The famed, fabled, legendary island of Bali. Who doesn't love this place or thinks they would love it if they ever made it here, seriously. One of the "fun" parts of traveling Asia, now that most of Europe is on the Euro, is figuring out currency rates. The Indo Rupiah is currently at 9,200 to the dollar (Huddleston, try working that FX rate into a forecast). Withdrawing 3 Million anything from an ATM is cool, so with stacks of 100,000 bills we departed for the shit show zone of Kuta.
We considered staying a little farther north in an area called Legian where the vibe is a little more mellow but then realized that we might as well experience what Kuta had to offer for a night or two. Picture drunken Aussies in matching Bintang Beer tank tops marauding the streets, bars bumping music, scooters & cars whizzing by on impossibly narrow one-way streets, Indo taxi drivers trying to sell you Ephedrine, tiny Hindo offerings everywhere, 4 story clubs, & a memorial to the 200 + people that died in bombings here in the last 8 years and you'll have a vague idea of Kuta.
Beers in hand we meandered along we stopped for dinner at a small spot serving Thai food (still in Thai mind) where a crab cracking shrapnel incident prompted Shawn to change his shirt we ended up in Sky Garden (multi-floored club) which boasted cool fire dancers, go-go girls on the bar, & a super-tanned old white magician who looked like he'd been on Bali for 50 years but whose sleight of hand tricks were definitely entertaining. After enough house music & Bintangs (Bali beer served everywhere)we called it a night.
The next morning found us at a super sick Geger Beach, about 30 mins by taxi from Kuta. Amazing water, chaise lounges, & coconuts completed the tropical island scenario as wells as a pretty large reef break about a quarter mile off shore. After a couple hours, the taxi we'd hired for the day took us to Dreamland Beach further south for some more sun time. Dreamland was definitely more crowded with tourists(smaller too) and water with trash floating (they haven't quite figured out proper waste disposal on Bali yet) but Shawn still braved it to catch some waves on a rented board. Pretty much every beach around here has massage ladies who actively try to give you massages whether you want one or not. They'll sneak up on you from behind and next thing you know they've started massaging your shoulders even while your yelling at them to stop but also having trouble resisting as it feels so good.
Next stop was the "Food for the Monkey" temple near Ulu Watu. The temple is set on the top of a huge sheer cliff above crashing waves and might be one of the most picturesque places I've seen on the trip. You put on a purple sarong, Pat bitched about the color but got over it, buy some pineapple chunks from a grizzled old lady.............."Foooooooood for the moonnnnkeeeeeeey" and start running into the little fuckers. The monkeys are pretty small but wiley and are not scared of people at all. Like longshoreman, they'll steal anything not nailed down including sunglasses & cameras. They'll run up to you and pull on your sarong until you give up some peanuts or pineapple & some of them have gotten downright fat. Anyway, the area surrounding the temple is gorgeous and we got some awesome pictures. At one point, Josh threw away a Gatorade bottle about a quarter full and a monkey jumped into the trash, grabbed it, and pounded the whole thing (aggressive electrolyte replenishing). While taking a picture of the cliff I even had one jump on my back but was able to defend the rear naked choke correctly but couldn't help thinking of the Dave Chappelle skit "You know how STRONG a monkey is......"
Back to Kuta and then to Legian for dinner at a locals house we'd met on the beach. The woman and her 4 daughters were so nice it was ridiculous. I mean, who meets 5 gringos on the beach for 10 mins & then invites them to dinner at her house the same night where they bbq'd 3 whole fish, 3 kinds of curry, and rice. We contributed 12 large Bintangs but the food was amazing and the family extremely accommodating and gracious. The meal ended with some sort of "dessert meat" dish that tasted like a saucy ground beef mixed with nutmeg & cinnamon. That kind of hospitality is what really makes traveling worthwhile and we stayed for over 2 hours.
One of the funniest parts of the night was our cab driver home who could only say two lines from a Gun's & Roses song "You know where you are muthafucka.........you're in the jungle baby!" and "Don't antagonize me muthafucka.......see you in the ring!"