09/12/2013 - 13/12/2013
Our flight to Bali wasn’t until the afternoon, so we had a relaxed morning to prepare ourselves in Singapore first, which made a nice change. It also meant that our flight landed during sunset, which was beautiful. I don’t generally think of taking photos out of aeroplane windows, but on this occasion I did:
We were fortunate to be able to stay with Jamie’s friend Anya, especially as funds were running low. We took a taxi to where she lives, though it took the taxi driver a while to find it – it’s slightly out in the sticks. It’s a lovely place though – very rustic – I wish I’d taken some photos of it actually. You get a lot of creatures inside the house, which isn’t great, though kinda adds to the charm. Well, the lizards and frogs do anyway – I wasn’t so sure about the rats! Although I only found out about those on the day I was leaving, so that was fine. I don’t think I’d have slept on the mattress on the floor otherwise!
It was really nice to see Anya and she was a great host. We had a really nice evening of drinking wine and chatting.
I was only in Bali for a few days, though Martta and Jamie stayed a few days longer. It was near the start of rainy season, so unsurprisingly there was a decent amount of rain, though the first day there was gloriously sunny and very hot. We had a lazy morning of sleep, then went to a nearby café for breakfast. We actually went there every morning for breakfast, for which they were greatly appreciative. We made good use of their wi-fi too.
That afternoon, Anya took us to Canggu beacha and then along to Echo Beach to watch the sunset and have some food. Both of which were pretty awesome. I can’t share the food with you, of course, but here’s the sunset:
The following day was designated as our shopping day. We all needed to get some souvenirs / Christmas presents. Anya recommended Kuta as a good place for that, so we took a taxi there (after breakfast of course). The rain was pretty bad, plus we later found out there’d been a tornado there, not long before we arrived. Still, we split up in order to be as efficient as possible in our shopping, then met back at a bar for drinks and lunch. I thankfully found an awesome little shop full of handicraft type souvenirs for really reasonable prices, so I got most of my Christmas presents sorted. I think it was called ‘Cinderella’s’, if you’re curious. One thing that I personally found quite curious about my shopping experience in Kuta was the abundance of decorated phalluses. My favourite was an enormous glitterball-esque one. I might have been tempted to buy it if it wouldn’t have taken up the vast majority of my backpack! Although I’ve no idea what I’d have done with it, so that was probably for the best.
My last day in Bali was quite a relaxed affair. I just wanted to chill out by the beach with a drink (or two). The weather wasn’t great, but it was a lot better than the day before. We found a nice bar with some comfy seats, so it was all good. After a really nice dinner at Betelnut Café, we headed back to Anya’s so I could shower and pack. We then went for a farewell (to me) drink at our breakfast joint and got them to call me a taxi to the airport. Taxis would sometimes take up to 45 minutes to arrive, so I allowed a lot of time for this. But of course this meant that the taxi turned up in about 5 minutes. Oh well.
I got to the airport about 2 hours before check-in. There’s nowhere to go prior to departures (plus not much afterwards either), so I just found a spot on the floor (like lots of other people) and reflected on things for a while. When I did then get to check in, my heart sunk a bit when I was told that I’d need to collect my bag in Shanghai and check back in again. I’ve never had to do that on a connecting flight before. It was only because Bali Denpasar Airport doesn’t use the proper luggage tag system that most other airports use – the ones with barcodes that determine where your luggage needs to go – they just have hand-written tags. Considering it’s a new terminal, this was somewhat baffling. Still, I had 3 hours for my connection, so it wasn’t too much of a worry. At least not until the flight was then delayed by an hour and a half. Then it was a worry.
On arrival in Shanghai, I made my way through passport control as quickly as possible. I was slightly concerned about my lack of visa, even though I wasn’t going to be staying, but thankfully they issue a 1 day temporary visa stamp. It wasn’t that quick a process to get through passport control, but I still then had to wait about 10 minutes for my bag to come off the plane. If it had been there straight away then I’d probably have just made the check-in for my connecting flight, but as it was, I didn’t. It was so frustrating to miss it by only 10 minutes, as the flight still didn't leave for another 35. There was one other girl, Emily, who was in the same position. She was really upset about it, but at least I wasn't alone.
There was only one flight to London a day, so we got put up in a hotel for the night, plus given some food. Sounds pretty good, but the hotel was freezing and in the middle of nowhere, plus the food wasn’t great. Still, it was ok. The only thing that really bothered me was that it meant missing the Cerys gig that I’d been planning to go to the following night in Maidenhead!
Still, the following day we successfully got on the flight to London. It’s a 13 hour flight, which is quite possibly the longest single flight I’ve ever been on. Not by much, but still, it seemed to last forever. It didn’t help that we encountered really bad turbulence about an hour from London. I’ve never felt such a big plane drop so much. It wasn’t fun. The air staff combated this by putting on a video of tai chi exercises we could do from the comfort of our seats (it was a Chinese airline). Kinda sweet really, though as cynical Brits, Emily and I started wondering if they were trying to prepare us for our deaths! Thankfully we didn’t die (obviously), but the landing was quite scary too – the plane was swaying side to side and then wobbled about quite a bit after touching down. It was a big relief to get off, I have to say. My Mum met me in arrivals and drove me back to hers, where I’m currently staying.
So that’s it – the end of the trip and the end of this blog. It’s been pretty epic and definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I have to thank Jamie for it – it was very much his brainchild and it’s not something I could or would have done without him. He’s a great person to travel with and his sense of direction (and GPS on his phone!) were essential on so many occasions.
Yes it’s sad that we didn’t end the trip together – both in terms of flying back at the same time and also in the sense of remaining a couple – but it was still an amazing 8 months of travel, plus an incredibly memorable (and mostly wonderful) 4 years and 9 months as a couple. We must have notched up a fair few air miles in that time!
I now face the prospect of looking for a job and somewhere to live, but I guess that’s its own new adventure (albeit one that doesn’t require its own blog!).