Thursday, June 16, 2011

(Travelogue) Oriental Outings Day 7: Water Sports in Bali

March 7, 2011
By now, Urooba had been enough of those rich cultural experiences! So was I, to be frank! For the change of taste we could not have a better option than to chill-out at Nusa Dua, an East coast beach famous for resorts and water sports.

Water Sports
A trip to the distant atoll is in fact incomplete without having aquatic adventures! So many activities to do; from the sumptuous watercraft to the daring ocean diving. Though these activities may not be as expensive as they would be in other developed parts of the world, however, we could have easily gone bankrupted should we have not observed restraint to the intriguing variety; Parasailing, Jet Ski, Flying Fish, Banana Boat, Glass Bottom, Snorkeling, Scuba Diving, so on and so forth!

In Bali, Haggling is a Must
Good for us that Urooba picked up brochures from the airport arrival hall announcing attractive deals for a combination of water activities and sightseeing. That helped us in comparing what Putu, the guesthouse guy, was quoting for the leisure. He tried to throw various combinations to justify the high cost! After all, tourism is the main source of earning for otherwise rustic islanders. However, one of the packaged tours was half the cost of the best of Putu’s offer; what else we needed!

After the breakfast, while Urooba was busy in baby rituals I called up the xxx to book one of the packages. By the time the coupé would have arrived, I made a quick visit to the laundry to collect the refurbished ward robe.

Nusa Dua
Soon we were on our way to Nusa Dua, located on the opposite side of the island. This part of Bali is popular with luxury tourists for a relaxing and sumptuous break. As expected, the prime beach is mostly encroached by multiple star resorts while the remaining patches are demarcated by package operators leaving little space for free waves!

Whats the plan for today?

Driving through Bali roads

An artisitic traffic signal
The car stopped at one of such spots where Rayan welcomed excited us and gave a short briefing. In the meantime, his helper striped us with orange life jackets reassuring that those worn out coats will be our saviors should something go wrong! He looked at us with dire disbelief when we asked one for our little angel! “No! Babies are not allowed and we will be banned by local authorities if we don’t comply”, he yelled in a grim tone. We tried to explain him the self promulgated principle to keep Misha with us wherever we go, but for no use.

Reaching Nusa Dua

The menu
Fun Starts
“This cannot stop us from having fun”, announced the better half, “we will take turns; you go first and I will take care of Misha”, came the orders. “But you are on a package and we cannot give you individual turns”, replied the perplexed guide. “If we are a package than Misha is also a part of it”, was the argument! “I have a wife too”, whispered the poor fellow in my ears; “fine, you start off with Jet Ski individually and then we will see”, the guy started agreeing.

The good omen had yet to come; Misha – otherwise not comfortable with strangers – started making friends with the pleasant Rayan. “I am a father of two kids and know how to make children happy”, he said in an assuring pitch.

Would this really work!?

I want to do Jetski too, please!

Having some fun

Wow!! Thats fast!
Balinese Hospitality
Among four countries we visited, we found Indonesian people the most friendly and hospitable, be it the airport or a roadside vendor. And Rayan was one ready example in support of our observation; easygoing and harmless. The other day when we landed at Ngurah airport, I asked the immigration officer about the telephone facility, he took out his own cell phone and talked to the guesthouse himself to ensure that the guy is waiting for us outside!

Similarly, when we were on our way to Ubud and lost the direction, we took the help from a roadside vendor, who went extra miles and stopped the traffic so that we can take the U-turn! Rayan was also one of those king soles. Taking advantage of this gesture, we decided to drop Misha in his custody to enjoy the remaining games together.

After we came from the exhilarating Banana Boat ride, we noticed both Misha and Rayan were not there! Before all the excitement would have washed away, Rayan emerged trying to pacify furious Misha who got aware of the trick and started crying. “I should charge you for this tough babysitting”, demanded the Rayan with naughty expressions. “We will think about it but at the moment we are hungry”, said Urooba while passifying the young traveler.

Meeting Hassan
Today we had to meet the newlywed Hassan Hazzey, one of the most favorites Couchsurfers of the island who generously helped us planning the Bali part of our trip. I called him around the sunset, after we returned to the guesthouse, and he suggested meeting at the McDonalds of Kuta town.

Party Hard + Pay Less = Kuta
Kuta is the so-called bad part of Bali, the party central of the island; narrow streets flooded with bars and nightclubs. A place equally suited to noisy and drunken Aussies who often got obnoxious and those suicide bombers who got more obnoxious, fortunately less often! The Bali Bombing memorial installed at Paddy’s club still reminded two notorious attacks which took place in 2002 and 2005 by the extremist groups on what they think a place too voluptuous to deserve the wrath of the hell whilst they themselves enjoy whores in the heavens in almost the same setting.

The overcrowded streets of Kuta were just an example what damage tourism can do especially to an underdeveloped destination if inundated by irresponsible travelers who travel so many miles just to party hard and pay less. Not respecting the local culture is not a traveler spirit, in my opinion, while giving importance to values always brings pleasant surprises. That just reminded me an experience from a fellow traveler who encountered “a group of teenagers in skimpy dresses and t-shirts with slogans like – I'm big on a p*g – complaining how unfriendly Zanzibarians are!”

Newly Weds
It started raining again, making difficult for me to make our way through the crammed full roads while Hassan and his wife were waiting for us at the meeting spot where we parked our scooter and shifted to their car. Although it was a long and eventful day already, however, the company of the generous couple was worth the effort. While both the wives were busy in sharing their post nuptial notes, Hassan and I had a prolonged chat about the local life and difference in Pakistani and Indonesian cultures.

The couple belonged to the second generation of Arab descendants which has been assimilated to most of the extent. However, for marriages their families still prefer to stick to Arab progeny, analogous to what Indian migrants practice here in Pakistan. Nuptials are performed with the traditional oomph with conventional Islamic celebrations but not as wasteful as we do over here. Cost of life and average salaries look similar while housing seems to be on the higher side in Pakistan.

The conversation then diverted to Couchsurfing, the bee in Hassan’s bonnet! Like a typical oriental guy, he had to put some restraint to the otherwise causal lifestyle. “We attend CS events, however, less often than I used to attend before we got married” said Hassan. “He used to host strangers but the party is over now!” uttered his wife in a skeptical tone. We share more notes on how to keep CSing while considering our new prerogatives. Hassan is an avid traveler too and together they made it to Hong Kong and Macau for their honeymoon.

It was around midnight that we decided to pause the long chat for another meeting sometime in the near future Inshallah. The long day ended with aan addition of a new friend whom we can trust our lives!
Hassan took us to his favourite restaurant

Art on the display

Having some rice

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