The Climb – Mount Batu, Bali

I awoke, much like most other nights due to jet lag, just before 2am. I rolled out of bed and got myself ready. Walking up to the entrance way of my bungalow the gate was closed, but I had no idea whom I was waiting for so I just stood a little like a deer in headlights and waited. I listened to the noises of the early morning, the chirping of the crickets, a cat meowing in the distance, a dog barking, and then suddenly I heard footsteps down the path.image

I waited, my heart slowly rising in my throat, just in case this wasn’t what I thought. A man dressed for colder weather than it was turned to look through the gate and said, “Michele?” Oh good, it was my guide.

imageI got into the large van and in the front seat sat an older lady than myself. Her name was Janet, she was from the United States but was living in Europe, and she too decided to join this early morning undertaking. We stopped at one more bungalow and picked up Clara, Thomas, and Karen, three Austrians.

The sun was still slumbering behind the mountains as we arrived at a make-shift picnic area. The sign said it was a coffee plantation, but I had learned by then that there were so many of these that it really didn’t make a difference if it was. We were served tea or coffee and the traditional breakfast for tourists, a banana “pancake.” It’s more like a think crepe, but fried dough is fried dough in that part of the world. Once we had finished and exchanged a few “get to know yous” we got back in the van and continued our venture.image

We arrived in the parking lot and the place was packed full of other tourists. Janet was very disappointed, as she thought this would be a more intimate adventure, but it seems that in Bali no attraction is.image

Our driver handed us off to three other guides, whose names unfortunately escape me. The three of them were to take us up along with another van of people. There was a group of five french travellers and Charlotte who was from England.

We began our accent, the ground riddled with dust and loose gravel. Charlotte and I began conversing and soon she was to become my trekking buddy. The path was at a slight incline, but all I could see were my feet and where I was putting them with the small flashlight I was provided. The night wasn’t all together dark, as the moon was to be full the next night.image

Soon, the very large hoard of tourists broke off into too groups and the trail began to worsen, the rocks became larger and looser and the dust began to get deeper. As my footing became wobblier I felt bad for Charlotte. The only shoes she had were a pair of Toms, while I was wearing Nike trail climbers and was still having a rough time. I couldn’t imagine how bad the trail was for her. Needless to say, the second half of her climb was spent holding the hand of one of our guides so she wouldn’t plummet down the slope.image

Sweat began to accumulate on my back and brow, and I felt that maybe the t-shirt and shorts combo was a little too much clothing. The “easy hike” as was advertised was not the case. I felt that I was pretty fit before this trek, but sadly it made me realize just how out of shape I am. The trail became a literal climb up a rocky, volcanic slope.

imageThe dust that coated everything began to cover all of me and as my short legs had trouble reaching for the next step my hands came into play far more than I thought I would need them on a “hike.” The rocks were porous and uneven, most them of loose. I slipped more than I would care to admit and I heard many people doing the same.

I took a look out over the trail below me and in the dark I could see the little lights of all the flashlights climbing behind me and when I looked up I could see the same lights climbing above me, and as they twisted up into the peak I realized I had quite the way left to go and my heart sank into my stomach a little. But when I looked out over beyond the trail I could see the dim lights of Kitamani the view was enough to lift me back up to my task.

We stopped at a rest area by a shrine where our guides asked us to wait while they prayed. Our group got quiet then Charlotte told me to look up. The amount of stars I was able to see only rivalled that of when I was young and attending a wedding in Merritt, BC. I saw clusters of little stars I had never been able to see. I felt the vastness of it all encircling me and I could have stared up at that sky for hours, Charlotte agreed with me, but we had to keep moving.

The climb began to ware on me and I was slowly losing my pace. When Janet told the guides we didn’t need a second break I was ready to kick her. But, I kept moving, albeit a little further behind the others.

