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Published: March 10th 2016
I have a really bad story and a really good story. I'm going to start with the really bad one. I have had an easy go of things on this trip. I've gotten lucky with the weather and with people and, although I've had cranky days, nothing horrible has happened to me. It still hasn't, but Kuta was pretty close.
So my flight was delayed an hour, which pushed it from an 8:40pm flight to a 9:40pm flight. I got on the plane and was seated in a middle seat (which I knew) in the row IN FRONT OF THE EXIT ROW (so the seats don't recline. UGH) and in between two guys with really bad breath. The flight was spent attempting to sleep even though the lights were on in the plane the whole time and this WOMAN was YELLING a conversation to a guy who was in a window seat (she was in the aisle) for the ENTIRE FLIGHT. She never shut up. I irrationally hate this stranger. It might be rational. It was the WORST.
The flight lands and it's now around 1am and immigration and baggage claim were easy. I'm now really cranky and just
want to get to my hostel and go to bed. I exit the airport to a swarm of Indonesian men asking if I want a taxi, so I just kept walking. A guy came up to me and in a much nicer voice asked if I wanted a taxi. I said yes, and told him my hostel and asked how much, and it was 150,000 rupiah, which is what the hostel quoted me. Except he definitely wasn't a real taxi because we walked to his car in the parking garage. But whatever. I was too tired. He was really nice and drove me into Kuta.
It's 2am at this point. You'd think there wouldn't be any traffic. After sitting in a gridlock for 10 minutes, I asked my driver how much further away the hostel was. He said 500 meters. I paid him, got out of the taxi, and started walking. Cue 1000 men asking me if I want a motorbike or taxi or want to go to the airport.
Now, I am okay being called “miss” and “lady,” which is what most of the men in Southeast Asia refer to you ask when they yell at your
from the side of the road. In Bali it's “darling” and it's creepy and I hate it. So this is happening as my cranky self hefts my backpack along at 2:30 am after no sleep on a shitty flight. I am asking directions to my hostel as I walk and people point me in the right direction. After I've walked about 500 meters, I ask someone else for directions and he gives me a whole leftrightleftright thing. I asked him how far. 500m, he says. So the next guy that asks if I want a ride on the motorbike gets an affirmative response. I ask him how much to Funky Monkey. He asks how much I want to pay. I am not in the mood to bargain. I say 10,000 rupiah. He laughs and says 50,000. I say 20,000. He sticks with 50. I am on the verge of tears and I start to walk. Finally he says ok. I get on the back of the motorbike and he starts to drive and ACTUALLY SAYS, “so, I do with you later?” To which I replied, “ARE YOU F@$KING KIDDING ME? NO! Just take me to my hostel!” He keeps driving
and is whipping around turns as I am holding on to my bag with one hand and the back of the motorbike with the other. We arrive at the hostel and I pay him and walk in. The girl working there is flirting with a guy staying there, so she takes a bit to come to the front desk. I give her my name and she gives me a key and says i'm in room 16 and it's at the top of the stairs on the right. And then she turns around and continues to flirt.
Now, what happened next was entirely my fault. But I was cranky and tired and so I'm going to make it sound like it's someone else's fault. Normally, hostel workers show you to your room. It was dark upstairs, and I saw the signs above the doors in the hallway. 12...14..., so it was easy enough to assume the next one was 16. I walked in and it looked like two beds were empty but there was stuff on them. I couldn't be bothered to go downstairs and complain, so I laid down on the bed with the least amount of stuff and
went to sleep despite all the screaming from the pool party outside.
I was woken up by the girl whose bed it was around 4:30 am. I went downstairs, now really almost crying, and said that there weren't any beds in my room. It eventually got sorted. That was room 15 and 16 was next door. And there wasn't a 13 because of luck. You know. I grabbed all my stuff, threw it in the room, crawled on my top bunk, and fell asleep until 12:30 the next day. So, welcome to Bali, Kate.
