Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Day 10: Nusa Lembongan

Monday, May 30, 2016

Today's Highlights:
-Rainstorm/Accidental Spa Trip
-Beach Hunting
-Pool honey time
-Explored the island s'more

Today was a dream, one that startles you awake thinking you're supposed to be somewhere and then you realize THERE IS LITERALLY NOWHERE YOU HAVE TO BE. No one is expecting you or waiting on you. You can do whatever the heck you want!

What I'm getting at here is that we LOVED getting to sleep in and have a lazy morning. We ate brekkie, opened the windows and let the glorious sun shine in...dream stuff, right? Welp, by the time we finally got our booties out the door to go exploring it had become overcast and in the time it took us to sit on our scooter and drive a half a block, a torrential downpour had started. However, there CONVENIENTLY happened to be a another spa just another block down the road. You know what that means....

A quick turn of the handlebars landed us at our second full-body massage in three days. We had to wait out the storm somewhere! It might as well be in the hands of a Balinese magician. 

We emerged an hour later in that confused, disoriented, frizzy-haired state that only comes after total relaxation. And then they gave us chocolate cookies and my focus zoned right back in. I feel like bi-weekly massages should be a thing in real life, not just vacation life. 

Anyhoo, our plan had worked! The sun was shining again and we set off to find the best beach these two islands had to offer. We were in the mood for some swim!

Welp, turns out we went beach hunting on "the best surfing day of the year." Meaning that the waves were monstrous enough to wreck any noob that dared take them on. We personally watched this Asian couple wipe out numerous times in ankle deep water. 

Those looked scary and we are wimps. Bad combo. So, after trying all the beaches we were told might be "swimmable," and then getting really hot and trying to sneak into a few resort pools close by, and then getting publicly shamed and kicked out of said resort pools for not having wristbands, we finally decided what this day needed was just some good ol' fashioned chill time at our own pool. Out of those next blessed 2 hours came the creation of water-couples-yogamnastics. Really wish I had some documentation of how amazing we were at balancing on each other's legs and "crow"-ing off the pool edge into front flips, but alas, those gems exist only in my memory. Suffice it to say, I'm super glad I married this goober. 

After some nice R&R, we hopped back on our hog and tried to suck every last bit of the day out, cruising to every corner of the island we hadn't yet explored. 

Don't pretend like you haven't noticed that I'm wearing this shirt almost every day. It ended up being my coolest one (as in airy, not radical. But it's also radical). Also, laundering multiple shirts is hard. 

Stairway to heaven. Also another site from The Amazing Race. Remember Sheri and Cole and how Cole had to jump off this and was freaking out? We didn't even realize what it was until we were there.

Just another beaut 

Ended the night at Mahana Point for din and crazy wave watching. It's a little cafe built on the edge of a cliff and all the monster waves break right in front of you and even splash all the way up to these tables. So fun! But scootering home across sketchy yellow bridge in the dark, not so fun...

Last thing I just gotta say. Indonesian people are seriously the best. As we waited in line to cross the bridge (because it is too narrow for two directions of scooter traffic), these cute kids about age 12-13 I would guess just started chatting with us. Asking us genuine questions about ourselves and telling us about them and wishing us a safe journey. They initiated the whole conversation and were so sweet and kind-hearted. I mean, I love 12-year olds (I chose to surround myself with 30 of them at a time) but I did not expect that. What is this place?!

Great last full day! Tomorrow we head back to Bali and will take advantage of every second we have until we get on our plane tomorrow night and head back to real life!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Day 9: Ubud, Bali to Nusa Lembongan

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Today's Highlights:
-Church in Kuta
-Tasting Babi Guling 👎
-Ferry to Nusa Lembongan island 
-Exploring Nusa Lembongan scooter-style!👍

Today had some really high highs and some really low lows. (Please see thumbs above). The high was absolutely our new location. We got a tip from our friends the Hathaways that we should visit the small island Nusa Lembongan (off the coast of Bali). BEST ADVICE EVER. 

Do you see this?! It is amazing! But I'm getting ahead of myself here. 

After ELEVEN HOURS of sleep (due to my nasty-awful-can't-breathe-cold) we packed up and said a sad goodbye to Ubud. We really loved this place!

We caught a taksi to Kuta (about an hour away) to catch the only Sacrament Meeting in all of Bali. Of course we got lost and couldn't find it and I still can't believe we asked the one man in Kuta who happened to know where it was. We walked in and got headsets right as they were starting. It was so fun to be with other Balinese Branch members and even got to hear a young girl give her farewell talk, which is crazy awesome considering there are only about 12 members that live there (and no missionaries serving there). There were a bunch of others that were visitors like us, mostly from Australia and New Zealand. So fun! 

