Leaving KL- entering Bali (KL-Bali 2016)


A morning swim, after a copious breakfast buffet, with extra delicious veggy curry.

Meet Martina, a seven year old Filipino, staying her third year in KL, first in Mount Kiara, the posh expat quarter in the south of KL, now in four star hotel Capri.

– When her mum finishes her job here, we all go back to the Philippines, her twenty three year old nanny tells me, I haven’t been back in two years.

Martina, only child with an absent mama, is used to getting things her way and tries to steer our monster’s play, bosses them around…

We check out of Capri hotel in KL at noon. Ong Chee, an Indonesian-Chinese cabdriver took us to KLIA2, where the flights of Airasia take off. Ong has retired at 55, the obligatory age for retirement in Malaysia. We heard this story before: every Malay man who stops working wants to be a cabdriver. Sitting at home, doing nothing makes you sick and die early. What also makes Ong sick is the major corruption still going on in his country. We pass Putrayaja, the administrative heart of Malaysia. A whole city of high rises concerned with all matters governmental. Didn’t I hear about the major corruption scandal? Ong is surprised, and so am I. Malay prime minister Najib is suspected of back channeling one billion dollar into his personal bank account. One billon dollar!

Ong asks us about our profession. We are both teachers, I tell him. He wonders who looks after the kids. Do we have a nanny? No, we don’t. Ong has had a maid for fifteen years. She does everything: cooks, looks after the kids, does the groceries!  

-Does she ever get a day off?

– No.

– Doesn’t she get tired? 

Ong seems a bit surprised, might be even slightly offended.

-Every two years she went for a month to the Philippines. She stayed in my house. Everthing is paid for her. Food. Medical. She earns 300 dollars a month!


We fly into Denpasar, Bali, at 19.00. A car is waiting for us: seven-seater Toyota. We’ll have it for fourteen days. Last year in Thailand, we appreciated the liberty our own wheels gave us. And the price, at 25-30 dollar a day, is very ok. It is a one hour drive to D’Sawah Villas, our hotel  near Tanah Lot. It is dark, traffic is very busy, and the roads are small, the wheel of course is on the right, and so is the driving. Gearbox on your left. So yes, it takes some getting used two.

We are in Bali right away, even the smell at the airport reminds us of our earlier stays here. (Smell, not stench mind you. This is not New Delhi. ;-)) Indo Maret’s everywhere (The Indonesian Seven/Eleven), Frangipani trees, people selling fried this and that, bananas and fish and corn, on small gas stoves. The GPS in the car doesn’t work, and I have no local Sim-card yet, but luckily Googlemaps does a fine job offline.

It is pitch dark when we reach D’Sawah Villas.

Fifteen minutes from the famous Hindu temple Tanah Lot, D’Sawah, lies in between the ricefields. The pictures on Booking.com boast wonderful views of the paddies, from bedrooms, pool and restaurant. It’s a pity the neighbour put up an ugly wall, and the site forgot to mention this. Luckily there is a gazebo on the second level of each villa. During the hottest hours of the day a siesta up there is bliss.


We walk to the beach, where the surf gods surf, meet, talk and drink. A bit of a disappointment this one. A grubby bunch of ramshackle iron roof stalls, but without the charm you would expect. Lots of dirt everywhere, some local Bob Marley wannabees mingle with the surf boys and girls. They talk their funny English and make sure to impress the tourist girls. We are getting too old for this shit. 🙂 Although I guess these youngsters have all the fun, riding the waves, drinking cool beers in the evening and smoking dope.


When it comes down to what a pilgrimage site is about, Tanah Lot has it all. As overheard another tourist: it is quite like Lourdes. Perched on a rock above the sea, this Hindu shrine has a holy spring with fresh water (in the salty sea, how holy is that??), holy men blessing you for a couple of Rupiah, snake charmers with big big snakes, busloads full of tourists, and a labyrinth of restaurants and pubs and shops, selling holy stuff, and images of gods and demons, and bottle openers shaped as penises, there is a Ralph Lauren franchise with discounts up till 50%, a coffee shop that serves the special Luwak coffee for 25000 Rupiah (1.7 euro)/ 1.9 dollar) a cup, which in my hometown costs 20 euro. In the shop some Luwak cats are taking a nap. I hope they are not drugged, but the chance is all the more real because there is also a gigantic bat hanging in the shop, sleeping upside down as bats do, not bothered by us tourists going oooh! and aaah!

Luwak cats? Civets? No? They eat the special coffee bean, shit it out, and that bean, which goes trough the Luwak’s digestive system, makes for the special Kopi Luwak.

You should pay attention when buying Kopi Luwak coffee! The keyword in this sense is animal friendly and “authentic“, which means it’s coffee cherries have been eaten, digested and excreted by wild living and non-caged civet cat, collected by farmers and sold to roasters to prepare for human consumption. The potential in selling of kopi Luwak is high, which allures alot business people trying to skim the market with wicked methods.. Natural kopi luwak, which is harmless to the animals, is found on plantation grounds and collected for roasting. Unfortunately, the farmers of this expensive bean found too high a demand for the coffee and started to harvest the beans unnaturally. Farmers stopped worrying about the natural cultivation of the product and rather looked for ways to yield the highest profit. The answer? Farmers gathered and caged an over-abundant amount of civets and started to almost exclusively feed them coffee beans. High-end pricing turned farming civet cats for kopi luwak coffee into a enslavement industry. Hundreds of the animals can be caged together where they fight or gnaw at their own limbs due to mental distress. Many farmers are uneducated on how to care for their animals and stand by as many succumb to illness and death. (http://www.most-expensive.coffee/)

We had a decent but rather pricey dinner on the cliff overlooking the rocky beach and the temple, watching the rest of the tourists below wait for the promised beautiful sunset that never came.

And then, we had to drive back. No G4 yet on my smartphone remember, and Googlemaps didn’t do the trick as, without wifi, I could not pinpoint our location. We had to rely on Maps.me, which saves the maps offline. Initially everything went okay, we recognized the road, passed this shop, that signboard … But then we ended up on a dirt track, all bumps and potholes, no more habitation, no more lights, the road getting narrower all the time, palm trees to the right and to the left. Maps.me obviously made a mistaken, or we did. I got into reverse and drove back for half a kilometer, not too easy… Back on the bigger road, we asked two expat chicks for the way to the beach.

            – D’Sawah, did that ring a bell? I didn’t have much faith.

            – You probably mean Kedungu?, one of the women asked.

        – Yes! Kedungu, that’s it! I remembered the password of our hotel: Kedungu something.

Big sigh!

And so we got to our hotel, just in time for a late swim.



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