Back from Bali

Early yesterday morning I returned back to Melbourne after a brief sojourn in Bali for one week. It was bliss. My boyfriend and I are lucky enough to be in the time in our lives where we are able to drop everything and go anywhere on a whim. We had talked about the holiday for quite a while, but it was a bit fuzzy and nothing was locked in until a few weeks ago. Once we decided on Bali, the trip was booked in a day or two. It was quite possibly the quickest sale our travel agent ever made, that’s for sure!

We left early Monday morning and arrived in Denpasar at about midday in Indonesian time. We had previously organised through a friend for someone to ‘help us out’ at Denpasar airport: getting us through customs and getting a taxi quickly, all for a small fee. A bribe, perhaps? Perhaps. But it was very nice being able to walk through the reserved ‘Diplomat/Official’ area in customs and get straight into a taxi. It was an interesting insight into the entrepreneurial spirit of this particular young man, and also at the apparent ease with which palms must have been greased. However, I am sure this goes on in  many other countries, quite possibly including Australia – we just happened to be privy to it in Bali.

It was pouring when we hopped off the plane, although it was still hot. We thought we were there for wet season, but apparently that finishes in January, so it was just the tropical climate showing off to great effect. Driving along the roads from the airport, it seemed quite similar to Thailand, with lots of little stalls and makeshift shops by the road. Immediately you can see that these people work so hard for their business.

We were dropped at our villas, and spent 6-and-a-half blissful days there. It is quite possible to live like royalty in Bali without blowing the budget too much. Despite similarities to Thailand in respect to the the country’s appearance and the traffic situation (much more on that later), it soon became apparent that Bali has been solely designed for tourists in a different way to what I experienced in Thailand. I packed so lightly, and figured I would buy sarongs and  dresses from stalls on the street quite cheaply, and that I would get lots of Bali souvenirs too. Wrong. In Seminyak, where we stayed, there are so many nice-looking Wester-style shops targeted at the tourists, with Western-style prices too. They sold practically the same things we could buy in Melbourne for the same, or a higher, price.

I find the Western influence in Asia interesting, apparent in their fashions and particularly in the abundance of skin-whitening creams available. As a very light-skinned person, I have always found it hard growing up in Australian and being unable to tan. I have now come to terms with it and love the skin I’m in (literally), but it is still bizarre that these creams take the place of fake tan lotions in Australia. Travelling is so useful in providing a sense of perspective, and this is one example of that. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and colours, and it is important to remember that there is a whole other world out there which may see things differently to you. It is so refreshing and unifying, in a funny way, because it shows that we are all humans with our opinions and our flaws, and thoughts we once considered unmovable may actually just be a product of our culture or our own minds. That’s perspective.

We didn’t get to travel too much this time, but I will definitely go back to Bali to discover more because the people were so lovely. So lovely. And not in a partronising way because we were obviously tourists. Unlike America, tipping is not the custom in Indonesia, and the labour there is very cheap. We experienced a few taxi driver’s trying to upsell on their services, but I can’t blame them because they were having a particularly quiet time due to the Japanese tsunami. The staff at our reception desk said that they had already had numerous cancellations from Japanese tourists, and at the salon down the street one of the ladies said they had only had three customers that day. There were about five staff on. There weren’t too many tourists around when we went, so I understand that it’s a hard time for the Balinese and everyone needs to make a living. Despite this,  all of the people we met did not expect or assume anything about us, and were genuinely lovely. When we tipped at the end of our taxi rides, it was clear that the drivers were honestly not expecting it, and that it meant a lot to them. The taxi rides are comparatively very cheap in Indonesia, that it felt ridiculous not to tip. I don’t want to be a patronising Westerner and act like myself alone can save developing countries, but it can be heart-wrenching to see constant desperation. If I can afford to bring a bit of sunshine to someone’s day, whoever they are, then I like to do that.

Our room was lovely, and we really made the most of it. We were fortunate enough to be staying in a beautiful villa with our own private pool, which we used every single morning. We had breakfast brought to us each morning, by the lovely, lovely staff. Honestly, the people in Bali were so nice, they are the main reason why I would return. They are so kind, patient and respectful. We wanted a relaxing holiday, and that is what we got, so that we often would not leave our room until late in the afternoon. The staff were so understanding and would happily drive us to nearby shops in Seminyak or to Kuta or Jimbaran. This shuttle service was included in our accomodation and was so useful to be able to go straight to our destination and just get a taxi home. Even though we were there for just under a week, it is funny how quickly you become familiar with a new place. Soon we were able to give directions and know where we were, which is always a good thing! I had been dying to go travelling again since our New York trip last year, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

We had so many fun times, beautiful meals and great conversations in Bali, and I would love to go back. Yesterday, I experienced the ‘come down’ I always feel when I return from a holiday, and am still getting over it. Writing helps, as does knowing that I can go back whenever I like and it will still be there. My fabulous boyfriend and I spent all day, every day together, and it still wasn’t enough. I am a handful at times, but the trip was so healing and good for us. He is the greatest travel companion, and I can’t wait to go away with him again. I am incredibly lucky to have someone so special in my life, who loves me unconditionally and whom I love unconditionally in return, and our holiday reinforced just how in love we are. Aww!

So, back to reality in my lovely home town of Melbourne. After a stressful time getting to the airport, both in Denpasar and changing to the domestic airport in Perth, with literally 20 minutes until the flight left, I am glad to be back on home soil. Our brief holiday allowed me to get a grip on some things in my life, and in a way helped me to start taking the next step in my journey. I feel like I’m at a crossroads and that some changes need to be made, and this is starting to happen now. Scary, exciting and exhilarating all at once! Ahh, to be a young adult.

There will most likely be more posts about our divine time in Bali, including some of the fabulous food we chowed down on. There were a few restaurants we were lucky to go to, with unbelievable ocean views. Next post, I will tell you all about them. Yum!

I hope you are all well, and enjoying your Tuesday. See you soon!