After another day on the boat and a big night out in Serangan with some other yachties and a couple of semi-resident Aussies we finally got moving to see some of Bali.  We were counting the bill for our big night out before leaving and realized that at $1.30 for beers and $1-$1.50 for a local dinner meal (I had 3), we didn’t come off too badly aside from the half hour or so we spent in a Serangan karaoke bar listening to awful, sappy Indonesian heartbroken pop songs.  The Indonesian songs actually had videos (mostly guys looking sad), but instead of the "real" videos, the Western rock/pop songs that were performed had videos that were basically someone’s camcorder tape of their trip to a popular tourist destination, mostly Australian. That was pretty weird, especially in Asia, where you can get ripped off DVDs of anything you want for less than $1 (including movies that aren’t out on DVD yet).  My favorite knock-off example came when we bought Lauren a new pair of flip-flops.  I could just be ignorant, but I don’t remember OP and Converse being the same company or ever making clothing using both labels.  The flip-flops had a big OP on the sole and a converse logo on the thong portion.  The woman in the shop told us they were a good deal because they were OP, and I had to add, "Yeah, and Converse too!"  She obviously understood and laughed as well.  After some bargaining (mandatory here) and guarantees of "I make you good price" and "I make special price for you" we walked off with a new pair of flip-flops.  I think the locals generally get a lot more from us than they’d be willing to accept, but it’s still been cheap.

DSC_0882 Delicious $1 Mie Goreng

DSC_0875The local warung uses the “count the bottles at the end of the night” method of keeping a tab, so everyone has a “collection”

At the top of our list was some attempted surfing, so we went back to Kuta and got a cheap room near the beach. The room was $11/night, which isn’t as cheap as you can do in Bali, but isn’t bad.  It also includes two free breakfasts (omelet, coffee/tea, some fruit, and orange juice that of course named for its color, not for any fruit used to make it).  It even has a Western toilet, which is to say the sort of toilet you have at home.  An Asian toilet, which we’ve had the chance to get acquainted with, is basically a hole in the floor with a footrest on each side (squat for short, as opposed to sit).  Toilet paper and a flushing mechanism aren’t included, but there is usually a container of water with a scoop for manually flushing.  One thing it doesn’t include is a shower curtain.  We’ve tried 3 hotels now and none of them have one.  Instead there is a drain on the floor for the water that sprays everywhere.  The beds are pretty basic, but it’s still fun to get of the boat for the first time in a while and for us it’s really not a step down in terms of amenities (we even have a big ceiling fan above our bed).

DSC_0884 Not bad for $11/night and a short walk to the beach

The surfing was a lot of fun, but I have to admit that the best we looked was standing at the edge of the water with the board under an arm, looking out at the waves like we had some idea of what we were doing.  There are lots of surf classes in Kuta, so we had no problem watching how the beginners start out, but their boards are larger and more buoyant, they’ve actually had a lesson and presumably a day or two of practice, etc.  At least those are our excuses for why we’re still happy to get up on our knees on the white water while they’re surfing the white water and looking a lot like a kid that’s trying to balance a bike without training wheels for the first time.  The water at Kuta is shallow enough that you really don’t have to paddle much to get out to the white water, so Lauren and I had enough energy to take turns with our board about every 15 minutes for a couple of hours.  Lauren has better balance than I do, so after someone out there let her know that you need to paddle to catch a wave, she actually seemed to do better than I did.  After a couple hours of sun and falling off the board, it was time for a nap.

DSC_0887 This is our best photo of me surfing

With the cheap food prices, we’ve been doing a lot of eating out. Since I’m a vegetarian, my options are fairly limited in terms of local cuisine, but what I’ve had has been good.  I’ve also managed to have about 10 pizzas and half a dozen attempts at Mexican food.  The pizzas have generally been serviceable, but the Mexican food has been pretty funny at times.  For example, one restaurant advertised "Mixican specialites", including a burrito, which was described as a Mexican spring roll with beans inside.  Apparently some restaurants didn’t really understand that the inside of a "Mexican spring roll" was different than an Asian one, so there are been several funny bean-less Mexican dishes although we finally found two reliable places for tacos or a combination platter within a couple hundred yards of our hotel, which I do think had something to do with us spending an extra day just hanging out in Kuta.

The next day we finally decided to join the ranks of the illegal foreign motorcyclists.  You’re supposed to have an international driver’s license to drive here, but we don’t and neither do a lot of people.  Apparently it’s officially a $20 fine if you get caught, $20 and 2 hours to get a proper local license in the capital, but only $5-$15 for the bribe you’ll need depending on how easy of a mark you look like to the cop that finds a reason to pull you over.  There are checkpoints for just this sort of thing, with locals being waved on and tourists lined up for fleecing, but as long as you know in advance that you should be carrying bribe money if you’re going to be driving it’s not a big deal.  Since we’ve had the bike, we’ve enjoyed a couple of long days with lots of great sights, but we’re at the end of the 2nd long day and hoping to get a gelato before a possible warm shower so the mini tour of Bali will have to wait until the next blog.