Alex has no clue how to ... book a hotel.

So one of the girls I met in Ubud left the same day that we did the hike and headed down to Padang Padang for her final couple of days in Bali. She messaged me shortly after she got there and told me to head there ASAP because it was so beautiful and agreed. So I spent a couple of days just lounging around the beaches of Padang Padang before deciding to head over to the Gili Islands for a couple of days.


However, getting to the Gilis proved to be a bit of task and I decided to spend the night in Sanur before heading over there. Thus began the story of me attempting to book a hotel - a feat that I completed after what seemed like an hour, but was probably only 20 minutes. I manage to get a driver from my lovely hotel in Padang Padang to my new hotel, which turned out to be a five star resort almost exclusively for couples.


I guess the hotel felt bad that I had to wait a full 15 minutes for my room to be ready, so rather than put me in the room that I booked, which was just a normal room, they put me in the supreme suite. King sized bed, a minimum of four bottles of water, snacks, fancy shampoos, private wifi, the whole 9 yards. It also had a beautiful outdoor bathroom complete with tub and shower that had the most amazing water pressure. I also feel like this might have benefited them, because this meant that I would most likely spend a ton of time in my room and then the other guests wouldn't see the gross, dirty backpacker that wandered into their hotel.


I was super excited and already planned my evening of a long bubble bath followed by a movie and full nights sleep when I decided to go get some dinner at the restuarant attached to the hotel. I don’t know if it was the food there, or the two small drinks that I had, but maybe an hour or two after I finished dinner I was feeling like death. I ended up forgoing the bath and heading straight to bed. My body had different ideas though, and I ended up spending most of the night getting to vomming into the very nice toilet. But whatever, at least I was surrounded by my five star amenities and wrapped in my complimentary robe.

Alex has no clue how to ... hike up a volcano

So, I land in Bali, almost a full 2 days after I left Houston, with my backpack full of stuff and the determination to successfully get a cab on my own to Ubud. I did manage to do that btw, although it was maybe a bit more expensive than I thought it would be; that’s mostly due to the accidental charter of a limo service rather than just a taxi. But I pressed on! If anything, I continue to live by my Aunt Sarah’s friend’s motto of “I’ll pay.”


I get to Ubud and into my hostel and start to kind of get a feel for those around me. This was my first stop on this trek, and I think it was a great choice. It was cheap, but spacious with a nice view of a rice field that I am fairly certain was just planted there to appeal to the tourists. Either way it was full of people. 


I managed to befriend a few, who mentioned that they were going to take a 2 am trek up a volcano to see the sunrise that night. Wanting to experience it as well, I signed up. And thus began me attempting to summit a volcano.


I allowed myself to crash at 8:30 the night before citing that I would need my sleep to be awake during the hike. However, it seems like my inability to sleep followed me to Bali and I managed to wake up multiple times during the night until I finally gave up and just listened to music and waited for 1:30. I was going with 3 other girls in my room, so as we got up and quietly dressed.


7 of us managed to cram into a taxi - where the driver proceeded to blast a Vengaboys cassette tape that I am fairly sure was actually a relic from the 90s. The first stop was a plantation where they fed us coffee and breakfast - banana “pancakes.” Next was another 45 or so minutes in the taxi until we reached the base of Mt. Batur. Then began the hike.


All in all, I would say that we hiked about 2 miles straight up this volcano. One girl likened it to climbing like Gollum in Lord of the Rings and I would agree. I used my hands about as much as my legs. It wasn’t like a nice smooth path either - it was all hardened, porous volcanic rock. Bits and pieces would dislodge as you were climbing and create mini-rockslides behind you. Being completely out of shape (unless you call round a shape), it was pretty difficult for me to do. 


Either way, I made it! I was rewarded with a beautiful sunrise. I was also rewarded with a hard boiled egg and a banana sandwich. Eventually the sun rose completely and after wandering around the caldera a little bit, we headed back down to the base. We managed to somehow end up in the bed of a truck for the final part of the journey, which i will admit made it a little bit easier and a ton more fun.


You would think it would end there, but the locals, determined to feed us as many different types of cooked bananas as possible, returned us to the plantation where we were given banana fritters. Finally, we were driven back to the hostel where all of us dispersed to nap or read as we saw fit.

Alex has no clue how to ... pack a backpack.

To say that I have never packed just a backpack for a trip before would be an undeniable truth. I have no idea what I am doing. In fact, I don’t even know what kind of backpack one would need for a backpacking trip. I actually researched it and right before I left I decided to ignore just about all the research and just take my North Face backpack from high school.


My packing list included:

3 shirts - one with sleeves cut off, one normal one, and one loose long sleeve tunic

2 pairs of yoga pants - one that’s a “hiking” yoga pant

2 pairs of athletic shorts

1 pair of galaxy patterned jeans - I’ll be honest, I mostly brought these because I couldn’t fit into them for over a year and now I can and I was pretty proud of myself

5 pairs of underwear

2 sports bras

1 regular bra

2 swimsuits - both bikinis, one of which i realized is now too large for me once I got here and tried to put it on… sooooooooooo...

2 pairs of wool hiking socks

2 pairs of normal socks

1 soft shell North Face

1 pair of hiking boots - I, annoyingly, have to wear these whenever I travel to a new place since they are too big for my bag 

1 pair of flip flops - hostel showers be super sketch sometimes, ja feel

1 pair of Teva sandal things - no idea what the proper name for them is

1 laptop & charger - obvis

1 external hard drive & cables - pre-filled with movies and tv shows, should I need them

1 kindle & cables - I’ve already read like 2 books

1 DSLR & battery charger

3 lenses - so far I’ve only used 2, but that might change

1 iPhone (unlocked) & power cord - I would probably die if not for this thing

1 pair of headphones

1 universal power adapter - i actually came prepared for something for once!

5 small sketchbooks - honestly, just remembered i packed these

1 dive log - incomplete since I forgot where it was and am also horrible about writing things down

2 PADI whiteboards - if I knew what these were for, I’d tell you

a plethora of locks - combo locks, key locks, locks with metal wire, i can lock up just about anything

another plethora of medication - malaria tablets, nyquil, dayquil, ibuprofen


So i took all this stuff, rolled it up as tight as I could manage and stuffed it into my North Face. I remember having a mental breakdown because I couldn’t decide if it was too small or too large or not enough, but I think I managed ok. However, once I got here, I realized many things - the least of which is how unprepared I was.


First, I realized that it is hot as balls in Indonesia (at least) and that one tank top was not going to cut it. I think I just walk outside and start sweating immediately. I thought that Houston humidity was bad, but it is nothing - NOTHING - compared to Bali. 


Second, and I actually figured this might happen, is that I realized that my hiking boots - which i love - are really not suited for this part of the trip. I’m not sure if I will be using them later, but it does suck to have to carry them around all the time. This means that I have to wear them everytime I change locations, which thankfully has only been twice so far. I might see if I can somehow manage to shove them in my backpack, which will be quite a feat.


I ended up buying another tank top and a super lightweight dress in Ubud, in addition to a small purse and some toiletries. I think that should just about cover me for the rest of the trip, but we will see!