Finally, we made it to the top! Oh, no wait I was wrong. This was the first point, if we so chose we could continue on to the summit. Well, I’d come this far it was only reasonable that I make it to the top. I got a second wind and climbed with vigour, even though the back of my shirt was drenched with sweat and my hands was dusty and raw. We were about ten minutes from the top when the sun began to peak over Mount Agung, the tallest peak in Bali, in the distance. Janet took a second to snap a picture, but I wanted to finish the climb before getting out my camera. The last bit of the way was mostly just deep volcanic dust up a steep incline. It was difficult to lift your feet through it and my shoes were filled with the stuff, it was in my socks and between my toes. I ignored the discomfort and kept my pace steady.

This was it, I had made it. I had summited a volcano! I stood at the top gazing out at the horizon, at the spectacular Mount Agung with Lake Kitamani tucked in underneath it. The sun rose slowly and I watched as the clouds crossed over the view slowly.

Once I had taken this all in Janet suggested to me and Charlotte that we climb up a touch hiker and take a photo with the Mount Batu summit sign. We did just that. But, as we came back down to our little perch the clouds rolled in completely over the view and it was a complete white-out. I was grateful for taking what pictures I did before the view became just a white slate.

As we stood at the top people were bundling up. I was soaked through with my own perspiration and didn’t notice the cold at first, having done ten years of winter season soccer in BC I was used to short sleeves and shorts in cold weather. But as we became stagnant waiting for the clouds to pass the chill hit my wet sink and a deep cold began to come over me. I hadn’t realized when I was getting ready that morning that I was still in essence climbing a volcano, that the air was thin and chilled at the top, despite being in a tropical climate. People were wearing hats and scarves and thick jackets as I stood there in my shorts and t-shirt. I was clearly that crazy Canadian girl. I laughed at my own naivety.

Our guides gave us breakfast, hard boiled eggs cooked in the steam of the mountain and banana sandwiches (literally bananas between white slices of bread). Once we had finished we began our decent down the mountain.

Our “hike” turned more into a skating down a slope in thick volcanic dust. When we reached the rockier portions I looked at what I had climbed up and was so grateful that I couldn’t see further than where I had been putting my feet earlier. I would have been convinced that I wouldn’t have been able to do it had I seen the slope before hand. I would have thrown down my backpack, sat down and said “Forget it, I can’t do that? Who do you think I am?” Charlotte thought the exact same thing.

Our shoes filled to the brim with dust, rocks, and sand we stopped to empty them, which didn’t help much. My legs and feet were greyed from the dirt.

After this our guides took us over to the volcanic crater, showed us the steam rising from inside, brought us to the bat caves, and showed us a hot spot on the mountain. At the hot spot, I got to create a whole bunch of smoke by blowing the smoke from a cigarette into the opening, creating a reaction that made the steam visible. Only me and one other girl dared to try it.

We of course ran into some monkeys and one of our guides gave them the uneaten banana sandwiches from the morning.

As we descended the trail became lighter and I stopped being as careful as I had been. With my bad right ankle and my injured left knee I was super diligent with my steps. Of course, the first sign of asphalt I let down my guard, as did Charlotte. First Charlotte slipped. Having slipped quite a few times in those terrible shoes, she cursed them, then laughed and got up. I also slipped, but I of course aggravated my MLC again and had to limp a while. I still had roughly twenty minutes to walk back to the car though, so I sucked it up, stopped myself from limping, and just went with it.

Fortunately, my knee got the idea and the swelling wasn’t terrible and the pain subsided by the time I had reached the car. Apparently, in my case walking it off was the best remedy.

By the time we returned to the parking lot it was after 10am. I had climbed a volcano and returned from its summit alive all before noon.

The Heart Ubud

When I came across the Royal Palace in Ubud, I didn’t really believe it was a palace. Like most homes in Ubud the outside was ornate and a little difficult to discern if it was a residence or a temple, as I found most doorways in Bali are. However, the palace’s most prominent quality is that it is located directly in the centre of Ubud, conveniently across from the Tourist Information “centre.” I say “centre” because it’s literally just a desk with two people seated behind it selling maps and answering questions.image

imageI entered the palace grounds and found them to be quite pretty. The ground had a noticeable amount of litter and of course I stepped in a piece of gum right off the bat, brilliant. As I looked around the palace grounds my right foot kept reluctantly lifting from the ground, annoying me quite a bit. I began to ignore it and take in the sights around me.

