TRAVEL: Keeping Your Memories Alive (Philippines/Bali Recap Video)

Traveling is truly one of the most transformational things people can do for themselves. Whether you travel near or far, there’s a guarantee you won’t feel the same or be the same. It’s been two months since I left Bali, and I still think and dream about it every day.

Thanks to technology, I have all my memories saved as a constant reminder every day to keep my transformation alive. Combined, the boys and I have thousands of photos from our trip and hours of footage recorded on Alvin’s GoPro. In addition, I have a day-to-day diary of my trip that I’ve documented via this blog, with very detailed (sometimes redundant) descriptions of what went on and how we were feeling.

So coming home, I made sure to do two things. First, make a photo album with all my favorite photos from our trip (which was really hard because I had so many pictures of monkeys and bowls of curry that I wanted to include). 200 photos definitely didn’t feel like enough to capture 6-weeks worth of travel, but my album turned out absolutely perfect. Second, make a travel video. I hadn’t dabbled in any video editing in years, but I was ready to tackle the project. I sifted through hours worth of footage and Alvin selfies, and was able to condense our trip into twelve minutes. Watching the video was like reliving a dream. I wasn’t sure it really happened or of the places we visited were real.

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Back to transformation… I’ll admit, it’s really easy to forget. I wanted to travel because I intended to find myself and recreate purpose within me. A month after being back home, I found myself already lost in my own confusion and self-doubt. Luckily, I took the time to put all the things I’ve learned and all the memories I’ve made into an album and a video. Every time I find myself in my own pit of negative thoughts, I come back to the great memories I made, not dwelling on the past, but using it as a reminder of how great my future can be.

For anyone traveling or planning on traveling, I highly recommend taking the time to put together an album with your favorite photos, or recording footage for you to show your friends and family when you get back home. And don’t procrastinate! The longer you wait, the more likely you’re never going to do it. So this should be the first thing you do when you get back from traveling. I promise it’ll be worth your time.

 

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TRAVEL: Our Last Days in Bali (Uluwatu, Bali 8/25-8/27/2016)

During the beginning of our trip, we didn’t make it down south to Uluwatu where I really wanted to check out a yoga studio. Luckily, Alvin and I had three full days to kill before our flight back to Manila and decided to stay there. We found a cute hostel called Bali Golden Elephant. A little reluctant at first due to bad reviews on hostelworld.com, I booked anyways since it was cheap and my funds had dwindled. As usual, it was a little hard to for our taxi to find, but we found it hidden like a gem in southern Bali. I ended up loving my stay at this hostel. It was clean, the rooms were very new and nice, staff was very helpful, and we ended up making some great friends. 

We spent our last three days beach hopping. After we already experienced the soft, sandy beaches in El Nido, Philippines during the beginning of our trip, it made the beaches in Bali seem just okay. We visited four beaches and all were very rocky and full of tourists. The weather was beautiful though and I enjoyed getting to read, soak up all the sun I could, watching the surfers catch insane waves, and watching the sun set every night. 


Although I was unimpressed with the beaches, I am very happy to say that I was able to finally practice more yoga. I found Uluwatu Surf Villas online and saw pictures of their beautiful outdoor yoga studio. I thought I missed my chance to take a class there in the beginning of our trip, but I was lucky to spent my last two mornings on the island practicing yoga and enjoying what may be the most memorable classes I’ve taken. I picked a spot facing the ocean and let the energies of the ocean and the surrounding jungle guide me. 


I always know that “your vibe attracts your tribe”. It’s so great knowing that you can travel across the world and meet like-minded and spirited people. We spent our last two days with our new friends Gabriele and Elisabeth, who are from Quebec and have been traveling throughout the Philippines and Bali just like we did. Our last day together we spent on the beach again, sunburning and earthing. We went to the Uluwatu Temple which is always packed with tourists. We walked around the direction temple’s trail, looking down at the ocean and over the cliffs. It was funny watching them interact with the monkeys and get their glasses stolen (but also sad when they realized all hope was lost in getting them back). We continued to the furthest east side of the trail and saw that there weren’t any people there. At the end was a beautiful reward waiting for us, possibly one of the best views I’ve ever seen. Over the cliff, water formations and waves crashing created colors of teal, white, and different shades of blue. I haven’t seen anything like it before. We watched the sunset and noticed how the water was shining red, orange, yellow, blue, pink, and almost every color imaginable. 


