On my 5th day in Ubud we decided to be tourists and take a day trip. With so many different options, the group of us settled on river rafting. Our transportation arrived at 8 am and we were off. On the way our guide picked up two other travelers, a young military couple, visiting from Hawaii. The van was full and the excitement was high. There was a quick pit stop at headquarters to suit up before climbing in the back of a pick up and heading out to the river. The sun was hot on our backs as we disembarked on the side of the road. I heard our guide Johnny say “Follow me” and I did. He took us through a rice patty, with beautiful views and into the jungle with steep drops and slippery slopes. “If only my mom can see me now,” I squealed with joy. Shortly after I realized, I’m sure if my mom saw me know she’s just about pass out. Here I was following a stranger into the jungle wearing only a two piece and life jacket. Sorry mom, I love you.
I was thankful the second I heard the water. My desk job back home was starting to show as my legs were shaking as I bound the last few steps. It took about 10 minutes to get down to the river’s edge and I was drenched in sweat. My travel partner found a stream of water flowing down the side of a rock and with a few sticks created a fountain for us to refresh ourselves with while we waited for our river safety lesson. I learned two things “boom, boom” means get down and the most important rule of the water, even more so if you fall out, is do not panic. It was finally time to get in the raft and my heart was racing. You see I’m not a strong swimmer and up until this point river rafting was a good idea. As I climbed into the raft, that idea became a reality. I took my seat, at the front of the boat, and tried to remember that most important rule of the water. I vaguely recall Johnny giving us one more safety reminder before he pushed our raft off the embankment and into the water.
We had just “boom, boomed” down a swift part of the river, rebounded off of a rock wall and I was really starting to enjoy myself. As we came around the bend we were greeted by a young girl screaming her head off as guides drove into the river, looking downstream you could see her parents had fallen out of their raft. I thought about jumping in to help, I thought about going to hug the girl but mostly I thought that there is no way I’m falling off this raft. The river tried to take me with her, especially after a short pit stop at a river side bar ran by the locals. Two beers later, we were back on board and coasting to the finish line. Hugh rocks lining the riverbed had been carved telling the Indonesian version of the Romeo and Juliet story. We came across beautiful waterfalls and spectacular views, over and over again as we settled at another embankment. Our ride was over. I suddenly remembered our hike down the mountain. The hike back up was “easier” meaning that all the stairs were paved and we didn’t have to deal with mud and rock steps. But they still took my breath away. Meanwhile locals stacked multiple deflated rafts, life jackets and helmets on their heads and speed up the stairs past me.
At the top we climbed into the back of another pickup and when back to headquarters for a buffet style lunch. I couldn’t even eat from the onset of exhaustion. As much fun as I had the activity of the day had taken it’s toll on my soft mushy body. My travel partner joined me as we climbing into our transport back to the bungalow. “Let’s do that again!” He was beaming. “We’ll see.” I said and strapped in for the long ride home.