The first week in Bali is over. Schwups, gone.
A lot of it is just how I imagined it to be:
- It’s hot and sticky in Bali.
- The tribers are amazing. Everyone is open, easy-going, helpful and enjoys life.
- We do, actually, work a lot. Seriously, we do!
- The villas are gorgeous, just like the photos on the website promised. Here’s one of mine, from Villa 2 where I’m staying:
Here’s what I wasn’t expecting, or didn’t know to expect:
Food, Drinks and “Bali-Belly”
Food is beautiful and yum-yum-yummy:
You can get anything and everything here, and it’s dirt-cheap. Dining out at a Warung (Balinese restaurant, usually family-run) usually costs no more than 7€, including starter, main dish, and a drink.
In most cases, the drinks makes up at least 50% of your bill. Alcohol is more expensive here than food. One cocktail usually costs more than a main meal.
No matter how good the food, “cook it, peel it, or forget it” should still be a motto to live by, lest you draw the wrath of Bali-belly down on you. Yes, this is an actual thing. Walk into a pharmacy and tell them you’re suffering from “Bali-belly”, and they know exactly what you’re talking about and which remedy to hand to you.
I had Bali-belly for two days, starting on the third. Considering that most people allegedly have it for about a week, I got off easy.
The only rule of Bali-traffic: there are no rules.
No, wait: drive on the left side. I guess that’s a rule.
Actually, I was expecting this no-rules policy. Enough people who’ve visited Bali told me about the crazy driving and full streets. But I’ve found the driving actually isn’t crazy, just a bit disorganized. There’s too much traffic for it to get fast, ergo it never gets really crazy. It looks chaotic and intimidating, but there is a flow to it. A kind of dance, almost.
Who really needs traffic lights, after all?
No, what I find more intimidating than the actual driving or lack of rules, is the width of the roads. Half the size of a “Landstraße” (country road) in Germany, the Balinese still manage to fit two oncoming cars next to each other. Plus a scooter or two. Or maybe even three.
The only explanation I’ve come up with on how they all fit: magic. These Balinese roads must be infused with elastic-road magic.
Apropos scooters. More people use scooters to get around than they use cars. Far more. This results in herds of scooters traveling along the narrow roads like wildebeest streaming across the African plains. Every now and then, an elephantine car will manage to insert itself and get washed along in the throng. Big intersections (one of them known as the “crossing of death”) become as intense, perilous and tempestuous as a wildebeest river crossing.
I will try to get a good photo of the rampant Bali traffic for the next post. For now, let’s move on to…
Yes, there’s lots of it. We’re in the tropics, after all.
Flying black bugs the size of your palm.
Pretty neon-colored dragonflies.
Geccos that call “ge-cko, ge-cko, ge-cko” to each other in volumes that rival bickering budgies.
And tree-climbing frogs who at dusk come wall-hopping out of the picture frames which they’ve made their daytime homes and which hang inside the villas. We see this one emerge every night:
And yes, it hops along the wall. It doesn’t stick to crawling. It hops off the wall like we might off the ground, and it lands back on the wall just like we would the ground. Somehow, gravity works perpendicular on tree-climbing frogs.
It makes me feel like we’re at Hogwarts.
Which doesn’t seem as far fetched as it may appear. Bali is at least as magical.