The last few days, Alvin and I were eating on a budget, eating sandwiches and boiled eggs instead of going out to eat. We found a small warung one of the nights and ate yummy home-style cooking with curry and veggies. Surprisingly, I wasn’t sick of having curry six times in a row, and I knew I had to have one last curry meal before leaving. We ate at Curry in Bali, which had the most delicious Indian curry I’ve ever had. The owner George, was a very talkative and personable Indian man who was very passionate about his culinary escapades. I ordered chai masala and the beef curry, which came with Indian style bread. I left the restaurant excited to actually travel to India one day to try all the curry! 

As sad as I was to leave the island, I couldn’t help but be extremely happy. Elisabeth told us we weren’t leaving, but we were just going somewhere else. We said goodbye to our new friends, and to the island that has been our home these three short weeks. I already miss the smell of incense, the roosters everywhere, the clanging of Balinese instruments, the mie and nasi goreng (fried noodles and rice), the lush rice terraces, and most importantly the people. If I could take a little bit of passion that they have for their culture, and apply it to my every day life I think days would be much more meaningful. Sure, I bought lots of great souvenirs, but what I’m taking back home with me from this trip is so much more than material. 

Suksma, Bali! Saya rindu kamu, until next time! 

TRAVEL: One Less Travel Companion and Some Really Good Curry (8/24/2016)

As we wind down this trip, it’s finally starting to hit us that soon we’ll be traveling back home. About five days ago, I recall Josh and I saying how crazy it is that he was already going to be going back home. Lucky for us, we live very close to each other, but there’s no denying the attachment that has grown between us these past five and a half weeks since we’ve spend every moment together doing everything.

This past week I have also gotten very lazy. Too lazy to blog, and too tired to stay awake and try. I’ve attempted to document the highlights of what we’ve been doing, but I haven’t been writing down the minuscule details I usually love capturing.

In the span of a week, we travelled from Tedjakula to Amed Beach, and from Amed Beach to Ubud, and then to Jimbaran. Tedjakula (Les Village to be more specific) was a very calm, sleepy town with very little tourists or things to see. It’s a nice little getaway for those who wish to relax and be away from the cacophony in the bigger cities. We saw a beautiful waterfall that we spontaneously found, and then visited a nearby art house called Art Zoo. The man who owned the Art Zoo was quite a character. He had his assistant show us around his huge studio that was full of Balinese-inspired pop art everywhere you looked.


The day after, we took a strenuous (well, to me) hike up Mt. Batur. Alvin was sick and we missed sunrise because of the fog, but looking back it was a great experience. I peed in a bush on the trek back down, then ran downhill with Josh, and told him he was the best person I knew. We also met Lily in Tedjakula – I now call her my new Chinese mama. She teaches English and travels all over the world. I told her that I really was inspired by her and that it’s my dream to travel. Her response was simply, “Oh, you will. Don’t worry.” She ended up hitching a ride with us to Amed Beach and spending the next two days with us.

Amed Beach is famously known for snorkeling and scuba diving, but we didn’t do any of that. We visited a water palace and a temple that takes 1,700+ steps up to get to. Josh and I spent our two-monthaversary there and that’s when I began my search for the perfect curry. Since then I’ve had curry four days in a row for dinner. The next morning we said goodbye to Lily, hoping that we’d get to see her again.


We then took a transport back to Ubud, where we spent our first week here in Bali. Coming back here wasn’t our original plan, but we still had classes left over on our YogaBarn cards that we needed to use. Josh and I didn’t make it for the first Vinyasa class we wanted to take because we were busy window shopping, and we weren’t really feeling any of the classes for the rest of the day either. That day I also realized that I was running really low on funds, so we found a cheap but good place to eat that night. The curry was just okay, the chicken a little dry, so it wasn’t the perfect curry I was looking for. The next morning the boys and I ate an early breakfast and made it for a pranayama class. It was the first time in two months that I had done any meditation or breathing, and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had. We had peanut butter and bread for lunch, and headed straight to Kanto Lampo Waterfall. After that, we went back to the Ubud Art Market, where we did some souvenir shopping for our friends and family. I later learned that it’s much cheaper to go to a store and check out the prices there first before going to the market where people can sell you for a much higher, non-fixed price. Josh and I took a vinyasa class at night with a nice teacher named Bex, who seemed to laugh a lot and then talk about very serious topics at the same time. After a fun class, we had dinner (on a budget again) and I had curry that I was very much unimpressed with.


