The arrival to Bali happened in horrible and desperate conditions. I had woken up at 1am, climbed the Ijen crater, got the Ferry terminal and took a Ferry, a long dreadful bus and a taxi. But I was finally there! And I knew my hostel had a pool and that’s all I could think of.
The minute I arrived and I left my stuff in the room, went straight away to the pool and soaked for a while. Then, a man sat down next to me and asked me how I was. The conversation started there and went on for the night, until I was destroyed and a couple of beers after. But Jero, the owner of the hostel, and me got on very well and started talking about architecture, ideas for his new hostel, life, happiness, travelling and everything in general. He actually named me his life counsellor and promised me to go to work the next day with a different philosophy. I was happy with that, more than happy and the chat simply made my day.
Next day I woke up and did all I wasn’t supposed to do: be lazy. Instead of taking it easy, I wanted to get to the beach and I was very convinced I could do it without any help but the help of my feet. All I wanted was to avoid to rent a scooter because it seemed that everybody was and I like to prove everybody wrong or at least challenge it. It turned out a mess, I walked on the heat and couldn’t find a right way that wasn’t going through a private villa and seemed that I could never walk to my destination. I gave up after a long while of walking in the heat, at the side of the road and with 2.2 kilometres to go for the next try and another 2.5 km to get back to the hostel. I just could only decide to get back and resign from my quest. And just when I was crossing the door of the hostel started to rain, so it probably was the right decision.
It rained a bit and then I went to soak in the pool and get a bit of nothing done. I was onto that when Jero appeared again and told me he had a great day and we played ping pong. Then, back to the pool, he asked me how my day was and offered to take me to the beach. I didn’t think it twice, I needed some beach! And I got in his car and got there to have a beer with nice views to the beach. It was amazing. Then, we walked on the sand and went for a swim in the darkness. It was kind of like in a movie. And like in a movie, a huge huge wave came in and took the clothes we left on a rock. We had to run towards them and try to recover everything as quickly as possible. The water was strong and things would be gone otherwise. We managed quite well and gathered everything, though wet. It was time to go, and then the “obvious” that I didn’t think of, happened: he told me that he liked me and blablabla. Damn it! Yeah, yeah, I like you too, as a friend. Let’s go and have fun, friends fun. So, on the way back, we stopped for another beer somewhere where there was some life music. That was good. And just there, we met Beto, a guy staying in the same place and a girl he was hanging out with whose life apparently he saved before while surfing. We sat down with them and had lots of fun and lots of beer. I had to insist that I didn’t want to drink more, even though they were already drinking way much more than me. Anyways, we had a great time and we actually closed the place. I was amazed by some comments Jero made on how much money and how much Balinese people pray to the sea and to the Gods so no surfers were dying in their coasts, so everybody coming to Bali were safe. It really moved me. On the way back with Jero, we were singing in the car all the time. It was so much fun!
Next day, I woke up and hung around waiting for Beto. We showed up in the common area and got back to his room. Then the girl from last night appeared, looking for him. She found him and then went together to get a board at the place where BEto’s brother was staying and said they would come back for me after that. After an hour, I knew they wouldn’t. And then, I was kind of resigned, waiting for Jero to go snorkelling or something, as we spoke the previous night. But then, I happened to meet Amelle, a French girl that had just arrived the night before and was kind of anxious to get a motorbike and go exploring. And I joined her, we found a scooter to rent and went to the beach that everybody recommended me for surfing beginners. I was super happy because she was a very good driver and had a motorbike at home. I could totally trust her (I had seen way too many people with wounds from motorbike accidents). And although we were meant to only check the place for surfing for next day, we actually ended up surfing.
The first ten minutes I had such a bad time… I thought I was going out of the water and just giving up forever. I had so many huge waves coming to me, throwing me back, shaking me out, drowning me. I was having a really hard time. But I fought the waves and fought the currents taking me to other places and found a couple of waves I could surf…or try! My attempts were not good enough. I have no good balance. But I made it and I also made it out the water. And when I did, people actually told me I was very brave and I fought the waves bravely and without fear despite it was obvious I was less than a beginner.