I woke up with the other three girls in my room who had been out all night because that's what you do in Kuta. They had been the pool partiers. There was a French-Canadian girl, an American girl, and a German girl. We chatted for a while and then all got breakfast together. My chocolate milkshake cheered me up significantly. They all loved my stories of my arrival the night before. After breakfast, I went to look at ferries to Gili T. The guy at the booth showed me a pamphlet and said a round trip ticket would cost 1.2 million rupiah (about $100)
but he'd give me a great deal and only charge me 600,000. I told him I'd think about it and said my wallet was at the hostel. He lowered the price to 550,000. I went back to the hostel where they were selling the boat for 475,000. I did that one.
I laid by the pool for a while, and I went in for a second but it was disgusting, so I got out pretty quickly (I REALLY did not like Kuta). I decided to go for a walk to the beach. I walked down the long narrow road lined with shops selling clothes and wooden penises while men called me darling and asked if I wanted a taxi. “No thanks.” “Taxi tomorrow?”
I had my headphones in, so I mostly ignored it all. I finally made it to the beach. The waves were big and the beach was disgusting. I have never seen so much trash in my life. Apparently it's because of the season. And garbage. It sloped all the way down to the water. The part of the beach not covered with trash was covered with people trying to sell me sarongs, sunglasses, and surf
lessons. An adamant man trying to sell me surf lessons grabbed my shoulder. It was too much. I only walked about 10 meters on the beach before going to an ice cream shop and then going home to the tunes of more men calling me darling. All of it was too much. I laid in my bed and watched a movie because I just couldn't deal with all the harassment. And the effects of the chocolate milkshake had worn off, so I was cranky again.
The girls came back from the massages and pedicures they had gotten and invited me to go to dinner and then go out. We walked down to the beach and sat and had a bear while trying to watch the sunset around the lady who had plopped herself down right in front of us trying to sell us bracelets. It was a pretty sunset. I'll give that to Kuta. I cannot for the life of me remember what we had for dinner, but I knew we ate because that is always my priority. We went back to the hostel to get ready (really easy for me having no makeup and very limited clothing) and
then hung out downstairs by the pool for a bit. We had heard about a bar called alley cats and met a Canadian guy who now spoke English with an Irish accent because he had been living in Ireland for the past 10 years. We all walked to a bar called Alley Cats where we actually had a good time, and the drinks were cheap.
I woke up the next morning at 9:30 because I was getting picked up at 10:30. The other girls woke up at the same time as me, and there was a new addition: a Dutch girl above Frankie who none of us had seen or heard come into the room. I packed up my stuff, but the floor was wet around where my laundry bag was, and my laundry bag and cords bag were both wet. I couldn't do anything about it, so I packed them in my bag and went downstairs to make pancakes and wait for the van.
The van was a bit late, of course, but no worry chicken curry because it arrived, and I was getting the hell out of Kuta. I got the last seat in the van,
and when the driver asked the older guy to scootch (sp?) over to the middle seat, he sort of half did it. I had to physically move him a little bit, you know, to have my whole seat. Then I fell asleep for the whole van ride. And thank goodness I did. We arrived at the port about an hour later, and I asked the guy next to the cranky old guy (COG) if he knew what he was doing. COG latched onto us. We got our tickets at a small cafe (sketchy) and stickers for our destinations to put on our shirts. COG paid for his at the desk and made a whole scene about how we (me and the British guy, whose name is Andy) had paid way less for our tickets and he was getting cheated. The man behind the desk replied, “they had travel agents. This is the price at the counter.” COG turned around and, within earshot of the desk guy, said, “well f@$k you too.” I was horrified. We were eventually told to walk to the pier, where we waited a little longer. Apparently, COG had a different ticket for a different boat and was furious when a guy came and ripped his sticker off of him. Then a woman came over and tried to sell us fruit. I said, “no thank you,” and she hung around for a bit (they always do). COG kept saying “no” to her and then turned his back to her and said to Andy and me, “God, they don't even understand the word no!” I said, “don't be rude. She can understand you.” He didn't seem to care, and when they called us to board, Andy and I ran away to the ferry. Shortly after the ferry left, people were invited to sit on top, but we didn't make it in time, and I took a lovely nap down in the cabin.
