Intro – how did we get to Indonesia?
We got married! Finally, after almost a year of stress, nervousness, and concerns, we got married. Not to mention the fact that we almost didn’t have the wedding rings in the church, and that I almost broke my husband’s leg while practicing for the wedding dance (the only day we didn’t warm up before, the only one!).
It also rained all Spring and on the morning of our wedding too. In Romania, there’s a saying that, if it rains on your wedding day, you’ll get very rich.
And it was raining so bad that, when our godmother came to our apartment to share the hairstylist, she said: “Please don’t forget about me when this whole wealth kicks in!”, while water was going down her hair and clothes, even though she only had to walk from the taxi to the building entrance.
I also should forget about the Uber driver from the first day (we had our wedding split into two days, the first being the whole going to the civilian officer and getting legally married thing, and the second being the church thing and the awesome party after) that was at his first order, he was from out of town and he didn’t even have Waze installed on his phone, and I was already half an hour late because the make-up artist was late, due to, of course, the rain. But I have to tell you about the Bankruptcy Trilogy as we called it after we were able to make jokes again.
This Bankruptcy Trilogy started in November after we already had a restaurant reserved, the band and the photographers, so we were relaxed enough to start looking for honeymoon offers. We figured that, for us to handle everything that was next for the wedding, we needed to know that after all the effort, we’ll enjoy an awesome vacation after.
After we took South America out of the list because of the Zikka virus spreading, we turned our heads to Asia. My husband went once to China, but on a business trip, so Asia would have been a new experience for him too, not only for me.
Because I have a great brother-in-law who loves traveling and went to Peru and Zanzibar, and he’s now preparing a trip to Cambodia and Vietnam, we figured it’s a good idea to also ask for his opinion.
We were finally decided to Thailand-Cambodia-Bali, a 20-days trip, that appeared to be exactly what we wanted: some beach, some sun, some temples to visit, some animals and infinite fun.
We weren’t great fans of the flights, because they had a huge number of layovers, but this is a price you have to pay if you want great trips and small prices. So we thought about talking to them about us reserving our flights however we wanted, and to meet with them there for the rest of the activities.
Until we had finally decided, they managed to go bankrupt and to trick hundreds or thousands of people. It’s enough to do a Google search using the company’s name to find out what happened there (but most articles will be in Romanian, sorry). So, this was the first victim (Strike 1!).
The second victim was way worse than this one. So, the wedding was going to be in May, and in February I was already speaking to a company about the wedding invitations, I had already seen them, the only step left was ordering them, but I didn’t have any time on a Friday to go there and pay the deposit (they had some problems with the bank transfer, but they fixed them the next week), so I postponed it for Monday, after work.
On Monday, around noon, my husband lets me know we don’t have our wedding restaurant anymore. Our dream place, located on the 10th floor of a hotel with a great view, became inaccessible. Before you ask us about verifying the company before signing the contract, of course, we did that.
We did verify the company that organized the event, and they were OK. But we didn’t have any means to verify the hotel, and we thought they were the same company, to be honest.
So, the hotel went bankrupt, and the bank took over the building and decided it didn’t want to rent the wedding ballroom anymore. After the initial panic, we activated the emergency procedure called “The godmother in action”. After her shock and the usual questions about having contracts and verifying the companies, we finally managed to have a plan.
First, we reserved the alternative they gave us, a different wedding ballroom, something very ugly, the middle part from a huge hall they were renting piece by piece (so our hall was going to be between two other halls with other weddings), but we weren’t sure we were going to find a new place in such a short time, especially since we had everything else already booked (and the band was very important to us).
After that, our godmother started to make calls and send emails to every restaurant she could think of, to try to find option(s) for us. She found lots of offers, I have no idea how, we honestly think she has some magical powers, and we are so proud and happy to have chosen her to be our godmother.
After a week we already had another restaurant reserved, actually one of the ones we liked when we started looking for places, but it was a little bit out of our budget then.
But in February, being almost the last minute, the price was actually great. Everything turned out to be awesome, we worked with very professional people and I discovered I had some old-time acquaintances that were working there (yes, I am my mother’s daughter), so we received a small, unsolicited, but very well-received discount for the flowers. This was the second victim (Strike 2!).
After we had ordered the invitations with the new restaurant name, we finally started to look into the honeymoon situation, because we felt we ignored this for too long and it wasn’t going to resolve itself. We analyzed the situation, and we figured we could go as early as July. We already had the tickets for London but I wasn’t sure how much time it’s going to take for my passport to be ready, and we wanted to have some buffer time for that.
We initially thought about Thailand and Bali, but we weren’t able to find a good time to go. Although they are very close to each other, their climates are very different: when it’s the rainy season in Bali, it’s the dry one in Thailand and the other way around. No matter how much we analyzed this, we were going to find rain somewhere. So we decided to go to Bali.
Thinking of going to Thailand? Check out this awesome post from my fellow blogger Katie at That Bangkok Life! She really knows which are the most beautiful places in Thailand and the best free things to do in Bangkok.
And because we’re not the type of people that only go somewhere to stay in a resort and lay on a beach for two weeks, we decided to have a circuit kind of trip, also taking into account the fact that we needed a one-entry visa to get into the country, so we weren’t able to make an itinerary for multiple countries.
And we started looking. After a huge amount of time invested in looking into this and rough negotiation, we finally decided on the itinerary:
- Yogyakarta – to visit two amazing temples
- Ubud – for a thousand reasons
- Gili Islands – for beaches, snorkeling, and diving
- Kuta – for beaches and surfing
- Jakarta – to make the trip back easier for us and maybe to visit something on the way
Both Nusa Dua and Nusa Penida were on our list, but we ended up not going there, as there was not enough information available at that time.
If we would have had this complete guide for Nusa Penida, we would have included it in our itinerary as well. And if we would have had this Sulawesi travel guide, we would have included it in our itinerary as well. Heck, I think we could have spent an entire year in Indonesia and not seen everything we should have.
Be bought the “big” tickets, from Bucharest to Jakarta, before the whole plan was finished to be sure nothing happens overnight and prices start to go up. After we finished with everything and we also reserved the accommodation, we bought the domestic flights; there were only three (Jakarta-Yogyakarta, Yogyakarta-Denpasar, Denpasar-Jakarta) and we used low-cost companies since the flights were one or two hours long.
We decided to go from Jakarta to Yogyakarta on the first day of arrival but, since we had the tickets split in two (Doha-Jakarta and Jakarta-Yogyakarta), we had to include a time difference between the two flights, so that we have enough time to check out the luggage, get out of the airport and get in again for the next flight, including the case in which we had our baggage lost and we also had to take care of this situation.
Yeah, I know, I’m SO stressed, but have you met my luck and me? Well, after the wedding, after we had relaxed a little bit and restored our sleep resources, we received some nice news: Qatar Airways’ planes weren’t allowed to fly above the surrounding countries’ territories anymore. More information here. Our tickets were for August, after almost a month after the embargo was started.
