Bali ~ Ubud

Waking up and feeling like I’m in this incredible dream where pinching myself hurts because it really is my life. For the first time ever I would not be spending Easter at home by going to church in the morning, watching TV with my dad, helping my mom in the kitchen and eating dinner with my family. I felt a little sad, but pulled myself together by sending out a few texts wishing my family and friends a Happy Easter. The girls and I all sat around a table eating our heart shaped waffles, fresh fruit and toast before checking out of the Bakungsari Hotel and meeting our driver that would take us to Ubud, where we’d spend the next 5 days. Here in Bali there is no such thing as public transportation and if you want to get from one place to another quickly you need to arrange a driver to do so. Once checked out we were on our way curiously taking in all we could from the sights, smells, sounds, and more importantly the cultural differences not only from the US to Bali, but from the US to Australia to Bali and every possible difference in between. Standing out the most was the way they drive. There are no road rules here in Bali, so cars and mopeds go as fast or as slow as they wish weaving in and out of traffic with as many as four or five people on them. Sometimes nearly colliding and we were lucky enough to never have encountered that, but did encounter the fact that drivers tend to use their horn as if it’s a kids toy. Sometimes its courtesy to honk, like saying check during a race, but other times it’s rude and you can tell the difference by the way people glare as you pass or simply move over to let you by. There are sides to these roads, but sometimes we found ourselves on the wrong side of the road to pass, as there was a combination of vehicles heading towards us. We made it to Ubud safely with moments of laughter, awe, humility, and simply living life in the moment trying to never lose that feeling of being free and doing exactly what you want to do at that given time.

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Day 1 | Markets – Explore

Once in Ubud we checked into our hotel that was beautiful. We paid nearly nothing to stay there for the next five days, giving us more spending money to shop and buy amazing food. Once we checked in and found our rooms, we met up to venture out, but not before I took some photos of our room that overlooked the pool. We stopped first to grab some coffee. Not being a coffee person I got the lemongrass tea and it was a necessity for it to be iced, otherwise I would have probably passed out from the heat. I watched as the Balinese girl made my tea and was elated to see exactly how they do so. The girl put a syrup in it that made it phenomenal, literally the best iced tea I have ever tasted in my entire life. It was sweet, but just the right amount of sweetness with the perfect texture and flavor of a true lemongrass tea all the while keeping me cool. Even the girls that like coffee more were astonished at how delicious it was. (Yes, mom I’m learning how to share)

After we quenched our thirst we headed off to have some fun bartering at the markets for gifts that we would later not want to part with. I was so nervous to even try that the first thing I bought was for the full price and after much thought and talking to Jake I stopped feeling bad about it. I realized the Balinese have a very difficult life, whether they know it or not, and for me to cheat them out of a few extra thousand rupees would just be plane shameful on my part. I can make money for the rest of my life and live comfortably in a developed country, meanwhile most of the shopkeepers I met do not only sell clothes and trinkets out of their shops, but they live there. I felt better being cheated out of a good deal, knowing that they would put the money to good use buying food for their children or saving for a home. After our time at the markets, we met up with everyone who branched off to do other things, we wanted to see the palace nearby our hotel. The palace was very beautiful, decorated with such detail everywhere you looked. There was a king here not to long ago, which was very hard to believe. Trying to stay cool, we headed out of the palace to spend some quality time in the hotel pool.

Happy and hard to believe we were in Bali, we all talked and shared some laughs. Wanting to make another go of it, we got ready for dinner and hit more markets before meeting at an authentic Balinese restaurant. Jesse was so confident and knew exactly what she was doing when she bartered, I watched in awe as she took control and didn’t let the lady push her around. She made me want to try harder to get a better deal, so I wandered off on my own to find something I liked. I came across some really cute pants and didn’t want to leave without trying. I ended up getting the lady to come down several thousand rupees (250k to 90k) and felt much more confident, even though I know I still got ripped off. At this point I was getting so hungry my stomach started hurting, I found the others and we wandered around a little more looking at all the cute little bracelets, colorful sarongs, bags and clothes. We learned quickly to just look and not touch. When you show interest in an item the shop keeper approaches you and starts bartering prices with you, which was irritating when I had no intention of buying the items in front of me at the time. That didn’t stop them, they’d follow you until you were so angry you left and went to another or left the markets all together.

