We've been in Indonesia a full week now without making an entry about our time here. The reason for that is that we were on a preplanned surfing course which lasted six days. I'll be making another entry about that trip but since this blog is also our travel journal (and I dislike it lacking stuff), I'm writing down this bit about our arrival in Indonesia.
We left Bangkok on March 14th, by Malesian Airlines, which has had some bad reputation lately. One plane gone missing and never found, another shot down in Ukraine… Anyway, our two flights went smoothly enough, even though we only had about 50 minutes of transfer time in Kuala Lumpur. The most annoying thing about this trip was money: we had to exchange our remaining baht's to Indonesian rupees at the airport and got a lousy rate. And we also had to pay 70 baht for two 600ml water bottles, which cost 7 baht a piece in 7 Eleven (they even had the same bottles going for as much as 55 baht in some parts of the airport). It's so wrong that airports are allowed to blackmail people on water, I can understand double, maybe even triple price, but eight times as expensive as outside?! And once we got to Kuala Lumpur we found that they have the security check for carryon luggage at the gate rather than just after check in as usual. This meant that we couldn't take our bottles with us any further and had to down them on the spot.
Both our flights went by quickly, they had a lot of different entertainment options on the planes. Once we arrived in Denpasar we got through immigration quickly enough, but they had raised the price for the visa from 25 USD to 35 USD per person. That was another thing our Lonely Planet's Southeast Asia on a Shoestring didn't know (it's the latest edition and still it's been much too outdated in many places, I probably wouldn't buy it again). Also, the same "travel Bible" told us what a good way to save some money it is to make your way outside of the airport before picking a taxi. Upon arrival in Denpasar we met hordes of taxi drivers and touts offering their services, probably at inflated prices, so the part about saving money might well be true. However, taking a taxi from somewhere else means you need to walk along the road to the outside of the airport area, which means you end up standing by the busy road trying to catch a taxi. It worked well enough for us, we didn't get killed, but the road is so narrow and busy that if everyone was to do this, the traffic of the entire airport would be totally blocked. There would be bodies too, it wasn't safe, at least during night time.
We got a taxi however, and it took us to our accommodation in Kuta, or near enough for 60'000 INR. We had been in contact with our surfing course organizers and they had told us that the Jalan Poppies area that we were staying in had so much traffic that they would pick us up from a nearby McDonald's instead of the hotel. The taxi told us something similar and left us near our hotel rather than taking us all the way. This might not have been a problem had there been electricity in that part of town. The power seemed to be out in quite a large area when we finally found Mahendra Beach Inn in the darkness. Usually in hotels they always want to take copies of our passports and to check our reservations and to mark down a whole lot of information, but not here. They just gave us in the hands of a teenage boy who took us to our room and answered every question "Yeah". Even questions such as "When is the power coming back"… The room was OK, we paid 150'000 for the night and had a fan, our own bathroom and a reasonably comfortable bed. There were no mosquito nets in the windows and one of them wouldn't close properly, allowing somewhat easy access. The small sitting spot outside of the room was nice, even though people would walk through it to get to their own rooms. The included breakfast was a banana pancake and some tea.
We didn't do much in Kuta after that, since it was already late and we were starting our surfing course the next day. We walked about a while, had some dinner and bought some fruit from the only fruit stand we could find. We were offered magic mushrooms about half a dozen times, but otherwise it was peaceful. Our main goal was to get some cash and we did that by withdrawing it from an ATM located inside a K mart in Jalan Poppies 1. They have stickers on the ATMs telling what kinds of bills you get from them. This one was loaded with 50'000 INR bills. That meant that once we withdrew 1'500'000 INR we got 25 of those. It wasn't quite as bad as one time in Nepal, when we exchanged some euros and got back 36 small bills.
And that was it! I'm putting the location of this text to Lombok to make a nice circle in the map below. The next post will be about the surfing course, which was cool. I'll also try to get around to writing about Nyepi day in Bali, which we spent under lockdown in our hotel. Then it's all about our trip to Flores and back, we're currently sitting at the airport, waiting for the flight to Labuan Bajo!