dinsdag 19 juni 2012

Indonesia: day 1 & day 2

Hello dear readers... Last week I returned home from an amazing and quite unexpected visit to Indonesia. I had an incredibly beautiful time there, visiting my boyfriend Mark and traveling around some stunning Indonesian islands. Words won't do justice to the experience, but I'll at least try to let you share a bit in my joy (and save my own memories) by writing down a travel journal here. Anyone who's interested: feel free to read, comment and ask questions if you have any! I'll write the journal in parts, so the stories won't become too long...wouldn't dare to bore you ;) Enjoy!

Day 1 - Sunday: Bye bye Holland

After a week of hectic preparations it's finally sunday: I'm going to Indonesia! My dad kindly volunteered to bring me to the airport, so I decided to sleep at my parents house. After waking up early and having my last Dutch breakfast, I gave my mom a big hug ('Yes, I'll be carefull!') and drove off to Schiphol with my father (who, as a decent dad, of course had a lot of good advices for his traveling daughter as well).

At Schiphol the check-in procedure went pretty smoothly, enough time left for a cup of coffee. Together with my friend Bernadette, Mark's parents and sister and my own dad of course. A complete goodbye-committee! Thanks all, for being there... I really appreciated that! I felt so happy and proud, going through customs, being waved at by 5 smiling people, on my way to Indonesia. Whoot!

During the online check-in I managed to get the last seat next to the window at the plane (a Boeing 777-200, for anyone who's interested). I was flying with Malaysia Airlines, which means the air hostesses were al wearing colourful sarong-like dresses. I installed myself with my hand luggage at reach, and figured out how to get the personal tv started. At that point I was still excited about my 12-hour flight (so many nice movies to watch! I won't even have time to finish my book and crochet some coasters!), heheh...

I was pretty content with my seat next to the window. Flying at midday with clear and sunny weather meant I had an amazing view while flying over my home country. Soon we were gaining more height though, stabbing the clouds and cruising on over a blanket of white, puffy pillows. Still a pretty sight! My neighbour, some guy who was also traveling alone, wasn't very talkative (I still don't even know if he was Dutch or not...), but oh well. I amused myself with watching The Vow, The Art of Getting By and Never Let Me Go (liked al three of them, good movies!), crocheting some coasters (the air-hostesses thought they were nice :)) and reading my books. Sleeping didn't really work, I was probably way too enthusiastic.

The enthusiasm got the biggest part of me for a long time, but after about 8 hours I was getting quite tired of sitting in the same chair al the time, and finding yet another comfortable position became pretty much impossible. I got some physical exercise by climbing over my sleeping neighbour to visit the toilet, and tried to prepare my visit by studying some books about Bali and Lombok. Let's say I just couldn't wait to dump the books and visit the places for réal.

Day 2 - Monday: Hello Bali!

After the long 12 hours we landed at Kuala Lumpur Airport. I had a six hour wait there, a good reason to make myself comfortable somewhere. The KL Airport is incredibly neat, spacious and shiny, and at six in the morning it was also relatively quiet. After contacting my parents at home (where it was midnight at that moment and my parents were still up, sitting in bed with the iPad ready to hear from me...how sweet!) I found a comfy leather couch completely for myself. Aah...so nice to be able to lay down after sitting up for 12 hours. Finally some sleep! A few hours later the alarm on my phone woke me up and I managed to get out of my snuggly sleeping position. Time to find my gate and check in for my next flight, which would bring me to Bali in another 3 hours.

Descending quickly over the beautiful blue ocean, our plane reached Bali just 20 minutes later then expected. Mark was already waiting at the airport, while I had to get off the plane, go through customs, get my luggage and buy a visa. The Balinese airport is just small and not very efficiently, so long rows were ahead of me, existing out of Indonesian families and blonde Australian surf dudes. I have no idea how long poor Mark had to wait for me, because I was back in my enthusiastic rush. Finally at Bali!

