Smile at the immigration officers!

Country-hop: Day 5

Indonesia: Day 1

I had no expectations whatsoever. I only knew Bali by name, and the responsible kid that I am, I didn’t really check the internet for pictures, knowing that it still wouldn’t have shown me what I needed to see. Or, I might be disappointed once I see that the actual place completely differs from the pictures (as is always the case). Straight from Kuala Lumpur I ventured onwards to Indonesia. As soon as I stepped into the local Ngurah Rai Airport, I knew I had been transported to my own little version of Nirvana. There is something completely and unarguably arresting about old stone sculptures and carvings that I find inexplicably interesting. The airport was pretty modest and there were only a couple of tourists around when I was there (probably a couple of landings scheduled) but the intricate sculptures imbedded in the airport pathway and stairs was enough to illicit a beaming version of myself.

I was just following everyone else in front of me. Walk, walk, walk. Line up. Pay the airport fee. Great, Indonesia is indeed just like the Philippines but cheaper. I paid $20, so converting that it’s PHP900.00 and that’s still cheaper than our PHP2,500 airport fee. Line up again for document verification. I’ve had 3 flights in the past 5 days so I’m just so used to all the waiting the queuing and stopping and queuing up again and going through security and securing my luggage (and by that I meant my green floral Jansport day backpack) that I just mindlessly hum happy tunes the entire time this process is going on. My favorite habit though had been to smile to the document verification people. It gets pretty boring standing there, being adjudged so I look at them while they’re doing their thing and I give them big smiles (which, one of my travelling days, might actually get me into trouble).  So after the airport security, I knew and expected that I’d be completely lost without the queue. As soon as I stepped out, there were hotel reps, drivers, guides in their traditional attire. The weather was not as hot and humid as it was in Manila so I was thinking “So far so good, I just need to figure out how to get out of here.” The number one travel rule (whether domestic or international travels) I’ve lived with has been: “Always act cool. Act like you know the place. Don’t go staring around the place with your mouth hanging wide open.”  I’ve seen this happen a lot and they usually end up paying thrice the amount they should be paying for (not that I’ve never been a victim of the same scenario).

So then I had to apply rule number 2: “Ask.” Haha. When in doubt, ask a female person of authority for directions. Men tend to be extremely helpful too but there’s always the hassle of them being “extra” nice to the point of looking ridiculously stupid or just plain maniacs around female travelers. The people spoke English well (unlike Malaysia) so I found my way quite easily. I lined up in the taxi ticket booth which was tremendously helpful as it had a fixed amount so you wouldn’t have to worry about dodgy meters and arguments with equally dodgy taxi drivers. There was a great mix of people in the queue and I was there for a good 20 minutes or so with 15 people ahead of me. There were your usual couple tourists with their matching backpacks, your laid back dread-locks surfer dudes (and yes, the one I saw was really cute), business type men (yes, a suit in Bali), families and then there was me. The lone female local-looking traveler (I’m kind of hoping that my identifier was what I stated and not something else that had to do with local prostitution).  So I was headed for the hotel I pre-booked in Kuta and it was a pretty long ride. The streets were the same as Manila’s except it was swarming with hundreds of motorbikes (they outnumbered the number of cars in the streets). I even saw kids riding motorbikes and according to my designated driver, it was quite usual for kids to drive a motorbike going to school. I got to my hotel and waited for an hour due to “system” issues they had with their electronic keys. When I got in, I jumped and jumped and jumped! I’m off to the beach! =)

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