Travel Tip 1: When traveling in Indonesia, all hotels and rental properties you contact will tell you they have wifi Internet. However, once on location, when you want to publish regular blog posts, the Internet will be invariably "temporarily unavailable." And "temporarily" means anywhere between 8 minutes and 9 years.
My remedy for this I think will be to post photo snippets of my hand written journal from time to time and compose posts in word then try to upload to blogger when the Internet is temporarily available.
Travel Tip 2: If you plan to travel abroad, you should plan to go to Bali. Because it freaking rocks in Bali. The only thing more beautiful and serene than the surroundings are the people. The Balinese people have a special warmth that can't be captured with mere words. They are open, humble and unbelievably genuine. At first you may be put off by there open faces, because generally, in the US if someone is talking to you with such intent happiness they want something. Not here.
As I drove the hillside village of Les, I was stopped constantly by locals, young and old who wanted nothing more than to say "Hallo!" and chat for a bit. Since 90% of tourists stick closely to the Kuta area (Home of the obligatory planet Hollywood and Hard Rock Cafe), and we are currently about 4 hours North, most villagers assumed I was lost, asking "Where you try go?" When I replied "HERE" They broke into huge grins and shook my hand "Welcome my village! You enjoy Bali!" And went on their way with a wave. Most people speak very little broken English, but are none the less very excited to practice what they know.
Travel Tip 3: Forget Kuta. It's bullshit. It's not the real Bali. It's like Cancun, Tijuana, Datona Beach or any other dirty, crowded stretch of tourist traps, lined with shops, operated by harassing barkers hawking cheap knock offs of true Balinese culture.
This is the Bali created by international frat boys, pasty families and paranoid Europeans looking for a Balinese ocean view with all the plastic manufactured surroundings of home. It's loud, crowded and dirty. It's little LA but they speak Indonesian instead of Spanish. If you spend a week in Kuta or Nusa Dua and then go home, you might tell your friends to never visit Bali, it's just like every other tourist destination. But the truth is, it's a small microcosm of subculture that takes up only about 3% of the whole Island. I urge you, take a driver, see Kuta for a day, but only spend enough time that you can appreciate the real Bali that lies outside Kuta's borders. It's really a different world.
Travel Tip 4: Try to learn the language! Learning just 2 or 3 words like "thank you" Suksma, "How are you?" Apokabar(sp?), and "excuse me" Permisi, will open a whole new world as a traveler. Show the Balinese that you are interested in their culture, and not just the 2 dollar t shirts and they will think you're awesome. I've never traveled anywhere else where the people were so excited and passionate to teach the language and culture to outsiders. They take great pride in both the Indonesian and Balinese language and speak them both interchangably, so learn a pick up words in both languages as you travel and it will take you far with making new friends, not to mention getting much lower prices when bargaining.
Travel Tip 5: Buy booze at the airport. If you go to Bali you'll inevitably have a lay over in Taiwan or Hong Kong etc. If you like a cocktail now and then, but liquor at the lay over. Make sure that it's the right shop because some duty free shops sell things you can only claim on your return flight home. Absolut Vodka in Taiwan cost us about $20 USD, Bacardi is $30. But once in Bali, the import tax is so high on liquor that you'll easily pay $50-60 for a 750ml bottle of Smirnoff vodka.
Travel Tip 6: Come to Bali. Did I say that yet? Well it doesn't hurt to make drive a thesis home. It is magical here. Come to Bali. If you plan ahead, book in advance, the plane ticket may only be about $700. And you can't imagine how far your money will go here. Most importantly, plan to arrive in late may or early April, at the end of the rainy season, before May 31st it's still the "off season" tourist wise. which means you'll pay literally half the price for a hotel room in a resort you can have all to yourself. And I mean that. We're paying $50 a night at an empty resort right now with a private staff of 20 waiting on only us, hand and foot. It's like being Jay-Z for a week.
I'll be uploading some photos soon, and giving more in depth reviews and musings on specific areas soon.
For now, I'm going to go have another $12 deep tissue massage, do some scuba diving outside my front door, and then watch the sunset and have a delicious clove cigar (suck it Obama) for $1 a pack.