I didn't fully transitioned into "holiday mode" when we were in Hong Kong. In the Philippines, only when we were on the boat to Taal Volcano did I finally felt like I was off on an adventure. I had seen so many pictures of Bali and was really excited about this leg of the trip. (I also learned how to use the panoramic view on my phone! woo hoo!)
We arrived in Bali at around midnight and got settled in around 1:45am. Instead of a regular hotel, we opted to find villas using airbnb.com. There were so many beautiful places to chose from, but we all decided on Case de Maria. Less than a 7 minute walk to the beach, it came with a pool, a complimentary breakfast of eggs, toast and fruit, super comfortable and big beds, wi-fi... in short, we could have been perfectly content to kick it pool side.
|Casa de Maria|
But, we were SO close to the beach, so of course we'd have to go hang out there instead! (Duh!)
I've lived most of my adult life no more than 4 miles away from the ocean. (Even now, I'm only 1.5 miles away.) I love going to the beach. Sand between my toes, the soothing sound of the waves, potentially gorgeous sunrises or sunsets...
Beaches in this area of the world have the warmest water! And it was so clear! (I wish I could say "clean" as well, but there was a bit of garbage in the water, mostly plastic bags.)
The waves were perfect for learning how to surf, and even better if you just wanted to dive in and get carried back to shore. When we weren't in the water, some of us sunbathed, haggled with local merchants, had a refreshing beverage, and/ or just read.
I'm currently obsessed with the Game of Throne series. I'm all caught up with the show on hbo, which is AWESOME, and I'm about 40% through A Clash of Kings. Can't wait for the next season to be on again. I am a bit behind the books (by a few seasons), but I still enjoy reading them when I know what happens. I'm just weird like that.
Ok, back to the vacation...
After spending several hours relaxing at the beach, we headed out to Uluwatu Temple. As a sign of respect, we all had to wear some type of sash and the boys had to drape purple skirts around their shorts. Signs told us that we should take off our sunglasses and people everywhere were trying to sell us bananas. I was puzzled. I didn't want to be disrespectful (regarding the sunglasses), and was just confused about the bananas, until we entered...
Monkeys! Who doesn't love monkeys? Or at least the idea of monkeys...
I knew we were scheduled to see monkeys the following day, so this was a pleasant surprise. All I was expecting to see was a temple! Goes to show, sometimes it's good to let loose, go with the flow and trust friends to want to do something cool. ;)
They were all around the entrance, enjoying the food that tourists like us would give them. (It was an "aha" moment. HA)
As our guide took us through, we were getting closer and closer to the ocean. There were some spectacular views and I couldn't stop taking pictures. Everywhere we looked was a photo op!
We decided to have dinner at Jukung Bali Seafood, right on the beach. The seafood is really fresh, where you can pick your dinner from aquariums in the front of the restaurant. I'm no stranger to fishing so this suited me just fine, but some of my friends felt a little guilt. I don't blame them, as it can be quite the experience to really understand that the food that is on your plate was alive only about 15-20 minutes beforehand.
My friend Prem and I shared an incredible meal that included fried calamari, prawns, clams, and red snapper. It was delicious! It was a bit expensive, too, but I think it was worth it!
My friends decided to have some beer with their meal and I opted for a coconut. It is the biggest coconut I've ever seen!
As Prem and I were eating, the server came by and asked if we were on our honeymoon. I was sitting between Prem and his girlfriend! LOL! I actually said, "Um, actually THEY (pointing at them) are together, we are just sharing food. :) Um, AWKWARD! We all laughed it off, though.
After all, we were in Bali, enjoying a great meal with awesome friends!
We got very VERY lucky. We had just finished eating and were about to ask for the check. I felt a wet drop on my back and for a second, I thought that one friend had laughed so hard at something another friend said, that she spit up a little on me.
Then, I felt another one.
Right then, it started down pouring! We all scrambled to get our stuff and get under the awning before we got soaked. We were SO LUCKY! Did I mention lucky? I think we would have all been a bit disappointed if our dinner was washed a sea by the flash flood!
Ok, so maybe I exaggerated. The rain was done by the time we got back to our villa, which was about 30 minutes away.
|Mount Batur and Crater Lake|
Our next excursion was probably my favorite of the whole trip. That's saying something considering everything we did!
The Bali Eco and Cycling Tour was really amazing. Local guides took us to a coffee plantation where we sampled a variety of flavored coffee and teas and tried some infamous Kopi Luwak aka "cat poop coffee".
|Roasting coffee beans|
We learned that the Asian palm civet that they have to digest the coffee are not treated as badly as you might think (according to our guide). The coffee farmers don't hold them captive for too long as they don't want to stress out the animal. Seems reasonable.
It was pretty smooth, but not sure it's worth the hype to get it abroad. Or maybe I'm just not a coffee connoisseur... ok, there is no maybe in that.
I started drinking coffee after trying coffee ice cream and Coffee Bean's ice blended drinks. (Some refer to them as "milkshakes", which I can't really argue with! I'll take one Dark Chocolate Ice Blended please!) Before that it had no appeal and when I realized it could taste so good, I was all over it!
