Thursday, 4 November 2010

Bali... 36 hours and counting...

What was Bali like? Hard to tell. It was something of a staging post between two airport visits, in many ways.

Having spent weeks in the grimness of Stalag Karawaci, anywhere would have been a breath of fresh air, so perhaps Bali was wasted from that point of view. Southend would have been a delight, frankly.

In my time in Indonesia, I’ve now been on four Garuda Airline flights (the national airline) and not one of them has left anywhere near on time. We finally arrived at our hotel at 2am, hardly feeling at our best, and were immediately garlanded with flowers and offered fruit punch. Yippee.
Do I look like I
need a garland?

The hotel was indeed amazing. I was told that my room had been upgraded into one overlooking the sea. If you looked carefully enough you could, indeed, just see the sea through the trees, but that was an estate agent speaking there. I wasn’t going to complain, though.
The view from the sea. Spot
the 'sea view' hotel

The change from Karawaci was absolute. There was space, clean air, things to see and do and yes, an industry that had grown up around tourism.

There was an urgency in the air. Basically there was one free day. How to fill it with THINGS? Bali was full of STUFF. It had EXOTICA. What if I came back from Bali and hadn’t ticked off a single THING on the MUST-SEE checklist? I’d never be able to live down the shame.

The hotel had a tourism officer. What did we want to do? We explained about THINGS and STUFF and EXOTICA and the MUST-SEE checklist and he nodded sagely. He could satisfy all our whims and he would book us in for the 8.30am trip tomorrow. No, no! we cried. This was URGENT – there was only today.

A tremor of concern crossed his brow, made a right turn at his integrity lobe and reverse parked in the section of his cerebellum marked ‘profit’. No problem, of course it was no problem. His friend would be at the hotel in 10 minutes to pick us up. For two of us it would cost 850,000 rupiah – about £70. For that we would get our English-speaking taxi driver guide all day and he would take us to… at which point I glazed over. I’d see it when I get there. I allowed the ‘keen and grateful’ look, honed in years of marriage, to engrave itself on my face.

The game was up. Let slip the dogs of tourism…

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