Aug 22, 2001
Fortunately, I arrive early at the airport (possibly for the 1st time in my life). At the counter I am told that I cannot enter Indonesia, and therefore cannot board the plane, without a return ticket. I don't have a return ticket because I'm leaving Indonesia by way of bus, boat and train. After much discussion, trying to negotiate with the supervisor and a further discussion with the Indonesian immigration office the answer remains the same - I cannot board the plane without a return ticket. However, the supervisor tells me there isn't any reason that I shouldn't be able to buy a refundable ticket and refund it the moment I arrive in Bali. There only cost will be a HK$125 (US$17) service fee. That sounds fair enough. The following day on the beach I'm talking with an Englishman who is traveling around the world (traveling east) and I learn that the bribe to get into the country without a return ticket is about US$25. No problems at customs and it looks like I actually saved 8 bucks.
In some ways Kuta beach is a hideous place. Nasty traffic jams of cars, trucks and hundreds of scooters in the tiny streets. It's tacky and full of tourists. Stores sell arts and crafts for tourists, sunscreen and surf boards for tourists and fake designer clothing for tourists. Half the restaurants on my street show Hollywood movies in the evening. None bares any resemblance to the mystical magical Island called Bali.
One the other hand the food is good, the beach is nice enough, the weather is great and my god is it cheap. A good lunch, plate full of shrimp or chicken curry, is a dollar. A nice dinner can be had for $2. My hotel room has two beds, a large bathroom, a small patio with chairs and a table overlooking the garden, it's not the cleanest room, but it's nice enough. It's more than I'd like to pay, but at $4 with an included breakfast I can't complain too much. Beer, how I measure all countries, is about 75 cents. With this weather and these prices it looks like I'm going to spend a full two months here in Indonesia. It appears that I can leave the country for a day and re-enter for another sixty days. Who knows how long I might stay.
I got my first sunburn so I think it's time to head away from the beach for a while. Ubud (Bob recommended it) is up in the hills and is labeled "the tourist capital of Bali culture". Ubud is also supposed to be a bit cheaper than the trendy Kuta Beach. I'll hide there in the shade for a while and then head over to the tiny tiny Gili Islands (Kendal Recommended them) and if I like them set up a home base, do some reading, do some writing and just generally hang out on the islands for a month.
The Techno-Pagan Octopus Messiah
Just finished the book with the above title. It was interesting at times. It gave me some ideas for places to check out in India. I'd definitely recommend it for World-traveling Burningman-attending Jewish boys - you'll definitely find something in the book to relate to. I found one part hysterical where our hero, an atheistic Jew, fearing god's wrath for sleeping with a stripper on the day of atonement. I've just started reading Oscar Wilde - wow, that man can write.