Bali is a magical place; one of my favourite places in the world. But for some reason, my recent travels there were pretty much plagued with mishap after mishap. Obviously none of these ruined my trip in the slightest, and in fact most of them were pretty funny at the time – or at least a few days later. I’ve already written about ‘Ratgate’ and the boat trouble which almost left us stranded on New Year – undoubtedly the worst of the problems we had. But here are a few more anecdotes from our two weeks in Bali; not misadventures per se, just some unforeseen inconveniences which added to our toil. Travelling would be boring if everything went perfectly, right?
That one time I got electrocuted
I guess there isn’t a whole lot to say about this one; the story pretty much tells itself. We were staying in a cute little homestay in Ubud (the one we fled to after Ratgate but couldn’t get into) and we’d just got back from a slightly terrifying but generally brilliant afternoon white water rafting on the Ayung River.
Sidenote: I really genuinely thought we might die white water rafting, and was very dramatic about it. Balinese safety measures don’t exactly meet UK standards and I wasn’t sure we’d make it to the end intact – but needless to say, we did. It was hilarious and involved a lot of almost falling out of the boat and laughing in pity at the guy who was with us and just couldn’t manage to stay on his seat. Even though it was great fun, we were slightly concerned that we might contract some kind of water-borne disease from all the river water we’d accidentally consumed. Maybe that was the cause of all the impending illness – who knows.
So anyway, we got back to our homestay, scrubbed clean of potential cholera and tried to figure out a way to get the river smell off our clothes (I subsequently ended up throwing my t-shirt away, it was that bad). I was lying down on the bed trying to download the 45-minute long GoPro footage from our river adventure when I accidentally pulled the extension cable off the bedside table. I quickly reached down to pick it up and boy was I in for quite a shock (I’m sorry, I had to). I felt the power surge up my hand all the way through my body, and couldn’t feel my arm for about an hour afterwards. When I turned the extension lead off at the mains and picked it up, I realised that the casing had come off when it fell. I’d touched the live wires in the back, most of which, as you can see, were bare and crudely soldered onto the terminals. Really, really not recommended.
The Scorpion Hotel (which probably gave us all Bali Belly)
The wildlife of Bali definitely seemed to have something against us, but if it comes down to a competition between scorpions and rats, I’ll take the scorpions any day. After our time on Gili T (which compared to everywhere else was pretty uneventful, in terms of mishaps) we moved on to Gili Air – the chilled out, quiet version of its sister island. Getting there by boat was positively relaxing in comparison to our first boat of the trip, and after 10 minutes of queueing plus another 10 minutes on the boat were there! So simple!
Like the other Gili Islands, there’s no motorised transport whatsoever on Gili A, so when we arrived we had to make the decision of either walking to our hotel or getting in a horse and cart. The hotel was round the other side of the island, but we felt terrible about subjecting the poor horses to lugging around our suitcases. Ellie flat-out refused to get on one, so Nat and I decided to walk with her while Alex accompanied all our bags to the hotel. On first impression, I really liked Gili Air. Its sister, Gili T, was far too crowded and loud for me; having been built up significantly since I’d last been there. The back streets were quiet, with lovely looking resorts dotted along the sand roads and only the occasional bike cycling past us.
When we arrived we were greeted with a freshly squeezed juice – a sign of good things to come, we thought. On the surface, it was pretty nice. The rooms were pleasant enough, the beds looked comfortable, but the longer we spent there the more problems we noticed. First, it was the leaking fridge, then the dirty pool, then the broken sun beds. None of it was really a big problem though, and we enjoyed our afternoon sunbathing by the pool. It was all good until it started to rain torrentially. Like…torrentially. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that much rain in my whole life. In the midst of this monsoon, I was sitting on the terrace when I noticed an enormous scorpion on the bottom step. I’d never seen a scorpion before, and damn those things look nasty. I didn’t really know what to do so I yelled for Alex, who was even more freaked out than me. After much faffing and of course, documenting the creature on snapchat, I used the end of an umbrella to fling it off the porch into the bushes to the side of our room. It definitely wasn’t far enough away for our liking though, and we couldn’t help but think it would make a comeback.
