Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Exit Asia

I spent a night in Padang Bai, Bali's port for Lombok, to see about diving an underwater canyon I'd been told about at Teppegong. Unfortunately, as there'd been a full moon recently, the visibility was supposedly shit, and the swells too strong. I chose to spend a day at White Beach instead, a gorgeous tiny bay around ten minutes walk out of town. On walking down the hill to the shore, I couldn't stop laughing: at least three hawkeres were following every westerner up the beach. There were only 6 or 7 of us on there, and it was constant hassle. I bought a sarong, and was offered another one immediately by another two women. I smacked my paperback against my forehead repeatedly in exasperation until they walked away...to the amusement of two Scandinavian girls fending off a sunglassed salesman. The beach is well worth a visit, despite the hassle...it's the prettiest beach I've visited so far on my travels, and I've seen a few. Wayan's Bookshop on the hill to the beach is worth visiting. A lovely fellow runs it, though the books his boss stocks are extremely overpriced. He'd made me a coffee and we chatted awhile before I headed off. He'd said any that books donated he sold himself instead of the boss taking a cut, so I promised to finish the last 100 pages of my book so he could have it.

I headed for Kuta the next afternoon, to be reunited with the Dutch and Ika. On the way there, I got a text from Renato to tell me Ika had been drugged and robbed the previous evening, so to contact her through him. She'd been out with him and his girlfriend, and someone had obviously slipped something in her drink and followed her home. All she remembers is waking up with a thick head only to find her laptop and other valuables had been stolen. The police seemed to think it was someone at the hotel. While it's bad, she's lucky she wasn't raped. It just shows how you cannot afford to let your guard down if even a native can be drugged and robbed. A sobering thought for anyone who thinks Bali is 100% safe.

My last hours were whiled away with the gang, my last portion of Nasi Goreng wolfed down before the hair-raising scooter ride to the airport. The last haggle with the driver completed (I couldn't be bothered when he cheekily demanded a big tip. He already had the note in his hand, and I couldn't face bartering for my change.) I walked into the airport. The Rough Guide To Southeast Asia was unceremoniously filed in the first bin I came across.

Should have done that ages ago.

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