I wake up around 6am, sprawled out on a king-sized bed in a room about 4 times the size of my room at home with the air conditioner on and black curtains blocking out most of the sun outside.. and snap- it comes back to me. I’m in the Villa of my cousin’s fiancee’s gay cousin. and he gave me his bed because he was spending the night with this guy he just met 2 days ago and they were going on a bike ride at 7am that morning.. easier to just eliminate the meeting part in the morning and just stay at his place, right? Sure..
walk out to get the other half of my breakfast, sat out in the pool area to eat it. met up with emily, gave michael’s key back at the receptionist making up a story about how he left it in “my” room so they didn’t think i slept in his room because that would have been an extra fee. took a cab back to emily/endre+ his family’s villa, from which they were moving out of to go to Ubud. I was to take the car with them. Little did I know that I was going to be the two kids’ playtoy on the way there.. after braiding their hairs (one was in the car while the girl was turning her head around not really helping me do the job, and was while we were dodging around motorcycles and potholeing) then had to hide a toy and use “hot/cold” to figure out where it was – but of course it was always under her butt or behind her back, so i had to pretend to not know that and start somewhere far away so she was always delighted to see that I took such a looooong time to find it, so she must have hid it in a clever place.
As we made our way out of Seminak, the terrain got more hilly, and rice fields were everywhere around us, with harvesters using old-fashion scythes to cut down the crop.
When we got to the new Villa, i was breathless- it was at the outcrop of a hill-but almost as steep as a cliff, with a river roaring down below. The panoramic view at the top area was of the largest palm-jungle I’ve ever seen. The villa hosts even told us that there’d be the occasional monkey and other wild animal that we would see. On arrival, they gave us fresh-cold towels, and iced-tea. After a tour of the place, we dove straight into the pool, and I spent about 1 hour teaching my little nieces (or cousins? not sure what my cousin’s children are in relation to me) how to swim.
Back to Ubud center, Endre rented a motor-bike. Him and I sat on, and zipped over to a supermarket to get me a SIM card into my faithful phone that I have used throughout Europe as well, and has the capability to connect to any network I’ve tried thus far. On the way back, we got a bottle of vodka to fuel the motor – hah just joking, it was gasoline, but here’s the best part: it was sold in a vodka bottle. Gas station = a shelf of petrol at the side of the road housed in clear bottles. Price ~ $2/gallon. (and the motor only cost about $5 per day) Barring that you don’t drive off the side of a bridge, I’d say that’s pretty worth it (and the rental is filling out your name, and signing.. they don’t even check if you have a lisence which technically should be a Balinese license.
That night Endre+Emily, 2 of Emily’s friends and i went out to dinner where about 1 hour in, jetlag hit hard. I just couldn’t get a comprehensible sentence out of my mouth, although it may also have been because of this insanely spicy fish I ordered.. i swear it was the most spicy thing I ate in my life, felt like my tongue was about to burn off. But good news was that anything after it seemed mild. I was even cooling my mouth off with a rice that the rest of the table deemed “very spicy”. I guess next time watch out for the phrase “traditional Balinese spiced”.
After riding the motor on monday, i just had to get one myself. Of course all the “danger” alarms were going off in my head: No, I’ve never driven a motorcycle, people drive on the opposite side of the road here (well… theoretically) so I’m not used to that, I am not “actually” allowed to drive with an american lisence, so i may get stopped by the police, I’ll have no protective gear, just a helmet. But then I looked at the flipside: if I don’t rent one out (and price was definitely not an issue here), I will come home with the dissatisfaction of not having done it.
So here i go: rented the bike, weaved my way down a potholey path that was smaller than a regular sidewalk at home, and not even a 1/4 km away, i already bumped something. Now a normal person would probably curse and wish they never did this, but I just thought – yeeah adrenaline! awesome! now I have to think quickly what should I do? A taxi driver came and helped me then said he would go with me to the mechanic to get it fixed and he would get a better price than if I would go by myself.. i was skeptical, and good thing i waited around a bit, because the owner of the bike just came by, and said no no, he will bring his wife and then we would go together. Long story short: damage done: $30. All the while I had a great experience in waiting for the bike and observing how they fixed it in around 45 mins, talking to the lady from who we rented the room. All this instead of getting a massage like i originally wanted to. Haha, don’t regret it at all 🙂 Picked up my gay roommate, then headed back to the Villa on the motorbike through windy roads weaving through the jungle-like landscape then the rice paddies, all the while feeling the poor guy behind me shaking as I tried to hide my own nervousness by talking to him. Apparently did it well because he though I was totally chill, without a drop of anxiety. And we made it the whole 7 kms without a scratch. Score!
That night the whole gang went to the Jazz cafe, had a delicious buffet, and danced to a stevie-wonder double singing Superstitious, among many other great songs. Any jetlag I had for the first half of the night was pretty much gone after boogie-ing and making a human train on the dancefloor with Emily, Louise and Michael. Great night!
In the morning, shortly after waking and washing my face, the homestay owner came up to us and asked if we were eating breakfast now or later? I said, oh, now.. and 10 mins later, he came back out of the kitchen with two places of the best looking egg-tomato-garlic toasted bread sandwich ever. I could not resist the temptation to eat at least half of one – it was delicious.. and although I was supposedly allergic to wheat and eggs in the states, I must have left it behind, it’s fists shaking on the California coast because I went through the day without a pang of pain in my stomach. He also brought a plate of fruit: papaya, watermelon, pineapples, and the sweetest bananas I’ve ever tasted! On top of all this, he brought two enormous coconuts with straws poking out! Remembering the coconut water I tasted back home, i was a bit wary about drinking it, but I thought – why the hell not.. it’s the freshest you can get.. and indeed it was very different from that store-bought, so called “100% coconut water” drink they sell at costco. Refreshing and semi-sweet.
By 10:00, we were at Emily+Endre’s villa where Michael and I booked a hotel for the Gili Islands where we were going to take a jetboat Saturday around noon. Then at 11 I hopped in a tour-car with my family except Endre (included 2 nieces, cousin, her husband, and my aunt and her husband) The adventure has begun!
In the following 10 hours, I saw the oldest temple in Bali, the elephant caves where some old men liked to meditate for 1 month without food and water (the smoke in there definitely made me want to sit and just “exist”.. and never go back to work :D), a coffee plantation where I tasted some amazing coffee, tea and hot chocolate – and witenssed the most interesting coffeemaker-contraption.. looked more like a science experiment, wolfed down mouth-watering fried bananas with fresh cane sugar on top, then saw their handmade-silver factory, the monkey forest where monkeys go abound stealing stuff out of your pockets and bananas out of your hands.. with certain ones thinking I’m friendly enough to even climb on my backpack and then pulling my hair, and finally the famous female-only kacak fire dance that celebrated the life of their sun-god Ramayana, as well as the horse rider’s dance through burning coconut husks. I finished up the day with the most delicious snapper fish dinner with rice and greenbean and cabbage salad. I even cleaned out two small bowls of spicy tomato and pepper salsa-like sauce. I must have grown some hair on my tongue or something after that first night out where I had to drink 2 large cups of orange-mango smoothie before I could breathe normally again. On the way back home I even witnessed the second pair of mating animals that day (first being a pair of monkeys, this second one being 2 dogs).