You would think that after a two-week stint in Indonesia I could greet y’all in the native language. But, no. I got nadda. In fact, on our layover in Taipei we both realized how little we knew about this big island we were about to inhabit. Ah. Well.
Thankfully in Taipei, we stumbled upon one of my favorite kitty-cats EVER on EARTH.
YOU KNOW I died.
And so. Armed with little knowledge of Bali, our plane touched down after a grueling 23 hours of solid travel to sticky-hot temps and absolutely bat-sh*t CRAY traffic. You see, in Bali there are no traffic regulations. Sure, there’s the odd stoplight. One would think the yellow and white lines on the asphalt should at the very least HINT to the illusion there is any kind of order – BUT NO. If driving on the left side wasn’t enough to kinda freak me out, surely the use of the horn was. Scooters whizzed by as bits of jungle and tiny shacks selling peanuts and Bintang quickly faded into a blur of people, buildings and noise.
Overwhelmed but excited, we checked in at our hotel in Seminyak, Le Jardin Villas. Upon arrival, we were given wonderfully fragrant leis and welcome drinks. Our breakfast came as part of our package so we made our selections for the following day and were escorted to our villa.
As per tradish, they washed our feet before entering… in a bowl with tons of flower petals. SO COOL. But also, I felt bad for the girl who had to touch my feet…
As soon as the tour of our villa was over and the door was shut – we both squealed with delight. Srsly, like little piggies. I mean, we were really THERE. In BALI. ‘Moonin it UP.
The first day or two were spent aboard the relaxi-taxi (name that show!) and I had my first run-in with a true Bali native:
Yes. I freaked out and started crying. Thank the baby Jesus I wasn’t ANYWHERE near this guy when I first spotted him in the bushes. After a few minutes, he decided to grace us with his presence atop our sundeck. Bryan was psyched and I was like “KILL IT, KILL IT!!!!” I was kidding though, I mean, he was just trying to catch a few rays I guess??
I named him Professor McGonickle
The third day we decided to head to our very first official temple for sunset. This particular one has been in the background of various movies and has probably graced the background of many screensavers as well.
I give you, Tanah Lot! The temple was originally built to worship Balinese sea gods and of course has heavy Hindu influence. It is literally IN the ocean during high-tide and provides one AMAZING backdrop for a killa sunset.
After our cultural experience for the day, ’twas time for dinner. And since we had heard rave reviews for Sarong, back in Seminyak, we decided to go there. The restaurant was beautiful, the ice consumable and all the people were white. Haha. Dinner was fantastic, too.
The next day we knew we wanted a little beach time, so we selected to visit one of Bali’s many beaches, Padang Padang. The entrance to the beach itself was CRAY. For a couple’a trees like Bryan and I, wriggling down the set of stairs which lay right up against a giant STONE WALL was intimidating, to say the least.
The beach was SWELTERING and it finally dawned on me that we were basically sitting on top of the mothereffing equator. Bryan took shelter under an umbrella and drank from coconuts (I think they taste like armpit sweat) while I slathered on the 70. Yes, apparently such staggering levels of SPF can be attained.
After a few hours of sun, we headed back to the hotel and quickly changed so we could do sunset drinks at another white-man’s haven Khu De Ta. Cocktails were ‘murican prices but oh well, it was swankers and the real estate was PERFECT to watch the sun sink into the horizon.
The following day Bry and I hired a driver/tour-guide for 10 hours, which cost all of about $55, so that we could check off a bunch of the “to-dos” we had left on our list. Our first stop was to watch the Barong & Rangda, a Balinese Hindu dance. I confess I know little about the Hindu religion, our driver, Iwan, tried explaining some of the ideologies to us, but mostly I was flummoxed. From what I gathered, Hinduism focuses on balance. In this particular dance, the Barong and Rangda symbolize good and evil. The costumes are considered very sacred as well as the dance itself.
Here we are all-American and sh*t.
Making the offerings
The dance was beautiful and even though the dialogues were in Balinese, it didn’t matter because the message was clear: There will always be an ongoing struggle inside each of us with good and evil…or at least I hope that’s what the point was. If not, I WANT MY MONEY BACK. hee hee jk.
One other cultural display I found interesting and a bit repulsive was a group of tourists who continued to walk around the arena and noisily snap pictures, during the show. At one point nearing the end, a woman rose from her seat to stand right IN FRONT of the stage and had her ENTIRE family take her pic as the actors were just feet away. The fervency in which this woman insisted on hundred of pictures OF HERSELF no less, truly baffled me. Have you no respect, woman!? GEEEEEZ.
After that, we stopped off at another Balinese temple and we had to wear SARONGS. Tres cool.
After that, we decided to head further into Ubud to try a Balinese delicacy: Luwak Coffee, or as I like to call it – “poop coffee”.
I had heard of “the most expensive coffee in the world” when I worked at Elevated Grounds and turns out, it comes from Bali. Essentially a little animal called a civet eats the coffee berry and then after it passes the fruit (I am being SO P.C right now) the coffee-makers collect it, clean it, roast it and serve it up to caffeine-crazed folks all over the world.
We tried an array of their other coffees and teas (not made with poop) and then of course ordered a $5 cup of the LEGIT stuff before leaving. End result: DELICIOUS! Smooth and perfectly balanced, the Luwak coffee captured both of our hearts…and taste-buds.
the good stuff
Once we arrived in Ubud I was positively TICKLED at the prospect of visiting Monkey Forest, a small bit of forest (jungle, really) inhabited by TINY BABY MONKEYS. Oh yes. Being a lover of any small mammal, I was simply in awe. Little monkeys, old and young, just roaming freely around a few acres of land, bein’ cute. You could buy mini bananas (MINI) and feed them but I sustained, as I didn’t want a baby monkey bite.
I didn’t want to leave Monkey Forest. At all. I wanted one. I wanted one SO BAD. I mean ROSS had one!?
Then we headed into Ubud to go to the market. Our driver warned us that we MUST negotiate prices if we bought anything at the market…. so basically yer telling me it’s TIME TO HAGGLE B*ITCHES.
And haggle I did. I procured five or six random chochkies and spent the equivalent of about $17, so job well done by me!!
The next day we left for the second half of our honey-mizzle – to Lovina in north Bali!
Stay tuned my precious gems!