I don’t like to worry my family – thus, I waited a few weeks before revealing my crazy ride to the hostel. Culture shock certainly hit me the next day as I witnessed the craziness of Kuta, with its bustle, sundries stores selling off-color items, and endless touts selling everything from massages to surfing lessons. I took full advantage of the day I had on my own by taking a surfing lesson from “Tommy,” a random guy on the beach who was offering an informal lesson with an hour of solo board time for about $20.
The next day I made plans to hang out with Khan, Pink’s boyfriend, near his high-end import shop in the exclusive area of Nusa Dua. The SIM card I bought the day before paid for itself when Khan talked down the cab fare over Whatsapp from the outlandish 300,000 rupiah to the much more reasonable 150,000 rupiah. While the water quality and atmosphere of Kuta reminded me of Ocean City, Maryland, Nusa Dua, with its white sand beaches and clear water, represented what I thought Bali would look like. After letting me spend a few hours at the beach, Khan treated me to a delicious Padang lunch and showed me a nearby sea blowhole. When the time came to say goodbye, I took the scooter he rented for me (surprise, Mom!) and attempted to find Uluwatu Temple. While I would ride a motorcycle to work on a regular basis back home, riding a scooter on the confusing roads in the wild traffic was terrifying for me. It didn’t help matters that my gas tank was empty, the speedometer was broken (in true Honda fashion), and my phone was dying. While I didn’t find the temple, I ended up seeing the most gorgeous beach I had ever seen in my entire life at Uluwatu Beach. There, a small beach (maybe 20 meters wide) was crammed inside a beige-colored canyon maybe 35 meters high. On the way back, I took a couple of breaks. At one, after becoming completely lost and feeling honestly terrified, I considered giving up, taking a cab back to the hostel, and telling Khan and Pink that I wouldn’t be able to hang out with them over the next few days. Fortunately, a few bottles of water calmed my nerves and I made I finally made it back. I was looking forward to seeing Ubud with Pink and Khan too much to throw in the towel.