Indonesia

LAST OF BALI

 Low tide on the reef. 

Low tide on the reef. 

Uluwatu-Umbrellas
Bali-Kayak
Uluwatu-Water
Uluwatu-Sunset
Uluwatu-Sunset
Bingin-surf-boards
bali-flowers-power-line
 Coconut cemetery. 

Coconut cemetery. 

 Vito getting barrelled. 

Vito getting barrelled. 

 Uluwatu cove. 

Uluwatu cove. 

bali-chickens
Nalu-Bowl
blue-water-wave
canggu-rice-paddy
bali-sunset
 Family scooter ride. 

Family scooter ride. 

 After a final shopping trip in Kuta. 

After a final shopping trip in Kuta. 

kuta-bali-motorcycle

Bali was full of crystal clear water and dirt, coconuts and exhaust fumes, sunshine and sweat.  If you want to live like a Queen on the budget of a freelance producer trying to bootstrap a new business: go to Bali. If you want to expedite a 6 month relationship: travel together in Bali. 

It didn't feel like real life but it made "real life" at home feel even less "real". And it was a real good time.

It was a successful 3 months on the incredibly photogenic island of Bali. 

WHAT I LEARNED IN BALI

bali-lady

4. How to build a website. Example: EditMate

3. Anything is possible in the sense that everything is negotiable and anything can be arranged. 

2. Things are only worth the value assigned to them.

1. A big wide smile makes anyone beautiful. A rotten toothed, one eyed, wrinkly old woman becomes absolutely adorable when she sports a giant smile. 5 purchased bracelets later, her sales approach cat call of "Helloooo sexy sexy lady look at your sexy sexy bum" was effective as well, further proving point #2. 

MOUNTAIN BIKING IN UBUD

Our friends Vito + Maria were in Ubud on a workaway gig (the great site I used to work in Naples) and Adri, the owner of Black Rose (you become quite good friends with restaurant owners when you constantly eat at their establishment) moonlights as a mountain bike tour leader, so a bunch of us from DiKubu visited Ubud for a little mountain biking adventure. 

 Julian, George, Chris, Pauline, Vito, Maria, myself and Adri halfway through our ride. 

Julian, George, Chris, Pauline, Vito, Maria, myself and Adri halfway through our ride. 

 The view from the hostel. 

The view from the hostel. 

 Maria

Maria

 George

George

 Adri, our fearless leader. 

Adri, our fearless leader. 

Ubud-Rice-Paddies
Mountain-Biking-Group
Ubud-Road
 Vito and Pauline in the background, Adri cheering them on. 

Vito and Pauline in the background, Adri cheering them on. 

Adri-Bike
Chris-George-Ubud
Ubud-biking
Ubud-Mountain-Biking
Hostel-Rama-Sita

We rode up steep hills and through peaceful rice paddies, ate at Clear Cafe and stayed at Hostel Rama Sita where Vito and Maria were working (the very talented Vito is also the newest editor at EditMate!). I was a little nervous beforehand as I'm pretty useless on a bike but I whizzed around without much trouble while Scott showed off with his jumps and tricks. It was sunny and hot and sweaty and a great couple of days in Ubud. 

AROUND ULUWATU

Balinese-Dancers
 Balinese dancers at the  Cultural Park . I swear the one in the front was giving me the eye the whole time, but then everyone in our group said the same thing so I think she just knew how to work a crowd. 

Balinese dancers at the Cultural Park. I swear the one in the front was giving me the eye the whole time, but then everyone in our group said the same thing so I think she just knew how to work a crowd. 

Blue-Water
Orchestra-Bali
 Vito after the show. 

Vito after the show. 

 Vito + Garuda. The cultural park is built around the construction of a massive sculpture which, when complete, will be 390 feet tall (for comparison, the Statue of Liberty is 305 feet) and feature the Hindu God Vishnu riding his bird friend Garuda. The statue is very controversial as religious authorities say it will disrupt the spiritual balance of the land, it's 11 story entertainment complex's commercial nature is inappropriate and it's insanely expensive. It sounds like a pretty bad idea to me, but hey, you do you Bali. 