Once done with the airport procedures, I went ahead to the exit, out into the warm Balinese air. 30 degrees Celsius, yes please! In front of the exit was a huge crowd of people, most of them taxi drivers trying to lure you into their car and chaotic families waiting for their loved ones. This made stepping out of the airport a bit of a shock (oh dear...how to find Mark?!) but luckily he already spotted me. Being a tall Dutch guy among those tiny Indonesians also helped. So good to see and hug him again :)

Mark arranged a taxi for us back to his hotel, and soon we were sitting in the airconditioned backseat, driving through Denpasar (capital city of Bali) and Kuta, which actually just lies directly besides Denpasar. Mark got to the airport by some main road, but our taxi driver must have noticed I was a Bali-newbie, 'cause he decided to take a touristic shortcut to our hotel by al kinds of narrow 'streets'. It was a straightforward encounter with the Balinese chaos called traffic: an incredible amount of scooters together with some cars, both constantly (and you can take this litterally) honking for dubious reasons, no speed limits or traffic lights, and countless crossing pedestrians taking the right of precedence.

My first memories of Bali are closely connected to the typical scent, spread by al the little Hindu offerings. Most of Bali's residents are Hindu, the women traditionally make small baskets out of leafs, with some flowers, rice (and sometimes even candies!) and a tiny incense stick in them, spreading a sweet oppressive scent. The baskets are typically placed at the entrance of houses and other buildings, junctions, at the beach and at temples. Those temples can be found everywhere, even the tiniest houses seemed to have their own home-temple or at least some kind of stone altar. The Hinduïsm on Bali is very apparent, you can see, smell and even hear it al over the place.

The taxi driver managed to get us safely to our hotel (despite the chaos, the only accident I've seen during my holiday was caused by myself... the traffic seems to work just fine for the Indonesians). Mark stayed at the Gemini Star Hotel on Jalan Poppies II, one of the two main roads in the centre of Kuta (guess how the other one is called :P). It looked nice, cozy and clean! A little oasis of rest in the midst of the Kuta mess. Our room had air-conditioning, and an amazing 'balcony' (imagine a promising balcony-door, opening to a rectangle space...surrounded by four high walls! Never seen such a useless space before, heheh...). I couldn't wait to change my jeans and vest for a bikini. On to the beach!

On our way to the beach I had my first encounter with the Balinese 'shop personnel'. The streets are literally stacked with shops, which are stacked themselves with clothes, jewelry, souvenirs and food. The sellers start talking to you as soon as you get in a 10 meter reach, offering you the most amazing 'special prices'. During our walk to the beach Mark and I have been offered at least three 'honeymoon sales' (and we're not even married :P), countless 'sunset prices' and a bunch of other so-called special offers. They will find a reason for a 'special price', believe me! I had to get used to these crazy selling techniques a bit...but after a few days I learned that the Indonesian people don't mean bad. You can refuse offers with a joke, and they will laugh with you. They probably don't annoy you on purpose...after al, tourism is the main source of income on Bali, so who can blame them?

Kuta beach is beautiful, I enjoyed every moment we spent there. We took a rejuvenating dive and stayed in the water until sunset. Since Bali is localized near the equator, the sun rises and sets at 6 every morning and evening. I just got used to the longer evenings in Holland, where sunset took place around 8.30 p.m. at the moment! But the night setting in early has something special too, it gives the small streets a cosy, sultry and kind of mysterious atmosphere. We had dinner in one of the countless little restaurants at the Poppies streets, where I ate a snapper and drank watermelon juice for the first time in my life. Beyond delicious, and so cheap! Not suffering from a jet lag at al, I fell into sleep with a smile on my face that night. Hello Bali, it's a pleasure to meet you :)

2 opmerkingen:

  1. Great story, Lisette! Love to read the next ones. And I was happy to be part of the Dutch goodbeye committee. Can't wait to hear the life stories and see all your pictures (however, ... all of them ... ? hmm I don't know :-)).

  2. What a beautiful story! And such amazing photos!


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