I know that the news doesn’t look like it’s a big deal now, but there wasn’t much information available at the moment and no one could know what was going to happen.
And I know they didn’t go into bankruptcy, but when something like this happens out of the blue, you can expect that they may encounter difficulties in maintaining their business alive, especially if people panic and start to cancel their flights or not use the company anymore, even if they would have wanted to. So, from where I’m standing, this is Strike 3 – and you’re out!
Still, we decided to not change our plans, because the amount of time left was not enough for us to plan something else, and we also thought we were strong and can handle not being sure of anything for some time.
During the last two months, we started creating baggage and shopping lists. We bought bathing suits, beach dresses, light but covering clothes for temple entries, sun lotions for before and after each use, we bought pills, liquids, and some mosquito repellent devices and some other things for a small first-aid kit, and also full-face snorkel masks, beach towels, sun hats, and luggage to put all of these in.
Once we were buying something, we were placing it in the opened baggage that took most of our living room for the last two weeks. We watched every possible video with what’s going to look like, my favorite from every morning being:
Although there’s no legal obligation, we decided to have some vaccines made, so that we don’t bring an exotic disease in an already ill Romania. I choose the Hepatitis A and the Typhoid vaccines and my husband only took the latter because he already had Hepatitis in childhood.
Two days before the take-off, I went to my cosmetic salon and created the vacation look which meant, apart from my usual red and curly chunk of hair, some purple highlights, and I mean PURPLE, to match the adventure I was going in, and I also had my nails covered with palm trees and dreamy sunsets.
I was already overly excited one week before and, exactly the day before, my husband came home excited as well (he rarely gets excited before an event, and he usually waits for the event to happen before being happy for it). This was funny because a colleague tried to ask him something after he was already getting ready to come home from the office, but the guy just gave up after he saw him already dreaming.
It was a nice Thursday. A great day to be used as a model for every child for his essay: the sun was up and shining, there were only some white, fluffy clouds on the bright blue sky and the grass was as green as it gets. I don’t even remember how I got to Doha. We were so fascinated by the plane, the flight, the fact we entered the plane directly from the gate (the first flight that was not low-cost, don’t judge!), the available movies and the provided food, that we don’t even remember how we got there.
In Doha, we found a huge airport, so big we had no idea where should we go first. The time difference between the two flights was two hours, but we barely made it, that’s how huge that airport is. Although the gates were at the same terminal, we still had to take a train, pass a security filter, and then get the train again back for the next flight. We didn’t even go to the toilet or see a duty-free, that’s how tight we felt this layover was.
Well, the overnight flight seemed awful. We were seated in the middle row and I didn’t manage to sleep at all. My husband managed to sleep a little bit, but I initially wanted to watch some movies, and I couldn’t sleep at all afterward. We got so numb that we started taking walks and doing some light exercise in the small available space we could find, near an emergency exit because we felt we couldn’t sit down in the same position anymore.
I fueled myself with coffee so much that I thought I was going to double my blood pressure. Watching the trip overview on the monitors, it could be seen that the plane was actually detouring so that it didn’t pass the air space of the surrounding countries, so the embargo was still in place.
The visa procedure was quite easy: we received a form during the flight, we put all of our data in there and we gave it to the passport control officer when we arrived in Jakarta; by that time, I was dead inside and my husband was barely kicking.
And there, when we got off the plane, the heat kicked in. A humid heat, not the dry one we had left from, a type of heat that made your lungs feel full with water and made you feel dirty in ten minutes. We went to the baggage carousel and there, on a cardboard pyramid, we saw a message that said something along the lines of “Mister insert-name-here, your baggage didn’t leave Doha. Let’s meet at the information desk.”.
I found it useful, at least the guy didn’t keep on waiting there only to be disappointed at the end. Anyway, we did prepare our luggage in such a way that the most important things were in the carry-ons, and in the checked baggage everything was split, so we were still covered if only one of them would have been lost or delayed.
After we had gotten out, we started to walk around the airport a little bit, a thing that took us about half an hour, since the airport is not very big outside of the terminals. After we had exchanged some money, we sat on a small bench inside the airport, hoping to surf the web a little bit and wait for the time to pass by.
While sitting there, we had the first contact with the Arabian world: four men, together with their (I assume) wives, choose the bench right in front of us. And even if it wasn’t my first time seeing a Muslim lady wearing a burka, it was the first time I saw four of them covered 100%, and I mean also the eyes area.
I would apologize, by the way, to those ladies if I seemed to be staring at them. I am honestly sorry and I hope I didn’t do that, and I hope I didn’t make them feel uncomfortable, but it was my first time seeing the whole outfit and it was one of the first cultural shocks after an hour from landing into the country.
I knew, of course, that Indonesia is mostly a Muslim country, we were aware that public display of affection is frowned upon, and that some common sense and decency norms apply when it comes to visiting various places like temples and churches, and I really thought we were ready for anything and we would be respectful to others and their culture.
I apologize, again, if our attitude seemed disrespectful. Meanwhile, my husband was falling asleep on and off, and I was still insisting on staying awake – I was actually afraid to fall asleep because I thought we’d miss our flight, that’s how tired I felt.
I heroically resisted until I sat down on the next plane, the one to Yogyakarta. There, I waited for the take-off (I think), I tucked myself in with a scarf and slept in my husband’s arms in such an uncomfortable position that I woke up hurting from every cell of my body – actually a flight attendant woke me up because she wanted me to have a proper position while landing.
So yeah, I didn’t like sleeping in a plane with large reclining seats, but I enjoyed sleeping on the small, tough seats in the low-cost flight. It’s all about perspective: you have a totally different perspective after 24 hours of no sleep, believe me!
After we had grabbed our bags, we went to negotiate with the taxi drivers. The accommodation, which was here was not a great decision from the placement point of view, being quite far from the interest points. One of the temples was in North-East, the other one was in North-West, and our accommodation was right in the South part of the city.
But, considering it was looking decent, it was a place that also fit our budget, because we didn’t feel the need to overspend on accommodation but on experiences, and we decided to choose something more luxurious only in some places – and for us luxury doesn’t mean having a pool on our balcony, it usually means something like a bigger room with maybe a special bathroom. OK, coming back to the taxi situation.
After we queried all of them and everyone was saying the same price, as they decided before on what to say, we found out what was the reason for this: each taxi company had a small office where you went and rented the car, and there you could also find a price list. So, the price was exactly the one from the price list.
So we went into the first taxi from the only trusty company we knew anything about, based on our intensive Google research, and we started the long journey to our accommodation. The driver, which was very nice, told us some things about the city, about things to see, he offered to take us to the temples, but in a polite and non-intrusive manner.
We took his phone number to be able to contact him to take us to the airport three days later, being aware that we have a very early flight and we didn’t want to worry about finding a car for this purpose.
The city shocked us initially, and I think it’s something that happens to every European that goes to Asia for the first time. The whole atmosphere was similar to a flea market fair. The crowd was huge. It’s full of scooters all over the place, that approach you from every direction. You can easily spot two or three people on a scooter or a family of two adults and two children.
