Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali funeral/cake Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali batur/rim


I spent a lot of time in Bali, three weeks total. There's a lot to do. Since becoming known as an arts center, the tourist industry has really boomed.

My image of Bali, before going there, was an island of people with traditions and rituals, desperately trying to preserve tradition in the face of an onslaught of tourists and western influence. Really, I imagined people fitting in some stereotype of "native" I had in my head.

I also imagined it as, sortof, one location.

The biggest difference between my image and the reality was the size of Bali. It's huge. It takes all day to drive across it. I had originally allocated a week for Bali, but I ended up spending three weeks there, and I only hit the places I really wanted to go.

My second biggest misconception about Bali was the attitudes of the people. Actually it's an island of people with very little money, desperately trying to preserve their families and pull themselves out of poverty in the existing reality of an infrastructure from five hundred years ago and a corrupt government trying to bring it into the twentieth century, but not without making a healthy profit for themselves.

[June 2002] Here's some websites with way too much info on Bali. But whatever you're looking for, it ought to be there somewhere.
Complete Bali, Bali hotel, Bali travel & Bali accommodation| Bali culture information
Bali hotel & travel reservation

I arrived at Denpasar Airport. Despite its name, it's slightly south of "Kuta" on the map. Click here for a bigger map.

I spent the first four days in the Kuta and Legion area on the map mostly because it was easy. I then moved to Ubud.

After that I went to Sulawesi Island, which isn't even in Bali, for three weeks. I returned to Bali and spent the last two weeks of my vacation here. I used Ubud as a base of operations as I did the following:

First CyberContact

Before I arrived in Bali, I sent email from Malaysia to the only cybercafe I knew about on the island. Remember how it works:

> what someone else said
what i said in reply

To Bali@Cyber, the Bali cybercafe, June 10

Selamat Malam!

I'm arriving in bali on the 19th of June.  Are you guys up on the
internet?  Probably my plane will come in around dinner time, maybe I
just get a hotel anda few beers... will you be open on the 20th?  All
your webstuff says is that you'll be up "soon".  Mabye you're too busy
to change it.  

I just saw your website.  Really pretty there on bali - I'm really
looking forward to it. 

Just a one line reply would be enough.  

Thanks!  Terema Kasih!

Then on June 19
To: "Bali@Cyber" 

> yes please pardon us, we are too busy to even re-do our web page (your
> guess was right!). we are in soft operation since 5th may 97, all the
> computers and system go well but we have a small menu

same for this cybercafe.  THe fact that you answered this email puts you
in the top half of all cybercafes automatically.  

> for your info we have the cheapest beer and the best pizza in town, our
> operation hours are from 8.30 in the morning to 23.00 at night (7 days a week)

hmmmm i may be spending some time there

> now for a good news, you are invited to our opening party which will be on
> 21.06.97 at 16.00 hours

perfect!  I'll be flying in tonite the 19th.  I should be able to make
it to the party if I'm not entranced by bali right then.

> based on your email it seems to us that you may not have made your hotel
> reservation, in case you need help just let us know we can assist. all we
> need to know is:
> 1) your preference, budget ?
> 2) area or location, kuta or other places etc.?

Well, yes, I usually cruise into town and try to find lodging.  I don't
know how much what costs, but if I have to share a bathroom, that's too
cheap, but if I get a minibar, that might be too expensive.  Maybe what
I want is the cheapest thing that has air conditioning.  

I guess I should stop in to your cybercafe right after I get out of the
airport?  See you tonite!

I never made it there that night. The trip was too much, and the hotel I ended up at was too far to walk at night in an unfamiliar third world town.

Kuta Beach

I arrived in Bali at the main airport. They say it's Denpasar Airport, but really it's sortof south of Kuta on the map here. I changed a bit of money to get by; you know the rates are ripoff unless you go to a real bank. The rates in the airport are always bad. So I converted a small amount of money to tide me over till the daylight.

Finding a hotel is no problem. The taxi drivers line up and each of them "knows" of a hotel to take you to. Of course those aren't the cheap hotels; those will take some shopping around. I wasn't in the mood and it was after dark.