The guys we met over there, an Australian crew of surfers on holidays, invited us for a couple of drinks at their villa. Amelle and me went for food first and I asked her to take the motorbike and find a cheap not fancy place wherever where we could get some local inexpensive food. She was happy to do so and it was great. We enjoyed food and gossips and some locals arrived dressing up all in white like coming from some ceremony. Then, we made it to the pool party at the place of these guys. It was great, but I have to say I felt more like watching a movie, where you can actually see the moves of the guys in their attempts to get laid. It was fun, we also were witnesses of a punch from a girl to one of the guys (this was super odd, he asked her to slap him for whatever reason and she just reacted punching him and left his lip bleeding!) and all kind of odd situations more proper of an American movie. We had the chance to try two different cocktails from a guy that actually made his life like that and were extremely delicious and after a while, we had enough and came back to our place.
We woke up a bit early because we had agreed to go surfing again in the morning and give it another shot. I got there with renovated energies and the feeling that I knew better what to do. And it was quite different than the previous day: the first day I got better at the beginning and then got stuck in currents and not know very well where to take the waves. Today I had better idea where to go and where to be to take waves but I wasn’t catching any at the beginning. Anyway, I tried and tried and my fight with the sea this time wasn’t that intense. But I got worse result with the rocks at the bottom and my feet were destroyed and actually bleeding from cuts all over the place when I left the water.
With my feet killing me, we went back to the hostel as Amelle had to check out because she was changing places. We would meet up again in the evening before sunset to catch a ceremony at Uluwatu Temple. When we were heading there, we could see lots of Indonesian people dressing in white and walking in the same direction. The arrival to the temple showed us more of that and they tied an orange cloth on our waists after paying the entrance. The temple was a Hindu temple quite different from what I had seen before. It was built on top of a cliff and the views were wonderful and sunset was about to happen. We followed a path full of monkeys that led us to a beautiful viewpoint. I felt that there were many foreigners though and I couldn’t really gather any atmosphere from what the locals were doing of their prayers.
After that, we were going to Single Fin, a bar where we had been told everybody goes for party on Wednesdays and Sundays. And it was Sunday. When we got there all we could see was foreigners extremely dressed up and having overpriced drinks. We were there for a long while, saw our Australian friends in the VIP area, said hello but we couldn’t stay with them because the people was limited and danced a lot to some electronic music, which felt quite good. But the heat, even at night time, was exhausting because the place was very crowded and we left quite early for a party. We went to our favourite warung to have some food and then she dropped me to my hostel and said goodbye. I like this girl, quite different from many others. And had great moments and laughs together.
Anyways, the next day I was coming back to my laziness and getting a bit of doing nothing and taking it easy. And that’s exactly what I did. Nothing, a bit of pool, a bit of computer and checking out stuff and a bit of sun. In the evening Jero showed up again and said hello and talked a bit with me. Then, we met again and he asked me if I wanted to hang out in the night or go to the beach together. I warned him, I was free and had no plans but all I wanted was a friend. He talked to me about loneliness and why I only like Western men and all that and I told him and I was in a moment of my life when I wanted to be alone and that was it, because it was good for me and that is all I wanted. And he didn’t continue that way and that was the end. Good stuff, but it is a shame you kind of have to be on ward to see what people want. It makes me a bit sad and at the same time, I have to because I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. But it also surprise me how innocent I can be at times!
After doing so much nothing and resting my feet, I was ready to make a move: Ubud, at the heart of the island of Bali. But nobody was ready for me. I used uber, grab and gojek (all apps to get a taxi) but after a whole hour, there was no way to find a taxi for me. I asked reception and they told me to walk 10 minutes on the main road to get to a taxi station and use my bargain skills. Bargaining it is! But the price for a taxi was exceeding what I was willing to pay by 4 times and the guy wasn’t willing to bargain much… As usually in these cases, I got too proud to pay an inflated price (it’s a matter of honour, not money) and walked away with no idea what to do. And then, I saw a van full of locals that would be the most similar thing to a local bus that I would find in the whole area. I didn’t hesitate it and stopped it. Then, I asked where they were going. Their answer was the name of some place I didn’t know and there was no way I was finding out where it was. But it was a way out and it was heading North, so it seemed to me my best bet to get out of that place and get somewhere where I could be lost but closer to my destination. The natural then was to ask how much it was and at their first answer, I said no. So, they asked me how much I wanted to pay and I wondered myself how much would it be fair to pay if I didn’t know where I was going. I divided the price by two and rounded the number down: 20 thousand! I said. And they were okay with it and I jumped in the van to get out of Uluwatu.
