Ubud. Bali. The words alone connote scenes of lush greenery, zen yoga activities, and crashing waves during sunset. I’m not sure if this is all I hoped to find when I flew into Bali for the beginning of my few months in Southeast Asia (the insanely cheap flights probably had a little more to do with it than anything), but unfortunately it’s far from what I found when I landed there in February 2016.
Landing in Indonesia was at least much easier than expected. Fears of being turned away for lack of a visa and no ongoing flight had forced me to frantically book a random flight onwards to Singapore before I boarded the plane, but it turns out none of this mattered. Arriving at the immigration counter in Denpasar, the attendant no more than glanced at my passport, asked when I planned to leave, and sent me on my way. No visa charge. Getting out of the airport was easy and I managed to get a taxi for 300,000 rupiah (about $24 USD), too tired after 31 hours of travel to figure out any other cheaper method. An hour and a half later of Balinese music and a pretty straight shot down a 1-lane “highway” lined with silver and stone shops, I was in Ubud.