Bali – Part One

Bali! We landed in Bali, time for a healthy balance of gorgeous white sand beaches and monkeys. When planning this trip back in September I really didn’t have any intentions to go to Bali. Haley has work connections here and knows a few people who’ve lived and vacationed here extensively, so she planned Bali to be her last stop before heading home. In my uneducated, New Zealand driven mind, I looked it over and said nahhh, I’m just gonna go straight to New Zealand. A month later, not sure why, my mind opened up and slapped me across the face. Why wouldn’t I go to BALI? It’s right THERE, it’s FAMOUS, it’s MAGICAL, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?!?

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So here I am, sitting in a cafe in Bali escaping the tenacious sunny rays. I have 10 days here, the first 5 with Halez, the last 5 on my own. Our first 2 nights were spent on the coast of Canggu (Shang-Goo). Canguu is 10km north of the partying tourist city of Kuta. Canggu is a laid back and peaceful surfers paradise (which I found out, is everywhere in Bali, except for Kuta.) We stayed at Andy’s Surfing Villa which had 3 bungalows surrounding a tiny pool shaped like a gourd. “Uncle Andy” was great, we didn’t exchange money at the airport so he lended us a bunch to go to dinner with. We headed down to the beach (3 minute walk) and found ourselves in seafood paradise. We chose the BBQ option which (depending on what kebab you got) was roughly 4 dollars for 2 seafood skewers, all-you-can-eat organic salad, and yellow rice. It was so filling and delicious. Midway through it started to DOWNPOUR. Turns out, it’s the rainy season, and we again, HAD NO IDEA. When it rains in Bali, it REALLY rains. No worries for us though, we tucked away our iPhones and ran across the beach in laughter all the way to our bungalow. Hopped in the pool fully dressed and hit the hay. Bali, is gonna be good.

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After the most humid run of my life, I hit the beach and got the worst burn of my life. Those darn clouds, they fool me every time. Ate some more great food and took it easy for the night. On our last morning at Andy’s we were out by the pool where we met a fascinating lady named Barbara, or as everyone calls her, “B.” B is from Northern Ireland and in her late 40’s. She is not married and has no kids. She lived the corporate life for awhile and during the past several years has worked overseas for 9-12 month contracts in countries she has chosen. Very well-traveled, friendly, and an inspiring bungalow mate. She quit her job because she wants to write. She has a 24-day stay at Andy’s and is hunkering down and writing most of the day. I was very inspired by that idea and loved hearing about her travels and how she got to where she is now. She told me I have until at LEAST my 40’s to figure out what I want to do, and not to worry about figuring it out in my twenties. She said a lot of people waste their 20’s on, “figuring it all out” when your 20’s are meant to be enjoyed, and for having fun. She just told me that if I wanted kids to start get going on that by 32, hah!

Best attempt at self-timer jumping pic

Best attempt at self-timer jumping pic

It was a moment of realization that I needed. When describing this trip to people I found myself describing it as a journey to hopefully figure out what I really want to do with my life. I mean, HOW ABSURD is THAT. I’m 26! The moment I stop looking so hard for my passion is the moment it’ll hit me like a ton of bricks. I have worked hard to enjoy this trip, so that is exactly what I am going to do. No more over-thinking, just gonna let it rideeee. (sorry mom, no 9-5 for me anytime soon!)

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Canggu was a really cool place to check out, but less beauty and more rough n’ tough surfer waves. Next stop is inland to Ubud (ew-bood). Ubud is said to the be the artsy and cultural center of Bali. We were expecting a tiny little town with local art shops, temples, and of course, the monkey forest. What we got was a congested, medium to large size town with a ton of yogis. There was so much going on we couldn’t believe it. We were so overwhelmed (by Bali standards) that we almost extended our stay by 2 nights. We stayed at the Jaya Jungle Bungalow which was rather glamorous at first. The room was big, the bathroom bigger, and a pool surrounded by the greenest of greens. We were in the jungle, and we were really excited about it. What we didn’t realize is how many ants and bugs we would be sleeping with at night, and how non-existent the air circulation would be. It was hot, really hot.

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Bug net essential.

Bug net essential.

After eating raw pizza and sucking down superfood smoothies at Clear Cafe, we stopped in a tour office. Not knowing what to expect, we ended up customizing our own private tour for the next morning. It was pretty funny, we told him what we were interested in, negotiated a price, and he said he’ll pick us up at 8:30 the following morning. Done.

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While out on our veranda (i hate to love that word) enjoying a nice bottle of red from the Balinese Vineyards, one of the guys came over and told us about breakfast. He was basically like yeah, once we see you come outside we will start cooking for you. So in the morning, I walked outside (onto the veranda) and there he was watering the flowers down below and goes “Ready for pancake?!” and I was like “Ready for pancake!” haha, and 10 minutes later, he brought it up to our (here we go again) Veranda and we were ready to go.

Banana Crepe!

Banana Crepe!

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Our tour guide, Ade (Ah-Dee) was a really cool 31-year-old dude from Bali. He went to college in Jakarta for Tourism and he drove us around and told us all about the sights and culture of Bali. We went to the Rice Terraces first, then up to Mt. Batur (Volcano), and back down to the Coffee Plantation. We got a 16 (or around that many) tasting platter of coffee and teas for free! I couldn’t believe it, nothing has been complimentary on this trip so far, and we got free peanuts! So we bought stuff at the gift shop to feel deserving. The big thing about Bali is the Luwak Coffee. They cage up this weird looking cat animal and feed it until it poops. They use it’s poop (washed multiple times) and grind it up with the coffee beans. The end result is a very expensive coffee that I don’t think tastes very good, but then again, I’m new to this coffee game. They call it “Cat Poop Roast” or the kicker, a “Catpoopcino.” Ended the day at the Monkey Forest where all these funny monkeys have gray mustaches and look like old men.

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Cat POOP

Cat POOP

The last morning in Ubud we are UP and READY for the SUPERBOWL. Gametime: 7:30AM. Emailed the bar a few days beforehand to confirm they would be playing it. We walked in at 7:29 and plopped ourselves on a bench in the back. They had it on a big projector screen, the picture was very fuzzy and it kept freezing and cutting in and out. I was really nervous. The audio worked great thank goodness, but not until midway through the 2nd quarter did the picture run smoothly. The bar was filled with white people, mostly Americans, but a few Europeans did show up for the early morning booze. I think they were disappointed when none of the players were using their feet. But they stayed till the end anyways. When Butler intercepted the ball for the win I just let it loose. I erupted from that bench and couldn’t control myself. There was a guy from Boston right behind me who was way more obnoxious than me, so it was a fun celebration. If I wasn’t so consumed with the victory and had time to look over at Haley, I’m sure her head was down with embarrassment of knowing me. She was a good sport, she came and went throughout the game but whenever she came back she brought me snacks. She cheered for the Patriots, even though she hates both teams. It was an appreciated effort. The rest of the day just kept getting better and better. It was such a memorable experience celebrating the Patriots win at a jungle bar in Bali. Couldn’t beat it.

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