#1, Indonesia, Jan. 26, 1993

A funny thing happened to me on the way to Bombay, India—when I checked in at the airport, the agent asked for my visa. Visa? One doesn’t need a visa to visit India! Well, it seems the rules had changed since I was last there, and I didn’t check. What to do??? I decided I’d go as far as Singapore, where I needed to change planes and figure something out. So I checked my suitcase to Singapore and boarded the plane.

I looked at the map in the in-flight magazine for ideas of where I could go. The plane stopped in Hong Kong for refueling where we had to deplane. I asked an agent to check if Indonesia or Malaysia required visas and neither did. Consulting the map again, I decided I would try to go to Indonesia, so I rushed into a bookshop in the airport and found a Lonely Planet guidebook and a map of Indonesia.

Back on the plane, I outlined a possible itinerary for Indonesia, starting with the island of Bali, to which I thought I could get a flight from Singapore. After landing in Singapore and collecting my luggage, I bought a ticket to Denpasar, Bali, was on my way within one hour and in another, I had checked into the Asana Santhi Guesthouse, had a passion fruit welcome drink and felt like Sadie Thompson as it was raining cats and dogs! I showered in my outdoor bathroom, which was in the middle of green growing things, and I felt fine!

I slept well, but awoke about midnight and went out into the courtyard of the guesthouse, which had a pool and lots more green growing things. It felt like I was living in a salad! They had a million koi fish swimming in little ‘rivers’ in the courtyard and past the verandahs of the rooms. I chatted with the owner, went back to bed, and the next morning sat on my verandah for breakfast. At a verandah down the line, I became acquainted with Paul, an American about my age.

Throughout the day I made arrangements for renting a car, for a flight to Irian Jaya and Java, and swam in the pool. Paul and I had dinner and decided to travel to Ubud together, which is a village in the north of Bali.

The next morning Paul and I set out for Ubud in a Suzucki jeep-like vehicle with four-on-the-floor, steering wheel on the right for driving on the right. We stopped at all the craft villages on the way. Seluk had silver (I bought some things), then a woodcarving village, a textile village, and other craft villages and we eventually came to Ubud.

Paul and I separated to each look for a suitable hotel. I found one and when I unlocked the door of my car and got back in (I thought the lock turned kind of stiffly) the luggage was gone! I had a moment of panic until I realized that I was in the wrong car! There were oodles of identical Suzuckis, but my key had unlocked one that wasn’t mine!

We decided to stay in Puri Muwa Garden Bungalows on Monkey Forest Road. There was no hot water (not a problem in this heat) but there was lots of atmosphere. Each room had a thermos of hot, fresh tea on a table on the verandah along with a beautiful hibiscus. There were hanging orchids on the verandah and hanging cages with doves all around.

My room had a canopied bed with three carved ‘headboards’ around three sides of the bed. We ate a wonderful dinner of satay, chicken in coconut, and fish with a terrific dessert pancake with bananas, coconut and brown sugar.

I’m going to like Bali! After dinner we saw Balinese dancing which was great, and very enjoyable.

The next day Paul and I spent visiting lots of temples around Ubud. We thought we would go up the volcanic mountain, but the roads were so narrow and I was so tired, we gave it up. Paul does not drive. Every scene is a picture in Bali, it is so beautiful. The bright green of the rice fields, the people putting out religious offerings, the bucolic farming scenes—it is just exquisite.

Dinner that evening was a rijsttafel, a hangover from the Dutch colonial days—a meal with many, many dishes, eaten over rice. I’m enjoying the beer, too, as it’s very hot. Paul, who is an artist, painted me a picture of the hibiscus on the table of my hotel room verandah.

On Monday Paul and I visited a museum that had many paintings from the ‘30s and from the ‘60s. Later I bought a wonderful wooden double statue of Shiva and Parvati with very intricate carving.

After dinner that evening we went out of town to a ‘fire dance.’ Some young men made a heap of burning coconut husks;

then one of them walked through the fire and kicked up a big splash of live embers.

There was also a spectacular dance accompanied by 50 chanting men.

Today Paul and I went our separate ways—I drove to Denpasar, and he was going to take the bus north to the coast and then a ferry to Java. We did make plans to possibly meet up again in Jogjakarta after some days. In Denpasar, when I stopped to ask directions, the car wouldn’t start as the battery was completely dead. Then I remembered that I had heard a rapping noise in the car two days before, probably the fan belt breaking. So I got a taxi and had the driver write down the address where I was leaving the car, to give to the car rental place, and then I checked back into my same hotel.

I ducked down to the beach and was surprised to find religious ceremonies going on. It seems that the Balinese incorporate their religion totally into their daily lives.

Tomorrow I shall fly to Irian Jaya.

Carol

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One Response to #1, Indonesia, Jan. 26, 1993

  1. arie himawan says:

    hi Carol, greetings from Jakarta 🙂

    Very nice to see your blog here..awesome!..you had travelled to many places since late 80’s…
    it would be wonderful time along those journeys…
    maybe next later on we could chat, and i could learn from about great places to visit you if you don’t mind..:)

    Best Regards,

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