On December 23rd 1990 I flew down to Bali in Indonesia for the Christmas break. I went with Michael who was an old Canadian teaching friend from my earlier days in Tokyo.
The trip didn’t start very well. I travelled up from Yamaguchi on the train and the night before our departure Michael and I went out for a meal in Tokyo. Something didn’t agree with me and I vomited on the street on the way home. “At least that gets the food poisoning out of the way” I joked. That turned out to be totally wrong.
We flew to Bali on Garuda; Indonesia’s national airline. The service wasn’t bad and we got a little certificate when we passed over the equator. We flew via Jakarta and had a little break at the airport there whilst they refuelled the 747. Some of the Indonesians got off in Jakarta but most of the other passengers were Japanese and, like us, were heading to Bali.
The first impression of Bali was not so positive. Certainly we found the main towns Kuta and Denpassar were pretty horrible. Kuta especially was full of Australian package tourists and it felt a bit like one of the Spanish package resorts. We stayed in a cheap place for two nights and for the second time in my life I spent Christmas day on the beach.
Later on the 25th December we set out in a minibus for Ubud, the cultural centre of Bali.
We found a guest house and spent time walking around the art and craft shops of the town. It was a lot cooler and greener than the beach towns and it had a nice relaxed vibe to it too.
Boxing day dinner in a restaurant close to the guest house was nice, but unfortunately something didn’t agree with us. We spent the next two days in bed with food poisoning. The guest house owner and another guest, a Scottish guy in his 50’s, were great nursemaids to us. They supplied us first with water and then, when we had recovered a bit, bananas.
By the 28th December we were out of bed and ready to hire a minibus and driver to see some more of the island.
We did a wonderful tour of the Hindu temples and elephant caves with a friendly driver and guide. On the way back through Ubud I picked up a 5 day old copy of the London Sunday Times (sheer luxury !) and spent a lot of the evening reading it.
On the 29th we got up in the morning and got the 8am bus to Candidasa, a seaside town about 60km to the west. We found another guest house, this one on the beach, and spent the day sunbathing and relaxing.
On the 30th we hired a jeep. I drove most of the time and we headed up to some of the more remote parts of the island.
In the evening we had a couple of Balinese massages. It was pretty fantastic to lie there and have coconut oil rubbed into your back.
On the 31st it rained all day so we spent the day reading and relaxing on the porch of the beach hut in Candidasa. We headed out for drinks and a relatively low key New Year’s Eve.
Early on New Year’s day we returned to Kuta for a bit of final shopping and the long flight back to Tokyo via Jakarta.