Day 16

Day 16- Incheon

Honestly I’m not super positive about the days anymore. Back to back flights with little naps in between while shuffling along with a suitcase you tend to lose track of time. Add in a time zone change and your body clock is majorly confused. I know it’s early morning and I know I’m in Korea.

The very unfortunate thing I’ve come to realize is that changing airlines from Asia Air to Hawaiian Airlines means that in order for you to pick up your bags and recheck them in, you must exit the terminal. The terminal has the shops, the food, the services, the everything.

We grabbed our bags and after a full day of traveling we’re in no mood or condition to leave the airport- even for a hotel. THANKFULLY, outside of the terminal area in the “basement” there is a spa. On Air Spa provides guests with a change of clothes, towels, a warm and cool pool, a wet and dry sauna, lockers, naps rooms, and a lounge for 15,000 won. I misheard the lady at the information desk at 50,000 and almost missed out on this gem.

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I wish I could show you pictures and explain to you fully the amazingness of this spa but they had a very strict no photography policy. And I am one to bend the rules… but I would never risk being banned from this heaven on earth. There’s complimentary shower creams, hair products, face products, even cotton squares and q-tips!

The nap rooms and lounge has flat bean bag like things, mats, and block cushions for pillows. It was worth every single penny to wash up, rest up, and the noisiest thing there is suitcases rolling out as people leave. I would seriously consider bringing this kind of accommodation to Honolulu.

We killed a couple hours here and ate a good meal before we were able to check in to our flight. Almost there πŸ‘‹πŸ»

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Day 13 pt 2

Our highlights of the day had to be the temples. I swear the parking attendant and person guarding the bathroom are making up their own positions. I’d love to set up at a park at home and charge tourists to use the facilities. And be sure to pay after you use the bathroom not before otherwise you will get stopped and asked to pay again. I stood firm though, I wasn’t about to pay another 23 cents!

Also, the women working the shops before the temples are very convincing that you need a sarong prior to entering the temple. In that respect they are correct. They fail to mention that free ones are available and encouraged. Those sneaky ladies want to charge you 20,000 rupiah too. It doesn’t sound too bad at $1.50 but if you keep going you’ll hear 10,000! I eventually heard two for 10,000. Obviously my face reads sucker because I would have paid the 20k.

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Michael’s on the hand reads local. With his darker complexion, big eyes, and prominent nose he fits right in. The Balinese have a Filipino look to them and are quick to talk to Michael. Once they see his scared and confused face they try again, obviously disappointed and in English “where are you from?” I swear this happened more than a handful of times. I get “your face like Asia yeah? Japanese?” πŸ‘©πŸ» yes Japanese. “You speak?” No.. (more disappointment)

I think thats why we weren’t really approached in the temples. I often saw guides and overhead men explaining to tourists about the history and culture but assuming Michael knows what he’s doing we weren’t offered any help. It was fine though and we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless.

The first temple was Pura Tirta Empul or a holy water temple built around or over a natural spring. Tourists and local alike come for its cleaning properties. The baths were very full and looked very cold. We were told it’s clean but the amount of people packed in there did not convince us. Many Balinese people go there to cleanse themselves and pray or we also observed them talking the water back by the gallon. Our driver said that is very common and many people come here.

Next was Gunung Kawi Temple known for the large carvings in the cliff face and surrounding rice fields. Oh man but they made you work for it. Flights and flights of stairs going down and heavy breathing individuals coming up. The shops selling sarongs and trinkets also lined the stairs. It was definitely worth the trek with many parts to the temple. On our way up we bought two sodas for 40,000 rupiah which I was like hm sounds expensive… but I’m thirsty whatever $3. About 10 min later when we arrived at the top, a man was yelling 5,000 rupiah! 5,000 rupiah! For a can of soda… I was like damn. But easy going Michael just said she obviously needed it more than us- so don’t worry about it.

We also visited Goa Gajah or Elephant Cave. It was much smaller than Gunung Kawai Temple but the rock carving was still amazing. While roaming around we found a small temple in the back. And small old woman was there prepping her flowers and incense for prayer. She called me over and two others to be included in her small ceremony. I loved it. I had no idea what was going on but felt it felt so intimate. She gave us flowers, sprinkled water on us, and put rice on our neck and heads. I asked our driver what it meant and he said it was a prayer and the rice symbolizes “clear mind.”

By now it late afternoon early evening and we’re told it’s probably best to head to our hotel because it was getting dark and the temples won’t be open for much longer.

So we say good bye to our driver Agung,
check in, and look for dinner. After all the walking I can’t help but look for a massage. While not as prevalent as Thailand, it’s still available and still ridiculously cheap. For an hour foot massage you can expect to pay about $5-8 USD. And don’t accept sticker price. Weasel them down!

