While it was sad to leave, my time was up in Ubud and Tulamben was calling. Since cancelling my trip to Papua, I decided to hire a scooter and make my way up the east coast of Bali to the most northern point of the island, then back down to Seminyak through the centre. Tulamben was my first stop, just up the coast from the most easterly point of Bali. This small village is home to the USS Liberty shipwreck, a US warship sunk by the Japanese off the coast of Bali in 1942, giving way to some of the most spectacular coral reefs in Indonesia. Unfortunately my experience of Tulamben didn’t match my expectations from the reviews. A small village with countless dive resorts and few restaurants, the social scene was non-existent and guesthouses too expensive. And to make things worse, the waters were cloudy and visibility was next to nothing when I went to check out the wreck. All-in-all, I wouldn’t return, but I think all that matters is the fact that I have been there and experienced it. You can’t expect every place you end up in to be amazing and fun, but what’s important is that you’ve been there and made the most of it.
With my headphones in and my backpack secure, I continue along the coast road up to Singaraja in the north of Bali. A 2 hour trip, but one that takes you along the coast, through the foothills of Bali’s highest peak, Gunung Agung, and into some cool little villages. I had no place booked for the night but had an idea of where I would end up, so as I got to Singaraja I continued west through the busy city with Lovina as my final destination. As I was driving a guy wearing a T-shirt that read “Sunset Divers Guest House” pulled his scooter next to mine and nodded at me before asking me if I was headed to Lovina. As a matter of fact I was heading there, so I said yes, before asking why. “I have a good, cheap homestay on the beachfront. Follow me!”
And this, folks, is where I would like to introduce you to:
“Pro Travel Tip #1: Don’t follow a stranger back to his ‘cheap beachfront homestay’ in Bali unless you want to land yourself in an extremely awkward situation and fake a phone call to get yourself out of it.”
Yes, I went against every stranger danger rule I was ever taught throughout my whole life and followed this guy back to his homestay, which happened to be down a tiny lane with no way of turning back. But who wouldn’t…(?) But for real, I am led through this small gate and into his… Homestay! Surprisingly.
“I have a nice homestay…” I’m sorry, Mr. Sunset Divers Guest House T-shirt, but you need to redefine your definition of “nice,” because I don’t think a room with a broken ceiling, cobweb infested fan, soggy mattress that may have had 2 years worth of bedbugs in it and a shower that was a pipe sticking out of the wall can suffice as “nice.”
“How about having a look at the nicer rooms?” He asks.
Maybe he saw the expression on my face, but he was desperate to make me stay in this homestay.
“Umm, sure.” What else was a boy to say? I couldn’t just leave and I was scared that maybe it wouldn’t go so well if I declined and ran away. Plus, a heavy backpack wasn’t helping. After seeing nearly no differences between the condition of the cheapest and most expensive rooms, I finally resort to offer this desperate man some business by eating at his restaurant. I was starving, but secretly, I only wanted to use his wifi to find a better hotel and an escape route. Did I mention my phone was broken beyond use?
There I was, eating my Nasi Goreng, my laptop connected to wifi and the browser open. And my lovely friend (note the sarcasm) decides to stand no where else but directly behind me, watching my every move I make on my laptop.
Yeh, great. I’m stuck in this bloody homestay down a tiny alleyway with no way of contacting anyone to come and rescue me, no way of trying to discreetly search for another place and absolutely no fkn clue of what to do next. So I fake a phone call.
“Hey, Jake! Oh, you’re also in Singaraja?? Yes! I’m here too!! Are you still living here? Oh sweet, you’re offering me a room in your house? For free?? Today?! You’re the best! I’ll see you in a minute!”
Never have I spoken in a more clear, loud voice, with no slurring, no accents and absolutely no way for Mr. Sunset Divers Guest House to NOT understand that I was leaving his homestay right now to go stay with my ‘friend.’
“But book my dolphin tour tomorrow morning, I give you good price!” HE WOULDN’T GIVE UP!!
“Ok, ok, give me your number and I’ll work things out with Jake then call you up to book.” He seemed satisfied with that, and after throwing him some money for my lunch I was out in a flash. Maybe Jake didn’t really exist, and I still had no clue of where I would be sleeping for the night, but I was out and I was having no more of that guy, his homestay or the entire area around it. Bye.
So what did I do? I ended up staying in a hotel costing 3 nights of my budget, but couldn’t be happier my awkward ordeal was over. With 4 night planned, I left after my second. A trip to some waterfalls took away my bitterness towards my unmet expectations, again, but nothing beats the experiences I’ve gained and stories I can now share. Goodbye Singaraja, goodbye north of Bali. I’m not so sad to leave you behind, but I’m more than happy to head back to better days.
*Please forgive me for the lack of photos in this post – my phone met it’s used by date when the sea decided to give it a shower.*