Bali

May 25-31, 2015

After a hectic time at work with Performance Day and dealing with my brace I was finally going to be able to go on my one-week vacation to Bali, Indonesia. My flight wasn’t until 1:00am on Sunday evening so I had all day to pack and then head to the airport. I received so many weird looks because I was carrying around an umbrella, rain coat, and my luggage all in one hand. The lady at the airport check-in counter even asked me if I was okay. Finally, on the plane I was able to lay down and close my eyes, but the singing of birthday songs and being shaken awake due to turbulence led to a restless night of sleeping on the plane.

Monday morning, I landed in Bali almost an hour late. I got through customs and visa stamping just fine, but got lost trying to get out of the airport due to their lack of signs and confusing walk-ways. I thought it was just from my lack of sleep but found out later at the hostel that it wasn’t just me who experienced this. I reached the taxi area to discover that my hostel taxi pick-up was not there. I was too tired to be angry so I ordered a taxi from the airport and they quickly drove me to my Kayun Hostel. This was a huge surprise because in Bali they drive on the other side of the road and I was not used to this at all!

At my hostel I checked-in, but couldn’t go into my room until around 2:00pm. I decided to use this time to go straight to the beach.  Walking to the beach showed me just how hot it was in Bali and how touristy Kuta area was. I was constantly being asked to come into people’s shops or asked, “What happened?” while they pointed at my arm. This became very annoying after a day. Walking around Bali created a weird culture shock experience for me. I kept thinking over and over again “there are so many white people” and “oh my gosh I can understand what they are saying”. I got lost on the way to the beach, but then found my way around by following people in swimsuits. I grabbed a latte in a coffee shop then went and sat on the beach. The sound of the waves and the feeling of the sun felt great after a 6-hour flight. After sometime I started to feel really hungry. I got up and walked around searching for something that looked good to eat and snapping pictures of local monuments. My first meal consisted of a Indonesian salad wrap and a strong margarita.

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Kuta Beach

Kuta Beach

I walked back to my hostel and moved my stuff into my room. Then I spent the rest of the evening relaxing and reading by the pool and lounging around the hostel. Later, I would nurse the bad sunburn that I had already acquired on the first day. While chilling around the hostel I met other people who had been backpacking around Asia. I would later end up spending most of my time with this awesome group.

Tuesday morning was going to be yet another beach day for me. I thought that I was going to go and look at things like crazy while I was in Bali, but the atmosphere creates this very relaxed feeling. I spent all my morning and beginning of the afternoon reading at the beach and wading in the water. I watched my new friends surf, which made me feel a little bummed because I wasn’t able to do any water activities thanks to my brace. I ate a delicious lunch at a shop and then went back to my hostel.

There I found out that my friend, Iris, had hit the back of her head on her surf board and now was nursing a bad headache. I lounged with her the rest of the afternoon and then went to dinner with her. She was from the Netherlands and had been backpacking for 5 months. It was cool to see the difference between my travels, since I live in Asia, and her travels as a backpacker.

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Before I had come to Bali I had booked a tour through Viator. I was picked up on Wednesday morning, and was very happy to discover it was only me and a very nice older couple from Australia that were going to be on the tour. Our first stop was a specialty shop that makes products and paintings with wax. Then we watched a show of Barang Dancing, which is the traditional Balinese dance. It involves costumes, music created through traditional instruments, and dancers that share their story through dance. After the dance we then stopped at a silver jewelry workshop and a small coffee plantation. This was one of my favorite things because I drink coffee often. For a bit extra you could buy Luwak coffee, a specialty coffee that is created by feeding a Luwak coffee beans. The Luwak cannot digest the coffee beans, so they poop them out, and then the beans are collected and ground up. It is supposed to be a very tasty coffee, but I wasn’t brave enough to try it. Next, we went to Mt. Kintamani, one of the active volcanoes in Taiwan. What a view! You could see the smoke coming out of the top of the volcano. We stopped to take pictures and then ate at a buffet style restaurant with a view of the volcano. The food was alright, and very overpriced, but the view was well worth it. (I drank a Diet Coke just because I could. Diet Coke isn’t available in Taiwan.) Back in the tour van we went back down the mountain to two more workshops: wood carving and painting. Both of the shops were really neat, but prices were too high and I wasn’t about to transport a giant painting back to Taiwan with only one hand. It was a great day and I had a lovely time talking to the Australian couple about life in Australia and life in Taiwan. Back at the hostel I had dinner with friends and then sat up really late talking to new people and planning a day trip with them for the following day.

