01 Jan - 19 Jan 2010 Lovina

Republic of Indonesia
Never mind Indonesia, welcome to Bali, the Island of Gods
Clean and spacious twin room in a garden bungalow with private verandah, air-con and breakfast for two for IDR 3,500,000.- or US$ 370.- per month.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Angsoka Hotel in Lovina, which we would highly recommend, and for directions:

Welcoming the New Year 2010 CE with fireworks under a tropical full moon on Bali’s palm-tree lined Lovina Beach, indulging in charcoal-grilled fish aka ikan bakar with spicy sambal (our favourite open-air restaurant aka warung makan: Mina Segara +6281338664630, IDR 40,000.- or US$ 4.10 per kg fish) and sweet, creamy durians (from IDR 10,000.- or US$ 1.05 per piece), washing both down with fruity Aga Red (“The original light red wine from the vineyards of Bali”) from Hatten Wine +62361767422, and having a whale of a time in the friendly Angsoka boutique hotel, situated on the volcanic black-sand Bina Ria beach: (i) relaxing in the well-maintained, sparkling hotel pool, (ii) delighting in the hotel's manicured tropical gardens (packed with angsoka flowers after which the hotel is named), (iii) being pampered by the ever-helpful hotel staff (...learning that their smile and their nod to a request often has to be translated as: “I have no idea what you are talking about, but you seem to be happy enough to think that I do...”), (iv) reading historical fiction about the East (James Clavell's Asian Saga), and, last but not least, (v) planning our travels for the upcoming year 2010 CE.

Spending many happy hours (620-ml bottles of ice-colBintang Pilsener with c. 4.7 % alc./vol. for IDR 15.000.- or US$ 1.60 per large bottle) and dinner evenings at the excellent beach-front bars, pubs, kedais, warungs and restaurants (our favourites: Bali Bintang, Kakatua, Arya, Mina Segara and the Angsoka hotel restaurant) in Kalibukbuk, nicknamed Kampung Belanda for the roaming hordes of cheese-fed Dutch giants (with the female exemplars often being much bigger/taller than their male counterparts).

Visiting the coastal town of Singaraja (bemo from Lovina for IDR 5,000.- or US$ 0.50 per person, one way), Bali’s second largest city and the administrative centre for the Lesser Sunda Islands (from Timor through to Bali) until 1953 CE, and exploring its ratty markets, tree-lined streets, surviving Dutch colonial buildings, charming old harbour and the moribund waterfront. 

Meeting and listening to a group of asiaphile agents of virtue from several international NGOs who spend the holidays on Bali, and gaining insight on the business model of a modern NGO: (i) one chooses a fancy name, preferably with politically correct catchphrases like “humanitarian”, “development”, “non-profit”, “save the animals/children/planet”, “without borders”, spices the mission statement with fluffy buzzwords like "impact", "sustainability", "optimisation", registers and goes on-line, (ii) one chums up with some local stooges and pays them a nominal salary for their names and their IDs which are necessary for the NGO’s accounting data and for the official pay-roll, (iii) one attracts (young) Westerners who want/need “international experience” on their CVs as temps, pays them nothing and let them (or their parents) pay for their flights and for their stays, (iv) one forwards the NGO’s banking details to the relevant agencies/ministries for international development in the rich donor states where priggish office sitters happily justify their jobs in these agencies/ministries by distributing the allocated annual budgets to the NGOs, and (v) one enjoy tremendously the local food, the great climate and the free flights back home (...and generally uses the clergy during the high colonial era as a role model for all the rest of it).

I smile when I’m angry.
I cheat and I lie.
I do what I have to do
To get by.
But I know what is wrong,
And I know what is right.
And I’d die for the truth
In My Secret Life.”

Experiencing the sudden arrival of the northeast monsoon on the 14th of January and noticing a dramatic overnight shift in the general weather pattern, as if someone up there had turned the main switch: the Bali Sea roughs up from a polished mirror into a windswept lee-shore with huge breaking waves and the sky changes from sunny and blue to overcast and grey; time for us to move on to greener and less wind-swept pastures.

David Attenborough has said that Bali is the most beautiful place in the world, but he must have been there longer than we were, and seen different bits, because most of what we saw in the couple of days we were there sorting out our travel arrangements was awful. It was just the tourist area, i.e., that part of Bali which has been made almost exactly the same as everywhere else in the world for the sake of people who have come all this way to see Bali.” 

Taking a chauffeured car for IDR 300,000.- or US$ 32.60 from Lovina on Bali’s north coast over the central mountain range to Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport (passenger service charge for international departures: IDR 150,000.- or US$ 16.30 per person) in the south, flying uneventfully with Air Asia (“Now Everyone Can Fly”) in an Airbus A 320-200 for MYR 146.- or US$ 40.- per person, one way and all inclusive, back to Kuala Lumpur’s KLIA-LCCT and being issued with a 90-day-visit pass for a “social visit” to Malaysia on arrival, free of charge; "Selamat Tinggal", Bali, a once paradisiac island whose scenery and people have been marked by many years of mass tourism, and once more "Selamat Pagi", naturally friendly and well-managed Malaysia, one of our second homes, so far.

Click below for a summary of this year's travels
2010 Map Konni & Matt

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Konni & Matt Travel Photos

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