Southeast Asia travel diary: Days 31 to 35

Day 31: From Kuala Lumpur to Bali

The previous night around 3-4 am after getting home from the club, definitely not yet completely sober, I decided to book my flight to Bali for the next day. I knew I would go to Bali in the next few days, but the prices of the flights had been surprisingly high so I hadn’t booked anything yet and wasn’t exactly on booking a flight in under 12 hours. But at that moment is seemed like a good idea and I don’t think I would actually have found cheaper flights anyway last minute, so why not. That left me around 4 hours to sleep before packing my bag and heading to the airport in the morning.

I was planning on taking the same train as I took when coming to KL from the airport, but there were some construction works on the tracks so the next train would have come so late that I wouldn’t have made it to my flight. I saw another girl standing with a luggage at the station and spontaniously asked if she was going to the airport too and if we could maybe share a Grab. She was in and everybody won, as we got to the airport faster and easier, for the same price as by train and in addition I got to meet a local and chat with them on the way. I love the travel me who’s way bolder than home me and dares to talk to strangers and bond with them.

The flight was under three hours but it still took me the whole day to get to my hostel in Bali. The amount of traffic in Bali especially surprised me. So that night I didn’t do much, except go have my first ever nasi goreng, Indonesian fried rice, which was heavenly and made me fall in love with Indonesian food right away.

Day 32: First surf lesson

On the previous night I was scrolling through Airbnb experiences for inspiration of what to do while in Canggu, and I came across a few people offering surf lessons. I booked one for the next day, so the teacher came to pick me up in the morning to take me to the spot. I had never surfed before, so this was very exciting even if a bit scary. Water is not my strongest element, and big waves scare me a bit. And big waves we really had that day, apparently bigger than usual because of the full moon. Fortunately, it’s actually quite easy to avoid the waves by just laying on the surfboard if they’re too big for a beginner to ride or if you’re only on your way to the sea. Only once the instructor shouted all of a sudden that I should leave the board and just dive in the coming wave because it seemed too big to go over. That gave me a bit of a heart attack as it came so suddenly, but at least now I’m not as scared of waves anymore. They come and go, whether you go over them or under, in which case you’ll be back on the surface in a matter of seconds. The most important is to just look out for them as they come to be prepared.

Surfing itself was fun, but definitely challenging. I succeeded maybe three times during the lesson in staying up on the board until reaching the shore. Most of the time I fell because I don’t know how to find the right position for my feet on the board yet and I lose balance very easily. But I can imagine that once you learn to feel the board under your feet and to balance on it, you can progress quite fast. But I’ll see if that’s true when I’ll go back to take some more lessons.


Day 33: A chill day in Indonesian LA and unexpected visitors

I didn’t have any plan for this day, so I just walked around Canggu, or what I would rather call Indonesian LA, as the area really felt more like Southern California than Indonesia. There were surf shops, little concept-store like clothing stores, smoothie and power bowl restaurants everywhere, and even the low, small buildings along the road looked a bit like the ones on Melrose Avenue. And obviously also the fact that there were way more tourists than locals .So Canggu really is a great place, if this laid-back, instagrammable LA vibe is what you’re looking for. Personally, I do love cute concept stores and acai bowls, but I was maybe looking more for a local side of Bali, and Canggu just reinforced the image I had of Bali before coming as an island populated by yoga-loving hipster beach babes. But I didn’t lose hope that there could be another side to Bali as well yet. Bali is actually a pretty big island, and there’s a lot more to see.

A bit after midnight, as I was already in bed and about to turn my lights off, I realised in horror that my bed was infested with bedbugs. Again. I guess I should have known it, I had been changed rooms in the same hostel every night so far because of a risk of having them, and my whole body had been bit by some insects, but I guess before you see them for yourself, you just don’t want to believe it. I actually started looking at the extent of the damages on my body more closely only then, and I saw that this was way worse than the first time in matter of bites. My legs, my feet, my arms, my hands, my back, my butt and my stomach looked like a battlefield. I decided I couldn’t stay one more night with the bugs and changed hostels right then, in the middle of the night, hoping they wouldn’t have gotten in my bags. Fortunately, this hostel had lockers where even backpacks fit, so I hadn’t kept any of my stuff even near the bed.


Day 34: Ubud

I woke up from a short night and probably dreams of monstrous bug beasts invading the world. The good news is there were no new bites so probably no bedbugs in that hostel, and I didn’t see any of them in my bag or my clothes. It was also time to move to a new spot, which was great because I kind of felt that I had already gone around Canggu enough for this time. Next, Ubud.

It took around two hours by car from Canggu to Ubud, because of insane traffic for such a small place, as well as bad roads. My hostel was right in the center of Ubud, which made it really easy to explore the town. Ubud really is built in the jungle, and even if it’s quite a big town, you still feel the nature and greenery all around, and there are even rice fields literally right behind the main road. Ubud still had a lot of tourists, but compared to Canggu, there was definitely more local life. In a temple, there were preparations for some festivities coming up, you could find more local “warung” restaurants easier than in Canggu, as well as local homes, which seemed to not exist in Canggu.

In the evening, I joined some people from the hostel in a tiny, local restaurant right next to the hostel, and we had very interesting discussions ranging from spirituality and belief to politics. We were all so different, of different ages and backgrounds, but they were the kind of people that you could dive deeper than the surface with even if you just met. That’s the kind of moments and people I love.


Day 35: Rice fields and waterfalls

We went for a morning walk with one of the girls from the previous night and found ourselves wandering to a rice field really close to the town. It was such a nice place, with beg, green fields all around and a view to the volcano. We stopped at a restaurant for coffee and made plans to visit a waterfall in the afternoon with another girl. I rented a scooter and the two other girls rode together. I’m not a huge fan of scooters because the traffic is so different from how it is at home and I know that accidents are frequent, but getting around in Bali can be sometimes a bit challenging if you don’t take a scooter. So I only do it when I have to and drive as carefully as I can.

We reached Kanto Lampo waterfall, which was a big fall in the middle of a jungle. People were swimming in the river and taking pictures in the waterfall, the sun came in a little bit from the cracks of the leaves above. It was really nice even if quite crowded. We heard from a local that we should also go to Tegenungan waterfall, so we decided to try to still get there on the same day before sunset. Tegenungan is probably the most famous waterfall near Ubud, and the whole area has been transformed into an attraction, with picture spots installed all the way to the waterfall, swings on top of the jungle, shops and restaurants. The waterfall was huge, but personally I preferred Kanto Lampo. It was a big waterfall, but somehow felt more intimate as it was in a small opening in the middle of the jungle, while Tegenungan was in a huge open space on a larger river.

There are probably at least a dozen other waterfalls at under an hour’s ride from Ubud, but as we started our tour only in the afternoon, the sun had already set by the time we were done with Tegenungan, so we returned to Ubud and had another dinner at the same small spot next to the hostel. I tried tempe manis, a crunchy, sweet fried tempeh, which became my new favourite, so much that I had it at almost every meal while in Ubud after that. Yes, it really was that good, and I need to get my hands on a recipe to make it at home too.


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