Adventures as Miss Saigon

Breathtaking Bali

Posted on: April 12, 2011

I had booked my flights to Bali a while ago, before I decided to return home. Before moving here, I had joked around about spending a weekend in Bali, and knew I needed to make it happen while I was here. I had found a seat sale on Air Asia, and booked return flights from HCMC to Jakarta, Indonesia, then from Jakarta to Bali, as there were no direct flights from HCMC to Bali.

The drama started a few weeks ago with an email from Air Asia saying they had canceled my Friday night flight from HCMC to Jakarta and had rebooked me on a flight on the Saturday night…problem was, my flight from Jakarta to Bali was the Saturday morning and my hotels in Bali were already booked! With no response to my email inquiry, and no answer on the Air Asia information line, I was getting pretty frustrated. Thankfully the staff on Air Asia’s twitter account came to my rescue and moved my flight from HCMC to Jakarta to Thursday night.

So Thursday night, immediately following my session with my evening client, I had my motorbike guy, Cal, drop me off at the airport. I checked into my flight and settled into the very familiar airport. I arrived in Jakarta around 11:30pm after the most turbulent flight I’ve ever been on, and began the process of getting my Visa on Arrival and finding a legit taxi (or taksi as they spell it in Indonesia) to take me to my hotel. After checking in and a quick Skype call home to let my mom know I arrived safe and sound, I settled into my comfortable bed around 1:30am.

I had searched Lonely Planet Indonesia for something to do in Jakarta, but couldn’t find anything to motivate me to leave my hotel. LP’s opening lines on Jakarta are “Whether you love it or hate it, there is no escaping Jakarta, Indonesia’s overweight capital…At first glance, this hot, smoggy city, which sprawls for miles over a featureless plain, feels like nothing more than a waiting lounge…” So, I decided to sleep in, rest up and relax after a busy work week and before the real purpose of my trip to Indonesia began. The hotel bed was comfortable, the curtains were dark and it was wonderful to know that I didn’t have anything else to do. I pulled myself together in order to get an early dinner and have an in room acupressure aromatherapy massage and head to bed early…I had to be at the airport again at 4am to catch my early morning flight to Bali!

I arrived in beautiful Bali at around 9:30am local time and was picked up at the airport by a driver arranged by my guesthouse in Ubud. The drive to Ubud took just over an hour and even though I had been awake for ages, I was wide eyed, trying to take in the lush green scenery. My guesthouse, Narasoma, was incredible! Set down a small side street, directly off the main ‘drag’, Narasoma is set in gorgeous green garden area. My room was on the third floor of an amazing building, complete with a traditional Javanese antique bed draped in mozzie netting and breathtaking views. The main balcony had views of coconut palms and mountains, and the private back balcony (and bathroom window) looked out onto green rice paddies and more coconut palms. After a quick shower, where I couldn’t stop staring out the bathroom window into the amazing scenery, I set out to find lunch and wander the little shops that lined the main streets.

detailed doorframe

bed at narasoma

view from back balcony

view from back balcony

view from back balcony

view from main balcony

view from main balcony

shower scenery

I could easily have spent a small fortune in the shops, but managed to hold back…there’s not a whole lot of room left in my suitcases for my move back to Canada! After a few hours of wandering, I headed back to Narasoma for a relaxing afternoon break on the balcony. I spent some time chatting with my guesthouse neighbour, a woman from Germany who has been coming for Ubud (and Narasoma) for over 10 years. She suggested I check out a Balinese dance performance, so that’s exactly what I did after dinner. The dance performance was incredible…the costumes, the story telling, and the fire dancing finish was unreal. And so concludes my first magical day in Bali…

balinese offerings found all over the sidewalks...this one had cake!

