Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Chilling in Ubud

It's my 5th day in Ubud and man this place makes me lazy.
I moved into the Dewi Sri bungalows and my room includes an outdoor patio and bathroom with an enclosed bedroom on the second floor. It's full of bugs, geckos, and a monster lizard I spotted on my thatched roof ceiling this morning. I swear to god at first I thought it was a baby monkey it was so big.
My garden bungalow

I've just wandered around town for the most part. My second day here I met Antoni from Poland who has been traveling the world for 4 years. He showed me the ,out amazing photos and had tons of interesting stories about his travels.  So, I rented a scooter to go to a volcano with Antoni one day. I was pretty scared. The traffic here is intense, for lack of a better word. The only traffic la seems to be 'don't hit the person in front of you'. Also, I don't have an international drivers license. So technically I was breaking the law and had to make sure I carried a decent amount of money to bribe any police that pulled me over.
But it was so fun to get outta the main city and drive myself around.
On our way outta Ubud we accidently came across a huge cremation ceremony that lasted about 2 hours.
There were several groups of musicians playing and women walking around with offerings.
There was a huge shrine to transport the body in and another to burn it. Everyone was smiling and cheerful for the first part of the ceremony. But once the pyre and shrine were lit it became very somber and the mourning began.
It was a humbling thing to see and I was so glad I got to witness such an elaborate and personal part of the Balinese culture.
At the entrance to my hotel

After the cremation we hopped back on the scooters. We never made it to the volcano though. We got sidetracked at these beautiful rice terraces; I didn't want to drive at night so we ended up just driving around a bit.
Morning coffee at the lily pond.

Then I tried to make a u-turn on a tiny road, I panicked, and I suck at driving scooters. Long story short I ate shit in the road.
My dinner partner last night. He drives scooters better than me. So do 8 yr olds.

Everyone, was so sweet and helpful. They picked my scooter up for me and my pieces of shattered sunglasses.  They made a big fuss about my scrapes until I convinced them I was ok.
I jammed my arm pretty good. What shoulda been some scrapes and bruises is instead a massively gimpy arm. It's day 3 and I'm happy to report that I can totally touch my face again. Now I just need to be able to straighten it. I've come to the realization that I'm an old fart. Accident prone and brittle.
So I haven't done much but rest my arm and learn some Indonesian. Actual useful stuff, not the usual swears and curses I normally learn.
Dinner before the dance. Fruit and ice cream hehe

Tonight, I'm going to see a traditional Balinese legong dance. Should be awesome. So far I love Bali.

Friday, August 16, 2013


I hopped on a shuttle bus and got a ride to Ubud.
Leaving Kuta. Notice the shuttle bus and the alley we are driving down are almost exactly the same width.
Ubud is an inland town, popular with artists and expats.
On my way to Ubud
On my way to Ubud

I had no reservations and no clue as to where I was when I got dropped off, so I ended up walking around for an hour looking for a place to stay. It was so hot. I walked by the monkey sanctuary, twice. Since I ended up having to backtrack to the first hotel I inquired in, Sehati. It was the only place that was close to affordable that I had come across. Lol
My room is palatial. It's almost as big as my old apartment back home. With wi-Fi, and air conditioning. Ahhh, the good life.
My room. After I've lived in it. Trashed it like a rock star.

But it's too rich for my blood. I'm moving this morning to the Dew Sempri bungalows in order to save a little skrilla.
Today is Bali's Independence Day. So I'm going to check out the festival and then maybe venture inside the monkey sanctuary. Monkeys scare me.
How I plan to enter the monkey sanctuary

I can only take pictures at a slow run.
"Don't look at me!"

Otherwise I'm sure that one of them will attack me and eat my face. Just so you know why my photos will be blurry.
Monkeys on my trek for a hotel

There's lots to see and do here so I'll probably spend the next few days just trying to explore and see the place.
It's all about remembering to put on bug spray and sunscreen every several hours, and buying water the night before so I can brush my teeth. I always forget that part.


Can I just say what a big dork I am for my post title? Haha
I didn't make any plans for my trip to Bali. I picked up a travel book. But I didn't read it.
Maybe, I was pretending that I didn't have to leave Queenstown. Most likely, I'm just lazy.
Either way, I ended up at the airport at midnight with nowhere to go for the evening so I squatted in a Starbucks for 7 hours. Starbucks now has a special place in my heart.
In the morning I grabbed a taxi to Kuta. A large, beachside town next to the airport. Then I walked around till I found a place to stay. I ended up staying at the Arena Hotel.
My balcony. Guess the pic doesn't really capture it 

It was about 5 minutes walk from the beach, down a little alley and next to tons of market stalls, restaraunts, and bars.
My room at the Arena. It's mansion like compare to the hostels I'm used to. MY OWN BATHROOM, UNGH!

