Scott turned 32 and we celebrated at Bingin Beach with lots of Bintangs.
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.
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.
Our new friends were a United Nations of sorts, folks from: Spain, Columbia, Sweden, France, Germany, England and South Africa.
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.
AYU'S: Giant classic breakfasts (eggs, bacon, toast, fruit bowl) in a brightly colored cafe run by a darling Balinese couple.
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).
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.
Bali has over 20,000 temples and Pura Luhur Uluwatu was my first. There, we learned that it is one of the six holiest places in Bali and that Scott looks surprisingly good in a sarong.
Built in the 11th century, the sea temple is on a giant cliff that overlooks the Indian Ocean. It's dedicated to the supreme Hindu God Acintya (their main, #1 God), but in his manifestation as Rudra, a storm God who is known as the "the mightiest of the mighty" which is now what I would like written on my grave stone.
FUN FACT: After the Indonesian War of Independence, the country adopted a political philosophy that allowed for freedom of religion but the religions had to be monotheistic (one God only). Hinduism is a religion with a whole lotta Gods, so from what I understand, to comply with regulation, Balinese Hindus emphasize the monotheistic worship of Acintya, but he takes on various manifestations of their OG Gods (goddess of rice, god of mountains, etc). Balinese Hinduism in general is a bit of smorgasbord of Indian religions and animist (the belief that plants, animals and objects possess a spiritual essence) customs that go way way back.
This makes for many rituals, colorful surroundings and the near-constant smell of incense, everywhere you go.
In Bali, $10 US dollars is equal to about 136,000 Indonesian Rupiah. Therefore every time I go to the ATM I'm a multi-millionaire.
We decided to come to Bali because:
a) the surf is good
b) the weather is even better
c) it's suuuper cheap
d) there's decent wifi
e) the above factors make for a pretty nice lifestyle.
Bali actually has some of the most expensive resorts in the world so you can certainly go wild on the other extreme, but I'm doing it cheap-skate style. We have our own villa or bungalow for about $14 USD (so $7 each) a night, meals usually run about $2.50 each ($5 if we're feeling fancy), and our scooter is $2 USD a day with a $1.50 gas fill-up every few days. I often read travel blogs and think "how the hell do they afford this?", so I figure a transparent breakdown of actual costs might be of interest -- especially if Bali is on your list of places to visit. My most expensive splurge has been yoga which at $7 USD a class (100,000 Rupiah) is pretty pricey for these parts but still half the price of what it would be at home.
The setting of Morning Light Yoga in Uluwatu has been my favorite and it is insanely wonderful. The class is in this tree house/bungalow type of thing with jungle on one side and the ocean on the other...
...you actually hear the sound of waves crashing (not a soundscape recording) while you lay there in shavasana. It's such a ridiculous yoga cliche that I want to roll my eyes at it... but my inner hippie is just like "yessssss eat pray yoga OMMMM to everythinggg". Yoga at The Temple Lodge in Bingin Beach is also in this beautiful rock/flower filled temple-like space that's lovely and I've heard there's even cheaper classes held right on Balangan Beach. Ubud is apparently a mecca for yoga in Bali, but I'd say Uluwatu is giving it a serious run for it's rupiah.
Uluwatu is like where you go on vacation, if you live in heaven year-round. It's all turquoise blue water, blood orange sunsets over majestic cliffs, fresh fruit juices and monkeys. Lots of mischievous (and brilliant) monkeys that steal your sunglasses to try and barter them back for bananas.
Uluwatu ("ulu" meaning "lands end" and "watu" meaning "rock") is on the tip of Bukit Peninsula, trailed by 5 beautiful beaches: Balangan, the aptly named Dreamland, Bingin, Padang Padang and Suluban. The entire peninsula is sunny and mellow, everyone gets around via scooter and the main road (and it's many twisty turn offs) are sprinkled with fresh juice cafes, budget bungalow and villa homestays and epic views of the Indian Ocean. We first experienced the magic of Warung's (serve yourself Indonesian restaurants where you can get a massive plate of food for about $2 USD) here which have become a dinner staple.
Every morning in Uluwatu we'd wake up and I'd get bribed to roll out of bed with the promise of an iced (!) cappuccino and we'd cruise around on the scooter to look for the best surf spot. The rest of the day would be a mix of reading on the beach, surfing, yoga and stealing wifi to work in a local cafe. My favorite days ended with watching the sunset from either Suluban or Bingin beach with a fresh mango juice.
It truly does not get any better than Uluwatu.