The next morning we ate another early breakfast and Josh and I made it to a hatha yoga class. I loved the incorporation of the restorative breathing techniques that we used in class. Right after class I had Josh take me to a necklace store so I could buy a prayer bead necklace that I had been eyeing for the past two days. We took a transfer to Jimbaran but first stopped in busy Kuta to get a t-shirt for Josh’s sister at Hard Rock Cafe. I coincidentally remembered that my dad collects Hard Rock pins, so it worked out perfectly. We went to the beach after settling in Jimbaran and walked around. Josh and I had a little photoshoot at the beach and we attempted to do handstands in the sand. We walked around looking for a place to eat and watch the sunset but all the places were ridiculously expensive but delicious-looking. I wasn’t in the mood for seafood so we sat down and ordered drinks at one of the restaurants. I bought us some corn for 10,000 IDR each and we watched the sunset.


I’m happy to say that I ended the night finding the perfect curry. After four tries in a row, I finally found the most delicious curry bowl for a very reasonable price. For 55,000 IDR, I had a big bowl of chicken curry with the perfect thickness and consistency, juicy chicken, and lots of vegetables. I can officially say that I am a self-proclaimed curry connoisseur.


Josh left for Manila at 4:30AM the next morning. We haven’t been dating for very long, but I don’t think we’ve been apart for more than a week at a time. Dating someone who turns out to be your best friend is really a blessing. There’s never a dull moment with us, we can talk and joke and sing about anything, we try new things together, he’s so patient with me, and he never seizes to help me be brave and be the best version of me. Yes, I know, I sound pretty dramatic right now considering I’m going to see him in less than a week, but right now it feels like forever! I’ve never been more thankful for a human before before and right now, I’m just itching to plan our next trip together. Maybe South America for our next one?

TRAVEL: A Water Palace and an Endless Staircase to a 2,000 Year Old Temple (Amed Beach, Bali 8/20/2016)

From Les Village (next to Tedjakula) we took a one-hour transport along the coast to Amed Beach. After hiking Mt. Batur and hanging out in the little laid-back town for two days, we were ready to see new sites. Amed Beach is known for its great snorkeling and scuba diving spots, but ironically we didn’t do either. Instead of going to the beach, we ended up visiting the local sites. Our new friend Lily tagged along with us to Amed Beach as well, making a great addition travel companion for the next two days. 
Our first stop was a water palace about 30-minutes away from our hostel. The former royal palace is famously known for its beautiful fountains. At both sides of the water palace are different types of fountains. Everyone’s favorite seemed to be the koi fish pond, where hundreds of koi fish swam. There’s a stone pathway that swivels through the pond that tourists take turns walking through. Alvin was determined to take an epic pic with the fish, and quickly convinced me to buy a loaf of bread to feed them with. We all took turns feeding the fish, watching them swarm to us and (quite savagely) swim over each other to catch the bread. They called me the Koi/Coy Queen (however you want to interpret that) as I walked around throwing bread into the pond while the koi followed me through until the end. 


The layout of the place is beautiful, and whoever lived there really must have had a vast appreciation for water. There was a swimming pool that we didn’t get to swim in, but we were happy just admiring the palace’s design, the statues, the huge lily pads, and the bridges. On our way out, Josh finished up the bread and got the most epic pic with the koi fish. 


That day we were on sort of a tight schedule. We wanted to make it back for a 5PM yoga class but had no idea how huge our next destination was going to be. What we originally though was just one temple ended up being a series of temples that requires trekking through a staircase of over 1,700 steps. Pura Lempuyang is one of Bali’s holiest temples, something I didn’t know before arriving. We put on our sarongs, paid a donation fee, and were given careful instructions from the worker at the front about the hike that was about to begin for us. We were all surprised to find out that the entire hike to see all the temples and to reach the top is 4 hours total. There is also another pathway going straight up to the last temple on top of the mountain that is a 2-hour trek up. Realistically, I knew I would have to miss yoga so we called and canceled. Usually I’m pretty bummed out when I miss yoga, but this was definitely worth it. The first temple was only a 5-minute walk up, but it had the most beautiful view of the city and the green mountain below. It almost seemed like we were in a floating temple in the sky looking outwards. 