Vito + Garuda. The cultural park is built around the construction of a massive sculpture which, when complete, will be 390 feet tall (for comparison, the Statue of Liberty is 305 feet) and feature the Hindu God Vishnu riding his bird friend Garuda. The statue is very controversial as religious authorities say it will disrupt the spiritual balance of the land, it's 11 story entertainment complex's commercial nature is inappropriate and it's insanely expensive. It sounds like a pretty bad idea to me, but hey, you do you Bali. 

Vishnu-Statue
Uluwatu
 Maria during a Blue Crush Crew spa day at DiKubu. 

Maria during a Blue Crush Crew spa day at DiKubu. 

 I like dogs and whatever but I don't go crazy over them like some people.... but I absolutely lost my mind over this one. I found her in a new litter of puppies outside a convenient store. I went so far as to name her ("Ulu"), went back to visit her 4 times, bartered with the owners (got him down to $21!), and researched ways to bring her out of Bali with me (basically impossible). I felt heartbroken and betrayed when I returned one day and she was gone ("Where is black and white dog? You know which dog! Where is my dog?") but hopefully she is in a happy home somewhere in Uluwatu. 

I like dogs and whatever but I don't go crazy over them like some people.... but I absolutely lost my mind over this one. I found her in a new litter of puppies outside a convenient store. I went so far as to name her ("Ulu"), went back to visit her 4 times, bartered with the owners (got him down to $21!), and researched ways to bring her out of Bali with me (basically impossible). I felt heartbroken and betrayed when I returned one day and she was gone ("Where is black and white dog? You know which dog! Where is my dog?") but hopefully she is in a happy home somewhere in Uluwatu. 

Uluwatu Sunset

DIKUBU HOMESTAY + THE BEST FOOD IN ULUWATU

After venturing North, it was decided that Uluwatu was our favorite spot in Bali. We headed back and booked the DiKubu Homestay on Airbnb (the photos don't do it justice) and were delighted to find that it included Wayan + Ketut as friendly hosts, cute grandparents, grandkids and dogs running around, a great group of friends to hang out with AND air conditioning. It was the ultimate find in $15 a night accommodation. 

 The steps up to our room. 

The steps up to our room. 

 I'm told there is mail in Bali but I can't say I ever saw a mailman. 

I'm told there is mail in Bali but I can't say I ever saw a mailman. 

DiKubu-Homestay-Bali-Villa
 Ketut and Wayan, our lovely hosts at DiKubu. 

Ketut and Wayan, our lovely hosts at DiKubu. 

This time around, we got into the habit of daily yoga at Morning Light. Scott can touch his toes now and I can do a range of headstands that will certainly make for great party tricks. I also finally had a few girls to surf with. Our surf gang is named the Blue Crush Crew, in case you were wondering.

 Wayan and Papa extracting honey from the honeycomb of a fallen bees nest. 

Wayan and Papa extracting honey from the honeycomb of a fallen bees nest. 

 Truly fresh honeycomb. 

Truly fresh honeycomb. 

Our new friends were  a United Nations of sorts, folks from: Spain, Columbia, Sweden, France, Germany, England and South Africa. 

Bali-Friends
 Vito + Maria. 

Vito + Maria. 

 View from Single Fin when you're eating a Nalu Bowl. 

View from Single Fin when you're eating a Nalu Bowl. 

We discovered the best food in Uluwatu too:

BLACK ROSE: Outstandingly fresh, delicious and cheap Vietnamese food. Go for the chicken salad ($2.50 USD), stay for the incredibly nice owners. And they serve tiny Dutch pancakes! We went almost every other day. I feel so strongly about this place that I did a (glowing) Trip Advisor review. And I don't do Trip Advisor reviews. 

THE CASHEW TREE: Killer Pitaya bowls. Perfect smoothies. Massive salads. Gorgeous open air set-up. Fast wifi. 