I had studied the streetmap of Kuta beforehand, but I was quickly lost as the taxi driver whisked me through neighborhoods jam-packed with vehicles and pedestrians and motorbikes and tourists and even a traffic light or two. Traffic was slow and I was impatient to get dinner. I told him I wanted a place near my cybercafe.

The hotel he was taking me to, he assured me it was "close" to the cybercafe. When we got there, he gave me his business card and sure enough, he was really working for the hotel, with some title like "airport representative" or something. In other words, he scraped up tourists at the airport.

And as you might expect, it was tourist prices. I decided at the time that I would just stay a night and go somewhere else the next day. This place cost $35/nite, price quoted in US dollars. Any time you see a price quoted in US dollars, it's a ripoff designed for tourists.

It was late and I figured I had to go out and find something to eat. I wandered down the street in the direction I thought the cybercafe was in.

All the books say to watch out for the street food. But I had decided long ago on this trip that I wanted to have fun, and my stomach was coming with me. A lot of eating places were closed, but there were these guys by the side of the road with food carts, with barbecues billowing smoke as you walked by.

In one cart, this guy was cooking sate (sa-tay), like shiskabob meat on a stick with this spicy peanut sauce. "Hey man you want sate? fife tousand." He had some sort of charcoal chips in a metal trough, it was so dirty it all looked hhomemade, but other street vendors have the same thing. And he's hand-fanning the chips, they get really red-hot and the meat sizzles.

Watching him work was fascinating. He was concentrating, fanning the charcoal with the intensity of a runner. And every minute I thought he was done, but he wasn't. He just kept on fanning them, and turning them, and sometimes spreading more sauce on them.

I bought a handful for some small amount of money. They were excellent. I bought some sort of drink from the guy next to him who had a drink cart. A good meal and it was all like a buck.

I wandered down the street. I found a tourist bar that didn't look too intimidating. I later saw how Kuta was a second home for a lot of drunk Australians, not to mention a large number of European and American tourists. It was busy and fun, but I got tired of it after about four days.

Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali hotel

Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali hotel
When I woke up and looked at my hotel, it was really pretty in the courtyard. Here was the front of my hotel door.

Touring Kuta Beach

Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali cafe

My first day in Kuta I just spent wandering around, getting to know the place. I like to do this when I first get somewhere so I'm not totally helpless and I can find where to buy things and what not.

I stopped in this cafe on the way to the cybercafe. I wrote a postcard or two. You can't see it in the shadows but there's a little fountain with green covering everything. This is in the middle of bustling city, here.

Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali horses They have these statues all over at big traffic circle intersections.

Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali kutastreetmap
Kuta Beach is a tall skinny town in the thin part of south Bali. Along the west side is the beach (before civilization arrived) was probably one of the prettiest beaches in the world: white sand, lots of surf.

OK now lay down a street parallel to the shore, about a quarter mile in. It's called Legion (Leg-eon). Jalan Legian means "Legion Street" in Indonesian; Jalan is frequently abbreviated jl. Fill it with stores, hotels and eating places catering to tourists. Now thicken that out to cover a network of side streets reaching from the beach a mile inland.

It's big and noisy and, if you are in the right mood, can be fun. If you want to rent a car or do other touristy things, it's also a good place; it's well connected.

I found my cybercafe and I did some email:

to Joie, the cybercafe webmistress, June 20

> > where I'll be:
> >the island of bali (i know about bali@cyber cafe)
> OH THIS IS WONDERFUL.  You must go there, it is owned by my friends Haaris
> Chua, and his wife Nina.  Super people, originally from Singapore...very
> well-educated, classy people.  Wonderful, please give them both my very best
> regards...and a big hug!!!

oh I guess Nina was probably the one who fixed my machines earlier...
she's gone.  I'll be back here.  