The temple office was going to close at 5:30PM and we needed to go back to return Lily’s sarong rental. Since we were pressed for time, we decided to take the easy way and rode our scooters up to the next temple. From there, it was a one-hour trek up staircases to the top. We somehow made it there and back in about an hour. Legs burning and nearly panting for air, I had to stop and take breaks every so often. Alvin kept going at a faster pace while Josh stayed and waited to make sure I was okay. To make the journey more bearable, I turned our trek up to the temple into my own personal meditation time. I repeated to myself “I choose peace, instead of this” as I inhaled and exhaled, which is an affirmation I picked up from a book I’m reading. The hike suddenly became much more pleasant. We passed by locals who just finished up a ceremony up at the top. Along the way we also ran into some very territorial monkeys, who didn’t care too much for human interaction and didn’t like it when Josh tried taking a picture while they were there. We finally made it to the top, and as expected it was foggy and misty. We couldn’t see anything below us, and there wasn’t anything architecturally amazing about the temple, but you can’t deny the mystical and peaceful aura the temple still has 2,000 years after being built. We walked back down to meet Lily who stayed behind, tried not to make the monkeys mad, and enjoyed the countryside as we drove back to our hostel. 


August 20th just so happened to be me and Josh’s two-monthaversary, so we decided to have dinner by ourselves. We picked the second restaurant that we stopped at since it looked promising. Turns out they didn’t have honey melon, or prawns, or beef, so we decided to just have drinks and an appetizer and go elsewhere since we started craving beef. We found a little hole in the wall place with no one there playing some “light jazz” as we called it and decided to get some curry there. The beef ended up being terrible, but the curry was great and I just loved spending some alone time with Josh. 


We drove back to our hostel and found Lily walking on the side of the road looking for ice cream. We coincidentally were also looking for ice cream, so she hopped on and grabbed some with us. We sat eating our ice cream and drinking soy drinks (that Josh and I absolutely love now). Lily ended up being lovely company and we enjoyed talking with her about all the food she’s tried during her travels. 

Extremely tired from our unexpected mini-hike, I knocked out on Josh while instagramming. 

TRAVEL: A Foggy Mount Batur (Tedjakula, Bali 8/18/2016)

With four hours of sleep, Josh, Alvin, and I woke up at 1:30AM to get ready for our hike up to Bali’s famous Mt. Batur. Hundreds of tourists from all over the world come here every day and wake up just as early (or even earlier) as we did to catch the sunrise on the top of the mountain. We drove about an hour away from our Villa to the bottom of Mt. Batur. Alvin woke up feeling really sick, but he stuck it out and went with us anyway. On our way to the mountain he threw up, and we knew he had to have a bad case of Bali Belly aka traveller’s diarrhea. But of course, we went onwards, and by 3:30AM we started our hike with our guide, Kudik. His English was hard to understand, but he ended up being a really great guide. We started our ascent at a pretty fast pace (to me) and I got out of breath fairly quickly. We made it to our first break point, and we were already sweaty and needed to take off our jackets even though it was cold up in the mountains. Before the halfway point, we stopped by a temple where the locals pray for a few minutes before proceeding up the mountain. By that point I’ll admit I was tired and a little miserable, but thanks to Josh and his subtle words of encouragement every time I wanted to quit was I was able to keep trekking. 

That night was a big and bright full moon. In Balinese tradition, temples celebrate the full moon by performing full moon ceremonies. Since we didn’t get to see one, we made our commune with Mother Nature our ceremony for the month. The moon was gorgeous every step of the way. Every time we reached a stopping/resting point, the boys and I would look at how high up the mountain we got. Soon we could see the clouds on the neighboring mountains below where we were. We could see the neighboring mountains, the lights on the bottom lighting up the cities, and cotton candy clouds hovering over all of it. 

The end was the most difficult, not only because we were extremely tired and beat, but because after the halfway point is all steep rocks and rocky dirty pathways to climb up. Kidak helped me as my legs were giving out and feeling like Jell-o. And finally as we made it to the top, Kidak congratulated all of us with high-fives. He laid out a mat for us to sit on where we had the perfect view of both the sunrise and the setting moon. 

