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Indonesia: Bali First Impressions

November 21, 2011

Despite arriving quite late after a day of travel to the Denpasar airport, I felt excited within steps of walking off the plane. The man who checked us through customs was singing and smiling along with the radio that was playing in his cubicle. My positive  introduction to Indonesia continued from there; everyone we came across as we journeyed to Ubud greeted us with warmth and seemingly genuine interest, even though we arrived in the middle of the night.

Although we went to bed at 2am, we awoke fairly early to the birds singing in the trees. I’m not exactly sure of the temperature in Ubud, but it almost always feels perfect. It’s as though it’s regulated to be exactly what our bodies want. So much that I didn’t even mind when we got caught in a huge downpour of rain. 

After stepping into the city, within moments our senses were overloaded. There was somehow a tranquility amidst the chaos and jam-packed streets, but it was lost on us at first because  of our fatigue from our Korea travels. The logical thing to do was to go for one of Bali’s world-famous massages.  It took away all the stress of travel and rejuvenated us for this next chapter.

After that I was able to appreciate my surroundings. The Hindu offerings laid out on almost every door step included everything from flowers, banana leaves, dried palm, fruit, crackers, and incense.   Every few steps, they reminded me of the creativity and spirituality of the Balinese. The streets were lined with paintings and carvings bursting out of store fronts, alternating with temples, bustling markets, and monuments.  All of this nestled within lush green rice fields and forests. This spiritual serenity was tempered by an incredible density of motorbikes, cars, buses, and people, all teetering amongst each other on the cracked and uneven sidewalks and roads. It was a sight and experience like no other. 

After feasting on some delicious local food (more on that later), we decided to to zip away further east to the gorgeous beaches of the tiny Gili islands for some diving and snorkeling. Don’t worry though, we’ll be sure to return to Bali at the end of our journey for the rice field hikes, cultural parades, shopping, diving, and temple  visits.

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