Sunday, September 07, 2008

September 4, 2008 - Bali Marina, Bali, Indonesia

We've spent the past two days hanging out in the 10km strip of shops, restaurants, hotels and beach that stretches along the south west coast of Bali from Kuta to Legian to Seminyak. Kuta has the heaviest density of surf shops, bars and hawkers, while Seminyak has more high end boutiques and restaurants. Legian falls somewhere in the middle. Having checked the "visit temple" and "watch traditional dancing" boxes on our to do list, yesterday we headed to Seminyak to do some shopping.

While window shopping in Seminyak, we weren't hassled at all, except for the occasional query "transport, transport?" But today, at a beach on the northern edge of Kuta, the beach ladies descended upon us like a swarm of locusts as soon as our feet hit the sand. They grabbed our hands and asked our names. Everywhere we go here people ask us our names, where we come from, where we are staying, and where we are going - not necessarily in that order. I've read that the Balinese need to orient strangers in their universe, and it helps them to know where we are headed. So the first question we often hear, from total strangers, is "where are you going?" This strikes us, with our western notions of privacy, as very intrusive. But to the Balinese, it is a normal question. And they don't mind if you ask them questions that we would normally find prying. After an hour long $5 massage at the beach I knew more about my masseuse than I do about most of my former co-workers.

Nearly everyone in Bali (regardless of sex) has one of four first names - Wayan, Made, Nyoman or Ketut - which translate as first-born, second-born, third-born, and fourth-born. If a family has more than four children, they just start back at the beginning of the list. This gets very confusing, so everyone has a nickname. My masseuse's business name was "Adidas" to distinguish her from the other 3 Nyomans working the same little stretch of beach.

The beach ladies pay for the right to work a certain area, selling massages, foot scrubs, cheap beaded and carved jewelry, and sarongs. If they venture beyond their zone, the ladies working in the next zone will raise a ruckus. So the ladies working within each zone are in stiff competition with each other for the rupiah of the tourists who flop down in their stretch of beach. When we first arrived, it was completely overwhelming to be swarmed upon by all of them at once; but, soon other tourists showed up and filled the chairs around us, and, once the ladies realized we weren't going to buy anything other than a sarong (for which I paid way too much at $10, but I'm chalking up the excess as direct aid), they extracted promises of future massages and were off to try their chances with the newcomers.

Sten worked on his haggling skills by bargaining for a surfboard rental for the afternoon. I've been honing mine with the taxi drivers. Suzy is an excellent bargaining partner. Whatever price they give me, I come back at them with a counter offer of at least 50% less. If they stall, Suzy starts to walk towards another taxi. They immediately crack. "Okay, okay," they say as they open the door.

This afternoon I continued my world tour of dental facilities with a stop at a dentist's office in Denpasar, the capital city of Bali, to have my Tongan/New Zealand root canal checked. Bali's dental facilities (at least those frequented by ex-pats and Australians on holiday) are an amazing combination of easy booking (I made my appointment that morning), technologically advanced equipment, good hygiene, and rock bottom prices. After examining a panoramic x-ray, the dentist advised me that my tooth looked fine, but that he thought there might be an air gap between the material filling the canal and the wall of the canal on one of my roots. He assured me that it was probably fine, but that I could have a 3-D x-ray to be sure. He hesitated to order the other x-ray because it was "very, very expensive." I asked him the price, and he said "600,000 rupiah," which sounds like an awful lot but comes out to be about $65. That stuck me as short money for peace of mind, so I said to go ahead. One hour later, I'd had two fillings, one regular x-ray, one "very, very expensive" x-ray, and peace of mind in spades for a grand total of $114. I'm coming back to Bali for all my future dental work.

1 comment:

Bali Hotel said...

Having a great holiday might be every one dream. Choosing a great holiday destination might be confusing but Indonesia has everything for travelers to enjoy from its unique cultures, the people, beaches, and adventure activities. The information about the destination can be easily found on the travel portals. Check the discount rate for Bali hotel, Bali tour, Lombok hotel, Yogyakarta hotel, Bali villas, Komodo Tours, Orangutan Tours, Bali accommodation, cheap Bali hotel and Yogyakarta tour.