Sunday, May 17, 2015

On Bali (Part one of... several?)

In writing this blog post, I realize that I never wrote about Belize in December! Whoops! Or Portland (versus Seattle, which I did indeed write about)--which is tragic--because I liked Portland far more than Seattle. Big surprise there, if you've ever watched Portlandia. But here we are: in May, and here I am, with a fantastically under-updated travel blog. Good thing I'm on night shift this week and anticipate having a lot of blogging time during the day.

Bali is in Indonesia. It is an island. The capital of Bali is Denpasar. The capital of Indonesia is Jakarta. I didn't love Jakarta, and so I'm not going to really talk about it (to be fair, I barely saw Jakarta.) I did, however, adore Bali and as such will talk about it extensively. I also saw a whole lot of it, because I scheduled all of these tours that involved Eva, sometimes Daniel, and I being driven around much of the island. A 10-hour tour in Bali is around 35 dollars total--no, not per person, and not with any hidden fees--and so there's really not any incentive to not do tours. Trying to drive yourself around Bali is a bad idea, anyway. It reminded me of China at times, in that driving without understanding A) the language (although I do know several compelling phrases) or B) the traffic laws or C) that unfathomable aspect of human nature that compels people in large cities to drive like total maniacs is probably... an atrocious idea.

So yes. Bali is basically one of my favorite places ever. It has nowhere near the same number of mosquitoes as Central America, and yet everywhere I made it a point to go was jungly, inexpensive, and down to earth. My entire trip, including my lodging and airfare and food, was less than $1500 for the 17ish days I was gone. A substantive percentage of that was probably spent on sushi at the Tokyo airport, for obvious reasons. I mention my budget because for the cost-weary traveler, this really is a solid location to consider going to that feels wholly and totally different. If you need an escape from the status quo, this is a wonderful option, assuming that you don't stay in a fancy spa or something (that being said, all of my massages were less than eight dollars.) Of course, the downside is that it takes around 30 hours to get to Bali. But hey, airplane food! Who doesn't love that?

Answer: Eva and I don't love that, because we got our first cases of food poisoning from one of our flights to Bali, likely Jakarta to Denpasar. My second case of--well, my doctor was undecided between dysentery and parasites, but why choose?--was probably from one of about fifty things I shouldn't have eaten for sanitary reasons... but people kept trying to bless me with stuff! I can use all of the blessings I can get. Really. Religious inclinations inside, I am open to all prayers, offerings, and devotionals. Raw rice? Holy water? I do not discriminate, and this is why I have strange gastrointestinal animals, probably forever.

I mostly chose Bali for yoga reasons. I love doing yoga on trips, and it's about 50% the yoga and 50% the people who do the yoga. The latter 50% tend to know the interesting places to go, where the best vegetarian food is, and enjoy community activities. The former 50% is advantageous because I stay active while traveling, get time to meditate on the many new things I am seeing, and have an excuse to bring a very limited wardrobe (and usually smell. But strangers anticipate that hippies will smell, and so no one is unpleasantly surprised.)

That being said, I also love temples, mythology, tofu, and beaches... and boy, does Bali have all of those things. In droves! I saw many of the major temples during my trip, a lot of which have to do with water. I also hiked a pretty sweet volcano with some pretty hilarious monkeys in tow, one of whom completely unapologetically threw Eva's water bottle down a cliff. This would have been a lot less funny if we were going up at that point, instead of down. Anyway, every other restaurant was a vegetarian restaurant, which was probably due to a combination of the preferences of some Balinese Hindus and the swarms of hungry ethnically-diverse yogis. Eva and I did yoga at Radiantly Alive and Yoga Barn in Ubud, and at Serenity Eco Guesthouse in Canggu. My favorite teacher of the trip was at the latter location, because he reminded me of a surly Anthony Bourdain (but is there any other kind, really?) and had studied with some of my previous Yoga to the People teachers from the East Village. The world is very small.

And on that note, more soon.

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