After arriving on the island of Bali from Singapore, we sought out our pre-booked rental car place at the airport. However, despite booking with a major international car rental company via a major travel service (Travelocity), no car rental humans were to be found. Turns out they took a two week holiday…and didn’t tell anyone. Travelocity’s ‘We’ll make it right guarantee’ was about as useless as their overseas call center I was transferred to. :-/
(Above…our car rental place without the sign lit up)
This would put a fairly major kink in many of our plans, as we expected to be able to explore the island by ourselves. After a bit of time spent trying to get other options (there were none on the island given the holiday period), we simply settled for a taxi to our hotel (some 2 hours away) and figured we’d let the hotel people sort it out.
So…off we went. We saw the below bike/scooter carts everywhere.
About 2 hours later of completely crazy traffic and driving (more on that late) we arrived at our next hotel – the Hanging Gardens in Ubud. This place turned out to be pretty fancy. In Bali, it’s common to have your own villa…and even your own pool. Check it out:
Yes…that’s actually a flower in the loo.
We let the hotel get to work on the car front, as well as getting us a dive place for the next day. Meanwhile, the weather got busy pouring on us. This would turn out to be an every day occurrence in the late afternoon.
The next morning we got up early and headed south about an hour to one of the local dive shops. Normally I’d do a bit of research on the dive shops pre-trip, but I didn’t have the time and instead left it to the hotel. In retrospect this was a bad decision, as the dive shop was sub-par in almost every respect (service, safety, information, etc… – for example, divers should *NEVER* end up running out of air, and two new divers on our dive in our group did).
That said, we made the best of the situation and had a good time on the two dives. It also gave me an opportunity to take the underwater camera case out on a few test dives and start getting used to it underwater before the remainder of our trip/dives.
Check out the below (a rock fish I believe), it blends perfectly into the coral.
However, the Rayfish does not blend in so well.
Here’s a quick video I shot on the second dive – a drift. This is where the current simply takes you along for the ride. The boat then picks you up in a different location than the start. Drift dives can be quite a bit of fun. One thing that’s worthwhile noting for those not as familiar with how light works underwater – the deeper you go, the more color you lose in the visible spectrum without lighting. So, the below video for example looks a bit dull, but if you were to take a flash or light along, you’d be amazed at how bright the colors are (reds, purples, etc…).
After our dive, we headed back to the hotel…and found more rain.
But it soon stopped and we were able to head into town (Ubud) – which is considered the cultural hub of Bali. We wandered around a bit and did some shopping.
The next day (New Years Eve) we did a slew of athletic activities, but I’m going to save those for the next post. Two activities that I won’t save though is first getting trapped in the hotel’s elevator. Now, you have to understand that this is a fairly nice resort (within the top 5 on the island), and that this was their first time the elevator had ever broke. So they were pretty concerned about us after our short 17 minute trapping in there. It resulted in the General Manager, Assistant General Manager, and about everyone else coming down to try and get us out. Luckily, the elevator broke only about 12” below the floor we started (and not fully between floors).
Given they had no experience in this particular endeavor, it was entertaining watching them trying to figure out how to get the doors to pry open for us. The end resultant was an immediate upgrade to the largest suite they had, up on the top of the hillside. It was pretty massive:
It had a view of the temple across the valley floor:
And it had a sitting room. We had no idea what to do with the sitting room:
We also got complimentary food for our entire stay – including New Year’s Eve dinner (very pricey). Basically anything we wanted..was ours. Good stuff!
Oh – and perhaps the highlight of the night was one of the local village schools coming and singing as the year drew to a close. Now, they split the evening half-Christmas related and half-New Years even related. This particular performance is Christmas related. And the video is a bit fuzzy, but the audio is what you want here. I promise you, you’ll be smiling/laughing/something after you watch it. Probably the funniest thing I’ve posted evah!.
After our stay in Ubud we drove to the northern end of the island to a little town called Lovina. In reality, there wasn’t much to do there – but we did have a nice drive up, plus we spent the morning up there on rented scooters (much quieter breach town roads).
We also snorkeled a bit off of a small catamaran boat before heading back down to the southern tip of the Island.
Speaking of water activities…tomorrow’s post will feature our little Bali Triathlon of sorts…with a twist of course – including some awesome videos. Here’s a sneak shot…
Catch ya tomorrow…