February 17, 2016
Overwhelming would be a understatement for our first day here in Bali. After 22.5 hours of travel, all I wanted to find was a nice relaxing meal and maybe a beer. We were eventually able to find food and a beer, but doing so was a bit more effort than expected.
We landed in Bali and made it through customs without a problem. We had slight difficulties on the hunt for a taxi. Not that we couldn’t find one, but when you can’t even pronounce the place your staying correctly, taxi rates sky rocket. Originally, we were quoted 300,000 rp (13,000 rp = 1.00 USD) but were able to talk them down to 150,000 rp. We were then told by the front desk, at our hotel, that 100,000 rp is that max anyone should pay for transport from the airport to the hotel. Regardless, we had made it to our hotel and had finally arrived in Bali!
Our hunt for food began with Taylor and I strolling the streets looking for any restaurant that wasn’t going to have us preaching from the porcelain throne for the rest of the night. We wandered the streets with no direction, not a word of Indonesian, and a very small understanding of what a meal should cost. After a few twists and turns down different streets and alleys we arrived at a restaurant. The front door had a variety of stickers from various internet review sites such as Tripadvisor. This provided some comfort that we weren’t getting sent straight to the toilet. We ordered some chicken skewers coated in peanut sauce and a Bintang, the local light beer. It was delicious and only 25,000 rp.
While eating inside the air conditioned restaurant, I noticed that no other customers had come inside. However, locals were filtering in and out of the outside seating section of the place. I don’t know if they reserved the inside section for non-locals, or if the locals just choose to eat outside. It felt a little awkward to be the only tourists eating at the restaurant, and the only ones in air conditioning. After that we wandered back to the hotel, picked up some water, and discussed how unprepared I really felt for this trip.
After awaking for our first full day abroad, it took a little encouragement from both Taylor and myself to begin to explore the offerings of the island. We called a cab, and for a mere 30,000 rp ($2.50 USD) we were at Kuta Beach. Our first goal, after arriving here, was to find a place to eat breakfast. We wandered into a coffee shop where we ate noodles and eggs for breakfast. We also chatted with some Aussies and tried to get their advice on how to navigate Kuta while handling the hordes of sellers. These salesmen are trying to sell you anything from knockoff sunglasses to dick shaped bottle openers. Bartering is everything in these stores, as every store owner will try to sell you their goods at 2 to 3 times their actual price. The closest thing i have experienced to stores like these were in Mexico, but the haggling here is a little more extreme.
We wandered around the trash ridden beach for about 2 hours until we set up camp under and umbrella. Scattered everywhere along this beach are umbrellas with chairs and locals serving beers, waters, and soft drinks. Here we relaxed and watched amateur surfers get worked by the waves. We spoke to the man who was either the “owner” of our umbrella, or at least worked for the person who owned it. He gave us some pretty heavy insight to what local life is like in Kuta. His overall feeling on living in Bali was pretty negative. It sounded like the lack of pay and opportunities for the locals really took a toll on him. We made the comment that he lived in paradise and he responded with “paradise for holiday not to live”.
We spent around 2 or 3 hours under the umbrella drinking beers and reading a Lonely Planet we picked up earlier in the day. After this we indulged in a subpar lunch at a restaurant called the Bamboo Corner. Not only was the whole establishment set in a giant sweat box, but the curry I ordered tasted like curry out of a Lean Cuisine. From there we wandered around the town for a bit, caught a cab to our hotel, hung by the pool and laid low for the rest of the day. We have no clue what were going to do tomorrow. Ideas range from checking out the surf and temple at Ulu Watu, taking motor bikes around the island, or exploring the beaches just West of Kuta Beach. I guess thats a decision for the morning though. As of now, I am feeling a little more comfortable here and I’m sure as each day passes, the comfort and stoke will only increase.