Friday, January 13th, 2017
Bartering, Hotels and Toilets
I arrived around ten on Friday night. Though the line through immigration and customs was long it moved swiftly. For those of you not use to the climate, stepping out of the air conditioned airport is going to be quite the experience. Even at night it is hot and humid. Smells hang in the air. They press against your skin. It might smell like flowers, slightly of pollution and definitely of not-Australia-or-America.
Cash is a must-have from the beginning. Luckily, there is a money exchange at the end of customs. I stood in the middle of the plaza I found myself in, staring at rows and rows of people holding up signs with names for passengers. Whack! Something hits my arm. I turn and there she is! My friend Courtney who I haven’t seen in three years since I left America. Great greeting, Courtney, swinging your bag into me.
If it wasn’t for Courtney I would have been at a loss. In Indonesia YOU. NEED. TO. BARTER. Do NOT accept the first price given to you unless there is an official sign, like a menu, or a museum prices, that have a set price. The people will expect you to barter.
Luckily, I had Courtney. She’d been in Indonesia for a little over a week and she wasn’t tired for the plane ride. A line of taxi drivers stand to one side saying to anyone within earshot “taxi? taxi?”. Though Indonesian and Balinese are both spoken in Bali most people also know at least a little English.
Courtney sets to it. We want a taxi to take us twenty minutes and no way are we paying that much. “Oh, I just came from Ubud for only 400, 000 (rupiah).” She immediately halves it and sticks to it. The taxi driver keeps trying to bring her up but she digs her heels in.and he takes us for 200, 000. The exchange rate to the Australian dollar you divide by ten. For USD divide by 13. Courtney later admitted she could have gone lower but she really just wanted to get back to the hotel.
Drivers in Denpasar don’t care about traffic laws. If they think there’s a high likelihood of them surviving, they’ll do it. Most people are in scooters but the cars lane split as well. Oh? The traffic light is red? That’s okay, I can zip through. Just hold on and trust they know what they’re doing.
Apart from a few main roads most streets aren’t wider than what you’d find in a suburb and leading off the narrower streets are tiny alleys no wider than two abreast. Mostly pedestrians walk through these and the occasional scooter zips through. The alleys do hold small shops and houses. The taxi drops us off in a slightly wider alley. The only clue that we’ve arrived is a small sign hung off the bottom of a veranda declaring “Rai House Sanur”. Our hotel.
The door has beautiful carvings around it, like every building in Denpasar. We go in and check-in at a counter and are shown our room up a flight of stairs. It’s a very nice place, close to everything with air-con and decent wifi (not fast enough to upload pictures, but you can keep in touch), and provides breakfast, not to mention two nights here was quite cheap. The room even boasts its own roll of toilet paper, a luxury they’ve provided for travellers. All toilets in the are have what we’re calling an ‘ass sprayer’ to the right of them. A little house that you can use to spray yourself instead of wiping. I’ve avoided them. The toilet in Rai Sanur House also has a little silver switch which, when Courtney gave it a flip, turned out to be a bidet that shoots water quite far if you’re not sitting down to block it.
We settled down to catch up a little and I introduced her to some confectionery popular in Australia including musk sticks, and a Cadbury chocolate snack pack. The chocolate she liked a lot. The musk sticks? I brought those because I knew American’s didn’t like them. When we go to Ubud to meet her friends (she’s here as part of her nursing program, volunteering to teach children about health) we’ll tell them how great they are and watch.
Wow, that’s a terrible picture.
I’ll be sure to put up my first full day of adventuring as soon as I can. I’m about to go up to Ubud and don’t know what the internet is like (took long enough to get these photos up).
The next post will include an exploration of Denpasar, beautiful art, some light shopping, cute animals and a near death experience!