The palace is a prime example of the time and effort that the Balinese people put into their ornate buildings. Each pilar, post, and doorway is carved with such detail and every other corner has a detailed statue of a deity or other religious figure or guardian.

imageThere were a few tourist there with me, taking photos and wandering about. The palace is still inhabited by the royal family, who really just have the title and the palace left. The grounds seem a little touristy and cold, understandably since it is one of the main tourist attractions in Ubud. I could still appreciate the sights however, but I really didn’t spend more than fifteen minutes there.

Next, was Pura Saraswati or The Lotus Temple.

imageBefore going onto the grounds I sat down at Cafe Lotus, which overlooks the lotus gardens of Saraswati. I walked in and a few people were seated close by the garden view, I too took a seat there. I ordered and looked out at the lotus garden. It was not in full bloom and while a few of the bright pink lotuses were opened to revel in the sunlight, the garden looked quite bare. I felt as if the city and years of tourists had taken its toll on these beautiful plants and they were struggling to keep a float.image

A very informal photo shoot was taking place in the garden as I ate my delicious lunch. It looked to be a Japanese photoshoot for a wedding dress. It definitely wasn’t for a wedding because it was literally the photographer, a bride and groom, and a few crew people. They spent about half an hour taking photographs with Saraswati as their backdrop before packing up and moving on.image

After journaling a bit and finishing up in the cafe I walked over into the garden to see the temple. Again, the inner sanctum of the temple was closed so I walked the well worn stone walkway around the garden and temple entrance.

As much as I can reveal in the details of the intricate work on all these buildings, at this point they did start to look very similar. What sets Saraswati apart is the lotus garden which it overlooks. The temple itself was not overly impressive, just another temple really, but still worth a look if you’re in Ubud. This was only another fifteen minutes or so.

imageI also wandered into the Ubud market place. The market is situated between the two main roads of Ubud and is quite easy to find, it’s quite literally across the street from the palace.

imageThe hustle and bustle of all the little shops was nearly overwhelming. I thought I would be venturing between craft and produce vendors, but I was sadly mistaken.

The market place is really just shop after shop of the exact same souvenir products in various qualities and prices. Literally every shop had the same things. Basically, it’s choose who you want to barter with.image

I wasn’t too big into purchasing anything, but I watched as the tourists gawked and yelled and talked with the locals. Some tourists were far more savvy than others.

I myself finally saw something that someone at home would love so I stopped to purchase it. I asked the lady how much it was, and she gave me a dazed look and answered. I said nothing and stared at the product in my hands, hoping she would lower the price the longer I stood there. She looked at me and said “You can negotiate price. Say lower.” Th nice woman was teaching me how to haggle. Her kindness to my ignorance with beautiful so I didn’t go nearly as low as I had intended to originally. Despite trying to make a buck everywhere, the Balinese are very kind hearted in the end.

imageI also ventured into the Neka Art Museum, which was located across the street from the alley which housed my bungalow.

imageThe term “museum” is used loosely here, as the building seems to be a random building with paintings sparsely hung up on the walls where they fit. There was no information on any of the paintings, no dates or names, no signs of any kind. I felt as if I was walking through someone’s home that was fiercely over decorated but had little to no furniture.

When I walked in, I felt as if I wasn’t supposed to be there. The door was open, but I didn’t see another person at all. However, the paintings caught my eye and I began to move slowly throughout each room, taking a good few minutes to take in each painting.image

I was grateful to be out of the sun, but the air in the museum was still hot and think. It was amazing the range in artistic style that the Balinese have in their artwork. The more traditional paintings were hung up in the first room and the intricate details in the paintings only rivalled that of their buildings. It’s clear that the Balinese take their time when it comes to their art.image

As I made my way around, taking in each painting and allowing the images to provoke a little something in me, a family of four walked into the gallery. I had barely finished the second room when I saw them walk out again, roughly ten minutes later. I ended up spending an hour and a half looking at all the paintings.image

The styles were very different. Some of the intericate traditional paintings blew me away, I could look at them for hours finding new and unique details. Others were more conceptual and you had to take a step back to take in the whole of the scene and understand what you were looking at. Most of the paintings depicted traditional Balinese scenes.image

My favourite were among the still life style, they were so beautifully and skillfully done. Others of course where more of a modern art style, which I still don’t understand. If I, with the art skills of a four-year-old, can produce a similar if not identical painting then it’s not art to me. It needs to have emotion and skill behind it, case closed.image

The Neka Gallery was definitely a great choice to see and if you’re ever in Ubud and take delight in paintings, go see it. It’s amazing.

