We arrived in Bali, flying into Denpasar airport, on 11th August. It all went pretty smoothly, apart from one minor delay during transit in Singapore due to our onward plane's busted tail light.
Honeymoon excitement and traveler adrenaline kept us going the whole way and we made it through pretty tirelessly until we finally stopped. Being met at the airport by a driver organised by our travel agent was a godsend, as it meant we could pretty much just switch off our brains, hand over our luggage, and settle down into the air conditioned car, without having to negotiate the taxi rank after nearly 24 hours of travelling.
As a first-time backpacker and visitor to Asia, one of my primary goals for this trip is to feel I've left behind some Western trappings, for the opportunity to experience something truly different. It might therefore be understandable that on arriving in Bali I experienced wide-eyed amusement, turning into mild frustration, as we drove through Denpasar and headed north by road, only to find ourselves surrounded by scrolling English-language neon signs declaring 'CLEARANCE SALE', dedicated cupcake stores, and branch-upon-branch of Circle K. Strange things are indeed afoot.
We heard a lot about Globalisation when I studied Sociology at university, but I'm not sure I ever really grasped its significance; one could only express so much exasperation about McDonald's springing up in remote, erstwhile untouched regions, when one hasn't actually ventured outside of The West.
Did no-one receive my memo about wanting to get away to something new?? Granted, feeling like I'm about to run into Bill and Ted isn't a daily occurrence in London, but it's not exactly what I was expecting from Indonesia either!
With a three hour drive ahead of us to our first honeymoon resort (Spa Village Resort Tembok), I promptly fell asleep in the backseat. When I awoke, the ubiquitous sights of a nighttime airport transfer (headlights, streetlamps, giant billboards) had been replaced by serpentine mountain roads, lined with stone idols and populated by dogs out for some evening mischief. We soon turned off of the unassuming road, onto a narrow track lined with tall bamboo poles, and pulled into Paradise. Hello Bali!
We were greeted with sweet green cocktails and a traditional foot-washing and shoulder massage. Despite our middle-of-the-night arrival, our hosts were all bright white smiles - only interrupted by the sheer bewilderment of the lady who would wash my feet when she was confronted with the opaque black tights I had traveled in.
Shown to our room - a cool delight of dark, wood, sumptuous cushions, ceiling fan and woven palm leaves - we ate a simple meal of chicken sandwiches and fresh fruit, before soaking our weary muscles in a warm, petal-strewn bath. Well I said I wanted different, and this certainly isn't normal life in Clerkenwell! (Although probably pretty far away from normal life in Bali too!) Finally to rest in our super wide, super low, super comfy bed.
We spent our first few days in a pretty typical tropical honeymoon routine: wake, eat, read, visit the spa, swim, eat, read, sleep, eat, sleep.
The days were bright and warm, but not stifling – June to September being Indonesia's 'cool' dry season. The food at the resort was plentiful and tasty but catered for the European palette and we found ourselves craving authenticity and chili!
Our relaxation levels increased daily, and the programme of treatments – hot sand sauna treatment for the lower legs, Balinese and Malay full-body massages, pedicure and facials, pampered us both into near comatose states of chill... that deep body, mind and soul chill that, mixed with the jet lag, makes it so hard to keep one's eyes open. Each treatment was preceded by frozen fruit kebabs and ylang ylang water, and followed with Jamu – a shot of gender-specific, warm, fruity, spicy tonic.
I also took part in another doze-inducing activity: yoga hatha on the lawn. After 90 minutes of stretches, poses, alignment and sending out of love energies, I needed a strong coffee to ensure I made it to dinner!