OK, Haris i guess came by.  And I pointed at this email, and your
address, and said, hey, she says Hi!  And he recognized your address and
said, you must be that guy!  Boy, I'm getting famous already.  

friend, June 20
Dear Friend:

I'm now in Bali and I'm at the Bali @ Cybercafe, the easternmost
cybercafe in the world, at least as far as I can tell.  Well, oops, as I
was walking along jl. Legian, the main tourist drag here in Kuta, I saw
another place that said it had internet access.  Looked like one or two
computers inside.  I guess that's about a quarter kilometer further
east.  I'll have to check that one out later.  There's all these
cybercafes around that just arren't listed anywhere.  

writing this offline.  They had some network problem; couldn't get
online.  So they fooled around for ten minutes, and finally reported
that when this guy gets off his machine, they can reboot it and then I
reboot it and it'll be OK.  

Well, ok, so now I'm on that machine, the others somehow aren't
conne3cted.  There was a sound of a modem going on to make the
connecction.  We're in the thhird world here.
The most unreliable cybercafes I went to depended on a dialup connection on a PC compatible. In Indonesia, however, there was pretty much no other kind.
Jim Gagnon, June 20
> > greetings from singapore!
> Hi!  How was Hong Kong?  

they are all optimistic about the handover.  It's sad.  

>How's Greg?  

haven't intercepted him.  In one week.  But then there's no cybercafe in
sulaweisi.  that i know about.  I'll have internet contact one day
before I see him, and then nothing for two weeks.  

>Having fun?

ho boy.  On bali right now.  just got here last nite and still orienting
myself.  A rooster is crowing.  I'm having fun and I'm still in the
tourist hell area.  Gotta get out to the beach.  Gotta get some cash.

The Beach

I ran some more errands, and then asked around how to get to the beach. The way you go, I don't think I could remember it, but the only way seems to be through obscure little alleyways. Except that they all have a continuous stream of people coming and going through them.

I went surfing for a day. Real surfing, not web surfing.

One time I was on the beach and a woman was trying to sell me a hat. I already had a hat that I had gotten in Saigon and I showed it to her. It was an "authentic" Viet Cong field hat, wide brim all around. I'm sure that during the war, they manufactured lots of them that fit my XL hat size central european skull. She was about as good at English as any other street vendor.

Where you get dat?
I got it in Saigon.
Saigon? Where Saigon?
Oh, you know, Ho Chi Minh City.
Where dat?
That's in Vietnam. You know where Vietnam is?

She didn't know. I quizzed her, country by country. She knew Singapore and Malaysia, but beyond there things got hazy. This seemed a little hard for me to believe, but I guess most of these people never can afford to leave the island. Maybe they just never learn geography; maybe they have no need for it.

Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali tanahlot

Tanah Lot

Tanah Lot is a temple not too far from Kuta Beach. I had a driver named Ketut, he drove me out.

On the way, there was this bridge; seems like most bridges are this way in Bali. There was a statue on each corner, dressed in checkered cloth like I'd seen in my hotel. In the backgrond you see rice paddys.

Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali bridge

Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali cliffhouse Up the coast from Tanah Lot was this cliffhouse. Wild. The whole area had interesting old buildings and structures. But in the other direction is a modern golf course.

Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali chess
Along the way, we went to the grounds of this hotel. They had a big chess set and lots of more-interesting-than-average stuff in it, but it wasn't the most exciting stuff I'd seen on the island.

Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali carving Later in the day, we went looking for carvings and art. In this courtyard, they were carving this staircase. These guys carve sculpture the way people lay bricks in the West.

Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali pigpile
I wanted him to take me to this big arts exposition that was supposed to be happening in Denpasar at the time, but we ended up going nowhere. I did run into this statue in the middle of Denpasar, though. Never really understood where we were.

Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali rough road

East Bali

One day, I went for a drive around the southeastern coast of Bali. I intended to go up the coast. Unfortunately the road was very rough, as you can see by this picture.

As in many places in Bali, the asphalt was destroyed, leaving the road even harder to drive than if it had been dirt.

Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali black sand beach
The scenery was really great, though. It was rustic and unspoiled. This is a black sand beach. Black sand is from lava; white sand is from coral.

Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali paddy path These guys were in a warung hanging out playing some game, maybe a card game. Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali gaming

Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali over the valley


I got desperate at one point and got a tour bus.

Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali rice
The tourbus showed us some rice fields.

Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali ricefields
Well ok, many of these were taken at different times. Please don't attribute all of this to one tourbus.

Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali ricefields

Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali steps down
We also saw various temples and stuff.

Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali temple

Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali temple

Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali temple

Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali ubud/sagitarius steps Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali funeral/carrying


I finally managed to escape to the city of Ubud, which I decided was the place I should stay. I saw a Balinese Funeral there.

My schedule dictated that I spend only a week in Bali, then I go to Sulawesi, then back to Bali. The intentions were slightly different originally, but I ended up going back to Bali for two additional weeks, and I used Ubud as a sortof base camp.

This time I had a much better apporoach, I'd rent a car and visit all the aireas I wanted to visit, not what some guide wanted me to visit.

I climbed Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali agung/cloudsthe tallest mountain in Bali, and took some great photos. I also went to a Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali batur/rimvolcanically active mountain, with steam and sulpher vents. I took some great pictures there, too.

I went diving at the Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali tulamben/cornershipwreck of the Liberty. I also saw Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali Bali tirtaganga/ujung archsome water palaces.

I spent the last few days in Ubud shopping for wood carvings.

june 20

Bonadio, Sylvia wrote:
> Sounds like a great trip so far.  Hope you are enjoying the exotic
> cultures and food---I am sure you are.  

when i was in vietnam i ran into a bunc of people in a band that was
touring seasia.  This guy said how long will you be here.  I said two
months.  He said, go ahead, eat everything, get sick and get it over
with then you can eat anything.  As long as it doesn't have like
fishheads or intestinal honeycombs.  

>Don't forget to check the way the
> water funnels below the equator --counter-clockwise --the ______effect.
> Didn't take Physics.  We forgot to check when we were in Bali.

good idea.  Coriolis.  You throw a baseball through the air, and the
earth rotates right under it as it's flying through the air.  To us
looking from the ground, it looks like the baseball's path is warped to
the side.  Throw it back and the path is warped to the other side so
like you can't throw it back and forth mirror image with exactly the
same force and direction; it doesn't go back exactly the way it came.  

But it's a very weak effect.  First noticed when artillery got accurate
enough that it made a difference.  Then they went south of the equator
with their warships and guess how often they missed!  

Very weak.  But if you have water in a funnel shaped container, and you
pull the plug out, it6 wants to tornado down the drain.  CW or CCW.  The
whole thing has to go one way or another, there's  no in between.  So
like a marble at the top of a mountain, the way it falls depends on the
way the wind, or any other tiny force, tips the scales at the exact
moment.  If you could grab the toilet and give it the right slosh, it
would go dow thee other way.  

But toilets in bali don't flush.  They sortof splash around and some
water flows by.  Must visit an expensive hotel.  

> Hope you are able to see the Komodo dragons

me too.  gotta get out of the tourist trap area of bali.

june 22

Peter Bayol wrote:
> Hey!  are you alive?  You better be!!!  Anyway - you don't wanna validate my
> fear of foreign countries do you?

it's not the foreign countries so much as ... I just take risks.  It's
like I'm just asking for bad stuff to happen or something.  

I get off on pulling off outrageous stunts, like when I was in berlin
and I got pieces of Hitler's bunker.  OK but to do so I take risks and
sometimes things get screwed up, like when I left berlin I missed my
train, forfeited my good night's sleep in a sleeper car, and spent the
night bumping along in eastern Germany on various trains.  I think I had
to spend like three hours in a train station where the floors were so

anyway...  if you get a good guide book (lonely planet makes good ones
for budget travelers), make reservations well in advance, recomfirm them
a day or three ahead of time, show up two hours early for your flights
like they say to, stick to English speaking areas, and have plenty of
money to spend, take your tour busses, traveling is easy, painless and
relatively fun.  Most places are a hell of a lot more interesting than

I guess I just need chaos in my life.  


