*Warning picture overload!
Can someone pinch me? Seriously, how did I get this lucky to be able to travel to such remote parts of the world? I’m not sure I have an answer to that question, but I will sure as heck take part in these opportunities to travel like we have been.
Bali is only chapter 1 of our Asian adventures, but starting with Bali definitely leveled up our standards for South East Asia travels, as shocking as that may sounds. Besides, maybe some stereotypes that you would expect traveling to a section of Indonesia, that’s main economy is tourism, Bali was filled with culture, great food, beautiful beaches, and some friendly locals willing to share their knowledge with all of us tourists.
Now how do I catalog this great adventure? I suppose I will break it down to each of the three places we visited, so here goes. We started our venture in Ubud, which is central Bali, and then thanks to some advice from some friends back in Michigan (shout out to Bea if you read this) we had some recommendations to visit some of the Islands. We chose to visit Nusa Lembongan and Gili Trawangan, fondly known as Gili T, which is actually part of Lombok, Indonesia and had a totally different vibe then Bali.
Ok, lets talk Ubud. It was my favorite place in we visited in Bali. I loved everything about it, it had culture, it had food, it had temples, it had shopping, it was so off the beaten path of every place in the world that I’ve visited that I just wanted to eat this city up! I ended up booking us for four nights in a Villa just outside of downtown and that was no where near long enough for me. This city was so alive and I wish that I had been able to see more of it. Here are a few snap shots of the villa we stayed in.
DAY ONE: BALINESE MESSAGE, WARUNG RIBS, & BINTANG
Just about every single vacation I take with John I try to talk him into doing a couples message…never once does he say yes. Usually, it’s the price, or it’s weird, or we run out of time, always an excuse. Well my dear husband has been working himself to the bone lately and I was not about to let a trip to Bali pass without getting a famous balinese message. So before John had a chance to say no I went ahead and booked one for our first day. He will pretend to tell you that he thought it was weird, but I have not seen my husband so relaxed in such a long time. Also, did I mention the spa we had this message in…here’s a photo.
Yup it was truly paradise. Of course after a relaxing morning, I can’t just sit by the pool or in general sit still, so I made John go exploring. This in itself is an adventure because the streets of Ubud are crowded, there is not a single traffic light, it’s mass chaos and basically I’m surprised that no one is injured more often. None-the-less we found ourselves at a place off the beaten path called Naughty Nauri’s Warung. I had to ask what a Warung was as I saw these everywhere. Basically, they are places for locals to purchase basic necessities, such a groceries, gas (which by the way is sold in Absolute Vodka bottles. No joke, I did not see a gas station in Bali), and also can be local restaurants. Nauri’s is known for their margaritas and their ribs, so yup that was right up our ally. It was also when we discovered Bintang. Bintang is Bali’s primary pilsner and even though it’s comparable to Bud Light in the States, it was a welcomed change from the Sapporo or Kirin’s we are used to drinking in Japan. Also, the ribs lived up to their hype, we ate here twice while we were in Ubud.
DAY TWO: UBUD MARKET, BALINESE COOKING CLASS & SWEPT AWAY RESTAURANT
Our day two activities centered all around food. It started in the Ubud market learning about the different ingredients and flavors that are common in Balinese cooking and ended with a pretty fantastic dinner at a restaurant overlooking the Ayung River. The best part of this vacation, is that at this point we found out how CHEAP EVERYTHING is in the Bali. We had a five course, romantic dinner in a five star hotel for what I consider dirt cheap. I’m telling you with South East Asia travels you are definitely getting a bang for your buck!
After the market we ventured to our cooking class with a goofy balinese man named Ketut, not to be confused with the Ketut from Eat, Pray, Love (turns out Ketut is a common name in Bali, our taxi driver/tour guide was also named Ketut). Ketut was hilarious and showed us how to make excellent Balinese cuisine and the famous Boom Boom Bali sauce (basically a mix of every spice in Bali). We were pretty full and happy by the end of this venture.
Last but not least a few photos from Swept Away at the Samaya Ubud. Normally, I don’t get too excited over restaurants, but this one was pretty fantastic and a pretty nice little date night.