NALU BOWLS: Nalu bowls (smoothie bowls topped with fruit and granola) were my favorite discovery in all of Bali. Get one from the little hut outside Single Fin then enjoy the view over Uluwatu reef. Nothing beats a sunset Nalu bowl. Nothing. 

BUKIT CAFE: Cool (both aesthetically and temperature wise) interior (most places in Bali don't actually have an actual interior -- you're always just entirely or partially outside being baked by the sun) with delicious chia seed puddings. 

LANDS END CAFE: Conveniently situated down the road from Morning Light Yoga and serves French Press coffee which is the closest thing you can get to a good old fashioned, filtered American coffee.  

AYU'S: Giant classic breakfasts (eggs, bacon, toast, fruit bowl) in a brightly colored cafe run by a darling Balinese couple. 

 The Cashew Tree.

The Cashew Tree.

 Breakfast at Ayu's. 

Breakfast at Ayu's. 

Breakfast-at-Ayus-Bali

If you visit any of my above recommendations, you'll be eating a lot of fresh, natural good-for-your-body fruits and veggies. If you'd like to undo any of that health... scooter up to the main road and get a sweet MARTABAK (a.k.a. martabak manis or terang bulan). 

 Street vendor preparing a Martabak. There's also a fried banana cart nearby, which makes for a perfect amuse-bouche while you're waiting. 

Street vendor preparing a Martabak. There's also a fried banana cart nearby, which makes for a perfect amuse-bouche while you're waiting. 

Martabak-Bali

Originating from Yemen, the martabak spread to India and Southeast Asia. It's a doughy, pancake-like cake, made with: butter, sugar, crushed peanuts, condensed milk, chocolate sprinkles and cheese. It sounds wrong but it's so right. AND a dude in a push cart makes them right on the side of the road.

Bali may not have have their infrastructure sorted out quite yet but their epic desserts are on point. 

THE MOUNTAINS OF NORTHERN BALI

Lovina-Bali-Wall
north-bali-mountains
north-bali-monkey
Lovina-Bali-Scooter
northern-bali-fruit-stand
north-bali-fields
northern-bali
bali-everest
north-bali-market
scott-north-bali
north-bali-indonesia

Scootering back down (and up and down, and up and down again) through the mountains of North Bali was a bit of adventure. Google Maps led us up a road that quickly turned into a narrow, rocky, dirt path vertical incline UP the mountain. When our motorbike was unable to make the climb, we got off and pushed. It's tough enough to lug my giant backpack from baggage claim to the taxi curb, so successfully slogging it up the mountain felt like my greatest physical feat to date. And I've run two marathons and attended a Cross Fit class once.  We finally made it to the top and reached the views of the crater lakes. I've never been so relieved to know it was all downhill from there. 

HEADING NORTH TO LOVINA, BALI

bali-crater-lake

After Ubud, we hit the road for a big trip up to the North of Bali.

Within 10 minutes we got a flat tire. Luckily, Bali is the kind of place where you can walk your scooter down the road, mime to the nearest local that you got a flat and for the equivalent of $4 USD he'll whip off his shirt and change it, right then and there. 

bali-strawberry-field

After a few hours of driving we got to the top of a mountain and encountered a make-shift strawberry field with a road stop restaurant that only sold all things strawberry. We got a strawberry pizza which sounds wrong but may actually have been the best things I ate in Bali. 

bali-strawberry-pizza
strawberry-hill-bali
bali-mountain-lake
northern-bali-mountain
bali-ceremony

Loaded up with our bags and surfboards, we looked very out of place driving through the (green, lush and chilly!) mountains of northern Bali. Winding through tiny mountain villages (where I'm pretty sure they don't see many tourists), the locals wave from their windows and little kids run outside yelling "Hallo!" excited to see gringos. It was very much like that scene in Beauty and the Beast ("Bonjour! Bonjour!") but with chicken satay instead of baguettes. 

bali-mountains-north
north-bali-scooter
north-bali
north-bali

Around Danau Bratan Lake we haggled for beetroot chips at the road side markets and atop the Buyan and Tamblingan crater lakes we dodged road side monkeys. 