Next came the Babi Guling....😳

Ever since we arrived, we have asked Balinese people their favorite food and multiple times have been told Babi Guling. It means "suckling pig." We like pig! Bacon, pork chops, ham, bring it on! Well, we needed lunch so our driver after church said he'd take us to get some good Babi Guling. We went to a little Warung and were served a whole lot of stuff I couldn't identify. The one thing I definitely DID identify was hair. Coming out of pig skin. 

Nope. Nope. Nope. Not happening. I'm all for trying new things and we have eaten strictly Indonesian this entire trip (and really liked it), but there is a line and I draw it here! Plus, I already got my fill of fresh pig skin in Romania. I'm good for the foreseeable ever. Robbie, however, ate one. He said it tasted like a super thick, greasy potato chip. Mmmmmm...

Rob ate most of his plate and I took at least a bite of almost everything (most of which was crazy spicy) and then we paid and jetted, quickly before they could realize my plate was still full. Never again, Babi Guling, never again.

In happier news, we then set off to our new island. We will spend most of our last two days here and there is really no better way I could imagine ending our trip. 

Funny story: we arrived at busy Sanur Beach to catch a ferry boat out to the island but were told that none of them were leaving for another 3 hours or so. In the middle of the hustle and bustle of the beach visitors, this mysterious old man came up to us and asked what we needed. We told him and he just looked out toward the beach at all the dozens of boats, pointed at one and said, "You pay me and take that one!" Haha, what? This guy didn't seem to have any authority but gave us a cheaper price and said they were leaving now. So we did it! We jumped on a cargo boat taking a bunch of drywall out to the island and it was cheaper and faster than any other option. Plus, we got to witness a bunch of older Balinese men in speedos laughing as they ran a section of drywall up the beach. 

Since we ended up on some beautiful but random beach (and not an official boat dock), we had no idea where we were or where to go, which made it amazing when we stumbled onto the main road and found ourselves basically right in front of our new hotel, Tigerlilly's. Win win!

This place is amazing! It feels like we are living in a fancy treehouse. And get this, we have an outdoor bathroom!

We can creep on all the swimming peeps from our bungalow window

We make twin beds and mosquito nets suuuuuuuuuuper romantic.

Enjoy a nice breeze and maybe a butterfly during toilet time

So great! We dropped off our stuff and took off to explore! It only costs $5/day to rent a scooter so you better believe we will be scooterin all up in her' over the next two days!

I really think we are the only people on the whole island wearing helmets, but considering how sketch driving here is, we will continue to nerd it up!

Rickety bridge to another smaller island, Nusa Ceningan. Juuuuuuuuust barely wide enough for a scooter. I was hyperventilating, squeezing my eyes shut on the back (after I documented it, of course)

Sweet Balinese woman we saw on the edge of a cliff scooping up seaweed. I think she lived in the tiny shack on that cliff

Teeny scooter road leading down to fancy resorts and amazing views!

Sometimes Rob felt the need for speed on our tiny scooter. That combined with the fact that they drive on the left here makes me pretty surprised that we survived. (Though I do have to give him kudos for driving over huge rocks and potholes like a champ while I just got to squeeze him around the middle and sightsee on the back)

Snuck into a resort on the edge of the island to swim in their infinity pool and watch the sun go down. They caught us and made us buy a drink 😒. Still worth it. 

Gah! This place! Called "The Blue Lagoon." Haha, it's kind of a joke how beautiful everything is.

We ended the night eating fresh fish (caught just barely) at a beach front Warung and downing chocolate milkshakes like it was our job. What an awesome day!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Day 8: Ubud, Bali

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Today's Highlights:
-Volcano hike
-Spa life

Robbie here again! Well today saw us get up in the morning at 2:00... Did you even know there was a 2:00 in the morning? Well it's very real. We woke up, hopped into a van, snacked on some fried banana, shuttled to the base of Mt Batur--the same volcano that we biked around yesterday--but this time we chose to hike up this doozy, while half asleep. 

-This is actually on our way down the volcano, since photos of us hiking up would just be a black rectangle. 

Hiking up this thing in the dark was no easy task. I felt like a nerd because I wore my glasses on this excursion and the more I sweated the foggier my glasses got, so I'd take them off but then I couldn't see a dang thing! There were a couple times where I'd slam right into the back of Angie because I was trying to see where my next step was rather than look up at what was in front of me. 

