Saturday, September 24, 2011

Borneo to Bali

My hotel in KK was many things—cheap and friendly, mostly—but it was not really that on-the-ball as far as having a clue what to do with a tourist. And so I left in the morning and carried my luggage to the nearest taxi stand. Because asking at the front desk resulted on in my obviously incorrect assessment that the hotel had never encountered a tourist that might need to go to the airport before.

I left my bag at the AirAsia luggage drop and sniffed around the discount terminal—with its disappointing options—for some coffee.

Sniff turned out to be the right word. The KFC was open this early, but someone must have vomited in the nearby bathroom. The workers had set up a fan directly across from the registers, but I didn't think I could hack breakfast with the stink of vomit in the dining area. I fled to passport control and found coffee behind the departures barrier.

Air Delaysia lived up to its nickname but still got me to Kuala Lumpur in plenty of time to catch the flight to Bali. Though their free-for-all boarding was a mess. But they redeemed themselves by singing Happy Birthday to a passenger.

In Kuala Lumpur, I couldn't get online via the airport wifi, which just didn't work for some reason. I pushed into the already-packed Starbucks, bought a coffee, and sat down. I was frantic for a connection—I would be in Ubud tonight and what I really needed—given my late arrival time—was a hotel.

Damn. Prices sure had gone up in Ubud in the last decade. And what's this? Single women of a certain age prowling about town are thought to be Eat, Pray, Love aficionados on some kind of soul-searching, man-scouting retreat? Ugh, shoot me now.

I scoured the discount sites—lastminute, laterooms, latestays, wotif—they all have the same inventory, I think. I cross-referenced with TripAdvisor reviews.

A common theme seemed to be "loud rooster crowing starting at 4 a.m."

I clicked "Buy" on a decent place past the Monkey Forest, and watched as a new email came in.

What's this? I'd signed up to volunteer at the Ubud Writers Festival after being ignored when I sent an email to them offering to be on panels.

I was now an official volunteer. Great! And I needed to dress nice. A "frock," no less. Uh-oh.

I hurried off to my plane. And at the other end, I waited.

Waited at Immigration. Waited at the taxi line.

But the dinner and room in Ubud at a cute little place called Saren Indah took the edge off.

Tomorrow I'd find a place to live for the month. And apparently, a frock as well.

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