We did see people wearing surgical masks at the airport and we thought it was just to show off. Two days later, we were in the pharmacy, asking for surgical masks; we got tired of waking up in the morning with sore throats from the inhaled emissions. So many scooters pollute a lot because their engines are very ineffective and they take up not so much space, so you have many of them nearby at the same time.
As a pedestrian, you’re screwed. The cities are basically not designed for pedestrians. There are lots of areas without sidewalks and sometimes you need to walk a lot to find a traffic light or a crosswalk. We learned from the locals how to cross the street by just walking with our hands up horizontally at the same time as a policeman does when directing the traffic.
Basically, we crossed the street with our hands raised horizontally, hoping we could be like Moses when he split up the sea. The cities are not very developed on the vertical dimension, but on the horizontal one, because they’re not allowed to have buildings taller than the sultan’s palace. If his palace is three stories high, you won’t find a building higher than two stories in the whole city. So, the city becomes very big in surface, which makes it very crowded in traffic.
In the taxi and in every other public transportation vehicle, the air conditioning was very strong. Maybe because these guys are used to being hot the whole year, I’m not sure, but the air conditioning was very cold everywhere I went. After the first two days, I got used to always having a scarf with me, because I was sure I was going to become purple because of the cold air somewhere, or that I’ll need to cover my head to enter a temple.
The flea market fair look was also created by, and I’m sorry to say this, the amount of dirt in the city. And I’m sure that also the tourists are not very careful, I’m not even thinking of considering them innocent, but we also saw local people throwing away, on the street, the water they used to wash the whole house, or the fruit slices they didn’t need anymore, or even some random package plastics.
If you want to read a great travel guide for first-timers in Yogyakarta, check out this post from a fellow blogger!
After we had reached the place and checked in, we analyzed the weird situation of not having a sink in the bathroom. We did see that in the pictures displayed on Booking, but we thought the angle was not the best one for the pictures. What we did have was a hose near the toilet bowl (apparently it’s called a Bum gun). This thing we initially used to wash our teeth in the shower cabin, because that’s how ignorant we were.
Since then, we found out what that thing is for and I still consider myself ignorant for not being able to use it in the way it was intended. Of course, we fell asleep immediately after arriving and we woke up when it was already dark outside. We panicked a little bit, thinking it was at least midnight because we were already suffering from jet lag. When staring at a watch, we discovered it was only 6 PM.
Yeah, even if they have summer temperatures all year round, and we associate summer with long and sunny days (because we’re born and raised in a temperate-continental climate), in Indonesia days are approximately equal in length all over the year. That evening we only went to a small grocery store nearby to buy something to eat and spent the rest of it near the pool to be able to use the good Wi-Fi to be able to let people know we arrived safely.
We wanted to enjoy the local experience, so we used public transport to reach the temples. Their buses, although they’re smaller, are also very clean and modern, with, of course, very strong air conditioning. The bus stations are somehow above ground, and one ticket is valid while you don’t leave the station area, which has turnstiles at the entry. The station areas look like this.
I find it hard to explain using my words, and the buses are optimized for this infrastructure and you cannot get into a bus from ground level. They actually seemed very well maintained, with smooth chairs, clean windows and not very crowded either, the only disadvantage being the schedule you cannot rely on. Otherwise, and I don’t mean to be malicious, it was better than in Bucharest.
The plan for the first day was for us to visit Prambanan, the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia, and one of the biggest in South-East Asia. The temple is dedicated to the three forms of God (The Creator – Brahma, The Keeper – Vishnu and The Transformer/Destroyer – Shiva) and it’s very well-kept and excellent taken care of.
They have two separate price lists for locals and tourists, a decision based on the fact that the locals should find it affordable to visit the temples, and the tourists would find it very cheap otherwise. The fact that Indonesia is exposed to many potential threats and, having in mind the 2004 tsunami and multiple strong earthquakes and volcano eruptions, we did not expect to find very old buildings here.
If you want to read more helpful info about the must-visit volcanoes in Indonesia, check out this post from a very helpful fellow blogger.
Well, almost all the places that we visited, including the two temples, were built around the 10th-11th centuries and rediscovered around the 19th-20th centuries. I won’t give you all the details about the temples, because I’m sure you can use a Google search, but I have to tell you that, even though I’m not a religious person, I had a very good feeling when visiting these temples.
It’s not only about places where people go to pray, but it’s also about centuries of history, and stories, legends, beliefs, and truths. Each temple from this group has each wall engraved in such small details, that you can find full stories about journeys that started and didn’t end, about marriages that happened against all odds, about revenge kidnaps, and about the actual building of the temples themselves.
This temple was also the first of the many places where we were going to pose for selfies with people. Amongst the visitors was also a group of 15-20 ten-year-old school girls, all of them dressed in neon green T-shirts to make them easier to spot; these girls were following us and lightly whispered “Selfie! Selfie!”. We initially ignored them, thinking they probably are talking about some famous person they saw nearby, but the bravest of them came directly to us and specifically asked for a selfie.
We felt bad to let her down, but they all flooded us like a pipe filled with sweet girls cheering: “Selfie! Selfie!” was broken somewhere. We were terribly ashamed, everyone was looking at us, so we sat nicely and posed while it was raining with phones and tablets ready to take pictures. I still don’t know why everyone wanted to take a picture of us; when I asked people, they seemed to not speak English well enough to explain.
Might have been our white skin, due to being Caucasians that work in IT and don’t see the sun very often, or it might have been my purple hair, or the clothes that might have looked unusual, I honestly don’t know. But now some people from the areas we visited have some pictures with us in some situations, like eating an ice cream or visiting a temple.
Near the usual suite of temples, where most of the tourists went, we found some other temples nearby that were part of the same archaeological site. These looked even more spectacular because we almost felt alone in there. We barely saw a couple when we were leaving the area after we visited everything all alone.
We went back to the accommodation in the middle of the day, we thought, but it was already dark when we finally arrived, at 7 PM. We are used to having a richer breakfast and a huge dinner, and surviving with biscuits and sightseeing all day, so we choose a restaurant that was near the accommodation, to be sure we can go home on foot. So, we went here, and we were famished and tired, and dreaming about a steak with some vegetables.
Surprise! This place is some sort of a DIY restaurant. Say what? So, you’re going there, you’re taking a seat at a table that has a special place in the middle where you have to put the grill, someone brings you the hot coals and the plate of meat, and you start barbecuing right away. Basically, you come, you cook, you eat what you cook, you pay, and you leave.
The food was so-and-so (my nice way of saying not so good). The portions were very small, especially for two people that had their last meal twelve hours earlier, and the waiting time also adds to that. Also, my order of vegetables made the people a little puzzled. Apparently, they don’t quite eat what we call a salad, but only cooked vegetables, or at least marinated in some condiments.
