For our last Asian stop, we accidentally caught up with Barb & Ken whilst waiting for our tender call and when we arrived on dry land, there were plenty of taxis available at a published fixed fare of $25 each way to Kuta beach. We had never been to Bali before but we know it is a very popular destination for both Australians and Kiwis. There are different spots on the island and the nearest for us was Kuta, which is a beach resort. We managed a modern Suzuki taxi van for the four of us and our driver was more than happy to drop us off and pick us up 3 hours later and refused to accept 50% payment for the outward trip.
We were somewhat surprised by the heavy traffic here and the driver did a bit of ducking and diving through the backstreets to try and avoid the worst bottlenecks. As promised, he dropped us off at the market with a straight walk to the beach. At least 90% of the market must have been clothing – mainly singlets and tee shirts. All around, at almost every stall, were small offerings with incense burning, but often these seemed to get trampled on. The singlets and tees seemed to be similar on every stall and we gained the impression that maybe one or two were wholesalers selling to other market traders, so there was a lot of haggling going on.
We walked down to the beach, turned right and walked along the water’s edge. Plenty of offers of massage, cold drinks etc and dozens of small stalls.
Moving back in land again, the traffic was still extremely heavy, but what we noticed was that 80% of the jams were probably caused by slow moving taxis touting for custom and they contributed to about 80% of the traffic too!
Time for a coffee and we spied the Australian franchised Gloria Jeans. Having had an excellent coffee in Vietnam and paying in $US, we were somewhat surprised to find that this branch only wanted local currency - so they missed out, as we didn’t have any. Negotiating very poorly maintained pavements was a worry, as they effectively covered storm drains, but not all the coverings are in good condition. It was far too easy to put your foot down a hole so you had to be very vigilant.
Paula had spied a large dolphin carving earlier in the day so our last stop before the taxi at 3pm was to see how much he would drop his price of $100. Now bargaining is the norm here so Paula offered $50. He wasn’t happy. Eventually he asked Paula her top price and she said $70. He wanted $80 and wouldn’t budge so we walked away. He soon chased us and said OK, $70. He wrapped it with bubble wrap and card board and when Paula handed over the $70, he claimed we had agreed on $80! We paid $70 and staggered back to the taxi with our extra passenger...
Back at the wharf, it was quite entertaining to be in a fenced compound, whilst the traders tried to haggle through the fence.
We attacked the buffet at 4pm then caught up wit he others in the lofty Skywalker’s lounge for the sailaway, which as a tender port, wasn’t spectacular.
That concluded the Asian content of the trip as the remainder is more of an extended homecoming than anything. With just three Australian ports before Sydney, the mood changed significantly and much of the talk was now of future plans...