Bali

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. 

INTRODUCING: EDITMATE

I'll be back to posting on the regular soon BUT I wanted to tell you that there's been a good reason for the recent radio silence: the launching of EditMate.

The REAL reason why I went to Bali (besides sunshine) was to be able to hunker down and live cheap while Scott and I built an online video editing + post-production service. With his online marketing experience and my video production background, we came up with the concept for EditMate having seen firsthand that growing brands (start-ups, small businesses) have more and more of a need for web and social video but don't have the budgets to hire a traditional production company. That's where EditMate comes in. (You can read the long winded version here.)

EditMate-website

In between surfing and eating fried rice we spent 3 months figuring out the workflow, designing the branding, building the website, attempting to translate emails in Japanese from the company that owns editmate.COM (we're settling for the .co in the meantime) and learning lots of other less fun things like SEO, short code and what a dedicated server is. And of course, I edited some videos

Bali: Because if you need to stare at computer screen most days you might as well be somewhere that you'll be served dragonfruit chia seed pudding for breakfast...

Bali: Because if you need to stare at computer screen most days you might as well be somewhere that you'll be served dragonfruit chia seed pudding for breakfast...

...and have this as your view during your commute home. All while living on about $1K a month.  

...and have this as your view during your commute home. All while living on about $1K a month.  

We've officially launched in beta mode here in New Zealand (I'm in New Zealand now! I was also in Australia but more on that later!).  It's an online company, so of course, we can accept a project from anywhere in the world and our Editors are located all over the globe but we're starting to market on the ground here in NZ to test the market. I'm excited. And it's summer here, so that's a plus. 

Check out editmate.co if you're into video or just want to learn how to shoot better video on your phone, DSLR or GoPro. Any spreading of the word will be enormously appreciated. And as it's 2016 (Happy New Year!) we'd adore any likes/follows on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram too. 

I hope your 2016 is off to a marvelous start and expect photos of the rest of Bali, Australia and New Zealand soon. Also thank you (really and truly) for reading my tiny corner of this massive internet. 

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. 

KITE FLYERS + SPECTATORS

Flying kites is a past time the Balinese take very seriously.

I'm always excited to see (what I refer to as) "kite gangs!": rowdy (by Balinese standards that is, they're a rather quiet and refined people from what I've seen) groups of teams racing down the road in pick-up trucks and motorbikes carrying their massive kites to the beach. It seems to be a male dominated activity with a very elaborate flying system. Spectators come to check out the action too. Here's a few photos of the kite teams and their spectators, at Echo Beach: 

KitesCanggu

AROUND THE NEIGHBORHOOD + BEST FOOD IN CANGGU

For three and a half weeks we settled into Canggu and fancied ourselves locals. We got a membership to Dojo Bali, a co-working space for fast wifi to work on a few projects (internet is of course, rather 3rd world-y here) and spent the rest of our time at the beach, exploring the neighborhood, memorizing rice paddy field shortcuts and attempting to speak Indonesian. 

These 2 chickadees look like they're about to drop the dopest rap album of 2015. 

These 2 chickadees look like they're about to drop the dopest rap album of 2015. 

Kids here go to school 6 days a week with only Sundays off. Many classes are in two shifts, morning and afternoon sessions, so throughout the day you see uniformed kids hopping on the back (or front) of their parents bikes and heading to and from school. 

Kids here go to school 6 days a week with only Sundays off. Many classes are in two shifts, morning and afternoon sessions, so throughout the day you see uniformed kids hopping on the back (or front) of their parents bikes and heading to and from school. 

We rented villa (about $18 total a night) at the Taman Dayu villas near Echo Beach and I thoroughly enjoyed walking into our temple-like lodging each day. I never actually used the pool (because why use a pool when the ocean is right down the road?) but I appreciated the view, nonetheless. 

We rented villa (about $18 total a night) at the Taman Dayu villas near Echo Beach and I thoroughly enjoyed walking into our temple-like lodging each day. I never actually used the pool (because why use a pool when the ocean is right down the road?) but I appreciated the view, nonetheless. 

There's a joke in here somewhere.

There's a joke in here somewhere.

Scott at  Machinery  - a colorful cafe owned by a cute Indonesian-Australian couple. 

Scott at Machinery - a colorful cafe owned by a cute Indonesian-Australian couple. 

Iced cappuccino at Koi. 

Iced cappuccino at Koi. 

Crate Cafe.

Crate Cafe.

Even though I found out I can happily eat Nasi Goreng (fried rice) every night without getting sick of it, we certainly sampled the extensive (and cheap!) dining options. Here's the best food in Canggu:

BETEL NUT CAFE: For fresh giant salads and perfect smoothies.

CRATE: Best (and cheapest!) place for early morning takeaway coffees before you ride to the beach to check the surf. Also best banana bread I've ever had in my life. 

KOI: Cute cafe with smiley staff and solid iced cappuccinos.

COFFEE N OVEN: European style bakery with straight out of the oven fresh croissants and killerrrr mango jam. 

CANTEEN: Delicious lunches with a retro surf style decor. 

BOOTSTRAP: Beautifully designed cold brew coffee brand. They do a white brew made with coconut nectar which needs to be exported to the USA ASAP. 

Big Betelnut Salad (4 different salads in 1) at Betelnut Cafe. 

Big Betelnut Salad (4 different salads in 1) at Betelnut Cafe. 

Sunset at Old Man's beach.

Sunset at Old Man's beach.

The entrance to  Dojo , the only office I've ever worked in where you leave your shoes at the door. 

The entrance to Dojo, the only office I've ever worked in where you leave your shoes at the door. 

CangguMotorbike
Note the peace sign. 

Note the peace sign. 

My Indonesian hasn't gotten much further than simple greetings and exclamations ("bagus!" = "great!") ... which is about the same as my Spanish, Italian and Latin even after 2 solid years of studying each of those. Indonesian has been a super interesting language to learn about though. Since it evolved to enable negotiation in marketplaces (within the various islands of Indonesia that all had their own language) the unified "Indonesian" language is a simple one:

-there's no plurals, you just double the noun. "anak" = child, "anak anak" = children

-there are no tenses, so they stick time words into sentences to indicate past, present or future: i.e. "I pay you yesterday", "I pay you tomorrow" 

-words can be very vague, "besok" which means "tomorrow" can mean the day after today or sometime in the near future. Walking down the street here, when you get hassled for a "taksi" ride and politely decline, there's an immediate follow-up of "maybe tomorrow?!" which made a lot more sense after I learned this quirk. 

Hearing Indonesians speak English made me think they weren't translating well (like the way I massacred the Italian language in Naples, asking "please I have pizza?") but many of their direct translations might actually be spot on to how they speak Indonesian. Makes me think Indonesian might be the language I could excel at, without having to bother with those pesky plurals and tenses.