Bali – scooters and more crossfit in Canggu -22Jan14

Today we packed up and got the hell out of Kuta. But I didn’t escape without another confrontation. Kuta and it’s noise and filth and people have gotten under my skin. I had to see a doctor though, because my ear infection wasn’t getting any better after five days on the Amoxicillian I brought from home. I set out on foot from the hotel and ducked into a little clinic/pharmacy.

My first clue should’ve been the cigarette hanging out of the owners mouth, and the fact he had to call the Doc to come in.
Anyway, to make a long, lame story short, he quoted me a price for the consultation, and then wrote up the receipt for triple that. He also over-charged me for the medicine about ten times what I would pay somewhere else. $35US for ten pills of azithromycin and a small bottle of antibiotic ear drops. Not bad when compared to US prices, but super expensive for this area. I was pissed and yelled at him calling him a liar and telling him that nobody will ever trust him if he does that. He changed the price back to the originally quoted price and pointed to his ear saying “miscommunication”. Bullshit. He speaks great English, as we had a thirty minute full-on conversation while waiting for the Doc. I left very angry, and he held his head low saying sorry over and over again. He just couldn’t resist the urge to pull a fast one on a westerner.

You see, in Thailand, you have to barter because they will quote you extremely inflated prices, and then honor the final agreed upon price. Here, they just lie, or change prices suddenly, or tell you they don’t have change. None of this is particularly new or shocking to me, I think that after six weeks of traveling I’m just a little tired of watching my back (and my front!)

Nick and I left Kuta (and Brandon) and headed north toward the Crossfit gym. I booked a hotel down the street from there for the night. Brekele Barawa Beach House is a 30 second walk from the beach. A non-touristy beach!
It’s a nice, quiet, traditional Balinese place! Half the price of our place in Kuta, just as nice a room, on a cute little family compound. Has a fully equipped, outdoor communal kitchen with free water, coffee, and tea. We rented scooters from the owner for only 40,000 rupiah a day ($3.33US) and finally could enjoy Bali on our own. Here’s the view from the communal kitchen out toward the owners home and “office.”

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We took off for a random ride, with no map other than what I already know in my head from navigating the TAKSI driver here twice. We did what we love doing best here in Asia: we drove around, took in the sites, stopped as we wished, and tried not to get too terribly lost.
We took a random turn down a narrow cobblestone road that eventually opened up to a spectacular view of the rice paddies and Balinese countryside. The ridiculously narrow one-lane two-way cobblestone road was raised up out of the fields. Flying off the road would definitely suck, so I tried not to look that way so my body wouldn’t follow. I just couldn’t believe where we had found ourselves! From Kuta-hell this morning, to open fields and open roads just a few hours later. Suddenly, I fell in love with the Bali I had always imagined. I slowed down to stop at a corner to take it all in and narrowly missed being clipped and clobbered by a bike coming up close behind. Oops, I forgot I was driving because it was so beautiful. Too bad this picture doesn’t do it justice.

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We ended up at Echo beach for lunch. I love that we made it somewhere I wanted to go, purely by accident. This is surfer territory. Echo beach sand is black, the shore is fairly rocky, and the surf is rolling and thrashing. A few dudes with boards dotted the waves at high tide while we had lunch on picnic tables hanging over the water. I hear there’s tons of rock and corral under there. “You better know what you’re doing,” I’ve been warned. Dude, I don’t surf in Southern California, where I’ve lived for 33 years. Why would I try it here, now? Well, maybe that’s an unfair question because I have been known to make stupid decisions.

During lunch (I had the pork belly and veggies) a few traveling sales people came up to try their luck with us. They were friendly, curious, interesting, and respectful, so we spent some time with them. Nick even bought a tuna bone necklace. The lady was trying hard to sell me a tiny Buddha statue, hand-carved by her husband from copper Australian two-dollar coins.

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We made our way back to our place at Barawa beach just in time for me to change and go to the Crossfit class, where I again got to lift weights next to rice fields.

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We did the workout “Fran” consisting of pull-ups and barbell thrusters with a rep-scheme of 21-15-9. Eww. I’ve done it twice before, and it’s definitely not one of my faves. My best time used to be 6:36, today I was aiming for 9 minutes and ended up with 11:34. That’s pretty terrible, except I don’t feel bad at all because I surrendered to my need for rests after my hand tore badly on the third freaking pull-up! Ain’t nobody got time for ripped palms on vacation! Too bad I ripped in four more places by the time I was finished.
I got to workout with the owner Crissilia again, a super cool Kiwi chick with a big heart and super friendly vibe. There’s also a Canadian girl visiting for a few weeks who currently lives in China. I love the push, working hard next to elite athletes. I just wish I was in better shape to actually stand a chance at keeping up. She’s a top level competitor, finishing 3rd in last years Asian regionals! I was shocked to learn that only the first place finisher in this region goes to the games. Yea, it’s a small region, but it includes every country in Asia and the Middle East! Come on HQ, why not take the top 3?

