bali

Thoughts From A Stalled Speed Boat in the Bali Sea

Let me paint a picture for ya…

When I originally wrote this, I was sitting in the back row of a stalled boat in the middle of the Bali Sea… stuck somewhere between Lombok, Indonesia and Padang Bai.

We apparently hit a piece of drift wood, which in turn broke one of the propellers on the back of the fast boat...

 
 

 

Lots of people are freaking out… one girl is demanding another boat be sent to pick her up so she doesn’t miss her flight… another girl is yelling at the staff for laughing with one another while they work to fix it. An Indonesian girl finally translates what is going on for the rest of us on the boat… which still doesn’t keep the shouting blondie from literally losing her mind. She’s stands up to record the “incident” on her phone, and starts asking the rest of us why we aren’t speaking up about not feeling safe.

Though I did have many words to say, I only spoke up long enough to tell her to calm down and stop yelling at the men so they could do their job. Perhaps I was just still in an island state of mind, but I felt fine… and I’ll tell ya why.

 

Let me put the situation and their reaction in to perspective.

Though we were asked to get to the boat company’s office at 2:45 in the afternoon, it wasn’t until around 5pm that we actually boarded a boat. I was fine with all this… it gave me time to chill on the beach and grab another smashed avocado toast from Banyan Tree, (which was conveniently located just across the road from where we were waiting).

I can’t say that other people felt quite as relaxed. The same girl recording the boat incident… we’ll call her Blonde and Boujee… had been shouting at the guys from the boat company before we even left the island. At 3 p.m., when our boat hadn’t arrived, she wanted to know exactly what time that we’d be leaving. I’ll hand it to her… it is a bit frustrating having to wait around without knowing an exact time of departure… but, like most things in Bali, the boats run on island time… Meaning they get there when they get there.

 

If there’s anything I learned from the two entire days I spent getting to and from Gili Trawangan, it’s that it’ll most likely take an entire day to get to or from Gili Trawangan. Booking a flight for the same day, or expecting that you’ll be able to make it to your destination an hour or two after the quoted departure time is just not realistic… (and very poor planning).

No, it is not ideal to rush to get to the beach early for a boat… I scarfed down my delicious lunch, rushed back to check out of my villa, and then sat and waited around for hours before it was finally time for the boat to depart. No, it’s also not ideal to be on a boat that breaks down in the middle of the ocean as the sun is going down... But here’s the deal… shit happens. And when it does, you deal with it.

 

The men on the boat quickly responded to the mishap, and got to work fixing the back propeller. So what if they were whistling while they worked? They were likely joking around and making light of the situation so as to not alarm anyone on board. When asked when the boat would be fixed (by the girl who feared she’d miss her flight) they responded with “Waiting… Ready… Go,” and I don’t think I could possibly describe “island time” any better. Their candidness was totally counteracted by the various bitching blondies who quite successfully raised my very chill blood pressure a few hundred points.

Within the half hour, the men had the boat running smoothly and we were breezing (quite quickly) over fairly choppy ocean waters. It made me a bit nervous (thanks to my raised blood pressure), but it wasn’t my first boat ride and we all arrived to Padang Bai in one (slightly stressed out) piece.

 

Overall, if you plan on travelling by boat to and from Bali’s surrounding islands, remember these few things...

  1. Keep your "timeliness" expectations low.

  2. On that note... Be flexible

  3. Take your pills - (both your sea sickness meds and your chill pills).

  4. Relaxxxx. You’re on a flipping island (or commuting to/from one).

 

This was not the first time I found myself on a non-functional boat in the middle of the water on my Asia trip. No, it's not the most picture-perfect scenario... but I've found that real, RAW travel rarely is.

If you can’t enjoy the ride, despite the curve balls or driftwood that may come your way, ya might as well just keep your uppity ass at home.

 
 

Accommodation Spotlight! FireFly Villa - Ubud, Bali

Looking for a quiet escape in the magical rice fields of Ubud? Does your dream Bali vacation involve spending a night in an eco-treehouse or bamboo cottage?

If you’re anything like me, you answered yes to both of these questions – Keep reading to find out how to make your Bali travel dreams a reality.


Down a winding path in the rice fields of lush Ubud is a quiet, cozy spot that you won’t find on GoogleMaps - Firefly Villa

 
 

Firefly, a beautiful rice field hideaway, is the perfect place to stay while visiting Ubud.

Though it’s just a short walk to the city center, the property is highly secluded, and only accessible by foot or by bike.

Firefly can arrange airport transfer for you at a cost of US$30, if you give them enough notice... since it will literally be impossible to find on your own. I took my chances on snagging a cab at the airport, (and ended up paying about half that). Bali travel tip! - If you're getting a taxi from the airport, BARGAIN for a cheaper fare. In my experience, something about being a solo female traveler with a too big backpack on my back made some people think they could get one over on me.

The first taxi driver who approached me... while I was eating breakfast at the airport cafe... (and not at all soliciting a cab)... said he'd ONLY charge me 400,000 rupiahs to get to Ubud. The second cabbie I was approached by after breakfast one upped him by quoting me an "excellent flat-rate price" of FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND. 500,000 rupiahs to Ubud?! Try again, El Chapo! I stopped, looked at him, said, "You must think I'm some kind of stupid," and kept walking.

Travel hack: Even though it's frowned upon/"not allowed" in some parts of Bali, you can still download Uber to at least get an estimated price for your trip. Bargain for a ride priced a bit higher than Uber, and Wa-lah! Never get duped by rip off cabbies who don't run a meter ever again! A bit of negotiating/playing hard ball later and I found a taxi driver to take me to Ubud for 200,000.


