Day 6 – Bali: Kuta Part 1

A few days have passed without keeping any particular entry. Bali’s beaches capture even the most cliche of visual of beach paradise. The market place in a few particular places are poor, but carry the best Australian surfing gear. Spent time in Seminyak, which is a place with really nice Italian and Australian food. The shops look poor, but have quality food and over charge for any Buly that comes with wallet in hand. I usually would play tough with them. I would speak Bahasan the best I could, some bought it and some didn’t. I was told that if I were to be cool and calm, and speak bahasan I could pass as a Jakarta or Hollywood actor. That alone has bought me two free meals in the past few days.

– Day 6 –

My day begun with this view out of the KOS I am staying in. A KOS is like a short lease apartment that can last anywhere from two weeks to a month. This is the view of walking out onto the balcony. Nothing too spectacular, but when you are from a state that is frigid cold for 6 months out of the year, you learn to appreciate the little things. Ayu is spending her days working, and at night we usually get something to eat and relax. The first day in Bali Ayu spent it showing me around, nice places to eat and what not. However, during the next day I do a particular excessive amount of exploration, I’d like to say this is where my little adventure began.

0900 – Feel free to open google maps! I’ll walk you through it.
So my little journey began here in Samiyak beach. I had a back pack on me with the bare essentials, and had at this point decided to even place my shoes in my bag. I began walking south just looking out at the beach admiring the view. I travelled about a mile before just looking back where I came from. To the far North there were the silhouettes of two large inactive volcanos. These volcanos had to of been 2 miles height above sea level. I couldn’t get a good view of them with my camera as North Bali is where there is a significant amount of pollution, so visibility was limited after about 4 kilometers.

I walked passed Beachwalk mall which is a prime shopping destination for most of the buly. There is a near by side street where all the clubs and niche shops are, I will go more detail into that later though. So following this above trail, I was met with who I call Mr Crabs. Back home I am known to fear spiders like they are killing machines. I felt something scurry across my toes and I jumped bringing my knee up to my chest holding my foot as if it had been hurt. Looking kind of funny balancing on one foot in front of the locals, they all were giggling. I looked down to see Mr Crabs had punked me. So rather than him pulling that again, I picked him up and moved him onto the rock where he just chilled. The people that were laughing at me worked at this here resort. (picture 3) At this point I was on a stone path, it was uneven and didn’t feel the greatest on my feet, but I still walked on. Bare in mind these resorts are not cheap by any means and charge American prices in full. The workers are entirely Indonesian (also known as Balinese), and I guess even the supervisors don’t make much money even.

During my travel I met a man who offered me a couple of things to do. He offered me to take a boat out and go fishing, snorkeling, or Bali tour for 50 dollars each. I walked away, came back and offered him 15 dollars. He was hesitant, but when he thought I was an actor and said okay. I decided to go snorkeling just north of the airport. The waves were rough and the water had its heat and cold currents, but overall was spectacular of an experience. The airport was near enough that when a jet were to take off, the entire wake would violently vibrate. It was quite different holding your breath and feeling the water just shake with such force. He decided to go with me as a guide in which he had me carry a small pack on my waist with a nylon strap. The pack had bare essentials such as bandages if anything went wrong. While diving we saw a manta ray, which is a sting ray the size of me, except they don’t sting. The manta ray almost surfaced and got close to us. He swam right under me. I’m still unsure how, but that strap i had got caught on the manta ray and it started pulling me under. My guide saw this and quickly handed me a knife. My first instinct was to jab the creature.. but I stopped myself, collected my thoughts and cut the strap before it could pull me under any deeper. I had $20 dollars in the pouch to pay my guide with, but he ended up letting me off free because of what happened. He then questioned me if I were an actor.. He had never seen an actor use a knife so confidently.

After returning to shore I dried off, and took a quick rinse at the near by spa showers. I continued South again to where I was able to find a comfy spot and watch jets take off from the airport. One thing that made me uneasy was seeing fighter jets take off and go into the distance. I couldn’t tell you what they are, but they looked similar to F-15 tomcat fighter jets. I didn’t take pictures because I know how in the USA, the government watches for that sort of thing. Here watching the ocean though, and places disappear into the distance, I really began to realize how far away I was from home. I wasn’t home sick, but I noticed just how primitive we are as a race. We have “advanced” technology for traveling, but have little tolerance for one another. We have “advanced” technology for war, but such little ability to prevent it. I couldn’t help think that those planes were only going on a routine patrol of their borders, but here I was in paradise, and so far from home. It took me a staggering 27 hours to fly here, and 35 total to Bali. I just was thinking what will our next generation be like? Airplanes that feel slow, but in fact travel the planet in a matter of a few hours? Or will America be like the infrastructure in Bali.

