Justin dropped me off at SeaTac around 10PM. Ten minutes before he dropped me off, I had my first and only, “holy sh** what the f*** am I doing?” moment. Doubt and anxiety rushed over me. Was this going to be worth it? Do I have the travel smarts to fly halfway around the world by myself? I wanted to turn the car around and go back home. But, thankfully Justin is great at real talk and continued to drop me off at the airport. Fear is only temporary, regret lasts forever. (Thanks, Pinterest, for that inspiring quote).
I made my way to the gate for check-in. My first flight was to Taipei, with a connecting flight to Bali. There were four people in front of me around my age at the gate – super high energy and talking about Bali. I asked the group, “Oh, you are going to Bali, too?” One of the girls turned around, “YEAH! Are you?” The convo went kind of like this:
Bali Group: “What are you doing in Bali?”
Bali Group: “No way we are too! Who are you volunteering with?”
Me: “IVHQ Green Lion Bali”
Bali Group: “NO WAY WE ARE TOO!”
So I made some new friends from Minnesota at my gate. They wouldn’t be volunteering with the turtles, but doing healthcare education in Ubud, as they were all nursing students. They also turned out to be on my return flights home. Hooray for making travel buddies! I was no longer terrified about traveling by myself halfway around the world.
My thirteen hour flight to Taipei was uneventful. I slept half the flight and the adorable kids in front of me slept most of the time. The kids only caused a ruckus when they threw a toy at the elderly man sitting a couple seats to my right. He looked PO’d by the incident but that was the biggest drama on my SEA -> TPE flight.
We landed at the magical Taipei airport around 5AM. We went through “security” (we got to keep everything in our bags, there were only two TSA workers, the security equipment looked ancient) and made it to the glamorous international terminal. Taiwan loves its shopping and Hello Kitty. I spent a good part of my layover walking around the terminal with the Minnesotans. We got some coffee and food. What I loved about the Taipei airport was how each gate was a different theme. There was a nature themed gate, a music themed gate, a Hello Kitty themed gate (duh!)….our gate was the Taiwan Fruit Waiting Lounge.
Maybe because we were going somewhere tropical?
We boarded our flight to Bali. And we happened to be on one of EVA Airway’s Hello Kitty Jets. I lost my mind! It was so freaking weird and amazing – everything was Hello Kitty on the plane. From the pillows, the in-flight meal napkins, the spoons ( I stole mine, no shame), and the toilet paper! It was wonderful.
We arrived in Bali and got our luggage and withdrew some local currency from the ATM. It took us a while to find our driver arranged by Green Lion but once we did we were off. Pro Tip: Don’t give anyone your luggage when you find your taxi driver at the Denpasar airport. These official-looking but scheming dudes want you to pay them for wheeling your luggage to your taxi. I read about this beforehand and didn’t let anyone grab my stuff but a few of the Minnesotans were charged 50K Rupiah (~4.50 USD) for something they could have easily done themselves.
Our drive to Penenstan, Ubud was wild! Driving in Bali is crazy! There aren’t any visible traffic rules, kids driving motorbikes, and everyone is honking. I’ve heard it is worse in Thailand, but damn, I was happy to not be driving. I guess you could rent a car in Bali, but you probably have a much higher survival rate just hiring a taxi driver to get you to your destination.
We made it to Penenstan in one piece! The village is about fifteen minutes outside of Ubud. We found the volunteer canteen and had dinner, then we showered and passed out. I happened to be roommates with the lady Minnesotans and two women from China and Italy. We would start orientation the next morning!
Next time, I’ll write about orientation week and all the fun activities they had planned for us!