So, my vegetables were actually some sort of cold soup with some mushrooms and zucchinis, without any taste, and accompanied by, of course, rice. Well, at least the beer was good.
The second day in Yogyakarta
The next day we went to a telecom center to buy a SIM card because we wanted some Internet connection for the time spent there. We found the center after using two buses and walking one mile by foot because the distances are SO big, and after we went through a farmer’s market where I had the chance to see chickens without feathers in large groups, on stands, at 95 degrees, with flies all over the place.
This made me grateful for the Hepatitis A vaccine I took before leaving, and also made me ask myself why all travel guides recommend “Trying the street food!”.
At the telecom place, we found a very nice young lady with great English, and she helped us with everything, she gave us notes on how to find out what resources we have left and how to use them efficiently. We then left to Borobudur, one of the greatest Buddhist temples.
This temple is also the more touristic one, the one that is mostly visited because it looks great in pictures and videos. The temple looks like a pyramid that has, on each level, complex sculptures that show full stories about journeys, and rulings, and simple people’s life. Also, on each level there are hundreds of Buddha statues, and the ones on the higher level are covered by a bell with holes in it that’s called a stupa.
To reach this temple we used a suburban bus that was not under the same regulations as the ones from the city. Basically, this bus looked like it was already old in 1980. It was barely moving, the doors weren’t closing, the exhaust gas was getting into the place where the people were, the windows were always open so that we don’t asphyxiate and someone was hanging from each door.
From the end of the bus line, there’s a small distance to walk to reach the temple, but there will always be the nice guys that, for a “small” price, will try to convince you to take a ride with different transportation means. We have probably created some big standards for this temple because we have sincerely liked more the Prambanan temple visited a day before.
We honestly liked the show that was going on an improvised stage next to the temple, where lots of people were sync dancing and were doing the same step at the same time, to make their small bells mounted on their costumes ring at the same time. And this is also the place and the time to admit something I’m not proud of: I took a ride with an elephant.
Yes, I do feel horrible for doing that, I had no idea what that elephant has to go through to get to walk me, how much beating does he have to take and how tortured it can be. I didn’t know and I regret it now. I found out and I still feel guilty, so on our bucket list, there’s a visit to an elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka or a similar place in Thailand.
But try to get over my remorse and think about it: I, the biggest chicken of them all, the girl that doesn’t like swings and roller-coasters and not even deeper waters, I took a ride with an elephant! I have no idea what happened to me then that I was so brave, but I still have a small charm with an elephant I always wear on a bracelet. It reminds me that, against all odds, I am still strong.
On the way back, on the horror bus, we also managed to stand because the driver took us and piled us up like animals, but we were entertained by a guy that decided to sing instead of paying for the ticket. We stopped at another restaurant near the place we were staying at and found some food that was a little better, but the cucumber lemonade was FULL of sugar and the dishes were, of course, tiny.
This is not a bad idea, I mean it’s enough for a normal meal if you have three meals like that over one day, but we were far away from this, having eaten only breakfast and dinner. I have to admit I didn’t see any overweight Indonesian people, even though they drink lots of sparkling and sugary drinks, but their food intake is very well adjusted. That evening I managed to wash my hair that was full of dust and God knows what else, and I managed to make my hands purple.
And I mean PURPLE. Yeah, my hair dye just gave up and decided to come off, for some reason. Bonus points: because I was in the shower for some time already, my hands were wrinkly and they became purple as well. After a small panic attack, I started to use my medicinal alcohol to wash my hands. Because it was the only thing that appeared to be working, and I was happy especially because the next day I was going to hopefully pass a security check at an airport, and I had no idea how easy it would be for someone to believe me if they would ask.
We left for Ubud early in the morning and the driver that we talked to the first day was very on time to take us to the airport. After a short one-hour flight, we got to Denpasar, where even the bus that took us from the plane was playing Balinese music and left us near a Balinese split gate. The airport itself is decorated Balinese style, with flowers and music and mostly open space, to make you feel good immediately after arriving on the island.
If you want to head to Bali, check out the top tips for first-time travelers to Bali in this post written by a fellow blogger!
We were being waited by a driver, Bali being the place where we rented a car beforehand because we knew the distance to Ubud was not that small and we didn’t want to have to negotiate for a taxi there. We reached our accommodation a little early and they told us that the small house we reserved was not yet ready, the people before weren’t checked out yet.
Yes, we had one place where we decided to go the extra mile and spoil ourselves, considering it was our honeymoon. Well, since the room wasn’t ready yet, we asked for a place to leave our luggage and we went for a walk.
They gave us an upstairs room, they said it may be going to take more time because they had a problem with the pipes that was going to be fixed before the evening. OK, no problem there, we carried our bags upstairs, we got into the room, but tried not to make ourselves too comfortable, since it was just a quick fix for the moment.
We then went for a walk and to have something to eat here, where we found better food and a spa atmosphere. After that, we went for a small walk around the town. This town, while being still crowded and unfriendly with the pedestrians, at least had more vegetation and green areas than Yogya.
Compared to the other islands, which have a mostly Muslim population, Bali has a larger number of Buddhist people. And one can easily see that in yards’ and houses’ shapes, in how people are dressing, in the music that can be heard and in the amazing flower smell that travels from the offerings made with love by the people.
We went back to the accommodation and we were convinced that we were going to enjoy a nice, quiet evening, enjoying a bath in our tub surrounded by vegetation.
We went back to the accommodation and we were convinced that we were going to enjoy a nice, quiet evening, enjoying a bath in our tub surrounded by vegetation.
But we were told that the house is not ready yet and that we should go into the room where we already had our luggage. We did that but we were already upset because we felt we were being fooled. I went in to take a shower, even though I initially didn’t want to disturb the room too much, but the hot weather makes you always feel the need to shower. While I was showering, we got a call that our cabin is ready and that we can go there.
So I get out of the shower as fast as possible, I start dressing and packing everything, and we start taking our luggage down the stairs. While my husband took the first large bag downstairs, I put everything together and I was waiting for him to help me out. And he comes back with the news: apparently, there was a “miscommunication problem” and we didn’t properly understand what they were saying, and our cabin was not ready yet and the plumbing issue was still being taken care of (at 8 PM?) and that we should go back to the room.
So he left the luggage downstairs and told them he’ll not carry his luggage up and down the stairs whenever they like it and that it would be nice of them to not ruin our honeymoon; he was already mad, and that means something since he’s the calmest person I know.
We went out to have something for dinner and we told them that we wish we had everything ready until we come back; meanwhile, they were asking us if we didn’t like the room we were staying in (which was very nice, but it wasn’t what we wanted and what we paid for, especially since it was the only accommodation where we spoiled ourselves).
After a dinner with a burger and a beer (a quarter of a gallon beer, to be exact, as we didn’t know what we were doing when ordering a “large local beer”) that we absolutely needed after two days living on half-portions, we arrived back at the guest-house and we were being told to wait a little bit, because the manager will come and talk to us. The manager told us that the pipes were still being repaired (at 10 PM) and that we “may” stay in the room we already had our bags in.