growing rice paddies

green rice paddies

balinese dance performance

balinese dance performance

balinese dance performance

balinese dance performance

fire dance at balinese dance performance

The next morning, after another shower spent staring into trees, I settled out on the main balcony with my novel. I didn’t even have time to open my book before a lovely young man came upstairs to see what I wanted for breakfast. Banana pancakes and hot tea on the balcony before I decided to check out the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary at the end of the main road. I had passed the entrance to the sanctuary the day before and stayed as far away as I could. Wild monkeys freak me out…they’re really just glorified rats, and chances are good that they carry rabies. I had also read blogs about these particular monkeys stealing anything they could from tourists in an attempt to find food freebies. But for whatever reason, I woke up feeling brave and determined. I didn’t have enough time to wander the whole sanctuary, but checked out a decent portion. The monkeys were of course overly friendly and hilarious. I managed to get some great pictures while avoiding the ones that were really interested in me. And to complete my trip to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, I somehow managed to slip on a banana peel on my way out…classic.

sacred monkey forest sanctuary

sacred deeds at sacred monkey forest sanctuary

sacred monkey forest sanctuary

'you are here'

where's here?

sacred monkey forest sanctuary

temple at sacred monkey forest sanctuary

momma monkey keeping a hand on her baby

momma monkey keeping her foot on her baby

momma and baby

get back here baby!

yoga monkeys

At 11am, my driver from the day before came back to pick me up and drive me to Seminyak, the beach part of my weekend. The roughly 1 hour drive to my hotel in Seminyak was amazing…through more rice paddies and little towns. Shortly after noon, I arrived at Sarinade, my resting place for the next 24 hours. To kill some time before my room was ready, I took an hour long walk on the nearby beach. This certainly wasn’t the white sand beaches of Phu Quoc, but I definitely get why Bali is a prime spot for surfing! The waves were massive! At one point, the waves rolled in stronger and faster than I was anticipating and I almost got washed away!

on the drive to seminyak

the surf at seminyak

the surf at seminyak

Back at the hotel, I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting poolside and snoozing in my room while it stormed outside. I wandered to the main road (about a 20 minute walk from Sarinade) to find a delicious dinner, then back to the hotel restaurant for beers by the pool before turning in for the night.

The sun was shining the next morning and I woke up early to make the most of it. The morning was spent lounging by the pool in the hot Indonesian sunshine working on my tan. Sadly, before I knew it, it was time to head to the airport to fly back to Jakarta. I made a quick stop at the airport Starbucks before going through security.

pool at sarinade

pool at sarinade

The real fun for the day was only just beginning. My domestic flight arriving in Jakarta was due to arrive at 2:30pm and my international flight back to HCMC was scheduled to depart at 4:30pm – not leaving me a whole lot of time to get through the domestic terminal, catch a shuttle to the international terminal, check into my international flight, clear immigration and security and make it to my gate on time…and that’s if my domestic flight departed on time! If I missed my international flight to HCMC, I would lose the money I paid for my flight, have to pay full price to book on the next available flight, and would miss Tuesday at work, as the next flight home didn’t leave until then. Needless to say, I was pretty much stressed to the max and don’t remember breathing until I reached my gate…10 minutes before boarding began!

So…I did it. I traveled alone to a foreign country, spent 4 days eating alone, sightseeing alone, and navigating unknown cities alone. I’ve loved traveling with Wendy and Laura, but actually enjoyed traveling alone as well. I surprised myself with my strength and confidence this past weekend. Seven months down, 5 countries visited, and 4 weeks to go until I return home to Canada! One more international adventure left…countdown is on – 2 weeks until Australia!

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6 Responses to "Breathtaking Bali"

Thanks for sharing! I’m going to Bali this summer, so very much looking forward to it!

have an amazing time!!! i wish i had more than a weekend in bali…can’t wait to return someday!

Bali sounds beautiful. I’m so glad you took advantage of your location to travel to all of those exotic countries. What stories you are going to have for us. We’re looking forward to your return. All is well here and I think spring has finally started. We are hoping for a long hot summer. We plan to spend a fair amount of time just floating around in the pool. Enjoy Australia.
All our love. Aunt Monica

thanks aunt monica! can’t wait to see you all when i get home! glad to hear the weather is starting to get nice…i’ll be seeing you around the pool! 🙂

Wow, I definitely learn alot from reading your post. I am heading to Bali from HCM this Nov for a few days. Thanks.

Enjoy your trip!! Would love to hear about it!

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