Monday, 19 April 2010

Day 1: Arrival at Denpasar and Sunset Viewing at Tanah Lot

Boarding the plane at LCCT, Kuala Lumpur

10.15am: We arrived at the gate to our plane and were told by a man, “You’re late”. To which I replied in shock, “Late??But I thought the plane is only taking off at 10.55am??” and he said “10.55? No, look at the boarding time,*points to my boarding pass*, its 10.15am!” to which I replied by showing him my watch, which showed ..10.16am. And he still had the guts to say to me “Look!*points to his OWN watch* 10.18am, you’re one of the last passengers to board the plane..”. And I felt like....I wanted to cause some injury to him. Haha.

10.30am: We are comfortable Italicseated in the plane. More and more people are boarding the plane now.

(Last passengers? Yeah right!).

10.55am: We depart. I sit on the left, separated from Feng and Ka Fui who are on the right aisle. I turn on my mp3 player and read my book. I can rarely fall asleep while travelling, especially on short flights.

Arrive at Ngurah Rai Airport, Bali

1.45pm: We arrive in Denpasar, Bali. I look at my watch and am clueless whether it is the right time zone. “Is it the same time zone over here?” I ask. To which Feng replied “ I think its an hour later here”. And I’m left feeling worried that the driver I arranged for would have either already been waiting for an hour, or we’ll be stranded at the airport for an hour before he arrives.

2.15pm: We’re out of the airport and customs. It is only a small airport, and the moment we stepped out of the sliding doors, we were greeted by some eager (others not so eager) faces and cards with names written on them. I even thought to myself “This is so exciting!”. I’ve been in and out of airports dozens of times and always felt a tinge of jealousy for the people who arrive in a foreign landand are immediately familiarly greeted with their name on a card, even if the card was held by a total stranger. It was like they had plans, they knew what to do next..or at least the cab driver was there to guide them. So this time, I was really excited and couldn’t wait to find my own name written on a card. I looked around, we all looked around…nope. No name on card. No familiar face. Still wondering if we have the right time on our watches.

2.20pm: We’re starting to get worried. Did that Pak Herman just seem so friendly on the phone but in actual fact he was just planning to leave us stranded there at the airport to fare for ourselves the next 5 days?? I try calling his mobile. For some reason, my phone is barred. Great. I try again. Barred. Last resort, I texted him informing him that we have arrived. At this point, I was just hoping that he WAS going to be late by an hour. Rather than never appearing.

2.25/2.30pm: I make another tour around the arrival gate to see if I missed anyone with a card with my name written on it. No. No “Kimberly Low” written anywhere. There were a few confused and lost-looking uncles wandering around wearing sarongs and songket, though. I was that much away from going up to them one by one and asking if they were waiting for a Kimberly Low or if any of them was Pak Herman. I decide to wait a bit more before embarrassing myself. I needed time to prepare.

As I walked back to Ka Fui and Feng to break the news to them that we might have really been stranded for good, I notice a young man clad in a casual T-shirt holding a card with my name on it. To be perfectly honest, I even had the time to think “Why didn’t you wait at the arrival gate with my name on that card so everyone else can see that someone’s waiting for me? Now I've lost my chance.. sigh”. Lol, I can get really silly at times.

But that was just for a second. I instead went over to him and stupidly pointed at “Kimberly Low” card and pointed to myself. Brainless-for-a-moment me didn’t know what language to speak to him. Or maybe I did know I should start with Malay, but was at a loss for words because I was so happy to see someone here to pick us up. So anyway he says “Oh ok.”, acknowledging that he perfectly understood what I meant with my sign language and proceeds to help carry my luggage and Ka Fui’s.

I think I then asked him what his name was, to which he said “Gedir”(that’s what I heard anyway). He then walked a distance across the road and during that time I just couldn’t help wondering, “Have I been calling this young man Pak Cik(Uncle) Herman all this while?? Is Herman and Gedir one and the same???”. I told Ka Fui my worry, and she said that I shouldn’t worry. She’s seen his name on the forums, and apparently he was commendable. LoL. I was relieved. And the fact that I was relieved was really hilarious. Because as it turns out, Gede told us that there are loadssss of Gede's in Bali. Like, maybe its even more common than the name John in England. Haha!

We get into the car, a Toyota Innova. There are Innova’s everywhere in Bali. EVERYWHERE. Gedir asks us where we want to go. I said to Tanah Lot. Feng suggested going to find and check into a hotel first. I agree. And asked him to take us to Komala Indah on Kuta Beach. Turns out that…there are many Komala Indahs, and the one we want to go to is number 11. He doesn’t know the way there. We then suggested another place which we found in the forums, he's not sure of the way there either.

He asked us for a budget, I said RM60 per person per night. He phoned a friend who works in the tourism industry(as do the other 80% of Bali), and said he’ll bring us to a place. He asked if we have eaten lunch. I said no because I was hungry, I ate only a little at breakfast. But Ka Fui and Feng are not hungry. So I asked if he could fetch us somewhere to buy bread. He laughed, and we all laughed. What a ‘poor’ start to my holiday.