After coffee tasting, we headed to breakfast with a beautiful view overlooking Mount Batur and Crater Lake. Then, we were off to the downhill cycling part of the tour to Ubud.
Even though this was one of the best days, it was actually one of my most unlucky. I'm a bit anxious on a bike. Part of that is that several of my friends have been struck by cars. Well, that's the biggest part of it.
Let me just tell you upfront, I was not hit by a car. No one on this tour was injured by any vehicle. So don't worry!
But let me just tell you the first of some of the unluckiness I endured...
I selected a bike that was good for my glorious 5'1 1/2" frame (yes, I'm counting halves like a 4 year old, what of it?!). But as soon as I slid on the bike, I heard a "Rrriippppp!" My shorts ripped right below my crotch area. Thankfully, even though I told one of my friends, it wasn't noticeable. But I didn't bring a change of clothes and just prayed that it would not be too embarrassing!
|Rice paddy fields|
Shortly after that, we were on our way. I quickly forgot about the shorts and concentrated on staying on the bike and not running anyone or myself off the road.
We encountered many local children, who rushed over to say hi and give us high 5s. It was really awesome and I even made contact with a few of them without falling off the bike! (woo hoo's all around!)
We got to walk through rice fields, visited Bali homes where they were raising pigs (they jokingly called pigs their "ATM" since they were able to charge a decent price for a roasted pig), and weaving bamboo floor mats and roof tops.
Well, naturally, there is more unluckiness or I wouldn't have mentioned it...
So... I was minding my own business, rolling down the street, sippin on gin and juice, oh wait... no drink in hand, but we were cruising along, minimally avoiding cars, when I tried to do some hand motion and lost control of my bike and crashed along side of the road.
I got up rather quickly, more embarrassed than anything. The Ozzies stopped behind me to see if I was ok. Overall, I was fine. I got some bruises from the bike and impacting the side of the road, but the biggest bummer was the gash that I got on my right palm. It was bleeding a decent amount, and the bandaid they got wasn't quite doing the trick. (No pictures will be posted since I don't want to gross anyone out, but I did see some of the fat tissue on my hand, GROSS!!)
Though not quite a kodak moment, I still took a picture to send to the bf. Honestly, I was a bit worried I would need stitches, but I kept my hand elevated and couldn't really use it because any movement not only hurt a bit, but it also wouldn't let the area heal. In fact, it's been almost a month and it's not fully back to normal yet (though I've gained full recovery in motor function, just in case you were worried!) Slathering on neosporin did the trick! (Thanks F!)
The tour guide said we were five minutes away from the end, (5 minutes!) so I just hopped back on and finished. If only I could have held on another 5 minutes!
|Delicious Balinese food!|
Lunch was next!
Our lunch was amazing. Like I still have dreams about it amazing. It was probably on the top 5 list of best meals while on this vacation. The tour site advertised that some patrons called it one of the best meals on the island, and seriously... they weren't kidding.
Everything was good. Mie goreng (friend noodle), sweet soya bean cake, Tofu with peanut sauce, smoked duck, smoked chicken, Gado Gado, spicy sambal and some Balinese veggies. Holy deliciousness!!
The last part of our tour included the Ubud Monkey Forest. As we were driving back, it started to downpour. My friends and I debated if we wanted to go, and even called our driver to cancel our requested pick up, since the rain wasn't relenting.
About 5 minutes after that, the rain stopped. Ubud is at least an hour away from Seminyak (depends on traffic), and since it stopped, we decided to see if our driver was still available (which he was).
Our tour guides dropped us off and into the forest we went. We were warned by the Ozzy tourists that these monkeys were aggressive and that we could easily see them in the shopping area.
|Ubud Monkey Forest and Temple|
Did we listen? Nope. We decided to go there and see them anyway. After all, when would we be back?
We looked around, and saw that the sculptures were a little freaky looking. (I was still nursing an injured hand so I didn't take any pictures, but rest assured, they were creepy!)
We got about halfway through the forest and were heading to a temple when it started down pouring. (Unlucky stroke #3!) Cats and dogs wasn't even remotely accurate to describe it. Within minutes, the area we were in was flooded up to my knees. A few of us went back to the entrance, and the rest of us found shelter under a small hut.
After a few minutes, ants started dropping on us and biting. They have some strong jaws and it was getting to painful to be there, so those of us who were under the small hut made our way over to the entrance, where there was a larger platform to shield us from the rain.
Monkeys aren't dumb animals. They were under the shelter too. And several of them were playing tag, happily sliding around, using people's legs as leverage as they chose. Some tourists coaxed a few of them on their backs as they fed them. They are much braver than I. No monkeys on my back, thank you very much!
Our last night in Bali, we finally caught a sunset. I think I alone took a couple hundred pictures of it. This one of the boys high-fiving is my favorite.
Awesome trip and nice planning guys! Can't wait until our next adventure!