He Says: From Cairns we flew to Darwin at the far northern tip of Australia. The airline we took was none other than Jetstar, the very same airline who screwed us in the asses. What can we say, they’re the cheapest airline in the region. This time, we made sure to check our luggage ahead of time.
With several hours to kill before our next flight, we decided to hump around Darwin for a bit in the overbearing heat and humidity. We actually hiked almost a mile to the closest bus stop with our backpacks on. Not fun. We caught a bus to the biggest attraction in the area, a shopping mall, then grabbed a bite at Subway. Since pretty much everything in town closed at 6pm we made our way back to the airport where we slept on the very comfortable lounge chairs. That’s the second time we’ve stayed the night in an airport and it actually wasn’t that bad. 🙂
We woke up in the wee hours of the morning and caught our next flight to Denpasar, Bali…this time not on Jetstar. The first thing we noticed in Bali was the organized chaos of cars, trucks, carts and scooters all squeezing through every opening they could find. Even if there was no opening they still managed to squeeze through. Somehow this seems to work for them and they all understand how it works.
After a few hours drive, our taxi dropped us off at our hotel in Ubud, touted as the “cultural center of Bali”. Cultural means they have lots of local eateries, bars and art as well as a huge local market where they sell everything you can think of and some things you probably can’t. It was actually a nice mix of hustle ‘n bustle and quaintness.
One of the biggest tourist stops in Ubud is Monkey Forest which is exactly what it’s name implies. At the gate we bought a few bundles of bananas and received a brief tutorial in garbled English on how to feed them to the cute, little monkeys. Wish we understood garbled English a little more. The next 10 minutes was one big blur of monkeys tugging, hanging and jumping all over us. After having all our bananas stolen, we bought some more thinking we learned how to handle them better. Wrong. A few scratches, scrapes and almost losing my camera were enough to convince us these little shitheads didn’t deserve our bananas. We quickly had enough and scrambled our way out of the forest.
Everything in Ubud is within walking distance but walking isn’t so pleasant in temperatures over 30 degrees C and humid. So we decided to rent a scooter for a few days to see more of the town then venture 3 hours away to the other side of the island the following day. After a little haggling with a few locals on the street we were able to find one for $5/day. Not bad.
Not sure if its our sense of adventure, courage, stupidity or all of the above, but we thought a scooter would be the best way to make our journey to the other side of the island. Maybe not the smartest thing we could’ve done but definitely one of the most “exciting”.
In the states they teach you to be a defensive driver. In SE Asia it’s definitely the opposite, and understandably so. A defensive driver wouldn’t be a driver at all because they’d be stuck on the side of the road. Basically, if you’re not offensive, you’ll never get anywhere. People will cut you off, swerve around you, fly passed you in every direction and it’s all normal and expected. Actually, I’m pretty sure I pissed a lot of people off trying to be a defensive driver.
Well, we learned quickly and, despite almost giving TB a few heart attacks, we found our way to Tanah Lot. I should also mention that finding Tanah Lot went something like this – driving for a few minutes; pulling over to ask locals which way to go; driving in the direction they pointed for a few more minutes then repeating. It all worked out though and Tanah Lot was well worth the effort. Plus, I think the danger of getting there was half the fun…I speak for myself, not TB. 🙂
Tanah Lot is an ancient Hindu temple situated literally in the ocean. The tide was out so we were able to walk through the shallow water to its base. Unfortunately, outsiders aren’t allowed any farther than that but it was amazing nonetheless. Plus, we got to pet a “holy” snake for just a few rupiah while an elderly fella said a good luck prayer for us. I think the prayer worked because we made it safely back to our hotel after 3 more more hours of organized chaos.
All in all, our first few days in Bali were a blast. Experimenting the different foods, haggling for everything, Hindu temples around every turn and driving with the locals were all highlights.
Next stop – Lovina Beach on the northern coast.
She Says: A few heart attacks is right!! And I thought driving in Afghanistan was bad. Although, I think what made it scarier for me was the fact that I was the passenger and not the driver. My entire life was in John’s hands–and as much as I love, adore, trust, and believe in him–there were times when that just wasn’t enough and all I could do was close my eyes and hoped for the best as I clutched on. Thank god for that holy snake and blessing, we made it back safely. Phew.
I loved Ubud!! It was actually recommended to us from a friend of mine who went to Bali on her honeymoon. The hotel we stayed in was fantastic! We had our own private bungalow with air con, attached HUGE bathroom, TV (No English) and a really nice pool and gardens. Not to mention a complete American breakfast included. All for the bargain price of $22/night 🙂 Location was good as it was situated in town close to all the restaurants and the monkey forest. The monkey forest was definitely an adventure. I even got good video footage of a monkey humping another monkey to include love bites. It lasted all of 6 seconds.
It’s a shame that it costs so much to ship things from there because I am pretty sure we would have bought enough things to fill a new house and garden. It’s very cheap to buy there, but very expensive to get it home as we found out the hard way. We really wanted to have our own Zen home and garden.
We really enjoyed Tanah Lot. There is something calming about a temple built on/in the sea. If it wasn’t too hot and if I wasn’t too scared of John driving in the dark we would have stayed until sunset. We forg0t to put sun screen on and both of us were fried by the end of the day. Especially fair skinned John. Ooops!
I can’t forget to mention the amazing anniversary gift J got me in Ubud. A full day at the spa 🙂 I am one lucky girl! Thanks honey- love you!! This spa day included 1.5 hr full body massage, yogurt and honey body mask, oatmeal and vanilla body scrub, rose petal bath, and a pedicure. I would also like to add that youcan get 1hr full body massages in Ubud for $5-$7. Yes you read that right. It was heaven on Earth for me!
We will miss Ubud but may come back one day.