To wrap up our first day in Ubud we headed out for a nice dinner with everyone. Stopping at a great restaurant just down the road from our hotel. We were seated, taking our shoes off to sit on pillows and look over the menu. At this point my stomach was dying for food and I felt sick. Ordering the nasi campur, having no idea what to really expect, but couldn’t care less just as long as I had food in front of me. Our food came out slow and only one at a time, by the time I had food in front of me I could hardly eat. My stomach hurt so much, I picked at my food and drank my bottled water. Eating what I could I tried to force it down knowing I needed something, but ended up only eating about half. After dinner we all wanted to get some desert and we all firmly believe that when you go to a new city you should try as much as you can, so that meant not duplicating restaurants and trying not to duplicate meals. We all headed out for some dessert at a different place. Wandering through the uneven concrete sidewalks of Ubud, I began to feel a little better talking to Jake about MTU and such to get my mind of my aching stomach. This did me a world of good because by the time we got to gelato (globalization at its finest) I felt much better and had a few taste tests, but decided not to get any because of the gross Durian gelato (smelliest fruit) Tom, Jake and I decided to try. Thankfully Jake had just gotten chocolate and let me have a little to get the taste out of my mouth. After having some laughs and good food we walked back to our hotel to cool off in the pool for some games before calling it a night. At the end of the day, I couldn’t have been more excited to have been in Ubud, but what came the next few days changed my life.

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Day 2 | Mount Batur – Coffee Plantation – Rice Terrace

Getting to bed early and trying to sleep in the heat was a little tough since I was so excited to be in Bali, but it was a must because we all set our alarms for 2 am to be ready for our driver picking us up at 2:30 am to bring us to Mount Batur. Everyone was so tired in the car they crashed once we left our hotel, but not me, I tried taking in as much as I could, even though it was dark. It was nice seeing Bali at this time of night, there were little to no people out and everything seemed so peaceful.

Once at the base of the mountain, we were greeted by our guides with flashlights and water. It was now going on 4 am and a little chilly, but nothing I couldn’t handle, especially after being told if I wanted a jacket it would cost me fifty thousand rupees. I told myself, as my mom always taught me, suck it up and you’ll be fine. And soon enough we hit the trail to start our hike up. The guides were very kind and this first part was relatively flat, so no worries just yet. They had built in break periods, so we could all catch our breath and get some water. This was a life saver because most of us stopped our usual workout plans once we left the US and were pretty out of shape at this point. I was so excited to be here, even if it was literally the crack of dawn. Being stuck in the back for the easy part, I decided to join our leading guide to be front and center for the rougher part of the climb. It was all rainbows and butterflies until we got to the super steep part where the recent lava from the 2000 eruption had cooled making for a tough climb. Jerro, our guide, was kind enough to extend his hand back to me and help me so I didn’t start a domino effect down the mountain. At times it was nice to have an extra hand to rely on, but others I felt like he was just pulling me up the mountain as he went because I was both tired and slow compared to him. Thankfully we got a few more breaks until we reached the top of the mountain cause my heart was racing and I was breathing heavier than I should have been. I told myself after one of the steepest sections I need to get back into working out cause this is just embarrassing. I used to be a first team all conference runner for cross country and was even MVP one year, I really needed to get it together or one day I’d find myself walking a few miles on flat terrain and be winded.

Soon enough though, we reached the top after about a half a dozen stops and being pulled up the mountain by Jerro. The top was surreal. The sun was beginning to come up and we all got tea or coffee to keep us warm in the meantime. Not failing to impress, this time hot, the tea was impeccable. As the sun came up, we took an insane amount of photos, but after taking who knows how many I put my phone down and got lost in my thoughts. Views from all angles of other mountains, Lake Batur below, the most recent lava that engulfed an entire town and the most stunning sun rise I have ever witnessed coming through the clouds just above the lake. I was so happy to have Jenna take a photo of what was shaping up to be the second best day of my life. I couldn’t believe I was really here, I was speechless at how gorgeous and life changing this experience was and we still had breakfast and the decent down the mountain to go.