(More posts to come soon, my internet connection is unhappy with the picture uploading process. Please stand by as I try to find suffiicant technologies as I travel about.)

The Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud

I ventured down into the heart of Monkey Forest Street and I found what I had gone there for, the Sacred Monkey Forest. imageTourists littered the sidewalks and cars trying to park and leave the parking lot held up traffic. Trying to cross the street to the entrance I almost got hit by many a vespa.

imageI made it to the entrance, where near by there was a sign that explained how the Monkey Forest was a free range monkey sanctuary, it was their home and it was not to be damaged. I entered, at the small price of 30,000 rupiahs or $3.

When you enter the Monkey Forest a quiet follows you in. The sounds of the bustling city don’t seem to penetrate the foliage, even though the forest is in the middle of the city. Everything is paved, but the forest is green and lush around the pathways. Monkeys do really roam free everywhere. Some are more docile than others.

As I arrived into the first open area, there was a small pond ornate with the common statues seen in most sacred spaces in Ubud. The monkeys were crawling all over everything, including the people. image

I made my way towards a few stairs which led off into the middle of the jungle. It’s interesting how they can keep a jungle lush and alive in the midst of a city. I walked across a beautiful bridge with gorgeous statues at one end. There was a small temple there and, as most temples, was closed apart from scared ceremonies. I continued to follow the path and found myself looking into the eyes of two stone reptiles, large and beautiful, perched over a small stream of water.

imageThen, heading back towards the main pond, I took another path that led me to the Sacred Monkey Temple. It stood proud and solemn on the edge of the jungle. It was by far the largest temple I had yet to see and the intricate stone carvings that made up the structure were impressive to say the least.
I took another path that led me further into the jungle and as I progressed it looked as if I was deep in the heart of the jungle, when really I was technically still inside a city.

I followed this path and the monkeys were everywhere around me, in the trees and running along the path. Some were lounging, others were jumping from branches above me, some where brawling with one another, and others were slowly walking the trail. I walked to the end of the trail andimage turned to make my way back, a little ways in I saw a mother with her baby clung to her chest. I bent down close to take a picture, which I got, but as the infant noticed me he let go of his mother, walked up to me and held my fingers. He was so sweet and curious. I almost went to pet him when I felt something pushing on my backpack.

imageAn adolescent monkey was posed, ready to jump up on me. I stood up and the baby scurried to his mother, while the adolescent looked intrigued. I watched him and he made to jump up on me. I quickly blocked him with my foot and he hit it, dumbfounded as to what had happened. He gave me an angry look and was about to try again when I began to walk away. The cheeky monkey was angry and began to stalk me down the path. He wanted something on my pack, one of my pins I suspect. I feared this may result in me being bitten and subsequently having to get a rabies shot. Luckily, a french couple walked right between me and the angry monkey, severing his attention. The adolescent monkey jumped onto the french girl’s backpack. While I felt bad for her, I was relieved that I had avoided a monkey bite.image

imageAt this point I felt that it was likely time to stop pushing my luck and get out of the Monkey Forest. I headed back towards the entrance and as I did I was able to capture a few more precious monkey moments on camera. I caught a couple of mothers with their infants clinging to her, two infants wrestling through the leaves, and an over-indulged elderly monkey chowing down on a pile of yams.

