My plane landed on May 22, 1998, the morning after Suharto "resigned" from his 30+ years as an authoritarian President. It was not dangerous on the island of Bali, but the immediacy of the economic freefall was beyond shocking.
An item that would have cost $1 the previous day was now somewhere around $7. The locals were distressed to say the least. I was one of a very very few travelers to arrive. State warnings not to travel were issued from most governments. Had I been going to Jakarta I might have rethought my travel date, but since it was Bali, I was not concerned for safety.
I did not realize how few travelers would be there nor how much attention I would get from the locals who relied on travelers for their income. It was intense, walking down the street literally surrounded by people, ladies weaving bracelet around my wrist, one trying to braid my hair (trying - I had a perm) men trying to sell me jeans and others on the periphery that I just don't even know. I felt bad for them.
I was in Bali for about 3 weeks, things calmed down after several days but inflation remained high.
This was the last real stop on my Circle the Pacific backpacking trip. I say real because when I left Bali, I had one night in Bangkok. I don't think I have any images at all from Bangkok.
This trip was in 1998. Technology was very different then. We had the internet but it was not what it is today. Pictures were taken with cameras that used roll film. The roll film was then developed by a lab and your precious memories were, well potluck at best especially if you had them developed locally while traveling. So my pictures from here and previous stops are not great in quality.
Bali was no longer really off the beaten path in 1998. It is not quite the situation it probably is today.
Excerpt from journal dated June 10, 1998 Arik's Place, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia:
By the time I got back to Arik's Place I had to go pretty bad. I got in the room and found the bathroom door was stuck. I remembered that the empty rooms here were kept unlocked. I went into Maddies old room and used her bathroom. No paper, so I used the hose to rinse. I went to open the door and it wouldn't open either. I tried several times with no luck.
I could see the latch stuck out past the edge of of the door even with the handle turned to the open position. I tried to lever underneath the door to make a bigger gap where the latch was, but no luck.
There were no windows in the bathroom and it was hot before I started trying to get out. I was beginning to sweat quite a bit. I tried brut force as the top of the door was not flush with the frame. No luck. I knew this was pointless.
MI started pounding on the door. Logically, I knew it was pointless. Mangke lives about 20 km away and I was the only guest at Arik's since my 2 travel companions had already moved on. We had been the only guests during our stay. Despite this, I pounded on the door. I wasn't even in my own room. I then tried kicking and more brut force. No go.
I am really sweating and hot. The realization that I may be in this little bathroom from 9:30 pm to 7 am when Mangke comes back to provide breakfast was sinking in.
I scanned the bathroom for "tools." I only had five 500 rp notes and the small lock keys in my pants pockets. No help there. I spied a plastic coated hanger. It had hooks for your clothes. I pulled it off the wall and tried to wedge it between the door and the frame to get enough space for the latch to clear the edge. No good. The hanger kept slipping and then broke.
I checked the hinges to see if I could somehow get them apart with my bare fingers. No. I was not feeling so good. My shirt was soaked with sweat. I think I lost all the water I drank today. This was bad mostly because the night before I got up at 3 am with the runs and had been running all day. Dehydration in this climate with the runs is very likely and dangerous. Not appropriate to drink the tap water. Excellent.
Just 9 or so hours in here til Mangke gets back. Yay. I picked up the hanger and the broken piece. I continued to wedge and poke. Then, to my astonishment the door swung free. I looked down and my skin was covered in a layer of water. I returned to my room and began trying to get my own bathroom door to open. Shortly I had to run back to the bathroom I was stuck in. This time I turned the lock out so the door could not close.