The last day or two before leaving home for Bali was stressful. Primarily due to the process of packing and re-packing my backpack, each time trying to take out a little bit more. How many pairs of cargo pants will I need? Do I really need this sundress when I’m going to spending a fair bit of time in Muslim areas where exposing my shoulders, arms and legs will be completely inappropriate?
I’ve done this a few times now and you’d think that I’d have it down to a fine art. But I always want to bring more than I need ‘just in case’. I actually really like the feeling of being on the plane, at which point, there isn’t anything else that you can do except sit back, relax and anticipate the journey ahead.
The flight from NZ to Bali was to be a 9.5 hour flight, leaving at midnight, and arriving early in the morning at 6.20am. Not long before landing the captain announces that we will be arriving about 20 minutes early. Excellent – except for the fact that no one told this to the Indonesian immigration staff. We were the first in the relatively short queue for extended visas, flight staff and Indonesian nationals. The rest of the plane lined up in the Visa On Arrival queues. And there we all waited. And waited. For about 45 minutes. Bah humbug – so much for an early arrival. Not to worry – the large rat that ran back and forth across the immigration hall kept everyone amused.
After a bit of haggling over our taxi ride from the airport (reduced to half by simply walking out towards the street, past the taxis that were waiting to rip off unsuspecting new arrivals), we arrived at the hotel only to find that our room wouldn’t be available until 10am or so. That was no surprise really, so we just dumped our bags and started walking the streets of Kuta and Legian.
It was actually pleasant walking around at that hour as the temperatures were cool, traffic volumes were minimal and only a few people to be seen. That is, until we walked into a cloud of smelly smoke coming from some noisy hand-held engine. It didn’t take long to realise what was happening: they were fumigating the drains running under the footpath and the smoke was oozing from the drain openings along the road ahead of us. At first we presumed it was for mosquitoes – until we saw the hundreds of cockroaches crawling up the curb and and across the footpath in various stages of slow lingering death. It was pretty gross and we really had to watch where we were stepping! This is the side that most tourists, enjoying a lazy sleep in, don’t get to witness!
I hate to disappoint, but we didn’t really do anything too interesting while in Bali. Since Bali was primarily a stopping point before moving on to Sulawesi, we took the easy option and stayed in Kuta for two nights – an overpopulated, touristy area of Bali that I actually don’t really like that much. But we could get a decent hotel pretty cheap with a nice pool and it was close to the airport. We caught up with a Wayan, a Balinese friend I had met on previous trips, enjoyed some tasty and cheap local food, got a haircut, sorted out some local currentcy and just wandered around some of the back streets chatting to some locals and just re-orientating ourselves with life on the road. I didn’t take many photos here so the pickings are slim!
The real adventure will start once we land in Sulawesi.