The van insisted in dropping me 4 or 5km further north. They said ‘transit, transit’ and pointed a bus stop. When I realised we weren’t very far from where they picked me up, I insisted in paying less (still probably a lot for what it was, but fairer for me) and made my way to the bus stop. Then, I tried to find out where the bus going and how much it would be. All answers I got where unclear and from confused people I wasn’t sure they could understand me. A few minutes after I saw a moto taxi stop at the corner and thought it would be worth it to give it a shot. It was indeed: I met the driver who would take me to Ubud for a fair price and the person who I would share the ride for almost 2 hours. Thank God we stopped a couple of times and even got some papaya in the middle of the way because being a whole hour in the back of a motorbike with the heat and the backpack isn’t fun. And that is how I managed to get to Ubud, a whole adventure itself! I made friends with the driver and talked with him a lot during the way and even thought we would spend some time together the next day, although at the end we never exchanged numbers and never met again.
Right after my arrival to Ubud, I felt the need to do stuff and went to check the Monkey Forest. In spite of my feelings on monkeys. At the beginning, I felt quite unsafe, there were monkeys everywhere! The Monkey Forest was not disappointing. Then I started feeling more relaxed because I realised that they were quite used to people and they were quite chilled. I even had the balls to go towards the main temple and take a few pictures around. And just when I was on to that, I almost shit on my pants, because right when I was extending my arm beyond the wall of the main temple so I could get a better picture of it with my phone, a monkey head popped up and scared the shit out of me. It left me trembling while he was walking on top of the wall as nothing happened. Bloody monkeys. In general it was okay and I have to say I am happy I put myself through it, just as a challenge, not because I saw the most impressive thing ever. At this stage I am too tired of: one, seeing monkeys. No, they are not special anymore, you have them in every country. Two, seeing temples. If I was getting money every time I get into one… I could fund a second year of travelling! Haha.
Anyways, after that I contacted Jess and Raf, an English couple I had met in Udaipur, back in India and we had kept in touch with the hope of running into each other some other time, as we were travelling in the same area and even the same countries but in different order or opposite locations. And I met them, just there and it was awesome because is the strangely familiar what brings and makes you happy. We got to plan the next day to visit the famous rice terraces of Tegalaland, as that is something I really wanted to do and I was trying to find the way to avoid renting a bike to do it. I managed to pull together these guys plus a girl from the hostel, which makes a car full and then, we were ready to see some rice growing!
After spending the morning between rice paddies, back in Ubud we splitted as everyone wanted to do different stuff and especially because it was too hot. After a while I managed to be bored enough to meet up a guy I had been talking to in couchsurfing and jum on his motorbike to explore the area a bit. I had this idea of going on a walk that was going through some rice fields, but he drove somewhere else that was as well in the area and we walked a bit next to some river, where so many other people were walking as well. The heat was intense and we jumped back in the motorbike and after a while I suggested to go for a juice or something and he actually ended up driving by the track I wanted to do before to find a place he knew with really nice views. It was nice, I had an awesome papaya juice and then we got back and that was it. We shared a nice talk, but there was not much more than that. I do have to say that I commented with him on the difference in the pace of life between Java and Bali and what he had to say left me quite shocked. In Bali is all about ceremonies and they are always up to something and at the end, the men is always tied up with ceremonies and it is the woman who works hard in the family, while in Java they have a more traditional approach and the man works hard while the woman stay with the kids. I kind of surprised me because I was seeing woman all the time going to the temple as well to do offerings. And left me thinking of the important role that men have in society, giving the apparence and the pace of life, while is the woman who is always set aside to do everything else.
For my last day in Bali, I had a walk to a temple I wanted to do and so I did. It was a long way that I splitted in 2 or 3, stopping at a supermarket, stopping to get a whole papaya… To get there. The temple was nice, but after a while, it started getting too hot and there was not much to see than a beautiful small cave with a ganesh head inside and the typical Balinese temple arrangement surrounded by lovely nature. So I decided that I had enough and started walking back. But now I was in the middle of the day and it was way too hot. I van passed me by, looked at me, and stopped to get me. It was one of those vans I love so much with locals inside and when I said I was going to Ubud, they just wanted me inside, in the front! That’s how I made my way back, paying of course a decent amount of money.
My stuff was all ready to go and I had decided to take the last bus to the airport in the evening, so I could sleep there as my flight was very early and I didn’t want to pay an extra night to end up sleeping 2 or 3 hours plus paying up a taxi that I didn’t even know if I Was going to be able to find. Bali airport was my bed for more than a few hours and then on to Singapore, another new country, city and place all in one!