Bali or Bust
Kuta (Bali), Indonesia
Travel from Yogyakarta to Bali, hunting for accommodations in Kuta, and trying to tune out another annoying language.
Busing to Bali
With no desire to stay in Yogyakarta any longer than necessary, Tatiana and made our way to the town's newish bus terminal on the morning of the 22nd. Our destination: The (in)famous island of Bali.
Tatiana did an excellent job (as always) of negotiating bus tickets for us. We each know our strengths, and although I'm not too shabby in getting fair prices, there's little hope for the opposition when I send an attractive, pregnant woman who passes herself off as a student into the ring. For 130,000 Indonesian rupiahs (about US$14), our 16-hour journey would start around mid-day, and included dinner and the price of the ferry transport.
The ferry ride should have been short—far less than an hour—but somewhere around 20 minutes after our departure the vessel ground to a halt. I couldn't quite understand it, until I saw the captain and many of his crew using the designated Muslim prayer room on board. I'm under the belief that they actually stopped the ferry, mid-journey, so that they could carry out their morning prayers at dawn. Nearly a half-hour passed before the boat carried on again. Incredible.
The boat journey was the turning point for Tatiana, who started feeling nauseous for the remaining leg of the journey. It's less of a morning sickness thing, and more a symptom of an empty stomach. I've come to understand that Tatiana's pregnancy makes her nauseous if she becomes too hungry, and it was clear that she hadn't eaten enough to keep up with her speedy metabolism. It's very common for her to wake up with fierce hunger pains (even when she wasn't with child), and I've gotten into the habit of keeping foodstuffs in our room that she can eat as soon as she wakes up.
The vomiting session in the cramped, smelly, bathroom of our bus marked the last time I ask a pregnant-Tatiana to travel such a distance. She's a strong woman, and held up well on the 10-hour Jakarta–Yogyakarta trip—she's a South American woman, where 12–20-hour bus journeys are the norm—but it's clear that she's no longer capable of enduring overnight bus travel. It's not good for her, or the kid, and I won't ask it of her again. From now on it'll be short hops, during daylight hours, with a bed each night.
Kuta's Hotel Saturation
There is no short supply of accommodations in Kuta (the epicenter of foreign travel in Indonesia), and shortly after our bemo dropped us off at a primary intersection in town, my duties of hotel hunter kicked in.
With a pregnant-Tatiana waiting with our bags in the shade of a restaurant entrance, I began running from hotel to hotel, pricing our options. This wasn't a particularly welcomed task, as it was quite hot out, and I was un-showered and hungry after a day of bus travel, but necessary.
Not wanting to leave Tatiana idling any longer than necessary, I zipped from hotel to hotel. The pricing was all across the board: From US$5/night boom-boom rooms up to mid-range hotels with options starting at US$60/night.
It took me an hour of hunting before I had my fill. And though exhausting, such extensive hotel searching feels commonplace for me these day, and at some level I enjoy the information gathering. The more educated I am about the options around me, the more comfortably I sleep at night, knowing I'm in the best option.
I was rather disappointed that my first choice, the Pesona Beach Inn, managed to slipped between my fingers—the only free room snatched up by another traveler who visited the hotel after I left to continue the hunt. If it wasn't for this fellow, Tatiana and I would have been staying in a very nice, spacious room with private bathroom and hot water, second-story balcony, and television for the negotiated rate of 100,000Rp (US$11) per night. The place was booked solid for weeks to come, so if you want a room, I'd suggest a reservation (phone: 62-361-765778).
I grabbed Tatiana and defaulted to my second choice: The L.A. Inn, about a hundred meters from the beach, for 70,000Rp/per night. The place really lacks any kind of atmosphere that makes you want to stay in the room, but it was spacious and generally clean—save for the shower drain that wouldn't drain, forcing you and the person who showers after you to enjoy the ankle-deep filth that was previously attached to your person.
The L.A. Inn is a perfect example of the half-way mark between the questionable US$5/night rooms and the rather pleasant US$10/night rooms. Our room had a private bathroom, but no hot water. We had no dining or pool facilities, but were allowed the use of the sister property, The AP Inn, just down the street (including a coupon for a pretty decent free breakfast).
Tatiana and I ultimately ditched The L.A. Inn today and switched over to the AP Inn. For US$3/night more we were in a much more enjoyable room with lots of natural light, and in a place where I can easily wake Tatiana up with breakfast in bed.
I've discovered that having a pool here in Kuta is very desirable, as the water here is freezing. I'm so unmotivated to go to the beach, where all I am is pestered to buy crap from the countless roaming vendors. Here at the refreshing pool of the AP Inn, I get the same tan, topless Europeans to look at, and no one pestering me to buy their wares.
Listening to the radio of the countries I travel in is something I love to do. I feel it offers up an easy glimpse at local culture. But I really can't stand the abrasive nature of the Indonesian language, Bahasa Indonesian. Lounging at the pool, every time the music stops for a commercial break I have to rip the earbud headphones out of my ears—spot-checking at intermittent periods to see if the DJ or advert has stopped blabbering.
I'm on the bubble as to which is worse, this, or Filipino (Tagalog). Indonesian seems to have a strong Arabic feel to it, and comes off to me as just plain ugly. Since my MP3 player can record off the radio, I've taken a random sampling of a language best enjoyed by those who can't hear (only 225KB in size).