My birth was miraculous in many ways, but one of my favorite ways is that it linked me undeniably to my “twin” cousin who shares my birthday. Luckily, she excels at sharing and has learned over the years to enjoy most of my eccentricities. While usually we celebrate our birthday together, when we looked at my work calendar, it was clear that sharing Valentine’s Day and Tet would be the easier choice for me. After talking to some of my co-workers about where we should go, it was decided that we would holiday in Bali, Indonesia, and Christyn had her tickets booked within a month of my arrival in Vietnam. This means that I had months to eagerly anticipate her arrival and our destination. One would assume that I used this length of time to learn about Bali and research what I wanted to do. This was very far from true. I discussed the trip with colleagues, wrote down their suggestions, and did some searching for lodging, but knew (and still know) very little about Bali.
Because we had the luxury of having about 8 days on the island, we decided to stay at three different places on various parts of the island. Our flight didn’t get in until about 7pm on Saturday, so we booked a hotel in Kuta, a beach neighborhood in the southern part of the city. Our hotel was literally in walking distance of the airport, but I am not sure that I would have wanted to try walking there.
After reaching our hotel and taking a moment to settle in, we went out in pursuit of dinner. The lovely receptionist had given us a map and directions, but we soon learned that her idea of distance and reality were a little different. Though she told us it would take 5 minutes to reach the main road, it took less than one, so our mental scale of the whole map got confused, but we found some snacks and drinks and headed back to the hotel around 10. The staff was appalled that we were back so early. “Didn’t we want to enjoy the night life?” This is when we realized that we were in the wrong place. This was not our part of the island. No. We didn’t want to enjoy night life. We wanted to go to bed early. Read good books. Sit by the pool or beach. Eat good food. Drink lots of coffee.
So, though it wasn’t our favorite part of the island, we had one day there, and we made the most of it. We spent lots of time walking along the beach and drinking coffee and smoothies in cafes to cool off. We went shopping a bit and got a bit lost. Thinking I had discovered a shortcut to lead us in the direction I thought was the beach, I led us through a gated retirement hotel called the Oasis. Not what we were looking for, but we sure gave the residents a stir. We ate a delicious lunch along the beach at a place called Tepan Noodles.Then we spent the rest of the afternoon at the hotel pool and getting a massage at the hotel spa. That night, we walked back to the beach for dinner and discovered that the place we had chosen had a live “band” who desperately wanted to involve the audience in some sing alongs and guest appearances. After refusing to join them on stage, they did dedicate a song about New York to the American girls. We also heard some “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and “Sweet Home Carolina”. I guess they wanted to cover their geographic bases and appeal to our national pride. I always forget to mention that the music choices in Vietnam entertain me endlessly, and Bali was no different. Who choses the soundtrack for hotels, restaurants, and stores here? Misunderstood genius.
After dinner, we really tried to hang tough so we wouldn’t be judged at the hotel, but we just didn’t have it in us. We did manage to get a photo with a stuffed goat and try some knockoff Guinness, but we still snuck back into the hotel around 10. We need our beauty rest.
All in all, a pretty successful first day or two of vacation for me. Christyn was glad to be off planes for a bit, and she dealt with jet lag beautifully.
Lots more to come about our adventures. I am in Hanoi this week at a Model United Nations Conference with 13 of my students, so I am hoping that I have some time to catch up on blogging. Wish me luck!