I did it, I did it, I did it. I made it to Bali!
It was a surprisingly good flight for being 22+ hours of travel. Got a respectable amount of sleep on the 12-hours Vancouver-Taipei leg (pro tip: the Taipei airport has free massage chairs, if you get a token from the information desk) and the 5-hour hop down to Denpasar felt like a minor jaunt in comparison. EVA Air seems like a pretty civilized airline. I eventually found my driver in a swarm of drivers holding up names, and on the drive from Denpasar to Ubud (another hour and a half or so), my mind quickly went into sensory overload from all the sights rolling by, all the impressions. So many statues and carvings! If there’s any sort of material that can be carved, it appears the Balinese will find it and carve beautiful and intricate designs into it.
Somebody told me before leaving that Bali is “India Lite” as a traveling experience. So far, it’s easy to see what they meant. South India is my only real frame of reference for this part of the world, so it’s hard to keep from drawing comparisons all the time, but there is a similar feel here. The streets are similar, but vastly cleaner (though, like India, you must walk VERY MINDFULLY on the sidewalks to avoid falling into the occasional gaping chasm). The traffic moves in a similar way, but slightly less chaotic and much less beepy. Waking up and hearing the chorus of birds in the rice fields below brought back so many memories of my first days in Tamil Nadu two years ago. The occasional whiff of incense is also welcome.
Granted, I’ve only been here 24-ish hours and I’ve only seen one tiny pocket of the island. Other areas might feel very different; after all, it’s fairly touristy in Ubud. Last night, jetlagged and waiting for dinner, you could have talked me into believing that the town was populated mainly of white, hetero couples in their 30s looking slightly blank because they thought they came here to have a romantic getaway but have found themselves just shopping like back home. I hardly saw any Indonesian locals walking by – then again, they were likely zipping by on scooters rather than stumbling over the sidewalks like us tourists.
I’ve mentioned the volcano to one or two locals. Nobody seems that worried about it.
It has been POURING rain intensely on and off all day. I knew this was the rainy season, but damn. First experience of actual monsoon-style rains. It’s pleasant, not unwelcome as I adjust to the heat, but the dark clouds don’t make the best lighting for photos. As I write, I’m sitting on my balcony (that’s it on the right) listening to the rain pounding down and, in the distance, traditional music for a dance rehearsal echoing over the fields. It’s pretty freakin’ idyllic.
Other odds and ends:
- I got an amazing one-hour massage for about the equivalent of $13 CAD, at Widjane Massage. There was such a lovely feel to the place – very kind, warm people there. Also, she pretty effectively pulverized whatever kinks were left in my neck after the flight. If I have any issues with my wrists or elbows this month once I get back to computer work, I know where to go.
- I visited the local coworking space, Hubud, and quite liked the vibe. Since I do have to get back to work sooner or later, and I would like to actually interact with people from time to time, I’m looking forward to spending my working hours there.
It’s funny to see in person the eccentric things that you hear about that make the news in the West. Like, for example, fish spas where the fish nibble your toes. My aquarist friend Jen has warned me not to do this (not that I was seriously thinking about it) and also not to read the horror stories of people who got mycobacteriosis from doing it.
- Also, civet cat coffee. Even if I were especially interested in drinking coffee made from beans that have already come out the arse end of another mammal’s digestive system, all the bad press about the terrible animal conditions for kopi luwak coffee would have put me off of it.