We arrived at our Hostel in Kuta, Bali on the evening of the 12th of June at around 12pm. We checked in and threw our bags into the room and were told there was a general store still open where we could grab a quick snack. One hundred metres from the hostel two scooters pulled over to the side of the road in front of us asking if we wanted “transport”, immediately my senses went into overdrive.
The girl put her hand on my chest giggling and trying to Shmooze me onto the back of her scooter, then I realised her other hand was already on my phone in my pocket. I freaked out and grabbed my pocket with both hands and shouted some expletives. Michelle was behind me and couldnt tell what was happening so she let out a loud scream. This was all apparently really funny to our would be pickpocket team who jumped back on their scooters and headed off empty handed. With our hearts in our throats we ran back to the Hostel and explained the situation to the un-surprised receptionist.
Five Minutes in Kuta and we were nearly robbed….
That understandably left a sour taste in our mouths about Kuta and reminded us to keep our wits about us. We’d been warned that Kuta was a place to get out of as soon as possible and the advice was spot on. Shops selling tacky souvenirs, drunken tourists acting a fool and sleazy shop owners trying to sell you their mother and cursing at you if you say “No Thank you”.
Our good friend from Finland flew out to join us for ten days and we headed to the more laid back surfer town of Canggu later that day. I can see why it’s a popular area (especially if you surf), great waves, cheap beer and plenty of cool cafes and bars to spend your evenings in. I had to make a stop at the Deus Ex Machina Cafe to drool at the bikes on show and drink a beer or two.
We had a relaxing couple of days chilling at the beach and then headed to Ubud, an hour or so In-land of Kuta. I’d heard and read a little about Ubud and had a vision of a beautiful little Hippy Yoga town in the middle of rice fields and jungle, not quite. It does have Yoga and there are indeed rice fields but it’s not little, it’s a tourist haven, albeit a cool one. The predominately Hindu culture on Bali does mean that literally everything is beautifully ornate. It seems that every building is adorned like a temple, every doorway is intricately carved and each street corner is decorated with offerings.
Bali really knows how to make stuff pretty.
We rented scooters and headed to Tegenungan Waterfall just south east of central Ubud. Again I was a bit hesitant to ride a scooter in Bali and it definitely was sketchy in the centre but as soon as we got more into the countryside it all became worthwhile. You know the wind in the hair, freedom thing that can only come from riding a motorbike or scooter, plus it just allowed us to see so much more than we could have by foot or by taking a tour.
The Tegenungan Waterfall was definitely worth the trip, a short hike down to the tall waterfall and the refreshing pool at its base. We had a splash around and explored the cave behind the base, I swam out and survived the waterfall pushing me down under the surface of the water.
Next on our self guided tour was the rice terraces at Tegalalang, I have to say I found this a little disappointing as the terraces seemed dry and unkempt and the touristy infrastructure built around them detracted from the atmosphere. We took our photos and enjoyed some food before hopping on our trusty steeds back to Ubud.
The following day we left from Ubud, headed over to the Gili Air, a small Island east of Bali and just North of Lombok.
The first week or so on Bali really reminded me why I travel and what I want from travel as a larger experience. Having had some time to relax and analyse the near pick pocketing In Kuta I learnt to see it as a good thing and an experience to learn from. I don’t go travelling because it’s easy and anyone who has spent any extended time travelling knows that travelling isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes you have bad days, sometimes you get ripped off by the taxi driver and sometimes you just want to sleep in your own bed. The point is that I travel to see new things and have new experiences, be they good or bad. Bali and Indonesia in general offered so many new experiences, very few of them unpleasant.
Stay tuned for Indonesia Part 2 – Island Living, Komodo Dragons and the best Scuba Diving of my Life.