26 September 2008 | Bali
Instant Millionaire! 10,000 Indonesian Rupiah = 93 cents US. So a trip to the ATM generates a fist full of money, 1,250,000. Terry's ecstatic 'cause essentials are so inexpensive here - huge Bintang Beer $2, groceries and fuel half what we paid in Darwin, nice hotel rooms $15.
Bali is right in the middle of the chain of Indonesian Islands and from what I've seen so far is probably the best. Every day Terry and I walk, only instead of the waterfalls, & rocky hills of New Zealand we hike 3-5 kilometers along a shore with the beach on one side and humongous resorts on the other.
In one area all we could hear was Russian or German spoken by the guests lounging on their padded divans baking in the sun, munching, imbibing frosty pastel concoctions, or getting massages. Decadent to the enth! Some of these resorts used to charge $650-1000 a night before the '02 bombings. Now there are many huge hotels and not so many wealthy tourists. We're just happy to be ambling along testing the coldness of the Bintang watching the beautiful, the rich, and the not so much of either at play.
The real heart of the tourist area is Kuta where the backpackers abound. Here the digs are cheap hostels with shopping galore and dinner in the $2.50-5 range, 50 DVD's for $35 - I'm on a quest! Terry found Oakley sunglasses for $3, this after some judicious bargaining - you never pay the asking price, usually 1/3 to ½ of the original. The Balinese love to haggle and never get upset even if you don't make a purchase. And they are natural salesmen, carnival barkers as Terry calls them. So we spend the majority of the afternoons smiling and telling hundreds of natives no thank you, just looking. They are slight, attractive, shy, folks who are working only to please their visitors. The hawkers have become part of the scenery - their gypsy tents shaded by gorgeous trees and flowers on the one side and waves breaking upon beautiful beaches or huge surf crashing on the reef further out on the other.
Cheers to a new Paradise, more soon.