Trekking: Indonesia Memories

December 8, 1997 8:37 pm

Last month, we left Rob and Annie Cornforth in the care of a taxi driver in Bali. The Ottawa couple packed their bags after wedding at the end of August and set off for an eight-month trek around the world. Ottawa Life Magazine is tracing the couple’s steps every month and telling their stories. This month, Annie tells us of their first few days in the strange new country, beginning right when they entered “the sanctuary that our room and its four dirty walls offered us.”

Inside, the tension loomed high. At a time like this, you would think that we would be comforting each other, but we were at a loss for words, silently attempting to compose ourselves.

We realized that sooner or later we would have to face the outside world again, and prepared to set out from our room. Not wanting to take any chances and fearing theft, we donned our heavy packs and ventured out.

Taking only a few steps into the adjoining courtyard, we heard: “Where are you going with your packs on?” The words came from an Australian girl standing nearby. As soon as she said this we began laughing hysterically as the tension finally was broken – and we realized how silly we were being. Rob, covered from head to toe in a thick white sunscreen, looking like a mime, only added to the hilarity.

“Where are you from?” she asked.

“Ottawa!” we exclaimed. You would have been proud.

As the days passed and we grew from this and other experiences, our first few hours in Indonesia were fondly remembered. Looking back, we certainly thought the $3,700 ticket(s) price was well spent.

Since then… Kuta: learned the phrase “tidak terima kasih/no thank-you,” which helped to ward off the persistent and many vendors, swam in the ocean, strolled white sand beaches… assessed Kuta as a busy town and moved on.

Ubud: getting there we had our first look at wet rice fields/steppes, visited the “Elephant Cave”- a temple but a tourist trap- there were never any elephants on Bali and it was not so much a cave.

Padangbai: loved this tiny ferry port village, went snorkelling (sharks, tropical fish of bright colours), got sunburns.

Days spent: swims, hikes to markets, sulfuric hot springs, tropical forest waterfall.

Evenings: spectacular sunsets, midnight stargazing floating on inner tubes in the ocean.

Hints: You can’t trust everybody, but you have to trust somebody some time, some of life’s best experiences may not seem it at the time.

Trekking: Bali

November 8, 1997 8:29 pm

This month marks Rob and Annie Cornforth’s first adventures in their trek away from Western civilization. The Ottawa couple packed up their bags after their wedding at the end of August, and set off for an eight-month trek around the world. Ottawa Life Magazine is tracing the couple’s steps every month and telling their stories. Annie tells of their first hours: Physically and emotionally drained after a 36-hour transit from Vancouver to Bali, our first tentative steps onto this foreign land left us Utterly in culture shock.

From such sources as “The Lonely Planet,” “Let’s Go Asia!” and our parents, we were on guard against con artists, disease, theft and mosquitoes. Walking out of the Denpasar Airport, we were bombarded by what appeared to be all these things at once.

Swarmed by dozens of taxi drivers, all of them demanding in Balinese “Where are you going?”, and not knowing ourselves, the first trickles of panic were setting in. Indonesians are not hampered by the need for “personal space.” In a country of 200 million, this makes perfect sense, but coming from Ottawa it felt like being in a cramped elevator, an elevator that featured grasping hands, blaring musak, in-your-face conversation and no sense of up or down. From our expressions, it was perfectly obvious that we had recently fallen off the turnip can. Never in our lives had we experienced such vulnerability.

In an effort to escape, we randomly chose the nearest town (Kuta) and handed our trust over to a taxi driver named Bali. The Indonesian style of driving is more offensive than defensive. From all directions, mopeds, buses, cars, bicyclists, carts and pedestrians battled for a place on the narrow road.

Join us on our continuing adventures next month.

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