NO PLAN, NO IDEA WHERE TO GO, TIME FOR A TRIP!
So how exactly did my Bali trip come about? Alas, it was time for me to say goodbye to Japan… more about that later. In the short notice leading up to the specific day I was supposed to transfer, I found out that I didn’t have a plane ticket to leave. O boy.
There was an administrative problem and it didn’t look like it was going to be fixed anytime soon. What’s a girl to do? Sit in Japan waiting for them to figure it out… or fly to somewhere else in the world and leisurely float through the week while they work on the problem? Bingo.
Up until this moment when I sat in the office on base trying to figure out my next move, I had every intention of going to Palau, I’ve heard such great things! However, after doing some research that evening, I wouldn’t be able to fly into Palau from Japan until Thursday.
I was transferring Monday! That just wouldn’t do, too many days wasted and not enough time to dilly dally. Screech! Change of plans.
My next best option became Bali, around midnight. There was no real plan or rhyme or reason but its best to prepare as if there were. I packed my suitcases the night before and the next morning headed to the travel office to hopefully find out about my itinerary.
The best information I got was be in Tokyo by Saturday and my itinerary would be available Friday. Cutting it a bit close? Yes. A girls got to take some chances in life.
I left the official travel office and walked around the corner to the travel & leisure office. I walked in, sat down, and said “I would like to go to Bali… today.” The Japanese woman was very surprised and immediately set to work helping me.
At 0924 I bought a plane ticket to Bali leaving at 1 pm, just 4 hours till departure! I drove back to my friends house, booked a hotel for Bali and called a taxi, all within 20 minutes. I caught the bus to the airport within the hour and within 2 hours I was through customs and waiting for the flight.
I arrived in Densapar International Airport around 0015 and realized that clearing customs was going to be a bit of a headache. Many flights were arriving all at the same time and there were only 2 people working the desk. NOTE TO BALI TRAVELLERS: There is a $25 entry fee for the visa into Bali and an $18 tax to leave the country. Make sure to have cash to hurry the process along. I got very lucky and had some spare change both ways.
I was staying at the Marriott in Nusa Dua and they sent a shuttle to pick me up at the airport. When I finally arrived it was almost 2 in the morning because it had taken so long to get through customs. There was no time to think at this point so I collapsed into bed, deciding to wait till the morning to figure out my next plan, if there was any.
At breakfast, I met a guy at the hotel who gave me the contact for someone who gives tours. After breakfast was finished I had a hard time becoming motivated to do much, even sight-seeing. Which is how I ended walking down the street to bask in the sun, reading my book, sighing from the beauty of the culture.
That night I decided to call the contact to see if there were tours available. After talking with Ketut for a few hours he agreed to take me to Ubud the next day, on a tour (for $50). I was so excited! Feeling deeply refreshed and energized I woke the next morning, scarfed down breakfast, and waited for him in the Lobby.
When he arrived I realized that he would be my personal chauffeur for the day and I was so happy to enjoy his company, he spoke relatively good English so I learned a lot from him as we drove around, checking out the city. On the way to Ubud we stopped at small shops specializing in wood carving, paintings, coco beans, among other things.
It reminded me of the hills in Cyprus when we traveled from village to village which each specialized in something different. People who specialize in specific trades don’t normally have to go to college because they learn their trade from a young age by their family and the trade is passed down from generation to generation.
Ketut dropped me off at a temple and I donned the proper Sarong before crossing the street and entering. We arrived in Ubud just in time for lunch and I begged him to take me to a place that served Babi Guling (suckling pig). He was happy to oblige and took me to a restaurant he said, served the best babi gluing in all of Bali. I don’t doubt it.
It was so delicious my mouth was watering and I ate every bite, washing it down with a Bintang (local Balinese Beer). One of my new favorite foods! We were able to get 2 babi gluing plates, a Bintang, and iced tea for less than $10, which I consider a steal.
Afterwards, I walked around the markets while Ketut stopped and chatted with friends he knew and I also stopped at the King’s Palace. In Bali there are 8 providences and each providence has a king. You area allowed to walk into the courtyard of the palace which is precisely what I did.
Next we drove to the Tegallalang Rice Paddy Fields. These fields are quite spectacular and very beautiful making them a bit touristy. Ketut told me that the rice is harvested about 3 times a year and since it was the rainy season, the fields were very lush green in color. It cost $2 for a ticket to see the rice fields. While Ketut stopped for coffee I went on a trek to climb the rice fields.
Barely anyone was walking the trails so it was a pleasant hike around to the top. In the humid weather, I was definitely sweating by the time I came around and down, but it was worth it! The beauty is hard to capture even with a good camera. On the way back I asked Ketut he would take me on another tour the next day, this time to Kuta. He happily agreed and we decided to meet the same time the next morning.
I arrived back at the hotel for an hour of sun poolside and happy hour at the pool bar. It was a wonderful evening. The next morning Ketut picked me up and took me down the road to a place where I was able to rent a boat for $30 and go snorkeling!
It was so awesome. It was just the boat driver, one other worker, and myself. We spent a couple hours out in the sun, I definitely got sunburned. On the drive to Kuta afterward, I was already getting sleepy from swimming around all morning.
I decided to forgo the shopping and skip right to the drinking, so for the next 3 hours I meandered around outside on the shops politely smiling at all of the invitations to come inside and shop, equipped with a Bintang at every turn.
The afternoon put me in high spirits and when I stopped for lunch I ate in the shade watching all of the mopeds speed by. Next Ketut thought it would be a good idea to take me to a beautiful beach. More sunburn and Bintang but the beauty was inescapable.
I didn’t want to leave but the monkey temple was the last stop of the evening and I really wanted to see the traditional Balinese dancing. With a wave goodbye to the white sands and beautiful blue waters we set out and made it to the monkey temple just with 30 minutes till sunset.
I walked high up on the cliffs and then Ketut led me down to the small stadium that the dancing would be held, with a back-drop to the sunset. It was an awesome show and the perfect end to the evening.
And then I missed my flight back to Tokyo by 12 hours… After some extreme stupidity on my part I had misread my flight and needed to be in Tokyo to catch my flight back to America within 24 hours. In 45 minutes Korean Airlines had helped me fix my problem for $40 and a $100 flight to Singapore that left in 5 hours.
I packed my bags and got ready to go, I had a plane to catch! After 48 hours of travel, I was back in America and ready for class, or as ready as I could be after 48 hours of travel and arriving at midnight. Ha! Hope you enjoy the post. Been to Bali?! Please share, I’m sure there are 100 other things to do, that place seems always on the go and the Kuta night life looked really fun.
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