Tomorrow we have an bike tour planned so we’ll need some sleep…

Balinese driving

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Balinese use their horns like warning bells. They even sound more friendly as opposed to a f you. It’s good to see all those in mopeds using helmets, very unlike Thailand. Traffic is pretty bad maybe and seems to be at all hours of the day.

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If possible the driving here is even more insane. Two lanes suddenly means three cars side by side and often a bike lane with mopeds. Cars are still straddling center lines, mopeds overtaking on the left and the right sometimes simultaneously, and no one bats an eye with all this frantic movement. If I ever saw tailgating this would be it. Honk you’re getting to close toot toot thanks for moving from the center to the left honk watch out honk what are you doing honk coming around this corner honk moped you stupid honk don’t try to merge here honk honk do you need a taxi. It’s almost comical how often they use their horn. We’re really not at our full potential America. And truthfully we haven’t seen any accidents and haven’t be that close to being in one either. Although our driver said there are a lot of casualties since sometimes as many as 4 people on a moped… and as young as 8 or 9 driving mopeds as well even though the law is 17.

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Our driver also said that police only ever pull over international drivers, never local because they want to fine them and line their pockets. He said the corruption is very bad here.

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Taxi or taksi drivers and cars are rampant here. I would say more than half of the vehicles on the road are metered. And the honking is nonstop. I think they do it to tourists who are walking to alert them that they are available… I think. Either that or Michaels got really nice legs because I know it’s not me.

Sidewalks are uneven, mismatched, and definitely not for the elderly. Rolled curbs are also the norm since roadways are so narrow that drivers are often pulling over to let another pass or avoid a slow moped. I’d say the two lanes are equivalent to a lane and a half that were used to in the US. Maybe only 12-15 ft wide? Probably also why the standard car looks about the size of a Toyota Carolla. No one ever seems openly upset at being cutoff or having to let another through despite all the noise.

We hageΒ a full day of driving ahead so I will update will more photos and experiences!

Day 11

Day 11- Kuala Lumpur/Denpasar

Early early morning as we navigate the massive airport here in Kuala Lumpur. 7am flight to Denpasar, Bali on Malindo Air. This has got to be one of the nicer and cleaner airlines we’ve flown so far. Flight attendants wear crisp white tops and bright beautiful geometric skirts and perfect hair. The aircraft is newer and for only a 3 hr flight were surprised there’s a screen on every seat.

A free meal of vegetarian curry and naan, I mentioned to Michael there was only a vegetarian option. The flight attendant overheard me and said oh it’s really good though. I said I was okay but idk bout him, jokingly side eyeing Michael. She just replied, it’s always the guys right πŸ˜‰ I couldn’t help but laugh. Then she discretely offered him her crew meal of noodles which of course was way better!

When we arrived in Denpasar International Airport we were happy to see that immigration was almost nonexistent. You don’t need a visa and the officers check your passport and usher you through. A nice start to Indonesia.

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The taxi drivers on the other hand. Oh my. So aggressive. I had researched online to expect to pay about 80k rupiah to the general area of our hotel. The first driver who approached us said 215k and I said what?! She looked a little scared and offered 200k. And I said no. She then went down to 180k and I left. Little did I know… we walked down a ways and the next driver approached and said 300k. I said no and he tried again 250k. At this point I was wondering how good my research had been. The third driver the most persistent started again at 300k. I said no way inside was 180k. I was trying really hard to get it down to 150/160k and he’s rattling off oh airport parking, oh petrol, oh this and that. I said I’m not paying for parking! (That’s what I read online, don’t get suckered into paying all their fees). In the end he gave up and said okay 180,000 rupiah which is under $14 USD for a 30 min trip. Essentially I was tired and irritated over probably $6… but no one wants to feel taken advantage of! I think Michael felt sorry for them. My inner Chinese lady at the market came out today!

Day 10

Day 10- Ao Nang/Kuala Lumpur

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Okay for real, our last time in Ao Nang and bye bye Thailand. Β I feel like I’ve been saying that for three days. Everything to see or do here is water oriented and I think we’re about waterlogged right now. We’ve swam, snorkled, been on the long tail boat, and kayaked so I think we hit all the main attractions. We missed Phi Phi Island due to the unpredictable weather but I imagine it’s like the other 82615183 other islands we saw. So last night we caught up on some Netflix franΓ§ais. Merci beaucoup Vanessa! PSA: remember to log out of your account.

So a quick brekkie, massage, lunch, shuttle, airport. Again the shuttle was about 30 min late but we got there in the half the time because the driver was driving like a maniac. Like Thailand maniac so US suicidal… can’t complain for 300 baht!

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Asiaair you sneaky bastards. Prebooking seats, meals, baggage, etc is clearly all the rage. You cater to those who preordered food first then go back along the aisle to sell the remaining meals. You repeatedly announce the ‘hot seats’ are for your premium guests. We get it πŸ˜‚ we’re being cheap!

