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62 trips! Are you serious?
By Jerry Griswold - (contact)

Day 8 Bali Arrival

Friday November 18, 2011, 7 miles (11 km) - Total so far: 156 miles (251 km)

Ring! Ring! The wake up call came right on the correct minute of 3:30am. I had had a restless night, checking my watch often to make sure I would not oversleep, just in case the call did not arrive. There was no automated system in place, or so it seemed, as the receptionist had just hand written a note of the call. Maybe that note had been passed on to a call center though.

The shuttle van was ready to take me through the flooded streets and on to the airport.

I noticed in the Bangkok Post English edition, that the Secretary of State, Hillary, would be arriving in Thailand today to give advice on the flooding situation. You're kidding me! Hillary is offering advice on emergency needs when our government did such a botched job in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina? She should save the taxpayers about a hundred grand in travel costs and just make a five dollar phone call. Since she is coming over here, maybe she could load a few cases of Diet Pepsi. That would surely be more help than any advice she may have to offer.

The first thing I needed to get done was to package my bike for the flight, a requirement of Air Asia. Since I don't carry my protective bike case with me once I place it in storage at my first arrival accommodation, I need something else to take its place. There is a 'Baggage Wrapping' concession at the airport and I made use of that service today. The humungous airport departure area was about as crowded at this early hour as if it were the middle of the day. People from everywhere headed somewhere else.

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For a cost of about $4, my bike became bullet proof and resistant to damage. The wrap service tech performed quite a feat and quite a ballet performance to get my bike completely covered. It took yards and yards of material and when it was finished, my ride was safe within a cocoon of plastic wrap.

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I was charged a $25 check-in fee for it though, a fee that I've never had charged by Air Asia on any past trip. It seems that more and more airlines are adding fees for service that in the past was complimentary. Once airborne, I tried to catch up on my lost sleep during the 4 ½ hour flight to DPS. I only partially succeeded in that effort.

The island of Bali eventually came into view and the plane began its descent, skimming low over the sea and onto the runway. Prior to arrival I visualized in my mind the way I needed to cycle in order to reach my hotel near the beach in the heart of Kuta. I've cycled the route numerous times so all I needed to do was freshen-up my memory.

We landed right on schedule, 11:30 am local time. I know from past experience what a bottleneck with new arrivals that occurs at the Visa on Arrival counter. Usually the line is long and you must wait there for up to an hour, packed in like sardines, to buy the visa which costs $25. They only accept US dollars and no credit cards or any other form of payment. So, once I was out of the plane, I fast walked, passing everyone ahead of me, then down the hall to that counter. To my pleasant surprise, there was no one ahead of me and I became the first person to purchase a visa of those on my flight. I was also relieved when a baggage handler hand carried my precious ride to me while I was at the baggage carousel. It took a sharp knife and ten minutes of time to undo all that wrapped film. I must have been an unusual sight as a number of locals came to observe the procedure and some even helped unwrap my big package. I then reattached my bags and panniers, pumped up my tires that had been deflated for the flight, and headed for the exit.

OH! Not so fast Mr. newly arrived passenger, you must remove everything and have it all passed through an x-ray monitor before you're allowed to enter Bali. It wasn't a problem actually, it's just that it seems a bit redundant and unnecessary since I had everything x-rayed prior to boarding the flight at Bangkok in the first place.

Before going far, I went to a currency exchange booth, of which there are many at the airport all trying desperately to get your attention and your business. They all have exactly the same exchange rate, so rely on some type of gesture to get a new arrival's attention as they sit behind their little counters on the way to the exit door. The current rate of exchange for the old greenback is 9495 rupiah to 1 US dollar. I received a huge bundle of 20,000 rupiah notes, totaling just short of one million rupiah. I had so many bills I couldn't fold my wallet and had to stuff them into my pockets. A whole million should last me a few days.

Being lunch time I immediately went looking for a place to eat and settled on a little outdoor café in front of the arrival's hall. I ordered the most popular dish in Indonesia, nasi goreng udang, a spicy fried rice dish with lots of small shrimp, and it comes with a fried egg on top. I also ordered a big frosty mug of Diet Coke, a rarity in Thailand at present, or at least until Hillary arrives with a few cases for us Coke and Pepsi drinkers.

With my hunger sedated, I climbed onto my saddle and headed for the airport exit road. My bike's temperature gauge read 100 degrees, the hottest day of my trip so far. The sky was clear blue with only a few wisps of white cloud in the distance.

As soon as I left the terminal I noticed that the little airport on Bali is undergoing a BIG makeover as there was construction in progress everywhere. The resulting upheaval of the airport roads led to detour after detour which then expelled me into a warren of unknown little alley like side streets and I did not know where I was exactly. Having been to Bali on quite a few previous trips I know the island 'like the back of my hand', more or less. This is true in a more general sense. Kuta with a innumerable warren of tiny passageways, can be difficult to negotiate and find ones way. It didn't take me long though to get my bearings and not long after to arrive at the lobby of Un's Hotel where I had reserved a room for two nights, $31 with breakfast and wifi.

Un's was built in 1986 by a Swiss by the name of Roman, and he and his Indonesian wife run the place. They added an upstairs restaurant, aptly named The Balcony, a few years later. The landscaped tropical grounds are pleasant and the pool is nice, but it could stand, not necessarily a full makeover, but some refreshing, and a bit of updating too. I was greeted warmly at reception and the young lady said that nothing had changed since I was a guest before and breakfast could still be taken up in the restaurant starting at 7 am, or delivered to my room if I so desired.

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Un's Hotel landscaped grounds

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My room is upstairs on the far left

After unpacking, I changed into my swimsuit and took advantage of a soft comfortable lounge at poolside where I again tried to catch up on last night's minimal sleep.

After a very good dinner, I took a stroll along and through some of the many little alleys along with thousands of others. I needed to to reorient myself on the area. The sky had clouded over by then and the hot temperatures had subsided to a very pleasant 80 degrees by the evening hour. The main shopping street of Legian is undergoing reconstruction with new sidewalks and road surfacing, a long overdue improvement in Kuta.

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Traffic on the narrow streets of Kuta

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Four ride comfortably??


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"62 trips! Are you serious?" Copyright © 2011-2014 By Jerry Griswold - (contact). All rights reserved.
Page was created on November 18, 2011 17:09 PDT, last updated on November 19, 2011 03:37 PDT
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