Jakarta – Bali – East Timor?

I spent a few days in Jakarta. The air quality wasn’t as bad as the last time I was there (the last time I was there it was perpetual nighttime the smog was so bad… perhaps due to seasonal crop burnings). This made the experience much better, obviously.

We stayed again at Le Meridien, which is a nice enough hotel for the money. Jane, of course, knew the band that was playing there, so we went and saw them. Afterwards I took off to a humongous nightclub, called Millennium. There must have been thousands of people in there…

Other than that, Jakarta was fairly uneventful. We then flew on Adam Air to Bali.

We stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel which is quite nice and has a fantastic, massive pool. It also has wifi in the hotel rooms but charges a huge sum, $30 for an 8 hour wifi card. Although you can log in and log out as you please, so an 8 hour card generally ended up lasting me about a day and a half… meaning I ended up paying about $25/day for internet… which is a lot, but I didn’t mind so much because I know how hard it is to get internet in Bali.

Bali hasn’t changed much… the main disco that is busy every night is still called Bounty and it is still full of 17-22 year old, super, stupidly drunken Aussies, all drinking the fishbowl $2 cocktails they serve up there.

The nightlife is terrible in Bali, imo, but that isn’t why I came here this time. I came to surf.

Right outside of the Hard Rock Hotel is Kuta beach with a ton of great surfing breaks… Jane even took lessons and did well and she now likes surfing as well, so we will likely do a bunch more of that here and in Australia on the Gold Coast over the coming weeks.

I almost ended up going to Dili, East Timor this weekend… I even booked a ticket on Merpati Airlines at a local travel agent. Merpati Airlines is hilarious. They have a website, and I presume it is new. And it has a survey on it asking what you think of their new website. There are 3 options. Futuristic, Artistic and Moderate. Well, if you go and look at it, “artistic� hardly seems like a viable option… at best, it is a mediocre, bland website. And the “futuristic� option is the funniest, especially considering that the website is completely, frustratingly inoperable. Hardly anything works on the site.

Anyway… like I said, I booked a ticket there… it wasn’t cheap, about $250 per ticket, one way. I was expecting to book an onward flight on Air North to Darwin from Dili (Darwin happens to be the only other place you can fly to East Timor from, other than Bali). However, after booking my ticked for Dec 1, I found out that the next available flight to Darwin was on Dec 10. I did not want to spend 10 days in Dili… plus, I need to be in Sydney by Dec 5 for some of the Asia Pacific Poker Tour championship tourneys… so I ended up cancelling my ticket, begrudgingly.

I would have enjoyed visiting East Timor… it is one of the world’s newest countries, only born in 2002, after breaking away from the occupation of Indonesia… and Belgium before them.

However, it was not to be on this trip.

So, I will stay in Bali a few more days and then go to Sydney direct on JetStar.

Today I took a scooter ride with Jane North to a place called Ubud and something called the Monkey Forest. The monkeys were interesting, including one that attacked me… which they told me later was apparently because I looked at his baby too long AND I didn’t have any food to feed him.

Here are a few pics from the Monkey Forest:

Jane and monkey
Jane and monkey and guide

But most notable about this trip is just the sheer amount of people in Indonesia.

Indonesia is the world’s 4th most populous country, with 230 million, trailing only China, India and the US.

I never gave that too much thought until today. I drove about an hour and a half north through the island on scooter. At no time was there less than 10 or 20 other scooters or vehicles within a 5 meter radius of myself. It was really just nuts the amount of humanity I must have passed by during the short trip… more people than you would see in a month in a place like Canada.

In fact, it left me feeling like Thailand was a sparsely populated, laid back place… it is that crazy here in terms of density.

The city where the Monkey Forest is, called Ubud, is actually a really neat, nice place with lots of cool little boutique hotels and restaurants and shops… plus the forest where the monkeys are is really a neat place… with the temples in the forest, which look thousands of years old and have a very ancient feel to them, it really feels like you step back in time there… that is, until you walk out of the forest and see the thousands of scooterized Indonesians, packed elbow to elbow on every inch of roadway, in any direction – many talking on cellphones, many carrying yet even more new Indonesian babies in backpacks, frontpacks and some just carried on their shoulders.

Indonesians, for whatever reason, don’t seem to be quite as in tune with the modern world as many of their surrounding neighbors, including Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand etc… I don’t know what the reason for that is, but people here seem to be very slow to pick up on how to do business in the modern age… they seem very confused. In a way, it is nice, because they are for the most part quite nice and very friendly and laid back… but it will be interesting to see what happens if they start getting more up to speed on capitalistic type lifestyles, given their massive population.

In the meantime, if you are looking for me over the next few days, check out some of the surf breaks on Kuta beach, or in a cabana at the Hard Rock pool…

Next updates likely to come from Sydney and the Gold Coast.

Update

I’m still happily nestled in Bangkok… but I will likely take off again in the next few days.

I intend to go to Jakarta, Bali and Gold Coast, Australia over the coming month (along with possible stops in East Timor and Papua New Guinea), with the intention of doing a lot of surfing and getting in shape.

I will then likely do my annual Xmas week in Boracay, after which I will likely return to Thailand for a few weeks.

Then, in mid-January I will begin to make my way back to the caribbean and Mexico, Central and South America for a few months, picking up on the itinerary I earlier planned to do during Nov-Dec in Jan-Mar.

That’s about all for now… pretty quiet few months here so not too much to update on the blog… I should begin to have some new and interesting travel stories again in the New Year.