Update #: 13
Warning: Long post.
It's a funny thing being broke in a town where you can get a hotel room for $5 USD a night. (note - see theory on the direct correlation between hotel cost and ATM availability)
There I was, fresh from six hour hike, sitting in a fancy restaurant with an excellent view, but more importantly, an all you can eat buffet for about $3.50 USD...and I couldn't afford it. I had a bowl of rice and vegtables with my remaining rupiah (about twenty cents) and then I had to walk away from exactly what I wanted most.
Aside from the post-hike hunger, the trek was amazing. We (a couple from Holland on their honeymoon, a solo German traveller, and myself) left at about 3:30am in order to get to the peak by sunrise. Heading up, the stars (and small flashlights) were our only guides (not including the guide himself). It was a fairly strenuous trip, made even more difficult by the all the loose rocks that covered the trail.
When we made it to the top, we had an egg and a banana sandwich that were both cooked using the moutain's natural heat. I should clarify...Mt. Batur is really Volcano Batur. Although you can't see any flowing magma, you can still see steam rising from certain parts and in some locations there are small holes - where you can place eggs, bananas, a Tombstone pizza, whatever - with enough heat to cook them.
After eating, we walked along the ridge of the volcano. In the states, the board of park safety would have required that this trail have a railing or at least a rope to hold onto while crossing - however, in the states we were not. Luckily, the ground wasn't as slippery along the ridge, so we all made it safely around and back down the volcano.
Wednesday's adventure was a nice tune up to today's. I decided to extend my stay in Bali by an extra day, and with that extra day I headed for the beaches of Sanur where I'm currently staying in a hotel with a Ritz location, Hyatt quality, and a Motel 6 price. This morning I took a boat out to Lembongan Island (no where to be found in Frommer's) to do a little snorkeling and jet skiing - or so I thought.
Instead of doing the package deal, I requested that tour company only transfer me and that I would take care of my own activities. Upon arriving, I left the group to go wonder solo. I found a moped and rented it for the day. The island was filled with a mix of paved, half paved, and completely unpaved roads/trails. The layout was fairly straightforward, or so I thought, so I just drove along the coast looking for a place to snorkel. After following some crude signs for snorkeling, I found myself at the end of a dirt road with a few boats nearby. I talked to one of the locals saying that I'd like to snorkel. He'd take me he said and he started to lead me to his boat. Right before we got on, I asked if he had equipment for me to use. Puzzled, he said that he was taking me to the Mangroves - to snorkel, right? I asked. No, no snorkeling he said. (two things I've noticed in Bali: 1. Everyone says yes to what you're asking for 2. Everything is 200m away. There's a story involving both in a sec.)
I hoped back on the scooter and took another trail to a bridge that lead to Ceningan Island. As soon as I crossed the bridge, I met a local student who was majoring in English. I don't think he was very far in his studies...But he did lead me to his friend who was a fisherman, and therefore, a snorkeling guide. All three of us hopped on a tiny boat and headed for the reefs.
On our way, we passed by a big cruise ship that had a 10ft x 10ft part of the ocean roped off for their guests to snorkel in. With my guides, I was able to use everything else but those 100 square feet.
On my first dive in I was immediately suprised by how strong the current was. I had to swim as strong as I could just to stay in one place. Luckily, we didn't stay long and we moved to another spot that had much less current and absolutley amazing reefs. At this point, I felt like - and for all practical purposes I did - I had the whole ocean to myself. The guides hung out in the boat so it was just me and the versions of Nemo for about an hour.
We hit two other spots (one good, one bad. the good had some huge blue starfish whose colors were so bright they looked fake. the bad had some jellyfish that stung me as soon as I dove in) before I had to leave to meet up with tour group that was departing in an hour. In theory, it should have only taken me about 15 minutes to find my way back. But I decided to do a little exploring and take a new route. The 'English major' instructed me to go up the road 200m and take a right after passing the cemetary - from there it was straight all the way back.
Now, I don't know much about the metric system, but I do know how far 200m is. On a good day, I can run it in about 25-26 seconds. Multiple times in Bali, people have told me that something is 'only 200m' away - but they must not be very good estimators. Once it was more like a quarter mile (400m) away. A couple of times it was closer to 1/2 or 1 mile away (800-1600m). And once it was too far for me to find out. So a few minutes into my moped ride and I still haven't come to a cemetary I began to wonder.
I continued on and did eventually find the cemetary - and the only option was to turn right, which I did. But it had a very 'off the beaten path' look to it. Regardless, I went down it for a while and I was doing fine. Then it started to get a little rocky. I made a few stops asking locals for help. Am I headed in the right direction. Yes, they said confidently. Ok, fine. I continued. By now, I was in the middle of the island - so I couldn't really sense where the water was or where I was headed. I was starting to run out of time so I drove faster on the increasing rocky path. About 15 minutes before I was supposed to be on the boat back to Bali, I drove the moped down a dip in the trail and was thrown off with the bike landing on my left leg. The bike's left mirror was broken off and I had some slight damage to leg, but nothing serious.
I got back on, continued 'about 200m' more before finding some construction workers in the middle of the island. How do I get back to the town of Lembongan I asked? They said it was easy. Could you come with me I asked. They said they were too busy and that it wasn't far - they pointed to their right. I said I was lost and that I needed help...and then they saw the blood on my leg. One of the workers came up and said he'd take me back.
A few minutes in, and it was obvious that even he didn't know how to get where I wanted to be. We couldn't even ride the moped for most of the trip as there was no trail to ride. We eventually made it to a main road (ie. the size of a wide sidewalk), which lead to another small road. We reached a point where some people were in the process of building a new road. We crossed that and stopped at the top of a hill. Directly below I was told, was the lauch point to get back to Bali. But there was no way I could get the moped down the hill unless I carried it...so I set the moped down, took the keys out and ran down the hill.
The main boat had already departed, but it was nearby at another point off shore. We could catch it if I hopped in another small boat. I tossed some guy the keys to the moped and 100,000 rupiah ($10 USD) for the broken mirror and got in the boat. I wish them the best of luck getting the moped down the hill.
Lastly - my camera (which has had an - deserving of capital letters - AMAZING battery life) is now currently in need of another charging. This shouldn't be a problem as I came with my one-for-all outlet converter...however, the damn thing doesn't fit into any of the outlets. None. Sooo..no pictures over the last couple of days :(
Postcards will have to do.