After 2 hours of hiking in the dark, we finally made it to the summit. We were soaking wet with sweat. And when I say soaking, I mean it. We couldn't find a dry spot on our shirts--I tried wiping off my glasses but I couldn't clean them because it would just leave streaks of sweat on them. Woof.  And now that we were sitting still at the top we instantly got super cold and had to sneakily get our soaking wet shirts off and our jackets on. PLUS, we got to pack in a breakfast with, you guessed it, more banana. We really can't get enough of them so no complaints here. 

-Breakfast at the peak. We also had hard boiled eggs that, legend says, were cooked in the volcano's steam geysers 

Before getting there Angie and I assumed we would be a handful of people hiking up the volcano. Boy were we wrong. 

-Probably 10% of the hikers on Mt Batur. Our guide guessed there were about 500 hikers on a daily basis. 

There were a steady stream of hikers the entire way up the volcano. It was actually kinda neat seeing the string of head lamps zig zag all the way to the top. It made the volcano look like a Christmas tree. 

Anyway, the sun finally rose but due to cloud cover there was no colorful sunrise. That was a small bummer but the views were still breath taking.

We hiked back down and got to our hotel--all before 11 am! We showered and instantly booked a Balinese full body massage at a spa close by. It. Was. Awesome. 

They greeted us with moist towels, cool drinks, a foot scrub and wash, then ushered us into a couples massage room. I am having a hard time describing this experience without it sounding inappropriate. Nothing sketchy went down, but dang, it felt so relaxing and amazing. It was so amazing it made me regret all the times we turned down all the offers for spa treatment we have gotten walking down the street up to this point. We should've cancelled all other activities and just had 10 days of spa. Anyway... It was sweet.  We were in such a state of euphoria that we forgot to take any photos. Hah!  So... I'll just paste this picture of a stray dog sleeping on the sidewalk instead. 

-After our massages we could've easily slept on the sidewalk like this pooch.

Once we got to our hotel Angie's cold (that's been coming on for a few days now) hit full force, so while we were deciding whether we should take it easy or go out for our last night in Ubud, we fell asleep. 

Well we woke up 3 hours later, cursed our comfortable bed, planned the next day and then went to sleep at 8 pm. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Day 7: Ubud, Bali

Friday, May 28, 2016

Today's Highlights:
-Rice paddies bike ride
-Mama's cooking class

This is Robbie again! Today's am-venture was pretty sweet! We biked 28 km through villages and rice paddies, stopping to learn more about the Balinese way of life, culture, and Hindu religion. 

We started near the top of a volcano, Mt Batur, and rode mostly downhill, which was awesome because we were exhausted from the last couple days of walking everywhere. The bikes were awful, but that didn't matter much since most of the time all we needed were wheels and brakes. Only my front brakes worked though, so I had to ease into them each time or I would've flipped over my bars.  Angie's gears wouldn't shift and made the loudest clanking noise as she peddled. So after the first couple minutes of learning the quirks of our bikes we were able to enjoy the scenery. We saw the most amazing stretches of tiered rice paddies, dotted with workers carrying sickles harvesting bunches of rice. 

So the bike riding was awesome. Definitely a welcome change from walking everywhere. While we were riding through the villages, kids would materialize out of nowhere and either wave at us or stick out their hands to give us high fives as we rode past. Dang adorable.

Speaking of villages, we made a couple stops along our biking to experience Balinese life. The first stop was at a village which grew, harvested, and processed cocoa and coffee beans. It was cool to see the cocoa stages from growing on the trees to harvesting and finally to roasting. 

-These pods hold hundreds of cocoa beans

We were able to sample roasted cocoa beans and, dang they were bitter! While the cocoa part was cool, the coffee section blew our minds. Have any of you heard of Luwak coffee? Well, we hadn't. Luwak coffee is made possible by this furry animal, the Luwak, or Civet Cat. 

-The Luwak, the animal coffee sweetener

So the Luwak eats the best coffee beans right off the tree, digests them (the digestive enzymes give more sweetness to the beans), and poops them out in bunches. Those poo-bunches are gathered, washed, roasted, and ground into the world's most expensive and sought after coffee... What the what?!?!? Anyway, they lovingly call their Luwak coffee "cat-poo-ccino." Waaa waaaah.

-Our guide, Dewa, holding the poo-bunches. 

-Roasting and grinding the poo-coffee

Because of the tedious processes involved in each step of creating the Luwak coffee (they just scrounge the forest grounds for the poop, the Lewaks are not in captivity nor are they potty trained) it is the most expensive coffee in the world. How crazy is that? The only people daring enough to try it (and pay for it) were two Dutch people in our group, who we became good friends with, they're awesome. Anyway, they said it was good but not worth the money!  Insane.