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Bout an hour and a half south we arrive in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Ok. DMK, Thailand airport was ghetto. BKK, Thailand airport okay okay not bad πŸ˜‰. Krabi, Thailand airport uhm did I miss it? Chiang Mai, Thailand airport o-k. KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA WHY ARENT WE TALKING ABOUT YOU? There’s literally a sign that says, ‘a mall with an airport’ and I think that’s pretty accurate. It feels like we’re in a full shopping mall with food courts and everything. We barely left the airport to check into a rinky dink hotel for the night. I’m exaggerating. The hotel is perfectly fine it’s just not like what we’ve been staying at (shout out to Sandy for choosing the best of the best for like $30 bucks a night!).

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Seriously I think we’d come back just to shop. Not to mention our USD to Malaysian ringgit is pretty damn strong. About 1:4 so if you get the chance, I’d say save your shopping for SE Asia. Wishing I really did leave more room for shopping πŸ˜› Then again those baggage fees will blindside you like a linebacker when you don’t check beforehand haha whoops…

Day 5

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Day 5- Ao Nang

An early morning for us we’re picked up a tuk-tuk or a rickshaw. Basically, four of us in the carriage that’s attached to a smaller moped and driver. He also happens to be the captain of our vessel. And by vessel I mean Life of Pi looking wooden raft with a single motor. The motor looks about the size of a small car motor and it sits on the boat on a lever with a propeller on the end, adjustable like an oar. It’s got decent power but then again the water wasn’t too choppy. We island hopped for a few hours and honestly they all started to blur by the second island.

The islands are limestone with very green foliage. We’re told there’s monkeys on some but we didn’t see any. The water has a nice teal color to it but it’s was murky an oddly warm, possibly because of the heavy rains recently. The beaches are overrun with tourists many Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Australian, and American. I think being spoiled in Hawaii made me a bit of a beach snob because I wasn’t impressed. Everyone else was loving it and snorkeling but I’m sure we’ve got nicer beaches and clearer waters. Also, the warm water was really throwing me off. Like warm warm 😳

Midday we stopped on Hong Island while our driver/captain/interpreter/guide/chef made us some Thai dishes. One was a crab curry, a ceviche seafood platter, and traditional Thai chicken. It was pretty good and definitely things that I wouldn’t have chosen myself. By this time the weather took a turn and starting raining. Making the best of it we ran into the ocean instead of back to our boat. We had a mini photo shoot and waited out the rain.

Continuing along, we learned more about the islands and how some have natural barriers for fishing boats to wait out the storms. A couple of islands are even protected sanctuaries, I couldn’t understand if it were protecting the animals or plants or both, but we did a drive by. We saw a lot of fish and jellyfish. We also learned that between high tide and low tide islands can be connected by sandbars, with the water fluctuating as much as 3 meters (almost 10 feet).

It was well worth the 7500 baht ($215 USD) per couple with a very personal tour. I loved the wooden boat and homemade looking engine. Our guides were friendly and knew what they were doing. At one point we stopped at a small island to wait out the winds and rain. The food, drinks, and snacks were all inclusive. They carried everything from life vests to snorkels while we roamed the beach for a spot to set up. Even by the end of the day when we were playing bumper boats to find the best parking spot they made sure we were taken care of.

Too bad the weather couldn’t hold out because we had another tour scheduled with him tomorrow. He said the weather didn’t look good so it was best to cancel. So now that we’ve got a free day, Michael be scouring the internet for our next activity 😜 maybe an ATV tour or something…

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Cultural not norms

Today I come with cultural oddities that are blowing my mind 😜

Definitely driving is an experience. You feel both safe and calm that you’re going to die at any moment. Lanes are really just for fun because no one uses them. And when they do use them, like a turning lane for instance the car is just as likely to go straight as it is to turn. Shoulder lanes are fair game and mopeds come outta nowhere. Pedestrians have no rights and similarly no fear. Also merging is an art. Doesn’t matter there’s a car there you just put your blinker on and somehow you smoothly enter.

Bathrooms. Oh my, where to start. Toilet paper is a luxury. Let me say again, toilet paper is a luxury. Then there’s these weird hoses next to the toilet which I finally figured out was to flush waste down (I didn’t know if was to wash up or what). Sometimes it’s hard to find, I don’t know what to say ‘American toilets’ or not squatting toilets… and then there’s the issue of not putting any paper down the toilet. So there’s often a trash can for you to wipe and then throw away. I don’t know if the whole city is on a cesspool or something but it’s weird to not wipe and just throw it in the toilet. Uhm… sometimes there’s like a bucket and dirty water next to the toilet, also used to manually flush the toilet. Seriously, took me 3 days for me to figure out.

Also napkins and paper towels. Not big here but when you do find them it’s like Kleenex on the dinner table. Do you know how hard it is to wipe up curry with a two ply tissue?

Trust me there’s a lot more but give me a moment to remember them again πŸ˜‚