Friday, April 15, 2011


Those of you who understand that have probably seen or heard of the book and/or movie Eat, Pray, Love. It blows our minds away that the character in this book/movie fell in love with Bali. At least now that we have experienced it ourselves, that is. Many friends from Bangkok have been there before and absolutely raved about it. So we had high hopes.

First of all it just was not as pretty as one would expect Bali to be. It was dirty. In some ways it seemed dirtier than Bangkok. The beachfront was not as picturesque as you would think – lots of litter washing up on shore. Second of all, it was expensive beyond belief. You can go to the Thai Islands for probably 75% less the cost of the Bali and they are cleaner and much more picturesque with crystal clear water. But I think what bothered us most is the fact that they were all out to scam us. When we arrived at the airport they had pulled the bags of any American names and put them to the side with a gaggle of porters around them. They immediately loaded our bags onto a cart and took off with them knowing fully well we had yet to exchange any money. We tried to get rid of them but they just ran off with our bags. We were forced to pay them to get our bags. That was day one and it just left a sour taste in our mouth. We had a hotel driver pick us up and the whole way to the hotel he wanted to know what we were going to do and if we had tours lined up, what we wanted to see etc. When we explained we hadn’t lined anything up and didn’t have a plan yet and no interest in scheduling one right then and there, he then wanted to know where we were eating dinner that night. Basically he wanted to drive us to where ever we were going. He told us what the hotel would charge if we book through the hotel and what he would charge if we book through him – of course his prices are cheaper. Yet another scam. The hotel was nice, just very expensive. Nick got sick with a really high fever and we were stuck in the hotel for several days and weren’t able to go out much. So we were stuck eating at the hotel and at times ordering room service – quite pricey. I think we figured it out that food at the hotel cost us $200 per day. Absolutely insane. The food wasn’t great either. I found it to be quite bland and just didn’t care for it. When we finally decided to book a tour it was nothing but more scams – everyone had a better deal. It was almost painful to book because once we thought we had it settled the tour desk would call back saying well what if you did this instead it’s a better deal but if you do that then you have to take this driver yadda yadda yadda. In the end Joe was just very direct – I want a driver to pick me up at this time and take me to these places and then take me to the airport by 230pm for my departure, nothing else. Our driver was great – we never really felt haggled by him other than if we wanted to go shopping for something we are pretty certain he stopped at shops that would give him a cut for bringing us in.

UBUD is where Eat, Pray, Love was filmed and is a major tourist attraction in Bali. Mainly for shopping though. It is kind of a neat little town, made up of several villages. Each village has a different specialty – glass blowing, wood carving, egg painting, gold and silver, kite painting, paintings/murals, etc. We stopped at the egg painting and wood carving villages and made purchases there. If we had more time we probably would have stopped at the glass blowing. Each village has about 300 people in it and about 6 or 7 (roughly 2 families) live in each house. On Sundays all the people in the village come out onto the main streets and work together to clean the street area for the tourists. The kids are in school halfdays every day of the week but Sunday. That is their day off and they are expected to help with the cleaning. They go to school for 6 months and then have a month off for Holiday. Their school goes up to 12th grade and then off to the University. Our driver was very good about telling us about the Balinese/Hindu culture on our drive and we really enjoyed that part. But once shopping, again it was a haggle to buy things – worse than in Bangkok. However, Bangkok trained me well so I managed to get our woodcarving for half the cost they quoted us. We did not do as good on the eggs because I did not speak up and let Joe do the haggling – which he said was a mistake because he just cannot haggle!

Our arrival at the airport to depart for Bangkok led to more excitement. First we arrive there and were told at check in that we had to have the bags locked. Interesting because we did not see anyone else with locked bags and they were going through. They said if we didn’t lock our bags then people would go through them and take stuff. Of course there is a store right there that sells locks that they directed us to for the locks. Joe goes in and the locks were $10 a piece – we had 5 checked bags. Now I give Joe all kinds of crap for traveling with his bag of gear as I call it – he has everything you could imagine in this back pack of his and it is heavy as lead. But kudos to him as that day it came in handy! He had zip ties in his backpack. I asked why he had them and he says just in case I needed them – you never know when you will need a zip tie! Haha. Anyhow he locked our bags with zip ties and there wasn’t much they could say to us then.

Our flight was interesting. We occupied four seats in the middle section and I was on the aisle seat and to my left diagonally one row up from me was this creepy dude who I would lay money on a table that he had AIDS. He just looked like a classic AIDS patient. He looked Caucasian but had an accent so he was of foreign decent. The minute I sat down with Nick he started touching his feet and wanting to play with Nick. I had no idea what was wrong with him but it was evident he was sick because he was hacking up a lung the entire flight and constantly blowing his nose. I was very uneasy about him touching Nick once that started and tried my best to avoid contact with him. But what really made the hair on my arms stand up is that the minute the plane started taxiing to the run way the man unbuckles his seat belt, stands up and just starts looking around the plane. This left me with an uneasy feeling and thinking please let there be an air marshall on this plane. I knew likely there wasn’t since it wasn’t an American carrier and it wasn’t departing or arriving to a US port, but a girl can dream right? I looked around to see if anyone else was alarmed by his behavior, and the only ones that appeared to be alarmed were Americans. Anyone who was foreign on that plane did not bat an eye at it. After several minutes of him standing there, a flight attendant approached him and told him to sit down and buckle up. The man responds, “But I have to pee-pee.” Right dude then why didn’t you just get up and go – the bathroom was two rows behind him. So they argued back and forth and the guy claimed he really had to go so they let him go. He took his bag with him to the bathroom too which I also thought was weird. Yes I am paranoid! Anyhow the entire flight I was on edge. The guy sat there turned around in his seat the entire flight staring at Nick and I. He was argumentative every chance he got with the flight attendants. He’d ask for black tea and they’d bring it to him and then he’d swear he asked for white tea. This argument over tea went on forever. I was so glad to land in Bangkok and get away from him. They had a wheel chair waiting for him in Bangkok and we suspect he was coming to Bangkok for medical care. I never felt so good and happy to be back in Bangkok!

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