After arriving late last night, Japan Airlines lost my bag, so I was fairly nonplussed about that. However, I knew I would have it the next day and just the smell of the air in Bali is enough to forget any troubles. This place may just be the perfect place to be. Since I didn’t have my bag, a bathing suit or a change of clothes from yesterday I decided to tour the island instead of hitting the beach today on my first day on Bali.
After Le Meridien’s killer breakfast spread I hired a driver to drive me around the island and started off in Kuta Beach where I spent most of the morning and can’t wait to go back tonight. Kuta is a backpackers paradise and you can see clearly why it is the budget accomodation capital of the Indonesian Archipelago. It is packed with surf shops, bodegas selling knockoff football jerseys, cheap restaurants, internet places and Aussies, Aussies and more Aussies which is always a welcome sight in my book.
Kuta Beach itself is a gorgeous crescent shaped beach and I can’t wait to hit it up tomorrow and do some surfing. I know I could’ve just bought some new trunks but I had just bought two new pairs in NYC right before I left so I decided to hold off one more day-I’ve been pale since Colombia in May so what’s another day!
I also spent my time in Kuta utilizing their wealth of travel agents to set up my trip to East Timor and Borobudur later in the week. I decided that since Bali is so awesome, I would pass on Borneo for this trip and wait until the next one because I didn’t want to rush it. I love the jungle and want to give it its proper due. Indonesia is a massive area and there is a lot to see and do-it’s nearly impossible to do it all in one shot and this is my second time here and I still will have to come back at least a third time. But that is fine with me.
After Kuta, Putu-my driver, took me up to Ubud in the center of the island. Ubud is known as the art and handicraft capital of Bali. As a veteran traveler that sounds like codeword for a lot of shops selling the same crap and everyone and their sister trying to get you to go into their shop. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how cool Ubud was.
Ubud had been recommended to me by people who know what I like and what I hate so I trusted their judgement and it was worth the trip up. I first visited the sacred monkey forest which was literally full of monkeys and who doesn’t like monkeys. It was cool to sit there and watch them battle over territory and hiss at each other and race around the old temples. The highlight of course was as a large group of tourists got together right where a male and female monkey were-the guide would somehow convince them to start mating and the crowd went nuts. Everyone was screaming, laughing and snapping pictures. The monkeys seemed not to mind as they played it up for the cameras so to speak!
After the monkeys I went and checked out the famous rice terraces and they are always awesome to see. Just like in the Philippines and only in Southeast Asia can you see these. The one I visited today was the biggest one on Bali and on a spectacular slope that gave it a great visual quality and made for great pictures. I will upload the pictures when I get back home.
After the terraces he took me to a bunch of cool temples and to the Kingdom of Ubud where they are preparing for the King on July 15th. The highlight of visiting these temples was simply a sign at one of the temples that read and spelled exactly, “During menstruation, women are strickly forbidden from entering temples”. How’s that for women’s lib?!
After a long and hot day I was pretty jetlagged from the 24 hour flight yesterday and my head was pounding from a combination of that and the four huge Bintang beers I drank last night at the hotel so I headed back to the hotel because I really needed some Advil and hoped that my bag had arrived. No such luck, and then I started freaking because my head hurt so much and I had no medicine. I had bought the stongest Indonesian headache pills earlier and they worked as though I had taken nothing at all. I am one of those people whether it be mentally of physically-only Advil helps me and finally after agonizing all day my bag finally arrived at like 8pm. I quickly popped three Advil-instantly felt better, ate dinner and here I am typing away and feeling great. After a nice long shower, I am going to check out the legendary Bounty Bar in Kuta. I saw it today when I was walking around and it looks like a lot of fun and is the center of Balinese nightlife-should be interesting!