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Arriving in Bali!!

For many years we joked that we would go back to Indonesia one day, and Duca always said that if that actually happened he would eat a nasi-goreng (indonesian fried rice) every single day of the trip. Guess what? Took us almost ten years but we manage to go back to Indonesia, and of course Duca kept his promesse and ate at least one nasi-goreng (sometimes two, sometimes three) for exactly 65 days. According to him, he already miss it. hehehehe.

On August 14th of 2016 we arrived in Indonesia after almost 10 years since our first and only trip to this country. We realized that many things have changed, starting with the size of the airport! When we arrived we didn’t even recognize it, it was way bigger! Duca even questioned if we were in the right airport, or even if we didn’t know we had a stopover in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. The traffic is worse, I mean, a lot worse. One thing didn’t change, the amount of  motorbikes everywhere. The other thing didn’t change is the amount of people that can fit in one bike, you can still see an entire family, even little babies, on the same motorbike. Another crazy fact is the age they start driving motorbikes. Sometimes we would see a 13 years old riding a bike, without a helmet, right in front of the police.

After many travels on the past 10 years we came up with the theory that on the first day in a country, as we don’t really know the prices around, we are allowed to pay a little bit more than the normal price on something, like for example a taxi. This time we tried something different.

One month before the arrival date, we searched online and found a website with reasonable price to rent a car, the only thing was that the company was really far from the airport. The good news was that if we rented the car for the entire month they would bring us the car to the airport for free. We sent an email to them and then got a second good new. The price was U$275, so when they replied our email they said that they would do a special price, U$250 for the month and they would pick us up in the airport. I’ve never seen that, we’ve got almost 10% without asking and we should pay them at the airport. WOW, sounded too good to be true, but as we had no other choice, we decided to take the risk, if they were not there we would simple get a taxi. Guess what? We arrived at the Balinese airport and the guy was there, waiting for us with a little sign written by hand “Eduardo” on it!! AMAZING!! That’s how we’ve got our little Suzuki jeep. If anyone need a car we would recommend them for sure. No, we didn’t get payed to say that, in fact they don’t really know we are writing this, but we really liked their service.

When we arrived in Bali we went straight to our hotel, Abian Boga, in Sanur, which we had booked through the internet. Well, we chose Sanur because Duca wanted to stay somewhere to kitesurf and we discovered that all the kite schools were located in Sanur, so he thought it was a smart idea to stay the first week there in order to find out more about the kitesurf scene around Indonesia.

We had pool and breakfast included, with fruit (papaya, watermelon and melon) and we could choose between nasi goreng or american breakfast (toast, egg and bacon). Even though the shower was terrible, having a few drops of cold water we had booked for 2 days and renewed for another 4 days with the hope the wind would show up so Duca could go kiting after so many months. During those days the bath was in the pool.

We found the iced strawberry tea that we used to drink the other time we went to Indonesia. But our tastes have changed ... We are no longer used to this amount of sugar, so as we drank way too many bottles on the first week, that was enough for the entire trip.

About Sanur. It is a beautiful beach, with clear sand and water, but as many places in Bali, it has a lot of rubbish in the sand. The beach is only clean in front of the 5 star hotels. Well, the idea was to sail, but the wind and the tide had to be adequate. Often the wind was good and the tide very low, and as it has a lot of coral reefs on the beach it was almost impossible to kite. Duca tried to kitesurf for several days, but only one of this days was successful.

After searching deeper, Duca found out that the other option for kitesurfing would be the other side of Bali, on a place called Canggu, so we decided to give a chance and drove there to spend a day.

As soon as we arrived we liked the beach. It was a lot different than Sanur, it had more of a younger vibe. Another big difference was that Sanur is surrounded by a coral reef, and in Canggu the waves are right on the beach. The wind that day wasn’t really good, but at least the waves were really fun, and the crowd wasn’t as bad as other spots of Bali. Duca surfed a little. After lunch and then we had a minor incident. It’s weird how Bali can have garbage everywhere, but you won’t see cockroaches around. In Sydney was the opposite, a really clean city with so many of them. To make it short, when we opened the car to go back to Sanur we spotted a cockroach, and a big one (the only one we saw for the entire trip). When Duca tried to kill it, it hided inside the seat!! No way we were going to drive for one hour knowing it was there with us, so Duca went on the mission to find a cockroach spray. He walked for 30 minutes on 35 degrees Celsius and couldn't find one. We had an idea, we found a hotel that we liked that was pretty close to the restaurant, so we decided to check it out, and if they were nice we would ask if they had a cockroach spray. The hotel was amazing. The room was big and bright, so different to our hotel in Sanur, right away we knew that would be our room. So, we asked for the spray. The guy didn’t understand which bug I was talking about, but after showing a picture I’ve got on google he laughed. We sprayed the car a lot and closed it for a while, on the way out of the hotel we had to stop because the back door was still a little bit open, so when Duca opened the door it ran away so quick, not quick enough for Duca, he step on it and that was her end. At this stage we thought that was a kind of sign...hehehehe… so we went back to the hotel and decided to book straight away. No, we are not getting payed for that, but when we like something we love to support them, so…

We went back to Sanur via Kuta. But the phone app we used, an offline map, sent us down on a different route, that was a little bit stressful. In the beginning it was fine, but as we got closer to Kuta the streets started getting more and more narrow, to a point that we didn’t really know if would be possible to go through by car.