We moved to a different spot later to get the perfect spot for sunrise. Kidak brought us out breakfast, which was fried banana sandwiches, boiled eggs, and bananas. We drank hot tea and ate our breakfast as we waited for the sun to peep through. Soon, deep orange and blue colors were appearing in the sky. However, shortly after also came clouds and enough fog to encompass the entire mountain. All anyone could see was white. There was one moment when the sun came out for a split second, and the hundreds of people up on the mountain were cheering. That moment passed by quickly, and shortly after people started heading back down the mountain. The boys and I didn’t lose hope, but after about 15 minutes of waiting in the cold we decided to head back down.
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​The trek back down was a completely different experience than going up. Going up, it was pitch dark and we had no idea what we were really stepping on. Going down, we could see everything and every rock that was potential for us to slip on going down. Since the ascent going up was steep, so was the descent doing down. Slowly but surely, everyone on top of the mountain made their way down in a single file line. I started to get rocks in my shoes (and my smart ass forgot to wear socks) so my toes were starting to blister. With the help of Kidak, I was able to get down the mountain a lot faster than I usually would. The boys know by now that I’m a bit clumsy – they make fun of me for slipping on flat surfaces. I had been holding my pee for the entire way down, and thought about what advice my mom would give me. So eventually I found a nice bush and communed with nature. Josh and I ran back down the trail that was downhill but nicely paved. We passed through people’s farms and talked about how wonderful a nice hot shower sounded. Our original plan was to go to hot springs, but we were all way too tired to go after. 


We went back home right after. Alvin threw up (inside the car this time) and Josh and I watched as our driver had the funniest disgusted reaction. He was nice about it though, and we kept driving back to our villa. Of course Alvin knocked out right when we got back – he deserved it. Josh and I went to find an ATM so we could withdraw more money and eat lunch. We were well out of luck because the one nearby ATM that accepted Visa ran out of money that morning. We tried finding resorts with fancy restaurants that would take card. We ended up stopping by Gaia Resort, which was this beautiful fancy resort that the boys and I definitely couldn’t afford to stay at. Josh and I had to spent a minimum of 500,000 IDR to pay with his card. It was like it was meant to be because along with a buffet lunch, Josh got a body scrub and we both took a yoga class right after. 


Before our yoga class, we went back to our villa to pick up some stuff and check up on Alvin. I ended up hanging out with some of the local girls, who were watching me type on my phone, blog, and use Facebook. I saw her weaving the green rice containers that we see all around Bali either at restaurants or on the floor as prayer offerings. I attempted to learn, but it’s a lot harder than it looks. The owner of Villa Segara Lestari spent some time showing me how to make them. I couldn’t quite get it down, but I’m determined to keep practicing once I’m home with the palm leaves I have at home. 


Josh was absolutely beaming after his body scrub and the yoga class. He nearly fell asleep through the last half an hour, but he said he felt rejuvenated like he slept for six hours. I’m writing this as I keep him company. We’re both drinking Balinese coffee and I think I’ve had way too much for the night. 


TIPS FOR THOSE DARING TO HIKE MOUNT BATUR: 

Okay, it’s not super intense and impossible, but it is something you should definitely be prepared for. Here’s a little Mt. Batur survival guide I came up with.

Hydrate the day before. Stock up on a lot of water and electrolytes the day before the hike. Gatorade, Pedialite, rehydration powders/salts, coconut water, and just plain water will help you immensely. You will consume less water during the hike (like Josh), which means you’re less likely to have to urinate in a bush (unlike me). 

Get a guide from the front office. The hike is actually doable without a guide, however our guide helped us, especially me, so much during the hike. It’s only about 100,000 IDR for someone who will safely walk you through the dark trails. There are hundreds of people on this hike and the guides are all willing to help everyone around them. Someone got injured on our way down the mountain, and almost all the guides around us asked us to wait where we were so they could go check up on the person. 

Wear good shoes with grip. This is definitely not doable in sandals, even athletic sandals. And wear good socks. I know this is a no-brainer, but I totally forgot to wear them with my water shoes and sand and rocks got everywhere. More than half the hike is extremely rocky and the hike back down is strenuous. “Hati-hati!” they say, meaning “be careful!” 

Wear warm clothes and dress in layers. The mountain gets extremely cold, but your body will also get extremely hot! Be ready to strap on or strip off clothes as you go. The top of the mountain is the coldest, and as your body is cooling off you’re going to wanna get warmer. 

Bring a small thermos of hot water and some tea bags. This is great if you want to save some money. Tea or coffee is 30,000 IDR for just one cup. If you have a small one that doesn’t weigh too much then I suggest bringing it. 

