In Search of the Yellow Buddha - 2002
(part one)

Steve's Holiday
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Yellow Buddha

Holidays for me just can't be on the beach; I need history, culture, and people. About a year ago a friend, Sarah, mentioned Bali.... culture, people, and plenty of Temples. Of course I'd seen the film 'South Pacific' that is based round Bali. With gorgeous beaches ­ but was it affordable?


Surprisingly - yes.


I went to my travel agent and made tentative enquiries. The hotel was to be ‘Hotel Santika Beach’ ( in Tuban, Southern Bali, next to the resort of Kuta. Now Kuta, I found out from the web site ( is a bit on the wild side and a surfer's paradise, but Hotel Santika was supposed to be set in it's own acres of plush tropical gardens, with the wild nightlife a short walk away if needed. Travelling on my own that seemed just fine. Also there was the option of stopping over in Bangkok on the way, no extra costs for the flight, just the hotel to pay for. 'Royal Princess' Larn Luang ( was selected.


Then one night after a few pints of decent lager with Bill, I got home, switched on my computer and entered a chat room for Indonesia and just asked if there was anyone from Bali online. It was then that I met Steven. Living in the capital ­ Denpaser; a Balinese who offered friendship from the start.


There followed ten months of getting to know each other, and what I hoped to find in Bali. Months of saving, planning, and eventually probably getting on my work colleagues nerves with my 'holiday of a lifetime'. ( ...and months of telling us about it in the Pub!!! ie "just 407 days to go and I'm off to Bali '...."only 400 days left!" etc.Ed) I'd travelled round Europe, and America, but this was my first time in South East Asia.


Usual thing ­ just before the holiday, all the build up and hype reaches practical reality. What if the suitcase gets lost; all those hours on a plane, - wouldn't I rather spend the money on somewhere local; you know weekends in nice hotels. I mean, the mosquitoes; constant sun tan lotion; and of course the dreaded inevitable stomach bug (not a pleasant thought)!!


But I'm on the bay at Newport bus station, and all the doubts have vanished. I'm on time as suggested ­ 10 mins before the coach is due to arrive for Heathrow. 20 mins. pass, 30 mins. pass. Someone rings the coach company. It seems the coach was unable to start due to mechanical failure. It'll be an hour later than scheduled. Now I know why the coach companies always recommend that you allow for at least an hour before checking in time at the airport.

Heathrow Airport. Now this is a place to behold with wonder (wonder how they ever get any business). The checking in staff, and airline staff are ok. I'm even early enough to get a seat by the exit, which means plenty of legroom. But customs/immigration; airport staff; and shop assistants particularly. Is there a special training centre in misery? Look into a shop and be greeted by the surly grimaces of the assistants. Look people I didn't force any of you to work here!!! I'd just bought a digicam ­ Fuji 2800 zoom and wanted an AC power adaptor, so I called into a D*x*ns Electrical Store duty free to get a deal. Mmmm - product knowledge lacking slightly here I think, being informed that such a cable, that they didn't have anyway, cost over £50. (I've just bought it for £28 ­ and that's without duty free). The flight with BA is ok (I normally prefer Virgin). And after the traditional 'Gordon's Gin and Schweppes tonic' I actually sleep quite well. The young guy next to me must have been very sleepy, throwing his arms around me; being the considerate kind of guy that I am I didn't wake him up in protest.

We landed on time. Bangkok airport is ok. Visions of 'Bangkok Hilton' and 'Return  to Paradise' (If you've seen the films you'll know what I mean) still cross my mind. I'd brought some 'cold' tablets with me, and enough Imodium to cure an elephant. Through customs etc. ­ no problem. Through 'Nothing to Declare'. And out into the public area to be greeted by a wild frenzy of people waving pieces of paper with names on. I'd been assured that there'd be a rep. there to meet me, so I looked in earnest. 15 mins. later, still no rep. in sight.

(to be continued ­ soon, - promise)

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