Having booked my flight with the group of girls I planned to spend my time in Bali with weeks ago and just finished my last paper that was due I packed my suitcase amped and rearing to leave Australia for a couple weeks. Sadly I only took one large suitcase to Australia and now was in a pickle because I didn’t need, let alone, want to bring this massive thing with me. I messaged Morgan for some help and we concluded that I should just take it even though it would be a pain. Early the morning we were to leave I still needed a money belt and felt it was important to buy one before I left because of warnings online and from Aussies. Supposedly, in Bali little children will distract you while others steal your money due to the poverty, high tourism, and the Australian/American dollar being at a high value in comparison with the Indonesian Rupiah. Morgan, being the awesome friend she is, accompanied me to Jesmond to find one. At the very same store we found the money belt, we found luggage that was the perfect size on sale and I simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity and bought it.
Back in my room I said my goodbye’s to Morgan, repacked in my new suitcase, cleaned my room and met up with the group to catch our train. It was down pouring outside, but nothing could change how excited we were to be in Bali for the next two weeks. To get to the Sydney Airport we needed to catch a train from Warabrook to Hamilton and once at Hamilton buy our $20 ticket from Hamilton to Sydney Airport. With our bags soaked, we smashed them in one seat and crowded together in a group of seats next to it. The train was annoyingly long as usual, but we talked and got excited for Bali to pass the time. Andy started our trip of with a hitch losing his phone on our first train and with no way of communicating for the rest of the trip other than the good old fashion way of face to face conversation.
Once we arrived at Sydney Central Station, we needed to catch our train for the airport. We caught the train without any issues and made our way to check in once arriving at the airport. We were all seated near one another, but had a couple hours till our flight would take off and what else would a group of Americans do with this time? We made our stop at Mcdonald’s in the airport grabbing food that we were familiar with. I couldn’t tell you the last time I had Maccas (Aussie slang), but did it taste good and got me ready for our 6 hour flight to Bali. Virgin Australia was the company we were flying with and I couldn’t have been happier, they had comfortable seats, food and snacks and I had the entire row to myself. I was stretched out the entire time listening to music, playing games and writing my last blog post about my fun weekend before leaving for Bali. The food came shortly after take off since we had the 7:20 pm flight and I chose the noodles to get into an Asian mindset. In addition to this they had water, a roll, and the best part, chocolate mousse for dessert. After my meal I kicked my feet up resting for the rest of my flight to Bali. Landing was out of the ordinary, I wasn’t aware that the airport was near the water and when we descended we looked like we were about to land in the water. Freaking out, I watched waiting for land to appear and at the last second there was a runway and we touched down as smooth as I had original anticipated.
Thankful that we were going to hit water, I gathered my things and made my way off the plane with my friends now in Bali. Instantly, just like when we arrived in Cairns, I felt the heat wave from the tropical air. We needed to collect our bags to get through customs and pay for our Indonesian VISA which was a VoA or VISA on arrival. After we collected our bags Tom met up with us and went through the process with us first getting our bags scanned in customs and our passports by immigration. Passing through these steps was a breeze, but we needed to pay in Rupiah for the next. Indonesian VISA’s cost roughly $450,000, which translates to $35 USD. Riffling through our money belts we found the amount due since the credit card machine was down and continued on our way to find our driver that would take us to our hotel.
When we walked out to the exit there were dozens of drivers with and without signs to drive people from the airport. This was our first experience with the balinese culture and to be honest we were overwhelmed and freaked out. Thankfully Marissa booked a driver in advance to take us from the airport to our hotel and we made it safely to the Bakungksari Hotel for our first night in Bali. I was trying to take in as much as I possibly could looking out the window on our short drive and all I could see was poverty and motor bikes lining the streets. Once at our hotel we received a complementary drink that resembled orange juice. We paid for our night stay and went to our rooms. I roomed with Becca and was a little unsure of the cleanliness of our room, but we settled in and went to bed because tomorrow was Easter and we were heading to Ubud for the next 5 days.