Bali: First Impressions

        Touchdown, safe and sound. To call that a long flight would be an understatement. Jayce’s farthest flight thus far was to Hawaii, and mine was to Germany. This didn’t compare. We glided 11 hours to Seoul, South Korea, right into another 8 hours to Singapore. After a 6 hour layover nap there, our final 2.5 hour leg brought us to Bali.

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        Coming from cold-ocean-air-conditioned California, the first sensation you notice is the heat as you step out of the plane. Hot, sticky, moist, humid, all at once. Sweating instantaneously, we found our helpful driver in the airport. Helpful is a common theme among the Balinese community. As we began driving towards Canggu from Denpasar, the next community aspect we noticed was how the traffic worked. At first glance, with our American conditioning, it made no sense and seemed like dangerous chaos. Mopeds were scattered throughout the streets in conjunction with cars, all moving at once, like water flowing through a river network. The rules are vague and unclear, it seems like a system destined for accidents. More on that later.

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        45 minutes later we ended up at our villa that we booked via AirBnB for 33 bucks a night. Our hosts, David and Nadya, were graciously welcoming as we settled into our room. Our room had a bamboo bed which was comfy, but too creaky to enjoy much else besides motionless sleep. It was so hot day in and day out that a blanket wasn’t even a viable option. Besides that, the room wasn’t notably out of the ordinary. However, I initially did not really understand what a “villa” was when I booked this place. It was a fenced courtyard made up of two luxurious two-story homes with a pool in the middle. Our room was upstairs and had a balcony overlooking some of the never-ending rice fields. The downstairs kitchen and living area was completely open and exposed, almost as if the living area was a part of the shared yard with the neighboring house. A mini-community of sorts. Don’t get me wrong, I did not dislike it, it was simply different than what I expected and am used to seeing. These small footnotes about the helpfulness of the driver, the traffic, and the architecture of the villa, are all different themes that represent the culture here in Bali. It’s so interesting. I will explain in more detail later on.

We tentatively went about our first day In Canggu. We rented a moped for a week at 25,000 rupiah per day.

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        That sounds like a chunk of money without knowing the exchange rate. 1 USD = 13,335 Indonesian Rupiah. So that moped, which was our vessel carrying us ALL over the island, only cost us 1.875 dollars per day (plus gas, which was just as cheap). We had no idea how useful that moped was going to be. Driving on the left side of the road and abiding “traffic laws” took some getting used to. The roads were narrow, confusing, and much less cautionary and structured than America’s. We were overly cautious about where we went for the first few days because of this, in an effort to avoid an accident. We didn’t venture far at first, and headed to the nearest beach. We found out the beaches nearest us were full of big waves that surfers dream of, but lacked calm water to swim in.

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Echo Beach

        The travel doctor we saw before we left advised not to rent a moped at all because of the dangerous consequences, so that had us spooked a little bit. But sometimes, it’s best to listen to yourself over what other people’s opinions hold, even professional ones. One thing I’ve learned from our gap in experience and expectation is: See for yourself. The most accurate information you can acquire comes from present experience. What we heard about Bali and what we’ve experienced are two completely different things, and if we would’ve listened to everyone’s (mostly) fearful thoughts and opinions, we might not have traveled here at all. We are still alive and well heading into our second week here!


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