Indonesia

Treacherous Tandem

Midway through our Bali adventure our health went from bad to better to worse over a three week period. It started with me having what we thought was a basic cold consisting of severe morning headaches, cough, sore throat and fatigue. A week after I started feeling better Mike became the next victim. His cold took him out for days, he was laid up in bed too weak to do anything but sleep.

Mike was my ride driving the scooter and the only mode of transportation aside from walking which was almost more dangerous than a scooter. Our daily adventures drastically decreased because Mike’s lack of energy and need to be horizontal. I passed the days assisting our host, Preyanka, with making soap and lip balm. I also spent a large amount of time playing with the sweetest kitties, Chairman Meow and Pumpkin.

About a week into Mike’s sickness I started questioning why he was unable to handle the flu as well as I did. I used our supply of NyQuil the week before and left him only one dose. The natural flu medicine the maid picked up needed to be taken every 30 minutes and offered him no rest in between.

One morning we planned to take a day trip to Ubud with our hosts when Mike woke with a little more life in his eyes. Our mission was to find a tasty rack of ribs at our hosts favorite rib joint. After parking and wandering around Ubud, we learned the exact location of this magical place was further than we realized. The hot sun beat down and quickly made for a sweaty exhausting 45 minutes walk. Finally we found our destination Naughty Nuri’s Warung and Grill. The place was ethnic with outdoor picnic table seating next to the hot grill. Mike and I ordered a rack of ribs and side dish of green beans to share. Sitting across from Mike I watched his face turn a few shades of white. His energy visibly fading as he needed to hold his head up at the table. He had only been able to stomach two bites. I on the other hand gulped down my beer and inhaled the meal in minutes.

We assessed the walk from the rib joint to the car and quickly decided our best option would be  taking a taxi to the car. We returned home about an hour later where Mike again resumed occupying his comfortable bed and sleeping for hours.

The next day before our flight for Vietnam, Mike took a turn for the worse feeling increased dizziness and was unable to hold food down. We decided to visit the hospital for an assessment. The doctor ordered lab work and Mike was diagnosed with Dengue Fever. The results later confirmed he was positive for Typhoid and Dengue Fever, the treacherous tandem.

The doctors advised Mike should not fly due to the possibility of internal bleeding in flight due to low platelet count. We waited, making the trip to the hospital every 12 hours for blood tests and hoping his numbers increased. The normal platelet count range is 150 – 400 and they advised not flying until it got over 80. Mike’s lowest count was 65 which almost caused him to be admitted to the hospital overnight. Thankfully we did not have to do that, but I have to admit the ambulance ride would have been kind of awesome.

Two cancelled flights and five days later, we decided to cancel the rest of our trip and return to Arizona for Mike to recover. We are already in the planning mode for our next adventure state side.

 

Extending your visa on arrival in Bali

We planned our trip to Indonesia to be 39 days, nine days over the amount that the visa on arrival (VOA) permits. Before we left I had read that you could get a 30 day extension and that it was pretty easy. Some even said you could just get it on arrival by asking the immigration officers as you entered the country. That turned out to be untrue.

Once we got settled I asked our hosts and other travelers what they knew about extending. Everyone had a different answer or had no experience. Online travel forums also had a variety of information and tales of different experiences. I couldn’t find a source that seemed authoritative or current enough so I started to lean towards the hiring an agent to do it for me.

I researched agents and I couldn’t find any that had good reputations or that gave me confidence in them. The agents also supposedly charged IDR 750,000 which included the 250,000 extension fee.

So I decided to just try it myself. I skipped the crowded Denpasar immigration office (Kantor Imigrasi) and try the one in Singaraja since I was staying in Lovina. The office is quite convenient to get to and you cannot miss it’s huge white “immigration” banner on the road side.

My research said that you would need two copies of the photo page of your passport and the VoA stamp page. You should also have a print out of your proof of onward travel. I found a photo printing place and had the copies made. One set of copies would go into your red application folder and the other set would be your copy since the Kantor Imigrasi would be keeping your passport during this process. The copies only cost me IDR 1,000.

The Singaraja office is only open Monday to Friday. I am not sure what the hours are but I arrived around 9:30 and there was only one foreigner ahead of me. It is a very modern office and feels much like an American DMV. They have a touch screen for picking your number and a clean air conditioned waiting area.

The woman working the foreign desk spoke English and reviewed our documents. She then handed us a red folder and told us to fill out a long form. Upon returning the completed form we waited for about 30 minutes. I am guessing they entered the information into a computer and checked it over. Once that was complete I confirmed that all the information was correct and we wouldn’t need to redo it in a few days. She assured us it was good.

The next confusing step is that you need to return to the office two times. About one or two days after the initial time to pay the fee of IDR 250,000 per extension and then a few days after that to actually pickup your passport.

When I returned to pay the fee it only took ten minutes. I then reconfirmed the date I needed to pick up our passports. She gave me the same date but this time added that I need to come after 3:00 pm.

Hopefully everything is in order for a successful pickup Monday.

