Leaving New Zealand was hard because of all the friends we made and how easy it was to just be there. I had only the expense of food and going out and had come up with a great jogging route that I did regularly. But all good things have to end, so we bought our tickets to Indonesia (6 weeks), Korea (2 weeks), Japan (4 weeks), and ending up in Thailand.
Since our flight was at 6AM, we decided to stay up all night with our friends from the hostel. We drank, talked, played games, and generally just stayed up hanging out. Karen and Corey were the last ones standing with Corey only going to bed as we were getting in the cab at 3:30AM. As we were finishing the last packing, a super sketchy guy came in and started rooting through people’s stuff. I’m glad we were awake to save Claire’s wine from being drunk!
Our tickets had a 10 hour layover in Sydney, so we decided to put our Australia visas to good use and visit my mom’s friend Frances who lives there. We slept enough on the plane to be presentable and she met us at the airport and took us all around Sydney’s CBD. I had never been there before so I snapped lots of photos and took it all in. She also took us to a nice, organic market for plane food.
Once we got back to the airport, we got some Wagamama takeaway and proceeded through customs and security. Our brand new, giant tub of hummus was taken! 😦 😦 I’ve totally gotten hummus through security several times, but I guess Sydney doesn’t allow it.
We got to Denpasar, the capital of Bali, at 10PM and there was a driver with Jacob’s name on a sign waiting for us. As is the case in any tropical place, you’re always struck with just how hot it really is. This was no exception. It’s hot and there’s lots of smells everywhere – food, waste, exhaust, people. Driving into the town of Kuta was an experience: it’s similar to Bangkok where there are tons of scooters mixing in with the car, taxi, and bicycle traffic. As a pedestrian, it’s annoying that once you find a nice bit of sidewalk (many sidewalks here are just bits of concrete op top of a ditch), scooters want to drive on it with you. so you’re walking along and you hear a beep behind you that a scooter wants to pass. Also if you’re walking down a road, every taxi driving by beeps to see if you want a ride. It’s a bit cacophonous with them beeping, scooters beeping, and everyone pestering you to buy something.
When we got to our “bungalow”, it was a cute little place off an alley off another alley. It was quiet and had air conditioning, a bathroom, and even a small tv. There was a pool and mini restaurant with Western and Indonesian food. Because of the slight jetlag (2 hours difference from NZ time), I’ve been waking up early enough to see the sunrise and hear the morning birds. Looking from our balcony, it’s like a jungle outside!
So the next morning, we woke up and went out walking – partly with stuff we intended to get and partly wanting to see the town during the day. The first thing you notice is that everyone greets you and smiles. Even the people trying to sell you something or reaching out to literally drag you into a store give a “hello mister”, “hi nice lady” or “sir buy leather jacket please” plus a smile. The pushiness is worse than I’ve seen anywhere else, but after a while you get used to ignoring it and just smile.
We got to the beach by way of some small alleys with walls up above your head. The beach is quite pretty and has lots of people surfing and hawking wares. Our entry to the beach was by way of statues of cat people. Every entry has 2 statues of something – gods, dogs, mermaids, seahorses. Great way to remember which street you’re going to since there are very few street signs.
Definitely the more interesting area is in from the beach on the streets and alleys. We found every manner of fake brand name products, DVDs of movies still in the theaters, mixed in with cool traditional wood carving stores and incredibly dirty bumper sticker shops (they CAN’T know what some of them mean or there’s no way they’d sell them!).
After we’d eaten our way down the street (breakfast and 2 lunches), we came up with a plan for the night – we’d go to Ulu Watu, a temple famous for its monkeys and sunsets. We hired a car for $20 US (45 min drive each way) and set out.
The temple itself was pretty but not that amazing architecturally or ornamentally. We could only walk along the outside as the inside is for worshippers only. There were signs about being careful with eyeglasses and earrings that the monkeys steal them. The monkeys had long long tails and weren’t afraid of people at all. I got a little nervous when they were on every side of me – including above. Just as we were getting used to them, a monkey stole Jacob’s glasses!! It came down so fast I didn’t even see it! We had to pay a monkey tamer 50,000 RP ($5) to get them back – I attempted to negotiate, but really he had the upper hand. Jacob’s hands didn’t leave his glasses the rest of the time!
We saw a very pretty sunset and headed back to Kuta to finish the last of our tasks and make an itinerary for the next day. We decided to go to Ubud, a town 1.5 hours north of here where a friend of Amacker’s lives. Not having gotten enough of monkeys, we planned to go to Monkey Sanctuary, a bit of forest with temples and monkeys near the town.