THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM

I just got back from Bali from a 4 days 3 nights trip.

It’s my third time there – I first went with my college girlfriends (2013), the second time was for a good friend’s wedding last year (2016). And they were all also 4D3N long. I never thought I’d travel to Bali again… this soon, at least, unless I have to be there; as I did not quite fall in love with the island as most of my friends have.

Maybe it’s because I did not do or experience the things they did. But anyway, funny how life works out as I somehow selected Bali as a travel destination in the end. And this time, I think I may have grown pretty fond of it.

I went with a colleague who has also just resigned (yes I did, will blog about it my next post). We were choosing between Sabah, Langkawi, Terengganu… then suddenly, out of nowhere, Bali came through my mind. I suppose we decided on that eventually because “that makes more sense of (/sounds like) a holiday”, my friend said. So much for the weak ringgit, huh?

It was a relaxing trip. We stayed at Legian because I wanted to be near the beach and and food places so we don’t have to hire a driver to take us around to jalan-jalan and makan. No research, no nothing. Take it as it comes. I didn’t quite want to do anything touristy either, as I’ve ‘touched and go’ Tanah Lot, Uluwatu, Ubud, Kintamani and the likes previously.

But my, turns out Legian was such a touristy place… Haha. But it’s cool, as that’s what I roughly had in mind – wake up, put on a summer dress, no need make-up, and just find food as we walk along the streets. Only setback was a warung meal [in Legian] costs three times more than, say, a more local place elsewhere, according to the cab driver.

By now you may have deduced that my friend was pretty ‘cincai’ about our itinerary, or lack thereof, actually. That’s true, he’s patient in nature (a trait everyone loves! haha) and had no qualms as all he wanted was to take it easy as well, and jog and swim all day.

Throughout this trip, I’ve come to realize a few things about myself… when traveling, that is. I mean, I already know I possess these traits, but I guess they were amplified when I am making decisions with another being.

I want the best value in things.

I don’t mind at all to pay for goods and services, to enjoy something worthwhile. But they have to be rightly priced. (Then again, who dictates what’s ‘right’ in this regard?)

For example, one would say ‘oh this meal is so cheap. or, this massage is so cheap!’. And in my friend’s case, he wouldn’t negotiate or even think of bargaining. Haha.

Well, I believe whether it’s cheap or expensive, it’s relative — to how much you’re willing and able to pay, to how much you expected to pay, to how much you want it, and most importantly, to the market price of other similar goods and services, at that point in time.

I make it a point to google for taxi rates from the airport to my accommodation prior, as that’s one of the easiest. As we landed, we got rates for 35 USD (like WHAT!?!) to get us to Legian, a 25 minutes drive. I immediately said no. The second offer was 25 USD and my friend was prepared to pay (-.-‘). My previous two trips, a cab ride costs 10 USD, and that’s what I’m willing to accept, maybe a little more, but not that much more.

A massage may cost 120k to 150k rupiah in the hotel, but just outside the hotel, it only costs 80k. Likewise, for clothes, if it’s of good quality and rare, I am willing to pay. But if it’s something I can get from almost any of the stalls down the street, I’ll negotiate.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe sellers and service providers should make a decent profit, but not too exorbitantly at the expense of taking advantage of another. Also, this does not mean I am stingy, perturbed, stressed about expenses. I spend, but I do it consciously.

I thought the meal above was of a pretty good deal – it was at the cafe of a nearby corner-lot hotel.

For 60k rupiah, I got myself a nasi campur and iced lemon tea. (Cheaper than more than 80,000 for just the nasi at nearby restaurants, and compare this to, say, 40k at a hawker-style warung, equally nice food, but the ambience here was many times better…). That said, I too love my hawker-like warungs 🙂

Secondly, I’d spend money on new experiences, something to remember by.  

Not only when I travel, but in general. For example, I’d spend on musicals, a water sport, learning a new skill; more so than shopping for clothes and bags… which I hardly do it, to be honest, save for the few times I shopped online. I actually find it quite a chore to go to malls and try on clothes.

This time in Bali, I decided to try out surfing. (I mean, since I’m staying at Legian, right?!)

