So I had a first this weekend in Albania. A met a truly, unbelievably rude person here. Since I have arrived everyone I’ve met has been super friendly and helpful. I’ve gotten the few weird pick up lines from creeps, but nothing truly frightening, and sadly as a solo female traveler, it comes with the territory. This time was extremely different. I was told terrible things by this person who didn’t know me from Eve, and couldn’t believe that this could be happening. I wanted to keep positive and not let a jerk make me feel bad on a night that should be happy as I am celebrating my decision to go to Ireland to volunteer farm this summer. So I’ve decided to dedicate this post to some amazing people on still one of my best trips of a lifetime.
BALI! I’ve never fallen in love with a place so quickly. Yes, it is touristy, but the reasons it is such a hot destination are valid. A laid back atmosphere, great food, live music, sun and beautiful scenery. I couldn’t ask for more. This would also be my first solo vacation as I was the only person interested in going there from our small group of English teachers back in Ningbo, China.
Foodie Paradise! Fresh mahi with veg and a pure organic smoothie for around $8. Whoop!
So I arrived in the evening and had my driver waiting for me for the 2 hour drive from Denpasar to Ubud, arriving to my beautiful guesthouse just in time to change and grab a beer at the pub across the street where beautiful Reggae music was wafting through the night air. I enjoyed it from the first moment. The welcoming nature of the Balinese people still astounds me to this day and I can’t wait to go back again. As I was planning on staying for 2 1/2 weeks, I was in no rush to leave ubud and spent the next day traipsing around the little city, buying coffee, playing with the monkeys in the forest, and generally at peace for the first time since my divorce.
On my 2nd full day I rented a motor bike. I am on one of the most beautiful islands in the world and am beyond beach ready. As this was in Chinese New Year, I had unfortunately come during the rainy season, but while cloudy, the weather was warm and welcoming as I began the drive outside of the city. I drove for about 40 minutes before getting stopped and bribing a police officer for driving with only my American license. Oh well!! It’s all part of the travel experience.
I continue on my way, stopping to take pictures of the natural beauty surrounding me. Shortly after I reached Kentamani Volcano and stopped once again, trying to figure out exactly where I should head to get to the beach I had heard such good things about. Lost, my mind wasn’t worried. I may not find THAT beach, but just keep going and you will find A beach somewhere. VRRROOOM! I continue driving through the volcanic area and the villages were growing quieter as this time of year isn’t the most popular for tourists. Suddenly I found myself perched on my bike overlooking a steep hill and knew it would be safer to dismount and walk down the decline. Only one problem. I hit my front break on accident, which sent my tires sliding down the hill, which I discovered wasn’t actually paved. Instead, it was covered in loose volcanic rock. In a flash I am on the ground, helmet thrown off somewhere, trapped under my bike which at the angle I was in, impossible for me to move on my own. I could tell I was hurt, even as I was disoriented. I sat there wondering if anyone would come down this stretch of road that had no buildings or houses. Would I die here? I was petrified. I tilted my head back looking up the hill upside down and waited. After a while, I think about 30 minutes, I saw a bike stop at the top of the hill and someone got off. Then the bike zoomed down and stopped next to me with a young boy maybe 15 years old on it. He had told his grandma to wait so he could help me. He spoke virtually no English, but helped me get up, find my helmet, and finally persuaded me back on the bike to take me to the town doctor. I found out that the doctor was actually a gynecologist, but she treated most of the ailments in the village as well. Crying and shaking I laid on her table while her 7 year old daughter mimed “no cry” and made me a cup of warm tea.
I got stitched up and bandaged for $5 and was on my way. She urged me to stay dry to prevent infection and see a doctor tomorrow when I got back to the city. To say I was nervous to get back on my bike is an understatement. But back on I did, and I began the 2 hour drive back into the city. Soon though, the clouds got heavy and I knew rain was coming. Not much is open in the off season and as the rain began to pour down, I pulled next to a hut to hopefully wait out the storm. Here I met my saviors. 3 guys worked as tea and coffee guides, walking you through the jungle to show you where the coffee and tea grew and was made. You would be able to sample the coffees and teas and buy whatever you liked. Seeing me a little blood stained and bandaged, they quickly made every beverage they had available and had an amazing conversation about life. Then as we are chatting, one of the workers begins staring at my foot that is still bleeding a bit. Without a word, he turns and bolts into the jungle in the pouring rain, returning moments later soaked yet with a victorious look on his young face. From behind his back he pulls a fresh aloe leaf and proceeds to crack is open and spread the pulp on my scraps and explaining how this would help with future scarring. It was one of the nicest gestures I’d ever received.
After this bad luck, I never made it to the beach, but I still had an amazing time eating and meeting great people and animals, including Marley. She quickly became my breakfast buddy and would wait for me to wake in the morning.
I never made it to the beach on that trip, so I guess I will just have to go back. The culture and openness I experienced there is definitely one of a kind, even down to the daily offerings they give religiously multiple times per day to protect themselves from the evil spirits.
rice, flowers, and incense are a constant in Ubud and it is lovely to see that gratefulness expressed openly to mother nature.
I am planning more trips (mostly Europe now), and you better believe that Bali is on the list for a revisit.