After a wonderful 3 weeks in Australia catching up with old friends, drinking far too much Barossa Valley wine and letting my feet heal, I flew back to Bali to conquer my 2nd birthday volcano on the eve of my birthday. Having no real plans in Bali until the 15th, I got in touch with Jonny B., who I initially met in Manila and then in Banaue and then in El Nido, and now in Kuta. Jonny is one of those quintessential, intransigent budget travellers who will hunt for a room he believes is of good value before hunkering down. His tireless prowling usually worked to my advantage, as he often arrived in a new location a few days before me, and I was able to shamelessly piggyback on his hard work. In Kuta, Bali's messy, loud version of South Beach, I had a very cheap room waiting for me upon arrival. It is high season in Bali and throngs of people combed the streets every day and well into the night searching for somewhere to stay. Luckily for me, Jonny came to the rescue and reserved me a place in his hotel. And since I had convinced Allen, who I initially met on Rinjani (he who had kindly waited for me to limp up and down the mountain), to come and climb Agung before he headed back home to Ireland, I paid-it-forward by getting him a room too.
The three of us spent our mornings eating at Bamboo Corner** for good, cheap Indonesian food, and watched the hordes of scantily clad tourists stumble by at night on their way to the thumping, teeming Kuta clubs. Jonny left after 3 days, bound for Oz - and likely to suffer some serious sticker shock with their prices upon arrival - and Allen and I booked a trip for Agung.
** I employ what I refer to as the NGT ("Nasi Goreng Test") when selecting a restaurant in Indonesia. If the nasi goreng on the menu is over 15,000 Rupiah ($1.50), the restaurant fails the NGT and I refuse to eat there. Bamboo's nasi goreng came with a crunchy prawn cracker the size of my head and cost 9,000 Rupiah. We ate there often.
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