If anything, the past few days have taught me not to let my expectations shape my experiences and to let my unmet expectations become a lesson to appreciate that not everything is the way I want it to be. Every new place I will see this year will hold a contrast of things I love and things I don’t – some with more positives and some with more negatives – but it’s up to me to search for the good and forget about the bad. So with this in mind I set off to find the good.
With my backpack strapped on tightly I got back on my scooter and set off for Seminyak. Driving through the dense rainforest in the centre of Bali, my route took me past Bali’s most famous waterfall, through the highlands of Bedugul and into the cold, misty clouds. The beauty of this tropical land struck me again as I drove through the crisp air between two towering volcanoes. An hour into the 2.5 hour trip I came across a town which once used to flaunt it’s panoramic views and luscious gardens, yet now only has abandoned buildings and overgrown reserves to show for itself. Perhaps the tourism is lacking. Where there is no money to be made, no money need be spent – a sad reality for this beautiful country. But onwards I went, through Denpasar, Kerebokan and eventually, Seminyak. I was so glad to be back.
These days, however, consisted of running back and forth to immigration to extend my visa, which, by the way, was only 5 days away from expiring. Another tip to add to my growing list: “Pro Travel Tip #2: Don’t leave extending your visa until 5 days before it runs out when it takes 10 days to process.”
Of course, theres always time for a party or two no matter how close your visa is to expiring, especially when its with 2 traveller friends I met in Ubud. What else is there to do?
With a plan to leave Bali and head to Jogja in a few days time when my visa was ready to be collected, I booked my final nights in what became my most favoured hostel in Bali. Funky Monkey, you have won my heart over. After 4 nights in Seminyak, I headed further down south into the heart of it all – tourist central and buzzing 24/7 – Kuta. Most tourists come to Bali and never leave Kuta, and now that I’ve spent 4 nights here I can understand why. One surprising fact I have learned about myself is that I love being around people. When I’m travelling, those people I love being around happen to be fellow travellers. I’ve fallen in love with the backpacker culture and community; no matter where you end up there are always crazy, insane, cool people you meet. In Kuta there was no exception. The days were relaxed, the nights were insane and the atmosphere was perfect. The hostel I stayed in was the sort of hostel where you could jump in the pool and have a conversation with 20 different people in an afternoon. The vibe was chilled, the people were cool. The parties hectic. The first 3 nights at the hostel saw me tagging along with my roommates or the staff (yes, the staff partied too), joining them for a night at Bali’s craziest nightlife scenes. Let’s just say why wouldn’t you when you can pay Rp.100,000 ($10) and get an all you can eat western buffet dinner and a free-flow all you can drink until 9pm? Skygarden was the place to be. The nights were long and hectic, and there was never a night where I didn’t make a new friend or find someone to dance with when the DJ dropped a banger. Side note: Party with Germans. You’ll have fun. Bali doesn’t stop partying until the sun comes out, and the clubs are packed every night of the week. In Kuta, I went nocturnal.