Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Nepal Thoughts, Transit Rambles, and Indonesia!

I've been on a 2 day journey from Kathmandu, Nepal to Bali, Indonesia so I've had a lot of time to think about my experiences thus far. Before I get too into it,  for all of you that have read the book Eat, Pray, Love and are seeing some similarities, yes I'm going from India to Indonesia like she did. But that's pretty much the end of it!  I didn't go to India to pray, the only thing I'll be loving in Indonesia is the coral reefs and white sand beaches, and I never go to any foreign country to eat. I'm the pickiest eater on the face of the planet, I'm more likely to starve to death. I've always had an innate dessire to see the world, but at some point I'm going to have to put a career first, so thus I've lumped a huge trip together so I can see my top picks before I get (somewhat) serious about life. And hopefully I'll have some idea what I want to do with this somewhat serious life by the time I return. .. .But if I don't, I won't be surpirsed or disappointed.

So now that that's out of the way, let's talk about Nepal. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, but in terms of physical beauty, friendly people, and outdoor activities, it is also one of the richest. Nepal is curerntly at that magical place where all the infrastructure and activities you need and want are there, but hasn't been ruined by mass resort-centred tourism. Granted if you want a luxourious and comfortable holiday, Nepal is not for you. But if you're like me and love the outdoors, genuine experiences, and don't mind roughing it a bit, Nepal can be your playground.

I've learned a lot while here. I've learned how to live with a maximum of 6 hours of electricity a day. It's the dry season when the dams aren't generating much power here, so they just don't have electricity! Can you imagine how well that would go over at home?? There would be riots in the street!! I've also learned that hand sanitizer is a magical substance that can multitask as an anticeptic AND deoderant! Scientifically tested and proven in the Himalayas by me, my friends! I've learned I hate curry. . . .Indian curry, Nepali curry, Thai curry, Malaysian curry, Burmese curry. I've tried them all and not a one have I enjoyed. So I'm offically giving up on curry. Finally, I've learned that showers and toilet paper, so coveted in the western world, are actually extravegant luxuries, and I shouldn't be so spoiled as to expect them on a daily basis!

Have I had any magical revelalations about my place in the world? No. Don't believe all the hype, all these travel novels (as the one above mentioned) that tell you that that trip you've just been dying to go on will solve all your miseries and help you discover your true meaning in life. It won't. Lucky for me, I had very few miseries to start off with. As for my place in the world, I'm finding travel, if anything, confuses the matter even more. Why do some people, like myself, have so much while others have so little? Not just material things, we come from a land of infinite possibility, from the second we are born we are told we can do anything, be anything, all we have to do it work a little at it. In India and Nepal you are born into your caste, from the second these people are born they are told who they're going to be and what they're going to do. There's little to no choice in the matter. So in the land of a million choices, shouldn't we be happier? For some reason, I find in general we're not. Why are so many of us unfulfilled, feeling like something is missing, like we should be more than we are? Maybe it's because this is what we have been taught to believe. If you can do anything, why are you (or I) serving people food, that's not good enough. Sitting at a desk? You're better than that. We are smarter, highly educated, and we deserve more. Maybe we are set up, from birth, to be disappointed in ourselves. OR maybe I'm spouting total crap! Maybe if the Nepalis and Indians had half the opportunities we did they'd be at the top of the world right now. Maybe we are not just the land of a million choices, but the land of a million self involved, ungrateful winers! Which do you think? I sure don't know! But before I get too philosophical here, my point to you is that travel is going to elicit more questions than answers. Especially if you are visiting regions more disadvantaged than your own. If it doesn't, you're not looking hard enough and you're missing the point. . .But that's another rant entirely.

So now I am in Indonesia. 24 hours of layovers and waiting in airports for 3 flights combined to equal only 10 hours in the air. SIGH. At the Singapore airport I got screwed over. One of the best airports in the world but all the amenities are inside security. Because I was changing airlines I had to collect my baggage and couldn't check back in for another nine hours. So all the free internet, beds, restaurants, butterfly and botanical gardens, pool, and TVs were within my reach, just through a glass door and x-ray machine, but I couldn't enter until my damn airline opened it's booth and checked my baggage, nine hours from the current time. Lovely. I guess I could have argued with the airport officials, but I just accepted my crappy fate. Others may have been smarter, but after living in the far end of the third world for the last month and a half I wasn't that hard to impress. Everything was so clean and shiny here! I drank a real hazelnut latte (for a real $5) and left my wallet sitting in front of me on the table and didn't fear it being snatched. I watched the people in their modern clothes. Shorts! And tank tops! And no one was gawking at them like they were deranged Western sluts. The holy grail of my whole Day In The First World experience was a trip to the washroom. Glistening and pristine, I nearly jumped up and down with glee when I saw the western toilet, freshly cleaned, with *gasp* toilet paper! WOW! It just doesn't get any better than this folks.

