My escape to Bali
Bali made it to my 2017 vacation list in 2016 because that was when my very dear friend Shaun announced that he would be getting married to his soulmate Belinda. I met Shaun in the second year of university and we became close very quickly. When he announced his plans to get married on the island of Bali in Indonesia, I knew I would likely attend. When he then threatened ‘us’ with excommunication from said friendship if we did not make it to the wedding, I knew I would have to do everything in my power to get there. And that is how plans were put in motion a year in advance to attend this special union.
Andrew, Alicia, Luke, Maya, Mashfique (Mash) are friends from my 2005-2008 Bachelors degree era at the then University of Wales, Aberystwyth (now less impressively known as Aberystwyth University, having divorced itself from the University of Wales). I was excited and nervous about the prospect of travelling to a brand new destination in a part of the world I had never been to before, but this is what I love: travel. And so the preparations began.
Travelling to the Far East requires a fair amount of preparation and the first step should be finding out whether a visa is required. If you are travelling on a Nigerian passport, you do need a visa and it can be tricky to get for a couple of reasons. Now I am typically a DIY person when it comes to booking flights etcetera, but in a situation where you are travelling far and to a new country I strongly recommend you seek the services of a reputable travel agency as their help and expertise in navigating very tricky travel situations are incalculable. For me, that’s what the people at Jekan Travels are: helpers.
A number of Nigerians have been caught trafficking drugs to Bali so this means that if you do get your visa, you will be closely assessed by the NDLEA before departing Lagos, and most likely by authorities once you arrive at your destination. And this is still only the visa stage, next let’s discuss the flight path.
There are no direct flights from Lagos to Bali (duh) and if there were it would be a ridiculously long flight to be on with very few people on it. At this point again, I stress, seek the advice of a travel agent because connections could get tricky and you want to make your safety a priority and travel with reputable airlines. A few major airlines fly to Indonesia or have partner airlines that will get you there, and for reasons of cost and comfort I chose one of the middle-eastern airlines - Etihad to be precise, and I am happy I did. Not only did they have some of the best deals, but the route was an interesting one and had me stopping over in places I wanted to check out a bit. I ended up flying Lagos - Abu Dhabi - Singapore- Denpasar (Bali) with top notch service and friendly cabin crew which means a lot on a journey that takes over 24 hours to complete.
When it came to booking accommodation, my friends and I put in the work together scouring popular travel sites on line and then settling on a villa for our arrival, resort for the wedding and a hotel for the night (or 2 in my case) before departure.
Other considerations that came up were spending allowance (for long distance trips I try to $1,000 for 10 days and pray to God I only spend a fraction) as I was not planning on buying a wardrobe. I didn’t have extra for emergency “based on logistics” so I just prayed extra hard that there would be no emergency. I did take out travel insurance before the trip on the advice of the travel agency so that kept me calm somewhat.
I remember looking out over the water as the plane approached Bali and marvelling about how many shades of blue the Indian Ocean had and being awed at the beauty and newness of it all. I also remember being worried that this would be the best part of the trip, Sods law might just have it so that after I arrive, everything is boring, dirty and mundane. I am happy to say it was one of the best holidays of my life!
From the minute I first stepped out of the idyllic 2-bedroom villa in Seminyak, Kuta where Alicia, Maya and I shared for our first few days, it became clear to me that Bali was the perfect holiday Island. Small streets littered with rustic shops. Cobbled roads interspersed with more greenery than I’ve seen in any city. I always say however that the true measure of any location is its people, and the Balinese were smiling helpful and warm. It felt like travelling outside Lagos to a more rural village where the people had not polluted the air with smog, and corruption had not clouded people’s gaze with suspicion. Everywhere I went, I was met with a friendly ‘Hello” followed by an inquiry as to where in the world I was from.
I know that Bali may not be possible for everyone to visit, but it exists as a reminder that there are so many beautiful places on God’s green earth and we do ourselves a disservice if we do not make time, at least once a year, to pick a location (near or far)) that we have never been to, and just go. Seize the moment. Right now. Escape. If you can, to Bali.