The temple of Bayon is often outshone by the mighty Angkor Wat and alluring Ta Phrom, but it was the one that drew me in. Bayon’s towers are studded by faces on each side, and I remember standing agape, trying to study each expression, each smile. It might not be not as celebrated as the other bigger temples, but this was the definitely the one that the Khmer engineers had fun building.
The myth has been busted — apparently, I am capable of showing up early for work.
Today, though, work doesn’t mean putting on a frock and a pair of heels. Instead, I panic-packed several shorts, tops, and of course, my office’s official volunteer shirts, all before rushing madly to the airport to make my 6:15 am flight.
After several months of not having a single photo together, I’d say my family and I finally got to declare sweet revenge. Two hours, three albums, and 200+ pictures later, we could say that revenge was best served in a myriad of poses.
“It is easy to go over the border. It’s much harder to come back,” the guide teases.
As I look on to the thin stretch of elevated concrete, that crucial marker that keeps the peace for one of the most volatile feuds still existing in the world, flimsy is the word that comes to mind. It almost beckons you to at least try to violate it. Well, I say almost, if not for the stern-faced soldiers gravely guarding the demarcation line. They are staggered all over the Joint Security Area (JSA), one of the few things which North Korea and South Korea both agreed to share. Tension hangs thick in the air; the soldiers breathe this in all-day.
How Taiwan isn’t rolling off everyone’s tongues when they speak of adventure trips in Asia is a bit baffling. In the brief time I’ve spent overall in this country, I’ve seen stunning landscapes, met inspiring people, and took part in memorable traditions. Hualien County, around 2-3 hours by train from urban Taipei, is one of such little-known places, but one I would urge all my friends to see.
Before I get to the list, there’s one important thing I need to share — Ferdy. That’s the only name you’ll ever need to know in Bali.
Ours was a serendipitous meeting — we were a group of six stranded in Jimbaran, at the mercy of the overpriced taxis that lurked outside the restaurants. That was, until Ferdy came along in his Bluebird cab to drop off his passengers.
“Six, can?” – Us
“Can!” – Ferdy
And with three words, a bond was formed.
Ferdy had a smiling rest-face, which puts you at ease at once. We liked him so much that we hired him to be our driver/guide for the whole of the next day. He was honest, cheerful, and extremely generous the whole time, as if he were taking long-time friends around to see his home. I can honestly say that our trip wouldn’t have been as memorable if we didn’t get to know Ferdy.
Okay, now that you know the best driver-slash-guide in Bali, it’s time to explore! The island is simply humungous. For the six visits I’ve made to Bali, I’ve barely scratched the surface. It’s uncanny: each time I go, I find around 5 more things to do when I return to the Island of the Gods.
Here are ten suggestions on how you can make your own Balinese adventure unforgettable, based on the knockout experiences that made me come back for more (I’ve listed them in no particular order):
1. Paraglide at Timbis Beach
A sure way to get a Bali high is to paraglide at Timbis Beach. It sounds crazy to jump off a bluff, but once you soar above the hills and the sea, over the ridiculously expensive cliffside mansions, then it will all make sense. If you’re lucky, your tandem instructor may let you take the reins and control the chute for a bit. If you’re extremely lucky, you may even get to literally touch the clouds! This adventure is time-dependent; paragliding season in Timbis Beach is from May to October.
Back in 2010, we paid ~USD100 for a tandem flight; contact Bali Paragliding Adventure for the latest rates.