After two short flights from Penang (via Kuala Lumpur) we arrived at the Denpasar airport in Bali. Along with every kiwi and Australian who walks through that airport we thought of Schapelle Corby and did a thorough check of our backpacks when we pulled them off the luggage belt. Not to mention the fact that our bags were locked up in every which way to avoid tampering. We had a case of the Corby jitters. However, the customs process was smooth and we were out the airport before you could mutter, “I wonder if she did it”.

Our next mountain to overcome was getting out the airport. We were staying only a few kilometers from the airport, but the taxi driver insisted on 300,000 rupiah ($30NZD). The traffic is very bad, he bargained. With little other option, the impending darkness, and the Corby jitters, we decided to get in the car and reluctantly hand over the money. The taxi proceeded to join a long line of traffic and we realized we may have been better of walking. After 15 minutes the driver turned into an alleyway, barely big enough for one car, with tall brick walls either side of the street. The alleyways were ominously dark. It soon became apparent that the taxi driver was lost. He asked us for directions, but we had no idea where we were. He stopped the taxi and called our hostel for help. We proceeded to continue back and forth through the narrow streets, seemingly making little progress. Our driver thought this was hilarious. Thankfully it was at least a fixed fare and we were getting our money’s worth. Eventually we found the hostel and he left us to walk the last 100m as the lane was too narrow to drive through.

Having not eaten anything since breakfast, we were starving. However, we were also terrified to go outside back into the dark streets and the nearest restaurant was a few blocks away. The man at the desk recommended takeaways and ordered us food to be delivered. Our savior arrived with two large bowls of noodles only a short time later.

Kuta Beach, Bali

The next day, in the safety of the sunshine, we ventured outside. It was a 20 minute walk to the beach along a labyrinth of narrow winding alleys and blind corners. There were few other people walking on the street, with most opting to ride motorbikes and scooters. It was a tense walk, with no footpaths to speak of and many speeding bikes to dodge. However, we made it to the beach along with thousands of our closest friends. Although it was crowded, it was a beautiful beach that stretched well into the distance.

The hawkers hit almost instantly. I did not want a sarong, I did not want a tattoo, and I most definitely did not want a bow and arrow set. Yes, that’s right; you can buy a sophisticated looking bow and arrow set on the beach. I have no idea what the purpose of this was. I hope that it was a fishing set. We wandered down the beach, stopping a few times to watch the many surfers attempt to catch waves.

After lunch, Ben and I hired boards from one of the many surf board rental shops. We were each given a beaten-up, waterlogged, foam long-board and told not to go out too far. The main break was around 2 meters and much too big for us beginners. We instead stayed closer in and had no problems catching the shore break. It was a blast, but we quickly grew exhausted, battling the surf to catch the next wave. We lasted less than an hour before dragging ourselves and our boards slowly back up to the shop. We were “beached as” and crashed out in our beds early. We only had two nights in Kuta before we beach hopped down the coast.

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