DAY THREE: WATERFALLS, RICE FIELDS, TEMPLES, COFFEE, AND SNAKES
Sadly, this was our last full day in Ubud and it was filled with hitting all of the major tourists spots before we departed for the islands. Our driver that picked us up from the airport offered to take us around for the day and we decided to take him up on it. We started the day at Tegenungan Waterfall, made our way to the Elephant Cave or Goa Gajah, tried some Kopi Luwak coffee, visited the Tirta Empul Tampa Siring – Bali Holy Spring Water Temple, and last but not least the famous Tegalalang Rice Terrace. Along, the way I fell for a tourist trap and had my photo taken with a very unhappy snake, we learned all about Kopi Luwak coffee which is the most expensive coffee in the world (I’ll let you read why in the photos below), and John had his first lesson in sarong wearing. I chopped it up to a pretty successful day!
DAY FOUR: FAST BOATS & ISLAND LIFE
It was a sad day to leave Ubud, but John couldn’t wait to get out of the city and onto a beach, which is exactly where we were headed. This started our adventures in transportation in Bali. In order to get out to these islands, we put faith in shanty boats and disorganized tourist companies. Thankfully, the ride out to the Nusa is on 30 minutes which made the boat ride tolerable. I will also mention that we had to get on these fast boats straight off the beach, with the waves crashing up on what looked like poorly tied boats. Not going to lie that was an adventure all in itself.
Once we finally made it to the Island, we piled into the back of a truck bed and took another chaotic/fast little ride down to our hotel. Despite, the lack of safety standards and overall chaos of traveling in a country like Indonesia we made it to our hotel for the start of island life.
DAY FIVE: SNORKELING, MOTORBIKES, BROKEN BRIDGES, BEACHES, AND SUNSETS
One of the things that we had read about the Indonesian islands is how amazing the snorkeling is. So of course we booked “another shanty boat” and spent the morning snorkeling three different sites around the island. It was moments like that where I really regret not having a GoPro, no joke it was like Finding Nemo down there.
The afternoon was spent taking a tour of the island. I talked John into renting a motorbike as it’s the fastest way to see the island, so that was an adventure. We had a slight issue on a motorbike on vacation last summer that left both of us a little hesitant to try it again, but it all worked out ok. Maybe the dumbest thing done on this bike was to cross an old rickety bridge that is only able to hold about 40% capacity…so probably wasn’t the smartest thing to go across it, but we had a blast doing it. Check out my Facebook page for the video!
DAY SIX: MORE FAST BOATS, HORSE CARRIAGES, AND BLUE BEACHES
Reluctantly we left Nusa to head for our last stop of Gili Trawangan, part of Lombok, Indonesia. Gili T is known for its beautiful coral beaches, blue waters, and it’s spring break vibe, but in order to get there we had to take a two and half hour fast boat ride to the island. I know I keep bringing up these fast boats, but seriously when the boat bottoms out like every five minutes and you fear for the safety of your life, it doesn’t leave your mind too quickly. Also, before we even got on the boat we waited over an hour after it was supposed to leave because the fast boat that pulled up next to ours was not tied down correctly and almost capsized…it didn’t provide much confidence for what we were about to embark on. Despite our reservations we hopped on the boat and prayed we make it to Gili in one piece. Thankfully we did. We were delighted to find Gili T was a pretty happening place and a good change for pace to end our time in Indonesia. Gili T was filled with quirky modern art, signs, and the best part is there were no motorized vehicles on the island, just bikes and horse carriages.
DAY SEVEN & EIGHT: BEACHES, FISH PEDICURES, & MORE SUNSETS
We finished up the last few days of vacation enjoying the beach, pool, and of course indulging in fish pedicures…it was a little weird but why the heck not? Try it sometime!
We were lucky, or not so lucky, to have an 11:30pm flight out of Bali, on our last day, so we were able to enjoy a few extra hours on the beach before we regretfully headed home.
It was quite the whirlwind vacation for us and my first attempt at international vacation planning. I wish I could say get out there and everyone go visit Bali, but sadly it’s just so damn far away and difficult to get to, but if you ever have the chance DO IT! Bali is phenomenal and it will be money well spent. I left feeling grateful for this adventure we’ve been given and the opportunity to see these remote parts of the world. It has only fueled my wanderlust even more.
Until next time…Ja mataじゃ また!