Moments before breakfast we all walked down a small dirt footpath to where the volcanic steam was coming out of the mountain. This is where they were cooking the eggs and bananas we were about to have. Jerro, joking around, said feel it and encouraged Marissa and I to put our hands in. I wasn’t sure it was the best idea, so I got close and stopped because it was ridiculously hot. After we nearly burnt our arms, he told us it was about 130 degrees Celsius! Being content with my decision to not follow his persuasion I walked back up the path so everyone else could take a look before the food was done cooking. While waiting for the Balinese to finish preparing our breakfast we realized a stray dog had followed us up to the top. Mind blown at the fact that this little dog made it up to the top, while we all just about died. This little guy was very sweet and we felt so terrible when our breakfast came out we gave him some of our food. Breakfast was set up on trays that were rested on a small wooden bench that we all gathered around. Breakfast was a combination of banana or egg sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit (snake fruit) and Balinese packaged crackers and candy. I had a little bit of everything, the sandwiches were white bread, but the cooked banana was smooth and sweet between the two pieces of crustless bread. The eggs were fresh, but your typical hard boiled free range eggs. But the fruit, oh the fruit, I have always been one for fruit and vegetables from day one. The fruit, snake fruit, is named for what it looks and feels like. It has an outer layer like snakes skin that you peal off like an orange, so you can eat the garlic like cloves inside. The texture is similar to a hard pear, but the flavor is sweeter with a little bit of a tartness all at the same time. Before we knew it we had finished nearly everything, including the cheese crackers and little candies. To follow was my absolute favorite part of the day.

Our guides, Jerro and Waiung, asked all of us if we wanted to take the same way back down the mountain or take a different way that would be longer, but his suggestion to us. We all agreed to take the different path, even if it was longer, it would be better than doing the same thing twice. The first stint of the journey down was a little tough because it was incredibly steep. Without looking down to much, I grabbed ahold of the rough cooled lava and made my way to safer ground along the skinny path. I was terrified of falling down because there wouldn’t be any comin back from that fall. Once on level ground we had some fun taking photos again of the different views from this side of the mountain. Only being 9 am at this point, but feeling like two o’clock in the afternoon, we realized how nice it was getting up insanely early. Being so early, we spotted a rainbow in the mist below that we were actually right in the middle of it, making for a cool picture. Stopping from time to time on the decent, Jerro talked about the history of the volcano and how it erupted last in 2000, but the people in the surrounding area were ill-informed and an entire town at the base was covered with lava, with the exception of one temple, which is now called Lucky Temple. Saddened by this, we moved on to happier things when we came across monkeys on the mountain. Stopping to take photos trying not to scare them away, but I came across one very curious monkey. I relaxed leaning against an information stand where a couple monkeys were sitting, trying to get a cool candid photo or just have the monkey get somewhat close to me. Instead, the monkey attacked my water bottle scratching at it and trying to open the cap to play with it. I got a photo, even though it didn’t look as good as I had hoped I will always remember the little claw marks on the cap of my water bottle from the little guy who must have been thirsty or just bored.

After our fun monkey experience we were pushed on to continue by our guides stopping every so often for breaks, not because we were tired, but rather because the decent was hard on our knees from resisting the steep slope. After putting up with this for about a half hour I started to follow Jake and Jerro’s lead on just letting my legs go and keep track of my footing to give my knees a break. Before I knew it I was off to the races, I followed Jerro as he zig zagged down the path. I felt like I was flying as I kept my footing and trusted my instinct to land on the semi stable ground. Loving life and not a care in the world, I left the group behind and continued to run down the mountain, only stopping when there was a T in the road and I needed some direction. At one T in particular Jerro purposely told me the left, so he could fly past me and beat me down the mountain. This only encouraged me to run faster and let gravity help me fly as fast as my little legs would take me. Jerro and I got so far ahead that we had time to stop here and there to talk about the Cows that were kept on the mountain or the chilis that were planted along the base as we passed them. Before I knew it, my zig zagging was over and we had to wait for the rest of the crew to catch up at the starting point from earlier, before saying goodbye to our guides and moving on to the plantation. Sad to say goodbye to our guides, we all took some group photos and decided to tip them (20 thousand rupees each) for their generosity for taking good care of us throughout our morning.

