… We were asked 192 times if we needed a taxi and 67 times if we would like a massage. In any other country, this would have been borderline harassment but most of them were so smiley, we couldn’t feel any anger or irritation. We kept smiling back, answering “Tidak, terima kasih” (no, thanks) 192 times, getting surprised looks to our Bahasa answer.
… We were asked countless (we unfortunately lost counts) times where we were from! M considered getting a t-shirt saying “we are from Switzerland and France, no we don’t need a taxi, no massage for now but thanks”. We would save all parties some precious time we could spend daydreaming during our stroll in Ubud instead of answering the same questions over and over again.
… I had my first conversation in Indonesian. Though very short and very basic, this conversation felt very special. Our teacher in Jakarta would have been proud of us! It took us a while to understand the questions and it felt great to understand a whole sentence. Our efforts (we downloaded an app with flash cards) were paying off and we couldn’t wait to speak more Bahasa!
… We got a $6 massage, painfully fantastic but hey no pain, no gain! But if I thought that seeing my husband (what? I’m living my fantasy while on the road as this is better for our interactions with the locals. We wouldn’t want to offend locals by telling that M is my boyfriend, would we?) being massaged by another woman was weird in Cambodia, seeing him being massaged by a man was even weirder! Ah! Don’t you love those couple massages?!
… I almost died: traffic wasn’t bad really but I got somehow confused and after dodging a scooter, I almost got hit by two others, going the other way. M almost died of a heart attack. Oops!
Even tho we had decided not to explore Bali as I had heard it was pricey and over touristy (plus M had gone there last year already), M decided to take me to Ubud. We had two free days on our way to Labuan Bajo and since I was dying to have a good massage and have a stroll through rice fields, Ubud seemed the obvious choice. Our volcanic group jumped onto a ferry at Banyuwangi on Java and headed to Bali. The ride was easy, quick and cheap: within an hour we were in Bali (THAT easy!). After some arguing with a dodgy hustler in Bahasa and English, we found a bus that would take us together with our German companion to Denpasar. It was that time again to say bye to our two French friends, who were heading to the northern coast, while we were heading East. Time went bye too quickly and it was a shame to have to say bye to Claire and Kevin, two funnice (remember? Funny and nice!) travelers.
Of course, instead of driving us to Denpasar, the bus driver stopped us at a random place where we were met by a greedy taxi driver. However as avid users of maps.me (the best existing app for travelers) we (read: M) knew exactly where we were and therefore knew which fare was acceptable. We started to joke with our greedy driver while negotiating hard with him who actually turned out to be a funny character. He settled for a good price and to conclude our contract, we improvised a karaoke session in Bahasa (what else?) while driving to Ubud. Just another confirmation that I’m a poor singer, no matter the language I am singing in *sigh*. He took us to a lovely place we had booked on Traveloka (the best app to travel through Indonesia to find cheap air fares and hotel rooms). We started our short stay in Ubud by doing absolutely nothing, chilling by our pool and treating ourselves to delicious sushi at Rouge.
Our only full day in Ubud was spent strolling through town (declining all the taxi offers and collecting the massage flyers), trying some street food (faaaaaaaar away from the strip), going for a walk through some rice fields and chilling some more by the pool. If there were less tourists and Ubud was more affordable, I could easily fall in love with this hustling and bustling town but alas this wasn’t the case and it won’t ever be the case anymore. For any tourist willing to spend more than 30$ a day, this place has some hidden gems that can be accessed given a nice fee! This lovely day was celebrated with a well deserved and cheap massage.
After enjoying Ubud (which was definitely not a budget friendly layover for us), we couldn’t wait to jump on the next plane that would take us closer to the reason we picked Indonesia: a long life dream was about to be fullfilled. Komodo dragons, here we come! Next stop: Labuan Bajo!