All in all, the Sacred monkey Forest was quite the little experience.image

Turn the Right Corner

My first day in Ubud had a rough morning. The club only fifty metres away from my accommodations was blasting incessant dance music until late, when my jetlag kicked in and I was wide awake at 2am. I began to plan and number crunch and I discovered that my four month long trip may have to be significantly reduced so I don’t end up stranded in a foreign country without money.image

On that slightly downer note, the sun finally rose above the horizon and the roosters began to crow when I emerged from my room onto the small balcony that housed my breakfast table. I had been provided with a bottle of hot water for tea. At 7am I wandered downstairs and asked for breakfast, they soon brought me a plate with toast and scrambled eggs along side a small plate of bananas, papaya, and pineapple. I ate eagerly as I had nothing to eat since my in-flight meal roughly nine hours prior. I spent the morning writing and sipping tea in the hot sun, which soon became far too hot for my liking.

imageI ventured out with my camel pack in search of water to fill it. I found a near by corner store and bought three litres of water, which I poured into my pack on the street corner. The locals eyed me suspiciously as I pour bottles of water into my backpack.

I then bought a map and tucked it into my pack as back up. I began down one street and just walked and walked. I watched where other tourist went and followed a rather obscure trail, seeing nothing in particular.
A local man greeted me in the street and asked where I was from. I told him I was from Canada and he asked if I had seen the rice terraces.image I hadn’t and he offered to show them to me. I thought, “Wow, what a nice guy showing me where to see them.” Turns out I had just hired myself a walking guide without realizing it. But, I don’t regret the mistake one bit. His name was I Nyoman and he was a very sweet man. A glance into the rice terraces ended up to be a two and a half hour trek through the rice terraces, jungle, a visit to the Ayung River, a stop at a 900 year old banyang tree, and a trip into Bongkasa village where we visited the local hand-processing coffee, tea, and chocolate plantation.image

The rice terraces were like nothing I’d ever seen. As we walked through them, my sandals seemed like the worst choice. I ended up all muddy and my new sandals were well broken in by the end of our trek. My fimageeet didn’t survive as well. I Nyoman told me that each stalk of rice needs to be planted by hand and then pulled by hand. Seeing the thousands upon thousands of rice stalks I came to appreciate the rice I ate later in the day.
The jungle walk was amazing. I saw plants and creatures I normally would never have seen, as well as views that I could never have seen on my own. The walk was really more of a hike and I was so grateful for my camel pack, I would have been utterly dehydrated without it.image

We then came to the 900 year old banyang tree. It was incredible and I couldn’t capture it with a single photo or any photo for that matter.image

Finally we ended up in Bongkasa at the coffee, tea, and chocolate plantation. A tiny little place where Seeta greeted us and showed us around the garden. I got to see how the world’s most expensive coffee was made, digested by the Luwak before it was collected and de-shelled one bean at a time. imageThen she sat us down and I got to taste all their teas and coffees for free, along with a plate of milk, vanilla, and orange chocolate. I didn’t taste the coffees because I’m allergic, but the teas were amazing.image

I Nyoman then asked if I’d like to walk back to Ubud or taxi. I was filthy and sweaty and needed a shower, I opted for the taxi. imageI think his “taxi” was actually just his sister and her car. I ended up paying him 500,000 rupiahs or $50 for the trek, but it was worth it. I got to experience some amazing views, which I would not have seen without I Nyoman.

All this and my day was only half over.


Flying Into the Unknown

Thirteen hours is a rough amount of time to be sitting when you should be sleeping. Unfortunately, I didn’t do much sleeping. The loud, over-bearing droan of the plane’s engines made it difficult for my brain to function, while the sleep deprivation made it even more difficult for my brain to function over a basic level of intelligence. So, instead of reading, writing, or doing anything productive really I sat and watched four in-flight movies and forced myself in and out of moments of almost sleep.

The best part about ordeing a special meal on a plane? You get your food first. While everyone was waiting to be fed, I had my tray and had finished before the food even made it to our row. Sometimes there are perks to having dietary restrictions.

After the painstaking hours of sitting, I finally arrived in Honk Kong. The hustle and bustle wasn’t terrible, but I had to go through security again, which I found to be a bit odd. At what point between my gate and the hallway to the departure gates would I have accumulated any type of contriban? Apparently it must have happened before.

