Swimming in the Rain

Trip Start Feb 12, 2011
Trip End Nov 19, 2011

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Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Friday, February 25, 2011

We rose early, 4:00am early and our driver from the guest house was surprisingly prompt, but I got the feeling that was the only thing he had to do all day and the ride to the airport was only about five minutes. The airport was just waking up, and despite the long lines, we checked our bags and got through customs smoothly with enough time to enjoy terrible coffee.

It was our first flight on Air Asia and I wasn't disappointed by the $1.58 pancakes I had ordered when we booked the flight (they seem to charge extra for everything).  Kristen found this out the hard way when she tried to sit in one of the empty exit rows.  Needless to say, the flight was pleasant and the approach over Bali gave a good overview of the island.

Customs, money, entrance fee, accommodations, and a cab ride arranged, we set off to a centrally located hotel, as we arrived in Bali a day earlier than initially planned, so our room at the luxurious Conrad Hotel wouldn’t be ready.

I had heard about Bali from a number of different friends so I was excited to be here, and anxious to see what it was all about.   The place is infested with scooters, not unlike Bangkok, but there are much fewer cars making the families of four that ride them stand out.  We were taken to the center of Kutu which we would later find out is also the center of traffic and tourist shops.  We passed three Polo stores on the way to our hotel alone.  Surely Ralph Lauren wouldn’t have three authorized Polo shops on one street?

We made it to our hotel and were greeted with Balinese hospitality, a cold towel and a fresh juice, a refreshing change from our stay at the crap shack.  The hotel wasn’t much from the street, but it was an oasis of courtyards, pools, and stonework once we got in the compound, a recurring theme in Bali.  Our room was descent and we promptly dispatched with our bags and headed to the Kopi Pot, the first restaurant we saw for lunch.  The Balinese food we tried was good, but Kristen was disappointed by here fish n chips.  Regardless, it was refreshing to be there and I was anxious to walk the Legian Street, the main drag, for the shopping experience.  The sheer number of boutiques was immense especially the mix of surf wear and knock off designer clothes.  We walked for what seemed a few miles before peeling off to check out the beach which was another seemingly endless strip of sand, surfers, and little stands selling cold drinks and a place to sit.  Sadly, it was a bit overcast and threatened to rain on us all day, but we persevered and stopped at a cheesy hotel bar for a beer before heading back to Legian Street.

I was amazed at the vernacular architecture and incredible stone work at every turn mixed in with the retail madness of the place.  It was abundantly clear that the Balinese have an eye for design as even the shop keepers are adept at store display at a high level, especially compared to Thailand.  I was most taken by these little stone buttresses used as entry ways to the various shops, houses and hotels.  Perhaps even more interesting is how friendly and polite even the most aggressive of street vendors have been.  We spent a good deal of time looking at dresses for the girls trying to get a feel for what a good price was and they eventually settled on something. 

Erica and I spent a little more time wandering the streets and found an alley with internet and a printer so we could print our voucher for the Conrad Hotel and along the way we scouted an ex-pat pub and a pizza stand so we later grabbed Kristen and headed out for a bite to eat in the heart of Kuta.  Unfortunately our attempt to people watch outside was thwarted by thunderstorms and we were forced into a surf shop selling overpriced gear.  The rain wouldn’t let up so we ran to the pub we spotted earlier and put down a few pints of Bintang and watched a bunch of drunken Aussies do pushups in the rain.  We decided we could drink all night before the rain stopped so we got soaked on our way back to the hotel and by 11pm I was swimming in the dark as the rain pounded.  It’s refreshing change when the air temperature, the rain water and the water in the pool are all about the same temperature.

We ended the night falling asleep to Couple’s Retreat on TV which was good prep for the luxury accommodations of the mystical Conrad Hotel, which we had only read about thus far.
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Kirstin on

This sounds so amazing!! You guys make me want to drop out of med school and just go adventuring! Too bad I'm not so debt free :(

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