A Night without a Coil

In my room in Ubud, they would burn a mosquito coil, usually in the late afternoon or while I went for dinner, sometimes overnight. It’s basically a flat spiral coil of thin ceramic spray-coated with an incense that you light and allow to smoke (burn, really). The coil sits in a dish on a little foot and takes hours to burn off. It’s bad for the air conditioner, and probably my eyes too, but it does get rid of insects. Here in Amed, there’s no coil and no bed-net, and so far, it hasn’t been bad, but I have been careful to leave the a/c on and sleep as covered as possible. Maybe mosquitos are on my mind so much because Wednesday night was my first night of anti-malaria medication. The doctor said I might have lucid dreams and I did. They were good lucid dreams, though, and not the nightmares listed as a possible side effect. Score one for me!

Now that I’ve discussed safety, I’d like to discuss a total disregard for it; specifically mopeds. These are the national vehicle of Indonesia, and other countries in Southeast Asia, and they are used for everything. Transporting a family of five, complete with an infant and the mother riding side-saddle, moving lumber, getting pigs or chickens to market, whatever – it can be done on a moped. Now, I will say there are more cars here than in Cambodia, so more hauling is done with tiny mini-van conversion pickup trucks (a very small mini-van that has had the back chopped and made into a truck bed). If you want to go anywhere, one of your options is to hitch a ride on the back of a moped, or to rent your own moped for about $5/day. I don’t know how to drive one and I don’t think now is the time to learn. They drive on the right here, which is hard enough for me in a car. But getting a lift in 99% humidity? That’s another story. For the record, riding on the back of a moped with someone you barely know on a hot, humid evening with no helmet is a questionable idea at best, but it’s also really fun. And should you happen to be riding on a road high above the coast with a view of the whole Bali Sea just as night is falling and the few town lights are coming on, so much the better. Just try not to think about the cliff two meters to the left. I begin to see why this is such a popular mode of transport around here. Narrow roads, small and fit people on a small budget, expensive fuel and few belongings all add up to the moped being a vehicle of choice. The only problem comes in when it’s raining. And tonight, it’s raining like cats and dogs. When I first arrived, I got a lift from an employee here at the hotel up to a restaurant about a mile up the road, and while I was eating, it started to pour. Finally, when it let up for a few moments after supper, I paid my bill with lightening speed, hurried out and was able to get back to the hotel, but there was lightning all over the sky on the way back and I barely got up to my room before it started again. It poured down rain the rest of the night. I have gone back to foot and car transport. Here are some pictures of the overlook on the fishing and diving village of Amed, taken at the end of a long walk along the beach and up the big hill in time to see the sun set. There is no inconvenient rail to obstruct the view from the road.

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