Christmas in Bali

We had a beautiful Christmas Eve celebration in Seminyak Bali with some old and new friends. We had representatives from Minneapolis, Sydney and Berlin. Our celebrations consisted of cocktails, a traditional Balinese dinner, poppers, a white elephant gift exchange and swimming in the rain. A Christmas Eve surprise was a phone call with one of my best friends, Madelon, asking me to stand up in her wedding! I was so honored and delighted.

The Christmas Eve menu was chicken satay, nasi goreng and fish wrapped in banana leaves cooked with a tomato sauce. The chicken satay peanut sauce was incredible and made me want to lick the bowl. Dessert was an assortment of fruit including yellow watermelon which I found is much taster than the red.

The Christmas miracle came the morning of the 25th when we were greeted with sunny blue skies. It had been the first time in a week since we had seen the sun. We made it a point to venture on the scooter to the beach and enjoyed mango drinks by the water. Our Christmas present to each other was a three hour honeymoon massage package which included a traditional Balinese massage, sea salt scrub, honey and milk scrub, aromatic bath and facials. It was pure heaven.

Christmas dinner was celebrated with our Bali crew at the SOS Rooftop Lounge with the most amazing views of the ocean and sunset from the second floor balcony.  We fancied one of the three delicious meals of either salmon, barramundi and steaks. Thanks to Jake for my first time experiencing the flavorful bone marrow. Now I completely understand why my dog, Wiley, loves it so much. During dinner we were surprised with the Ha Ha Ha’s of our visiting Indonesian Santa and his helper elf. We enjoyed the setting sun warm pink colored skies and beach front with the random crackling of fireworks down the coast.

We are especially grateful to have been able to FaceTime our family this holiday. Technology has a way of making us feel not as far away.

Throttle vs Brake

On Monday a few wrong turns made for an interesting ride home in the rain. We were warned of the throttle and brake being on the same handle. It took us the fourth scooter ride to make the common mistake of using both. It happened during our rainy 45 minute trip back from Ubud to the villa. At a right turn, Mike accidentally braked and gave gas at the same time which sent the scooter scraping into the left curb. No injuries, expect for minor bruising on my ankle. I could feel it happening as we took the corner. I got off the scooter, looked at my ankle and started laughing. A local by-passer saw the whole thing happen gave me a wink and a big smile. It’s all part of the daily Bali life!

Naughty Monkey

Bali is known for their naughty monkeys and depending how you look at it I was luckily or unluckily to have an encounter. During our day long tour, our driver took us to the Scared Monkey Forest in Ubud. In this area the monkeys are considerable nicer than in other parts where the monkeys are trained to snatch your glasses from your face, slide their hand down your pocket to steal your wallet or grab your camera. To get the items back, you have to pay a small price.

I happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Don’t get me wrong, I too found it adorable walking amongst the monkeys and if you put your hand out you get a high five. Some of the locals carry fruit to help bribe the monkeys to sit on your head. The mamas, like they should be, are protective and at times become aggressive if you get to close. I walked past a medium sized monkey who jumped from the wall to my hip and used my scarf to quickly climb to my shoulder. He then grabbed at my ear in the hopes of scoring my horn earring. This monkey must not have experienced gauge earrings before given his aggressive tugs at my ear confused how to get them. Mike reached for his phone hoping for a cute photo when he quickly realized this wasn’t a friendly encounter. He came to my rescue and helped scare him off. Lesson learned, keep your distance and don’t wear jewelry even around the ‘nice’ monkeys.

Bali Living

The pace in Bali has been a nice change from our last few weeks in New Zealand. We found a wonderful Villa on Airbnb called The Wooden Villa, located in Ketewel, which is north of Sanur. The Villa is owned and recently renovated by a Polish couple who have lived here about a year.

We have a bedroom with our own bathroom, shared living room and access to the kitchen. Breakfast is included in the price of $24 USD a night. Each morning we are served with a different delicious breakfast and plate of fruit. We have had everything from scrambled eggs, crepes, egg sandwiches and homemade donuts with papaya filling. The papaya and fruit in general has been amazing. We discovered a new favorite fruit, mangosteen.

The Villa’s garden is wonderful for lounging in the shade, baking in sun or taking a dip in the pool. From the second floor you can see the rice fields, the ocean and a volcano in the far distance. It is a traditional Balinese neighborhood that is quiet expect for the random roasters calls throughout the day. The ocean is only a few minutes bike ride down the street.

Mike and I hired a scooter for the week we are in Ketewel for $5 USD a day. Each day we pick a new location for our adventure. So far we have managed to make it to Sanur and Ubud. Yesterday we traveled to Ubud to Bali Buda for a lunch date with our friend, Nickie, a lovely Brit we met at Fraser Island. Indonesia is our third country together!

Each day the rain greets us between 3 – 6pm that most times will last throughout the night. Yesterday we had an action packed ride home in the rain and lightening. Luckily we had our raincoats but everything from the waist down was soaked.