Heading off for another adventure, we got in our vans and made our way to a coffee plantation for some taste testing and to possibly buy some lovely balinese tea and coffee. I, being who I am, hopped in the van with the boys and had a fun conversation about family and such on our way to the plantation. We were greeted by a wonderful Balinese women that guided us through a walking trail through a part of the plantation pointing out dark cocoa, cocoa, coffee beans and snake fruit as we passed through listening to her explanations of the plants and what they make with them. We then passed bats and a civet, the civet was much more important being an animal that eats coffee beans, digests them, and then collecting and cleaning the animal droppings to make a very potent coffee that tastes fantastic. At first it is a little discouraging to say the least, but once you get over that grossness, you will be astonished at how potent and delicious the coffee can be. This is saying quite a bit, as I am not a coffee drinker and have never really enjoyed coffee. Once we were over our fascination with these animals that resemble a Tasmanian devil/raccoon type mammal, we carried on to a small area where we could gather around a small table that had vanilla bean, dark cocoa, cocoa, ginger, and the various types of coffee here on the plantation. Our guide let us smell and look at the samples to gear us up for our taste testing that was to follow.

Sitting around a table that overlooked the rice terrace in back of the plantation, I gazed in astonishment of what I was doing with my life at this given moment and had no idea how and why I was so lucky to be doing this. Being very thankful, i got lost in my thoughts staring at this beautiful lush area and the steps that the terrace made going up the side of the hill in front of us. Our guide kindly set down a small circular mat in front of us that had different little clear glasses filled with their outstanding drinks. Unsure of where to begin, Jesse, Jenna and I just took whatever we saw first. I started with the teas and then moved onto the coffees. Slowly tasting and moving around the wheel, we decided which ones we liked, loved and despised. All in all, going around the wheel more than once, I decided I enjoyed the lemongrass tea and both the chocolate and coconut coffees, meanwhile despising the ginger tea immensely. I enjoy ginger in many things, but this was outrageously too strong for anyone and I’ve eaten candied ginger barley cringing, but this just rubbed me the wrong way. I moved back to the three i loved to rid myself of the vile taste the ginger tea left behind. Finishing off the cups, we went to the little shop they had just past the cafe area, where we could buy the products we just tried and/or the other basic balinese products we saw at just about every market we passed. I was on the fence about buying some, since I am not a big coffee drinker, but once they offered a 20% discount, I said why the heck not, getting the chocolate coffee for one hundred thousand rupees or about seven US dollars.

Before I knew it, it was time to head out of the coffee plantation and make our way back to our hotel. Jake had other plans in mind and I was happy to be apart of them. He talked our driver into stopping at one of the fruit stands on our way that had just about every tropical fruit piled up high in woven baskets of all colors. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to buy anything because I didn’t know what half of it was or what it tasted like. Our driver, being a little pushy, started grabbing fruit for us to try and even though we weren’t sure if we could we tried it, both loving and disliking some. I didn’t end up buying any fruit, mainly because I had plenty while taste testing. Instead, I bought to surangs from a women that drove a tough bargain of fifty thousand rupees each, but did it reguardless because they were nice and needed the money more than I. Back on the road, Jake talked our driver into stopping at a huge rice terrace on our way back. It had started to rain, but none of us let it bother us because we were in BALI and having the times of our lives. The rice terrace was outstanding, the most lush green stair-like steps surrounded by beautiful lush rainforest and Balinese huts and restaurants. I took the view in amongst my friends and breathing in the humid air, but not before running through the rain to sit on a ledge to take a photo, capturing the moment forever of the amazing day we were having that I never wanted to end, regardless of the weather and how tired I was. The coffee from the plantation must have kicked in to keep me going this long and I couldn’t have been more satisfied with my life and how full of joy and the utter bliss I was feeling at this given moment. Before we knew it we were back in the car and being dropped off at our hotel paying our amazing drivers for the outstanding day that we would never forget.