When looking at Bali tourist areas, it is very clean and beautiful. I however I believe to get the full experience of a place, you must also travel to more cultured areas, such as when I got breakfast with Ayu in that shack (Day 3). A lot of the roads and sidewalks in Bali are in disarray and need repair. There are a lot of open sewer drains that it would be easy to fall in if you weren’t paying mind to your environment. The infrastructure and living quarters here appear to be almost tribal compared to Jakarta. There are no hot water heaters, they simply place water tubs on the roof. There is only hot water, and hotter water here unless showering at night, or you are rich. There aren’t any ventilation ducts, but there are strategically placed air conditioning units, typically placed at the door or over the bed in the KOS. There are collapsed buildings that haven’t been cleaned up or repaired.

After I was finished with the airport I experienced this part of town by cutting East along the North end of the airport. I kept my distance as I did not want to appear suspicious. The smaller streets here were quite trashed. Even saw a few people who looked like they were laying down dying of thirst/hunger. I saw a child whose face was gaunt and looked fatigued. The child look as if she had never smiled in her short existence. I grabbed snack bar from my back pack, and snapped it in half. I gave her half, and then pointed to her mother who was watching the interaction. The mother then approached me, and sounded like she was saying a Muslim prayer. She did not speak English, but I knew she was thankful. I then began to observe the way she walked, and the clothing on her, and the child. The clothing looked like old bed sheets that were stained from god knows what. There were specs of food, urine, blood, and other assortments I could never speculate. Her child had a toddlers dress that was too small for her and a doll missing an eye. It was quite sad to believe I was a tourist resort, and yet the poverty was still here. It made me think back home.. I don’t think I’ve seen a bum this bad off. I know that some people dress and act this way to make money. This woman though, her eyes were yellow from a decaying liver, skin was battered and bruised. Her daughter was nearly black from playing outside all day, and the roof of their shack looked like it had recently caved in. A few people in similar circumstance observed this exchange and began to approach me. I decided my welcome had been used up and I departed. As I left I heard her yell to them to now follow, and that I was a friend of some sort. I couldn’t make out exactly.

I then continued on East and crossed the main road where everything again was nice and decorated. I proceeded further until I came across a lagoon. The water here was murky and black with oil. I looked to my right where the airport was. An incoming airplane shook the surrounding area. There were boats here and a river that went inland to my left. One of the attendants asked if I would like to fish here, and I politely declined and I realized there wasn’t anything that could live here. He again asked me, and I looked at him, raised my voice and said “Tidak” which means “No” or “Nothing”. He then gave me a look like i was being rude. At this point I was disgusted with what I’ve been seeing. It’s not so much that I’m naive to my surroundings. I know this was here, I know about it back home.. But to experience it, and so see it in person is always different than through the lens of a camera thousands of miles away. I look at this and wonder, “Has technology really done this to us?”. Most people would instinctively say no, that it’s apart of life to advance. I love technology, I love every aspect of it. But this day I am exploring without a GPS. I wore shoes only on paved roads. Very little sunblock, water, and a rough hand map I sketched out back at the kos. That was the technology I had on me. Indonesia a 3rd world (technology predating 1990) country just out of the 4rth world (stone/bronze age). The only up to date technology this country appeared to have were smart phones and some cars. I think not only technology has done this though, education, lack of food to go around, government maybe was corrupt. I then departed back West to the main road and then walked North. I decided to meet Ayu a block away from her work place so we could get some food.

This day had taken me though. I grew up a fairly good life, with food on the table at all times. I can’t say I’ve gone a day without food or drink. I’ve gone days with one big meal/drink but never without. Seeing people that haven’t seen food in multiple days, and seeing someone dehydrated is about the worst thing I’ve ever encountered. I almost wish traveling to a 3rd world country was a prerequisite for Americans. You really learn what you have back in the United States, and learn to appreciate it.

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