Last summer I took a two week trip to Indonesia for a vacation, as well as to attend my flatmate’s wedding. I finally got around to typing up my journal entries, so here they are. I’ll take my chances that you won’t mind if they are 8 months late! Forgive the lack of serious editing; sometimes travel writing should be left as it is, stream of consciousness and abruptness and all.
This trip was off to a glorious start of sitting for 3 hours on the tarmac at the gate in DC because of thunderstorms, but luckily I didn’t realize it until an hour into the trip because true to form I had completely passed out the minute I got into my seat. My ticket from Zurich to Singapore was a separate ticket so there would be no help rebooking from the airline. I was about 10 minutes away from rebooking online via my phone after grilling the flight attendants as to the likelihood of making my connection when the pilot announced that our re-routing was approved. What a relief! I made the connection in Zurich with only a few minutes to spare (one of the last ones on the plane), and did a good job of sleeping most of the way. Sleeping on planes is my real-life superpower. True story. Upon arrival in Singapore I discovered Air Asia has no transfer desk, so I had to clear customs and immigration and actually go into Singapore in order to check in. Just because I could I left the airport and tried to find a beverage (without drinking a beverage of some kind in a place you can’t say you have actually been there). ATMs don’t give out coins and the credit card readers on the vending machines wouldn’t accept my cards so no luck there, but at least I got a couple more stamps in my passport.
I arrived in Bali looking and smelling like a homeless person, drove the hour and a half to Ubud (much more traffic than I expected) with the perpetually cheerful Alit and got settled into my room. Nick’s pension is located away from the main center of Ubud (thank god!) and has views into a garden with palm, Frangipani, and other kinds of trees.
A pool, a restaurant, a tour agency, it’s all self-contained.
I had the intention of staying awake until at least 9pm, but succumbed at around 7:30pm after a dinner of mango juice from a really nice lady down the street who recently opened a juice stand next to her house. Lunch was at 3:30pm so I didn’t need much to eat at that point. Indonesia is 12 hours ahead of DC, so due to jet lag I was up at 3:30am, then 4:30am, stayed in bed tossing and turning until 5:15am and finally got up and read on my verandah, watching the sky lighten and the birds tweet themselves awake until 6:30am. After breakfast and reading some more, I walked to the Spa 300 meters down the road to get a massage, body scrub, and flower bath. All for $16! It was fabulous. I tried to keep my thoughts present and breathe through the muscles the masseuse was working on, but it was a constant challenge. My mind kept drifting to boys, the Hash, the future, etc. I kept concentrating on my breath but it was not easy. I somehow knocked my hip out of shape on the plane sleeping on it wrong, and it was really, really sore. Interestingly enough, the massage didn’t help but the run later did.
More reading and some pool time, followed by a walk to a different part of Ubud and then I was off on the back of a motorbike to find the Bali H3.
Only one false positive for the temple marking the meeting point and we were there. This Hash** is slightly different than others I have previously visited – instead of separate runners and walkers trails, there is a short and long trail and you decide which one to run or walk. We climbed up vertical cliffs, forded swiftly-flowing rivers, ran on 6-inch-wide rice paddy dividers, and pushed our way through bamboo. No circle at the beginning, only at the end (which is all conducted in Bahasa Indonesian, so I didn’t understand anything), only one down-down song, and lots of the walkers start ahead of time – people sort of start where they want, and no beer check. The pack is never together. I met a bunch of great people, including a retired Brit with 43 years hashing (!) and a delightful young chap who agreed to trade shirts with me so I could have a souvenir from the Bali Hash. Fantastic stuff. My five finger Vibrams were a hit. And there was food. A parcel of minced chicken over rice in a banana leaf wrapped in paper (which I saved for later) and Chicken Satay.
Another gorgeous motorbike ride and I was home. So great to look at the stars and see the Southern Cross. I love how different the stars are in this hemisphere – it has been far too long…
**Confused? This should help…