From Quiet Flores Island to Frenetic Bali
A fast stop at the Maumere airport to reconfirm e-tickets with Batavia Air before a fast look at Maumere itself. We obsessed throughout the trip about the flight from Maumere to Denpasar being cancelled; a common Indonesian occurrence, and one that Happy Trails warned about. Based on their cancellation advice, we had allowed an extra day for Maumere-Denpasar, another day for Denpasar-Singapore, before flying from Singapore-Chicago a day after that. A cancellation would set off a big chain reaction, and could have meant an extra night in Maumere. The sweet Batavia Air representative assured us that they never cancel flights. If everything goes according to plan, we’ll need a hotel in Bali and an extra night in Singapore before flying back to America. No wonder we were stressed.
Maumere is the center of Sikkanese language and culture, and has been a center of Catholic activity since Portuguese Dominicans arrived 400 years ago. However, there’s nothing of importance to see, Internet was excruciatingly slow (I finally gave up in disgust), and the one and only souvenir cum antique shop had nothing of interest. It certainly didn’t help that the woman in the shop didn’t speak English and couldn’t tell us anything about any items.
The Hotel Wailiti was located outside central Maumere on the sea, and had several cottages in a lush, green garden with swimming pool; a beautiful stretch of calm beach with, once again, nothing to sit on. They gave us a little cottage facing the swimming pool. The hotel was clean, air conditioned, had hot water (if you waited long enough), and good food. Goodbyes to Ricardos and Nikolas, our last set of Lesser Sundra Island guides and drivers. Hotel Wailiti would transport us to the airport.
Check in with Batavia Airlines who allowed 20 kilos/42 pounds of luggage per person, and carefully weighed each piece before hand-loading on the plane. Paid the usual domestic departure tax; through security where you do not have to take out computers, and liquids are allowed. Our flight arrived in Maumere only 30 minutes late and was quickly turned around. Almost all inter-Indonesia flights make more than one stop on routes, and today was no exception. Less than one hour to Kupang, Timor where the majority of passengers got off and transit people stayed on. The plane filled up with more passengers and took off for the 1-1/2 flight to Denpasar. After Denpasar, this flight would continue to Surabaya, finishing in Jakarta.
Touch down in Denpasar, Bali around 5:15p. Now, we needed a hotel for three nights. There were at least six different hotel booking kiosks, car rentals, in the baggage area. I wanted to stay beachside, and had a list of hotel possibilities in the Legian Beach area The first two kiosks didn’t represent any of the hotels on my list and were less than helpful.
A third kiosk represented one of the hotels who could only accommodate us for one night, tonight. Forget that hotel. I explained my hotel preferences; not too big; on the beach with breakfast included; and budget. She handed over three beachfront hotel brochures with rates in the Legian, Seminyak area. Discussion, phone calls back and forth until we chose the Pelangi Bali Hotel & Spa in Seminyak.
Outside to the taxi window where we paid 70,000 IDR (less than $10 U.S.) for a flat rate taxi to Seminyak. Flat rate is the only way to go or public transportation because you won’t believe the road congestion. The entire distance of 10 kilometers/6.2 miles from just Kuta to Seminyak is lined with stores, restaurants, bars, tuk-tuks, taxis and jowl-to-jowl people. Imagine what it would be like, sitting in a metered taxi going nowhere, just watching the meter tick away..
Pelangi Bali Hotel & Spa was nice, a little bigger than my usual choices, laid out well even if it had no views. Unpacked, into the open air restaurant for dinner and free Wi-Fi. (You have to buy telephone cards to use Wi-Fi in guest rooms.) Sandwiches for dinner, our first western-style meal in weeks, and while chowing down, we noticed hotel guests walking to and from the beach area. What was going on out there?
Outside the walled and guarded Pelangi Bali Hotel was a narrow strip of tarmac running along the sand. This strip, as far as the eye could see, had hotels, restaurants, bars on one side; more restaurants, bars on the beachside with music blaring from them all while men stood outside each place inviting you to come in. People sat on beanbag chairs in the sand; drinking and eating. Ah, the sweet smell of commercialism. All this activity was a big culture shock after the quiet, Lesser Sundra Islands. I loved it!
Welcome back to Bali…