During lockdown in the winter I decided to continue to declutter and found my husband’s travel diary from our honeymoon in 1998. Other than a few trips to south Pacific islands for squash tournaments, it was his first real trip abroad. The writing is super small and the paper is brittle so I thought I would transcribe it. Yes it was our honeymoon but no, there will be no graphic details. I will save that for my planned lucrative “Married Erotica” series written under a pen name (only half joking… seriously people, I am told there is good money to be made!)
(In the text below, as in our marriage, my comments on his narration are in brackets.)
Sunday 29-3-98 Kuta, Bali
The day is finally here. Today we depart on our magical 5-month journey – into the vast unknown.
It felt like an eternity getting here with a few drams with people late paying their accounts through our business. Oh well, we’re here now and that’s what counts.
Christine organized all the dates, flights, tours, packing clothes, etc. I was totally happy to sit back and watch this happen, as I know squat about it all.
The Night Before.
We thought we had it all under control, but the clothes just didn’t seem to fit on our final packing effort at 10:30 pm. Just added another bag and with that, we’re on our way. Got to bed at 12:30am and woke at 4:30am. Dismantled the futon bed (to store in the shed and give Mum and Dad back the use of their spare room.) Mum and Dad arose early with us and we were at Cairns International Airport. A hug and few tears and we’re on our way.
We departed Cairns at 7:30am with a stopover for forty-five minutes in Darwin and then through to Bali. The food on the flight was pretty good. We arrived at Denpasar airport at local time 11:30am (1 hour behind Australia.) It is “Day of Silence” in Bali (Hari Raya Nyepi is the Balinese Hindu New Year, celebrated on the first new moon in March) and everyone must remain indoors, cannot walk around, go to the beach, nothing. (In those pre-TripAdvisor days, one would have assumed the travel agent at Garuda Airlines might have given us a heads up on Nyepi, if only to encourage us to pre-book our hotel.) No taxis at the airport, only hotel buses. We hadn’t booked anywhere and teamed up with three others in the same boat. When collecting our bags, “Porters” pick up your bag and try to get you to come with them to their hotel. After much bartering and standing around for some time like stunned mullets, we agreed to go to Kuta for US$5 for the five of us. The taxi fare started at US$40.
We arrived at the “Bruna Beach Hotel,” Kuta. The room cost US$18, including breakfast. The room is about three metres by four metres with a large bed, ceiling fan and private bathroom with no hot water, as this is extra. (It’s Bali; Who needs hot water?) The room had a musty smell and we will go in search of more accommodation tomorrow. We definitely haven’t stayed in a place like this before. The bathroom is scary, but we are on a budget.
(At some time in the past twenty-four years, the humble “Bruna Beach Hotel” was transformed into The Stones Entertainment Centre. In 1998, it was a row of low-set cinder-block rooms running along one side of a large block, with a pool and an open pavilion-style reception and café. The bathroom was indeed scary; I wore my flip-flops in the shower. There was Roman-style tiled bath with a truly impressive layer of mildew on it. We had mainly native geckos in Australia back then, small black lizards about the length of an adult’s finger, that made their homes behind the framed paintings on the walls back home, but the Balinese Geckos are brightly coloured and about four times the size of the ones back home. All I knew from high school science was that brightly coloured lizards are poisonous, and back then I didn’t understand the difference between poisonous and venomous!)
We had some noodles in the hotel. Quite nice and cost IDR5000, approximately AUD$1.08. (This would have been our first experience of Nasi Goreng. The staff had prepared food the night before, knowing hungry, confused tourists would arrive. I remember them stretching the rules and serving us drinks as long as we kept the noise to an absolute minimum. It was a really dodgy hotel but it remains a nice memory, our introduction to Bali, the place we have grown to love so deeply over the years.)
It was quite eerie on the ride to the hotel with no people about. The beach looked nice, and we planned to go for a swim and some sightseeing the next day. That afternoon, we had a swim and sat around, talking with our fellow travelers for a while. (The plan was to try another menu item that night and get a good night’s sleep; we were shattered from our late night-early morning combo-deal pre-trip) and get up early for an adventurous day ahead.
to be continued…