 Road side monkeys. The one on the left looks like a cute old man while the one on the right is less adorable: showing it's teeth, showing me who's boss.

Road side monkeys. The one on the left looks like a cute old man while the one on the right is less adorable: showing it's teeth, showing me who's boss.

monkey-bali
north-bali
north-bali-indonesia
scooter-rear-view-mirror-bali
 Global Citizen's Kafe in Lovina. 

Global Citizen's Kafe in Lovina. 

 View from the deck at  Tepe Villa Lux

View from the deck at Tepe Villa Lux

Once we arrived, we learned Lovina sounds much lovelier than it actually is. However, it was worth it just for the trip through the mountains. And the strawberry pizza. 

AROUND THE INTERNET

 An Ubud home temple, all dressed up for a ceremony. 

An Ubud home temple, all dressed up for a ceremony. 

For me, working on a computer leads to the inevitable: screwing around online. If you happen to run out of internet and need new distractions, here's a few:

 

If you like Chance the Rapper (you should), Busta Rhymes (he produced it!) or just good music that makes you think of your Grandma while wanting to dance at the same time, you ought to check out this album by Donnie Trumpet. Specifically this song

I can't wait to see this and this and this as soon as I'm back in a place that has a proper movie theater or fast enough internet that I can watch them on Popcorn Time, which is like a free version of Netflix. And an absolute god send. 

A video that utilizes video footage, photo stills and sound effects in THE most perfect way. Plus, this dude -- "Somehow we walk through life intellectually knowing the vastness and uselessness of existence... and on a micro-scale, really giving a shit about tiny small things."  The video was created by the fellow who runs Like Knows Like, which is rarely updated anymore but is still one of my favorites. 

After the Paris attacks, the coverage about of ISIS/Daesh seemed a little too black and white, good vs. archaic religious nuts. This article added more context and is worth a read. 

I loved this interview

My work-life balance has been in a risky and experimental state of flux for over a year now (more life, less work) so this article was particularly interesting: "Once upon a time, it was taken for granted that the wealthier classes enjoyed a life of leisure on the backs of the proletariat. Today it is people in skilled trades who can most find reasonable hours coupled with good pay; the American professional is among those subject to humiliation and driven like a beast of burden."

Piecaken. WHY IS THIS BEING UNVEILED WHILE I'M ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD. And where are these "underground dessert eating circles"? How does one get involved in such circles?

Yoga in Bali incorporated a little more meditation than usual. I downloaded the Headspace App to keep it up outside of class and it's great. It has beautiful animations and is narrated with a charming British accent. 

My homegirl Jenny started a darling global goods online shop, called Pip's Marche. It's worth checking out for the product descriptions alone and also may be perfect for your holiday shopping list. 

 

Lastly! I hope everyone had a lovely and piecaken filled Thanksgiving. 

10 STEP GUIDE TO BEING A TOURIST IN UBUD

Because of it's Eat Pray Love fame, Ubud conjures up images of peaceful rice paddy fields and conversations with friendly fortune telling locals. But also because of Eat Pray Love fame, in reality, Ubud is kind of crowded and loud, and while it's an upgrade from Kuta, it's a full-on tourist magnet. When you're in a place like that, you have to just embrace it and go into full tourist mode yourself.

Here's a 10 Step Guide. 

Ubud-temple

1. Arrive in Ubud with no plans or accommodation booked. Dismount your scooter and walk with your giant backpack and surfboard until you can walk no more. Last about 10 minutes. Book a night at the first homestay you see. Pay $5 USD a night for a villa with a full kitchen and cringe thinking about how you once paid $35 a night to sleep in a 14 bunk bed dorm room in Auckland. Continue to cringe thinking about how at the same hostel the kid in the bunk above you snored like a congested freight train while holding a smoothie in his hand, which he later spilled all over the floor next to you in his sleep. Think about how much you hated him. Now think about how much you love your private villa. 

ubud-homestay-home
 Our landlord.

