My Java holiday was a blast, but I have to admit that it was also at a pace I don't really enjoy. I like being in a place long enough to greet the regular vendors at the market, have a go at exhausting the local cuisine and know the becak drivers parked outside the hotel all by name. But of course there needs to be enough to do in the meantime, it isn't all about the food.
Talking about which, I only met one vegetarian on this trip, mainly because I met few foreigners and spent most of my time with local people. But a surprising amount of my meals consisted of rice, a vegetable curry, tofu and tempeh. Afterall, you can't eat goat, chicken, duck, beef, bunny rabbit at every meal. No I don't go in for western breakfasts whilst away, there are far too many excellent eastern breakfasts to trial. I reckon that Soto Madura in Sumenep was my favourite breakfast for this trip.
Somewhere in Java I picked up a headcold, which caused me some amusement in a minibus where my sneezes and noseblowing were causing a mild panic for the other occupants. With deaths from avian influenza having occurred only recently in East Java I could understand their concern, but I didn't quite have the language skills to explain it was only a cold, and anyway, I've had the jabs (ok, not for avian, but how could I explain swine flu?).
By the time I arrived in Bali I was on the mend, but my 3-4 days of relaxation seemed more like a rush to get all the christmas and birthday shopping done (I do hope my brothers have stopped baby making), catch up with friends, try and co-ordinate a birthday dinner, and still manage a massage or two along with the obligatory manicure and pedicure. I did get to have Durian on my birthday though, and almost die laughing watching my fellow share taxi passengers fail the taste/smell test!!
Bali is booming. Tourism is back to the good old days and the prices are roughly double what you'd pay on Java. Almost everything is imported so it's not surprising. The people are friendly, but it's more the friendly face of tourism than the genuine friendliness of a strange face in town. Not that us westerners are a strange face, and recently my fellow aussies have been making a bad face, with drunken brawls and generally uncouth behaviour. People are blaming the cheap airfares for encouraging the bogan element, but that's crap, bogans have been going to Bali for years, look at Chappelle Corby!!
I managed a week back at work before I succumbed to a secondary bacterial throat infection that had me bed bound on antibiotics. The speed and ferocity with which this lurgy floored me indicates I just might have overdone it, but my week in bed has restored my strength, and given me the chance to make a dent in my recently topped up DVD collection!!
Now it's time to go gardening!!