We arrived in Bali around mid afternoon after a six hour flight that can only be described as ... my worst nightmare. A screaming and kicking child sitting behind me. As I opened my brand new book, "The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck", I allowed the universe to speak to me, and maintained my composure.
We had been on the move since 4am, tired, hungry, sweaty - it was all hitting us at once. Making our way out of the airport we were bombarded with taxi drivers, "you come with me, cheap for you!" "taxi! taxi! taxi!" "yes, mam, yes good price taxi!" like please, cut the shit. Luckily, prior to us leaving Chirstchurch James looked up taxi prices to our hotel and had a good idea of what we should be bargaining for. On the interwebs it came up at about 135,000 rupiahs (~$13.50CAD), but all the taxi drivers were quoting us at LEAST double that. We wandered off still driving a hard bargain and found a guy that would take us for 150,000 rupiah (~$15CAD) - ok, we'll go with it.
We hop in the car and hope for the best as we make our way into the thick of it. Literally, the thick of it. By the time that we had made it out of the airport we were hitting rush hour traffic and boy, I'll never complain about rush hour on the Island again. Thousands of scooters honking their horns, cars driving down the middle of the road BOTH WAYS, my eyes were probably the size of dinner plates.
Our taxi driver was doing his best to remind us that "this is just rush hour, bad traffic" and also teach us some of the basic language (thank you, good morning, how are you, etc). Not the best time for a language lesson, I'm just trying to keep my senses in check for the time being, thanks though.
I should mention, when we told our driver where our hotel was he kind of brushed it off and said something along the lines of, "lots of time to figure it out". This to me meant one of two things, either a) we're going to be robbed and therefore we won't need to figure out where the hotel is because he'll drop us at the side of the road in the rain and drive off with our stuff. or b) he genuinely doesn't know where our hotel is and will just head in a direction hoping for the best. Since I'm writing to you now, you can tell that option b was the winner.
As we slooooowly make our way towards Canggu (the area of our hotel), the rain begins to fall quite heavily and he is now asking us to "GPS the hotel". Okay, we have a problem here, our phones are on airplane mode AND ONLY WORK WHEN WE HAVE WIFI, MATE. He tries calling the hotel and gets no answer. He stops to ask some guys in a hut where it is and even they looked confused. It's not looking good. The sky is getting darker, the rain is falling even harder, and I'm about to lose my shit. These are the hard parts of traveling, these are the times when I just wish I was at home, in my own bed, watching The Office. SOS.
Our taxi driver was clearly in distress and at this point we had been driving and/or stuck in traffic for nearly an hour and a half (our hotel is only 16km from the airport). We manage to get a map on his phone, locate the general area, tell him to stop, and we got out. It was still pissing rain.
As we walked down a small ally hoping that we had found it and that someone would still be there to check us in, we were greeted by a smiling face and helping hands. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Not only were we happy to have found our hotel, we now had a whole townhouse to ourselves. No tents, no sleeping bags, no cold showers. Just pure comfort. We could actually UNPACK OUR BAGS! Oh the luxury.
Day two, or actually, our first FULL day in Bali was one for complete relaxation. Unwinding. Meditating by the pool. Listening to the sound of the rain as it hit the indoor/outdoor rock garden that runs along the side of our kitchen. We did venture out for a few hours, and in this humidity, we had to promptly hang our clothes to dry upon our return.
The next day we were feeling itchy and ready to spread our wings. We rented a scooter and zipped off into the unknown. Winding our way through streets congested with other scooters, cars, garbage, people, dogs, carts, absolute insanity. But every now and then you catch something incredibly beautiful; an old man sitting on temple steps, with his distinguished face as he puffs on a cigarette, a woman carrying a child in one hand balancing a bucket on her head as she makes her way down the street, kids playing in the rice fields as their sandals sit on the side of the road. There were so many things that I wish I could have photographed today, but alas, they will remain in my mind for as long as I can hold onto them.
We eventually made our way to the DTW Tanah Lot, a temple that sits on a rock platform out in the ocean, mainly accessible during low tide. Jam PACKED with people. While beautiful in its own right, we enjoy the moments and places where fewer people are around and it doesn't necessarily feel like we are "just some other tourists." So we snapped a few photos, walked around the nearby market, and zipped off to explore the countryside.
*Click on the pictures below to enlarge
Above photo: hunkered down in our home away from home as the rain makes its appearance for the next few hours. It's a good thing I've got Oreos to keep me warm.
Wanting to escape the crowds, we were looking for adventures a little further away, so we hopped on our scooter and headed for the Ulun Danu Bratan Temple, a beautiful hour and a half drive away, through the little towns and hills that make Bali so mesmerizing.
Tuesday began a little differently. The airport had now been closed for the second day due to Mount Agung erupting, and had us both wanting to do some damage control just in case anything were to throw off our plans of leaving on Friday. With somewhat of a backup plan in place, we were feeling more relaxed and scooted off to the touristy, artistic hub that is Ubud. While in that general area, we headed further north to the Tegalalang Rice Terrace, and even further north to the Gunung Kawi Temple (literal heaven, I'll be moving in immediately).
As per usual, around 2-3pm thunder showers kick off and it gets a little crazy. Rain is pelting us from all angles, scooters are whizzing by one another splashing through puddles, thunder booms in the distance, and despite us donning our ponchos, our bones are soaked through. Luckily, these storms don't often last very long, and if you're driving at a reasonable speed (and can withstand the rain drops hitting you like rubber bullets) you can leave them behind in good time.
Upon arriving back at the hotel there was quite the commotion in the street; scooters honking, friends yelling across the street at one another, locals chopping up a tree...what? Turns out, the tree was taken down because of the "government project" (they're fixing the roads and sidewalks in the area), but while they were taking it down...it fell on a load of wires and knocked out the internet to our hotel. Now, if there wasn't an erupting volcano and flight cancellations and like ... no worries, then that's ok, I don't mind not having the internet. BUT THERE IS AN ERUPTING VOLCANO. AND THERE ARE FLIGHT CANCELLATIONS. AND THERE ARE WORRIES.
With little else to do in Canggu than look at each other, we voted to rent a scooter for another day and head towards Mount Agung (~2 hours away). Because really, when else are we going to see an erupting volcano? Plus, there are still 100,000 people LIVING in that area that have not evacuated yet...how bad could it be? Face masks on...we were ready for the danger zone. Making our way through the city of Denpasar in the sunshine, we were feeling confident that we would catch a glimpse of the erupting gunung (volcano in indonesian). But as we climbed the hills the weather got worse...and worse...and worse. Fog, rain, and ash clouds hampered our search, our fingers wrinkled, our clothes soaked, our asses numb from hours and hours on a scooter, bellies aching from hunger. By the time that we arrived back at the hotel it was nearly 3pm (we left around 9am), and while we saw some great things along the way (Agung not being one of them), we were both glad to be back and finally drying out.
Today, our final day in Bali, has been spent just as the first - relaxing. But as we prepare to leave for Singapore tomorrow, we know that 24 hours is a long time for things to change here on the island; fingers crossed, high hopes, and positive vibes.
THANKS FOR READING!