Our landlord.

2. Visit Goa Gajah Temple. Dodge aggressive Balinese ladies who foolishly try to sell you a sarong to cover up your knees, unaware that you're actually a bit of a temple pro who knows full well you get a free one upon admittance. Be psyched about your new accessory for the day, as you've been wearing the same dress 3 times a week for the past month. Tour Goa Gajah Temple which takes 30 seconds as it's the size of a generous walk-in closet. Walk up many steps that eventually lead to a dead end, walk down many steps and sum that up as your cardio for the day. 

rachel-king-creative-ubud

3. Visit the Tegallalang Rice Terraces. Put your boyfriend to work. 

Ubud-Rice-Terrace
Ubud-Bali

4. Stop in at at Clear Cafe which has the philosophy "eat the food you wish to be" yet does not have Carvel ice cream cake on the menu. Settle for a berry smoothie and lavender infused water. Notice all of the lone women there working on their laptops. Blame Elizabeth Gilbert.  Appreciate the pastel walls and your traveling companions willingness to stand in front of them. 

clear-cafe-ubud
clear-cafe-ubud

5. Take a yoga class at the giant yoga mecca that is Yoga Barn. Be slightly intimidated by the very cold German instructor who is very strict about the mats being lined up but very amused by the dreaded and tattooed hippies, braiding each others hair while holding their love children outside class. 

Ubud-Bali

6. Sleep well until a trio of roosters start crowing hours before sunrise, like disgruntled employees purposefully screwing up their ONE JOB. After 3 nights of this, march outside and try to level with them. Consider yourself a rooster whisperer when they miraculously cease their squawking after your stern talk. Make a mental note to eat chicken that day when they resume 15 minutes later.  

rooster-bali
ubud-coconuts

7. Take another yoga class at Yoga Barn, this time with an American teacher with a terrible attitude. In you downward dog, think about how humans have made an entire industry out of stretching, breathing and sitting quietly and how absurd it is. Laugh on your mat as teacher gets called out during class for being a bully. You will take many yoga classes in Bali, but this will be your most scandalous. Only to be rivaled by one where monkeys attacked the teacher. 

ubud-flowers
ubud
Ubud-Rice-Paddy

9. Go to a spa/gelato shop (hey why not) and get a hot stone massage, facial, manicure and pedicure for $22 USD total. Leave a massive tip because anyone who spends 4 hours touching your dirty backpacker-y self deserves it and now your toes look hella cute. Emerge feeling like a new woman. 

banana-pancake-ubud

9. Make your way up a hidden, steep and rocky hill to a beautiful green rice field that completely lives up to the serenity-now stereotype of Ubud that you were promised. Eat breakfast at Sari Organik, enjoying poached eggs (to spite the roosters), a banana pancake and coconut water over a quiet, gorgeous field. 

Sari-Organik

10. Start to understand how this really would be a lovely setting for a movie.   

LAST OF CANGGU

As work currently consists of staring at a screen for hours at a time, Canggu was a good place to ease into the Balinese work-life balance. It had a colorful creative hustle to it to keep me motivated and cafes to keep me caffeinated but also the ocean down the street for when it got to that point in the day when my left shoulder started to stiffen and I wanted to throw my laptop at a wall. 

 An American gal in front of a painting of a Dutch artist by an Australian street artist, on an Indonesian island. 

An American gal in front of a painting of a Dutch artist by an Australian street artist, on an Indonesian island. 

 Sunset at Echo Beach. 

Sunset at Echo Beach. 

 Morning light over the local school. 

Morning light over the local school. 

 Zali + Scott. Zali ran the villa we stayed at and we could often find him and his friends smoking cigarettes and playing Guns N Roses covers out by the entrance. You haven't lived until you've heard the Indonesian acoustic version of "November Rain"

Zali + Scott. Zali ran the villa we stayed at and we could often find him and his friends smoking cigarettes and playing Guns N Roses covers out by the entrance. You haven't lived until you've heard the Indonesian acoustic version of "November Rain"

 Indonesian version of a Party Bus.

