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    Tropical Heat Tour: Bali Part 1

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012
    Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

    I caught a China Airlines aluminum tube from Taipei, Taiwan to Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.

    Well, the big bad Bali bug bit me again! After my first-ever trip to Indonesia (or Southeast Asia, or hell, even Asia as a whole for that matter) back in 2010, I just knew I had to come back for seconds! But, getting here takes way too many hours (uh, that would be 20 from California) cooped up in a big-ass aluminum torture tube packed to the gills with coughs, sneezes, sniffles and all kinds of gentrified germs. Surprisingly, when I stepped outside Ngurah Rai airport, the heat and humidity wasn’t nearly as bad as last time–more like an oven than a blast furnace. It definitely felt hot, but not oppressively so. The locals tell me that July and August is the “cool” time of year.

    Storefronts in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia.

    Instead of cluelessly dicking around for an hour or two being bewildered by culture shock like I did in 2010, I hired a taxi straight away and wasted no time hightailing it up to Ubud so I could find a room before sundown. The main place where traffic gets all tangled up is in the surf / beach / bar-infested Kuta. In other towns, the snarling stop ‘n’ go is far less frequent or non-existent. But, the swerving motorscooter scramble dance is omnipresent. So, I’m back in the island Bali. Far from culture shock, I feel like I’m visiting a dear old friend.

    Standard motorcycle chaos in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.

    One of the things I was looking forward to upon returning is the vivid, veritable olfactory factory that is this island. I love the way it smells here, what with all of the incense, offerings and frangipani flowers under your nose everywhere you turn. As I climbed out of the cab in central Ubud, I was struck at how narrow and miniature the streets and sidewalks looked. They were considerably smaller than I remembered, and there’s a lot of greenery around, too. After I rented a room at Suartha Pension, a traditional Balinese family compound, I went for a helpin’ of nasi goreng at the Three Monkeys. Ambling down the narrow sidewalks that are just wide enough for one person, you have to do the sideways shuffle to pass others, or sometimes even step aside. And you don’t dare step off the curb without looking bith ways, as motorcycles sometimes drive the wrong way up the gutter.

    Some Juss Ginseng banners en route to Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    A lot of tourists were walking around–it must be Australian holiday time–and this town seems even more gentrified than it did two years ago. Aside from the shops selling the usual souvenirs, books, masks, carvings, etc. it looks like there are even more upscale western clothing boutiques and restaurants. They really need to stop developing in this town, and the rest of the island, for that matter. There is definitely a surplus of shops, restaurants and rooms geared toward tourists. But, at least in Ubud there are no offensive high-rise buildings, and traditional Balinese architectural flavor is still in the mix. On the way back to my room, some local youth playing acoustic guitar by the sports field offered me to sit with them to smoke and drink, but I told them I was too tired, then I hit the hay early around 10:00 pm.

    The entry gate to Suartha Pension in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Roll over photos for captions.
    Words and photos ©2012 Arcane Candy.

    2 responses to “Tropical Heat Tour: Bali Part 1”

    1. Zach Ogren says:

      This is awesome. Glad to see you are back in this. Definitely looking forward to the rest.

    2. I second that comment, O hardy traveler!

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