Nick and I set out to use the rest of our gas in the scooters by heading toward town for dinner and some errands. We need plug converters here, unlike Thailand. So after four stops, and a whopping 10,000 rupiah (less than a buck), I can now plug anything in, anywhere in the world. Exciting stuff!
Also changed some US bucks over to Indonesian Rupiah and became an instant millionaire. 12mil baby!

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We stopped for dinner at a busy place claiming to have wicked ribs and naughty martinis in the neighboring town of Seminyak. It looks like Naughty Nuri’s is the place to be here. Private parking, reserved seating, a vibe of exclusivity. We even saw a Porsche in the parking lot. Where the hell did that thing come from?
I was surprised they only offered family-style seating at large tables with strangers. That always makes my gut sink with awkwardness when I see that, and tonight was no exception. We were lucky to share dinner with a sweet Aussie family of four: Dad, Mum, and teenage son and daughter. We shared travel stories and enjoyed each others company over a plate of wicked ribs and glass of Bintang.

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A fantastic lightning show streaked across the dark grey horizon, but we were back before the storm opened up. It poured hard all night long.

Bali-Kuta and Crossfit -21Jan14

Today was a test of mental toughness for us both. Not only did Nick wake up sick with a sore throat and chills, but his stumps were in such terrible shape that he had to spend the entire day in bed. He only got up on his legs once, to use the toilet, and just doing that ripped open his wounds even further.

Days like today make me so sad, watching him suffer. But Nick is such a warrior. He wasn’t in an overly jolly mood, to be expected, but he didn’t complain at all either. I respect his approach to life so much. He’s just trying to make it through the day knowing a better day is right around the corner.

My morning started off with an unusual, very un-Lindsaylike verbal confrontation when I walked to get some water at the small mom-and-pop market next to the hotel. I was buying several liters of water and a few packs of cough drops and vitamins for Nick.
Unlike the throngs of 7-11’s in Thailand, this place had no posted prices, so I asked the lady to give me the price of each individual item as I wandered around the store. When she rang me up she told me to give her 75,000 Rupiah ($6.41US). I leaned over the counter and saw that everything added up to only 62,000. A difference of 13,000 is only a little more than $1US, but a buck is a buck. And she was purposefully trying to cheat me. I told her she lied to me and that it made me never want to shop there again. She just gave me an angry “sorry” before giving me my correct change, and quickly disappeared to the back. I counted the change wrong and yelled for her to come back to give me the rest of my change. Oops. I was tired and thirsty and hungry. She flipped the fuck out on me, yelling that she gave me change and started trying to grab my wallet. I immediately realized I was wrong and apologized and told her I was wrong, but that I didn’t trust her because she originally lied to me. She kept yelling and throwing her hands up and sneering at me. I turned to leave, called her a liar and cheat one more time (not my finest moment) and said I’d be telling all my friends not to shop there (all 1 of my friends here in Bali!).
But when I opened the door I saw an old Aussie man walking by and told him, which makes two friends! He rightly assumed I just got to town because otherwise I’d know to just expect that shit. He said I have to be extremely careful when dealing with money here. Many of them here in tourist hell just can’t resist the temptation to swindle westerners. Geez, Kuta is making me miss Thailand left and right.

Brandon kept Fener company for a few hours in the afternoon while I lounged in the lobby, trying to shake off my morning and enjoy some quiet alone time. They also hung out a little bit while I went to Crossfit.

I’ve been visualizing getting to the Crossfit in Bali for a long time, so I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from going. The “Taksi” ride was 45 minutes to get there in crazy Asian traffic, and 40 minutes back. I had to pay close attention because I only had a few landmarks to direct the driver by, since he had no idea what Crossfit is.

S2S Crossfit is in a little area called Canggu, a few towns north of where we are staying in Kuta. Canggu and neighboring Keroboken have the Bali vibe I was expecting. The Bali vibe that Kuta has massively failed to deliver. Small, relatively uncrowded streets lined with huge green plants and trees and dotted with a mix of buildings and rice fields.