TRAVEL: A Balinese Night Market (Singaraja, Bali 8/16/2016)

Turns out we came to Bali at a pretty good time. All week, the locals have been preparing to celebrate Indonesia’s Independence Day in people’s homes, at temples, and pop-up night markets. 
We started our day with some spontaneous snorkeling at the beach near our Villa. We haven’t been in water in about a week (which for us feels like forever), so we were excited to get back in there. A man and his wife picked us at 8AM up on two motorbikes and took us to the beach. We got in his boat, that looked just like a Philippine banka (boat), except without bamboo sticks. We drove out on what seemed like the calmest water. There were hardly any waves and a very light tide. We snorkeled for about an hour with hundreds of fish right beside and below us. Our boat captain through some bread into the water and the fish went crazy and swarmed right under us, which kind of freaked me out because I’m secretly afraid of fish.


From Lovina we moved to Singaraja, just one city away. We got to Warung Bamboo, our Airbnb, a little early so we had lunch and I FINALLY got my wifi fix. I also finally got to have more Indonesian curry, which I had been avoiding since my case of the Bali Belly. We tried renting motorbikes, but couldn’t because they were all booked in the area. We took this as a sign of just needing to lay back and chill. So I posted more to the blog, while Josh and Alvin were reading and hanging back as well. Josh and I eventually walked 20-meters down to the beach where we sat on rocks and read to each other. We waited for sunset, but it was too cloudy and the sun was barely peeping through. 

For our night’s festivities, we wanted to check out the local night market. We didn’t know that there was actually a huge celebration going on for Independence Day, and that the night market our driver was taking us to was actually one that only happens once a year. It was a pretty cool surprise, because hundreds of locals were there celebrating. There were street food vendors, merchants, carnival rides, games, and live music and dancing at the big main stage. We walked around and tried some potatoes (which looked safe to eat) and we’re glad we got to say we tried something. We sat and watched a group of young boys perform Balinese music. Josh was really amazed by them, and even wanted to buy their CD (which we weren’t sure they had). ​​​


We walked around more and bought stuff for super cheap. Everything was sold at the local price, so incense was only 5,000 IDR for a pack of 60 incense sticks, which was a bargain compared to vendors who sell to tourists. We bought some massage oils and medicinal oils as well for a very cheap price. Going around here was a lot different than in the tourist areas. There were barely any English speaking vendors, which was great because it forced us to learn how to say “Aji kuda niki?”, meaning “How much?”. The boys and I definitely came to Bali at a very good and eventful time. 

TRAVEL: Experiencing the Real Bali (Angseri Mountains, Bali 8/14/2016)

The boys and I were talking today, and we agreed that you don’t really experience Balinese culture until you leave the city and stay in the countryside. We had our first two full days away from the craziness of Kuta and Ubud, and we absolutely loved it. 

Our day started off a little later than anticipated. Josh and I woke up around 4AM, and when we tried going back to bed at around 6AM I was having trouble breathing. The strangest thing would happen when I would fall asleep but not be breathing. Then I would jolt myself awake to consciously breathe again. Finally by around 9:30AM we all woke up, surprised by how long we all slept. Our Indonesian mama brought out banana crepes and tea for our breakfast. We thanked her and made small talk. She told us to be “hati-hati”, meaning careful, because it was raining. As we were leaving, she taught us “da-da”, which means goodbye. As we said goodbye to everyone else at the house, they all laughed because Josh’s poncho had a giant hole in it. Mama came over to help him fix it right before we left. 

We drove about an hour through a little rain, a lot of potholes, and up chilly mountain to get to Pura Ulun Danu Beratan. Once again, our GPS almost took us the wrong way through a mud road. We decided to turn back and found the real entrance. The fee to get in was 30,000 IDR. Right when we entered, we heard music. Alvin joked that we were actually paying to get into a music festival instead of a temple, and that Kygo was headlining. We entered and found a group of young boys all performing traditional Balinese music and dance. The rhythmic patterns were much more intricate than the ones we heard the night before, but you could still hear the similarities. All the instruments the boys were using were the same as the ones the women were using the night before with gongs, cymbals, and bamboo. They incorporated dancing and chanting into their routine also. 