After we’d calmed down, Alex and I ran through the rain to Ellie and Nat’s room to play cards and wait out the downpour. After an hour or so it stopped, so we headed down to the hotel’s restaurant. We were sceptical because no one else was in there (and we were right to be), but we couldn’t be bothered to walk anywhere else so we sat down. The food was AWFUL. So awful that in the following days 3 out of 4 of us were ill…very ill. One day I didn’t even leave the room.
Over dinner, we started talking about the hotel and realised that none of us really wanted to be there. There wasn’t actually much wrong with it in principle – other than the concern that a scorpion might come through the gap under our door in the night – but none of us were feeling it. It was a real step down from the place we’d been staying on Gili T (Scallywags – I highly recommend). It was miles away from anywhere and the main hub of restaurants was a decent bike ride away so we decided to leave the following morning and booked ourselves into Scallywags Hideaway. The hotel receptionists were not happy with us. They insisted we would have to pay for the whole stay, but Nat adamantly objected and after citing of the terms and conditions they gave in to booking.com’s rules. Score.
We definitely made the right decision, particularly because the day after this I couldn’t leave the hotel room all day. I think you all know how that story goes, and if you don’t, I definitely don’t want to write about it.
Piña Coladas, Getting Caught in the Rain (and Near-Death by Horse and Carriage)
After my very sad day spent in the hotel room watching chick-flicks and feeling sorry for myself, I decided I was feeling up to a little adventure to watch the sunset on the other side of the island. After a pretty bumpy cycle over – roads made solely of sand don’t tend to give the smoothest of rides – we settled into some beanbags on the beach ready for a beautiful sunset. The sky was pretty cloudy and there was a storm brewing, but it looked far enough away that we’d be able to enjoy the sunset and make it back to dinner in time. The dramatic sky made for some pretty awesome classic-white-girl-beach-swing pictures, which we were obviously obliged to take in abundance.
Photoshoot over, we returned to our beanbags and cocktails with the sky turning an amazing shade of pink. In the corner of the horizon, we noticed something moving in the sky but didn’t take much notice of it at first. As it got closer, we realised it was a twister. The clouds were swirling around, the funnel growing larger by the minute. It looked like it was coming straight for us and we started to panic a little. One of the waiters from the bar thought this was quite funny and told us it happens all the time, so not to worry. I’m not going to lie though, I did find it very difficult not to worry about a twister coming directly towards me, but the sunset was a pretty good distraction.
All of a sudden, huge droplets of rain started to pelt from the sky, soaking us in seconds. The bar staff rushed into action, pulling all the beanbags off the beach impressively quickly. It was too rainy to cycle back to the hotel, so we ran towards the bar. Everyone has beat us though and all the covered tables were already occupied. The waiter who’d reassured us about the twister took pity on us and lead us into a private area which I think was actually the staff room. He got us drinks and a board game to play while we sat on a little podium with the rain coming down in torrents all around us.
Finally, it died down so we took our chance to leave. It was still spitting a little, but much less than before. The bike ride back to our hotel was nothing short of treacherous. The paths were completely flooded, on top of being extremely uneven. It was also pitch black. We’d cycle around a bend and be greeted with a puddle that came up to our shins, and with a lot of other people fleeing back to the dry safety of their hotels, it was difficult to avoid crashing into them. Also, Alex’s brakes didn’t work. Also…we were a little drunk. The shin-deep puddles and other cyclists were the least of our worries though because around the second corner we encountered a much more terrifying hazard: horse and carts. The only thing alerting you to their presence was a tinkling bell, which upon ringing would send everyone into a frenzy to get out of the way of the invisible horse. This was all absolutely hysterical to us at the time (probably because of all the gin). We were cycling along, soaked, screaming every time we heard a horse bell and very almost crashing into each other at every possible opportunity.
Luckily, we made it to dinner safe and sound, though it’s a miracle we all got back uninjured. The plus side of this whole experience (aside from the sheer hilarity) was that it completely distracted me from how utterly awful I’d been feeling all day. Nothing like nearly crashing your bike into a horse to get rid of Bali Belly!