Welcome to Bali

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A midnight flight, a broken ATM at the cash only visa desk, and a taxi driver who insisted on a fee of twice the normal rate. This was our initial introduction to Bali. Luckily, our series of unfortunate events ended here.

Morning came and we basked in the comfort and cleanliness of our large and beautiful hotel room, about two kilometers from Kuta beach. After a month in the tattered hostels of Australia, the simple act of showering without shoes on is an uncommon luxury. This hotel- with white marble tiles, fast speed Internet, a flat screen TV, and our own spacious shower- is about half the price of two Aussie hostel beds.

Our first venture into town was a disaster, since we had yet to figure out how to succeed at the simple act of crossing a road. With no crosswalks or sidewalks, walking here is an act of bravery. We quickly understood why most tourists stay across the river, along the beach- an area much more pedestrian friendly. Nevertheless, we were happy with our hotel and had committed to being here for our first week. We would learn to cross a road, learn to communicate, and hopefully get comfortable with it all in the process.

Outside, the world is a montage of motorbikes, taxis, and work trucks rushing down the narrow roads, one directly out our window that seems to be quite a major thoroughfare. Behind us is a river lined with a rickety dirt road, small flats, and make-shift convenience stores. Locals congregate along the concrete ridge of the riverside while their children play, chickens wander excitedly around, and stray dogs search for food scraps. Across the waterway, a majestic and spacious Hindu temple is under construction.

The stark contrast between our hotel, and the living conditions immediately behind our place is striking. We understand that the average person makes about $100 a month and a significant percentage of ones salary goes to the church. But Bali is alive with color and laughter. The people are extremely friendly and welcoming- whether on a tourist street or walking down a dirt road. The sweet smell of fresh flowers and burning incense wafts into every corner and the daily offerings to the gods, called Canang Sari, brighten every doorway. In our differences, there is understanding. People come here to get away, and the locals seem to understand the magic of their country. There is beauty in this. The unique culture here is what sets Bali apart from the other places we’ve been to. There is no word to describe it, you must see it for yourself. It’s the best paradise we’ve seen yet.

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