That was the moment when I quit being polite and I told him they were bullshitting us and they probably gave the cabin away to someone else (we could see some lights inside), and that he shouldn’t keep on saying that they were still working on the piping issue because I don’t buy it and that he shouldn’t insist on trying to fool us.
The guy panicked a little bit and started to mumble something about a free dinner at their restaurant and we told him that we didn’t want any free stuff, we just want to enjoy what we booked and paid.
So he decided to ask us if we would agree to spend the night in the room we already had the bags in. That was the moment when angry because it was not like we could go somewhere else at 10 PM no matter how much we would have wanted to, I made use of my angriest voice ever to tell him, and the audience that we had (they had an open space reception), that we’ll go to that room because we don’t have any other options and that we thank him for ruining our vacation.
I am deeply sorry about the way I spoke then, I am not the type of person that shouts at people, especially in public, but we really felt scammed and we were awfully angry. And I still believe I wasn’t wrong, and we were quite understanding in the beginning, and we weren’t the ones to blame for the whole situation.
After we had gone again into the room we received a call in less than 15 minutes and they said everything was ready for us; my husband asked them if they were sure this was not another “miscommunication” because he wasn’t willing to take the bags downstairs for no reason.
Someone came upstairs and took our bags and we finally entered our cabin that had the pipes fine and working. It’s interesting how everything got solved in 15 minutes, right? After the first ten minutes of happiness in the new place, we realized that the bathroom, which was open and surrounded by plants, looked very good in pictures, but was not such a good idea in real life.
The plants were a good place for all the mosquitoes to nest in, so they were ready for a fine meal right when you were taking a bath. We had some mosquito repellent pills with us because we didn’t want to bring any exotic diseases in Romania, but we also had to keep the bathroom door closed at all times to be sure we were starving them during the evening.
The next day, after a well deserved huge breakfast, we went to an island tour that we have chosen a day before. The driver, a very nice and polite man, made a four-hour tour spread to eight hours. He told us we should not keep on watching the timetable and we can abandon our watches, he was going to take care of us so that we feel great, and he was also going to show us places we couldn’t otherwise see.
Unfortunately, because we didn’t know we were going to see some of those places, we didn’t have enough money to buy everything that we would have wanted to buy, but the experience was almost free and we treasure that the most.
The first stop was at a Balinese dance place to watch a Barong, something that looks like a play with lots of dancing parts. The story is an interesting allegory for the good and evil fight; unfortunately, it appears our level of culture is not as high as we thought, because we are aware we couldn’t have understood anything if it weren’t for the printed story that we received in the beginning.
Next, we went to a workshop where silver and gold jewelry was handmade by local people. These workers, like the ones carving wood, looked like they didn’t quite like the art in what they were doing, they were only working to be able to make a living, and people who are coming to these workshops are somehow treating these places like some sort of zoos where you come to see people at their workplace. I know, it sounds hypocritical after the story with the elephant, but I swear I’m not a bad person.
These were the places where we met the least persistent salespeople, but they still asked us where were we from and applied a generous discount after we answered. From the wood carving place we bought a statue that fit our taste, simple, delicate and made out of white wood, that we managed to lose somehow, we have no idea where, so we came back with just two small, one inch
After visiting the places located in more urban areas, the nice driver took us to a specific Balinese house, his house, to be exact. Indeed, the guy was very nice and his heart was in the right place. We met his wife and his two children, together with the baby that was sleeping on the terrace, we saw the open-air kitchen that looked like something our grandparents usually had when they lived in the countryside.
We also saw all the mini temples they had in their household (one for every important life moment, like birth, marriage
We also found out that his sister was also living there because she was divorced (sentence whispered softly like it was a shameful thing to say), so we felt the need to tell him that as long as she’s safe and happy, it’s probably the best thing for her. From there, we went to see the Tegenungan waterfall, one of the most visited places on the island.
We dreamed about taking a bath there, but the water looked too violent to take the risk, but we had the chance to see tens or maybe hundreds of small towers made out of river rocks stacked one on top of the other, a custom that we thought it meant relaxation and equilibrium, but apparently it doesn’t represent anything and no one knows why tourists are doing this.
Exactly when we were feeling very hot and sticky because of the hot and humid weather we found hard to handle, we reached Tirta Empul, a temple dedicated to Vishnu, where we went through a purifying ritual that meant using fresh spring water to cleanse all sins.
A very well received and refreshing experience, after we managed to change into the proper sarongs for this activity (of course you don’t do this in your bikini, it’s still a temple). My husband actually followed the whole ritual, while I couldn’t because of my hair that was losing its dye, but I tried to do everything I could.
Before heading to the rice fields we also went to see Goa Gajah, a cave that served as a place for meditation starting with the 10th century. The rice fields were a breath o fresh air, far away from the crowd and the restlessness of the city.
Even though the driver was very careful and he drove in such a manner that made us feel safe all day, we were still able to watch the traffic we were passing through. We reached the rice fields and we started to walk around while being amazed by the ability of this place to take you out of the surrounding reality.
There, in the middle of nature, walking around carefully to be sure we’re not ruining anyone’s hard work, we discovered what it means to have a core of quietness in a sea of madness.
We were watching the other part of the field, across the street, and we were seeing cars passing by, people in a hurry and scooters running around, but in our green bubble, it was so peaceful and quiet that we could easily think we were in another world.
Of course, for this experience you have to pay an entrance fee and, after that, at almost every parcel, there’s a guy or a child asking for a little “donation”, sometimes quite aggressively, and the fields are displayed in some sort of a circuit, so you cannot take a detour to not do this; but it wouldn’t be Asia if it weren’t for these sort of things.
We finally decided to head back to the crowded Ubud, where I left my husband distracting the driver while I rushed inside to bring in some money to reward the nice driver that made our day special. We then went to search for a yoga workshop to schedule a session for the next day and to search for a massage place.
If you want to read a well-researched two-week Bali itinerary, check out this post written by a fellow blogger!
Here, we did the first try for a small massage before scheduling a five-hour treatment for the next day, after the yoga session, to be sure we had the chance to unwind. We then went to have dinner at our accommodation where we thought we would get some apologies for the not so nice situation from the day before, but the miscommunication was making victims again and no one knew we were supposed to have a free dinner from the manager.
The last day in Ubud
We started the last day in Ubud with a short walk to a laundry cleaning place because the hot and humid air made me change my T-shirts more than I expected and I didn’t have any more clothes I could even look at, let alone wear. We were supposed to be picked up the next day, around 12, to reach the ship that was going to take us to the Gili Islands, and we could retrieve our clothes in the morning, at around eight.
We somehow managed to speak to the girl from the laundry place; she was a teenager that spoke English quite good, but, despite being very shy, she managed to tell me that she thought I was beautiful, a nice way to say that she was probably impressed by my purple hair that was quite uncommon over there.