The gym is in a tiny building, with half the workout area being completely outside, including their pull-up rigs and climbing ropes.

I was greeted with smiles and handshakes immediately when I got there. Everyone introduced themselves and made me feel super welcome. Such a great feeling, especially at a gym that probably has hundreds of drop-ins a year.

I did my front squats with a sweet English chick who has lived here for two months. The trainer was from San Diego, and most of the others were either European or Aussie. I think.

I was thrilled to do “Annie” for the main workout. I really needed a familiar slice of home today. Double unders and sit-ups, with a rep scheme of 50-40-30-20-10. I’ve done “Annie” about 25 times now. It’s one of my favorite quick workouts. Even as fat and out of shape that I’ve become, using a crappy jump rope, I only missed my best time by 30 seconds today with a respectable 6:57. I finished third in the class, pacing myself just behind the owner Crissilia. What a great experience!

When I finally got back to the hotel, Nick was sleeping in bed, sweating and covered in blankets in the freezing air conditioned room. Poor guy. I went to the hotel restaurant to get ribs for him. We spent the evening laying in bed together watching Aussie programming on the Discovery channel.

Hoping he feels better soon and that I don’t get sick next.
Ox Soup

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S2S Crossfit

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Dinner for one please.

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Bali- first day in Kuta – 20Jan14

We pulled our first all-nighter flight of the trip and I’m just glad it’s over. 11-midnight flight to Bangkok. “Sleep” in the airport. 6am-11am flight to Bali. Next time I’ll plan that better. It was really hard on us because there was so much walking at Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport, and a lot of standing in lines for customs and immigration in Bali. Nick handled it all like a champ and usually just went to the front or found the lines for special people. I even gave him a ride on our luggage cart. That’s a good way to get people to look at you!

So, Indonesia now. This is our first time below the Earths waistline. It’s super humid. The air is thick with moisture near the airport, a little more breezy here by the beach. It’s rainy season so it’s been windy and rainy each night and sunny with scattered clouds during the day.

We smarted up since our late night arrival in Chiang Mai with no accommodations. We had a hotel booked in Kuta, Bali already, hand-selected by our long time buddy Brandon who we will be spending 11 days with here.

Dekuta hotel is probably nicer than hotels I would stay at in the US, for only $33US a night. This place is clean and airy, built 70’s Hollywood style, and obsessed with Hollywood pop culture and rock and roll.

The town Kuta, on the other hand, is a tourist cesspool. Nothing against all my drunk Aussie friends, but I’ve been told (and have read), and now see first hand, that Kuta is where the Aussies come to let it all hang out. Yup, this place is crowded, loud, and touristy. But somehow, when we were making our way through town in the “TAKSI” from the airport, I got a true beach town feel from the place as well.

Surf shops are everywhere. People are enjoying the beach and the shopping and eating. It reminds me a little of Huntington Beach in Southern California.

Nick and I had breakfast (at 3pm) at the hotel restaurant. And then caught up with Brandon and his Taiwanese friend Amber by the pool for a couple of hours before Nick needed to go lay down.

There is a mall next door. Yes, a mall. With western shops and restaurants. They have all sorts of familiar eats here: Coldstone, Johnny Rockets, Tony Roma’s, and all the fast food chains. We took Amber to try her first ever Dairy Queen blizzard, and I took advantage of the unique Asian menu. They were promoting peanut butter and Nutella, two options you won’t find on US DQ menus. So a peanut butter Oreo Blizzard was immensely enjoyed by me. And Amber loved hers as well.

We parted ways and I walked around the streets for an hour or so while Nick was napping. I know no Balinese, yet anyway, and found I didn’t need any. These people all speak decent English. I suppose you’d have to in this town. They remind me of the locals in Tijuana or Rosarito. I bartered hard with a few shop owners. One kept speaking to herself in Balinese, undoubtedly talking shit on me, and then tried to pull a fast one on me by saying she didn’t have change.

Brandon took us to a cute little Cuban restaurant for dinner. He’s a salsa dancer, so he was teaching Amber a few steps, and dancing with one of the waitresses. We hung out a couple of hours and they had mojitos.

We got back to the hotel at 11:30pm, waaaaay past my bed time. Seriously, that is the latest Nick and I have been out in over a month. We weren’t even out that late on NYE. All the little shops by our hotel were shut up and the street was dark and creepy. I walked a ways in both directions looking for somewhere to get water, but no luck. I didn’t really go too far because I didn’t feel very safe. I don’t like not having a scooter, and not really knowing where we are yet.
An hour later the storm broke and it rained hard all night.

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