Favourite places,  Indonesia,  Round the world,  Warm blanket of sarcasm

Kilometer 38 612: Bali Gili Sumbawa


I can see a shaman dancing over the fire, screaming the names of the Indonesian islands, just like a mantra or a spell. It worked, the rain came. Today’s post will be insanely interesting and insanely pretty, with emphasis on insanely.

On the side of a  street decorated with large ears[1] there was a lady walking briskly with a forty‑centimetre‑high fruit construction on her head. An old woman on her motorcycle passed her, and she had a tub full of vegetables on her head. A group of people sitting on the threshold had grains of rice stuck to their foreheads. Ubud, the tourist and cultural capital of Bali, was preparing for Kuningan:

Kuningan – one of the most important Hindu holidays of the year.



Some tourists were walking on the other side of the road. The ladies in their bikini tops and miniskirts. The gentlemen – proudly presenting the well trained beer bellies, some in unbuttoned shirts, others – not wearing any. I looked at the map slightly confused. The nearest beach was 20 km away. Poor babies, they must be exhausted after such a long walk! – I thought. The Balinese boycotted them, knowing that along with the nudity of Western tourists a fresh supply of cash arrives.

A background survey allowed me to determine that little Balinese girls start to train carrying their shopping on their heads as soon as they learn to walk. (Oh, how much easier this would make the life of so many women! Do you remember shopping logistics in Iran?) This results in a wonderful catwalk posture and balance that turns the economies of many countries green with envy.

It is utterly ridiculous that there is no Bali Cup.

No one keeps track on the height of those head constructions, or the length of distance traveled with it. This would make such a beautiful national sport! Well, but it isn’t, so hereby I wish to award that scooter-grandma with my private cup of recognition. I hope it will make her happy.


And so we wandered around the city, peeping into the temples; strolled around the monkey forest, studying carefully the monkey’s manual and clutching the camera and glasses, because these monkeys, they’re cunning creatures, they’ll make you believe they’re only after your banana, but then deftly like a skilled pickpocket, they’ll just take it all… And then we rode a scooter around the nearby villages and we walked up and down the rice terraces, and everything was insanely pretty and interesting.

The monkey manual

bali bali

And then, we walked around a whole bunch of local businessmen who stage-whispered that for you my brother they may be able to get us the bus tickets that usually cost the locals 20,000 for 100,000, to catch the boat to the island of Gili Meno, where there are beaches and turtles, and we snorkelled all day long, and we spent the evenings enjoying the charms of beach camping, and it was all insanely beautiful[2].




And further along we transported ourselves to Sumbawa.

Sumbawa is really funny, because on the map it looks just like a crouching rabbit. There are basically no tourists, except for this one spot that’s famous for great surfing conditions, but even if you don’t surf (‘coz, like, you still haven’t healed your fractured collarbone), it’s good to stop there for a while, as the local wisdom says: where there’s surfing, the wind must blow and the temperatures fall. Additionally, there are Aussie surfers, and we all know from television that Aussie surfers are insanely hot blue-eyed blond guys with unbelievably outlined biceps. In Lakey Peak we will find out that the Aussie surfers, apart from their outlined biceps, also have one of the most beautifully sculpted beer muscles, and it remains an unsolved mystery how it’s possible that with these beer muscles so developed, the shorts fly down just to this spot where the back gets parted. This was also insanely interesting, especially contrasted with the ladies selling coke and rice with chicken by the beach, all hijabed up.

In the background there are those waves which attract all the Aussies .

And we experienced hospitality “Indonesia” style[3].

According to it the locals gladly invite visitors over and this means that you can sit on the curb in front of their home, have a dozen (or a few dozen) photos taken, and when your host asks if you’d like something to drink, and you say that gladly, thank you, they will run away. Perhaps they will return with a glass of water after a longer while, but you shouldn’t drink it anyway, because it is tap water.

And we travelled by what I thought was a bus, me sitting on a bag of cabbage, Piotrek on a canister of petrol, both of us bending under huge loudspeakers, and the whole trip was more like a party in a transport container. And that fascinated us very much too.

But most of all we were astounded by the psychological and business profile of tourists from Great Britain, Germany or Japan who on each and every island stood in the same queues as the locals and saw who ordered what and how much they paid for it, and then unblinkingly paid the first given price that had been rounded off by one zero. And since then I have been wondering whether:

As Polish people are we genetically predisposed to avoid/limit our fees?

Or is it that the tourists from those queues let themselves get totally hoaxed, while teaching Asia that no matter what price they are dictated, the tourist will wipe the drops of Chanel No. 5 off the foreheads using a silk handkerchief embroidered by blind Belgian nuns, reach for the Birkin Bag and dig through all those spare diamond collars, because who would wear the same one all day long, until they reach the small change for which the salesperson asked.

[1] For the few of you who visit this blog to actually learn something and not just because it provides you with excellent and at the same time exotic dose of fun – these decorations are called penjor. A new word for today. You’re welcome.

[2] However it would be prettier it there was no rubbish all around the beaches.

[3] Let me emphasize that I have heard many stories totally contradictory to our experiences, so do not take my and Piotr’s feelings towards Indonesia as revealed truth.

And a little picture overview from the Indonesian islands.

Just to prove that it was pretty and interesting indeed.

This is the entrance to one of Ubud’s temples.

balibali bali

The view from a hostel window

bali bali bali bali

The ladies are picking rice and haviing plenty of fun with it, at least while I’m taking the picture 🙂
Sunset in Gili Meno….
Sunrise in Sumbawa… well, let’s not lie to ourselves – a tat after the sunrise.
And sunset in Sumbawa.
Very difficult working conditions
Underwater Gili Meno. Do you recall that scene in Finding Nemo when Nemo goes far out towards the edge of the reef and one touch of fin more – he’s out in the deep, blue, endless ocean? Well, that’s exactly what it looked like there 😀

gili gili gili gili

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