Long hair, long banana, happy wife...
13.12.2008 38 °C
After the relative calm and organisation of Malaysia, it was nice to get back to some more hectic randomness, which Indonesia provided well. We spent most of our time around the coast, snorkelling and surfing, both of which are very good in Indonesia.
The roads and driving conditions horrify most tourists, as people seem to apparently overtake on blind bends, there are hundreds of scooters wizzing past you everywhere, dogs sleeping in the side of the road, and huge trucks suddenly appear on the wrong side of the road hurtling towards you. However, there appear to be surprisingly few accidents and there are rules to the apparent hecticness. We tested this by hiring a car and trying for ourselves. It was really nice to have the freedom to travel where we wanted and when, rather than having to sit on full busses waiting for them to 'fill up' i.e. until someone's sat on your knee, it's not full enough.
Dan will probably delete this, but it's the first vehicle he's driven while travelling that he's not crashed. Although, he made up for this by going surfing with the car keys, and the hostel keys in his pocket. His pocket somehow came open in the surf and the keys lost. We spent a good couple of hours topping up our sunburn by walking up and down the beach hoping that they'd been washed up. We eventually had to cut our losses and begin the long walk back to our hostel in our swimmers, when the taxi men offered to take us a locksmith. The locksmith followed us back to our car on his scooter, with a utility belt full of devices for breaking into a car. He accomplished this by taking the lock off the boot and poking things into it until half an hour, and only 4 pounds, later he had produced a new key for us. The part of me that isn't considering joining the police thought that we maybe should have pointed out a slightly better model of car and claimed that it was ours!
The food in Indinesia was good and spicy. The locals even started calling Dan after one traditional dish, Gado-Gado (vegetables with spicy peanut sauce), as it means mixed, or half and half. This may sound like they were being a bit offensive, but really they weren't. After asking Dan if he's Indonesian, then if his Dad was a Chinaman, they're always really interested to hear that he's mixed race, and comparing him to a National dish, a way of celebrating this!
The locals are very friendly and after trying hard to sell you something for a few minutes, relax and want to chat with you. Since the Bali bombings tourism has dropped dramatically, mainly through Australians staying away, especially as they've recently executed the bombers and were fearing further attacks as a result.
Kuta, in Bali is the very, very touristy area, where you could be in any beach resort in the world. Not really our scene, but it's where all the surf is, so we had to go. We stayed outside of the very touristy bit, but ventured in out of curiosity. I wish we hadn't as the rest of Kuta is quite nice, and seeing monkeys dressed up on bicycles and more dimdims than locals was not really what we came to Indonesia for.
Alcohol is very hard to get hold of in Indonesia, being Muslim. The beer is very expensive and the government introduced licencing on shops selling liqueur, so none do anymore. This meant that we got our booze from chatting to the locals and them offering to find us the local tipple. We enjoyed lots of arak, a rice wine and brum, or farmers wine, which is made from palm. It came in an unlabelled bottle with a chunk of coconut husk for a cork. Luckily we didn't go blind drinking it!
We both really enjoyed Indoneisia. Where else can you ride on busses where the driver is wearing a full crash helmet, visor down; see signs on schools informing us that carrots are food, not weapons; sit in a cramped bus for 40 minutes unable to move while the driver insists that it's not yet full enough to leave and then drive round the streets for another 40 minutes as the movement when setting off has released enough space that someone who just happens to be standing by the side of the road might like to fill, before arriving at your destiation that was only actually 20 minutes away in the first place... Well we are flying to India tonight...
Photos of Indonesia are to follow, but we had a delete all, rather than delete 1 incident with the camera and are still working on retrieving some of our pictures.