I have tried knee-boarding in Halong Bay, Vietnam (as the sun sets behind me) and it was one of my most memorable experiences to date. I have my good friend Justin to thank for, that one.

Speaking of the value of money, one relative example I mentioned earlier is how much we want it and perhaps already decided to pay for it no matter.  In the case of surfing, the guy (whom I rented the deck chair from…) quoted me 300k rupiah for an hour of surfing class. I told him I didn’t need an hour and at most, maybe 30 to 40 mins. He was okay with 200k rupiah in the end.

IMG-20170419-WA0007

Thing is, I did not even complete half an hour… more like for just 20 to 25 mins, with a few attempts in the sea. After three tries, I managed to stand and ride with the mini wave.

It was when I began to get the hang of it (surfing), that I stopped. While some may say, ‘hey, at least you managed to stand!’. But, I didn’t grasp control of it when I knew I could, given just a few more tries. Why?

Firstly, because I thought time was already up and if I had gone on I’d be charged more. Secondly, because too much sea water had gone into my nostrils and I was suffering. This is quite b***s***t as I know I had more willpower than some discomfort as such.

And because of this, I lost out easily 20 more minutes of surfing (already paid for), and left feeling I did not own it to my best ability. And that feeling’s pretty crappy.

Lesson learnt. Next time, I am going to just enjoy myself and give it my all till I’m satisfied with the outcome.

Side note: As I lay on the surfing board, venturing out into the sea, I realize there’s a lot I can relate to in life. The waves can be hard and against you as you venture out, but whether you like it or not, you have to go through it, to catch the next big wave. You can choose to complain and even try to go against it, or you can just face it head-on. And as you turnaround and prepare to catch the next wave to ride back to the shore, you may fall along the way, or you may surf successfully till the end. Either way, when you do fall, you pick yourself up, and go on attempting until you get it right. 

Now, there was something else I was not pleased with myself during this Bali trip.

When asked by the lead singer of a live band to join her sing Mayang Sari’s ‘Tiada Lagi’ — my ultimate favourite — at Made’s Warung, I declined, twice. I don’t know why I did that. It was the perfect setting, stylish yet modest Balinese setting, accommodating crowd, friendly band. And I mean, hello, I love singing! I sing that song all the time at karaoke. Was utterly disappointed in myself.

She could see I was enjoying myself singing along to almost all of her songs, and when my friend requested two Malaysian Malay songs, she suggested to sing Mayang Sari instead, of which I shouted, Tiada Lagi, please.

Lesson learnt. Next time, just take the chance and do it, don’t think so much! Imagine how cool it would have been to sing an Indonesian song IN Indonesia with Indonesians.

Nonetheless, the meal I had above was everything.

The first night we were at Made’s — it was an accidental stumble as we were walking along Seminyak. We were already done with dinner then and thus went in for desserts as the live band was just about to start. I had read about Made’s online before somewhere.

We went back the next night to have dinner there as friend wanted his Babi Guling. My grilled fish with rice (recommended by the waitress), and margarita (using their local alcohol), accompanied by sweet music (another band), was… *sigh*

Before I end this post, just a random observation I have of service parlours in Bali. You can find a spa at every other footstep, and they are all almost similarly priced. But I wonder how able are they in delivering all of the services.

I mean, I have tried cream bath (their version of hair treatment?) twice at different ‘spas’, and both did not quite deliver to my expectations. One massaged my shoulder with her long thumb nail and it hurts, the other didn’t wash the bottom part of my hair clean while the shower spray splashed across my face while washing. I thought, maybe it’s because these ladies do about everything? I.E. they massage, do ear wax, cream bath, etc etc, so they are not focused on one skill? Could this be the case?

Anyhow, I finished a Murakami book here in Bali. My very first. Norwegian Wood. It was good. So many quotes from the book that I adore.

“What happens when people open their hearts?”
“They get better.”

“If I have left a wound inside you, it is not just your wound but mine as well.”

“I’ve never once thought about how I was going to die,” she said. “I can’t think about it. I don’t even know how I’m going to live.”

And more from my instagram post here.

I’ll remember Bali for its warm hospitality, warm smiles; especially at hotels and F&B spots.

Time will tell if I will be back one day. Hopefully, longer than 4D3N the next time around.

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