After spending three months in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, I decided to go on a travel vacation with shorter stays. After three days in Singapore, I booked five in Bali. I was looking for a great beachfront hotel, after my disappointing Singapore stay. I planned the trip so quickly that I didn’t research any of the immigration details. After arriving, I walked off the plane and just followed the crowd. Once in the immigration line, I was kicking myself for not having more US currency. When it was my turn, I handed over my passport and asked the officer if there was an ATM and Money Exchange nearby. My plan was to get enough US dollars to pay for the visa. He replied. “Do you have a credit card?” With a tap, I paid for my 90 day visa and got another stamp in my passport.
I gathered my checked bags and then the next issue started. I couldn’t connect to Wifi at the airport and I needed to order a Grab (think Uber). Added to that, my debit card was turned off, so there was no way to get cash for a cab. And, while I was trying to figure out what to do, men kept asking me if I needed a ride. I couldn’t make a move, without someone coming out of nowhere asking about taxi service. At one point, I took the elevator down, to avoid the next wave of men. The doors opened and I was now on the other side of the airport’s arrival area. There was a Starbucks (with free wifi) directly behind me, but I couldn’t get back to the secured area. I decided to just keep on walking, thinking there might be another wifi opportunity nearby. I didn’t find one, but I did find the Grab Lounge. Who knew? A young employee let me use his hotspot. I ordered my ride and then sat in comfort until it arrived. The Grab drivers all pull up directly outside. When your car arrives, one of the lounge employees calls out your name and helps you with your luggage. Indonesia for the win, again!
My hotel was only a ten or fifteen minute drive from the airport. We went through a toll booth, when leaving. Next, we did a few turns and then arrived at the hotel. I paid the driver, well over the fare, but he wanted more money, to be reimbursed for the toll. This toll matter is handled differently by Grab drivers, in each Southeast Asian country. In Thailand, if paying cash, the driver will ask if you want him to take the freeway or road. If you opt for the freeway, you’ll be asked to pay for the toll, right before you get to one. If you’ve linked a credit card or a payment method like a PayPals, to your Grab account, the toll is simply added to the final amount. My Bali driver refused the cash payment, until I added in the toll cost. Once that matter was done, I stepped into Discovery Kartika Plaza, a five star ocean front hotel, in the heart of Kuta.
Like most really good resort hotels, entering Discovery Kartika Plaza felt like a different world, from the backpackers, female street vendors, and male tour guide hawkers, that I saw on the main road. I checked in and a bellman carried my luggage to the room. It was fine, but certainly not an Expedia VIP upgrade. I tipped the bellman and quickly left to check out the rest of the hotel. The pool area was large, with multiple areas and a separate mini pool for young children. I made my way to the hotel’s outside bar/cafe. The lounge area faces the Indian Ocean. Sitting on a sofa, staring at the ocean, was particularly all I did for my first three days. Over the five days, I only managed a walk to the Hard Rock Cafe for a live performance by a group of young musicians. I also discovered an entire shopping mall that was four minutes from the hotel and literally across the street from a water park.
Bali was truly what the doctor ordered. It was so wonderfully restful. Plus, I love the Indian Ocean. I took a trip to Zanzibar, February 2020, right before Peace Corps Ethiopia’s COVID-19 evacuation. I believe that it better prepared me for the stress of packing, leaving my students, and returning home to locked down America. In keeping with my ocean theme, I changed my Peace Corps home of record from my godson’s family, in Ohio, to an old Peace Corps Kenya friend, with graduate degrees and years of experience in Public Health and Public Policy, who just so happened to live in Honolulu. It may have not been the Indian Ocean, but it was an Ocean to visit, after finishing my twenty one day Peace Corps self quarantine.
During my two years of serving in Peace Corps Kenya, I would head to Nairobi, each school break, and catch the overnight train to Mombasa. From there, I would hop on a bus and make a beeline for the tropical beach town of Malindi. After a few days, I moved on to Lamu Island. In Bali, unlike my past worries about malaria, the downside of the beach trip was Dengue Fever. There were calls to be vigilant and to avoid going out at dusk or dawn. My bug spray was always on and always with me. I would have loved to stay in Bali longer, but better safe than sorry. I booked a flight to Kuala Lumpur.
For additional content: Be sure to follow GhettoGirlTravels on TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram! XOXO—GGT