Now the good story: Gili T. Gili T was the opposite of Kuta and reminded me a lot of Koh Rong in Cambodia (see other blog entry about that). The boat landed on the beach and we all jumped into ankle-deep water. Indonesian guys threw our bags from the boat to each other and they eventually landed on the beach. Andy was coming to my hostel to see if there were rooms, and these two Malaysian guys (Ken and Zeke) from the bus were coming as well. While we were waiting for our bags, Indonesian men immediately started coming up to me (not the boys) and asking if I had a place to stay. Thankfully I did, so I just said yes and they left me alone. The boys thought it was hysterical. Once we got our bags, we trudged up the beach into town. A man said, “you have place to stay? Cheap room, boyfriend included.” That was my favorite one. The boys howled laughing.
We walked while dodging bicycles and horse-drawn carts (no motorized vehicles on Gili T). We made it to the hostel where the boys all got rooms (mine had AC) and learned about hostel. Unlimited pancakes. Unlimited wifi. Everything is unlimited! We separated and unpacked our bags before heading to the beach. My worst fears were confirmed. The water on the floor and my stuff that morning? Pee. It was pee. Someone (probably the Dutch girl) had peed on the floor instead of in the toilet 2 meters away. I hate Kuta. I threw everything in a basket and gave it to the hostel to wash. Eww.
So the boys and I went to the beach. First we got lunch, though. Malay is very close to Indonesian, so Ken and Zeke took us to this little side-of-the-road shack thing that was super sketchy and wicked cheap. They were able to communicate with the people who work there because that is definitely not the kind of place white people go. Zeke said, “Ok, you should order,” and Andy and I went, “how?” There was a glass case with a lot of strange looking things. So we learned what they were and just pointed to order. Easy enough. The food was delicious and the iced tea was the best.
Onto the beach. The water was turquoise and clear and gorgeous. The sand was white and not quite as pristine as Long Beach on Koh Rong, but it was a different kind of beauty. Going in the water was a bit difficult because there was dead coral everywhere. Ouch. But we spent most of the afternoon on the beach. We went back to the hostel to shower and change, and when it got dark (7:00) we headed down to the night market. The night market was one of the best parts of Gili T. It's outdoor and full of booths of fish on ice, meat on skewers, sizzling grills fanned by pieces of cardboard, and plates and plates of fried rice, meat, and veggies. Men shout at you from behind the booths and people line up to order and sit at tables to eat, and the whole thing is complete chaos. I loved it. Andy and I went up to a booth and, only having ordered Indonesian food once, pointed at things to order them. It worked! We ended up with heaping plates of food over rice for $4 each. We sat and ate and then found Ken and Zeke who had met other people from our hostel: Mark from Northern Ireland and Sidney from New Jersey. They had met in Ubud and were waiting for their friend Federico to arrive at some point the next day. When they were done with dinner, the 6 of us went to the least Irish Irish bar in the world and each had a drink. We chatted and listened to live music, and then I headed back to the hostel to sleep. I was laying in my bed watching a movie I had downloaded when, at 11:30, the power went out. So much for my AC. Despite my room slowly heating up, I slept really well that night.
The reason I had gone to bed early was because Sidney and I were getting up early to go to a yoga class at 7:30 that I had seen on a sign somewhere. When I got up at 6:45, most everyone was awake already. Weirdos. Sidney met me at the hostel (she was staying elsewhere) and we headed over to a place called “The Yoga Place.” On the way, Sidney was telling me that she was interested in doing Paddleboard Yoga at some point. I thought that sounded amazing. We got to the yoga place, and there wasn't a class until 8:30. But then the yoga teacher told us that she was hosting a paddleboard yoga class at 9, and it was too good of a coincidence not to pass up. We signed up and went back to the hostel so I could put on a bathing suit.
