by Natalie Mormer
There is no doubt about it. Bali is an absolutely beautiful country. It has incredible architecture, delicious food, hospitable people, lush forests, and picturesque sights. With that being said, my trip to Bali, though I got to experience those wonderful things, was quite an adventure.
Now, I chose the word ‘adventure’ for a reason. After googling the word, one will find four ways of describing adventure, but it’s the first three that interest me. The first is, “an unusual and exciting or daring experience.” The second, “excitement associated with danger or the taking of risks.” And finally, “a reckless or potentially hazardous action or enterprise.” The first two of these are usually what people think of when traveling to a foreign country with your three friends (and some random guy your one friend kind of knows). The third, however, has the more pessimistic approach. After the trip, I’m pretty sure the third was a bit more realistic.
Let’s just start off by saying my friends and I don’t have luck on our side. Basically, boiling it down to it, money is a bitch. Most of the parts that we didn’t enjoy about the trip involved money. Fun fact: one rupiah in worth about 0.00008 U.S. dollars. What does this mean? Congratulations, you’re a fucking millionaire in Indonesia. What does this also mean? You have to deal with rupiah. I learned on my trip that being a millionaire is such a pain in the ass. There are so many more bills that you have to deal with, your wallet doesn’t close all the way, and spending money becomes way too fun. However, having no money is worse. This was our first problem, when my friend, Bri, couldn’t get money out of an ATM in the airport, after ten minutes of being in the country. But no worries, she talked to her folks and we were on our way, until our taxi from the airport got a flat tire.
Our trip was incredible; we saw beautiful temples, met awesome Indonesians, stayed in beautiful hostels, and don’t get me wrong, we loved the trip and wanted to stay in Bali forever…but shit happens. It started out relatively small, maybe a couple of bad/ awkward photos, a crazy monkey grabbing onto your hair and stealing your bananas, buying jewelry and it breaking almost immediately, getting bullied by street vendors into buying ugly stuff, but we always bounced back, considering it to be part of the adventure. Anastasia, another friend, lost her bankcard, but found it, and everything was fine. Our alarm didn’t wake two of us up for a 2 AM hike up a volcano, but we got up at 2:10 and made it.
I understand, you might think I’m nitpicking the small things that happened, but these things made it fun, worthy of talking about the trip, what brought my friends and I closer together. We got sick of each other, but each of us had funny and shitty things happen to us to joke and laugh about…except for me.
In order to understand the one shitty thing that did happen to me on this trip, is to know that I REALLY wanted to get a good souvenir for my dad. It was our second to last day in Bali and I had gotten everyone else in my family something, but I wanted to get Karl (a.k.a. dad or Karls Barkley) something that he would actually like. Karl is a hard man to buy for, but after seeing a bag of organic, locally grown white rice, I knew I found what I had been looking for. That may sound odd to you guys, but trust me, he’d love it. But please, whatever you do, ignore the fact that I already bought him stuff at the markets. Like I said, money’s a bitch.
I’d like to think this act was seemingly innocent. All I wanted to get was rice for my rice-loving father. Fast-forward to our last day, leaving Bali at Denpasar airport and heading on a plane to Brisbane set to departure at 3:55 PM and arriving at 11:40. These are the events of the day:
11:00: Arrive at airport.
11:22: Find out that we can’t check in until 12:30 (What the fuck).
12:45: Find out that we have to pay money to leave the country (Seriously, what the fuck).
1:02: Go to ATM.
1:03: Find that the ATMs don’t accept Visa and the only one that does is out of order (You’ve gotten to be kidding me.)
1:05: Finally find working ATM and all take out money.
1:20: Get through security.
1:25: Get to gate.
3:00: Wait/ buy some snacks and water for plane ride.
3:26: Found out they changed our gate.
3:27: Speed walk to new gate.
3:28: Get searched at gate and learn that we’re not allowed to bring the water we literally just bought into said gate.
4:20: Find out that a guy that was going to Australia to be tried for getting drunk to the point of people thinking he was hijacking the plane a couple days before, was being escorted onto our plane.
4:50: Board the plane.
After that is was smooth sailing for approximately six hours. With our bad luck from the day, lack of sleep on the plane, arriving late at night, and overall, ‘we need to get the fuck out of Indonesia and into our beds’ mentality, we needed to quickly get our things and get the hell out of the airport.
As it turns out, declaring things in your luggage is actually important to the government (who knew?). Fun fact #3: If you’re in a group, and one stupid person declares stuff, they check EVERYONE’S stuff. This was a fun fact that I had not known at the time. (Think about the definition of the word ‘adventure’ here.) My recklessness and bad luck caught up to me right as she was asking what was in the large bag in my checked bag. Fun fact #4: You have to declare shit like grains and wood. She had me unpack my bag to find the rice for my dear ole’ dad. I then proceeded to confess that I had bought little monkeys that are made out of wood. She then had me look through my backpack, full of smelly clothes and regret, for the small wooden monkeys. After going to her super advanced scanner thingy, it was discovered that my two kilograms of white rice was not allowed into the country and was to be destroyed. My monkeys did, however, survive the whole ordeal.
Throughout this process, the woman decided to take this time to sufficiently scare the shit out of my friends and I, threatening us with the possibility of heavy fines and up to ten years in prison. Being on a student visa, I could have possibly been kicked out of the country.
My mother once told me, “what draws us to adventure is not knowing what will happen next, it’s the uncertainty, and that’s what makes us feel alive.” I wonder how she would feel about adventure if her daughter got sent to jail or kicked out of the country because of rice.
Photo credit: Brittany Tedesco