My taxi driver looked confused as he came to a stop at the side of the road, a location given to him after calling a staff member at the villa. He turned to look at me in the backseat and asked me, yet again, “Are you sure this is the right place?” I shrugged, called the Airbnb number, and within a few minutes, a motorbike engine sputtered to a stop. A hotel staff member had parked their bike at the top of a very steep hill, and was walking down to the road to help me with my belongings.

With my big backpack on the handlebars, and my small backpack on my back, the two of us somehow kept our balance as we rode down the tiny path through the rice fields. He asked me, “Are you afraid of snakes?” as a massive lizard cut across our path, then made some comment about the beauty of staying in nature (that I only halfway heard because my eyes were peeled, and I was concentrating on the presence of snakes). I wondered, not for the first time in my life... (and also likely not the last), “WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU GOTTEN YOURSELF IN TO?”

 
 

We arrived at the property and all my worries dissipated. I'd totally stopped my attempted snake spotting because HOLY SHIT - This place was a DREAM.

Though I was early, and the Bamboo Eco Cottage wasn’t quite ready for me to check in, the manager Ketut was very warm, welcoming, and told me to make myself at home in the open air kitchen and common area.

After travelling for 39 hours straight from Myanmar, I was perfectly okay with that. I grabbed a beer, my journal, and a cozy spot on the couch overlooking the quiet rice fields.

 
 

I have nothing but good things to say about FireFly... and the best part is the affordable price.

It was so relaxing, and though there's a lot to do in Ubud, FireFly made me want to kick back and do absolutely nothing. The first day, we stayed in the Bamboo Eco Cottage, a perfect little loft with a private walkway, patio, and a beautiful view. No one was checking in the following day, so we were able to spend the morning having a delicious breakfast and relaxing in the sun on the patio with a cute Bali pooch who came to hang out with us.

For our second night at Firefly, we moved to the Birds Nest, a literal four-story bamboo, treehouse style nest with private pods that can only be accessed by using their respective wooden ladder. Each level has a double bed with a canopy, a light, and an outlet. As you can imagine, these aren't extremely spacious, but it's all the space you need (and a hell of a lot better than a hostel bunk bed).

My travel companion stayed on the second level, and, with a go big or go home mentality, I decided to stay on the fourth. The climb up is definitely not for the faint of heart, but don't worry about having to take any of your things up there with you, as lockers are provided in another common area.

When we woke up in the morning it was POURING down rain. I couldn't even be mad at Mother Nature for ruining our plans to explore Ubud, because the sound of the rain from the treehouse was absolutely incredible. It was like sleeping in the clouds, and neither I nor my friend minded pushing back our plans for the day to stay in our nests a little longer.

 
 

 

Despite being an open-air, eco-property, FireFly was really clean (with the exception of the bugs who, lets face it, live there). The food was delicious, and the staff was so helpful when it came to arranging activities, boat tickets, and transportation around the city. The one thing that may be a down side for some travellers visiting this property is the spotty wifi. Also, the power as a whole cut out a couple of times, but this wasn’t just a property issue, it’s a city/Bali-wide issue.

All but one of the other guests were friendly, laid back, and understanding of the fact that when you’re staying in the midst of nature, you’re not going to have aircon constantly blasting, or full bars on your cellphone. However, a deranged solo traveller, who we coined “Cali Bro,” absolutely flipped out about this… (and everything else). Despite his cursing, shouting, and promises to give them a bad Airbnb review, Ketut the manager, and the rest of the staff, handled him flawlessly. (If you do read a bad review of the property, chances are it’s him and shouldn't be taken to heart).

In addition to having a horrible attitude, Cali Bro left his stuff everywhere, blasted his shitty music for everyone to hear, and even used the food in the fridge that belonged to the property restaurant. There’s a difference between respectfully making yourself at home, and treating a shared space like it IS your home, and Cali Bro definitely did the latter. He has apparently behaved this way before, and, in an attempt to keep him from returning, was banned by the host on AirBnb. Cali Bro literally made a NEW ACCOUNT in order to stay there and wreak havoc again.

Seriously, Airbnb if there’s anything you can do about making sure that FireFly's management never has to deal with this guy again, I know they, and travellers like myself, would appreciate it (as he was the only negative aspect of my stay here). CHEERS!

 
 

I loved this place and can't wait to go back to stay in one of the many other villas on the property - (maybe one with A/C! Because, yes they have those). 

And I almost forgot - The outdoor showers and bathrooms are incredible! Whether you're trying to cool off in the heat of the day, or showering under the stars, the bathroom situation at FireFly WILL NOT disappoint.

 
 

Interested in booking a stay at FireFly?

Click here to book the Bamboo Eco-Cottage.

If you're Ballsy, Click here to book the Bird's Nest Level 4.

 
 

Visiting Ubud? Need a ride? Call Gusti!

Want to skip the hassle of haggling with cabbies, or just want to learn a thing or two about Bali? Get in touch with Gusti! Referred to us by Ketut, Gusti was one of the best people I met in Indonesia. He didn’t just take us from point A to point B, he taught me a lot about Balinese culture, customs, and was just a really nice guy.

On our last night in Ubud, he took us to a local market and bought more street meat and Balinese cakes than our two stomachs could handle - things we never would have known to get on our own. (He also explained the process of rice farming to me... and now I can FINALLY sleep soundly - Kid you not, he actually pulled the car over and picked some from a roadside field to show us where the rice comes from).

If you're also curious as to how rice happens (or if you need a ride) you can contact him at +62 (877)-6043-7705. Tell him Kirstie sent ya!


New to Airbnb? Click here to sign up and receive a discount on your first reservation (so you can rice and shine at FireFly Villa, too)!