Happy Halloween in Bali!
I landed in Bali around midnight on Halloween. My hotel was supposed to pick me up at the airport. However, I did not see anyone waiting around for me. I decided to take a taxi instead of wandering around the airport. My taxi dropped my off at poppies 1, which is a small street in Bali. It is the hub for the cheap hotels. The taxi driver said that my hotel was supposed to be down an alley off this small street. I assumed, he was correct and I walked down this small alley by myself. My hotel was no where to be found. I decided to stay in another hotel on the alley. It was a quaint place, I had to request toilet paper for the bathroom. There were no towels or soap. Just two basic beds and a small TV. My room is named the small banana. But hey, what do you expect for 18 dollars a night?
The next morning, I got up bright and early for my surfing lessons. I had called the surfing company and told them about the change in my hotel. I ate my free breakfast of toast and coffee and heard someone asking for me at the front desk. There is a larger Indonesian man wearing a Rip Curl shirt saying he was my transport. OK, I gather my things and headed out to the parking lot. I notice there is only a moped. I am thinking to myself that his car must be parked on the street. No, he is getting on his moped. I think, what the heck. I climb on the back and hold on to the bar behind me. I have blocked out most of the ride. We zipped by way too many cars for my comfort.
Finally, we arrive at the surf school. I change into my rash guard shirt and board shorts and I am ready to go. The beginner class consists of nine people. Six of them are an Austrian, one Australian girl, and an American girl. I am relieved to see that I am not the only one, who signed up for the class as a single. We do a quick run on the beach and some basic stretching. They give us a quick lesson. We pretend to surf on our mats. You get up on a surfboard by using chicken wings, which is putting your hands right under you chest. We set out to the ocean and practice our chicken wings. I can do this! Finally, they teach us how to stand up. We practice on our mats and head out to the ocean. I feel great. I catch most waves and can stand up. I feel like I could become a surfer. We get back. I decide to sign up for lessons for the next day. I am feeling good!
I decide to forgo the transport home and walk around the shops. The shops are awesome. They have tons of cheap knick knacks. I pick up a new dress and some other odds and ends. I love the bargaining. It takes me about 2 hours to walk back to my hotel. On the way back, I notice that traffic is really backed up. I thought there had to be an accident. The unique thing about Bali is the expats drive around. However, Bali has a lot of people there to just relax and party. This combination doesn't seem do well for traffic. I finally see the cause of the traffic and its a cremation ceremony in the middle of the street. I asked a local if this was normal and he said yes. He said there were probably a couple ceremonies a day.
I stop for lunch at Hard Rock Cafe. I can't tell you how much, I have been craving good western food. I have never been so excited to eat a club sandwich. I am just as happy as a clam, when I see a sign for Rock n' Run! It turns out there is a 5k, tomorrow! How great is that? I sign up on the spot. This will be my first run in Indonesia!
I go back to my hotel, swim around in the pool and get ready for dinner. I made plans to meet one of the girls from for surfing classes. She has been in Tokyo all summer. She was craving Mexican food and I never say no to Mexican food! We have arranged to meet at Chi-chi's at 7. I still have a couple hours to waste. I decide to do a little more shopping and sightseeing. The great thing about Kuta is there are mini temples all over the place. I pass by one of the stalls and a women says I can get a manicure/pedicure for 2 dollars in ten minutes. I decide to do it! This is where trouble begins! They finish my pedicure/manicure and tell me that because they drew flowers on my nails so I owe them 120 dollars not 2. Are you kidding me? The woman has my purse in her hands because my nails were wet and I didn't think she was shady. Thankfully, I didn't bring much money and its stored in more than one pocket. I only have 5 dollars in my wallet. (My grandmother taught me that a good place to hide money is in your bra and my brother seems to believe that socks are the way to go. I have employed both of these methods.) The women start talking about coming back to my hotel room and getting the extra money. I get my purse back by telling them that I will need get my credit card. I leave them 10 dollars and run out of the store with my shoes in hand.
I am pretty cranky at this point! My awesome Bali trip ruined by worry. I don't know if these women will send police after me or what. I make it to chi-chi's, my buddy and I exchange travel horror stories. I realize that everyone has dealt with this stuff and its not such big of deal. I did learn never to let my purse leave my body! We hang out around the town square a little more and then I head to bed.
I wake up excited for the 5k. I am a little nervous because I haven't ran in a race since April. I am hoping the training that I have been doing is good enough. I show up outside of the Hard Rock and I notice everyone is wearing the race shirts. The shirts are a great quality, but they are black and heavy. This doesn't sound like a good idea to run in a black shirt in 80 degree weather. I see another expat not wearing a race shirt. I made some joke about how we didn't get the memo. It turns out this man is the assistant principal at Bali International School. He tells me about all the runs in Bali and I am instantly jealous. Bali has an active hash group and a race about once a month. Surabaya has a men's hash group and no races. We start the run, which is filled with mostly Indonesians. I would estimate that a couple hundred of people were running and only 10 were expats. Most of the Indonesians are not prepare for the run. They start out in a sprint and lose energy shortly after the first block. It makes me feel like a "fast" runner because I am passing people left and right. The race is just a square around Kuta. The sights are OK, nothing that I haven't seen by just walking around. They can't actually stop traffic, so as I am running there is traffic zipping by me. I am used to this because of my running in Surabaya. Indonesia is not sidewalk friendly. I finish the race and gulp down tons of water. I don't think that I have ever been so sweaty! They have the awards ceremony and they call the top three men and women to the stage and give them their awards. Then there is an announcement that they would like to recognize fourth place for men and women. The fourth place man is the assistant principal and the fourth place woman is me! How embarrassing! When I get off the stage, I am subjected to taking pictures. The third place women was an expat. We become instant celebrities.
I make my way back to the hotel and get ready for surfing lessons round 2. We surfed in low tide yesterday. Sunday, we are surfing in high tide. The Austrians called high tide wild waters. Regular surfing is more difficult because of the rougher waters. First, we learn how to paddle to catch waves. This is pretty simple, its all about timing with the paddling. Then, we learn how to paddle past the small waves and go out past the sandbar for the big waves. It takes all your energy to paddle out there. We learn four ways to avoid the waves. The first is for small waves, wear you just hold yourself up and push the nose of the board down. The second and third are for medium waves, you sit up on the board and as the wave comes you try and hold the board up. The next is turning yourself and the board around and try to hold the board up again. The fourth is called Eskimo roll, you lay on your board and flip it over before the wave hits you. This takes the most work. But, its my favorite. It makes me feel like a real surfer. I catch a couple big waves. But, I am pooped at the end of the two and half hours.
I make my way back to the hotel and freshen up for another lunch at hard rock cafe. I indulge in potato skins and apple pie. I pack up my things for the airport! I am excited and ready to run in the half marathon next Sunday! I do love Bali. Kuta is supposed to be the worst spot because it has the most tourist. I loved it, it felt just like any other resort town. It was great to finally swim in the ocean. I will have fun exploring Bali over the next two years!