Uluwatu

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. 

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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
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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

PURA LUHUR ULUWATU

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. 

Mandatory temple garb. Gotta cover up those gams. 

Mandatory temple garb. Gotta cover up those gams. 

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The belt was also mandatory temple wear. Not a quirky accessory.

The belt was also mandatory temple wear. Not a quirky accessory.

Not a great photo... but look at that baby monkey!

Not a great photo... but look at that baby monkey!

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. 

RUPIAH + YOGA

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. 

How you fill up your Scooter at side of the road gas stops, for 73 US cents per liter. Also, someone around here is drinking a lot of Absolut Vodka. 

How you fill up your Scooter at side of the road gas stops, for 73 US cents per liter. Also, someone around here is drinking a lot of Absolut Vodka. 

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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...

Yoga bungalow at Morning Light. 

Yoga bungalow at Morning Light. 

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THIS is the view from class at Morning Light Yoga. (!!!)

THIS is the view from class at Morning Light Yoga. (!!!)

...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, BALI

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. 

Monkeys at Padang Padang beach. 

Monkeys at Padang Padang beach. 

This was after they jumped off the rock, egging each other on one by one, like a bunch of little dare devils. 

This was after they jumped off the rock, egging each other on one by one, like a bunch of little dare devils. 

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Surfers over Uluwatu cliff. 

Surfers over Uluwatu cliff. 

Scott under the cove at Suluban Beach. 

Scott under the cove at Suluban Beach. 

Uluwatu Road

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. 

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Local banana shop. Bananas are delicious in their natural state, but especially so when they're caramelized and fried, as I've learned here.

Local banana shop. Bananas are delicious in their natural state, but especially so when they're caramelized and fried, as I've learned here.

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Looking up at  Single Fin . 

Looking up at Single Fin

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Suluban sunset
Sunset at Bingin Beach. 

Sunset at Bingin Beach. 

Bingin_Sunset_2

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.