Today I woke up at 8am to try and start the day early. I moseyed on down to the kitchen patio and asked for a banana pancake, which surpassed all my expectations. I sat by myself bt before long I was surrounded by others also looking for their first meal of the day. It is amazing how fast one makes friends when put in strange situations. Had I chosen to travel with someone else, I don’t think I would have become as close with the other Hostel mates. I wouldn’t have pushed myself to go say hello in their group conversations because I would have already found a friend. Since it is just me, I have overcome the anxiety of walking up to a group of worldly people chatting about big ideas and just saying, “Hello, may I sit with you?” The answer is always yes and I am welcomed with smiles. It’s only day 2 and I already have made plans with people to go to dinner, yoga, shopping, and swimming in the pool.
So, back to the story, here’s the rundown of my day: after breakfast I put my bathing suit on and sat by the pool for a bit and enjoyed the sunlight. At around 1030 I left to go to the Yoga Barn, the place where everyone goes for yoga classes apparently. It is about a 25 minute walk is you are taking your time and you have to pass by the Monkey Forest. Of course I got a little lost on my way there and ended up just getting lunch by myself instead. I went to this cute little place with an open deck and just a straw roof on top. I ordered chicken satay and Balinese coffee with a French press. Chicken satay is essentially chicken kabobs with peanut sauce and a mildly spicy sauce. It is served with rice on the side. The coffee was the best I have ever tasted. It was thick and dark but had rich flavor and a sweeter taste. I never thought I would say this but it was definitely better than Dunkin’ Donuts.
After I finished my meal, I ventured into the monkey forest. Others had told me that they can be fairly aggressive and will steal anything they can get their hands on so I was on high alert the entire time. The cobble stone path wound in between wide and tall trees with vines reaching from the top of the canopy all the way to the floor. The monkeys had free reign over the entire property, swinging from the vines, scurrying up the trees, and stealing bananas out of tourist’s hands. I was also told not to feed the monkeys bananas because it is bad for them and can be dangerous to feed them seeing as they do have very sharp teeth. The locals apparently call the stands selling bananas to tourists “Monkey Business.” Fortunately, I did not get scratched bitten or even climbed on, however tourist who got too close were swatted, smacked, and scratched. In the Forest were also temples and places of prayer, making it feel like a real jungle and not just a tourist attraction in the city. I’m glad I went to the monkey forest once, although I will definitely not go again.
After that I went to the get a massage, which was interesting. I thought the back chopping was only a thing they do in the movies, but I practically jumped off the table with surprise when she started to chop my back. Finally I decided to venture back because I was sure I had burned my shoulders and my feet were screaming in agony with two different sets of blisters from two sets of shoes. I again went in the pool for way to long, but interestingly enough I met a man from New Hampshire. Small world!
To end my relaxing day I went out to dinner with a British woman and got “prawns with curry” which I realized were just shrimp after too long of faking conversations about them. It is remarkable how inexpensive it is to have a good meal in Bali. For two glasses of wine and a delicious meal it was less than 200,000 RP, which comes out to about $15. A meal like that in the states would cost about $50 to $60.
When I returned form dinner I sat on the patio with some of my new friends and talked about languages and places we’ve been. In a refreshing way, I felt a little inadequate. Everyone (except the Americans) speaks a minimum of two languages fluently, and often bits and pieces of other languages. Many people have traveled to so many places I had never even thought of. After telling my story and plans to people back home and receiving answers like, “wow you are so brave,” or “oh my gosh you are so cool I wish I could do that.” It was so refreshing to not be “cool.” In fact I am entirely below average. This is my first big trip, which I am proud of because you have to start somewhere, but so many other people will have multiple answers to the question, “What is your favorite place you have visited.”
All my life I have struggled with not being challenged enough and I think that in my world at home I had come to the far corners of the box I was living in. Coming to Bali and meeting different people has stretched my box and made me feel like there are no walls. I feel so much smaller, in the best way possible. Everyone needs a little reality check every once in a while.