Only lunch time when we arrived back at our hotel and quite hungry a few of us sat down for some food. I got the chicken kuta sandwich and was very satisfied, but as always could have eaten two more than I paid for. I was in no mood to take a nap along with the others, but instead took the opportunity to sit out on our balcony to meditate in the rain, thinking when in Bali… After Meditating for roughly fifteen minutes or so (I’m an amateur) I collected myself and got ready for dinner out with the girls as they all woke up after a short power nap. We walked through the streets of Ubud, now eager to explore some more, finding a nice little restaurant that was authentic Balinese. Feeling the length of our day hitting me, I decided to take the heathy route and got the petit sat gorang. Taking the vegetarian route I had no regrets devouring the entire bowl that was set in front of me after a very long wait in the hot banquet room they seated our large group in. Kafe, was a cute little place that we had to take our shoes off, but the heat was killing me so for dessert I got the omega 3 smoothie to both fill me up and cool me down before we made our way sluggishly back to our hotel. Tired and wanting to stay hydrated tonight and tomorrow we stopped at a mini mart  before getting back to get one of the massive bottles of water to get us through our adventures still awaiting us tomorrow at the Elephant Safari Park.

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Bali Trekking & Hiking Guide – http://balitrekkingandhikingguide.blogspot.co.nz/2015/02/mount-batur.html

Day 3 | Elephants – Monkey Forest – Yoga

Getting used to being tired and sweaty for everyday and just rolling with it, we got up early to get our taxi to the elephant park at 6:30am. The taxi was late, which didn’t make us very happy, but happy to be on our way once it did arrive, we took in the view of the beautiful countryside and met the other girls in our van. The girls were from Lebanon who spoke Lebanese for awhile until we all started to open up and talk freely. We talked about what we were all going to do for the day at the elephant park, where we were all from and what we had done and were going to do with our remaining time in Bali. Mixing great conversation with the gorgeous landscape along the way, we geared ourselves up for what we had ahead of us on the humid morning. Upon arrival we climbed out of the taxi and headed into the elephant park to get our tickets, changed into our swimmers (Aussie for swimsuit) and grab an umbrella, just in case it rained.

First on the exciting agenda for the day was bathing an elephant! Walking up to this small, yet large creature, we were able to grab a hose or brush to bath this majestic Asian elephant. Jesse in all her glory, with the biggest smile on her face, quickly stepped forward taking a brush to bathe her favorite animal. I was right behind her grabbing a brush and happy to take the hose once the last person was sick of it. Unable to reach the top of this beautiful elephant, I hosed down as much dirt as I could, since everyone was only really brushing the legs and head. I felt sorry for this animal, yes it was getting a bath, yes it seemed content, but to be stuck having strangers bathe you everyday and not do a very good job of it isn’t a great way to take care of an animal. Having enough and with another group behind us waiting to bathe the same elephant, we moved on to swimming and riding the elephants.

We set all of our things down and waited eagerly to get to sit atop an elephant and swim around a pool. I was apart of the first group to go and asked the girls to take some photos of me riding the elephant while it swam around in the pool. I was grinning from ear to ear the entire time and couldn’t stop. On cloud nine, I watched as the guide used the butt of a hooked instrument to tell the elephant which direction to go, similar to using the reigns for a horse. I wasn’t sure if this was hurting the animal or not, but I do know that they have thick skin and he wasn’t hitting it very hard. I watched as large poop as big as basketballs floated towards us. Laughing and keeping my feet away from the floating poop I remembered that there was a guy fishing something out of the water as we walked up. He was using a net to pick up the poop floating in the water to keep it clean and as sanitary as possible. My guide guided our elephant away from the poop as much as possible and got her to do tricks. She sunk under that water, surrounding me in cold water, to pop back up and go onto her hind legs before swimming back to the edge where I was to get off and let someone else go for awhile. Full of a range of emotions and yet needing to take photos of the other girls now riding, I was ready to rinse off the poop water from the pool and continue with our eventful day. After we all had the chance to ride our elephants in the pool and enjoy the tricks they knew, we rinsed off in the showers before we got breakfast in the cafe.

