Ubud was where the enormity of my Asian trip kicked in. In Australia and New Zealand I had plenty of time, my own transport, and mounds of information on walks, sights to see and places to stay. In French Polynesia I had a much more fixed schedule: where Zeke went, I went. But in Asia there are no guidelines except for time: I have 60 days in Indonesia, and then I have to leave, end of story. I can leave via plenty of recognised entry/exit points, but it's still only 60 days, and that adds a certain impetus to proceedings.
A quick geography update might help explain the quandary of the 60-day visa. Heading south and east from Singapore in a rough circle (from about nine o'clock to four o'clock, with the clock centre in the middle of Indonesia) stretches the main archipelago of Indonesia. The larger islands are, west to east, Sumatra, Java, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Komodo, Flores, Lembata and Timor, with Sumba tucked in south of Flores; the islands east of Bali, ending in Timor, are collectively called Nusa Tenggara. Then, north of the archipelago (at the centre of the clock) are, west to east, Kalimantan (previously Borneo), Sulawesi, the Malukus (the fabled Spice Islands) and finally Irian Jaya, which borders on Papua New Guinea.
Anyway, finding myself with a free afternoon in Ubud after my walk round Sayan, I sat down to make my plans. Plan one, the easy plan and a guaranteed good trip, although extremely touristy, was to head west to Java, then through Sumatra, and finally into Singapore. Plan two, a more challenging route, was to head east from Bali through the islands of Nusa Tenggara, then to fly or sail north to Sulawesi, then west to Kalimantan (southern Borneo), and further west to Singapore. Plan three started like plan two, but instead of crossing Kalimantan from east to west (a bit of a misnomer, as you have to sail around the south coast, there being no roads), I would take the boat south from eastern Kalimantan to Java, from where I would go back to Bali, and would fly to Singapore using the relevant part of my Tahiti-London ticket.
The problem? Well, apart from not knowing how much time to give to each place, and not knowing how reliable the inter-island transport will be, it isn't exactly the same as planning a self-drive trip round Australia, and besides, most of the Indonesian section of my guidebook seems to talk about Java, Sumatra and Bali, with only sketchy details of the other islands. Perhaps this is why I've decided to go for plan three: most tourists don't get to Kalimantan or Sulawesi, they go to the sights in Java, which I should still manage to catch. So, I've decided to change some more money in Ubud, where the rates were good, and catch a bemo east to the port of Padangbai, leaving Bali behind for my return in eight weeks' time. I hope I'm doing the right thing; only time will tell.