August 30, 2007

Kuta Beach Bedlam
Kuta (Bali), Indonesia

he·don·ism
1. the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the highest good.
2. devotion to pleasure as a way of life.

This definition should be amended to include:
3. See also: Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia.

Surfing and Sex

I have no doubt in my mind that Kuta tourism now only exists for two reasons, and two reasons alone: Surfing and sex.

I can't remember the last time I've see such a concentration of Germans, Dutch, Aussies, and Kiwis in one place—maybe never. There's an overabundance of tight surfing bodies, Aussie slang, pale Europeans, and little Indonesian girls with older men.

Gazing skyward at the innocent-looking kites floating in the air, you'd never guess that several dozen meters below them was a sexually charged atmosphere of debauchery.

People surf in the frigid water, recover from their previous night's boozing adventure, and dodge traffic by day, before hitting the bars by night. I know a hook-up town when I see one, and this place has all the symptoms of poor decision making written all over it.

…Perhaps that has something to do with the male phallus worship on display at every souvenir store on the island.

…Perhaps that's why I'm continuously attacked with soliciting screams from Indonesian men who actually think I'd hire an idle motorbike or taxi. "TRANSPORT? TRANSPORT? YES?! YES! TRANSPORT?!"

What I always find entertaining though is what theses guys say (in hushed voices) when I'm alone, as I get closer (while continuing to snub them, of course):

  • "Taxi? Taxi? …Pot? (Boracay, Philippines)
  • "Taxi? Taxi? …Porn? (Boracay, Philippines)
  • "Taxi? Taxi? …Young girl?" (Kuta Beach)

I'm really not sure why Tatiana and I have spent a week here. This area is not for couples, it's for teenagers, or adults acting like teenagers. I suppose I wanted to give her some down-time after so much recent travel, and honestly, I didn't know where to go next.

We've tried branching out on our eating, but keep going back to the same restaurant (Nusa Indah Bar and Restaurant along Poppies Gang I) for almost every single meal. It's practically the only place in town I've found that serves up affordable meals (typically around a U.S. dollar, compared to others in the area that charge three to five times that amount for the same thing). I think Tatiana tried a pitifully flimsy burger at McDonalds once, and vowed to never try such things again.

Kecap Manis

Sweet soy sauce

In Indonesia, soy sauce is known as kecap (a catchall term for fermented sauces), from which according to one theory the English word "ketchup" is derived. Two main varieties exist:

  • Kecap asin—Salty soy sauce, which is very similar to Chinese light soy sauce, but usually somewhat thicker and has a stronger flavor
  • Kecap manis—Sweet soy sauce, which has a thick, almost syrupy consistency and a pronounced sweet, molasses-like flavor due to generous addition of palm sugar

I, and to a lesser extent, Tatiana, have gone absolutely nuts for the stuff. I mix it (and some hot sauce) with everything on my plate and smile at the explosion of taste bud pleasure. How did I ever live without it?

Onward Route (Planning)

"Where to go from here?" has been the question on my mind since nearly getting run over by a motorcycle on our first afternoon in town.

Deciding where we were going to go after Indonesia was factoring heavily into my research. I have a strong desire to see what Singapore is all about, and have been researching path options to get us there with intent.

There's a US$20 ferry that connects an island off of Sumatra with Singapore, but we'd have to take a flight (to Batam via Jakarta) to get to it (lowest price was with Adam Air for US$98/person without tax).

Other options included a flight with Jet Star for US$120 (plus a US$10 Bali departure tax), but that was looking unnecessary when compared to a US$80 flight from Bali to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. With a destination of Cambodia in mind, it would be possible to fly to KL, take overland transport to Singapore, and then catch a flight up Phnom Penh or Siem Reap.

I was interested in possibly flying to another island in the Indonesian archipelago, but research pulled up very little that we were interested in seeing. And with the water temperature the way it is (burr), we doubted it would improve, regardless the destination.

After much searching over several days I finally uncovered an amazing fare from Bali to Singapore on Valuair, for the ridiculously low price of US$38/person, with tax. Amazing.

After seeing the photos and hearing the description of my time spent in the Cameron Highlands, Tatiana was more than interested in a visit to the place. Happy to oblige, I turned my attention to flights from Malaysia to Cambodia. AirAsia turned out to be the winner, with a US$78 ticket to the capital, Phnom Penh.

  • Bali to Singapore: Departing around midnight, on the night between the 5th and 6th of September
  • Kuala Lumpur to Phnom Penh: Departing on the afternoon of the 15th of September

This was the earliest I could get us out of Indonesia (affordably), and should give us enough time to hop over to a neighboring island for a week. Then it'll be a two or three day visit to (expensive) Singapore, and few days in Malaysia's Highlands, before catching a flight to Cambodia. Prices look good for AirAsia flights between Bangkok and Hanoi (around US$60/person), and would expect to incorporate that into our remaining time in SE Asia (before getting a third trimester Tatiana back to Peru).

Planning transport this far in advance isn't in my nature—I will have taken more flights since meeting Tatiana than I have at any other point in my travels prior—but see little choice when inexpensive flights temporarily present themselves. They must be snatched up.

Comments:

Greece

Stefanos

January 6th, 2011

Thanks for useful informations!!

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