Clean and starving, we all sat around a beautifully set table with embroidered elephant place settings and napkins. Breakfast was a large buffet with juices, fruit, eggs, bacon, potatoes, sautéed vegetables, muffins, pastries, and a variety of authentic foods that I wasn’t so keen to try this early in the morning. I took bits and pieces of nearly everything, enjoying the pastry, fruit and fresh tropical juice the most. Having seconds of mainly the fruit and amazing yogurt with honey, along with the other girls we packed in as much food as we could in the small time frame we had for breakfast before making our way to the stage area to watch the elephants perform for us. Elephants are very smart animals, they have one of the best memories out of any animal. Jesse shared some information with us, since she loves these creatures with all her heart, while we waited for the performance to start. Realizing that the performance wouldn’t be starting for another thirty minutes we walked over to the crowd of others to see what they were doing. They were feeding the elephants and we weren’t going to miss out on the fun. We all grabbed the sugar cane that they love so much and handed the pieces to the elephants who grabbed them with their trunks one by one before chowing down on them. Loving every second of this we fed them dozens of pieces before realizing there was an adorable little baby elephant down near the end. I grabbed some small pieces to give to the little guy and made sure to take a few photos of him, but mainly us together. Only a short while before the show started we got to be apart of a trick that a very talented elephant was performing on just about every guest that came by. The elephant would hold a ring that was decorated with flowers and upon command drop the ring around the guests neck and put his trunk onto of their head. It was so adorable and looked like fun, so we all did it one by one. Nervous for this because my back was to the elephant and having no clue when it would be dropped, I stood waiting and once he rested his trunk on my head I grinned ear to ear while Marissa snapped a photo of me happy as can be.

Being the last one to get to partake in the trick, we made our way over to the show ring after I got my photo taken to find a nice spot to stand and watch the elephant show that was next on our agenda. Awaiting the show was tough because I was beyond excited to see what these magnificent animals could do. I had only seen elephants at the zoo and in the circus, thus I hardly knew what they were capable of beyond the general riding and tricks they did in the circus. Walking out one by one, some full grown and others just little ones they held the tail of the one in front of them with their trunks for guidance and for general cuteness. I watched in amazement, while Jesse was in all her glory watching her favorite animals walk around the show center. They walked up and along a long log showing how talented they are keeping their grip on the tail in front of them. Once they had all entered, the tricks began with the simple commands of the Balinese men conducting the show. The elephants continued on to show they can play soccer, sit like a human (on the log they walked on earlier), paint an abstract piece of art and even do math. Jake volunteered to get into the ring and hold two numbers for the elephant to choose to complete a math problem. Being one of the smartest animals due to their great memories, the elephant about ten times the size of Jake picked one with ease carrying it from Jake to the hook to complete the math problem correctly and we all just watched in awe as it was both correct and the fact that it was such a gentle giant from both start to end of the trick.

Having bathed, swam and watched a show with elephants at the park, the last thing before our adventure was over was to ride one. We all paired up one by one since we had an even number. Usually being the odd one out, I thankfully got paired with Jake to enjoy our ride around the park, before returning to the water where we swam, to get one final picture that we could buy at the end of our trip. We enjoyed our walk along the path and through the lush rainforest talking amongst ourselves to get to know one another better and talk about our time abroad thus far. The ride was quite new to me, I had ridden elephants before, but when I was very young and could hardly remember what it was like. It was a bit of a jolt with every giant step the elephant took. I didn’t care to much for wobbling back and forth in slow motion as the elephant slowly took one step after another, but after about five minutes I got used to it and didn’t quite notice it anymore. Just after leaving the starting point Jake dropped his selfie stick for his go pro and we thought we wouldn’t be able to get it till later, but the elephant was able to pick it up with his trunk and hand it back to our guide. Happy it didn’t get stepped on and able to get it back quickly made for a good time on our ride around the park before being forced to get off and prepare to leave the park after a great morning hanging out with elephants.

