Back to Bali – and escaping the End of Days.
I’ve written a bit before about Hellrides – those horribly twisted and depraved long-distance drives my old band used to do every night in order to play a farcical gig in front of no one. My touring days may be behind me, but travelling in Asia often means cramped conditions, squalid surroundings and not quite knowing if you’ll end up at your intended final destination. Not much change from playing on the DIY punk circuit then, for as long as any sort of distance exists between two points, there is always the potential for a Hellride
And so when I set off from my hotel in Kuala Lumpur this morning I thought I had one hell of a Hellride in front of me: an assortment of trains, planes and boats that would take me to the small island of Nusa Lembongan off the east coast of Bali, today’s final destination. The truth is though that I can’t even really call this one a Hellride. It ran very smoothly, largely due to the fact that I know KL pretty well now and I had also been to Nusa Lembongan before. When you can visualise where it is you are going, and remember certain landmarks, everything is a whole lot easier.
I’m lucky I even got out of Kuala Lumpur at all. I was there for three days over the weekend and didn’t see the sun once: it was completely obscured by a thick veil of pollution. It was like the end of the world, truly horrible. I think this dense smoke was the result of farmers setting illegal wildfires in Sumatra – a situation that led to a State of Emergency in Malaysia in 2013 when toxic fumes engulfed the city. When I looked out across the airport runway this morning, I could hear planes taking off and landing but I couldn’t see them. The pilot certainly earned his pay-cheque today.
(UN)HELLRIDE: KUALA LUMPUR (MALAYSIA) TO NUSA LEMBONGAN (BALI)
Left hotel in Kuala Lumpur: 5.30am
- LRT (KL Subway) from Masjid Jamek to KL Sentral: 1.2 ringgit (£0.18) The doors to the subway station didn’t open til 6am so I had to hang around on the street for a bit with homeless people and a motley crew of chain-smoking taxi drivers.
- KLIA Express from KL Sentral to Kuala Lumpur Airport: 35 ringgit (£5.25) 30 minutes direct to the airport terminal. You could faff around and get the bus from downtown KL if you wanted to save £2 but it takes 90 minutes and I don’t see the point.
- Malindo Air flight from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) to Denpasar (Bali): 264 ringgit (£40) Three hours. This was my first time flying Malindo and I will again. It wipes the floor with Air Asia. No charges for check-in luggage; a snack and a drink; in-flight entertainment. All virtually unheard of for a budget airline. Amazing flight.
- Taxi from Denpasar Airport to Sanur Beach: 200,000 rupiah (£9) I paid through the nose for this but I didn’t really have a choice. Plane touched down after 1pm and I had less than one hour to make it to the ferry terminal to catch the 2pm fast boat to Nusa Lembongan. Usually woulda went out onto the main road and got a motorbike taxi for 100,000 but I couldn’t guarantee I’d get one straight away. The taxi driver was funny though, for some reason talking about about sex the whole journey and calling it “the jiggy jiggy.”
- Fast Boat from Sanur to Nusa Lembongan: 250,000 rupiah (£11.30). Expensive, but fast. 30 minutes as opposed to two hours on the slow boat which in fairness is considerably cheaper. I don’t particularly like slow boats that bob up and down… up and down… up and down… so I coughed up the cash instead of throwing up my breakfast.
Arrived Nusa Lembongan: 2:30pm
Total cost: £65.73
Door-to-door, using subway, express train, airplane, taxi and speedboat, I think this is a pretty good price. It was certainly the fastest; couldn’t have got here any quicker.
I decided to come back to Nusa Lembongan mainly due to a small pact I made with myself when I first visited here in 2013. I liked the laid-back vibe and told myself if I ever decided to quit my job to travel I’d come here for a while. So here I am. I’ll stay a few days exploring the island and catching up on some writing before making my next move. This is actually my fourth time in Indonesia, and the third summer in a row I have ended up in Bali. Hello again, Lembongan.