He asked why we didn’t book our hotel online. I said I thought it was cheaper to do a walk-in. He said no, unless you do it through a travel agent. If you do that, you get up to 30-40% discount. Oh well, we didn’t. Regrets are not going to be part of my holiday. =)

We arrive at the bakery. It’s a beautiful place, with quite a few Mat salleh tourists around. I buy the bread, and then go out. And looked at all the Innovas parked around. I had NO idea which was ours. Gedir sees my blurness and beeps his horn. I have trouble locating where the sound came from, but see his moving silhouette in one of the cars(the car has tinted windows so its hard to see in). We get in. Off we go. We stop at a set of traffic lights, and sit in silence waiting for the lights to change. Someone suddenly knocks on my window and speaks in a freaky voice. I jumped, and saw that it was a little girl begging for money. My nature was to just wish her to get away from the car, especially after giving me such a fright. Thinking back, I remember Gedir gently waving the little girl away. I feel sorry now that I reacted in such a way. I wish I could go back and show the little child more love.

3.00pm: We arrive at our hotel. Legian Village Hotel on Melasti Road. The price is reasonable and within our price range. We are brought up to see 2 rooms. The first one was nice. The second one had a very ‘hotel-ish’ smell. I don’t know how to describe it, but it just smells like a hotel and I don’t like it. I preffered the first room, but it has already been booked for the next day, (we were staying for 2 nights). So we settled for the second room.

Tanah Lot Temple

3.15pm: We depart for Tanah Lot. Upon arriving, Gedir tells us that he will be waiting for us in the parking lot and to give him a call once we’re done – he’ll come pick us up. Knowing from previously that I couldn’t call out from my phone, I asked Feng to get his number and try it. He gave us his name card – it was then that I found out that his name was Gede, not Gedir. I was still not sure about the pronunciation of it, still not sure about it now, but at least I know he has been answering every single time I called his name! Haha.

Anyway, Feng tried and it didn’t work as well. Gede had to move his car, but we hadn’t arranged how to meet! So we decided to walk round to the parking lot to see where he was going to park his car. We were greeted with rows and rows and rows and rows of Innovas, (silver, too!) and Ka Fui made a comment that she remembered only that the number plate of our car started with DK. Which was hilarious, because we looked around and EVERY SINGLE CAR’s number plate started with DK. *pengsan* (I still looked at all the number plates of cars we passed by during the whole trip conclusion is, every car in Bali has a number plate starting with DK). So we couldn’t find Gede, and there was nothing left to do but to get on with it and enter Tanah Lot.

There were shops all over as we approached the temple. And one really weird discovery was: they had all sorts of wooden carvings of…couples making love, and even MORE wooden carvings of…penises. Yes penises. We were so intrigued by them, (actually it was only Feng..KF and I didn’t care too much for them!) that we tried taking a picture..but the shopkeeper, sensing an opportunity for money, said “Rp 10,000 for photo!”. That was it, we walked on and the incident was out of KF and my minds, but Feng was still insisting that we get a picture later.(She did manage to get one later after sunset, haha!)

We walked around, there were so many people everywhere. It was only 4pm when we arrived, and according to Gede, the sun sets at 6.30pm this time of the year. So we had 2 and a half hours to burn. One incident that happened at Tanah Lot was when a guy(I’m guessing he was local) approached me and pointed to his camera. So I said OK, thinking that he wanted me to help take a picture of him and his friend..but it turned out that he wanted to take a picture with me! I quickly rejected as politely as I could, and left him speechless as to why I would reject him. I wonder till it a norm for Balinese to take pictures with total strangers? Am I weird for rejecting his request? *mind-boggling*

We took loads of pictures there and admired the sunset, which I enjoyed thoroughly. We striked poses and had a lot of fun at it. We saw 2 couples taking wedding photos there at the beach. KF and I were discussing whether we would want to do such a thing when our chance came. I don’t know. My turn seems to be getting further and further away from me.

Back to Kuta for dinner

7.00pm: After admiring the sunset, we walked back out, and there was Gede, walking out of the darkness (he was just standing beneath some I felt so thankful to see him. I had this feeling throughout the trip. To see a familiar face in a sea of strangers, even though I don’t know him very well, is wonderful.

We then proceeded to go to Poppies Lane to look for Bamboo Corner – another place we read about in the forums. It’s apparently cheap. Gede drove us down this street. After having walked through it several times throughout the trip, I wonder how we even fit the whole car in there on that first day! So after having found Bamboo Corner, Gede dropped us off and we said goodbye. But before that, Feng asked him to give us directions on how to walk back to our hotel. He said its really far, it would take 30 minutes to walk back – its better to take a taxi. But we knew we were gonna walk back. =P

We got to Bamboo Corner, but there were no empty seats. So we walked on and got to a restaurant which I can’t remember the name of, unfortunately. I’ll make sure I remember it the next time I go (notice how certain I am that I am going again I had something called something something Bumbu Pedas? Hahaha I can’t remember, but it was squid with spicy sauce and onions. I loved it.

After dinner, we walked along Poppies Lane and started discussing what we were going to do the next day. We planned to go to Nusa Dua to just relax on the beach, so Ka Fui who forgot to bring her swimming suit started to panic a little and was trying to decide whether she should get a swimming suit there. We walked from Poppies Lane to Kuta Square, and walked across that busy road so many times from one shop to another, looking for a suitable swimming suit for her. In the end she found the cheapest one in a shop called Beach Girl, or something like that? And also bought a pair of shorts, we helped her with the bargaining!!

11.30pm: And it did take half an hour to get back home, and all along the way there were people who approached us, offering us massages, taxis, and the most shocking: gigolo service! Anyway we got back, showered, and that was it for the first day. Sweet sweet sleep. .

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