Saying goodbye to Australia, we’ve officially parked ourselves in Indonesia–arriving on a flight just minutes before sunrise. Now, it’s day 2 here in Bali and we’ve managed to make our way along Seminyak, Legian & Kuta. We head to Ubud in a few days and couldn’t be more excited to move inland and away from the heaps of tourists and honking taxi drivers. Comparing life in Australia to Bali has been quite paradoxical and fun to reminisce about.
Balinese coffee is very strong—definitely a step up from Australia’s obsession with instant coffee. We spotted a Starbucks here in Bali, my reaction was pure disappointment but we must not focus on the tourism wave—we have to continue to dig deep and explore with adventurous attitudes. It is what it is and no matter what, destinations, regardless of their Western influences, should still be explored!
Taxis are everywhere along the coast here and drastically, more affordable than the taxis in Australia. We took one taxi in Australia because we were lost. Regret set in the moment we stepped out of the car due to cost. As for transport, I loved walking for hours and hours each day in Australia. The high cost of food encouraged us to split meals on our rare occasions of eating out and shop smart in the super market—cooking our meals everyday. With smaller meal portions and beautiful long walks, Michael and I noticed ourselves slimming down. Not to mention, Australian sun-kissed skin. The circumstances here in Bali are quite the opposite. With no communal kitchen at our bungalow, it’s difficult to cook lasting nutritious meals. No starving here though, a beautiful and flavorful plate of fresh seafood curry or a traditional Indonesian dish will cost you no more than a few dollars. Bottled water is not as cheap as I had wished, being the hydration freak that I am, but the cheap Bintang may make up for it…
A relatively annoying issue we ran into often in Australia was the shortage of free WIFI, and at times, any WIFI at all. Here, in Bali, we have found an overabundance of free WIFI at practically every bar, café, restaurant and hotel. Accessing the Internet should never be priority while you’re diving into a new culture, meeting new people and exploring new ground. But, at times, WIFI is incredibly important if you work on the road, like me, and are in need of researching and booking future destinations of your RTW trip.
Travel resources will tell you that when in Bali, you’ll spend majority of your time shopping. That insight is most definitely true. My purchasing power was very limited in Australia. Walking into a Billabong store and seeing a price tag that was double of what I could buy in the States forced me to “put the dress down.” Here, in Bali, you “Bali bargain.” If you’re confident enough and not shy, bargaining in Bali for taxi rides and merchandise will save you from being severely taken advantage of.
And the people, the people here are some of the nicest people I have ever met. Taking into consideration, their lives depend on tourism, they are still genuine. If you read up on Balinese culture you’ll find that it is based on a foundation of balance and direction. It is intricate and organized. When walking down the street, you’ll be asked over and over again, Where are you going? Where are you from? Are you married? In order to avoid funny looks and a shocked face, I calmly answer the last questions with a, “not yet,” and with a smile. It’s perfectly normal, as the Balinese see life differently from my independent, fearless spirit. Being here in Bali is different from any environment I have ever encountered and I feel so blessed to experience it. The slow pace, calm mentality and my first massage in Bali makes it very tempting to hide from Immigration on my 30-day visitor visa. But, we can’t stop here. Malaysia awaits our arrival in a few weeks.
Walking away in the Northern Queensland Rain Forest, photo by Michael A. Nyffeler