Welcome to Paradise

Trip Start Jan 28, 2006
Trip End Feb 20, 2007

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Flag of Indonesia  ,
Friday, September 8, 2006

I arrived in Bali early Friday morning. The culture shock/chaos began as soon as we got off the plane. I grabbed my bags, got my tourist visa, and proceeded to exit the airport. The arranged pickup to go to the hotel was waiting. I knew I needed a little cash before we left the airport, so I did as dumb tourists do, and had our money changed at one of the many airport money changers. Not knowing that many money changers are rip-off artists in Bali, I willing accepted the big wad of cash in exchange for $100 AUS dollars. The exchange was 675,000 Indonesian rupiah. The money handed me the cash in 10,000 rupiah notes making it near impossible for me count it on the spot. Later that day I skimmed through my money to notice that 10,000 was missing. I know it's only about a dollar twenty, BUT IT'S MY DOLLAR TWENTY! 

My driver dropped me off at a sweet hotel, and like a lost dog I decided to explore. Due to the complete lack of research I did on Bali I didn't know what to expect once I left the hotel. Sure enough, within two minutes of  leaving the hotel I was being lead by some random guy to a "special promotion" at another hotel. I eventually managed to excuse myself from the situation, and decided to keep my head down until I knew what I should and should not be looking at. Being accustomed to being a broke backpacker style it made it difficult find a restaurant that looked like it would fit my price range. After walking around for about an hour I picked a place. Not knowing the value of the Indonesian rupiah I was careful about what I ordered. I ate well and paid for the meal. Afterwards, I went straight to the Internet cafe to run the conversion to figure out what the meal cost in Canadian dollars. After learning that I just spent $2.50 on a meal that would cost us about 30 Aus dollars I celebrated by going on a two week shopping spree.

After learning the ropes i bacame less apprehensive about seeing and doing other things. I went anywhere I desired, ate gourmet meals, and became accustomed to being treated like royalty everywhere. After a few days I had seen just about everything in the city. I had spent my time surfing and body boarding at Kuta Beach, shopped the seamlessly never ending markets, and tasted a wide variety of everything that Bali had to offer. I hired a driver and tour guide for the day to take myself to see a traditional side of Bali. I witnessed a traditional Barong Keris Balinese dance performance at it's best, visited Celuk gold and Silver Smiths, wood carving shops, watched artists design incredible works of art, visited Bali's most magnificent temples, and walked through through the enchanting monkey forest. The monkey's were cheeky little buggers that thought i was a walking vending machine.  

I spent the next week or so making my way around the island. I would either hire a driver to take me to my next destination, or take the much cheaper shuttle bus. I travelled from village to village seeing and doing everything there is to do. I went scuba diving at a ship wreck on the east coast. For a fraction of the price I paid in Aus to see the Great Barrier Reef I had my own personal dive guide, transport to and from the wreck, and somewhat of a photographer to take pictures of me while I was diving.

Driving through to the top end of the country I found a beautiful village called Lovina. Few tourists visited this part of Bali after last years bombing. There are hotels are resorts everywhere! I stayed at the fanciest resort there, until of course I thought I was spoiling myself just a little too much. I went from being totally pampered, to just being moderately pampered at a cheaper hotel. I stayed here for four or five days just lazing around, mingling with locals, swimming, soaking up the sun, and going on an early morning dolphin sighting tour. I made my way to the west part of the island to do some more scuba diving at Mengenan Island. Mengenan Island is described as one of the best diving spots in the world. It's calm, crystal clear waters are topped with more species of coral then the entire Carribean.  It was a far better diving experience then anywhere I had ever been. I also took the liberty of hiring a guide to take me on a tour of The West Bali National Park. If there was one thing I regret paying for more then anything else, it's this boring, useless tour. I saw nothing but dried out bush and dull trees. The guide didn't say or do anything except point at one monkey at the top of some tree. I WANT MY MONEY BACK! 

I  finished two weeks in Bali by travelling south through various villages, back to the city to shop and lay on the beach. In the two weeks I spent in Bali I learned that the Balinese are among the most welcoming and friendly people. The lack of crime astonished me for place that is stricken with such poverty. No matter the time of day, how little food and water some have, no matter how many times you pass by, they always have a smile from ear to ear, and never neglect to say the everly so common phrase engraved in all tourists memory, "Hello, how are you"?
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