Monday, January 23, 2017

Traveling with InsightSTEM to Bali!

I woke up the morning of January 17th with my bags all packed and ready to go for a long trip across the world. Today was the start of a trip that would include enduring over 20 hours of flying in order to reach our destination in Ubud, Bali. I made sure to bring entertainment for the flights, to prepare as much as I could for being in the air for so long. I brought my iPad, laptop, phone with multiple portable chargers, and even a couple of Malaysia and Bali travel books to prepare for once we got there. I made sure I was prepared for anything on the flights, in order to make myself as comfortable and entertained as possible.

The Mountains covered in snow
flying into Denver
Our first flight left from Tucson at 9 a.m. Our destination was Denver, Colorado, and we happened to get upgraded to First Class!! This flight was only 2 hours, so it went very quick. The view from the plane once we got into Colorado was amazing, everything was white. The mountains were covered in snow; something rarely ever seen in Arizona. Once we landed in Denver, we awaited our next flight to Los Angeles, California, which was once again, a 2 hour flight. This flight went by quickly as well and by the time we landed in LA, it was 5 p.m. Fortunately for us, our next flight was the next day, so we got to have a break from flying... for now. Our next flight was scheduled to leave at 11 a.m. the next morning, to Tokyo, Japan.

I was really excited to go to Tokyo for I had never been anywhere close to there! I wasn't however, looking forward to the 12 hour plane ride that it took to get there. 12 hours of sitting in the same spot, in a plane 36,000 feet in the air, just did not appeal to me at all. I was nervous, but mostly I was just ready to get it over with. We would be landing in Tokyo at 3:45 p.m., and then leaving an hour and a half later on a flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This was going to be a 7 hour flight that landed us in Kuala Lumpur at Midnight. In an effort to not be jet lagged once we landed in Kuala Lumpur, my plan was to stay up for the entire duration of both flights so that once we landed in Kuala Lumpur, I would be ready to sleep.

Inside the plane
We boarded our flight Wednesday morning, and found our seats on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner that was going to take us across the Pacific Ocean to Tokyo. The plane was massive, and to my surprise, the seats were well spaced apart and quite comfortable! Every seat even had outlets, so that I could charge any of my electronic devices. Not only that, but on the back of every headrest, there was a screen that contained a library of different movies, TV shows, and music to choose from, and they were all free! The movie and TV choices were great too! They had tons of choices, ranging from classic movies, to newer movies that I wanted to watch, but never got the chance to. I was actually excited to get to watch these movies that they had. Not only that, but they even had WiFi available for purchase on the flight.

I stayed up the entire duration of the flight, thanks to having WiFi, watching movies and TV shows, and having in-flight meals. The WiFi was only $24 for the entire duration of the flight, which I used in order to stay in contact with my friends and family back home, constantly updating them about my flight. I watched The Martian, Star Trek: Beyond, and a few episodes of Game of Thrones to entertain myself. Before I knew it, we were already on our descent into Tokyo. The flight may have been long, but it flew by (no pun intended) and wasn't nearly as bad as I had thought it was going to be. I even found that I had enjoyed my flight, thanks to all of the on-board entertainment that they provided. This experience helped me to enjoy my travel more and be more optimistic for our next flight.

Our time in Japan was short, I wish we had more time because spending an hour and half in that airport went by so fast! There were so many people there and everything was so different. Seeing signs that weren't in English and all of the different souvenirs that you could buy were so cool to see! I wanted to buy so many things there, but unfortunately, we had another plane to catch and the line for the souvenir store was agonizingly long. We headed for our gate for our next flight to Kuala Lumpur.
Souvenir shop in Japan

This plane, while being the same exact model as our flight to Japan, had smaller seats on the inside. I found that it wasn't as roomy, but still manageable. It had all of the same amenities as our other flight, which I found very relieving. I managed to watch the movie Storks and Suicide Squad while on this flight, before I found myself waking up to the sound of the Captain announcing we were preparing to land in Kuala Lumpur. Another flight that quickly passed by; flights that I originally dreaded going on in the first place. Even though the flights were enjoyable, I was glad to be done flying for the time being, for our next flight was in two days time.

View of Kuala Lumpur
from the top of KL Tower
Kuala Lumpur was nothing like I had ever seen before. Everywhere you look, there were skyscrapers and trees. I had never seen so much green in person before, and if you are from where I come from, you would understand. Driving on the left side of the road was also a sight to see, after growing up in the United States, where all the driving is done on the right side and the steering wheel is located on the left side of the car. While I was in Kuala Lumpur, I got to see an aquarium, KL tower, the Petronas Towers, and the Batu Caves. Everything was spectacular, and like nothing I had ever seen before. My favorite was the Batu Caves, because it was just amazing to see. They had sacred statues and temples there, along with a giant cave that required climbing over 200 stairs! Not only that, but there were monkeys within a few feet of you nearly every step of the way... It was a sight to see and I am very glad to have had the chance to see it in person myself.
Batu Caves

Our next flight would be the last one for a while, to a place we planned on setting up headquarters for the next month. This flight was only 3 hours, in order to get to Ubud, Bali, the site of most of our STEM Exploration Expeditions. We got into Bali at 2 a.m., and had to take a taxi to our hotel, right next to the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud. I found that Bali is even more beautiful than Kuala Lumpur! All around you, there is something new to see. There are trees, wildlife, and sights to see everywhere! Just walking along the road in Ubud, there are monkeys walking around, climbing in the trees right next to you! You may even stumble upon ancient-looking ruins and temples right off of the main roads. The food is great and there isn't a lack of shopping or tourist attractions to see.
View from our Bungalow
Sacred Monkey Forest

Traveling to Bali, we had a total of 23 hours in the air, but it was definitely worth it! Looking back, it went by so quickly, I hardly even noticed it and as an added bonus, the flights were very affordable!! Now that I am here in Bali, I am so glad that I did it. I am so grateful at the opportunity that InsightSTEM has given me in order to become part of the team and have the chance to travel to such a unique and beautiful place. I hope to help others come out to Bali as well and meet with Jake and I, in order to expand their STEM knowledge through exploration as I am doing at this very moment. This opportunity could even be available to you! Take a look at our STEM Exploration Expeditions that we have available and see which one best fits you. And just maybe, I will see you soon, out here, gaining more STEM knowledge and experiencing the Balinese cultures right beside me. Come visit us and take this opportunity to better yourself and share your knowledge and experience with others. I hope to see you soon!!

-Isaiah Gurule
 Mission Coordinator of InsightSTEM

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