Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bali, again

Denpasar – Surabaya – Makassar – Ambon – Manokwari. That, in 10 hours and $370, is how you get to Papua from Bali, at least on Lion Air. And since I was in Bali and needed to get to Papua, that’s how I spent my Saturday.

Lion Air’s nice, by the way, though the rows are close enough together that my knees hit the seat in front of me, and I’m not a particularly tall person. Well, in real life anyway – out here I’m usually the tallest person in a crowd by an inch or two. It must be an uncomfortable flight for all the male linguists who come out here – these planes are not designed for anyone over about 5’6”. And I had to pay overweight fees on my bag, which will probably lose a good 20lbs when I drop off the equipment, books, gifts, and chocolate I brought over. Especially the chocolate – that shit’s heavy. And I bought about $40 worth, since the first question anyone asked when I said I’d be coming back was ‘Are you bringing chocolate?’ A Ghirardelli importer would make a fortune out here.

So last I posted I’d just landed in Bali. I spent a lot of time out there sitting by the hotel pool working on a chunk of pre-dissertation that I should have turned in about a week ago. But prepping to go, packing up my apartment, and (*gasp!*) occasionally seeing my friends before I left was ridiculously time-consuming, so that didn’t happen. (I hung out with friends instead of working? Made dinner? Went to the Batman movie? Shocking! Don’t worry, it’ll never happen again.) It wasn’t quite the master work I might have hoped for, but given how much of that draft was done poolside in Bali I think I did fairly well. I think the hotel staff thought there was something wrong with my, spending all day sitting at my laptop instead of sightseeing or going to the beach. After I turned it in Friday night I went and got a celebratory pedicure, so I’m arriving in Papua with pretty purple toes.

The only other interesting thing I did there was a day of diving at Padang Bai. This is my third time in Bali (aside from my one night in Kuta en route to the airport last summer, which hardly counts – and besides, Kuta is awful), and the first time I managed to get some scuba in. (Wait – I dove instead of doing work? Hopefully the fact that this is Bali and there were sharks to see justifies a day’s negligence.) Yes, there were white-tipped reef sharks, and spotted rays, and a little bitty lionfish, and a big ol’ cuttlefish, and pipefish and batfish, and green sea stars and blue sea stars and a red-and-brown starfish, and sea urchins and something hiding in a hole that might have been a mantis shrimp, and nudibranch and scorpionfish and a good-sized tuna, alongside the usual plethora of bright shiny colorful tropical fish that seem to be the same from Lombok out to Key Largo. No turtles, though I hear they come through sometimes. This was one of the lushest dive sites I’ve seen, with all sorts of bright corals, just teeming with schools and schools of lord knows what. I took plenty of videos, which as usual look fuzzy and grey and empty. I swear, there’s color down there, there is! I did three dives, which was beyond exhausting – and it didn’t help that the first two got friggin’ freezing below about 10 meters. At one site is a sunken speedboat and some rock piles and metal grids, the beginnings of an artificial reef, trying to bring back the coral in a spot where it’d died off. It seems to be working. And my favorite part was the three Buddha statues just past the wreck. You haven’t lived til you’ve seen the Buddha with a sea urchin nestled in the crook of his arm.

And Saturday morning I got a 4:45am ride to the airport for my 6:30 flight out, and Saturday evening I landed in Manokwari. Papua, or Manokwari at least, has a distinct color scheme, rich green foliage everywhere, the brown/red of wood and soil, and purple/grey of the mountans across the bay. Lush as anything here, and currently raining. Hopefully it’ll stop in time for me to go downtown, register with the police, and buy some shampoo. I’ve gotta say it’s nice to be away from the tourist throngs, though it’s becoming obvious how long it’s been since I really spoke any Indonesian. Hopefully that’ll pick up soon and I can stop nodding and grinning like an idiot and start actually saying things.

Also, the neighbor is currently listening to a pop mashup of ‘Santa Clause is Coming to Town’ and ‘Shake It, Shake It, Baby’. In early September. Ah, Indonesia…

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