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    Tropical Storm Tour: Bali Part 1

    Tuesday, August 25, 2015
    Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

    Disembarking from the AWR Travel bus at the airport in Padang, Sumatra, Indonesia.
    Disembarking from the AWR Travel bus at the airport in Padang, Sumatra, Indonesia.

    This morning, I had to wake up at 6:00 am after only five or six hours of sleep to get ready to leave for the airport at 8:15 am. It was brutal! And to top it all off, the shuttle van ended up being a half hour late. I was stoked I got to say goodbye to Ling, though. It was super fun hanging out and talking and laughing with her every night. She is one of the best people I’ve met during the long, weird, three-month journey (so far) I’ve been on. When the AWR Travel van finally pulled up, I realized it was actually a small bus that could hold 15 or so people.

    Lion Air flight JT 251 from Padang, Sumatra to Jarkarta, Java, Indonesia.
    Lion Air flight JT 251 from Padang, Sumatra to Jarkarta, Java, Indonesia.

    On the other side of Bukittinggi, the driver suddenly stopped the bus in the middle of a really busy street and miraculously managed to back it up in between scores of motorcycles, trucks and cars while turning 90 degrees into a narrow driveway at their office. As the driver loaded up more passengers and cargo, he told me I had to get off, walk over to the counter and fork over 50,000 rupiah ($3.61) for the two-hour journey to Padang. What a bargain! The same length ride on Super Shuttle in California would cost $55.00, which is 15 times more expensive!

    For the next two hours, we proceeded through numerous small towns dotted with shop signs that were unintentionally odd and humorous due to the use of awkward English. Too bad they went by too fast for me to get any photos. At one stop, I bought homemade corn chips from some nice old ladies that were about five inches in diameter. Too bad they were really stale and way too spicy for my taste. It was a chore just to finish those things! I could barely chew them because they were so tough. I wish I would have snapped a photo of the old ladies. For some reason, I just wasn’t in the mood to whip out my camera on that bus journey, even though I saw some interesting stuff. It’s usually too hard to get a good shot from a moving vehicle.

    Boarding Lion Air flight JT 251 from Padang, Sumatra to Jarkarta, Java, Indonesia.
    Boarding Lion Air flight JT 251 from Padang, Sumatra to Jarkarta, Java, Indonesia.

    Of course, our driver’s driving style was pretty Indonesian-intense, constantly passing slower vehicles as others sped menacingly toward us in the opposite direction, with our driver darting out of their way at the last possible second–narrowly missing a head-on collision in the process. But, at least he didn’t slam on the brakes constantly like that driver from Medan to Danau Toba in Sumatra. That guy ticked me off really bad. At the Padang airport, I saw a middle-aged surfer with five or six surfboards packed up in a padded bag. It’s pretty crazy that he brought that many–seems like it would be a huge hassle. Why not just bring one or two instead of a whole quiver? (For decades, surfers have been flocking to the Mentawai islands of the coast of Sumatra, Padang being their transfer point.)

    Arrival of Lion Air flight JT 251 from Padang, Sumatra to Jarkarta, Java, Indonesia.
    Arrival of Lion Air flight JT 251 from Padang, Sumatra to Jarkarta, Java, Indonesia.

    Although the one-hour flight from Padang, Sumatra to Jakarta, Java was mellow, the Jarkarta airport was kind of a nightmare. We walked out of the airplane onto the tarmac and into a nearby shuttle bus. I had no idea where to get off. So, I just disembarked where everyone else did. But, they were all leaving the airport. A lady at an info booth told me the departure point for Denpasar, Bali was in terminal three, so I jumped back on another shuttle bus and got whisked over there, which, because the airport was so massive, took a good 10 or 15 minutes. Inside, I encountered a massive arrival and baggage claim area. but couldn’t find departure. I saw an empty stairwell and elevated walkway outside, so I proceeded up there and through a door into a gate area.

    Right away, I noticed that I had unintentionally gained access to a “secure” area through an employee entrance, because the x-ray machines and wand-wielding officers were close by. I’d venture to say that the security at Jakarta airport needs a little upgrade! Since I forgot to buy some Bukittinggi postcards, I was forced to grab a couple at a gift shop in the Jakarta airport at inflated prices–over $1.00 each. Ouch! Next, I ordered some lunch, but then noticed a couple of minutes later that my flight was boarding! I thought I had a three-hour layover, so I’m not sure what happened there. I apologized to the server and headed back through “security” to my gate. Luckily, the airplane was a little late, so there was 15 minutes to spare.

    Boarding Lion Air flight JT 016 from Jarkarta, Java to Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.
    Boarding Lion Air flight JT 016 from Jarkarta, Java to Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.

    As I waited, I noticed a lady staring me down. Every time I glanced over in her direction, she just glared at me intensely. I have no idea why. Maybe she was trying to eat my soul. Soon, I got fed up and thought, “Okay, staring contest? It’s on!” After a short round of retinal competition, she said something to the guy she was with, who glanced up from his smartphone, looked at me, laughed, and stared at his phone again. Then the rude lady continued to stare at me as if I were some kind of chocolate-covered alien. She finally averted her eyes a few minutes later when I would not stop staring directly into hers with my most serious poker face.

    The second story bungalow at Suartha Pension in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
    The second story bungalow at Suartha Pension in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    After boarding, the airplane landed in Denpasar, Bali after a 90-minute flight. Luckily, my backpack emerged from the luggage carousel and I walked out toward the exit. I was confused about why there was no passport control, until an employee told me that there are none for domestic flights from Indonesia. Duh! That was a relief, as I only had one week left on my 30 day visa, and have to start the process tomorrow to get it extended. Outside, I walked over to the taxi cab counter and booked a ride to Ubud. The driver was super nice and chatty. We talked a lot about Balinese culture during the whole drive, which that late at night only took about 50 minutes.

    As he dropped me off in front of Suartha Pension at 11:00 pm, the local night dogs gathered around and barked their heads off at me. So, I quickly ducked inside the front gate. Luckily, a couple of people were still awake and afoot, so a nice lady I’d never seen before showed me to a bungalow out back for 200,000 rupiah ($14.45). She said I could move into a smaller room for 150,000 ($10.84) tomorrow, as the light was not working. I was super hungry, so I schlepped over to the Shisha Lounge, which is open until 2:00 am, and ordered a late night dinner before heading off to bed for some much-needed shut eye after midnight.

    Words and photos ©2015 Arcane Candy.

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