Padang Bai - Ubud and around

Trip Start Apr 10, 2006
Trip End ??? ??, 2007

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Padang Bai - Ubud and around...

After four days of luxury and decadence in the Melia Bali it was back on the road. There's no public transport in Nusa Dua (as the area is basicly purpose built for wealthy tourists) so there was no option but to fork out for a hotel taxi to Denpasar, from where we could pick up a bemo to Padang Bai...

Our first bemo experience was a steep learning curve. We were expecting the equivalent of a small bus which we could just jump on and pay the fair to take us along its pre planned route. We quickly realised that if you are the first people in the bemo you are effectively chartering it to take you exactly where you want. From this point you have to negotiate a price accordingly, of course starting with a ridiculous offer from the driver. After a price is agreed, it's up to the driver and his band of chain smoking helpers to tout for more punters en-route and push up their profits for the journey. In this way, the person to originally charter the bemo is probably paying a far highest cost (especially if they are a tourist) than someone who happens to jump on half a mile up the road. It's generally a good idea when it comes to financial negotiations to make your first offer around 1/3rd of the starting price, to protect yourself against a total rip-off, even if you have no experience in the specific field (in this case bemos). Having said that i later learned that it's also important to consider the pride of the Indonesian people. Where as in India it's perfectly acceptable to have a stand up row with a rickshaw driver before settling on a price, the Indonesians may take offence if you come in with a ridiculously low offer. They also are less desperate for cash so if an argument develops they may well just not take you. Negotiations have to therefore be considerably more tactful than in the subcontinent.

We reached Padang Bai without too much of a dent to the wallet and checked into some guesthouse run by some guy touting at the bemo stand, a pretty standard place at a pretty standard price. Padang Bai is a small fishing town which has developed into a reasonable backpacker spot because it is also the port of the ferries to Lombok...

We were unfortunate enough to be situated in the room next to an Austrailian woman whose name i will omit for now as i can't remember if i gave her this web address of not (you know who you are though!). I have nothing against the Austrailians, it's just this one particular woman was really annoying and we couldn't shake her off for the rest of our stay. She had endless boring travel stories about her 'friends' that were actually people she had never met but just spoken to once on the lonely planet web site. Stories about her sons back in Austrailia, stories about her ex-boyfriends or husbands of whatever the poor bastards were. If you were going snorkeling then she 'loved' snorkeling and had to tell you about all the places she's ever snorkeled. If you were thinking of hiring a bike then she 'loved' motorbikes and had to tell you all about growing up in whatever part of Austrailia she came from (i don't know, i stopped listening) and how many bikes she's ridden. And everywhere we went... every restaurant we tried to eat in... there she was! The point at which i decided i actually hated her was when i was walking down the main road looking foe a good coffee. I like good coffee and it's hard to come by traveling round south east Asia. I did however know that there was one place that made real espresso at the end of the road. So i was on my way there when i heard my name from inside one of the restaurants. There she was. I told here i was going to get a coffee and tried to leave, but she told me that they did really good cappuccinos in this place, the best around, and i should come and have one. I thought i could put up with her for 10 mins if it was for a good coffee... It was probably the worst coffee I've ever tasted, in fact i think it was one of those instant Nescafe sachet things that has the sugar already inside, i don't normally drink instant coffee and i don't take sugar. I was torn between equal parts of dissapointment and anger. Maybe i'm over-reacting, but she pissed me off.

So anywho, the next day we spent the morning snorkeling in the near by 'Blue lagoon' and the afternoon drinking. A few beers down, i managed to sign myself up to going out on a local fishing boat at 4.30 the next morning with a local fisherman and a couple of German guys intent on catching a shark. Sometimes the locals go shark fishing and one of these German guys wanted to wrestle one, he said he would be a 'real man'....

...i got up the next morning surprisingly easily considering the hour and the previous days bin tang consumption. It was cloudy and with no moon light it was literally pitch black outside. I stumbled down to the beach and found my fellow fishermen ready to go...

...half an hour out into the middle of the ocean the sea began to get rough, it was still pitch black and it started to piss with rain. I did wonder for a while what i was doing out in the middle of the ocean at stupid o'clock in the morning, pitch black and chucking it down, with a hangover and a couple of slightly crazy Germans bent on shark hunting. But there i was so i just had to bear it until the sun came up and it stopped raining and we could warm up and start fishing. On the plus side the heavy rain showed off the fosference in the water...

...we didn't catch much, just about 30 mackerel, (apparently the locals sometimes catch hundreds in one morning) but it was easily enough to go back and cook some up on the bbq on the beach, which was all i was worried about. On the way back to the bay we saw around 30 dolphins, in groups pretty close to our boat, which (along with actually eating our catch for lunch) made the early morning experience all the more worth while.

The two German guys weren't so satisfied however and persuaded the local fisherman to take them out shark fishing the following morning. I later learned that they went out two more time but din't catch any shark. (Other boats were coming in with 2 meter+ sharks on board though.)

The fisherman we went out with that morning turned out to be a bit of a jack of all trades...
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