After 17 hours of flights, layovers and endless queues I have arrived in Kuta, Bali. As soon as I stepped off the plane that familiar smell of musky incense mixed with sweat, humidity and stale beer that can only be classed as one of the signature scents of Asia hit my nostrils. As a result I’m left smiling like a complete dork as I make my way through my final queue of the day.
I head off in search of a taxi and the first exchange I have with a driver is not so pleasant. He wants to charge me more than double the inflated hotel transfer price and looks at me like I’ve insulted his honour as I tell him no and wander off in the opposite direction. Lucky for me all of 5 seconds later another driver offers to take me to my digs for the price that I want.
As we head to my hotel, I do my best to take in the sites through sleep deprived eyes and dark skies. The radio serenades me with Bali’s answer to love songs til midnight and the merge like a zip traffic concept is replaced by the act of stuffing a sleeping bag into its cover when you are too lazy to roll it up properly… somehow it all works out but there are moments when you question whether it’s all going to fit in the same way that you wonder how in all this chaos no one gets hit.
I’m awoken this morning to the sound of a crowing rooster accompanied by somebody sweeping. It’s 6am but it feels like I’ve over slept. My body clock is yet to be reminded of the fact that it’s no longer in the land that is first to see the sun rise. As I open my curtains, I’m greeted with the sight of a glistening swimming pool surrounded by ornate statues. Looks like everything that my bathroom lacks is made up for in the pool area!
After breakfast I head off for a walk to check out my new neighbourhood. There are many similarities to other cities I’ve travelled through during my time in south east asia, but here I feel like I’m being hassled for a taxi and to buy all sorts of objects more than ever before. But I write it off as being out of practice with these unique types of businessmen.
I’m greeted with the scent of incense and beautiful flowers as I wander past many a shrine with accompanied offerings. The religious structures and sculptures are plentiful in Kuta and it’s nice to be reminded of the sense of culture amid the constant badgering for a taxi.
I made the rookie mistake of agreeing to get a manicure from a woman who took my hand and lead me down an alley. She kept refusing to tell me the price before she started and consequently I was ripped off quite considerably for the second time today. But, this was really my own fault. Traveller rule no. 1: always confirm a price before going ahead with any transaction.
It’s easy to become bitter about these things, in the same way that it’s easy to be bitter about the fact that I ended up wearing half my coffee during my first flight yesterday which resulted in a hasty wardrobe change in the airport toilets and then finding that I accidentally grabbed my friends modem adapter instead of my laptop charger yesterday when preparing for the airport in a hurry… but, none of these things are really that important. I’m not rich but being born a white woman in New Zealand has given me certain privileges and whilst I don’t appreciate being ripped off or being taken for a fool, it’s important to recognize that life isn’t so easy for the rest of the world.
Tomorrow is a new day, and for that alone I am grateful. At least I will greet the day with perfectly manicured nails, even if they did cost the earth.