Paddleboard yoga was so fun. There were 5 of us in the class plus the instructor. We paddled out to a deep area. The water was so clear on the way that we could see right down to the bottom, including brightly colored schools of fish and coral. We all got tied up on a line so that we wouldn't drift too far and then began the class. We started by sitting and meditating and finding our balance. Surrounding us were boats and buoys. To our right we could see the beach of Gili T. To our left, across the water, was Gili Meno, a much quieter island. Directly in front of us were the mountains of Lombok covered with thunderheads, but our sky was blue, so the clouds were only there to observe. We started doing some sitting poses, which were pretty easy because we were low to the boards. Then our instructor had us try warrior. Setting up for warrior on a paddleboard is much harder than a mat because you have to keep your body perfectly centered. I managed to stand up. And then I immediately fell. It was a hot day, and I was sweating on my board, so falling into the water was the best relief. I think all yoga classes should be done on water. Then others started to fall. We did a sun salutation, and I was able to keep my balance during that. Then we did headstands, which I can't even do on land, but Sidney did it and it was really impressive. During tree pose, everyone fell, including the instructor. The whole class was dotted with sarcastic comments (mostly me), splashes, and laughter. We paddled back to the beach, and Sidney and I met everyone at the hostel.
Federico showed up! We wished him happy birthday from the day before and listened to his crazy story of how he had arrived. He had to drop his motorbike off in Kuta the day before, so he missed the ferry to Gili. He got a ferry to Lombok and then had to find accommodation, so some local women took him in for the night. He got on a boat to Gili T that morning. He checked in and put his stuff down, and then he, Mark, Sidney, Andy, and I went to rent bikes. Side note: the power was still out. On the whole island. Oh well, what can you do? The guy who ran the hostel took us to the bike rental place where we paid $4 to rent the crappiest bikes in the world. We each chose our bikes and set off. First, Andy's seat broke. Then my pedal broke. The whole thing just fell off. So we had to go back to the rental place and get new bikes. I got a bike that was...interesting. The brakes were really squeaky, and the steering kind of did it's own thing, and when I pedaled it sounded like the “chugga chugga” of a train. But it worked and the pedals stayed on, so we set off to ride around the island (which is flat and tiny). We biked around to the sunset side and Mark started to get hangry, so we found a place that was reasonably priced to eat. The biggest draw was the pool. The ocean was hard to swim in because of all the coral, and the pool was nice and shaded (it was crazy hot out). We got some lunch and had cold beers because of the generator and spent the rest of the day in the pool. We left after a few hours and rode around the rest of the island, having to get off at the north end to walk our bikes through the sand. We arrived at the hostel where we changed and then got right back on our bikes to see the sun set on the beach. It was an okay sunset, but it was raining in Bali (which the sunset side faced), so the clouds blocked a lot of it. We had a good time anyway.
As soon as the sun set, the mosquitoes came out in force. Sam (Sidney's friend) had lent me her bug spray, and I was so grateful for it because the mosquitoes were brutal. I remarked that we had to leave NOW while swatting at bugs while Mark commented that nothing was biting him. There was a mass exodus from the beach. Everyone was screaming about the mosquitoes and mounting bikes and riding as fast as they could out of there. We joined the crowd and headed into town. We reconvened at the night market where I had unbelievable barbecued tuna along with three sides and insanely spicy chili sauce that I washed down with a beer. So good. We dropped the bikes back at the hostel before heading back into town to go out (the power was back! Everyone use the internet!) Every night in Gili T there is live music at a different bar. We went to the bar for that night where there was a great live band and danced until 4am. I woke up late the next morning with everyone, and we made unlimited pancakes for breakfast. It took us a while to get ourselves together because some people were especially hungover, but we made it. We walked north on the beach to huts that we had seen the previous day. We set up camp in a little shaded hut in an area that looked really good for snorkeling. I rented a snorkel and fins and instantly went in the water.