> where were you drinking?  What country/chunk of the planet are you in?  

well when I'm doing email I guess I always have to be in a place that's
at least partly developed.  I know now what that really means.  

Mmmmm they serv3e you food at these cybercafes.  If you swing it right
(oder local food not a poor attempt at italian food or something) then
it's great.  Gado-gado is this great vegetable salad with peanut sauce
on it.  Good even by California standards.  

> thats wild - what you were saying about smart cards.  they don't call 'em
> microprocessors for nuthin!

hmmm phone cartds in indonesia are just really thin plastic cards with a
mag strip.  And holes they punch in the side as you spend to make sure
nobody re-records them.  

> >i am.  Went surfing yesterday.  the soreness isn't too bad.
> >
> way cool dude!  I've heard that some of the best surfing on the planet is in
> South East Asia, and in all those southern pacific islands.

Bali is way up there.  Apparently the "best" is in some of the other
beaches around here, but those are for experts because the beach is not
sand - it's coral.  Imagine taking a car engine and coating it with
glue, then sand, so it's like sandpaper.  Now try to walk on it with
your bare feet.  Ouch!  So for beginners you need medium sized waves and
sandy beach - that's kuta beach, where I'm back to right now.   


To joie, July 17
joie wrote:
> Hi Allan,
> Just wondered where you were?
> I am still laboring with webmaster in preparation for launch.  What a project!
> I would love to include your "stories" about the cyber cafes in Asia as part
> of the launch articles.
> Just let me know.

sorry it's so disorganized so far.  I'm having a bit of trouble just
dealing with basic requirements of life to be perfectly honest.  Being
in bali will help;there's fone service everywhere.
joie wrote:
> Something to ponder in whatever jungle you happen to be today....I would
> love to have your pix and a quick bio on the CSN site Cast Page as a Foreign
> Correspondent.
> I know where to get the want to do the bio, or can I make one up?
> Ha! That would be fun.
> joie

Make up a bio.  That WOULD be fun.  Email it to me.  I'll correct it as
schedule permits.  I should hit email every week from now on...
---------------------- june 20:

> You're having the sweaty time of your life, I bet.

it's pretty fun.  If you go anywhere in seasia, go to bali.  It's cheap
enough and like everything is a carved hindu icon.  I had lunch by a
fountain with a hindu statue in it.  goldfish.  very cool.  

> Are you traveling with anyone?  

myself.  easier t5o make decisions that way.  

>Tell me what you're doing right now -- as
> in, where you are, 

bali@cyber cafe, in Kuta Beach, island of Bali, Indonesia.  If you see a
map of bali, or just the shape, it's like an hourglass with the top
about 20 times larger than the bottom.  I'm somewhere along the neck;
the big tourist area.  

>describe the closest man and woman that you see, 

these australians at the table in teh middle of the room.  The machines
are against the wall.  Dozen or two other tables in the middle of the
cafe.  Very sunny.  aS WITH most places in the tropics, it's open on
three sides so some air blows through.  They lock up by pulling down
those metal tank-tread screens that you see on the front of stores in
the states.  The diff is that there's no glass, there's no front of the
building, it's open air all the time.  

That's the established conservative businesses.  Dinner last nite was
Sate, like shiskabob meat on a stick with this spicy peanut sauce from a
street vendor.  hey man you want sate?  fife tousand.  He had some sort
of woodchips in a metal thing, it was so dirty it all looked hhomemade,
but other street vendors have the same thing.  And he's hand-fanning the
woodchips, they get really hot and the meat sizzles.  Sanitation?  we
don need no stinkin sanitation.  

They only have three PCs here, and only one linked to the net.  By
modem.  They do the same thing I do at home.  It's hard enough just
getting your friggin fone to wsork in the 3rd world.  

>what did
> you have for lunch today, 

clam soup, rice and meat and salad something, two beers, one
irish-coffe-like drink, by that goldfish fountain.  

July 18
> Say, how much will your week's-long trip cost you in the end?  

i think about $14k in the end.  I spend money too fast.  Places cost
like $2 to $50 per nite depending on where you go.  The plane out here
cost $2k.  Plenty of people do fine on $25/day.  

>And are the
> women there beautiful or what?  

the ones who are either have babies around their necks or boyfriends. 
You have to be wealthy to afford healthcare and dental work and proper
nutrition.  The average woman doesn't attract me.  

>Tell me about how you've gotten your clothes
> clean, and another story about something scary, and a little about the
> strange bugs you've encountered, and the best artwork or architecture you've
> seen!  Tell me MORE!

next time.  I gota check out of my hotel.

> By the way, I got your neat postcard.  Thanks!

so some are getting out, good.

> Well, continued good health, fun, and excitement to you, my friend!

i'll be in a cybercafe again in a few days i think.

July 23

John Gingrich wrote:
> Allan,
> Hello there, out in cybercafe land!!  Where does this message find you now?
>  No doubt, by your descriptions, in some mysterious and sensual land sitting
> in a cafe full of not-so-mysterious and not-so-sensual foreign nerds.

well actually it's a cybercafe i've been to before.  I guess there
aren't that mahny around here.  

Everybody has an accent around here.  I found out about this place from
some Dutch guys.  

> Well, what is the beverage of the moment that you are likely sipping, as you
> read this?

fanta.  orange.  i finished it sometime in the middle of the Mount Agung

> Are these cafes that write of air conditioned?  Or am I living in some
> westerner's limited notions of foreign tech and comfort?  I mean they might
> not even have running water, but if they have electricity... well, then f#ck
> it, might as well open a cybercafe, huh?

no ac.  Most places are sortof open air.  You depend on wind and maybe a
ceiling fan.  Unless you want to spend like $35/nite.  Then it's only in
your hotel room and you feel extra hot when you go out.  So I figure
it's better to do without the AC.  

Same goes for eating places.  Somewhere elsewhere on this island are
tourist places for those who don't go outdoors.  You can eat in air
conditioned comfort there.  If you're a real human, you get used to

> So how have you been sleeping these many weeks on the road?  And generally
> what sort of hours are you keeping?

Bed like 10pm to 1am.  Wake up like 6am or later.  Or earlier.  Like for
Mt Agung I got up at 230 am, had to.  Last night I slept more; me and
Josh got to a Legong dance and were falling asleep so we just went and
had dinner and went to bed.  

Balinese dance is really diffent.  A little like breakdancing and a
little like ballet.  Does that make sense?  You have to see it.  

> I feel like writing something that will make you laugh now.  Knowing what a
> great, full, joyous laugh you have, I can really imagine you sitting,
> sipping a beer (most likely, yes, definitely a beer... or hot coffee,
> maybe), anyway, having fun like only you know how and then letting out this
> big, round, sonorous, slightly high-pitched whale of a laugh.  

You know I worked long and hard at my laugh, braving the stares from
geeky nerdy laughs for years until I hit upon the perfect endearing
chuckles and delightful belly laughs.  

Bali@Cyber, July 18
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 1997 10:34:59 +0800
From: Allan Bonadio 
Organization: aba inc
MIME-Version: 1.0
To: "Bali@Cyber Cafe" 
Subject: Re: yes we are up, good day !
Status: U

> Unfortunately there isn't any cyber cafe in Sulaweisi, but you will find a
> few telecom offices in major cities which offer simple email services. I
> will assist you in locating them once you are here.

Yeah, I found one in the main post office in Manado.  I'm sure there's
other places in Manado but I had to leave the same day. 

Ujung Pandang I bet there's at least one office there, but again I had
to leave too soon, I was with a friend and he'd been there for more than
a week already and I didn't want to push it.  

I found some places in Ubud.  this one place is the best I think, maybe
you already know them: 
Cafe Trio
Jalan Raya Andong Petulu
Petulu, Ubud

There are two more places in town but they are just email places; dumb.

this Story (home) Allan in Southeast Asia (home) Allan's website (home) Next->