As I passed my second round of security with flying colours, I accended the escalator to the departures floor and could only think “So, I’ve made it to the mall, but where’s the airport?” Hong Kong airport is shops upon designer shops upon food courts, restaurants, and cafes. I had to venture out into far out halls to even find where the gates were. The best part was the flight gates were changing at the drop of a hat. Every third announcment over the loud speaker was to explain that flights had new departure gates, mine included. However, when I had first reached the airport, three hours before my next flight, the departures board didn’t even have a posted gate for my flight. I believe it to be a clever rouse so that you wander the airport, not knowing what gate to sit at in order to look into the emence amount of shops so that you spend your money. Call me a consiracy theorist, but it all seems just a little too unorganized for an international hub.

When I finally get on the second plane, a half hour later than expected, I twist and turn in my seat. Fatigue has finally caught up with me. I’m grouchy and sore from sitting. At this point I’ve been awake for nearly twenty hours, give or take a half hour doze. I order a glass of red wine with my meal, hoping that it knocks me out. Thanksfully this aircraft has the pillows that stick out the side of the seat, so my head can rest in a relatively comfortable position without me invading the personal space of the rather large gentleman next to me. The wine does the trick, for about an hour and a half. Better than nothing I suppose. I end up watching another movie, then drifting in and out of conciousness until I feel the plane’s wheel hit the tarmac.

As I exit the plane a wall of humidity and heat hits me, adding to my somewhat weathered mood. The air has a slight spice to it here, unlike the crisp, cooling air of home. It’s not an overbearing fragrance, but a slight hit of something thick and warm, something like a mild curry sauce.
Unlike most airports I’ve been to, Denpasar’s is rather bare on the inside, just a wide open room with a winding line through to customes. As I stood in line, a young man stood behind me. Behind him I hear the familiar judgemental comments of two Czech couples. I almost wanted to laugh, turn, and say to them in czech, “You know, it’s really not that bad at all.” While the line moved at a decent pace, it was very long so I spent some time with these people. I started to irgnore the complaining czech couples when the guy behind me asked, “Are you from Canada?” I have quite a few little flag pins on my backpack so it was a fair question. We get to talking and I discovered that this fellow seasoned traveler is named DJ and he’s from California. Finally, we get up to the booths and DJ pointed out an open one for me.

I worried that something would go wrong with my form. I haven’t yet purchased my ticket to Auckland and so there’s no exit date on my deparute slip. But, the customes agent said nothing as he took my passport, stamped it, shuffled a few papers, inserted a few documents, and handed it all back to me. I smiled at him and a corner of his mouth rose ever so slightly, but nothing more.

I found my backpack in a sea of other backpacks layed out on the floor by the baggage carasel. I saw DJ there and he watched as I awkwardly threw my rather large pack on my back and pulled my daypack onto my front. He asked if I needed a hand, but I said I was alright. We walked through to the exit together and we discover that all our bags had to be put through an x-ray machine before we leave. I struggled to get everything off and on again once it had gone through. I had told DJ that I hadn’t yet exchanged my money and needed to find a place to do so. As we exit the terminals right by the entrance there’s a money exchange. DJ and I exchange pleasant words and he goes on his way. He was headed to Kuta, the last stop on my list, while I was headed for Ubud.

I finally got everything I needed, grabbing a slip for a taxi, sunscreen, and a very large bottle of water. When I got out to the front the taxi drivers greeted me, each one wearing the same blue and white shirt. An older fellow approched me, gestured that I follow him. He was very kind, even when I told him my accodidations only had a street name, no buliding number. He nodded, his white hair a contrast to his dark tanned skin. When he turned to face the road, I noticed he had a flower petal tucked behind his ear and an offering baskest set upon his dash.

As we drove through Denpasar I noticed that there was an underlying struggle going on in this country, the same one that happens in many countries. The clash between westernization and tradition was abundantly clear the moment we had left the airport parking lot. This war had literally left rubble in its wake. Between traditionally built buildings and modernized structures there were lots filled with building rubble. I also noticed the abundance of trash everywhere. It was unfortunate bcause the city itself was quite nice. Nothing arcitecturally similar to the towering cities of Europe, but I still saw a weathered beauty in the buildings.

