They Paved Paradise

First 2 days on the island of Bali were a little rough!

Landing in Bali and getting the tourist visa, meeting Elisa in baggage claim, and going through customs was all a piece of cake. (It’s super clear that the visa thing is just a another scam set up by governments to take your money as you enter the country).

The surprise was to find out that our apartment was 1 hour away from the airport! The taxi driver was honest though and the trip only cost $17.

I found this apartment online a few days before leaving San Diego on a site called airbnb.com. It was a reasonable deal and from the looks of it, not far from the airport or the beach. Also, it had good reviews on the site from several people.

The first problem was our driver couldn’t find the place. We got to the general area, but there was no address on the listing, so it was pretty confusing. We finally had the driver call the apartment owner, and we bumbled our way down this alley and finally found it.

It looked like the pictures- BUT, it was dirty! There were little ants everywhere and hair on the sheets! The place hadn’t been cleaned in at least a week. Kind of a weird place to start off the trip; there wasn’t much around there in terms of restaurants and shopping, and it was all locals, really poor, and lots of barking wild dogs around.

We braved our way a couple blocks to get some dinner at a little cafe, and the food was delicious! I think that meal was like 6 bucks for the two of us. Nice.

The next day we took a taxi down to Legian, which is just north of the crazy party town of Kuta. First stop was a lunch spot recommended by the Lonely Planet book. I got this dish that was a chicken curry with hardboiled eggs and this banana soaked rice or something that was sooooooooo good! I really savored every bite of that meal.

I think the next day and a half were pretty downhill from there. Without plans, we actually found a hotel close to everything and reasonably priced pretty easily. (I’m still getting used to negotiating everything- they said the room was 330,000 Rp (about $33), and I only got them down to 315,000. Anyway, the place was MUCH better than the last one, clean, had a nice pool, wifi, everything we needed.

We headed to Legian Beach, a few blocks away. The first thing that you can’t avoid is 50 million people trying to sell you crap where ever you go. It usually goes like this for me as I walk by the shops:

“Boss! BOSS! Over here boss! I have cheap price, what you want?”

And, if you even express a tiny bit of interest in something, suddenly you will be surrounded by 4 or 5 Balinese guys yelling at you to buy this or that! I was looking at a belt in this one place and the guy was just pointing at all the belts he had, and saying they were real leather, and going “how about this one? How about this one? I get you cheap price!” I was so turned off by his sales techniques that I started walking away and….he grabbed my hand! Someone needs to start teaching these guys how to sell, because about 99.99% of them have no clue that they are driving away far more customers than they are getting.

Anyway, we ended up sitting under an umbrella at Legian Beach, and they force you to buy a drink to sit there. Suddenly, we’re surrounded by several Balinese women with big hats on with their names on them. They all wanted to know our names, where we were from, if we were married….then of course they are offering all kinds of things to buy- pedicures, massages, junk. Our waiter (the bar owner) sat down with us and chatted. He seemed to love America, but he just kept blurting out celebrity names: “Arnold Schwartzenegger! Mike Tyson! Michael Jordan!” Pretty funny.

Our new friend Ketut at Legian Beach

Elisa ended up caving in to our sales ladies and getting a manicure, pedicure, and hair braid! You can’t say these women don’t work hard. 🙂

Got to sleep early that night and the next day, we had probably a little (or a lot?) more ambition than we should have- being that we were both still jetlagged from passing through like 14 time zones just a little earlier.

We had breakfast and took off on a walk to Kuta (about 20 min away). It’s HOT here of course, and through pouring sweat, we made it to Kuta. We walked down the main street, and……..OMG, it’s a carnival atmosphere, think Tijuana on steroids! Shop after shop, everyone’s trying to get you to come in. It’s SUPER annoying. Elisa got some sunglasses and we had like 8 guys around us pushing more glasses, t-shirts, yelling at me “boss, you need another pair, here!”

So Kuta pounded us down into a pulp. We took a walk along the coast, and there are tons of resorts, REALLY nice ones that remind me of the big island of Hawaii.
Buttttttttttt, Elisa got a blister, so we had to head back to our hotel. Cabbed it back, and for some really dumb reason decided to walk back to Kuta! That walk plus getting a little lost did us in. I think we were ready to kill the hawkers, and kill each other before getting out of there.

So, we were pretty anti-Kuta and decided to head down to Ulu Watu, on the south end of Bali.

We hired a driver for about $25 to stop at a few places along the way….whoa….huge difference just south of Kuta! Much more laid back, slow, peaceful, beautiful. Jambayan beach was the highlight, totally peaceful bay but no waves.

We arrived at Ula Watu this afternoon and checked into an AWESOME hotel. We were hoping to save a little money but ended up shelling out $33 for this amazing place, right near one of the best surf spots in the world- and some of the best ocean views I’ve ever seen.

Ulu Watu is freaking amazing!!!!!! Shops and restaurants on a cliff, aqua blue water, incredible surf breaks….this place is what “it’s all about”! And…the trip seems to have done a 180 degree turn around, with jetlag fading. 🙂

The view from a cafe above Ulu Watu

Tomorrow will probably head to the temple here and grab a surf board and paddle out for a beating. Haha.

(This post is 2 days behind because of lack of wifi here in Bali. 2 hotels in a row without wifi, so no pictures yet, will try to upload pics tonight!)

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Kevin Koskella

Kevin is a podcaster and writer on living free, despite the crazy world we live in. Kevin travels full time and explores the world and how to achieve and maximize freedom in life.

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