Indonesian version of a Party Bus.

 Acroyoga over Old Mans Beach. 

Acroyoga over Old Mans Beach. 

Surfing in Canggu was a challenge as the waves were consistently packed. It's stressful enough just trying to stay afloat/alive in these powerful waves so having to worry about colliding into someone added a whole other level of concern. Fortunately, that only happened to me once. Unfortunately, that someone was Scott. He got the brunt of the collision as my board went straight into his shin and left QUITE the gash. While he dramatically assumed he'd have to get his leg amputated, he was fiiiiiine and I was eventually allowed back into the water. 

 While my favorite day of the week was Wednesday for Movie Night at Deus, Scott preferred Sundays for the  Sunday Market at Samadi . We'd walk down our street (which was a rare occurrence, it's easy to get lazy here and scooter everywhere) and stock up on peanut butter while trying to dodge the packs of chatty British children running around.

While my favorite day of the week was Wednesday for Movie Night at Deus, Scott preferred Sundays for the Sunday Market at Samadi. We'd walk down our street (which was a rare occurrence, it's easy to get lazy here and scooter everywhere) and stock up on peanut butter while trying to dodge the packs of chatty British children running around.

 Polaroids at Crate Cafe. 

Polaroids at Crate Cafe. 

A few firsts were also had in Canggu, including experiencing geckos outside of car insurance commercials (they make very peculiar sounds which are extremely startling in your bedroom in the middle of the night) and trying dragonfruit, snakefruit and one of the most expensive coffees in the world, Kopi Luwak (which is essentially cat shit coffee), which kinda just tastes like coffee but is worth it for the anecdote.

Canggu was a real trip. 

ALL GREEN EVERYTHING

 I was surprised to discover this little girl hamming it up for the camera after I took the photo.

I was surprised to discover this little girl hamming it up for the camera after I took the photo.

 An offering in the field.

An offering in the field.

 Fruit stand stop. 

Fruit stand stop. 

 Artist workspace with a rice paddy view. 

Artist workspace with a rice paddy view. 

 View from the motorbike cut through. 

View from the motorbike cut through. 

The rice paddies of Canggu range from faded burnt to a nearly fluorescent green. It was a lovely landscape to have as a temporary backyard. 

KECAK FIRE DANCE

After sunset at the Tanah Lot Temple, we watched a traditional Kecak Fire dance.

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It was the classic story of Prince and Princess being banished to live in demon filled forest, demon planting trick deer that Princess would surely want as a pet, Prince trying to catch aforementioned deer for Princess only to have Princess be kidnapped while he way away hunting. A war is waged, a monkey is involved and to be honest, I had little to no idea what was actually going on but was thoroughly entertained nonetheless. 

There's extravagant costumes, pyrotechnics and no music besides a chorus of shirtless men who sway and hit their thighs while doing something that can only be described as a mixture of percussive chanting and beat boxing. The beat was actually really impressive and I recorded the audio here so I would never forget it: 

 And of course, Scott insisted on a photo with the Prince afterwards.

And of course, Scott insisted on a photo with the Prince afterwards.

TANAH LOT TEMPLE

We took a trip to visit the Tanah Lot Temple, which was built in the 16th century and is protected by venomous sea snakes. 

 After being #blessed with holy water and white rice to the forehead.

After being #blessed with holy water and white rice to the forehead.

For most of this past year I've been traveling alone and it was a rare and marvelous experience, that I highly recommend. That said, having Scott around the last couple months has been a wildly different but equally as worthwhile adventure.

Particularly in Bali where everyday life is somehow easier and more difficult at the same time, it's been nice to have someone bounce questions off of, such as "What is it exactly that I'm eating right now?".  He's got my number one traveling companion requirement down: he'll oblige me when I tell him to stand in front of things so I can take a photo. (As seen above.) Plus, he can even pull off a traditionally Balinese look: the frangipani flower behind the ear.