I noticed this around the area, especially when it came to girls and women. They find a way of telling you that you are different than they are and that they consider you to be unusual, and they make you feel kind of special by saying it so many times.
After we dropped the laundry and went for a little souvenir shopping, answering all the questions about our place of origin and bargaining for all the products that we thought were too expensive, we went to the yoga session we scheduled a day before. Here, in a huge pavilion, while hearing the wind breezing through the palm trees leaves and the smooth chirping of some nice birds, I found out that yoga hurts.
I found out that yoga doesn’t have positions, it has poses; these poses don’t look hurtful when you look at pictures or at someone doing them, but they make your body hurt due to muscles you didn’t even know you had. I found out that meditation and breathing are indeed parts of yoga, but you actually need to be very fit to be able to detach from your body, and this physical state cannot be acquired without some not-so-easy exercises.
From the yoga place, after I managed to gather my last drop of energy, we went for the huge massage that we have scheduled, thinking that we’ll completely relax and refill with positive vibes that will help us carry on with the rest of the vacation. I can safely say that five (5!) hours are too many. We started to get bored after the first three hours, and bathing in a tub full of warm water and flowers softened us too much.
While my husband was enjoying a head and shoulders massage while having his hair washed, I had to skip this part because of my hair problems, so I had to settle for a two-hour foot massage. We left the place half asleep and smelling like two cookies, and went to finally have the dinner the manager had promised.
Before we left, we decided to give a very generous tip to the two very nice ladies that offered us their amazing time; they did a great job and were incredibly warm, so we felt they really deserved something for their efforts. If you’re wondering what the proper tipping culture in Bali is and other important information for first-timers, check out this blog post written by a fellow blogger! She will give you all the information you need, and more!
But getting back to our story, apparently, someone was looking for us at the accommodation. The ship was the next day was rescheduled due to weather conditions that were supposed to get worse around noon, so the new time was 9 AM instead of 12. They didn’t have any other way to contact us so they called the pickup place instead. We still had the problem of retrieving our laundry. The nice employees called everyone: the shipping company guys, the laundry place guys, the driver that was supposed to pick us up the next day.
They made everything in their power to not leave me without my clothes. We woke up the next day, we ate and finished our bags in a hurry; my husband went to the laundry place and waited for the girl to appear. The driver, who had another couple in the car too, waited for us until the last possible moment. We still didn’t manage to take back my clothes.
So we left in a hurry to make it to the ship, asking the people from the hotel to please pick up our clothes and hold them, while we were making a plan for the retrieval. After this, I couldn’t say anything mean about the people from the accommodation: they were so nice and helpful, we couldn’t have made anything without their help at this point.
If you’re headed to Bali, check out this post about things to do in Ubud. It’s written by a fellow blogger and it’s full of interesting ideas.
We arrived at the departure point in time, but I don’t think we would have if we would have waited for ten more minutes in Ubud. The traffic became unbearable once the sun came up and the driver couldn’t have done anything else than he already did. A small check-in procedure followed: we registered, we left our big luggage somewhere (hoping they would follow, since no one was taking them right away) and we had the chance to ask ourselves if we might be seasick.
Since we never traveled using such a ship, I thought I’m not seasick. And I wasn’t, but the ship’s movements made me feel the need for adjustment. As the ship was leaving the port, we were looking behind and were seeing the biggest and the darkest gray clouds we ever saw, while a sweet blue sky with some cotton candy white clouds were ahead of us.
We initially tried to stay out, but after some time we discovered that the morning rush made my husband forget to apply sunscreen, and our cosmetics were in the big bags, of course. So, after he got a small, but hurtful sunburn, we decided to go inside. The air conditioning was highly used and appreciated there. We took a seat and watched a movie for half an hour until my lips were purple due to the low temperature, and I didn’t have any other option than to stay there and handle the iced wind that was brushing my right shoulder.
The rest of the trip we spent moving below and above the deck while seeing people who suffered from intense seasickness, and I didn’t feel disgusted, but compassionate, because they looked like they were suffering a lot. The first ship took us to Lombok Island where we were supposed to change the ship to a smaller boat, for 10-15 people, we and the luggage took and carried by ourselves on the beach.
The entry point was on the beach, in small water, so I had to climb the boat through water, while wearing sneakers — for some reason I thought we were going to have a pontoon available — but our biggest fear was to not drop our luggage in the water or to not allow the water to reach them in the boats. Our conclusion, after this trip and the one back, is that if you would like a relaxed trip, you should focus on getting around by plane and by car; if you got to boats and ships, there a slim chance you’ll be relaxed ever again.
We reached Gili Air in the middle of the day, we disembarked and learned again how to walk on land, and we found the bargaining “taxi” drivers. They were asking for an amount of money for a delightful trip with a horse carriage that was similar to what we paid from Denpasar to Ubud in an air-conditioned car and with a nice driver, the distance on the island is ten times smaller.
We explained that and we told them they’re obviously delusional and they told us, with the most taunting attitude I have seen in all this trip, that “we have luggage, this is the price”. I, being the naive flower I usually am, thought that they were asking for a bigger price because we had luggage, but my husband translated this to “you have luggage, you don’t have a choice, you’ll have to pay us the fee we’re asking for”.
That was the moment I decided we can walk and I would rather invest that money into buying apples and carrots for the horse that was doing the whole work there, instead of giving it to the rudest people I have ever seen. So we walked on this island without paved roads until we reached the accommodation, carrying our luggage and strongly swearing because the morning was too much for us.
If you’d like to read a great post full of awesome ideas on things to do in Gili, check out this post from a fellow blogger and get inspired!
At the accommodation, we were welcomed by the owners, some very nice people that told us everything we needed to hear about beaches, dining and diving places. They urgently sent us to relax on a beach on the north part of the island, where there were at most 10 people around. The reflux was at its peak so we should have walked a few miles if we wanted to swim, but the beach had the instant calming effect we thought it would.
The white powdered sand, full with delicate white starfish a child was collecting right near the water, his father throwing them back into the water to be sure they won’t die, the smooth wind going through the palm trees – all of these have the gift of making you feel calm no matter how your day was.
From the beach we went to a diving center for my husband to try and schedule a diving session for the next day, and the guys in there wouldn’t want to let them dive until they verified him with a test session similar to the PADI exam, thinking he didn’t have a huge record of divings and the last one was too far away in time (more than a year).
After that, we found this place, where there was a line to wait for available tables, but they had such good food that we thought it was worth the wait. We took a shower that evening using our shower area without a ceiling, together with a cute gecko that decided it was better for it to move in our bathroom, and it stayed there after we left too. We want to thank it for allowing us to use its house for a few days.
The next day, as early as we could, we went to the diving center for my husband to be examined. All the diving instructors were either Australians, either from New Zealand, so their English was flawless.
My husband was examined in a way similar to the actual PADI exam end they let him join the dive that was supposed to start around noon. I managed to rent a life-saving vest so I would not be afraid to go by myself into the water, but the water currents were pretty strong and I didn’t want to risk it.
