Day 1: Taking off
Bali Travel Blog› entry 1 of 4 › view all entries
After going through a multitude of emotions about going on my second 1st solo vacation, I was ready and waiting for work to end so I could head to the airport as early as possible to check in and still have time for a relaxing breakfast. After sitting down for half an hour, enjoying my Sausage McMuffin and OJ from McDonald’s, I still had about an hour left before boarding, but decided to head towards the departure gate anyway and catch up on my reading.
As we got closer to boarding time, I notice a queue began to form in front of the boarding gate as young western couples stood in line in front so that they’d get the good seats on the flight first. I wasn’t too worried about getting a seat as I’d paid MYR20 for express boarding, which gets me to the front of the line without even having to push through the crowd, which is the idea behind paying an express boarding fee. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I am the first to board the plane, even if I was the first to stand in line at the EB queue. This is simply because from the moment we’re cleared to head to the plane, the idiots behind me who behaved like they were about to discover gold, would run ahead of me as we make our way to the aircraft! How terribly sad is that?! I usually could care less and keep to my usual snail’s pace as the others pass and once I’m on the plane, just head to the front row or emergency exit lane. I chose the latter this time around, and loved how much room I had for my legs to stretch just that little bit more and gave me more shoulder room so I wouldn’t have to scrunch myself up, not something I’d look forward to on a 3 hour flight!
I hadn’t realized how long 3 hours could be but it felt like an eternity when you’re seated with nowhere to go! So I tried to catch some sleep but kept waking up every 5 minutes. I was so happy when we finally touched down and confidently followed the first half of the passengers who had disembarked the plane upon reaching the Denpasar Airport, but not before enjoying the crashing waves of the ocean that partially surrounded the airport runway. As I made my way to the customs checkpoint, I had wondered about the immigration card that the air stewardess had earlier distributed on the flight as we’d begun descending but thought nothing of it and arrogantly assumed that only non Asean-member country citizens could easily get away without the immigration card. How wrong (and embarrassed) I was when I was informed by the nice customs officer that I needed to fill up the immigration card, just like everyone else. Of course, like the other 75% of passengers on that AirAsia flight, we’d had to wait for ten minutes before the ground crew member came back with a bunch of immigration cards which we swooped down and grabbed from his hands like a flock of hungry vultures!
It was when I was filling out the card that I realized that there was an entry and departure pass which all foreign travelers needed to fill out. So why didn’t I get that information off the net when I was surfing for information?? Darn! After a five minute wait in the queue again, I was allowed entry into Bali… well, sort of!
I then headed out towards the exit to begin my search for my ride. I hadn’t thought it would be too difficult to spot him… until I reached the exit and stopped dead in my tracks for ten seconds… at the sea of airport pickups, from hotels and travel agencies, all holding up names of their guests ��" some small, some a little more legible ! How on earth was I going to comb through every single one of those name signs?! At first, I thought I’d just wait out the crowd until I find that sole exhausted-looking man, barely standing, holding up my name. Then I decided to call Ron, owner of Sanur Beach Villas, and asked him to describe who my ride was. Luckily, I was told to look for a balding man of medium height, and it was then I noticed him, standing right in front of the mad crowd, holding up what looked like the sign with my name is miniscule letters. I quickly wave at him and brave my way through the human traffic and my ride collects my bag from me and proceeded to lead me to the car. After a 200m walk, we reach the car, and I happily hop in, all ready to start my journey to Sanur beach.
After the first few minutes of small talk in Bahasa Indonesia (or Bahasa Malaysia for me ��" same difference really!), I take in the sights and sounds of Bali’s streets. One of the first things I noticed were the statues that stood majestic in the roundabouts on the streets. There was one particular white monument-type statue of what I assumed was a Hindu god in mid-battle. It was literally larger than life! I’m really bummed now that I hadn’t taken as much pictures as I’d like, but if you want to see what I’m referring to, just go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/pjwar/2458854150/in/set-72157601725504926/ The flickr member, pjwar, did a much better job with his pics!
One other thing about Bali is how crazy it was travelling on the roads. I thought Malaysian drivers were bad until I found myself hanging for dear life on my way to my hotel. The Balinese use their horns a lot, especially when another vehicle gets even within a centimeter close to their lane. It’s their way of saying that they’re right behind and will speed up, so don’t get in the way! Also, there are vehicles that drive between two lanes without consideration for the others behind them. They do this so that they can rush in to whichever lane is quickest. And they perform these stunts at high speeds, no less!! I was relieved when we turned into this little street that literally could only fit one car driving in one direction at a time. It took three more turns before I reached the hotel, as we passed private homes or villas, which were surrounded by high grey cemented walls. Finally, we reached Sanur Beach Villas, I was warmly greeted by Ron Hope, the proprietor.
After checking with me to see how my flight and journey to his establishment went, he led me to my room and asked me to join him for a cold beer after I’ve settled in. I was so exhausted, having left KL right after my graveyard shift, but how does one turn down the offer of a lovely host AND cold beer on a humid afternoon?? So I say yes and then dump my bag on the other single bed while I ooh and ahh at my room. I couldn’t help it! It was a steal, what I paid to stay per night, and the room was a hundred times nicer compared to the stuffy rooms I’d stayed in at hotels located in Langkawi, Malaysia. Check out my review of Sanur Beach Villas.
Anyways, I headed over to the other side of the swimming pool to join Ron for a round of Bintang beer as we got better acquainted. After about half an hour, four of the guests at the villa returned and I was introduced to them: Adrian Seoane and his brother, Bruno, were from Spain, and had been in Bali for three weeks as part of their tour of Asia, and were leaving the next day. They shared their respective love affairs with Bali, especially the beautiful Gili islands. Their friends - Francisco and his wife - joined the Soeane brothers for a week in Bali and were leaving on the first flight out the next day. I was amazed and amused by the brothers, and how they talked over each other to share their likes and dislikes as well as experiences driving on the island's roads. They said goodbye after a quick dip in the pool, and no sooner than that, Ron's friends from Australia - Wally and Neil - returned from their trip to Kuta and joined us by the pool for more of the Bintang. Neil is married to a local lady who is a single mother, and rents one of the three 2-bedroom villas on the property. Wally was the old man Ron had warned me about earlier in our conversations: apparently Wally has a lung disease which causes him pain at night. According to Ron, he has bouts of hacking cough at night which keeps the occupants next to him up at night, and apologised but promised that he would move me in to the next room once the Spanish couple checks out the next day. It really didn't matter to me, as I'm one of those people that sleeps like a log! :)
As much as I was enjoying myself listening to Ron and his friends talk about their other acquaintances who were holidaying in Bali, I took my leave at 6pm and headed back to my room for a shower and the bed! I didn't wake up again until 730am the next morning.