We arrived in Bali at around noon on Wednesday, 2 January 2013 from Singapore. This was our first time in Bali.
The airport was crowded and stinking hot.
After surviving a long queue to buy an entry visa, we were faced with another queue to clear immigration. We were extremely hot and bothered by then. Ling was already frantically fanning herself. I told her that the trick to keeping cool is to conserve energy by remaining extremely still. She proceeded to ignore my sage advice and fanned herself even more forcefully.
Eventually, we were out of the airport. Shi-En was already waiting for us at the Starbucks. It was good to see him again after all this time (he had been travelling the world for the last few weeks).
After about an hour and a couple of cold espresso frappes, Wen emerged from the airport and declared that she was starving.
Shi-En promptly found us a taxi so that we could get to the hotel, check ourselves in and then get some food.
What followed seemed like an attempted kidnapping.
Our taxi strayed off the main road and onto some back alleys that wound themselves around little Balinese houses and shops. Suddenly, it looked like we had entered into a parallel world of shack houses, rubbish dumps, giant drains and free-range cows. It would have been quaint and interesting enough, but for the fact that our taxi driver drove up to a guy sitting on a plastic stool by the side of the track and handed him a wad of cash.
At first, a glimpse of fear gripped my heart. We were being kidnapped. And we were in a foreign land. I didn’t even know what three digits to dial to get police attention!
But logic kicked in – if we were being kidnapped, the money was flowing the wrong way. The taxi driver, I concluded, was paying some entrepreneurial villager for the right to use the back alleys. What a great source of passive income!
After about 30 minutes of the “scenic route”, we made it back onto the main road and we finally arrived at our hotel – the All Seasons Denpasar.
After checking in, we hit the road in search for some food.
Then we had a massage.
Then it was dinner time and we proceeded to gorge ourselves again, possibly our last normal meal for the week. “Ernie would have enjoyed this,” Wen said. Yes, the lontong (rice cake dish) was very good.
The others in our team from Perth were due to arrive at about 1 am.
We thought it would be a good idea to stay up to wait for them, so the four of us crammed into my and Ling’s room and watched American Masterchef on TV. Alas, it had been a tiring day, and Shi-En, who often boasts that he doesn’t sleep (or at most only needs 2 hours of sleep a night), was beginning to doze off. (We have since discovered, from all the times we have been on holidays with Shi-En, that in fact he has the sleeping habits of a 70 year old granny – early to bed, and early to rise!)
Ling and I decided to call it a night.
The next day, our team would be reunited and we would be heading to East Timor together.