The thing about hitchhiking with a sign that says "Anywhere" is that you never know where you'll end up. Our first several days in Bali were mostly spent trying to get away from wherever we were. At one point we had to ask where we were. Asking where you are is like a time traveler asking the date, people usually don't get the question the first time. After all, how did you get there if you didn't know where there was?
Eventually we made it to the south part of the island which we learned is where everyone is talking about when they talk about Bali. The beaches here are the best we've seen so far but there's also the highest number of tourists.
The first night in Denpasar we went to a full moon festival. It was like most festivals around the world—a center stage surrounded by concession booths. The music was mostly reggae which I was a bit surprised by. After the festival ended we went to a night club in the tourist district. It was a 4 level disco with a variety of things on each level, but lots of pop music and white people everywhere.
You'll notice a lack of pictures in this post. That's because someone stole my camera at the night club. I left it in my host's motor bike to keep it safe and when we got back it was gone with all the pictures except the ones in my dropbox account.
Pictures never capture a moment perfectly. They can't be used to make other people feel what you were feeling when you took the photo. But pictures can bring back memories. Before I left for this trip I got rid of almost all my possessions. In doing so I went through a lot of old stuff. I found a lot of old pictures that instantly brought back memories. Some of them made me cry; tears of joy and tears of sorrow. The old pictures were among the few things I kept.
The next day we climbed Mt. Batur. From the bottom it looked like an old soft mountain, from the top it was a jagged edge looking down into an active caldera. The clouds were filtering the sun perfectly on the ridge, as if it had been lined with gold. I would have taken a picture but it wouldn't have done it justice. The top of this mountain was especially rewarding since 15min from the top a Hungarian I was with and I decided to race. Man, I'm out of shape. I later learned he was the Hungarian national duathlon champion, so that made me feel a little better about loosing so bad. Still, he was in flip-flops and carrying a backpack.
Inside the volcano we could see steam coming off the rocks. There were places where the rocks were so hot you couldn't hold your hand there for more than a couple seconds. Some people bring eggs to the top and steam them in grass nests in caves in the rock. On the way to Mt. Batur we passed a wild fire. I don't think I've ever seen a live shrub burn before. It was sad watching it wriggle and shake as the water in the limbs scrambled to keep away from the flame.
Speaking of wild fires and cooking things in the mountains, it's way too hot here. "My blood is too thick for [Bali]. I've never been able to properly explain myself in this climate."(Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) I'm not sure of the exact temperature but I sweat just sitting there. How I long for the Wisconsin fall. I talk of it often, like a lost love.
For a while I got to imagine I was back home when I was in the cool of the karaoke room. The place we went to was much nicer than the place I'd gone before but the vibe started out much mellower. I think this was due to all the sad songs about lost loves and slow songs in Indonesian which I assume were also depressing. Some advice for anyone doing karaoke: check your broken heart at the door. Everyone has a broken heart, you can see it in their eyes during the sad love songs; don't remind them. Pick an up-beat song that most people know and sign with all you've got, even if you don't know the words. Eventually things got more animated. I sang American Boy, Like a Rolling Stone, I Will Survive and Bohemian Rhapsody and danced to Party Rock Anthem and Gangnam Style. (For the record Kyle, I didn't pick those songs, I prefer female artists).
The mosquitoes here are much worse than anywhere I've been so far. Miguel and I had a fun time trying to kill all the ones in our room, like soldiers killing a hated enemy. There was one rogue mosquito that took us for ever to get and we're not even sure we got it.
Though the beaches are nicer and the volcano was beautiful, Bali hasn't been my favorite place. The people here are as friendly as everywhere else which has made things better. I'm looking forward to getting to the more remote parts of this great country. Unfortunately I'm going to have to wait until the 8th to leave Bali since I applied for a visa extension and they wont have it done until then.Soundtrack: Like a Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan)