Stickman Readers' Submissions August 11th, 2006

Bali 2006

By Exploreasia

This is my first submission and may be a bit boring for those who like the naughty life and try to tame bargirls but after traveling around Thailand and Burma the last couple of years on XR 250 motorbikes during our holidays I thought I would write about parts of this trip which starts with a rest in Bali then on to Singapore, Bangkok, Chiang Mai then bikes across the friendship bridge into Laos and on up to Vietnam with a rest in Phuket on the way home.

He Clinic Bangkok

For readers info, the flight from Singapore to Bangkok with Jet Star Asia cost $Sing 22 for an evening flight or $Sing 58 during the day.

Bali is fairly quiet now with more shops becoming vacant as tourists become more wary to travel which is a mistake, for if we do not continue to live our lives as we choose then the cowardly attackers will win by crippling the economic sustainability of regions one by one. Speaking to local businesses here they don’t understand the reluctance of Jakarta to foster better relationships with Australia considering we represent over sixty percent of visitors to Bali and try to boost the confidence in security for travelers or offer discounted packaged holidays such as in Thailand now with current deals like seven nights in a four star resort in Phuket return from Australia for AUD $750 to help kick start the industry again.

The nightlife in Bali is spread out over several areas, a bit like Chiang Mai and offers a more low key approach to entertainment with no gogos and no cat calling. Bars have hostesses who invite you in but no-one harasses you for lady drinks or make it obvious that they're working. Freelancing is the norm here but the westerners are complaining about some exorbitant prices being asked because of the over-generous Asian clientele. The going rate is 300,000Rp ($45) but in bars like the Hard Rock that are frequented by visiting Asians they were asking up to 1,000,000Rp ($150) and beers were 52,000Rp ($8) which elsewhere would be about $2. There are plenty of decent bars for fun and meeting people.

CBD bangkok

Salsa dancers and hostess at Bahiana

Obsession and Bahiana in Seminyak have salsa music and dancing with lessons for a goofy foot like me and the pleasant atmosphere and good music make for an entertaining evening before gravitating to Santa Fe to become part of the menu. At about 2 AM the crowds head for Deja Vu or M Bar Go nightclub which has the Bali bombing memorial on the outside wall, which along with the large crowd make it an obvious target especially on Saturday nights and from 4 AM to sun up it's the Double Six Club, all of which have many girls having fun.

Walking to these clubs there are always several dealers trying to sell drugs. As with home ecstasy is the main product but everything is available at two thirds less than home. I am sure if you haggled too hard you would be arrested and have to pay the standard five million rupiah get out of jail fee. I am still amazed tourists partake in this activity considering the penalty and those who are genuinely guilty will receive no sympathy from their government.

Most local girls at these clubs are there for a reason as they are seven nights a week, some registered and some not. For those who wish to take up their time and then are not prepared to pay should not engage one on one for a long period of time without making your intentions clear up front as wasting their time with a non-payer prevents them from snaring their next meal. Looks do not count when the girls are considering a customer, just the danger factor and just because they are working girls does not mean they can be mis-treated or demeaned. Westerners who continually abuse girls will either end up caught carrying a prohibited substance or accidentally fall out a hotel window, Pattaya style. Rules of engagement are smile once, interested! Smile twice, sold! Smile three times married.

wonderland clinic

There are many Asian tourists travelling to Bali making it an interesting mix of cultures and the Korean girls were just out to have a bit of fun dancing and mixing it up with the locals while unlike some western yobbos, treated the staff and locals with respect. Sometimes it makes you ashamed to be a foreigner with the behaviour of some dickheads that don’t deserve to travel.

They only harassment I have had was walking home solo and coming to the attention of road trawling ladyboys who try to grope you into submission. Who goes for this type of adventure? I don’t know but at least they don’t chase you down the street with their stilettos. Try having a drink at the bar or the club of the Contiki Hotel and you will be informed under thirties only and please leave which is a bit disheartening considering I am mid thirties.

The food in Bali is good and cheap and like anywhere I travel I like to eat where the locals eat which is usually those street vendors or beach huts (warung) for healthy snacks, a drink and a surf during the day and a nice restaurant at night like Sin City which is traditionally modern with great food, excellent service at real value and definitely no sinning there.

Food seems to be cheaper here with street food consisting of rice and up to six different toppings for $1 or restaurant meals and drink for $3 to $7. We had a fantastic meal at Rumours and my first western dish of tenderloin steak at $3.75 and the cheapest bintang in town $1.20.

As with Phuket there are plenty of beach activities to keep you occupied and World Cup fever was there with school kids taking over the beach for a game of soccer but the operators are suffering greatly from a lack of tourists and sales are 80% down. You could just lay back on a beach chair, get a massage, eat fruit and drink all you could while baking yourself silly. Towards the evening you can gravitate up the beach to the bars which start to get busy from dehydrated beach goers looking to drench their thirst. If you’re a guy you will come to the attention of the local girls who scan the beach and bars for their next interlude and if you’re a girl you will get plenty of playful attention from the darkly tanned local beach boys that will tender to your every need.

Having escaped the beach unscathed it was time to settle into Aussie Bush Telegraph Pub with big screen TV to watch the footy and admire some pre-game local entertainment who could actually sing and no, she didn’t sound like a strangled cat. Usually I avoid these places but the footy was a good excuse even though the result was not.

Free wi-fi is hard to find in Bali and I am not that computer literate but I have settled in for a couple of hours every day at the Bali Deli which has a very nice outdoor café with paid access at $15 for four hours <That is damned expensiveStick>. The deli products and presentation here outdo most western delis, not cheap but certainly quality. They also have a smart private business lounge upstairs for meetings with everything you would need.

The climate this time of year is far more comfortable than Thailand with air-con not needed and cool, even crisp at night requiring a thin blanket and during the day between 26 and 30 degrees.

As a first timer in Bali I found it a wonderful slower place to relax and detox but delve a little deeper under the surface and find the same amount of despair as most other Asian countries and the foreigners who take advantage of the situation in a perverted way. Bali has its fair share of western drop-outs, just a lot younger probably because of the surf and similar to the hippies that get lost in Pai, Northern Thailand. Whereas Thailand tends to attract the older expats that are sick of western woman, had two wives, lost two houses and crave the pampered attention of a submissive concubine when in reality Thai woman can be just as high maintenance as western woman, more volatile and extremely jealous and nibble away at you bit by bit until they have control <Take note readers, he is not wrong hereStick>. It is not my intention to criticise expats that fall under the Isaan spell, especially the ones who observe the customs of their adopted country but anyone who intentionally travels to another country to partake in activities that are illegal or perverted at home deserve no sympathy or tolerance from the law.

Unfortunately I think Bali is slowly dying as a result of the two cowardly attacks and another would end it all and then the fundamentalist parasites will be focusing their attention towards an imminent attack within Australia for every terrorist plot that is publicly thwarted there are many others attempts we don’t hear of and worst of all the cells that are out there planning their deeds unobserved. Now I don’t want to be an alarmist but as Phuket provides 40% of Thailand’s tourist economy <Where did you get this figure from? I would dispute itStick> and is picking up Bali’s deserters it is also a prime target and it's not a matter of will it happen, it's when.

Having decided to stop in Singapore overnight after a $79 flight from Bali instead of waiting around the airport for the next flight, I found a motel late at night and went to watch the soccer at a pub. It was a small bar packed with about eighty patrons and I was the only westerner. After my initial scan between watching football I noticed there were twenty girls in the bar, all Phillipino and not dressed typically conservative Singaporean. My beer cost me $8 and when I had nearly finished a girl sidled up to me and asked me to buy her a lady drink. Now having never taken up on bargirl activities before I explained I am married and I have no interest in going with her but would buy her a drink for a chat. A small glass of red wine arrives $20 and was also informed a beer would be $35 which took me by surprise. Liking red wine myself I took a sip and guess what, dark red cordial, no bullshit. I asked the girl what’s the go and was informed management didn’t want them to get drunk and as I was about to ask for a real red when a patron that overheard me said if I complained the girls would be in trouble and he then poured me a beer from his jug twice.

Ok this is how it works. The girls are flown in from the Philippines by the hotel at a cost of the airfare and admin fee of $1,040 which the girls have to work off selling lady drinks. They get half the cost of the drink and no other money but they have a quota to fill or they are penalized. The bar does not manage them for sex but they can go with a customer after the bar shuts under their own arrangements of between $100 and $150. They have to do visa runs to Malaysia every two weeks and they live ten to a room for $50 a week each plus $10 for food. Some of the girls are educated even with degrees but no work and the same old thing of sending money to support her family. That’s all for now. Flight boarding and off to Bangkok.

Stickman's thoughts:

Interesting report. Bali, and in fact all of Indonesia, is one spot that does fascinate me. I feel a trip there to check it out is not too far away.

nana plaza