Mid-life travel crisis.
I swear it’s only been a couple of years since I last went traveling ‘proper’ but many many things have changed! Firstly flying long-distance just seems more of a ball-ache. I love flying and airports and all the associated bobbins but there is more of a feeling that I can’t really be arsed these days but, I’m not too concerned because it’s a minor hurdle to overcome if you want to be somewhere awesome so, can’t complain! The second thing is I’m technologically confused. Obviously WiFi is everywhere and my smart phone keeps me in touch and up-to-date with absolutely everything, fantastic, but what about writing my blog?? I never really anticipated this but internet cafes have become pretty much extinct in the past few years for obvious reasons but, that doesn’t help me. So now I’m having a rethink, I’m thinking a notebook style laptop of my own (you listening Santa!?) and a compact/SLR type camera for good measure. You see I’ve had my current compact camera since the olden days and I now always use my smart phone because, well it’s 3x better but, as I found out today when it’s sunny I can’t see the damn screen so I have no idea what I’m shooting at, so that’s my justification for that 500 pound expenditure!
So, back to the point, Bali, Indonesia. I Like it, I don’t love it, I don’t love South East Asia. And here is why. It’s so damn LOUD!!!! Just like Vietnam and Cambodia, nearly all the roads are lined with shops and homes and the roads are mental. I refuse to mention the continent that I shall simply refer to as ‘The Special One’ but unlike there, here there are no open spaces and quiet villages or coastal towns which apparently is what I crave. We left a town called Ubud today which was lovely and we spent a jolly morning out rafting in the a beautiful gorge but Ubud itself was just full of tourist shops and bars, the Queenstown or Brighton of Bali. Again, I shouldn’t complain as one night there was spent making the most of buy one, get one free cocktails.
Ironically, today, the roads did open up to reveal some peaceful countryside and we have stayed in some spectacular locations with awesome views (yet still noisy!). An early morning volcano climb in the Kintamani region has been a particular highlight. The whole area was in an old volcano caldera with newer active volcanoes on the inside. There was no lava to see but plenty of heat to steam an egg from raw into hard boiled/steamed in about 20 minutes. This is apparently the international measure of an active volcano! As already mentioned, of course the rafting was a highlight simply because I enjoy being on the water. You know when the adrenaline is not going to get released though, when the safety briefing takes 45 seconds and you can keep your flip flops on in the raft, no flipping today then! Still, it was bloody enjoyable and I spent a lot of time thinking about future travel plans which will be elaborated on in the coming days.
One thing I noticed as soon as I landed in Bali was how ridiculously nice everyone is, honestly, its off the chart! Everywhere we have gone, people will always say hello, thank you and good bye, and nearly always in that order. You don’t have to buy anything, it just seems to be genuine politeness and I genuinely think its great. I also came to Indonesia with the knowledge that it had the largest Muslim population on the planet. What I didn’t realise was that Bali’s population is 85% Hindu, there are temples everywhere, as in everywhere! I think I read that Indonesia is made up of a billion or so islands (I may have exaggerated) and has approximately 600 languages (fact, I think!) and so it happens to be quite a varied country. We leave Bali in a few days to visit a few other islands which I am very much looking forward to. Hopefully I will be at a full 100%. Apparently turning 30 makes me less adaptable to changes in diet as well as flying and technology! Oh, I nearly forgot! We went to some rice terraces. They were border line epic as hopefully the pictures will show but, what more can one say, it’s rice, grown on a hill which, looks aesthetically pleasing. For all you budding agriculturists, they get three crops per year!
In good ode ‘me blogging’ style I have not had time to read this back to make sure it makes sense and in all honesty I’m getting a little bit embarrassed as all the ‘hostel hero backpacker-type’ young people walk by and stare at me like some dinosaur in a museum. Talking of which, how the hell do I respond to a 20 year old who asks, ‘So, which countries have you visited?’. In case you are wondering, I have typed this in an internet cafe with one working computer and 4 dusty unused ones, sweating my balls off. Back to the pool then.