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Thursday morning all nine of us were up and piled into two cars. We had paid two drivers for the day to take us south of Kuta. What I thought was going to be a very easy drive ended up being very stressful. My van included me and two other girls. We told the driver exactly where we wanted to go, but he kept arguing about where he should take us. Then we got into an argument about payment when we had already paid the hostel to take care of that for us. By the time we got to the first location we were pissed. The driver took us to a beach that had water activities. With my hand in a brace I couldn’t partake in any of them and no one else really wanted to be there either, so we told him we wanted to leave. Then he argued with us saying that we said we wanted to go there. Then he took us to a beach we originally didn’t want to go to, but we got out and went there anyways because we were tired of being in the car and arguing with the driver. The first beach was called Dreamland and it looked as if it was taken out of a dream. With a beautiful beach and strong waves we all enjoyed laying on the beach and I even went into the water a little bit.

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The Group :)

The Group 🙂

After leaving that beach a second argument unfolded with the driver as to where we were and where we wanted to be. He finally took us to the beach area we wanted to be at and we ate lunch. I had a much enjoyed beef burger and beer. Some of the group who had been traveling for a while were complaining about missing home food. I rolled my eyes at them because I had been in Taiwan much longer. With full stomachs we got back into the car and went to the third beach of the day. There the group swam for a little bit while Jonathan and I drank a beer. It was too much of a hassle with my brace to try to swim again.

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Then we headed back to the car for our final destination, Uluwatu Temple. At the temple we had time to walk around and take pictures before the fire dance that happens right after sunset. Uluwatu is a beautiful, small temple located right on the edge of a cliff with beautiful blue waves crashing against the exterior rock wall of the cliff below the temple. It was even more special to see the temple at sunset. The fire dance was awesome. There were no musical instruments, all the music was created by the forty men that were a part of the dance. They also had an actor dressed as a mischievous monkey that would go into the crowd and cause problems. Near the end of the dance they created a large fire in the middle of the stage and then the monkey would kick it around. One fire ball almost hit an audience member! This made me very grateful that I was located near the back. During parts of the performance Jonathan would explain the story to us, which was very helpful and added to the cultural aspects of the dance. Once the dance was over we got back into the car and made our way back to Kuta.

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We all decided to go out, so we went home, showered, and then started the night off with a few drinks at our friends’ hostel across the street. Indonesia is like Taiwan when it comes to partying. If you go out you are very likely to come home at 4 or 5 in the morning, which was exactly what happened to me. I had a great night with the guys, but immediately regretted my plans for the next day when I finally went to bed that evening/early morning.

The day before I had booked a bus to pick me up and take me to Ubud. I hadn’t expected my very late evening though, so I woke up way too late the next morning. I had to throw on clothes and drink some water and then hop on the bus. It was not a fun bus ride. It was bumpy and I was very hungover. I think the person next to me kept looking at me as if he wanted to ask if I was okay because I was holding my temples the whole way. Finally in Ubud I stopped at the first coffee shop I saw to buy a coffee. I nursed my headache as I walked to the monkey sanctuary that is located in Ubud. This place was surrounded by monkeys and had several temples in it as well. You could buy fruit from vendors and feed them to the monkeys. I did not do this. There was no way I was going to allow a monkey to jump on me. Although I didn’t want the monkeys to touch me there were some very cute ones. I was told by one of the workers that a baby monkey I was taking a picture of was only two weeks old. It barely had any fur (haha)!

I finished my tour around the sanctuary and continued to walk up the street to look at more temples that are located around Ubud. I ran into a few problems with actually knowing which temple I was at. There was usually a sign located outside, but there would be a different name on my map. I eventually decided that no matter where I went in Ubud that day I would see cool buildings and markets. I sat down for lunch and had a delicious salad and Sprite. Exactly what I needed on a warm day. Then I walked around the art market and did a little shopping. I put my bartering skills to the test in Bali. I feel like I lost them living in Taiwan. Around the art market I found a book shop and picked up a SouthEast Asia Rough Guide book for a decent price. My favorite finds are always books. With extra time before I had to catch my shuttle bus back to Kuta I decided to treat myself to a little spa time. I stopped at a spa where I got a manicure, hair cream wash, and facial. It felt amazing and I felt a million times better after I left. Back in Kuta I had dinner with friends and relaxed the rest of the evening.

The next couple of days I spent relaxing and shopping. I did way more beach bumming than I had planned, but I don’t regret it. I needed to rest and recharge in the sun. I had to say goodbye to some friends before I left. They were on their way to their next destination.

It was Sunday morning and I spent my last morning in Bali on the beach.

A morning offering on the beach.

A morning offering on the beach.

I took a shuttle to the airport and sat looking out the window, seeing the beach in the distance. I was sad to leave Bali and the chill atmosphere I had been surrounded with, but I was ready to go back to Taiwan. I didn’t expect it but Bali refreshed in my mind why I was in Taiwan and how much I loved my job in Taiwan. Yeah, there are some crap days, but I have a life that not many people live. I realized I needed to continue to work and travel because that is what I enjoy best.

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Thanks Bali, for being you. ❤