Ahhh, Bali. It is hot, humid and crowded...and I love it! Eighteen years ago, Bali was my first step into the exotic and developing third world. Aside from the village of Ubud, it has changed very little in the past over those years!
I started in the Mad beachside villages ot Kuta/legian for a few days before heading to Ubud. Ubud has changes some, it still has it's grubby central market, but all of the red toothed, beetle nut chewing women have disappeared (probably all died of gum disease). The rest of the town has become very upmarket (as far upmarket as you can get in Indonesia). The food is fantastic and if you wanted on a martini could be found almost anywhere. Prices however are still cheap!!!
Yesterday I took a trip to Tirta Gangga, a very, very small village that I spent some time in when I was here 18 years ago. The village has always stuck in my mind as one of the most beautiful places I have visited. It has not changed one bit! In fact, I visted the guest house that I stayed in and ran into the waiter/houseboy from when I was there. I was 25 at the time and he was 17, although none of us recognized each other, the family was very happy I stopped by. They now charge a whopping $7 a night for a room with breakfast and even have hot water in two of the rooms. I am sure I must have paid under $2 bucks on my last visit and probably had no hot water.
Today, I am off to Lombok another island to the west and then to the remote Gili Islands (not short for Gilligan's Island).