Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Good morning, Bali!

After a marathon 4.5 week venture in Southeast Asia for work, I was finally able to take some time off for a little vacation. As I was ending my trip in Jakarta (where normally it falls at the beginning of my work trips to the region), I decided it was high time I get myself to Bali.

I arrived to sunshine and what I thought was very hot weather, but as I was waiting for my driver to get the vehicle at the airport, I felt a pleasantly cool breeze, which must have been coming off the ocean. It made me wish I were staying near the beach after all, just for that breeze, but I hoped that the interior parts wouldn't be too much hotter; the island isn't that big, relatively speaking.

I'm staying in Ubud, and what I didn't know it's more than an hour's drive from the airport in Denpasar. So much for Google maps assistance! By the time I reached my hotel, the rain had begun to pour like an angry monsoon. In fact it was raining so heavily that I couldn't even check in properly. The hotel doesn't have any sort of covered area for vehicles, so we had to run out in the rain to get to the lobby, and then they had me wait there (as the breakfast is there as well) at at a table and have tea until the rain lightened enough to bring out my bags. The area was outdoors but covered, and I enjoyed sipping tea in the cool air. I think I waited over half an hour, but there wasn't a whole lot of difference. Eventually they just decided they would have to tough it out. At least there is free wi-fi here, so I've been able to do this blog updating, especially helpful when the TV only has channels in Bahasa Indonesian, which is surprising since this area is so touristy.

Having said that, this is a far cry from Jakarta, which is filled with malls containing all the stores we have at home, as well as tons of designer stores we don't have at home because no one can afford to shop in them. Here, there are a lot of stores selling local handicrafts, paintings, wood carvings, things like that. It's quite a pretty area, what I've seen so far. I only really went out for a bit last night to get some food as I hadn't any time for lunch yesterday, and I wasn't able to get anything while it was raining. There were pretty much only tourists on the street, and all kinds of people soliciting passersby for taxis, food, and massages. I'm a little put off by the massage offers, though. I mean, someone is standing in almost an alleyway asking you if you'd like a massage; it makes me wonder what kind of a place it is. Not that I'll go for one at a reputable place either, but if I were ever tempted, I would definitely not go for an alleyway massage!

Having come down with a bit of a cold, I'm not going to overdo it for myself. I'll go out for a bit today and see things by daylight and then book some sort of tour for myself tomorrow so I can see some of the cultural and historical sites here. Then I come home.

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