Location: Bali, Indonesia
I have been in Bali for a total of 8 days now and I am still feeling culture shock. Supposedly its really westernized here but I don't know about that. Yes it has all the typical tourism stuff like Pizza Hut and even Krispy Kreme donuts, but its also totally backwards and third world. And I really don't like it.
You can't walk down the street here without being bombarded by street vendors trying to sell you stuff, literally every 5 feet and sometimes less there are people saying "looking looking, shopping here" or "like to buy something, darling?" EVERYWHERE its the most annoying thing i have ever experiences. Also there are men that sit in the street that say "transport?" about every 3 feet, there are waaaay too many taxi drivers here, way too many hotels, way too many spas, way too much of everything.
Speaking of spas, I thought I'd indulge myself today in getting a 1 hour massage and a pedicure since it would only cost me about $20 for both, something unheard of back in the States. But lets just say, you get what you pay for. The massage was the worst I have ever experienced in my life, and trust me I've had a lot of massages. The girl beat the shit out of me, violated me, and had smelly breath. Their "Traditional Balinese Massage" methods are so far from relaxing, all they do is prod you with their finger tips and after that is over they literally smack the shit out of your skin until it is red and raw, so not relaxing or enjoyable. Then the worst part, when she had me flip over onto my back I was left there completely topless, only in my underwear and she didnt seem to be phased by this, until I said "excuse me are you going to give me a top sheet?" so she walked out of the room and returned with a rag to cover my breasts with and I thought that was the end of it. HOWEVER when she worked her way up my body she took the rag off and started massaging my boobs!! And as I'm laying there mortified and thinking "what the HELL is this chick doing" it was over just as fast as it started, so why do it at all if youre only gonna massage the boobs for 2 seconds?? It has no theraputic value, there is no muscle in there to be massaged, boobs are basically just sacks of fat, so why massage them at all?? I wanted to throw her hands off of me and tell her to get the f--k away from me, but then I thought to myself "Thats so typically western of me, I'm sure they massage every womans breasts and it would probably be wrong of me to beat the shit out of this girl right now" But do you know why I felt that way?? Because I was out of my CULTURE. You could probably sue a massage therapist in America for trying to massage your boobs, if a male MT back home did that to me I would honestly get up and beat the shit out of him! But I couldn't say anything, because I was not in America, I am half a world away in Indonesia, half a world away from the safety of my own culture. So please, do tell me just how Westernized Indonesia really is.
On a positive note, I am getting out of this hellhole this week and I am off to Australia, so the next time you hear from me I will be Down Under, yay! Hopefully there will be no smelly chicks there trying to grab my boobs, but I'm not ready to get my hopes up too high yet, I'm still feeling violated.
Location: Bali, Indonesia
I am here in beautiful tropical Bali and it only took 2 days to get here. My journey was unreal. I took a bus from New Hampshire to Newark, New Jersey (6 hours) then I flew from there to Singapore (18 hours) and from Singapore I flew to Bali (2 hours). It was rough to say the least, but I am glad to be here.
Overall right now I can't say that I am either loving or hating Bali, right now its just an eye opening experience. Indonesia is such a radically different place than back home. The island of Bali is hindu and there are temples everywhere, they burn incense in the streets and leave little flower offerings for the gods everywhere. At certain times of day you'll also hear the muslim call to prayer which sounds kind of nice among all the temples. This place is very third world though. Its sad because you see tons of sickly stray dogs all over the place. The balinese believe that dogs are the embodiment of demonic spirits so they don't like them, I can't understand it!
This country is also wicked corrupt. Today a group of us went surfing at a spot called Keramas tha we had to drive about an hour to get to. It was really fun but kind of scary because it was my first time ever surfing over coral reef. Anyway, on the way back our car got pulled over by the cops for absolutely no reason. We had to bribe him to let us keep going, he only wanted about $2 but it was the principal that bothered me. Basically he pulled us over to get his lunch money. The australians i was travelling with seemed unphased by it, and they were like "doesnt that happen in america?"
This place is beautiful though, the Indian Ocean sparkles such a pretty tropical blue. Here in Kuta there is a massive mall right on the beach. Its a fully modern mall with stores that we dont have at home in NH. The amazing thing about it is that it is literally on the beach, you walk up stairs off the sand into a 2 level shopping mall. The beach and shopping - my 2 favorite things!
I'm switching hotels today, the one i have been staying at is a total ripoff and it has a ton of roaches. I'm moving somewhere thats borderline luxurious with a pool and stuff for only $8 a night. The crazy thing about it is that it is like right down the street from where the nightclub bombings happened a few years back....yikes!
Indonesia is proving to be a wild experience that I'll never forget....
