An Unexpected Engagement

Trip Start Oct 23, 2006
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Trip End May 08, 2007


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Flag of Indonesia  ,
Monday, April 16, 2007

The bus from Bromo to Denpasar on Bali took forever and a day. And two thunderstorms. The crossing between Java and Bali was beautiful. The islands are practically touching, but it's a 30 minutes ferry crossing. In real time, it took 90 minutes. No one aboard the boat was surprised. I soaked in the views only possible in tight knit archipelagos like Indonesia, including sunset from the top deck. Not many life moments like that one. The ferry landed in Gillimanuk on Bali just after darkness had settled. Denpasar was still another few hours away.
Before the bus pulled into the Denpasar station, a man hurried back to the rows that T.K. and I occupied. With some indistinguishable accent, he asked if we were going to Kuta and if we wanted to split a taxi. Personally I had no intention of going to Kuta until I had to fly out of there at the end of this trip. Kuta is supposed to be extremely touristy and nasty; full of Australians and Germans at their worst. It has also been the site of the 2002 and 2005 terrorist bombings. I wasn't exactly jumping at the chance, but it was getting late...
The man with the accent had his girlfriend with him, and they both turned out to be Slovenian. (Yup, Jon, two more). T.K. and I followed them around the narrow alleys of Kuta. They had researched a place and 'knew where it was'. After a few fully booked bungalows, and some overpriced hotels, T.K. and I split off to find budget accomodation and planned to meet the Slovenians at a bar we'd passed advertising "Bloody Cold Beer!" later on. T.K. and I managed to get the last room at the world's nastiest hotel. Our bathroom was ok, although the shower was just an open lead pipe jutting from the wall at eye level. The room's ceiling fan appeared to have some sort of rust/decay/flesh-eating bacteria on its blades. We didn't turn it on for fear of what would spray into the room. The wall above my bed had footprints on it, and my sheets were stained, everywhere. I tried flipping the sheet; the other side was worse... But the room was cheap and I had my travelsheets and mosquito net to protect me.
With our bags secure(?) in the room, T.K. and I went down to dinner. Mind you, we were exhausted. Just that morning we'd been up before dawn to see the volcanos. After one bloody cold beer (served in a beer cozy that smelled too much like my North Face shoes) the Slovenians arrived. We found a small restaurant. They refused to let us order and just brought over a little of everything. We ate heartily. They kept bringing more food. When we were done, they held out the bill, which may as well have been a loaded gun with a note demanding all our cash. Over 300,000 rupiah for the four of us to eat. (The beer was separate). To give you perspective, the food for all four of us should have been between 30,000 and 50,000. We weren't about to pay the tab for a dinner party of 40 people. We argued vehemently. And by 'we' I mean the Slovenian woman. She was immaculate. The bill was dropped to 100,000. Whatever. Good enough. To get our mind off the post-meal extortion, we found a bar and ordered beers. Over the first round, we found out that the woman (I completely forgot her name within seconds of her telling me. It started with an S and was uncommon) works for the EU in Luxembourg. That's where she learned to argue so well in English. Come time for the second round, T.K. and I bowed out. Neither of us could handle another one after such a long day, but the Slovenians powered on. They were debating a third round, when they decided to first tell us some news. That morning at Mt. Bromo, Dan (who had a very easy name) proposed to S????? and she said yes. T.K. and I were the first people they'd ever told. That was pretty fucking cool, so T.K. and I came out of retirement for another big bottle of Bintang each.
The next day, we paid for it heavily. We were both insanely hungover. The room was scorching and there was no air circulating thanks to the disease-fan. T.K. at least had a cleaner bed. I woke with my hand covered in powdered... something. It looked like it came from the ceiling fan, which was in no way a relief. I showered under the wall pipe which made me feel much better. Then we went out for breakfast and I chugged a 1.5L bottle of water. All systems back to normal. My Bostonian friend and I explored the city of Kuta by foot and found some nice spots, including a new hotel for that night. The beach was nicer than I expected and with good surf. T.K. stayed at the beach. I moved on to enquire about renting a motorbike to escape Kuta's stripmall-esque atmosphere. I arranged to have a company drop off a motorbike for me at my hotel the next morning. I'd have it for 17 days, which helped me get the price down. And that's about it.
The next morning I loaded up my new Honda Superfit and said goodbye to T.K.
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