We finally got to go on our honeymoon recently, about five months after our wedding took place. In Korea, Chuseok is a national holiday, like American Thanksgiving, where families get together and eat lots of food. In actuality, it is a very stressful holiday for many people, especially for the wives of first-born or only sons, because a lot of the food preparation responsibility falls on them.
Fortunately, my mother-in-law was understanding that my husband’s work schedule doesn’t allow him to take vacation unless it’s a national holiday, and she didn’t mind us missing Chuseok this year to enjoy our honeymoon. We did have to make it up to her and the rest of the family later (more on that in another post) so we didn’t totally get off scot-free, but it was nice to get away to the island of Bali.
For years, I’d been looking at pictures of Bali, dying to go, even though I’m not really a beach lover. It’s a beautiful place that’s a nice, inexpensive place to visit for many travelers looking for a unique experience. It’s also much closer to me now that I live in South Korea; only a 7-hour plane ride. I’m dying to visit Europe, and most of the places in the world I want to go are there, but Bali was definitely more of an exotic getaway, so it was a good choice for our honeymoon.
My husband didn’t care where we went for our trip. He’s been to many other countries in Southeast Asia, and he likes to travel to new places, so I figured Indonesia would be perfect, since we’d both never been before. He’d heard me ask him over and over if we could make Bali our honeymoon destination, so as soon as he confirmed the dates with his family and business partners, he booked our tickets.
I was so surprised when he came home one day with the reservations in his hand. It’s not like I have to beg him to plan things, but he’s usually so laid back that it was a nice surprise. I immediately started looking into places to stay on Airbnb, and after those were booked, it only took me the span of three days to plan most of our trip.
Since we only had about four full days to enjoy our time in Bali, I really wanted to make sure we visited famous places, did cool things we normally wouldn’t be able to in Korea, and had a romantic time together. My personality is such a paradox because I love to relax, but at the same time, if I don’t have a plan, I feel like I will miss out on things, so I tend to fill out my schedule whenever I travel with things I want to do or see.
My husband was a little worried we wouldn’t have time to relax, while I was worried that my plan might end up not being what I expected. But he trusted me with the map, so to speak, since his English ability still isn’t high enough to be able to research, make reservations, or talk to the locals as well as me.
When we started dating, I lived in Japan and he lived in Korea, so we never really traveled together, and we had never been on a plane together before our trip. Junkyu hadn’t been on a plane in maybe ten years, and the airport protocol that was obvious to me after taking dozens of flights since I was a teenager was confusing for him.
We learned a lot more about each other on this trip, mostly from the stress it put on us to pack everything we needed, travel a long distance in tight quarters, and visit a foreign country where we didn’t know the culture or customs (research can only do so much). It was strangely relieving, though, for both of us to be in the same situation. Now that I’ve been in Korea for a year, I’m usually the one who feels lost or dependent. It felt nice when, in Bali, he had to rely on my for communication, ordering food, etc., since it’s been the reverse for so long. It was similar to when he visited me in Japan, except I was also just as new to everything as he was.
Our plane ride wasn’t that bad, and we were greeted at the airport by our first driver (supplied by our Airbnb host) who took us to the convenience store for some water and snacks. Then we were driven in the dark (it was 1 a.m.) through the muggy countryside down what seemed like one lane roads to our first Airbnb. I chose a really relaxing place with a gorgeous pool overlooking the ocean, but when we arrived, tired and confused about how to use the Indonesian Rupiah that we got to pay our driver, it felt pretty strange. I didn’t feel like we were really on our honeymoon yet, and the guy who ‘greeted’ us and gave us the key to our room was kind of a jerk.
We showed up and, again, everything was dark and we were exhausted and just needed to sleep, but the regular staff wasn’t there, since it was after hours. So our driver, who was super sweet, told us that we were to pay him directly, so we took out our pink, green, and blue bills and were shocked to see how many zeros were after the ones and fives. We struggled to give him the right amount for a few seconds, but Mr. Rude Guy kind of laughed at us, and then demanded that we give our driver a tip. In Japan and South Korea, tips are not customary and it was disorienting to be told what to do, and I had no idea how to convert the amounts in my mind.
Mr. Rude Guy pointed to a blue bill in my hand and told me to tip our driver with that. When I did, however, he grumbled about it not even being enough for a piece of candy. I was so angry at that point and fumed as he took us to our room. It was small, but had air conditioning and a big bottle of water, as we were promised (tap water in Bali usually gives foreigners bad stomach problems). He told us that the wi-fi password was probably in the note that was on our bed, and then he left. The wi-fi password was indeed not in the note, so we weren’t able to let anyone know we had arrived or check in on Penny, our cat, through the camera we set up in her room.
All through the night, roosters crowed over and over, and I doubt I got more than an hour or two of sleep. At that point, I was really frustrated. I couldn’t find the shampoo in our room even though it was listed in the description, the rude guy left a bad taste in my mouth, and I couldn’t check on my cat or sleep off the exhaustion. I was really starting to wonder if our trip had been a mistake.