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Thursday, July 15, 2010

On a Bali High

I have been neglecting my blogging since my split second decision to follow three friends I made in Lake Toba to Bali. I had not planned on cruising down to Bali at all but on July 5th Diego, from Argentina and Virginie and Fernando from Spain said I should forget my South Sumatra plans and go with them the next morning to Bali. I must say it feels so great to have the freedom to think for about 5 minutes over a plate of curry: Hmm, Bali tomorrow? Yeah sure, what the hell, why not?!
And so after a hellish day and a half by ferry-bus-plane-bus-ferry (complete with 3 breakdowns and a lovely 7 hours seated on the aisle floor of a top-notch Sumatran local bus)we landed in Kuta, Bali with dreams of paradise beaches and instead found the equivalent of Miami Beach. After a few much needed and I promise you well deserved beers I was starting to wonder if I was going to regret leaving Toba's tranquility for Vegas on the beach complete with Starbucks on every corner, hoardes of tourists and inflated prices.
But don't give up on Bali so easily! The next morning, as difficult as it was to imagine yet ANOTHER bus we made it about an hour north of Kuta to Padang Bai, a lovely little dive-oriented town with down to earth travelers and crystal clear water. After a day of much needed rest on the beach the four of decided to have a Motorcycle Diaries moment and rented 2 motorbikes for 5 days, left our big bags behind, grabbed a map and headed up the coast for probably the greatest 5 days I can ever imagine having. I can say with 100 percent certainty that we did Bali proud.
It's been five incredible days of zipping around the island, sleeping wherever we happened to be when it got dark in all kinds of places. One night in an AWESOME hotel after driving in total darkness longer than I was comfortable with and on some pretty precarious roads. We were able to bargain down to a ridiculously cheap price because it was so late and I think the lady took pity on us and just asked that we not share with other guests the price we were given.
After a morning lounging in the pool that flowed right into the ocean we continued on into the center of the island up to the spectacular rice terraces and a taste of more traditional Balinese culture. I don't know what it is about Bali, but the emerald green colors of the farms and rice paddies here are incredible. There aren't enough words to describe the shades of green. Same goes for my feelings riding on the back of a bike through the roads in central Bali. All I can say is, you know that feeling you get in the top of your chest when you are REALLY happy and just can't help but have a massive smile plastered across your face that you couldn't wipe off if you tried? Well, that was me. And on top of it, I was with friends that I know I will keep in touch with for a lifetime. I've never laughed so much as the last few days.
Everyone talks about how crowded and touristy Bali is but that was not our experience at all. Most people I think stick to their resort on the beach and the few places you can get a tourist shuttle to. All I can say is don't write Bali off - just do it on your own and have an adventure. Yes, you might end up with a sweet deal at a secluded hotel on the beach for a night or you might end up in a roach infested room with mental-institution lighting and a bathroom I won't even begin to describe because I'm still trying to mentally block it. But you will see it all and with the wind in your hair and 24/7 smile on your face.
The sunrise photos here were taken at the top of Batur Volcano looking across a lake to Mount Agung. We hiked up at 3am, made it to the top for 6:30am sunrise and back down to the bikes by 9am. By Noon we were the only 4 people swimming in the pools of a spectacular waterfall a local pointed us toward after feeding us the best meal ever that he somehow whipped up on his little portable kitchen attached to his bike. Yeah, that basically sums up my week :)
Yesterday we returned the bikes and turned a sleepy bar back in Padang Bai into a Spanish discotheque thanks to Virginie's ipod before the four of us parted ways this morning. Tomorrow I'll ferry to Singapore and in 5 days I will be in home sweet home Sydney! And I can't believe it. It has been the fasted 3 and a half months and I really don't know how I feel about rejoining "real life." least it will be real life in AUSTRALIA! I have never felt so grateful for the life I have right now. I miss my family more than ever before and the friends I love back home but I'm having the time of my life and feel pretty content not knowing what my life is going to be like a month from now.
Ok, I'll have to save the reflections for next time cuz I hear a grilled tuna calling my name for dinner.

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