Fede was meeting me in the water, but I went around by myself first. It was knee-deep for a really long time, but I had to swim anyway because I was wearing fins and didn't want to step on the coral. Then it got deep really quickly, and I saw so many gorgeous fish. I swam around and swam along the reef drop-off. Then I saw a turtle! It was beautiful and swimming around right by the drop-off. I followed it and watched it swim into the open sea. It was beautiful. Fede came out and met me eventually, and we swam around for a while and saw another swimming turtle as well as a few sleep turtles on the side of the reef. I went back to land and noticed that Mark had some welts on his back. Then I saw his arms and legs. I have never seen so many bug bites in my life. His arms, legs, feet, and hands were absolutely covered. He was sleeping off a hangover and went back to the hostel to do so. I read my book, and when Andy woke up from his nap, he, Fede, and I went back out snorkeling where we saw yet another turtle! I had a salad for lunch. It was a solid day. In the afternoon we went back to the hostel to shower (I got my clean stuff back. Yay) and then went back to the night market because where else would you go for dinner? I had more tuna and spicy stuff that burned my mouth. After dinner we went to the reggae bar where we had some drinks. On the way Mark got some tiger balm (at my suggestion. Everyone should have some) for his thousands of mosquito bites. The first band that played at the reggae bar (called Sama Sama, which means “you're welcome”) was a local cover band, and they were AMAZING. I'd like them to play at my wedding someday. I left early because I was getting up early to dive the next morning.
I woke up early and packed all my things. The boys had moved to a different hostel that was the same price as the pancake one but had a swimming pool, AC, and a climbing wall over the swimming pool. I checked it out and decided to make the move there for my last night. I walked over to the new hostel (Gili Castle) and dropped my bag off before going to the dive center. My instructor for the day was Indonesian and a really nice guy, but I couldn't understand a word he said. The first dive was at shark point. We saw some HUGE turtles and a little reef shark! We also saw some giant clams, a small spotted moray eel, clownfish, and triggerfish. It was a fun dive, but my goggles kept fogging up and it was really annoying to clear them every time. We did our surface time back on land, where I switched my goggles out for better ones. The second dive was in between Gili T and Gili Meno and was called Hidden Reef. It was three reefs running parallel to each other for about 200 meters. It was just the instructor and me for this second dive, and it was easily the best dive I've ever done. It looked like something out of national geographic. The coral was pink, red, orange, blue, green, and brown. There were anemones and corals waving everywhere with the ebb and flow of the tide. I watched in disbelief as fish and sea creatures darted in and out of rocks and reefs only to look up and see four schools of fish directly in front of me. There were enormous sea turtles resting on the bottom, and I got face to face with one and swam around him as he followed me with his eyes. I was so happy.
We landed back on the beach, and when I got back to the hostel, Fede and Andy were hanging out by the pool and Mark was sick in bed from a hangover/fever from mosquito bites combination. Woof. I was ravenous, so I bought a pizza, which the boys helped me eat. I headed downtown to get my ferry ticket for the next day. I found the office where two guys were sitting outside. I asked about the ferry, and the local guy said it was full. All of them for the next day. Sorry, what? “It's full. For you.” Ah...I've seen this before. “Listen, I've really got to leave tomorrow.” “No, the boat is full. I want you to stay.” So after 5 minutes of this guy trying to ask me out, he eventually booked me for the boat and then was really sad when I wouldn't get a drink with him. Sorry, dude. Mark, Fede, Andy, and I spent the day by the pool. For the sunset, we hiked up to the highest point of the island (not that high) while talking about how we were summiting a huge mountain (not huge. not a mountain). We found a spot to watch the sunset and proceeded to get mauled by mosquitoes again. The sunset was mediocre again, so we walked back down the huge mountain and went to the night market for dinner because where else would we go? We went to a new booth, and something in the food was so spicy that my bottom lip (which was already a little sunburned) was BURNING. I had to go buy gelato to sooth it. So I ended up sitting at the table with gelato smashed into my face. We went to a bar to play beer pong for a bit, but everyone around us was way too drunk for 9:00 and it was weird. At around the same time (10ish) we realized that rain was imminent. We headed back to the hostel without Fede and arrived just as it started to monsoon. I went to bed around 10:30.
My last morning on Gili T I woke up and had a pancake in the hostel. I said goodbye to the boys (Sidney and Sam had left the day before) and headed over to the ferry. The ferry ride was easy going back, and I slept down in the cabin. When I got back to Bali, I changed my return ticket to Ubud and got in a van.
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