In the mood for Bali

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I’ve been working almost 10 months with no leave. And so, for the Easter long weekend, I went back to Bali, 6 years after my first trip there!

In Australia, Easter is not only about buying some Milka Easter eggs and hiding them all over the place in the apartment; it is one of the most important public holidays of the year with two days off (!!!), the Good Friday and the Easter Monday. To these days, you add the Easter weekend + Anzac Day (commemorative day of the Gallipoli battle during WW1) which was the following Friday + the following weekend = 10 days off if you only take 3. Get it?

It is undeniable that it would have been super interesting to see the Sydney Easter Show (a mix of agriculture shows/Foire de Paris – where they sell everything and nothing during a big trade show/theme park) and drink like a tough alcoholic for Anzac Day; but declining a trip to Bali where the accommodation was already taken care of, it would have been ridiculous. We quickly ate our Hot Cross Buns on Easter Friday, the famous bun that everyone is talking about (the kids who work with me and Derrick couldn’t stop praising about how much the chocolate and raisins bun were super duper delicious), which were in the end not that great, as we bought them the day before at 22:00 and there was only one pack left, the “plain” ones.

Anyway, we left for 10 days for an intensive relaxation trip and it started really badly with Jetstar’s usual shit and Indonesian immigration. The flight, initially departing at 17:00, had been delayed for an unclear reason and we took off 2hrs later. It seemed like it is a pretty common procedure with them as no one even bothered asking why the departure had been delayed, haha. It is definitely the worst airline company I’ve flown with, ever. On top of being automatically late with all their flights, their 90° degree seats were so uncomfortable and the common screens were showing the most random documentaries: one about Miami’s American Football team in the 80’s, one about Madonna and finally, one about Red Bull Mountain biking. All these crap documentaries so we can beg them to bring a tablet with heaps of movies in it for only $50! We arrived at the brand new Denpasar Airport at 23:30. I still can remember the tiny little traditional Balinese airport with wooden beams, Hindu statues scattered all around, and the smell of incense. But this time, we were facing a modern , white and huge aiport. We were carried by the wave of Australian tourists who brought us to a kind of huge warehouse, the immigration area.

We had to queue for 10 years to pay the visa fees. Derrick’s stepmum confirmed to us that they had paid AUD $27 so we only carried with us AUD $60 (I know, now I realise it was a bit stupid). Arriving at the counter, they announced that the visa was AUD $31 (or USD $25). What a fraud, haha. We were $2 short!!! It was super upsetting. I had to ask our French neighbours to make a charitable donation, who were kind enough to help us out before the immigration lady shouted at us “no coins”. Anyway, we had to leave the queue, find an ATM and get some Rupia out and re-queue for another 10 years. Second stop, queue again, but for much longer this time, for 300 years!!! It was soooooooo long. Once we got our little sticker in our passport, we drove to Sanur with Kadek, our driver. Please note that we had left the airport at 1:00am (and still, we didn’t have any luggage to collect), starved to death and knackered…

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Sanur was the first stop of our Balinese trip. It was a small town, super chilled with a few things to do. So we took the chance to do nothing. It is actually a well developed beach resort with heaps of chic and not-so-chic restaurants, where we ate (like pigs) a considerable amount of fried rice/noodles. There were plenty of villas and luxurious resorts, some old tourists wearing hawaiian shirts and batik (to blend in with the local population), too many children, streets of souvenir shops selling the exact same things and an impressive number of super cheap massage places. The beaches are not mind blowing as they are not that clean, and full of traditional boats, all scattered all over the beach on really rough sand. But these beaches are quite sought after by families as the sea is super flat! We used Sanur as a base to visit the south of the island!

Christina, Derrick’s step mum, insisted on bringing us all to Blue Point, in the south of the island. The journey itself was an adventure: honking cars and scooters absolutely everywhere that overtook each other from the left and/or right even if a truck is arriving super fast from the other direction – because yes, they have the firm conviction that if you honk, people will let you pass. But, well, it works ok, like a well organised mess. When in Blue Point, we didn’t feel like we were in Bali anymore: tourists and tourists only. The view was pretty amazing from the bar and we could see some kamikaze surfers surfing some pretty crazy waves. Down below, we observed some little alleyways and plenty of souvenir shacks. It totally felt like a favela! We went down to the beach and tadaaaaa! There were mental surfers and brainless brats throwing themselves in rough water surrounded by sharp rocks.

Not far from Blue Point, there is the famous Uluwatu, a really pretty temple on the edge of a cliff inhabited by cheeky and obese monkeys. But wahouw, it is now super touristy! Before we entered the temple, they wrapped us in a purple batik and asked us if we wanted to purchase some food for the primates. We felt hunted as soon as we crossed the entrance gate with the small rambutan bag in our hands. The monkeys followed us – I mean the rambutan bag – and didn’t hesitate to pull on our batik to claim their treat. One of them jumped on me, stole the bag from my hand and ran away icognito. A bit further, we could see more monkeys swimming in the middle of a sea of rambutans and some others were trying to take the fruit out of a massive bag that they just stole. A real rambutan orgy!!! Other than that, the temple is sublime. The view is breathtaking, and the monkeys entertained everyone, big and small. A must-see in the region!

We also visited Turtle Island and honestly, once we arrived there, I was wondering what I was doing there! I didn’t even know that there were turtles in Bali! Turtle Island is located off the coast of Nusa Dua, THE place for watersports (jetski, banana, snorkelling in the seaweed…). A real circus. There were at least 20 jetskis in the water, 3 guys flying with their parachutes pulled by a boat, 3 bananas, several diving pontoons; a place that’s not much to look at. After a short boat trip, we arrived on Turtle Island. I thought it was a small reserve with some rangers pampering the turtles and limiting public access to them. But here is what Turtle Island is:

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Turtle conservation bullshit. When we arrived on the island, the guys welcomed us with their cigarettes, dragged a poor random turtle from a shallow dirty pool, closed with concrete walls; so we can take pictures of them or ON them! This is a place to avoid absolutely. The turtles are clearly here to fill up miserable guys’ pockets. On top of that, they are harassing you by constantly asking you to tip them, to get drinks and food from the “conservation” and to pass by the souvenir shop. Don’t even bother visiting this place.

Sanur, that we also called “Snore” is a super chilled town. That is why we decided to see what Nusa Penida looked like. From what we’d heard, it is the last authentique Balinese island…

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