Short circuited by the mixed blessing of an unprecedented 0625 phone call to tell me breakfast was on the way, the resultant collapse was unimportant since my priority for today was only 2 matters, both of which I achieved, helped by an unusually late 1pm check out time. Upon tracing the road west, lined as it is with Balikpapan's sometimes impressive public buildings, I treated myself to an incredibly cheap real coffee at a tantalisingly respectable cafe cum bookshop, sadly tempered by the realisation that it was actually a rare haven of Christian propaganda. It was an escape from the Islamic crescendo outside of sorts but not quite what I might have dreamed for! A prescribed travel agent was then a wonder in that checking out desired travel alternatives my presumption of non-availability and ridiculous prices due to the holiday period proved to be unfounded, alternately presenting me with a quandry of choices at more than acceptable expense. The direct flight the very next day to Bali was not only available but at 30 quid much less than my 50 limit, which would have been an instinctive grab had the alternative not been so alluring. Giving myself a few days to get down to Banjarmasin, the jump across the Java Sea from there would cost incredibly little more than a tenner and the connection onto Bali was still altogether cheaper. As ever, the toughest choices are derived from an embarrasment of riches. It took some time to ponder the acknowledged fact that whichever fork in the road I took the other would remain a regret in the end, I eventually plumped for the immediate direct flight and resented it crushingly. Not only was I giving up on Banjarmasin, Kalimantan's (and also Borneo's) largest city, allegedly not without its charms, but the connection promised the allure of witnessing from the air some of Indonesia's nae the worlds most fantastic volcanoes. On the plus side there was the chance that in Bali I
might just be able to catch the all important Scotland match that same night. It was certainly an appeasement to know that I would immediately realise facility and indulgence to recuperate from my enduring privations, it hardly entered my mind that Bali in its own right might prove good. I had long cringed at the prospect of the place as assuredly being a time consuming overwrought, bullshit ridden waypoint, corrupted and overpriced by full on mainstream tourism, populated by drunken Ozzies ad infinitum. It was amazing how that had now suddenly become so appealing. A place I had anticipated for so many years, I now knew what I would make of it. I would love it and I would hate it, initially loving to hate it.
Ecstatic upon scoring bigtime at the travel agents, my continued hot slog out West had also been inspired by Balikpapan's scant sights, and though a massive Soviet style heroes monument was underexplained, a brand new statue monument to eternally young and good looking General Suharto was unfortunately only precluded by its army base positioning compromising photography. In thankfully much improved weather compared to my initial attempt I then finally managed to track down the local Australian Monument, eliciting its location from a local boy in a nearby park who revealed it to be hiding incongruously on a mini roundabout I had hitherto passed by but would never have suspected. The small cross-inscribed obelisk was almost insulting in its humble stature but an adjacent bronze plaque of the same design I had come across at Kundesang and Sandakan redeemed it. Subsequent search for a nearby beach revealed only offshore tankers and more "Hello Misters" and so I accosted another disorientating Kijang back to the "Plaza". It was remarkable that on the way I recorded a hitherto unnoticed cinema and also a cheap looking barber shop, after a quick Padang fuel stop that was the next priority which availed me of an unremarkable 75p crewcut and knowledge of no English lingo movies. Happy at that progress I dissolved into a last minute holiday shopping frenzy in awareness of my gear's dilapidation and Bali's undoubted elevated style and prices. I had recently threatened to replace my faithfull Sarong with a more practical and traditional local specialty the "Samarinda Sarung", yet now seeing that the 2 hour trip down the road from that city had tripled their prices. I ended up buying a singlet I was not allowed to try on yet resisted a shirt which I did. Indonesia was crazy.