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The rest of the temple was filled with tourists, like many of the other temples we’ve visited are. Part of the temple lies on a lake, which is closed off to visitors. The weather was overcast and the clouds were close to us since we were so high up in the mountain. It added to the mystical feelings, and made it seem like we were in a temple on a lake near the sky. We walked along the lake through the rest of the temple and saw some deer on our way out. They seemed to not mind the tourists taking photos of them because they would come right up next to the fence to say hello to everyone. 

From there we drove to the Organic Farm Cafe, which was over more crazy hills and potholes. Instead of following our GPS, we followed signs until we found the restaurant instead. We were greeted by a friendly barking dog who immediately wanted us to pet its belly. We sat down in the small cafe area which was built on the front porch of the building in the middle of farmland. We tried the most delicious basil chips that were cooked fresh at the restaurant, and had lemongrass infused water as we waited for our food. Our food came out, and we were all fully satisfied with our organic meals. Alvin enjoyed his omelette while Josh and I enjoyed our mozzarella sandwiches. We know, it’s not Balinese food, but after reading about the history of the Organic Farm we were happy to support the cause. The owners of the Organic Farm, who are an Indonesian and Dutch couple, are working at keeping farming alive and prosperous for all farmers in the mountains of Indonesia. 

We later went to the Air Panas Hot Springs that was five minutes away from the cafe. We paid 35,000 IDR to get in. We walked to the hot springs, but Josh and I were a little turned off by the water being lukewarm and brown. The nice worked offered us a private room, which was also not very hot. Finally, he showed us another private area that had hot water that we were happy delving ourselves in. We relaxed next to a statue of Ganesha for about 15 minutes in our little confined hot spring pool. 
On our way home, the boys and I wanted to see the beautiful rice terraces we saw the day before again. We hoped the sun wouldn’t peep through, but the clouds insisted on staying as we drove around at took pictures. We followed a dirt pathway through the terraces that led us in the middle for an even more epic view of them. Josh parked his motorbike and started running through the rice terraces to get the perfect pictures of them. Everywhere we looked and even beyond the distance it seemed that the rice terraces would never end. It really is a genius system of growing organic rice here in Bali. 

As we drove back to our home stay, it started to rain on us again. We put on our ponchos and drove off, laughing at Alvin because he looked like a sumo wrestler as his poncho was blowing in the wind. We made it back just before dinner. Indonesian Mama told us she would be right back because she was going to go to the temple to pray first before preparing dinner. She prepared us some home-cooked mi goreng (fried noodles), and was happy to let us eat inside her home. Our Indonesian Papa picked us up some Bintang to go along with our dinner. 


We spent our dinner chatting with Darma (one of their relatives also taking care of us while we are here) and Indonesian Papa about life here in Bali. He explained to us how the land here in the mountains cannot be tainted or tarnished by the tourism industry because it is protected by the government and by the association of farmers. He talked about their organic ways of farming, and how pure Indonesian rice can only be harvested twice a year, unlike GMO rice which is harvested all throughout the year. Instead of using chemicals to keep rats and insects away, they let the local snakes go through the rice terraces to eat them. Turns out they’re actually friendly non-poisonous snakes who are afraid of humans, so no need to worry about them. He explained to us how Balinese people practice the same Hinduism as those in India do, but that they have their own traditions and practices to celebrate and practice reverence to the gods. He said it was a lot of work keeping up with all the celebrations and traditions that they have, but that it’s all worth it because he loves being Balinese and loves his culture. Before we left, he told us that his dream was to meet people from all over the world who come to stay in this home stay, and he hopes to make them all happy with the best service and true Balinese hospitality. 

Going back to what I said in the beginning of this post, you really can’t experience true Balinese culture until you’ve really travelled inwards to central Bali. Don’t get me wrong, the south is beautiful, but you really find the heart of Bali through the people and their culture outside of the tourist areas. Dharma also told us that it’s customary for everyone here to strike up conversations with everyone they pass by on the street, asking how their day is going or how their family is doing. It’s like a complete yin and yang when you compare it to life back home, where following a schedule is important and small-talk can be saved for later. We spent the last two days with a wonderful Indonesian family who took care of us like we were their own family coming to visit for a weekend. They invited us to watch them practice for their ceremonies, eat their traditional food, and taught us how to speak their language. Although Indonesian Mama and Papa didn’t speak much English, I feel like we genuinely got to know them better than we get to known people who we’ve talked to for years. And that’s the Balinese experience.