I forgot a bit

I forgot to talk about the sightseeing drive on Tuesday 9th. Can’t leave that out.

I hired a hotel based driver for four hours, midday to 4pm, to drive me down to the southern peninsula of the island. Four hundred thousand Rupiahs, it cost, by the way, or A$44.

I wanted to see Benoa, Nusa Dua, Ulu Watu, all the places we used to ride our motorbikes in the 1980s. I also especially wanted to see Kuta and the Kuta Seaview Hotel where we had such good times in those days.

Another motive was to see what some of the real estate looked like. Didn’t see a lot of that, but that’s OK.

Well, what an eye opener. In 1983, the Benoa peninsula (on the middle right) was just a dusty collection of villages connected by a rutted road leading to a beach where they brought turtles ashore (trussed up and for eating, that is!).

Bringing the turtle catch ashore 1983
It’s traditional, but it’s still a tragedy. 1983

Now it’s jam packed with huge international luxury hotels, restaurants for the rich tourists, water sports and amusement parks, traffic, apartment blocks and clutter. That’s progress, and it’s also jobs, money and survival for the Balinese, so who am I to complain. That’s life.

Our first stop was at Benoa harbour. I can’t be sure, but this beach:

Benoa 2010

looked familiar. Could this be the same beach? I’m not sure.

Benoa 1983

From there the driver tried to show me the beautifully manicured gardens of the massive hotel where the international political conferences are held. Very nice, but I said no, this doesn’t interest me. Let’s go.

Time was slipping away, so we just drove up to the highest point where the TV transmitter towers are. There were a few nice views, but I wouldn’t want to live there. Nothing wrong with it, but it’s a bit remote and agricultural.

Then it was down to Jimbaran beach near the airport where I told the driver I was busting for a pee. I asked the Indonesian word for this. It’s kinting. Fine with me.

Then it was a quick bowl of clear seafood soup – absolutely delicious – and while sitting at the restaurant table I had another feeling of familiarity. “Where was the terrorist bomb blast in 2007?”, I said.  Yes, that’s right, it was this same spot a few doors down. Ugh!

Time was running out by then, so it was off to Kuta to see “Bemo Corner”, which I remember well, and the Kuta Seaview. What a contrast! What a difference! Bemo Corner was open then, uncluttered, ringed by restaurants. Now it’s a walled jungle.

Likewise, this was the Kuta Seaview beachfront in 1983:

Kuta Seaview Hotel 1983

This is the same area (from a different angle) now:

Kuta Seaview Hotel 2010

Phew! How glad I am that we did our trips in the 1980s.

I also made a quick call in to the Mata Hari department store to look for an item (didn’t find it), but had a good chuckle at what was happening on the steps in the entrance. There were two quite large tanks of water with people sitting on the rim with their legs in the water. A closer look showed that there were hundreds of little fish about 25-30mm long in the water and they were nibbling at the skin on the people’s legs! They were eating the loose skin. People were paying Rp.10,000 (A$11) for 20 minutes of this.

Well, why not? I asked a European looking girls what it felt like. It tickles, and is not unpleasant, she said. I laughed and said, make sure you’ve still got both legs when you get out.