Summer Travels: Bali

Off we go!

Greetings from Tokyo! I am currently sitting in the airport lounge at Narita Airport wishing I didn’t have to go back to Los Angeles (Question: Can we just ship Campbell, our dog, to Bali?). Yes, I miss my dog, my friends, and my apartment – oh yeah, and my upcoming nuptials and the steady stream / intravenous of iced coffee – but there is nothing like Bali. Hectic, shining, relaxed (yet, pushy), earth-centered Bali. I wish I could explain all the amazing things, but that would lead to a VERY long blog post, and I am sure the one person who stumbles across this blog would be bored to tears…so, I am going to try and keep it short and sweet. [Note to reader: I got some creative “feedback” from my fiancé, who blogs for his business school, that my blog posts were getting a little long :)]

OK – odd way to start out a blog post, but it’s the thing that totally hooked me…Bali smells like crispy rice. The smell is intoxicating. It’s the first sensory thing that I latched onto after landing at the Denpasar airport, and it blew my mind. Canang sari is the explanation for this wonderful smell. Every day, offerings are laid out on storefronts, taxicabs, and monuments all over Bali. Made of natural materials, these mini baskets are stocked with rice, flowers, and incense (and sometimes cigarettes or a fried food). While I definitely don’t claim to be an expert on Bali culture, my understanding is that it is giving back to the Gods what has been given to you and is meant to symbolize the “good” life.

These are seen on frequently on statues that line the streets

KFo and I were in Bali for his high school reunion. Long story short, his dad worked abroad and he went to high school in Indonesia. I was a little apprehensive prior to leaving. I knew people would all be nice, but it’s always interesting meeting your other half’s other halves. Understandably, KFo feels like growing up in Jakarta was an influential part of his upbringing, so I couldn’t wait to experience some of it!

We spent the first few days lounging. We stayed in Kuta, which is known to be a touristy area by the beach, heavily populated with tourists and surfers alike. Since we spent most of the summer in Spain lounging and eating, we knew that we wanted this vacation to be a little more active. On our first day in Kuta, we took a surf lesson at Pro Surf School in Kuta. Frank, the owner, is extremely knowledgeable about surfing and the class was A LOT of fun. We’ve never surfed before and living in Venice, CA, it’s kind of a pre-requisite, so we were determined to learn something on this trip. And, we definitely did! We passed Beginner Level 1 and Level 2 during our trip (which basically means we can stand up and do small turns). It was awesome and exhilarating and I can’t wait to try it again back in Venice, CA – Frankie Tupper, I am coming for you!

Surf Lessons at Pro Surf School in Kuta

We also had the opportunity to eat at a lot of great restaurants. If you couldn’t already tell from previous posts, Kyle and I are foodies “in training” (i.e. we love nice restaurants and appreciate great food). While in and around Kuta, we dined at Ku De Ta (Seminyak), Bambu (Seminyak), Ganesha (Jimbaran Bay), Made’s Waring (Kuta), and Naughty Nuri’s (Kuta). Ku De Ta or Bambu were definitely my favorites – although, truth be told, I couldn’t eat much at Bambu because I got food poisoning the night before…But, the atmosphere was incredible. I would recommend each one of these restaurants. Some favorite dishes included:

Miso Cod at Ku De Ta

Grilled Calamari in Garlic Sauce at Ganesha

Glass Noodles at Bambu

Lemon Lime Iced Tea at Made’s Waring

Pork Ribs at Naughty Nuri’s (for those that fancy meat)

Should you find yourself in Bali, specifically Kuta or Seminyak for sunset, I suggest venturing to Ku De Ta, Ganesha, or Potato Head Beach Club. All have unforgettable sunset views, and KFo and I were particularly taken with Potato Head Beach Club, which has some awesome drinks.

Picking the perfect lobster for dinner

In addition to our activities in Kuta, we visited Ubud on a day trip. My best friend went to Bali for her honeymoon last year and LOVED it, so needless to say I was really looking forward to this part of the trip. We had a driver from the hotel take us to the Bali Elephant Safari Park, The Tirta Empul Temple, Sari Organik for lunch (organic lunch with luscious smoothies in the middle of a rice field), a artist commune, a wood carving shop and finally to dinner at Mozaic. The Elephant Safari Park is a delight; unlike zoos or safari parks in the US, you can literally go up and feed the elephants. We went early to avoid crowds and decided not to take the elephant ride (which meant we only paid $20 each to get in, feed the elephants, and see the show) – SO worth it!! The Tirta Empul Temple was also a highlight and something that will be unforgettable in the years to come.

Bali Elephant Safari Park
Holy Water Experience at the Tirta Empul Temple
Lunching in Rice Fields at Sari Organik

The whole Ubud day felt like a dream. The scenery is too good to be justified by pictures (although I will try) and the company was the best. We even jammed out to some of Adi’s (our driver) sweet nineties tunes (think Celine Dion). I do wish we had gotten to the Monkey Park, but we’ll have to save that for next time. Also, I gasped / screamed like a little girl when I saw Ketut Liyer's sign (Medicine Man from 'Eat Pray Love') in Ubud…Not so secret, I'm a pretty big fan of this book.

I didn't have the guts to go in, but super excited I saw it!

For those who are curious about how the reunion went, it was great to meet everyone KFo went to school with and I enjoyed putting faces to names. It’s so cool to see the diversity of the people that went there as well as hear what some of them are up to today. We spent the remainder of the trip hanging out with people from KFo’s class, lounging by the pool (and me doing some “minor” shopping).

Now, it’s back to reality and loving on our dog, Campbell. T minus 11 days until the wedding! More to come on that J Oh yeah, and I signed us up for a Tough Mudder in Tahoe on Saturday (where the high is 50 in the morning…Eek)! Who says you can’t be a badass the week before your wedding?!