so this is coming a little after the fact (i got back a week ago), but ive been a little busy and a lot lazy so its waited until now. bali was good. i will say the island has a well deserved honeymoon vibe to it, in some areas more than others, but i, despite being neither on a honeymoon or a total surfer bro, still had a good time to bumming around the island for a while. we landed, walked out the doors and the airport and were immediately punched in the face by the heat. its been a long time since ive felt heat like that, that tropical kind of heat. the air was a big sweaty blanket you have no choice but to wear, but it actually felt good. it took me a day or two to embrace the grossness i would wallow in for a week, but once i did, i forgot about the weather.*for the purposes of visual aide, heres a map of bali to use as reference:
the first couple days were spent in ubud, a city most well-known as the sort of cultural capital of bali. it was a very walkable city, from the several temples surrounding the main drag, to the expansive and winding central market, to the bizarre monkey forest. after getting settled we went to what turned out to be one of the nicer restaurants in town, bebek bengil (the dirty duck), a place specializing in whole fried local duck accompanied by a bunch of side dishes. it was pretty amazing and after a glass of local arak (this shit makes soju taste like kool-aid) and two disastrous attempts at getting the bartender to make a manhattan, we went home. the next day was some shopping and the monkey forest, which was all kinds of weird and fun. my roommate and travelling companion for this trip, cooks, had a connection with these animals i cant even describe. i suspect kinship. so the day after, we hit some temples and then hired a car to take us up north to a really sick diving place.
after 4 hours bumping along impossibly tiny mountain roads we made it up to pemuteran, in the far northwest of the island. the volcanoes of java were shitting in the dusk as we came to our hotel, prepared to get dinner and then crash early, seeing as we had a couple dives scheduled in the moring. first of all, let me say, i booked this hotel because i wasnt sure of guesthouse options in a place this out of the way, and it was 35 bucks a night, so i wasnt expecting anything too grandiose. the hotel was about 18 villas situated around a central walkway/garden thing. when planning it, i suspect they had money for either proper lighting or an infinity edge pool, and clearly thought the latter was a higher priority because the whole place was lit by about 8 votive candles. the town was pretty remote, and this hotel even more so, so our only option for dinner was the hotel restaurant.
we went down and grabbed a table at the mostly empty patio, and ordered some beers and satay. pretty quickly we realized that everyone else in the restaurant were couples, but more than that, they were all middle-aged to elderly german couples. we had apparently, unwittingly, picked one of the more popular honeymoon/2nd honeymoon/13th honeymoon locales for aging germans in indonesia. it was awkward. anyways, the next day we did a couple dives on menjagan island which was spectacular. the reef on menjagan island, once a bleached-out disaster because of cyanide and dynamite fishing, is actually being artifically electrically stimulated to regrow at a rate 5 times what it would be otherwise. there are spots to dive in bali where theres a chance at seeing whale shark and manta ray, but those are few and far between, so i didnt want to chance seeing nothing on the one day we had to dive. menjagan didnt offer any of the big boys, but the diversity and wealth of species was great and i also go to play with clownfish, so i was happy. next up - pissing off kiwi rugby playing metallurgists in a pseduo-whore house in kuta.