Tomorrow morning at 10am I begin my 30 hour trek to Bali, Indonesia. Its gonna be a looong couple of days. First I take the bus from Portsmouth to Newark, New Jersey (stopping in Boston and NYC). Then after sitting around the airport for 5 hours my plane to Singapore leaves at 11pm. After 18 hours on that flight I arrive in Singapore, have a 2 hour layover and then fly another 2 hours to Bali. I'm really not that freaked out about how long its gonna take to get there, I've been mentally preparing myself for this for weeks. I wish I had some sweet drugs to knock me out on the flight cause I'm not a plane sleeper, but hopefully it will happen without the help of any narcotics, maybe just a little booze.
The flight to Singapore is gonna literally feel like a time capsule. I leave the cold unforgiving winter weather of the Northeastern USA, and arrive in Southeast Asian tropical paradise. I am so excited for Bali, for beautiful weather, gorgeous beaches, men with Australian accents, and of course monkies.
I am so excited, and not even phased by the 30 hour trip cause its getting me to where I want to go....
Location: Hampton Falls, NH, USA
Ok so I didn't really write a conclusion for my trip to Costa Rica. To be honest I was sad to leave it, and writing a conclusion for the end of my trip meant that it was really over, and I prefered to live in denial about being back in freezing blah wintery New Hampshire.
I tried to add more pics but my computer won't let me do it, so if you want to see all my pictures from Costa Rica and Nicaragua visit http://community.webshots.com/user/theresaaa818
Location: Costa Rica
So I am back in Tamarindo, Costa Rica after our "excursion" to Nicaragua if you can call it that. Amy and I didn't really know how long we would last there, we were hoping we would love it and stay there for the last 2 weeks of our trip to save some serious cash, but we would have been happy to settle for a week or so in the country. All in all we ended up lasting 2.5 days before we made a mad dash back to Costa Rica.
Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and coming from Costa Rica, the richest country in Central America there were some noticable differences. Immediately upon crossing the border it was like stepping back in time 50 years, there were men riding horse drawn carriages, farm animals everywhere. There were absolutely massive pigs just chillin on the side of the dirt road. The school buses in Nicaragua are all old converted school buses, and if its full you can climb a ladder and ride on top of the bus if you want, just watch out for power lines.
We started in San Juan del Sur which was ok. The beach wasn't too impressive but it was cheap. Our hotel room was $5 a night and we payed $3 for a large pizza for dinner. The most fun part about San Juan del Sur was sitting in rocking chairs outside our hotel and watching all the action on the street. There were kids playing everywhere, climbing telephone poles for entertainment and there was a ton of dogs everywhere, including really cute puppies. I will be posting pictures soon.
After a day in San Juan we got bored with it and decided to move further up the coast to the fabled surf spot of Popoyo. It took 2.5 hours down a gnarly dirt road and cost us $40. We didnt really know what to expect, and when we finally did arrive I remember thinking "Is this really it?" Because there were only a couple small hotels, and that was it. We decided to stay at the one that had the only restaurant in "town", and we got really lucky because they gave us the suite, and by suite I mean that we got matresses that actually had springs in them, a private bathroom (which would have been even better if we had running water) and we each got our own fan! A score like that doesn't happen every day. The downside to the suite was the hornets next in a hole in the wall where the electrical wires come out. Hey, you can't expect perfection....The restaurant had a really strange system where you don't pay for your food after you finish it, they write down what you owe in a book and you are expected to pay your total debt when you leave, sort of an honor system I guess. It makes sense because it is the only restaurant/store in town so you are likely to make 3 or 4 purchases a day.
The beach at Popoyo was pretty, and the waves were massive. I definitely was not a skilled enough surfer to take on the reef at Popoyo so we just sat and watched people who actually knew what they were doing, and it was some amazing surfing.
After a couple days we felt like Popoyo and Nicaragua itself were just too rustic for us. We enjoy running water and electricity too much, so we decided to head back to Costa Rica which was a task in itself. We found some local guy to drive us to the nearest town, and he charged us $50 to do so! What a rip off, but at least we had other people to split it with. From the town of Rivas we took a taxi back to the Costa Rica border and passed by Lake Nicaragua and the massive volcano Ometepe in the lake, it looked like it was even smoking! In total we passed 5 volcanoes that day, it was really cool.
Getting back over the border was super sketchy. We got hastled by a lot of Nicaraguan men who were trying to bully us into taking their taxis or doing whatever it was they wanted us to do, finally I got aggrivated and told them all to f--k off, and basically Amy and I then ran to Costa Rica where we immediately felt like we reentered the 21st centry and we drank some Cokes to celebrate our return. We still had a long way to go to get back to the lovely beach town of Tamarindo, and we stopped at the local Burger King/Papa John's to refuel when a Costa Rican guy approached us, asked us where we were headed and coincidently he was headed to Tamarindo as well, AND he had a car. Clearly we were not going to pass up the opportunity to ride in a real car, the only downside was that we had to wait 2 hours for him to complete a business transaction, and by transaction I mean us waiting for a bus coming from Nicaragua to stop and give him 7 garbage bags full of Nicaraguan tobacco that was snuck through the border so that he wouldn't have to pay $1000 in taxes on it. Hey, all in a day's work.....
