Days 678-682: The Exquisite Clutches of Calypso

09.11.10-13.11.10:

By Tuesday afternoon I still hadn’t heard back from Simon about whether or not my laptop could be fixed in Bali.  At this point I was kinda raring get on with the adventure (if things had gone to plan, I’d be in East Timor today), but there was something holding me back: I can’t say really what it was, but it definitely had something to do with the sheer awesomeness of everyone I’ve met here in Bali.

For instance, the other day I met up with Neil in a place called KuDeTa, the swankiest bar on the island.  I was just meeting Neil and then we were going on somewhere else – this place was way, way out of my price range (if it’s not a pound a pint I can’t help you). Just as Neil is finished off his bottle of Bintang, a lovely Japanese girl comes over to us, asks me if my name is Graham (which it is), explains that she’s the DJ here and says she’d really like to buy me a drink.

“That would be amazing”, I said, going bright red.

“Does this happen to you a lot?” asks Neil.

“Not really, but it seems to be happening a lot in Bali.”

So what if my laptop wasn’t fixed yet?  I was having a great time.  Although I have to say that Neil was a real trooper for putting up with me (and my mess) for so long.  I hoped to remedy this by having a new screen fitted tomorrow so I could be out of here on Thursday.

But, as I said, I was in no great hurry.  It looks like after my amazing 11 country romp through October, November would yield just one new nation, and that’s if I was lucky.  My visa authorisation for East Timor STILL hadn’t come through.  This was getting ridiculous.  I had visions of me waiting like a noob on the border for two weeks while they got their shit together.  Anytime before Christmas, lads, thanks

Simon called me in the evening to say that there was no chance of getting the laptop repaired.

I’d have to buy a new one.

However, all new small laptops do not come with a firewire port and I don’t have any other means of backing up my video tapes.

Fuggeration.

Well, if the blogs are to continue I guess I’ll just have to bite the bullet.  And so that’s what I did.  On the Wednesday I met up with Simon and we spent the ENTIRE DAY (seriously!) looking for a new laptop.  It wasn’t like there was a lot of choice, it was more to do with the eternal gridlock that typifies Denpasar, the capital of Bali.  In the end I opted for a little HP which, at less than 180 quid new, was a better deal than getting my other laptop fixed would have been in China.

I haggled and haggled, but the price wouldn’t go any lower.  Done.

Simon the utterly ace chap that he is, took my new lappy to fix it up with the latest bits and bobs – he would return it tomorrow (Thursday).  Fair enough – I’d leave for East Timor on Friday morning.

HOWEVER, my new Bali friends Paul and Justin had other ideas: tomorrow night there was a beach party at an exclusive resort – free booze and free food – and I was on the guest list.  Hip-Hip Hooray!  After missing out on the Ko Pha Ngan Full Moon party, I was well up for a piss-up on the sand, and so my departure date got pushed back to Saturday.  Sorry, Neil!!

By the time I rucked up at the party, everyone was already utterly wasted: they had started drinking at 4pm and by now it was dark.  I tried my best to play catch up, but I didn’t stand a chance: before I could fully enjoy the ruinous effects of Bacchus’ finest I was told that the free bar had come to an end.  Bah!

Oh well, I nursed my last free bottle of Bintang on the beach watching the dark tide roll in.  I chatted to a Russian girl who was there but I had to leave the conversation as I was suffering from a giggle fit brought on by just how amazingly miserable this Russian chick was.  I don’t remember her exact words, but they were something along the lines of,

“I hate this place… it’s all beaches and sunsets and parties… I wish I was in Moscow.”

Now we all get homesick, sure, but c’mon – this girl had just been tanked up for free in the swankiest resort in the whole of Indonesia.  I guess what they say is true: there is no misery quite like Russian misery.  That’s probably why I found it so hard to keep a straight face.  Sorry, whatever your name was, I guess I may have come across as a tad insensitive.  Poor girl, having to go to parties all the time in a tropical paradise and drink free booze…

The resort, I have to say, was quite exquisite: like something out of the brochures of other people’s holidays: luxury apartments overlooking a cliff, a funicular to take you down to an exclusive beach and an ‘infinity pool’ (a swimming pool which continuously pours a thin film of water over a ledge, creating the illusion that the pool has no wall on the far side) that catches the sunset each night like some kind of toothless yokel catching the moon in a bucket.

Nice!

There was a large stylised ‘K’ drawn in the sand and lit with candles.  It looked really cool from the top of the cliff.  It looked even cooler after I rearranged the candles into a large comedy knob.  I hope the honeymooning couples who had paid $1000 a night for a room overlooking the beach thought it was as funny as I did.

As I had caused enough trouble in paradise, Paul and I sped off back to Seminyak for a few more beers.  However, considering how utterly plastered he and his mate were, it was a little like herding cats.  We managed (just) to get something to eat from a burger kiosk and, well after that it all gets a little sketchy.  I woke up in Neil’s the next day: FRIDAY… DAY OF ACTION!!

By 6pm on the Friday, I had got a good 5% of the things done that I wanted to get done before I left.  That was the point at which Neil asked if I fancied coming out for a swift half.  When I returned at dawn the next day it registered that I wouldn’t be leaving until Sunday.  BUT ALL WAS NOT LOST!  Last night I met a bloke called Tim who might be able to help me get to Palau next month from Sorong in West Papua.  Yes yes there are some who may cock a snook at my partiality for socialising during this adventure, but a friendly chat over a cold frothy one has gained me (amongset other things) my passages to Cuba, my visa for Saudi and my escape from Dubai.

This journey is not about what you know, because unless you’ve already been there recently, ‘what you know’ is taken from the Lonely Planet or internet travel forums, and is, nine times out of ten, wrong.  Maybe I should have had a scout to go on ahead and facilitate my course for me, then again, maybe I should have had two jeeps following me a la Ewan MacGregor and a helicopter on standby in case of emergencies.

But no folks, your hapless adventurer here has been flying solo without a support crew, safety harness or parachute (or landing gear for that matter) for the best part of two years now.  Sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t.  But one thing is for sure: I’m going to wiggle out of the alluring siren-like clutches of Bali and GET ON WITH THE SHOW.

Keeping this in mind, I resolved to stay in on Saturday night, ensure that everything was ship-shape and Bristol fashion.  Amazingly, I kept my promise to myself.

Neil had gone out to some kind of dinner party (I only get invited to chimp’s tea parties) and left me in the house on my own.  As I gathered my stuff together, a storm broke and the tropical rain began to cascade down in large spherical blobs.  I changed into my swimming shorts and plunged into Neil’s swimming pool.  There are few things in life that are better than ending a hot sticky day by nightswimming and feeling the cool refreshing rain on your face whilst emulating Andy’s victory pose from The Shawshank Redemption.

I have to get out of here.  Calypso has me firmly in her clutches.  I need to break free and continue my journey home to Ithaca.  I leave in the morning NO MATTER WHAT.