Kuta Beach just before a storm 
So I finally arrived in Denpasar, Indonesia at local time 10:30pm. It's always a little unsettling to arrive alone, at night, in an unknown locale. But I am getting used to this travel thing, and it wasn't so bad. I met two solo guys going to Kuta Beach as well and we decided to share a cab. One guy was French Canadian and his accent was comforting reminder of my Whistler home. He had even BEEN in Whistler for a month before he'd left for this trip. So we talked about my home while we slid through the night to Kuta beach. We got dropped off on the side of the road about a km from Kuta, unannounced by the cab driver who was not very helpful with directions (I think he was pissed that he got three of us for the price of one, even though we gave him a good tip. Bad Karma coming his way!). So we got lost and spent the next hour wandering around looking for our hotels. Thunder was rumbling and as we wound our way down the allies and lanes near Kuta the lightning cracked and instantly a waterfall of rain fell from the sky. Just like in the movies! We ran for cover but we were already soaked, the streets filled up with water. After a short downfall it stopped and I was able to slosh through the puddles to my hotel for the evening.

Me and Carly by our hotel pool
Kuta Beach. A sun soaked strip of land lined with vendors and hawkers of every kind. Everything you could ever want or need is at your fingertips here - except any form of peace, quiet, or solitude. After India and Nepal, Kuta is a laugh-out-loud easy place to find my way. It is also glaringly unauthentic, commercial, and Westernized. But I'm ok with that, for a change. A day after my arrival I met up with Carly J. from home. We sipped beers with my new French Canadian buddy while we wandered the main strip, dodging hawkers selling everything from fake label sunglasses to hard drugs. We paid our condolences at the Kuta bombing memorial, then proceeded that evening to one of the biggest clubs on Bali. 6 floors of fake-tanned Westerners jostling to dance music, hip hop, or tech house. They even give you free drinks and snacks between 10pm and 12am. . .Although there's not much alcohol in them.

The next 2 days consisted of lounging by the pool, shopping in street stalls, surfing, and indulging in Kuta's many restaurants, including McDonalds. Hell yes I ate a Big Mac meal, on brand new wooden patio furniture, ocean side, with zero shame! All that surfing works up an appetite. Kuta actually has decent surf . . . If you don't mind wading amongst the trash. That beach is covered, from tip to tip,
in an excessive amount of garbage. It's disgusting, Kuta get your act together! So me and Carly bobbed around with the plastic wrappers and tried to catch some waves, with varying degrees of enjoyment and success. I guess the board rental only cost $3 for the day. Despite coating myself in SPF 70, my poor white limbs got toasted and I am now a lovely shade of pink. So currently I'm on a white sand island surrounded in crystal clear waters hiding from the sun. SIGH. Happy to report, however, that Gili Trawangan is garbage free. I found myself the cutest little bungalow maybe 1 minute from the beach with my own porch, bathroom, and breakfast included for $9. Saaweeeet! I also signed up for my PADI open water scuba dive course. I start tomorrow and this is literally a life long dream finally coming true for me! So I will be parked on Gili Trawangan for the next 4 days at least. I'll let you know how it goes :)


  1. I had a huge smile when I saw the picture of the BIG MAC!!! So glad you found your Birthday Quest at last. Enjoy your Oasis on the beach, sounds perfect, so nice after the trek!

    Val & Harreson

  2. Googled Gili Trawangan and it looks amazing - I could enjoy this place! I know you've wanted to do the scuba dive course for a long time and it looks like a spectactular place to dive in. Enjoy! Love, Mum

  3. It was one of the best big macs I ever ate! It is quite nice but I'm not here for the peak season...Which is good for finding a cheap room....But it's been cloudy and rainy and haven't gotten many good pictures. And I just figured out how to comment on my own blog! Didn't know I could!