Update on my life: I just bought a spiffy new VPN. So while I wrote this post about a week ago, I’m just getting around to posting it. Hopefully posts will be a lot easier from here on out!…
A short while ago, in Bali…
Wow. December 30. I have never in my life been on a vacation this long. But, since December 13, I’ve been here on the island of Bali relaxing and enjoying the heat, the sky, and the blessed sun. I leave here on January 1 and am decidedly not looking forward to the cold, cloudy Chengdu that I’m heading back to. I can’t wait to see my kiddos again, but a large, pathetic part of me is counting down the days until Chinese New Year, when I can escape again and explore some other eastern port.
Life here in Bali is cheap (by western standards), although it’s a bit of a pill for me to figure out the exchange rate. I end up turning prices back into Chinese RMB then figuring out American prices from there. Basically, 100,000 rupiah is about $8. So pulling $80 bucks from an ATM gives me 1,000,000 rupiah…which is more than enough play money for a day or two. Most meals end up costing me about $10-$15, which is much more expensive than China, but infinitely cheaper than taking a vacation in the United States.
Accents here are also amazing. There are so many Australians around, staying here for a cheap holiday, that I can swoon while listening to them for a few moments, at least until they become incredibly obnoxious. And no, Australians currently splashing and shouting in the hotel pool, I’m not talking about you at all… (Do Aussies get as bad a rap as Americans when traveling?)
Our holiday commenced with four of us–Yang, Jay, Adam, and me–checking into hotels in Seminyak (northern Kuta). There we stayed about a block from the beach, passing by very small, very touristy shops every morning. We spent the first week in Bali soaking up the sun. We explored restaurants, strolled through the hot sand, and went dancing at night in local clubs. Adam got to surf one day and I learned how to play the game Euchre (and am currently on a major winning streak on my phone app of the game). The only downside was Jay and I both got sick with various ailments which had us laying low for a bit.
After Kuta, we traveled on up to the quieter Ubud. We randomly bumped into a couple who taught with QSI in Shenzhen our first morning there. While in Ubud, we took it easy but spent time exploring the monkey forest, rice terraces, a coffee plantation, and attending a local dance. We ate dinner almost every night at the same restaurant, becoming something like regulars in our very short time there. Alicia, Kerensa, and Thommy (all from Chengdu) also landed in Ubud during our stay. We spent one night hanging out with them, exploring the limited Ubud night life.
On Christmas Eve, Jay and Yang headed for the northern part of Bali while Adam and I headed back down to Kuta. It was a quite Christmas eve, filled with lots of walking, exploring the local beaches. On Christmas day, more walking. We went to a local mall and had sushi as our Christmas meal (which always makes a perfect holiday!). After a day of hanging out, Adam headed off to the airport and I went to mass. After church, I walked back to my hotel room (about a 40 minute stroll) and tucked myself in bed exhausted.
The day after Christmas was the only day of this vacation I had to myself (not that that’s a bad thing; I would much rather be around others). But I decided to take full advantage of it. I spent hours at a spa (my skin, I tell you, is still softer because of it) coming back only to order room service and fall into the most peaceful, angel-like sleep.
The following day, Saturday, I met back up with Jay and Yang at our new hotel, also in Kuta (central Kuta this time). I’ve been terribly lazy since meeting up with them. We spent most of yesterday shopping, but today I have only left the hotel to meander down the street to the nearby convenience store. Tonight, we are going out to dinner and then I’m meeting up with Kerensa and Alicia (who are down from Ubud) for drinks and dancing.
We did, however, have one eerie moment. On Saturday night, I was hanging out in the hotel pool with Jay and an Australian. The wind started to blow and lightening crackled in the distance. I was contemplating whether or not to get out of the pool when the Aussie pointed out the lightening. “It never seems to amount to much, though,” Jay said. I stayed in the pool a while after Jay, getting out only when Yang wanted to go try a restaurant nearby. After a late dinner, I fell asleep, waking up to a heavy rain crashing down around 7am. The skies cleared a bit later, but already flight 8501, which took off from nearby Java island, had crashed. Since then there have been heavy periods of rain that roll through and, as we remember the victims of this accident, it’s also a little chilling to know that in two days, at about the same departure time, we’re flying the same airline back to Chengdu.