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Bali: First impressions

This is the first of many entries about my week in Bali! I'll be posting these over the next couple of days to make them a little easier to digest and to give me some time to pull some pictures that Jenn took and insert them into the entries.

The LAX international airport was a nightmare (but as bad as this beginning is, it's awesome from there out). It was wall to wall people and very intimidating. Our first flight was ~13 hour from LAX to Taipei, Taiwan. The flight was BRUTAL. It was overbooked by 38! So, every seat was filled. The air conditioning on the plane wasn't on or wasn't working when we got on and Jenn and I were in different rows. I figured it would get cooler once we took off, but the problem was that we sat on the tarmac for and hour and half. I was in hell! I think we weren't taking off because they were fixing the a/c, because we started moving after it came on. People always talk about little kids kicking the back of chairs on a plane but let's talk about this. There were two little girls, one behind me and one behind the Muslim women sitting next to me. They weren't just swinging their feet and kicking the back of the seat... they were laying on their backs with their feet place flat against the back of my seat and literally pounding there feet for 2 hours straight in bursts of 1 minute on, 1 minute off. It was like I was going insane. I had died and been sent to Hell. If it was a domestic flight I would have felt more comfortable turning around and saying something to the parents. Eventually though, I simply could not take it and turned around and asked the mother to please stop them from kicking the chair. It did nothing. She said something to the kids and all they did was change how they were kicking the chairs. Now, they would unhook the tray table with their feet and let it fall, which would fall with a bang and then bounce several times. Then they would use their feet to push it back up against the chair (HARD) and relatch it... then do it all again. *twitch* Wanted to kill.. *twitch*

Finally... the pain ended. We reached Taiwan! From here out, it's all good.

The Taiwan airport was something to behold. It is stark and busy all at the same time. The only thing the airport has are Duty Free stores and advertisements. That's pretty much it. Jenn snapped some shots of my favs:

I love this billboard, because we don't get to see this kind of thing in the US. We are all so uptight about sex that we can't just talk about it openly. The next one was just too disturbing to miss...

The Denpasar airport is gorgeous. It's filled with carved balinese statues and architecture. It's also right on the indian ocean on a little penninsula. After we got off the plane, we were inserted into a scientists rat maze where we had to walk about 5 minutes across the entire airport to immigration where they checked our passports and put stuff in them, stamped here, receipts here, etc. It was a little disorienting, but if you stood there looking lost, someone would tell you where to go.

After all the paperwork, Jenn and I headed for the big sign that said, "Meeting Place." Her bro, Jeff, the groom, was supposed to pick us up. She went to look for him and I went to exchange some Dollars for Rupiah. This was my first real surprise... when they counted out 1,730,000 Rupiah. Suddenly, I was REALLY nervous about all the cash I was holding when I hadn't careed I was holding $200 US just before. Very weird.

We wandered around a little until we saw Jeff who had a driver waiting to take us back to Alam Kul Kul, our first hotel. The drive to the hotel was crazy, there are basically no traffic laws it looks like. More than half the people are on motorcycles and they zoom part in any spot they think may be big enough.

It reminded me of a strange line in The Diamond Age where one of the characters mentions splurging for a "half-lane" transport.

The area we are in is obviously very touristy, all the signs are in english, there's a Starbucks, Hard Rock Cafe, A|X, Versace, etc. between the airport and here. The hotel is gorgeous, lush, with swimming pools everywhere. I got a massage first thing as Jenn crashed from the jet lag. A traditional Balinese massage apparently includes drinks! they started me off with a ginger root drink, then the massage, a shower and a tamarind root drink. They are supposed to warm the muscles and purify the blood. The massage was a little rougher than I'm used to, but it was still good. I headed back to the room and crashed hard. Jenn tried to wake me up around 8 for dinner and it was a battle! I eventually was able to keep my eyes open and we headed down to one of the two restaurants in the resort. It was again, gorgeous. The walkway was lined with big leafy stalks, little torches and water statues.

More to come later!

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