So, on August 20, we moved to Canggu. When we move to a new hotel, in a new neighborhood, we always begins a new search for good and cheap places to eat, especially for the everyday nasi goreng. In Canggu we find some: a cafe at the entrance of the beach, Dien cafe, Warung Cucu, Mandira cafe (on Echo beach), Roti Canai (on the main street) and Kontiki (at the entrance of the main street).

Speaking about the hotel. We really liked the place. Jonsen Home Stay is about 500 meters from the beach and close to shops. The coffee was free. The staff were cheerful and attentive. Our room was spacious, bright and with good water and hot shower. The only problems were the water from the shower didn't drain, the internet that didn't work several times and mosquitos. But, even with this minor problems, we liked it so much that we decided that instead of moving around, we negotiated a special price to stay over a month. We payed 66% of the daily price that was Rp$300.000.

Our almost daily routine in Canggu was to wake up at 6 o'clock, have coffee with cracker or bread with honey and go to the beach, while the sun was not that strong. Usually, we would go back to the hotel around 9 o’clock and have another coffee and hibernate in the room after a swim in the pool until lunchtime, when we would go out for lunch. When we had the car, we used to walk to the restaurant, as it was hard to park. So before leaving the hotel, Duca would jump into the pool to cool down, even with his t-shirt on, and by the time we arrive on the restaurant his cloths would be dry already. We wore long sleeve shirts with solar factor, sunscreen, cap and glasses; yep the heat was bizarre.

After a while on the same place we kind of narrow down our options, for lunch we basically had three options of restaurants, Mandira Cafe, Cucu or Roti. Usually we used to eat 2 nasi gorengs and as we always take our own bottle of water, the food used to cost around  Rp$50,000 (US$3,85) for both of us.

By the end of the trip the Duca ate at least 1 nasi per day, keeping firm the promise he made to himself. I guess it is too good and much cheaper than eastern food, that doesn’t make sense not to eat.

After lunch we used to watch series, movies (bought really cheap on DVD), or even youtube series, depending on the internet at the time. Some of the sites that we saw were: Viajo Logo Existo (Brazilian couple who traveled around the world by car), SV Delos (an American, his brother and friends going around the world by boat), Sailing La Vagabond (Australian couple going around the world by boat), SV Seeker (an american building a boat), among others.

For dinner we gave up, we had a favorite restaurant and we used to eat there almost every day. The restaurant was called Kontiki (nop, it doesn’t exists anymore, but that is another story). I used to always order a gado gado and Duca a chicken satay (5 chicken steaks with spicy sauce, rice and tomato salad, lettuce and cucumber). Until today we still don't know what all the ingredients of the gado gado were. I know it's meant to be salad with peanut sauce. We guess the dish had rice, cabbage, bean sprouts, bacon, lettuce, tomato, boiled egg, tofu and tempeh (a soy bar).

At Kontiki we met our local friend Kakul. He was the one in charge of the barbecue and the social person, that talked to the clients, that was always playing an acoustic guitar and his harmonica. Kakul’s English was amazing, it was nice to have some long conversations with a local friend and get to know more about their culture.

Ohh.. We almost forgot… In Kontik there was a ukulele that anyone could use, that was another reason to go there every day. Duca missed his ukulele (that was in Brazil) so that was an opportunity for him to have fun. Other than Kakul there were two more guys on the restaurant, the manager and the chef, and they were also really friendly. The food in Kontik was sooo good, and even cheaper.. and average meal would cost us Rp$15.000 (U$1,15), almost half price compared to the other restaurants.

Well, what to say… This first month and a half was exactly what we were looking for. If you ask us, what did we do for the entire month? I’m not sure if we have the answer for that. I mean, if nothing is an answer, than we could answer. For over a month all we did was to sleep, go to the beach, eat, eat, eat, watch movies, and of course talk about our lives, reflect about our time in Sydney, and about ideas for our future. Well, if you want to know more about that hold on until episode 5 when we go deeper on this subject. So, for now it is enough.

Duca e Roberta