Well, I made it.
The first 36 hours in Bali was pretty overwhelming, to say the least.
I landed on the beautiful island at 11 am on May 25, 2017 and was overtaken by the stunning views from the plane, the amount of people in and around the airport, and the craziness of the area. I may or may not have taken like 50 pictures and a few videos…
Shortly after landing, I made my way through immigrations. After paying a small fee of $36 for a visa on arrival – and easily bypassing customs – I headed towards the area outside of arrivals to wait for my friend.
My friend, Rio (a couchsurfer host), graciously picked me up from the airport and let me stay in his home for a couple of nights. We had some trouble finding one another in the hectic-ness of the airport but eventually he had me send pictures of my surroundings and came to my rescue!
(And hey, if you’re wondering how my FIRST couchsurfing experience went… it was awesome! Seriously, Rio was the best couchsurfer I could have hoped for. Gracious, kind, helpful, and — most importantly — welcoming! If you’re a bit scared about couchsurfing, check out this super helpful couchsurfing 101 guide to get started.)
We hopped on his motorbike and made our way to south Kuta, sort of in the middle of the Bukit Peninsula. This was my first time ever riding on a motorbike and after the first few seconds, I was filled with glee… which then turned to a little bit of dread because drivers are nuts here.
Table of Contents
- 1 1. Makeup is impossible to wear.
- 2 2. Bali is beautiful, but dirty.
- 3 3. Drivers like to honk for no apparent reason.
- 4 4. Looking to go somewhere without being talked to? Forget about it.
- 5 5. 90% of Bali’s visitors are Australian.
- 6 6. Drinking at 3 pm on the side of the road? Totally acceptable.
- 7 7. Absolutely no rules on the road.
- 8 8. The beaches aren’t that amazing.
- 9 9. The sunsets are stunning, though.
There are absolutely no rules on the road.
After arriving at his home, which is basic and simple (not that it’s a bad thing – I found it comforting after the craziness on the road), he let me settle in. I unloaded my backpack, set up my bed, and cleaned up a bit.
Rio took me out to lunch at an Indonesian buffet where I got some tempeh, sautéed vegetables, steamed rice, and peanut sauce for a whopping $0.75. He helped me search for sunscreen – which is about $8 per tiny bottle – and a SIM card for my phone, which cost me about $7 for 5 GB of LTE and 5 GB of 3G.
After lunch, we headed back to his home and talked for a little while. A bit later in the afternoon, we hopped back on his motorbike and headed to a beach in the south. I’m not quite sure which beach it was, but it was relaxing. I think it might of been near Melasti beach. Any who, while Rio swam, I waded in the ocean and watched the waves hypnotically.
After spending our time at the beach, we headed back to his place. I felt absolutely disgusting – 40 fun hours of travel time will do that to you – so I took a shower and settled in for the night.
Hello culture shock.
I was not expecting it to hit me like a freight train. Experiencing the extremely different environment of very populated Bali, compared to the relaxed and not-so-populated Minnesota, really threw me off. I’m not going to say that I was sitting in my room crying and shaking from anxiety, asking myself wtf I’d gotten myself into, but I’m definitely not going to say that I wasn’t.
I meant to stay up and chat with Rio for a while but ended up passing out around 8 pm. The time change and jet leg finally caught up to me.
The next day Rio had to work so I had a free day to do what I pleased. I ended up meeting with another friend/couchsufer host, named Bass, who showed me around the southern part of Bali. We explored Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Canggu, and Nusa Dua.
So, after spending my first 36 hours in Bali, I wanted to share some of my first impressions. This crazy beautiful island hasn’t really stole my heart yet, but I feel that’ll change soon.
1. Makeup is impossible to wear.
If you’ve been to a destination with a tropical climate like Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, etc., you know exactly what I mean. It’s impossible to keep makeup on here, unless it’s a super strong waterproof mascara. Don’t even try to wear foundation, you’re just going to sweat it off by like 10 in the morning.
But in all honesty, there’s no point in wearing it anyways. No one does. Everyone is fresh faced and living life without the hassle of concealer, foundation, and the likes.
2. Bali is beautiful, but dirty.
No matter where you go, there’s bound to be some garbage. This was something that really surprised me in my first 36 hours in Bali. There seems to be trash everywhere you look, whether it be on the side of the road, in the rivers, or near the beaches. It’s kind of disappointing seeing all of it, but still the beauty of Bali shines through.
3. Drivers like to honk for no apparent reason.
While walking down the road, it seemed as though my friend and I would get honked at every 5 seconds. We’re still not sure if male drivers were flirting with us or if they were looking for some people to pay them for a ride? Who knows.
Also, while riding in a car or on a motorbike, drivers really like to honk just for the hell of it. Not going to lie, I got annoyed real quick.
4. Looking to go somewhere without being talked to? Forget about it.
People selling shit will no doubt call out to you or try to hassle you into buying something. You’ll just be walking down the side of the street and someone will holler, “Hey! Need a taxi?” or “You, you, pretty lady! Do you need a sarong?” It happened every 10 seconds, no joke. I also had multiple males call out to me asking if I had a boyfriend. Um, yes, sir. In fact I do. My dog, aka the love of my life.
5. 90% of Bali’s visitors are Australian.
This is one thing I really enjoy 😜. Sun-kissed tan skin and beautiful boys with an Australian accent. Um, yes please. Although, a lot of the Australian visitors are families coming here for a vacation or holiday. Bali to Australians is the equivalent of Mexico or the Caribbean to Americans. It’s just a short plane ride away.
6. Drinking at 3 pm on the side of the road? Totally acceptable.
The couchsurfer that showed me around the southern part of the island mentioned that having a drink in your hand, walking down the side of the road is completely acceptable. No one will blink an eye at it. Unlike the United States where it’s completely out of the norm (unless you’re in Vegas or something) and your alcohol is usually covered up by a brown paper bag.
7. Absolutely no rules on the road.
I don’t think I’ve seen a speed limit sign, or someone being pulled over by the police. Another overwhelming thing in my first 36 hours in Bali. Drivers here are nuts; as my couchsurfer tour guide said, on the road it’s “organized chaos.” Lol… organized? If you say so.
8. The beaches aren’t that amazing.
After visiting 4 or 5 beaches – like in Kuta, the Bukit Peninsula, Canggu, and Nusa Dua – I found them to be OK. I’ve heard it’s different elsewhere on the island but I have yet to explore around. I am excited to head to the Gili Islands, they look like they have crystal white sandy beaches… exactly what I’m looking for.
9. The sunsets are stunning, though.
I’ll just let this picture do the talking.
The first 36 hours in Bali really threw me off, I was not expecting the culture shock to hit me so hard. Bali is definitely way different than Minnesota. But, anyways, these are my first impressions of the island.
If you’ve been to Bali, how did your first couple days here go? Let me know below in the comments!
Pin my first 36 hours in Bali, Indonesia ↓