Tag Archives: Bali

Culture shock and holidays

New routines

It’s been nine days since we’ve come to Bali in the middle of the night and so far I’ve had quite a few ups and downs. These are mainly rooted in the fact that our daily life here differs a lot from the life we had in Australia and it takes time getting used to all of that. Here are a few examples:


  • There is So. Much. To. See. Seriously. While Australia was a lot about wide open spaces and long distances between things for us, Bali is a small island and so far there is always things like houses, temples, people, dogs, chicken, food stalls and restaurants around. So our general pace has slowed down quite a bit but I don’t mind – it’s really interesting!
  • There is always someone around. While it was relatively easy to find a secluded (but still somehow accessible by road) space to camp in Australia, finding that spot would be a real challenge here. I miss being alone in nature sometimes.


  • Exchange rates are in our favour which makes for two of the most considerable changes in our routines. In Australia we mostly slept in our tent and occasionally in beds while staying with hosts. Here accommodation is affordable even with our small budget and so is eating out in food stalls and small restaurants. So we haven’t spent a single night in our tent so far and we haven’t even bought fuel for our stove yet. While that does have its upsides (a shower after cycling in hot humid weather is much needed and appreciated and we love trying all the local food!) it’s not all glittery and shiny for me. As mentioned above I miss being in nature sometimes and I also miss the easy choice of just setting up a tent. In some areas there is no guest house or it might be too expensive for us or we might not feel comfortable. But we need to sleep somewhere every night and tenting would make as a bit more independent instead of having to agree to a price or being uncomfortable. And I miss cooking which comes a bit surprisingly. But I think it’s again the independence of it. Even if there is a lot of food places around, sometimes it’s hard to find the thing we want / need. Most stalls only open at about 10am, so finding breakfast can be a challenge. (Of course there are minimarts but they mostly sell snack foods.) And sometimes when we decide we want to eat something we pass one food stall thinking there will be a lot more soon and there are not. And so on. Tiny complaints in the big picture but my point is, it takes some time getting used to.
  • I am White. I’m saying that matter of factly in a political sense. And being White changes our reality here in a very obvious kind of way. We get more attention from people whether that’s waves and Hellos from kids or more or less persistent sales pitches from shop keepers or guest house owners. Whether I enjoy the Hellos and waves or find the sales pitches exhausting it doesn’t change the fact that there are still persistent racist structures existing in our world and we live in different realities. And that changes interactions. That makes me sad and I hate it but it is true nonetheless.
  • New languages. It was amazing starting our tour in a country where I could speak the language fluently. That made for easy conversations and I absolutely enjoyed getting to know people on the road and having meaningful deep conversations. No such luck here. My Indonesian is not that good and neither is my Balinese. So I’m bumping along with a few words and trying to learn more and speaking with hands and feet in between. That somehow works mostly, is fun sometimes but often I long for more. As cyclists we’re bound to leave the tourist trail and meet people who don’t speak english and our future conversations will be different.

Changing perspectives

I could add so many more points but I trust you get the gist. It’s all about acclimatizing and adjusting at the moment and that’s exactly what we’re doing. As of yesterday we applied a new strategy that works really well: Being caught in a touristy area and having a hard time with all the things above we decided just to be on holiday.


You know, just relax, take it easy and don’t worry too much about getting it right at once. And somehow that simple change of perspective really did the trick: I’m not going to worry about being over budget because of not finding a place for our tent. Instead I’m enjoying our bungalow by the sea and going snorkelling today because soon we might not have this kind of tourist infrastructure. And yes, we’re going out for a drink tonight because I heard that’s what people on holidays do. And how fun it is to try and communicate in a new language! See, all about perspective!


Well, of course not all is going to change and adjusting is still going to be a process. But I want to make it an enjoyable one and one that I can cope with.


That said we also purchased fuel for our stove yesterday and had the most amazing banana pancakes and coffee overlooking the ocean today. Homemade. And later we’re going to write couchsurfing requests to get to know people on a different level. It’s all going to be good.

To Bali

To the airport


One last beautiful dinner with the Canfields and Natalia and Pietr, two other touring cyclists, and we’re off to the airport. Some smaller complications occur as our airline wants to see outward tickets out of Indonesia or we won’t be allowed to board. It all resolves quickly once we learn that we can book ferry tickets to Singapore which we won’t use but it’s still the cheapest way. Mandy and Les stick it out with us, bring us huge coffees (who knows that these are going to be the last italian style coffees for a long time) and once more I’m humbled by their generosity and support.

And then finally it’s time to leave, time for hugs and goodbyes and for one or two tears. It’s all over too quickly but that seems to be the nature of our trip.

Arriving in Bali

A few hours later our flight arrives in the middle of the night and we find ourselves at a quiet airport. The exit area is half outside already and thus we feel the warm air and the first mosquitoes making their way towards us. I’m very tired, so we resolve to get some coffees and food at a rather expensive airport restaurant. But we need some energy before building those bikes back together. The reassembling takes some time and we attract quite a bit of attention. Some people come over for a little chat and some check the pressure in our tyres and test the handlebars. The sun is up as we’re done and it is very warm already. We buy some water for the ride to Ubud as we have yet to find batteries for our purifier.

Towards Ubud


A few days ago we received a voucher for a hotel from our airline and a bit atypically for us we decided to go for it. Usually we don’t bother much with booking ahead but we thought it might be nice to have a place to go to after that redeye flight of ours. Wanting to get out of the busiest area around Denpasar as quickly as possible we planned on a place in Ubud, a town about 40k away.


So we wheel our bicycles out of the airport and face the traffic. From the little research we did, traffic is supposed to be different here. More, louder and all of that. Here in Denpasar that seems to be true. It is seriously busy and crowded but we don’t mind as the drivers take care of us. No one yells at us all day which is quite the improvement in regard to the last months. Thus I feel comfortable riding slowly towards Ubud. After we make an ice cream break on the beach of course.


After that we continue to ride slowly and I’m overwhelmed by all the new impressions. There is So. Much. To. See! There are lots of people around, lots of temples and houses that look like temples. It is loud with continuous honking but occasionally we do find a quiet road. By morning it is already getting hot. We take lots of breaks for water and cold drinks, for food and to get our tyre pressure right.

The cycling is easy and flat but I feel misplaced somehow. My heart is still in Australia, I miss the Canfields and all the love there. Simultaneously I am excited to be here.  Finally we arrive in Ubud, find our room and rest. Maybe we’ll stay here for a few days and take a bit of time to adjust. After going so slowly for so long it seems strange to come here by plane and somehow I’m not quite there yet.