"Look, just give me 100k Rupiah and I'll leave." (said in bahasa Indonesia, which I can still speak conversationally)
The shady money changer furrowed his brow for a moment before putting 100k on the table. I shook my head and looked at him with the defeated resignation of a foreigner who knew he'd been screwed but didn't want to bother with making a fuss over it. I was only happy that I managed to get back at least half of the money that was owed to me, and chalked it up to experience. In any case, I was getting a terrific deal on the room I'd found on Airbnb, so how could I complain? I wasn't about to let this first experience with Bali sour my opinion of the island.
And what an island it is. My wife and I barely scratched the surface of Bali's beaches, only choosing to stay in the touristy Kuta beach area. We were having renovations done in our condo while we were away, we'd decided that the short respite would be spent lounging around on the beach instead of running from one tourist destination to another. We'd found a room at a steep discount in the Aston Kuta, a relatively older but well known hotel that was just about perfect for us. It was near enough to the touristy areas if we wanted to do a little shopping or browse the numerous restaurants, but far enough away from Kuta proper that the beach area was relatively quiet. In the afternoons locals would come out by the beach to relax and have some sate babi (pork sate, only common in non majority muslim Bali) and kelapa muda (coconut juice and meat straight from the source!) or a Bintang beer.
I was enchanted by how Bali's Hindu religion still permeates society. Little shrines are attached to every house and store, with offerings laid there every morning. I've always loved the contrast between antiquity and modernity and seeing them side by side on almost every street was a joy for me. I wandered around the Kuta market area for a while before settling in front of this temple and beginning to sketch it. While the temples of Bali are beautiful, they are a nightmare to sketch because of the sheer complexity of their designs. Picking a smaller temple was a matter of practicality, and even then I had to go back the next day to finish it off.