So, I just stood there, three to four hours, on the beach, waiting for my husband, and I analyzed a small crab that was digging a hole and was coming back up from time to time to throw some sand out, I gathered a few shells and I watched the marine life that was formed into a small puddle formed by the tide.
My husband came back fascinated, his experience being described as “the best diving ever!”, especially since he saw a sea turtle as big as I am. We snorkeled for the rest of the day, desperately trying not to step on the corals so we don’t break them and to also record some underwater videos to show people at home.
We spent a relaxed evening at a restaurant with an open bar to taste something non-Asian for a change. But walking around this car-free, poorly lighted island was all the energy refill we needed.
We left the next day feeling we spent way too little time on this amazing island. Advice: if you choose to go from Bali to the Gili Islands, spend at least five days here, it’s so worth it! Here’s a list of things to do in Gili Air, from a fellow blogger.
The fare for the drop-off to the ship pier area was half of the one demanded by the guys at our arrival, so we weren’t weirdos when we didn’t want to pay that price.
The ship was much smaller this time, and apparently the arrival one should have been the same if it weren’t for the change. We had the “luck” of having a window seat, where the windows were always opening due to the vibrations and we had to manually close them every time if we didn’t want to shower in salted water.
Since the ship was smaller, it was also more agile and reached speeds higher than the one we used for the inbound trip. This means it was climbing huge waves and falling on the surface of the water with such speed that you could’ve thought, by the feeling and sounding of it, that the boat has fallen on concrete instead of water. I was afraid to use the toilet, I was just sure I would fall and put myself in an embarrassing situation.
I didn’t even try to stand up. So much water got into the boat, I had to ask for a (new) garbage bag to put my laptop in (yes, I wanted to take the laptop with us on vacation – there’s a thing I’ll never do again). We reached the destination dizzy and a little bit sick, with a sensation that could have been seasickness, or it could have been that-specific-boat sickness.
We reached Kuta by car, a service that was included in the shipping tickets, like the pick-up from Ubud. We shared the ride with a couple that was going to a high-end resort right on the beach. In the resort, the security was similar to the one in the airport, including guardians that used mirrors to check underneath the car for possible explosives, we assumed.
We managed to see a little bit of a place where people that can and will invest more in a vacation go to. We were envious for a few seconds and that was it. Our vacation was the best because we were together, not because we spent a lot on it. Soon after we had reached our accommodation we asked for help to get someone to drive us to Ubud.
You didn’t think I spent the rest of my holiday without clothes, did you? I was almost out of options, my luck is that the last days of vacation were mostly on beach areas and I wore my bathing suits more than regular clothes anyway. Of course, they could help us find a nice guy that took us to Ubud the next morning and told us lots of stories.
For example, he told us about his father, who was 102 and was having a hard time with his health, and the driver was continuously worried because of this. He also explained that a huge bridge we were crossing was actually a public-private partnership, was built after the tsunami and it made the trip much shorter and faster. The construction took nearly three years and the area underneath was a big swamp due to the tides, so the soil was quite tricky to build on.
I have no idea how were they able to build that so fast. Meanwhile, in Romania, we still don’t have a highway that crosses the whole country. We reached Ubud fast enough, took the clothes that were very neatly washed and ironed, we gave our warm thanks to the employees that helped us with this whole thing (see, we’re not telling you only the bad stuff), and we headed back hoping we can skip the traffic that we knew was going to increase.
Right after we got out of the city I fell asleep since it was barely 7 AM, and I slept for a few minutes until my husband woke me up to see some monkeys just staying in the middle of the road. Yeah, we have crossed off our list the Sacred monkey forest when we planned our trip to Ubud, but apparently, things can work even without planning.
We kept in touch with our driver for other potential needs we may have, especially since he recommended a place for sea walking, and we knew we would also need help reaching the airport on the way back.
We spent the rest of the day on a beach in Kuta, where we, again, had the chance to regret not spending more time in Gili. The beach was nothing special compared to the beaches we have in Romania, and the tide was at its peak, so the water was not where we thought it would be. You know those videos of Bali where people swim next to garbage?
The tourist beaches are not quite like that, but if you move a little bit out of the beaten tracks, you’ll find that. Yeah, the nice places from pictures and the snorkeling areas are not in Kuta, so we were kind of disappointed. Still, we had fun with a lady that was trying to take a selfie with me while I was setting up my towel on the sunbed but without telling me, which felt both funny and weird at the same time.
I called her next to me when I realized what she was doing so that she could at least take a proper picture, and I think we looked quite interesting, me in a two-piece bathing suit and her being dressed from head to toes. We also found some interesting restaurants while in Kuta, one being here and the other one here.
The Indian place was found after some effort because the way there didn’t seem like a lot, but it felt like an adventure, after we mostly walked on the street without pavements and public lightning, with scooters going quite fast right beside us. Speaking of scooters, when we were going to the beach one day we saw some police officers pulling over scooters for a check-out, but it was very obvious they were only stopping Caucasian drivers, that were mostly tourists.
We, later on, found out that, for you to be allowed to drive a scooter in Indonesia, you need a special license that hardly anyone knows about, so usually people don’t have it. Do you know how, in every travel guide you can find, it says to also rent a scooter, to “do it the local way!”? It would be nice if someone would also say this as it would be nice if people also tell you about how safe it is to eat street food in Asia.
Sea walking in Kuta, Bali
The next day we went to try the sea walker experience, and I was already panicked like hell – the “elephant’s strength” effect, like we called it, was long gone by now. Because I don’t dive, and I can barely snorkel, using only a full-face snorkeling mask, we thought that I should enjoy an experience similar to what my husband enjoys when he’s
Because of my panic, my husband had to join, and mostly because I swore not to go into the water if he didn’t come with me. The guys asked for a huge amount of money for this, a little more than my husband paid for his diving trip, so we bargained to lower what they were claiming was a “fair price”.
They put us into some diving suits that almost fit, but were still wet from the previous customers (a dreamy sensation feeling something moist on your skin that you knew was just taken of somebody else’s), they provided a small explanation about how things will work in an almost understandable English and off we went on the boat.
I was already hyperventilating when I saw someone more freaked out than me: another couple, right next to us. He was a certified diver and she was very afraid of water and didn’t even swim, so I was a little bit more advanced than her at this point. I spend my time calming her so I don’t think about my own panic and we reached the diving place.
The system is quite simple: you dive at around 6 meters depth, wearing a huge bell on your head that’s connected to some oxygen tanks at the surface. The bell is very heavy, but the isolation is perfect and you don’t even get wet from the neck up, but the fact that it’s heavy makes things difficult.
When we entered the water I basically stood on the boat’s stairs, in water up to my neck, they put the bell on my head and I immediately went down, taken by the weight and helped by one of their employees.
I wouldn’t have been able to sustain that weight outside of the water, and I was already thinking how will it work when I’ll have to go up, especially since I couldn’t even look down, but only straight ahead. Unfortunately, this experience was also disappointing. I honestly hope it was just our bad luck and we made a bad choice as the company wasn’t very professional.