The next stop we made was in a village where we were able to see the traditional Balinese Hindu family compound and temple. Every Balinese family compound consists of 3 sections: a family temple in one corner where daily offerings are made to the three main gods and then any other specific god they have a connection to (like a farmer would give a separate daily offering to the god over rain and crops), a birth, marriage, and death ceremonial building where important rituals are performed for the big events in life, and then the actual homes + separate kitchens. Multiple generations live in one compound, so the oldest living family gets the nicest home, then the rest get the smaller, more standard homes. 

-Family temple

-Ceremony building

-Oldest family home

After seeing the compound we rode to one of the village temples (each family has a temple, each village has at least 3 temples, and then there are big ones all around Bali that serve the whole island), and it was so inspiring. Each temple is very much connected with nature around it. That's what is so cool about the Balinese Hindu faith, its strong ties to nature. The offerings they give every day are banana leaves with flowers, rice, cakes--things they grow and make--and their food is so clean and fresh... It makes me think about how removed I am from nature most of the time. 

-This temple was dedicated to Ganesh, the remover of obstacles.

Another cool thing we learned was about the offerings themselves. Most offerings are made in the temples, but we have seen offerings on the front stoops of stores and even in the middle of street intersections! People put them there and offer them to the devil to please him so that he won't disturb them or the customers. They are in the intersections because they believe that even the directions (north, south, east, and west) represent some of the main gods, so by placing them in the middle of the intersections they are covering all the bases. Pretty neat. 

-What most offerings look like

Anyway, that was the bike ride! Way fun. 

Next was our cooking class with a lady we fell in love with. But let's back up a bit. Yesterday we had dinner at a place called Mama's Warung. It was delicious food and the owner of the warung had an incredible story. Her parents passed away when she was young and she had this feeling that she should drop out of middle school and take care of her huge family. She cooked, cleaned, sold saris on the street to bring in money, and basically became the mom and dad to her older and younger siblings and cousins. She did so and through that experience she became an amazing cook, opened up a small warung in Ubud, and it has picked up momentum and now she has this amazing reputation and created this opportunity for her family to succeed in life. She's our hero. Anyway, while we were eating at her warung she was chatting with us about us, life, and how she learned to cook so well when we asked her if she knew of any good cooking classes around town. She said "Oh mama do it! Mama teach you to cook! Mama have cooking class." This didn't come as much of a surprise because most hosts in Ubud have a million connections and bend over backwards to keep their guests happy. So we booked a cooking class with mama for the following night (tonight) and it did not disappoint!

We showed up, not knowing what to expect, and adorable mama was waiting for us. She shooed us into the kitchen where she had already gotten all the ingredients ready for dinner. Stuff for pineapple chicken soup, green coconut curry, chicken satay with peanut sauce, and dada guling (these amazing coconut cane sugar crepe rolls). One of us would make the dish while she would explain how to make it while the other would write stuff down so we wouldn't forget how to make this amazing food. 

-Making pineapple chicken soup with mama

This food guys. This food. This fooooooooood! Unreal. We talked while we cooked and ate, and one thing I don't want to forget is how she sounds (which I can't show you, though we did take video but our blogger app doesn't let us post video). She has this way of talking that is so sweet and fun. She always refers to herself in the third person and laughs at the end of almost everything she says. For example, at the end she said that we should come back and also give her a high rating on trip advisor. She said (as she points to a little trip advisor sticker on the window to her kitchen) "I have green sticker, okay, because mama already good! Okay? Haha!" She was awesome. 

We were sweating our brains out while we cooked, which is not unusual because we have been constantly been sweating since we got here, but mama and her little staff cooks were dry as a bone. I don't get it. One of them even told Angie that it looked like she was in a sauna. Haha! Anyway, it was a sweet night that I hope I never forget. 

-Famous chicken pineapple soup

-The rest of the food and mama

-Saying goodbye to this lady

Tonight we are going to bed early because we gotta wake up at 2 am to hike a volcano! Peace. 

