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    Tropical Storm Tour: Bali Part 14

    Monday, September 7, 2015
    Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

    The immigration office in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.
    The immigration office in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.

    After scrambling to find an ATM that worked–the first one was out of order, the second one would not accept my card, but the third one was the charm–I speed-walked over to the office of travel / visa agent Bali Mode, where I arrived 10 minutes early for my ride to the immigration office in Denpasar. Squeezing a big bobblehead helmet over my fat skull then climbing on the back of a motorcycle piloted by a polite, clean cut young Balinese man, I gripped the rear handle with one hand while holding onto my hat with the other. The driver was really good: he didn’t tailgate or pass too much and went fast, but not too fast…at least most of the time. A few times, he hauled ass a little too hard inside towns, where someone could have easily pulled right out in front of us from a driveway or a side street.

    The immigration office in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.
    The immigration office in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.

    On the way to Denpasar, we passed through the art village of Mas, home of a ton of wood carving and painting shops, their wares spilling out onto the road. I also spied the big Barong (a benevolent Balinese lion-like deity) statue in the middle of Batubulan, which is well-known for its nightly Barong dance show. The closer we got to Denpasar, the more giant statues of Hindu deities engaged in battle we passed. I also spotted a bunch of temples, shops, signs and other street stuff that I’d like to come back and shoot someday.

    The problem is I won’t rent a motorcycle in a developing country, because the traffic here is way too hectic and dangerous. People–both locals and foreigners–get maimed and killed in motorcycle wrecks on Bali every day. So, I may have to get a really early start and take a bemo. But, I’d have to head back to Ubud by 1:00 pm, because the bemos stop running around 3:00 or 4:00 pm. Also, there are fewer of them these days, as most people–except the very poorest–have their own motorcycles.

    A shredded flyer on Jalon Goutama in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    A shredded flyer on Jalon Goutama in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Arriving at the immigration office around 1:00 pm, my agent had me sit in a waiting room while he fetched a little slip of paper bearing my call number, C067. The electric sign up on the wall displayed the number C056. So, there were a grand total of 11 people in front of me. For the first half hour, the clerks must have been on lunch break, because  the number never budged past C056. Finally, things started moving around 1:30 pm. As some goofy Candid Camera-like show played on a TV, the crowd began to swell. My number finally came up around 2:00 pm.

    A family compound gate on Jalon Goutama in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    A family compound gate on Jalon Goutama in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Stepping into the photo room, I noticed three small tables, each with a DSLR camera on a tripod and a fingerprint scanner. The whole process went by quickly as I plopped down in the chair and the guy snapped a pic of my mug. I was bummed when I had to get all 10 of my fingerprints scanned in–just like in Cambodia. It used to be that only criminals got fingerprinted, but now we all do. Oh, well! That’s the way life is here on Prison Planet. But, at least I didn’t get fined for overstaying my visa, because Bali Mode submitted my passport to immigration by the expiration date, which was September 2. If I would have got fined, it would have been a whopping 1,500,000 rupiah ($105.30) for five days, which is why I hit up the ATM this morning, just in case.

    The other thing that sucked was we had to hang around a whole additional hour for someone else’s passport to get processed. After an hour of loud automated announcements blaring from the loudspeakers hammering my skull, we finally hit the road again around 3:00 pm. In a small village on the way back, we spotted a huge crowd surrounding a cockfight in a bale banjar on the side of the road. I wanted to stop and shoot some photos really bad, as the cockfight is one traditional Balinese event I’ve still never witnessed. Back in Ubud, after shooting a couple of photos of shopfronts on Jalon Goutama, I stopped by Ubud Palace to talk to the ticket seller Nur Astika, but I suddenly started feeling too tired to attend a show. So, I went back to my room and took a nap, then spent the rest of the night trying to catch up on my Photoshoping duties.

    Words and photos ©2015 Arcane Candy.

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