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…