So late last night, I landed in Denpasar airport, Bali. Alone.
After years of being desperate to see the world but never being lucky enough to have friends who shared the dream seriously enough to save up and do it, I decided to bite the bullet and just go.
My first hurdle (of what will no doubt be many) was that my pre-arranged airport pickup was nowhere to be found. Lugging my backpack outside (which, at only 8kg was substantially lighter than the one I used on my trip to Thailand), I quickly found a friendly Balinese guy who promised to take me to my destination in the centre of Kuta. My haggling skills also meant that I got the journey cheaper than I was originally supposed to be paying the hotel! He spent the journey asking me about football and slagging off Australian tourists. Standard.
I’d planned to go straight to sleep when I arrived at Lucky’s Guest House. I’d actually decided against booking a hostel for the sole reason that I knew I’d be tired after a 36 hour flight and wouldn’t be in any mood to socialise. However, when I saw the cold beers in the lobby (£1 for a LITRE), I couldn’t resist buying one to unwind with before bed.
And what a bed it was.
King size, with crisp white sheets and a view out onto my balcony and beautiful Bali. Not bad for £18. Not long after finishing my beer I passed out and didn’t wake until 12 hours later.
I was a little peeved because I’d missed the free breakfast and I wanted to check out the beach but the day wasn’t all wasted. A friend from primary school, Natalie, was in Bali with her sister Hayley and we had planned to meet up so I read for a while on the balcony before showering and getting ready.
At 6 I met them both at Yulia’s Kitchen, a restaurant about 20 minutes away from my hotel. It was surreal seeing them both as we hadn’t hung out since we were about 8 years old but I enjoyed hearing about Natalie’s year in Australia as I tucked into Pad Thai, before joining them for a wander around the market stalls.
It was actually a funny experience as it reminded me so much of being back in Thailand, with slim young men harassing us to get in their taxis and buy their drugs and desperate market stall holders grabbing our arms and trying to drag us into their shops. After a couple of hours haggling and explaining that NO, we really weren’t that arsed about Manchester United and NO we weren’t Australian, we decided to treat ourselves to a traditional Balinese massage.
It was about 10pm, far too late to think about getting pampered in England, but when in Asia…
After mooching around trying to scout out the best beauty salon, we eventually found one that promised 60 minute full body massages for around £3.50 – even cheaper than Thailand!
I opted for the head, back and shoulder massage, and was relieved to find that we all got our own cubicles (and power ballads!). I was even more relieved when the guy massaging me asked if I wanted a “medium or strong” massage – I suffer from a bad shoulder so to me the choice was obvious and I had to stop myself from moaning in appreciation when he used his entire body weight on the shoulder in question.
After the quickest hour of my life, it was all over and time for Natalie and Hayley to go back to their hostel as they had to be up early in the morning. After a quick freshen up in my hotel, I headed out in search of food and found a cute bar that served me a ridiculously cheap Bintang beer and a plate of chicken gizzards. I thought that going out alone would bother me but I actually enjoyed it and I knew that forcing myself out of my comfort zone like this would be the only way that I’d ever overcome my fears.
And here my stay in Kuta ends! Tomorrow I’m heading to Seminyak for a few days, but right now it’s 3am and I need to sleep.