The humid, heavy air slapped me in the face.
Palm trees gently swayed in the breeze.
My dreams came true.
I was in paradise.
In truth, I was in Bali. But the urban scene outside of the airport stunned me. Had no clue the place had a city. I envisioned palm trees and beaches, with the odd coconut tree here and there.
Maybe a few locals offering me coconut juice. But not at 2 AM. Wishful thinking.
Fast forward 1 hour. We found a transport, who found the hotel, and we slowly settled into our place in Sanur, at 3:30 AM, Sunday morning.
We left JFK in NYC at 3:30 PM on Thursday afternoon.
That’s a helluva layover. I know.
Kelli and I did spend 1 day laying over in Taipei. 24 hours. At a Novotel. A sweet Novotel. OK, the Taipei Novotel.
How It Started
A few months prior we decided to visit Southeast Asia. My first international trip. My first time on a plane.
So Kelli applies for a few jobs to teach English. We had worked online and built up savings but she felt like she needed an excuse to travel.
The Bali opportunity availed itself. She seized it. We were off to Bali.
The journey started off awesome-sauce. Everything was new to me; the airport, immigration, customs, security lines, all that good stuff.
I vividly recall boarding the plane and taking off, that interesting sensation of weightlessness overtaking me for the first time.
The flight was pleasant enough.
One stop in Osaka for about 2 hours. Cleanest bathrooms I ever saw. Cleanest airport I ever saw; even thought it was my 2nd. Yep; cleanest place I ever saw.
The kindly Japanese lady working security (or who was a police officer?) motioned me and Kelli to head toward a specific gate for those laying over. Although we only chilled for 5 minutes.
Off to Taipei.
Up in the air again.
A little while later – like 2 hours methinks – we landed.
Dizziness overtook me.
At this point I was about 18 hours into the journey.
We looked around for a shuttle to the hotel. Allegedly the shuttle counter should be easily spotted. But it was not.
Eventually we found the counter, hopped the shuttle and as our heads hit the pillow at the Novotel, I went out like a light.
We woke to the most spectacular breakfast buffet, with 50 to 100 – or more? – dishes lined up. Western breakfasts. Asian breakfasts. Lunch fare. All types of fare.
Sufficiently stuffed, I climbed upstairs to rest.
A few hours later, Kelli headed to the spa for a massage and I hit the gym.
We returned to the room. Showered. Hit the sack. Woke up. Hustled back to the airport for a late night flight to Bali.
I recall speaking to a US kid who’d been to Bali many times. He warned me not to exchange money at the airport; because they’d take you to the cleaners.
A while later, up in the air, again, and about 6 hours later we landed on the Island of the Gods.
Bali’s airport was….ummm….consistent with that of a developing nation.
A bit old. A little dirty. Small.
(Note; a few years ago the airport went through a complete overhaul. Delightfully modern, clean and fabulous spot these days.)
As I stumbled toward the immigration counter an officer glared at me with intense eyes. No way I was the first bloodshot, glassy-eyed tourist tripping toward the queue.
He judged me jet-lagged, not blitzed, and as I asked him a question he took the cigarette out of his mouth – I am not joking – and answered.
Off to the baggage claim. Throngs of porter touts hover over us like vultures, grabbing our luggage and asking for money, taking advantage of our stupor-like state.
We refused to change anything past a few bucks at the airport. I handed them those few bucks. The touts looked disappointed. I smiled and left.
We made our way to the transport aka taxi area when the humid, heavy night air hit me smack dab in the face in Bali…..