We have returned to the plush life of Costa Rica, surfing and laying around all day. Thanksgiving is coming up and we have some big plans, too big to reveal just yet.....check back soon :P
Location: Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Today I am in Tamarindo enjoying the white sand beach, quite a change from the rocky black sands of Jaco/Hermosa. Amy arrived last week and we had a really fun Halloween with me as the devil and Amy as an angel. It was so awesome to be on the beach for Halloween, and not having to worry about a coat at all! Unfortunately there wasn't a lot of good Halloween candy but it was otherwise good.
After the debauchery of Halloween we left Jaco for Santa Teresa on the Nicoya peninsula, one of my favorite beaches in the world. The sand is white and littered with the most amazing seashells. In some parts of the beach the sand is literally nothing but colorful seashells that you can pick up by the handfulls. It felt like such an exotic place...I surfed some but overall the sea was raging, with whitewater all the way to the horizon.
From Santa Teresa we took a $35 "shuttle" to Tamarindo that was supposed to take 4.5 hours but actually took 7.5 which is about how long it took me to get from New Hampshire to Costa Rica. The roads in this country are so frustrating! But now that we are here we are happy to be on this beautiful beach, and tonight we are going to eat "Nachos as big as your ass", sounds good to me!
Right now we are devising our plan to go to Nicaragua later this week, where the real adventure will begin.....
Location: Jaco, Costa Rica
Today I am still in Jaco and it has finally stopped raining (though it will probably start again since I am typing this). It rained here so hard that the rivers were swelling beyond belief and the ocean is completely brown due to all of the sediment pouring out of the rivers. Its always interesting what you see on the beach after a serious storm in Costa Rica. For instance, I went for a run on the beach yesterday morning and saw half of a table, a broom, a toothbrush without its head, endless amounts of garbage, doll parts, and a ton of glass, it was pretty freaky. I don't think they pay anyone to clean the beaches here either, so it will have to all get carried out with the tide. People are still surfing in the turd colored water but I think Im gonna sit it out a bit, if no one seems to get sick then I might go in for a surf.
Basically my days consisit of: a morning run/surf, yogurt and fruit for breakfast, a morning swim in the pool or ocean if its calm, an afternoon surf if there is waves, more pool time and some reading, dinner around 6 or 7, lights out by 9.... life is good : ) Its hard to ever think about getting a "real job" and giving up a lifestyle like this, so I am thoroughly enjoying it while it lasts....
Location: Jaco, Costa Rica, Costa Rica
Sooo I have been in Costa Rica for 10 days now, and it is so nice to be out of America and be here in tropical paradise. I can see why October is the low season for travel to Costa, because man all it does is rain. It has been raining fairly solidly for 5 days now. We have had peaks of sun here and there but overall its realllly rainy. However, it is still not cold and is way more enjoyable than the New Hampshire fall climate right now.
I have been travelling around the Central Pacific Coast of Costa for the past 10 days, going from Jaco to Manuel Antonio, from there to Dominical and now I am back in Jaco. Manuel Antonio is such a sweet place, the beaches are white, the water is turquoise blue, and the wildlife is incredible. I was able to feed a squirrel monkey a banana, it ate right out of my hand!! When it grabbed my hand i was expecting pain from its claws, but really their little hands are so soft, even softer than human hands. That experience was like a dream come true for me....unforuntely there was no surf in Manuel Antonio so this Canadian couple and I decided to venture further south to Dominical in hopes of finding some fun waves.
After a 2 hour bus ride down a rock road (too bumpy to even be considered gravel) we arrived in Domincal and decided to stay at the Dominical Backpackers Hostel, it was only $8 a night, so why not, right? Wellll, after closer examination we realized that the kitchen was unusable based on the filth and numerous varieties of insects living within it, along with the giant toad who resides in one of the cabinents. So the idea of cooking was out. In the bathroom, the toilet sometimes worked, but never when it mattered if ya catch my drift....and upon sitting on the lower bunkbed I was assigned to sleep on, a pile of termite feces/dust fell on my head, it was awesome. We managed to stay in good spirits and laugh the situation off, but wow that was a rough nights sleep. One of the downfalls of travelling is that you really never know what you are gonna get until you show up, and many times you just have to suck it up and sleep in termite feces....
Overall though, my trip is getting off to a good start and I am looking forward to having another solid 5 weeks here in Central America......
Location: New Hampshire, USA
Sooooo I'm leaving for Costa Rica in the morning. I'm definitely both nervous and excited to begin my 8 month journey around the world...I've been planning this trip for so long that it hasn't hit me yet that it begins TOMORROW. This is my 6th trip to central america in 5 years so its pretty much my second home. I can't wait to return to the land of sun and surf, rice and beans, tequila and fanta. Putting my whole life into a backpack has been quite a challenge, there are some things a girl just can't live without, or at least not this girl...this is gonna be an experience to say the least....