According to Google Maps Ubud was supposed to be a fourty-five minute drive from the airport. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t condiser traffic in these far off countries. It took closer to an hour and a half before reaching Ubud. Panic about how much I’d have to pay for this ride started to sink in, but then I noticed that the meter wasn’t running. As we drove I dozed, but I tried desperately to stay awake. Finally we reached the street on which my accomidations were supposed to be, but we couldn’t find it. He offered to drop me off at the tourist information centre and I agreed. Once he unloaded my bag I waited for the worst, that the money I had just exchanged would all go to him. He smiled and asked for 350,000 rupiahs. A sigh of relief washed over me, $35 for an almost two hour drive. I seriously considered taking a taxi across the island to my next destination, which is just over an hour away from here.

I threw my pack on and went into the tourist office. Even the lady there wasn’t sure where my “hotel” was and I began to question what sort of place I had booked for myself. She got out her ipad and looked it up, “200 meters that way then turn left,” was her answer. Ok, thanks. It was dark out now and while the streets are well lit I was getting nervous. Finally, I wandered to where I thought I was supposed to be and clearly looked utterly lost. A local man asked if I needed a taxi, I asked him where the “Kori Bali Inn 2” was. He smiled and told me to walk around the football field turn left. I did so and still had no clue of where I was going. As I slowed my pace and looked around at the buildings, two local women asked me if I was lost. Again, I asked about the Kori Bali Inn 2. They grinned, as if this happens all the time, and told me to follow this street. Well, this street turned into an alley with no lights and I started to think the locals where sending me into a trap of some kind. Well, they weren’t because I ended up finding it very much off the beaten path.

I got into my room and while I was relieved to find that I had somewhere to sleep, I wasn’t really pleased with my surroundings. The shower fosests were coming out of the walls, the water took ages to warm up above ice cold, and the water pressure was awful. Not to mention the door lock is literally a wooden board between the handles.

If I were a large male I don’t think this would really be an issue and at $15 a night including breakfast it’s a great deal. But for a girl like me, while still tough I’m rather small and easily over powered. I also don’t feel good about leaving anything valuable in my room, forcing me to bring all my documents and electronics everywhere. Thankfully, I thought ahead and only booked two nights, allowing me to find other accomidations. This time I booked with Expedia because I have before and I trust them. I’ll be heading there in roughly seven hours. Jetlag has made me rise before the sun.

So, as I layed my head down to rest that first night, homesickness hit my hard. I missed my loved ones and had trouble getting comfortable. I finally got to sleep at eight, but I woke soon after because a night club sits fifty meters away from the “hotel.” I had to attempt to sleep through the terrible club music. I woke at two in the morning, regardless of how exhausted I felt. I spent the early morning planning out my trip, well figuring out where to next and what to see. Also, figuring out dates for plane tickets. I kept myself as busy as I could, trying here and there to sleep. Well, the sun did end up rising on a new day…

Before I step out the door…

The clock reads 7:41pm. In just over two hours I’ll be stepping out my door and watching the world I know rush past the car window, I’ll arrive at the airport I’ve been to countless times, I’ll hug the ones I love and I’ll sit and I’ll wait.

There’s always waiting involved to build the anticipation, the anxiety, and the excitement. I’ll sit in that terminal, twiddling my thumbs, pursing my lips, then pulling out my book, playing on my iPad, basically finding anything to distract me until that loud speaker anounces the boarding of my flight. That loud speaker that will say “You’re flight into the intimidating, exciting, rich, frightening unknown is ready, shall we?”

I’ve never been away from home for this long before, let alone on my own in a different country, a different world. There’s nothing holding me back from experiencing everything and doing nothing. Endless possibilities ebb at my feet and I’m just now realizing I’m about to dive in head first, flip-flops left at the shore with no life preserver and no life guard on duty.

The minutes tick by so slowly as I sit at my computer for the last time as this version of myself. I can’t help but wonder when I’ll be sitting in this exact seat next, what will have happened to me, how I will have changed, and what my life will be.

Two hours now. Alright, I’m ready, I think. Here comes the world, full force and ready to whip me into shape. Let’s find out what I’m made of shall we? I’m desperately hoping it’s not something soft and easily torn like flesh.

Next stop Hong Kong, current destination Ubud.