I didn’t understand a lot of what was happening over there. The water was very cloudy, probably due to all the boats that were around that exact area doing the same thing as we were, or to the fact that we didn’t seem to be very far away from the bay area, and there were only a few small fishes that were coming along to taste the slice of bread covered in plastic that they gave us before we went down.
The water visibility was around three feet and the whole experience barely lasted 15 minutes, out of which the first 10 minutes you get used to the system, to taking care of the pressure, to reanalyzing what you have to do and what to watch for.
Of course, I took it as a dry run of what’s it like to dive, but later on my husband explained that he doesn’t want me to think this, and I had more beautiful views while snorkeling (which is true), and that I shouldn’t rely on this experience to make an opinion about diving.
The only person truly impressed was my suffering partner, but she also listened to her partner’s explanation that it’s nice she liked it, but it’s not even remotely similar to what he sees in a boring diving session. From there we went searching for a beach we also searched for a day before, somewhere near this restaurant that had great food and amazing fruit juices that restored our vitamin intake for the whole season. Because the beach was a little bit out of the way it was also incredibly beautiful.
Very clean, except for a few leaves that fell out of the palm trees, with fine, white sand and so quiet I was actually able to fall asleep there, listening to the waves. That’s how we found a nice beach in Bali.
Then we went south to have a walk on the beach, and noticed the number of signs mounted on the walls in which it was explained the proper behavior one needs to take in case of a tsunami alert, and how to identify the signs of a tsunami, some memories of a very sad and recent history.
For the next day my husband wanted to try the west side of the island, where the waves were perfect for surfing, an activity he had tried 15 years before and it wasn’t a success. I managed to find a small place with some shade because the sun seemed to be stronger than ever, but the only thing I did was to keep an eye on him and be scared when he was disappearing into the waves.
For the water panicked chicken that I am, surfing looks like a very masochistic way of having fun, so I consider it to be a threat to everyone’s safety. After he had burned a few thousand calories without even climbing the board, we went towards a mall nearby, to try to readjust to the European world by seeing the same stores and to wait for the driver to come to pick us up.
Because, of course, in Bali, you need to find someone to drive you around, you cannot rely on other means of transportation, and I don’t think anyone in their right mind would even think about renting a car, considering the traffic. We spent the evening enjoying a massage and then eating all the fruit money could buy from the supermarket.
We thought that was a place we should be safe buying from, the prices being displayed openly, unlike in the markets where we would have paid what we called “the tourist tax” – the price that was triggered only by the color of our skin. I still dream about having some of that red dragon fruit one more time, because I don’t think I had enough and I probably never will.
We were dropped out at the airport by one of our driver’s friends because apparently, he had some personal problems (we honestly hope it was not something related to his father), but he did manage to find a replacement driver, which we thought was very nice of him. After the security check at the airport, a lady from the security officer stopped me; I was already getting ready for a check-up and taking my shoes out when she stopped me and just said she wanted to tell me I have such nice hair.
I told you, I was something special there with my purple hair. We landed in Jakarta after a short flight and went directly to the hotel where we had the reservation until the next day when our long flight back home was scheduled. I am sorry to say that the hotel looked better in pictures than in reality. Except for the common areas and the restaurants, everything else is already ancient in there.
We had to change rooms because the initial room had a very strong smoke smell inside because there’s that type of people that cannot just ask for a smokers’ room, they just have to mess up perfectly good non-smokers’ one. After we had left our baggage we decided to go visit the city, to see a little bit of Jakarta.
When we asked at the reception how to reach the city we received weird looks. But, well, we’re adventurers, we want to see the world, we won’t stop when someone looks weird when we tell them our plans!
We almost paid as much as a kidney to reach the city by taxi. After lots of nervousness and panic, we visited the biggest mosque in South-east Asia, an impressive place of amazing greatness and beautiful silence. After, we just crossed one street and visited the Jakarta Cathedral.
The two places, parts of two such different religions, are right across the street from each other, yet another proof of the whole level of understanding people can have one to another, disregarding their home environment and the diverse culture they may come from.
Let’s not forget that here we have visited sacred places for four different religions and I never felt judged while doing so; there’s a lesson about tolerance we could all learn from this nation. The trip back to the hotel was a nightmare. Jakarta is one of the most crowded cities in the world, but it looks like it was replaced by Bucharest in the last years – I researched this information before writing the story and apparently, this is the case.
The traffic was horrible, although we were using the highway. Eventually, our driver started using the emergency lane, like many others were, and he barely reached a 35 mph speed. On a highway.
Sounds frightening, 35 mph on a highway, right? For us, it also felt frightening, seeing scooters almost flying around so close to us that we could almost see an accident happening, even though a scooter could have been used by a family of two adults and three children.
To be honest, I didn’t complain about the traffic in Bucharest ever since that’s how amazed I was. At the hotel, we tried enjoying the pool and other services, but everything still looked better in pictures than in real life, so we soon gave up on saunas no one was using towels in and the incredibly cold water pool. We just had a quick bite and went to bed because we were supposed to have breakfast at 4 AM.
Coming back from Indonesia
Going back was easier because we had a daytime flight. Between the 1934 movies (“It happened one night”, a masterpiece with Clark Gable) and the modern animated movies (“How to train your dragon” and “Baby boss”), I didn’t even realize when I got to Doha. Here we found out we had a delay of 30 minutes, but we weren’t in a hurry to go anywhere so we enjoyed our time in duty-free stores, without caring too much about why our flight was delayed.
We got on the plane and we could already tell we were going to Romania. People were shouting at each other, the flight attendants knew almost all passengers and were calling them by their first name, the passengers were choosing seats so that they could easily sleep without even waiting for the plane to take off. Right after we took off and we plugged our headsets to watch yet another movie we started to feel something was in the air. It was already smelling like our vacation’s ending.
After all of this…
… we met with my husband’s parents that already had their vacation scheduled for Bali that was supposed to start two weeks after ours. We, of course, told them what they should expect, apart from the things that we told them due to the SIM card we bought there. We even gave them some money we didn’t spend, we figured there’s no point in changing it back to dollars so that they can do the same two weeks later.
We asked them, with the most plastic descriptions words could make, to buy us a new wooden statue to replace the lost one. You see, I didn’t want our two small Buddhas to feel alone. His parents came back a little sad. Their dream vacation was a few years ago, in The Maldives.
Comparing the two places is unfair for both of them. They enjoyed Bali in their way, a way that’s different than ours, like staying in a resort for two weeks, and they said it wasn’t even in the remote area of what they imagined it to be.
Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea to change the places so often, after all. We still think, from time to time, if it would have been better to just get a room somewhere and not wander around too much. It was, in fact, pretty tiring, and since then we never go somewhere and stay less than four days.
But once in a while, we think about our vacation and smile. It was an adventure, and our life together will be the same, and we wouldn’t change that for the world.