Day 6: Ubud, Bali

Thursday, May 27, 2016

Today's Highlights:
-Yoga class
-Exploring the market 
-Monkey Forest
-Legong Dance Show/nap

Today was finally a more relaxed day and came with the BEST activity of the whole trip! Guys, the monkeys! I don't know what else there is to say. But...I'll say more anyway 

We started the morning in our nice little room at Made's Airbnb. Made is our new host and she is this spunky, hip, hilarious Balinese woman. And she has connections with anything you could ever want to do in Ubud. Plus her place is right by the center of town and is cheap cheap cheap. Win! This picture is right by our room at the door to her family temple:

We got free breakfast (bowl of fresh fruit and a delish grilled banana sandwich, of course.) We are seriously served bananas at least 3 times a day, cooked different ways. If you love bananas, Bali is the place for you! (sorry Brianna 😬)

Our new pad:

So this morning we decided we really wanted to try some yoga. We asked Made if there's a place she would recommend. Turns out "Radiantly Alive Yoga" was just up the street so we showed up at 9, hoping to find a class starting and we got lucky! Even though we kind of expected Balinese yoga, it was basically all foreign white peeps, living in or visiting Ubud. Still cool. 

However, as we sat there putting out our mats and such before class, the guy next to me started doing these crazy inversions which made me a little nervous that maybe we shouldn't be in this class. When he busted out a one-handed handstand, that confirmed it. We were way out of our depth here. I went and asked the front desk about it and apparently this was the advanced class. WHAT?! That's the kind of thing you tell a person when they come to do a yoga class!

There was nothing we could do. The room was packed and the white guy hippie teacher with the beard braids was starting so we couldn't leave. We just decided to stick it out and do the best we could. And by some miraculous power, we mostly kept up with him! But let me tell you, I have never worked harder or sweat more in MY LIFE than I did in that class (and that's a big statement because I'm a girl that's pretty good at sweating, not to brag or anything). Plus we accidentally picked the sunniest spot in the room like noobs. Despite the pools of sweat, it ended up being really fun! And we were pretty proud of ourselves!

After class, a bunch of people stayed to mess around and show each other up with their insane inversions. We obviously won. One-handed handstand's got nothing on us, right?

Post-yoga snack break. This next picture kinda says it all. Oops...

Because we were already sweaty, we decided to take the long way home and explore the Ubud market for awhile. Those salesmen are good! If you even glance at something in their shop as you walk past, they somehow know exactly what you were looking at and pounce, trying to get you to buy it. Intense, but still fun!

We finally made it back home, showered (which was pointless because we started sweating again the second we stepped outside), and set off to the long-awaited, much-anticipated most exciting part of the trip: 

Monkey Forest!!

I was preeeeeeety excited for this section of our trip and let me tell you, It did not disappoint.

Monkeys were EVERYWHERE! Whole packs of them running right past you, perched next to you, or jumping across the trees above you. It was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. We were both mesmerized and could have stayed watching them for hours (and basically did). Before you enter, the signs at the entrance say that the monkeys may try to take things and if they do, let them have it. If you fight to get it back, they may attack you. I planned to follow the rules but still didn't think they would attack anyone. They wouldn't really let people in if the monkeys attack, right?

Wrong! Indonesia plays by different rules. Right at the start, a monkey saw a ticket sticking out of a girls pocket and grabbed it. She must not have read the sign because she grabbed it and tried to pull it back from him and HE BIT HER! Right under her armpit! We watched the whole thing happen and it was freaky, to say the least. 

Coming straight out of that experience, you can understand my extreme fear/paranoia when about two minutes later I see this little guy following me VERY CLOSELY 😳. I started walking a little faster and suddenly he jumped up on me! As he perched himself on my shoulder, I just kept frantically going through the rules we read in my head, trying my hardest not to freak out (as evidenced by my face, I didn't really succeed):

Finally the little guy lunged at the huge water bottle I had in my hands (as big as him). I immediately let go of it and monkey and bottle fell to the ground together, and then ran off, together, up a tree. It was the craziest!! We even watched as he bit at the cap and messed with it until he got it off and then drank it! Poor lil guy was just thirsty. 

So the first experience was kind of terrifying, but to be fair, it all happened in our first five minutes. After that, we got used to them and they lost their scariness and just became cute. Really cute. Adorable. We even started using other water bottles and treats we found on the ground to make friends with them and encourage them to interact with us. Worked like a charm :)

Even just watching them interact with each other was SO fascinating. There were lots of mamas with sweet babies holding on to their chest for dear life as the mamas ran through the forest. It was the best!

Are you kidding me with this?!

We watched them wrestle and play and steal each other's food and we loved it so much! 

As if the monkeys weren't reason enough to be SUPER happy, the forest itself was beautiful!! The trees and stone bridges were incredible!

Basically it was a dream day! I really don't think anything else could top this. 

We decided to end our night watching a performance of the Mahabharata (a Hindu epic tale). Robbie tells me it was pretty good. I wouldn't know. My $6 experience was spent, yet again, like this:

But here are some highlights Robbie took during my expensive nap. 

Amazing day!