I liked it so much I stays for 4 nights.... Or maybe that was my laziness playing up again.
So I spent a few days just wandering around and checking out the beach and the neighborhood.
I love Bali.
My pool at the Arena

It is hot and humid. Dirty and friendly. It's beautiful and cheap as dirt.
Finally, I got motivated enough to leave Kuta. So I hired a ride to Tanah Lot, a temple in the sea. It can actually be reached only in low tide though.
I hired a ride from the family run transport agency outside of my hotel. I was scared. The traffic here seems insane. It's completely chaotic. For instance, sidewalks are considered part of the road for motorbikes. But I've found that there's definitely a method to the madness.
My driver/guide, Justin Bieber, was awesome and I learned to relax after not being killed in the first half hour on the road.
Tanah Lot was beautiful and incredibly crowded. I'm finding that most of the places I visit are insanely crowded.
Tanah Lot

At Tanah Lot I visited the sacred spring and was blessed by monks (for a small donation hehe).
The next day, it was back on the bike with Justin Bieber. We drove south to the Bukit peninsula. We stopped at dreamland beach, GWK, Padang Padang beach (my first  monkey sighting and very crowded). Then onto Ula Watu for sunset. Ula Watu is a temple in the seaside with tons of monkeys. Once again, it was very crowded but cool. Monkeys are ******* frightening. Lol
Some of the alphas are as big as dogs and super aggressive. When they're mad they hiss at you and bare their face-eating teeth. I just keep my distance and take pictures at a slow run.
It was Justin's last night as a tour guide. The following day he was leaving for Jakarta to study as a mechanic and then apprentice for 5 years. Hopefully, to earn his fortune and make his parents proud. He was such a sweetheart and his family was good peeps. So on our way back to Kuta we stopped at Jimbaron and I bought us a fancy dinner on the beach. It was a good couple of days and I'm finding Bali to be more than I'd ever hoped. It's perfect.
I'm trying to remember to take pics on my iPad to share here. The real pics will have to come later

Sunday, August 11, 2013


I'm a total numbskull.
For a variety of reasons, resulting in a handful of face palms a day.  See what I did there? Handful of face palms? ...get it?..
Anyway, I forgot to pack my doohickey that allows me to transfer photos to my iPad. So there will be a lot less pics in these posts. Still I wanted to continue writing them because they've definitely become a bit of an online journal for me.
I left queenstown to fly to Auckland and my roomies and Bridgette (and her littles) all saw me off at the airport. Which was really sweet. I also bumped into another coworker on his way into QT and got to say goodbye. I have accumulated so much crap that we had to take 2 cars from the house to the airport. I already miss the friends I made there. I especially loved living with Dan and Robert and I've promised to return this summer and visit. So no tears allowed at the airport. Plus, as Dan quoted- "pimps don't cry".
I spent that nigh in Auckland after dropping off my heaps of crap in storage. It was such a change of pace from QT. I couldn't get over how loud it was! That night I slept in a 14 room dorm bed. Listening to the birds and cars with my room lit up by traffic lights.
I thought to myself, I'm truly a backpacker now. Packed in a room with other broke fools listening to the city and totally at ease. Way different then how I felt 10 months ago. I felt experienced. Ha.

Cut to my first night's thoughts in Sydney:
'I am a sheltered baby lamb that has wandered into the slaughterhouse.'

Sydney is a gorgeous, fun city. With tons of things to do and see.
My first day I was completely jet lagged and it was raining so I did almost nothing. Just a little walking around. The next day, I walked from the hostel down thought the big, giant park that leads to the harbor. I stopped at the Anzac Memorial, the museum and a couple of vistas with views of the Sydney opera house and bridge.
Then I wandered over to the very cool Rocks neighborhood. Took a quick stroll around the contemporary modern art museum-thhhhhbbbbbbttttttt. I just don't get it, man. I keep trying, it keeps seeming ridiculous.
That night I went back to the harbor to see the city at night.
The next day, I took a bus to Bondi. It's a really cool surf town in Sydney. I was hoping to do the trail from Bondi to Coogee but as soon as I got off the bus my ankle was tender. And giant. And tender.
So, I settled for limping around and people watching before heading back to the hostel. I guess the 7 hours of walking I had done the previous day did not agree with ye olde ankel injury.

I liked the neighborhood the hostel was in, close to everything but with the right amount of sleazy. Chinatown mixed with red light district mixed with a shopping mall. And so much delicious food! Everywhere! Nom nom nom

The hostel was absolute madness and I ended up changing rooms about halfway through my second night. The first night and a half I stayed in 1 room with 32 people, no windows. ugh the smell alone still makes me cringe.
Picture thirty 20yr olds fueled by all night drinking binges, drugs and hormones and let loose in a room together at night. It's how I picture a frat party, in Amsterdam.
Sydney was great. But I was so excited to be on my way to Bali.