummm...another magic shake, then headed for the beach (almost getting lost on the way). We sat at the beach and smoked cigarettes and looked at the stars for a while, and then suddenly mandy was taking her pants off and sitting right where the sand was covered with the ebbing tide around half the time. I laughed, took my pants off, and sat next to her. We regarded this scene for a while in silence. The wave would go out, it would be calm for a while, then it would come back in, sometimes with great force, and knock us over. We ended up playing in the waves for a while, and then it started raining. Really, really hard.
For a while, I wasn't sure that I liked it. Then I found that I was turning slow circles, arms outstretched and face looking at the sky, and that I had been doing so for a long time.
I decided after a while that I was going to check on our things, and so headed back to where our now very complete pile of clothes was sitting in a heap and being rained on. It was now very, very dark. I reached for my black shirt, and felt FUR AIEEEEEE WHAT THE HELL?
It was a dog.
A little black dog had curled up on top of my shirt and gone to sleep while Mandy and I were frolicking in the ocean. It lept up and barked at me. Keep in mind that I'm ON MUSROOMS OH MY GOD. I slowly backed up, stood uncertantly on the beach for a bit, and then lost my mind. It came back a little time later, and I ran back to the ocean, where Mandy was still very much in mid-frolic. We laughed about it and played for a little bit longer, then came back out sit for a while.
It was at this point that a very drunk local guy came wandering over and asked if we wanted to join his party a little ways down the beach.
You see, when I trip, I fear 'others,' so I was against it, and politely refused him for a few minutes until he left. However, I could tell that Mandy wanted to go, and I was starting to feel a little better about it, so we headed over to their bonfire.
It was a bunch of local boys, our age, surfer types with dreadlocks and no shirts, playing guitars and bongos, smoking and drinking Arak, the local liquor. One had black hair spilling out the brim of a black top hat.
There was also a guy and a girl from Denmark (blonde, naturally), and a cool guy from Mexico. The guy started playing a Java reggae song called 'Coconut Trees' that we are now all obsessed with, but are unable to find a recording anywhere...but anyways everyone was singing and dancing and playing when there was a loud CRACK and it started POURING again. Hooting and hollering, drummers scooped up their drums, guitars were grabbed, and everyone made a beeline for the lifeguard tower that they had been using as shelter. We made plans to meet up with them later and ran for our hostel, and promptly got lost on the streets of Kuta.
It was only for a moment, though, as we found our neighborhood and ran laughing through the streets, soaked to the bone and not caring. The shops and bars that lined the street were filled with people trying to stay out of the storm, who would laugh and call when we ran by.
The owner of a shop called out to us to come take a look at his wares, but Mandy cheerfully responded,
"No thanks, we're a little wet."
A little wet?
This made me burst out laughing, and we laughed all the way to the hostel.
At the hostel, we met up with the Guam Clubmate girls, who were on their way to the airport. We hung out with them for a while, gave them our wishes that they would miss their flight and come back to hang out with us, and then said goodby.
At this point, my theraflu was wearing off, and I was feeling pretty sick, so I decided not to hit the bars, but John, Amanda, and Mandy went out bar-hopping while I crashed.
John stumbled into the room at 5am and fell into bed.
We were supposed to get up to catch our ride to go scuba diving at 7am.
I woke up at 7 and woke John up. John promptly gave me a look more full of hate than any I have been the recipiant of in quite some time.
Finally he was roused, and went next door to wake the girls.
He came back. They weren't coming.
Amanda wanted to stay the next few days to hang out with the cool Bali locals. Mandy was just too hung over to get out of bed. We split up for the next few days. They went surfing, did a lot of shopping, and hung out with the local boys in reggae bars and clubs.
John and I threw ourselves into Wyan's van and passed out for the 4 hour drive to Bali's northwestern edge, where we did our first day of scuba diving.
Some 50 years ago, a US ship sunk right off the shore of Bali, and is now a popular dive site for scuba divers for obvious reasons: It kicks ass.
It's huge, running hundreds and hundreds of feet from end to end, and covered with coral. You can be looking at a bunch of brilliantly yellow and red fish, swimming around a beautiful piece of purple coral, then realize that you're looking at the steering wheel of the ship.
We spent our first dive circling the outside of the ship. At one point, our Dive Master pointed to the shadows underneath the front of the ship, and we looked and saw a barracuda, which then swam close to us and bared it's insanely sharp teeth at us. (A barracuda is the one who killed Nemo's parents, and now he was going to kill me.) It was scary enough, and it was alone. I've heard they travel in packs of several dozen. damn.
We surfaced and ate lunch, then went back down and this time swam through the ship, which was even cooler, although pretty errie.
After Diving, Wyan flung us back into his van and we drove a few hours east to a small beach town, where John and I got a cool little hotel room for another 50,000 rupies (around three bucks) a night. Wyan, John and I ate dinner at a beachside restaraunt, then Wyan bailed to spend the night at his wife's family's house, and we wandered around for a bit and then crashed, really, really early (around 8pm).
Our Dive Master woke us up at 545am and we walked out to the beach and hopped into his brother's small fishing boat, and went our on the mirror-image still water and watched the sunrise and the dolphins jump, (I think I have a picture of this on my photobucket page). Around 730 we came back in, then took a ride a few more hours west then took a boat ride out to a tiny island with the island of Java towering behind it.
The tiny island, of course, had a Hindu temple on it. We didn't go on the island, but dove right off the boat and explored the coral around the base of the island.
We were diving with a crazy (is there any other kind?) Austrailian couple who claimed to be really experienced divers. The woman, however, promptly took off like almost straight down, and John and I, distracted by all the fish around us, followed her to a depth of 35 meters, which is waaaaaay too deep for a couple of guys on their 8th dive ever.
The diver master came down and got us, though, and all was well. We came up and had lunch on a pier jutting out from the base of the hindu temple, and watched people making their way to some ceremony pile out of tiny boats and across the pier to the temple above. A man's singing voice filtered down through the trees and we ate fried rice and sunburned, then went out and dove again.
It rained on the boat ride back, and we huddled under the wooden roof until we reached the safety of Wyan's van.
I tried to stay awake on the 4 hour van ride back to see the amazing segmented mountain rice paddies all along the road, but only managed to do this around half the time.
We rolled into Kuta, caught up with the girls, got dressed, and ate Dinner at the bar where two our our new local friends were playing. After this bar we flew from bar to bar for the rest of the night, stopping in at a Ultimate Frisbee party, and several other clubs in a night that resulted in a wasted Robin stumbling home in a small rainstorm and passing on on the grimy bathroom floor.
This day was relatively laid back. We ate in restaraunts and cafes, got one last massage, did a little more shopping, met up with Wyan and then went to the airport.
We flew to Guam, from Guam to Rota, then Rota, and now we're back home in Saipan.