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Date: 08 Nov 2003 05:01:48 -0800
Subject: Farewell to Bali

Dear family and friends,

We've spent the day packing up our bikes and all our assorted stuff, and are ready to leave Bali tomorrow (Sunday 9 Nov) for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

We left Padangbai last Sunday for the small island of Nusa Lembongen, the two of us, our two bikes, and our backpacks in a traditional fishing boat, shaped like a heavy wooden canoe with outrigger poles -- looks like a water spider. There are big swells in the strait between Padangbai and the island, and by the time we got there (~1 hour), we and the bikes were quite wet; our backpacks were lashed high up on the mast to keep them from getting wet from spray, and we had also packed everything inside plastic bags.

Nusa Lembongen was an interesting island (first time we've ever had trouble getting fish for dinner on an island!) where most people are involved in seaweed farming and tourism is not the major economic activity. We were fascinated to watch the seaweed being harvested at low tide, then dried on the beach. It is then exported for use as an emulsifier in cosmetics.

We spent one day riding our bikes on the island, covering about 20 km, much of it over broken pavement. We had lunch at Mushroom Bay, a beautiful little crescent-shaped beach between sandstone cliffs, where boats from Kuta bring people on day tours.

On Wednesday we took the "public boat" from Lembongen back to Sanur, our starting point in Bali. This boat was much larger, and so we didn't get wet with spray, but we did have to wade in knee-deep water to get on and off the boat, since there is no dock at either end of the trip. Sanur feels like being "home again", and we are back to a variety of restaurants (Italian, Thai, Vietnamese, as well as Indonesian restaurants and excellent seafood).

Much to our surprise, Sanur has acquired a new beach in the 4 weeks since we were here! When we sat on the beach before, there was a brick path, then a row of trees, then a steep drop to the water at high tide; when the tide was out, there was a gradually sloped large shallow area. Now we watched as large dumptrucks filled with white sand emptied their loads and a bulldozer spread the sand, bringing this large new beach up to the level of the path and extending out about 8-10 meters (25+ feet). We estimate that for the distance along the beach they were doing this, there had to have been at least 1000 dump truck loads brought in. Furthermore, there is a new series of stone jetties to protect the new beach from being washed away. They had been working on the jetties when we were first here, but we had no idea they were only the first step in a mammoth project. We were told by several different sources that the project, obviously a costly one, was being paid for by the Japanese. It is our guess that many of the expensive beachfront hotels have Japanese owners.

Last night we visited and had dinner with the niece of one of Ron's high school classmates. She has been living in Bali for 10 years. We were delighted to meet her and her 7 year old son, as well as some of her friends, and to hear a bit about the ex-patriot life in Bali. Her house is unusual and beautiful, perched on a hilltop overlooking the water. Because Bali is always warm (hot!), much of the living space in the multi-level house is roofed but open in such a way that the outdoors is an extension of the indoors.

A friend asked us whether people have pets here. There are lots of dogs everywhere. They are non-aggressive, and all seem to get along well with each other, although at night they seem to be more possessive of their turf and will bark as people walk by. It is difficult to say which dogs are pets (some are obviously not well cared for), but we've seen some dogs on leashes and some have collars. However, the dogs that obviously live in some of the hotels and restaurants where we've been are well fed, but more or less ignored, not pampered in the way we treat our pets in the US or Europe. Although there are cats everywhere, we have seen no cats that appear to be pets except at our hotel here in Sanur -- but the hotel is owned by Australians who are in residence much of the time. These are just our observations, and we may be misleading you completely!

Next stop, Kuala Lumpur!

Love to all,

Ellen and Ron


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