As we prepared to leave the park, we were able to go up to a stand that had all the pictures from our day at the park. The men in the stand scrolled through the file finding each individual before giving us the opportunity to choose either 1, 2 or 4 photos to print on one piece of printer paper. I was stuck between 3 photos, which wasn’t an option. Asking the girls for some assistance, they gave me their input and I took them up on their suggestions. I got one from the swim earlier today and one of Jake and myself just before we were to get off. Both photos turned out miraculously and I couldn’t have been happier for my purchase to always have a keepsake to hang on my wall to remind me of this wonderful day in Ubud, Bali. Photos printed and with all of our things we were back in the van to be transported to our hotel for lunch.

With a large portion of the day still ahead of us the girls and I decided to rest up and meet back up to walk to monkey forest and go to an authentic Balinese yoga class. With the girls taking naps, I thought I would take some time to brush up on my solitaire skills. With some peace and quiet and the only thing being the distant sound of scooters and cars on the street outside with some beautiful sounds coming from the local wildlife, I got comfortable and let my mind enjoy the alone time. Interrupted by Jake just below sitting outside his room. He heard me shuffling the cards, the riffle shuffle giving me away. Jake asked what I was up to and if he could join. I took the time to ask him what card games he had knowledge of and after no success, I taught him how to play rummy. The game my mom taught me as a kid, I taught to Jake. I was a bit nervous he would beat me, but with a goal of achieving 100, we kept score in my phone on the notepad. Jake had no idea how competitive I can get, but he was informed of just that after just a few short hands. I had a moment of doubt that I would lose to beginners luck, but all in all I was the teacher and a teacher never gives away all her tricks, right? Beating Jake after several hands of rummy, he laughed and thanked me for teaching him. I told him better luck next time and he returned to his room as I collected myself before the girls woke up for their naps to make our walk to Monkey forest.

Monkey Forest being a bit of a walk, we walked past the markets we had been scanning for the past couple days to find the perfect trinkets and clothing for ourselves and our family and friends back home. I still had several items I needed before departing this wonderful country. Passing though the disarray of what the locals call a sidewalk, we made sure to be careful, knowing the walkway better than we did when we first arrived. Arriving at Monkey Forest, we paid our fee and ventured in. Unsure of what to expect and having heard stories about the crazy monkeys, we encountered the first of many monkeys just sitting on the path. There were piles of food placed around that the monkeys were eating, but we could buy bananas to entice them to sit with or on us. We ventured down the path that went to a river. Walking down and along the stone path, our surroundings authentically resembled a rainforest with vines hanging from the tall trees surrounding us. There was a wishing well where I had hoped to make a wish, but worried about not having enough money, I saved my coins for the market and walked on. The path descended onto a dead end path overlooking the river that flowed through the forest. Peaceful and early in the morning would probably suit a wonderful place to do yoga or meditate when no one was around with the sun just up and shining through the tall trees with large vines draping from their branches. Moving on to see the monkeys, the real reason we came, we walked back up the stone path to continue on through the forest. Groups of monkeys, large and small, male and female lined the path as we walked. The males being very large and more vicious we kept our distance for our own safety. We focused more on the females and the adorable little ones they were caring for. Walking up the path further we came across where an old temple was blocked off to visitors. A few parents tending to some babies enticed us. We wanted to hold or see the baby monkeys more than anything else and with some patience and stillness we were lucky. The babies curious about us, wandered out from behind the fence to get a closer look at us. Luckier than we thought we would be, the babies let us hold them, first their fingers, and finally they jumped into our arms. Being as gentle and mimicking their mothers we played it safe to not upset the mothers or fathers of the little ones. I was lucky enough to hold the little hand of one of the babies and they even got close enough for some of the girls to take some very adorable selfies. Prying ourselves away from the babies after one of the mothers got upset, calling the little ones back, we retreated the same.

Moving further into the forest, we came across a very large open area where monkeys were in trees, walking around among the visitors and sitting on the steps to the temple eating bananas and the other food that lay around in piles for them to eat. The girls tried walking up to the babies in this open area with little to no luck. Not following their lead, I walked away and sat alone still and just seeing how lucky I could get with one of the monkeys sitting on the steps. Not aware my sarong tied around my waist had yellow that looked like a banana, I was quickly noticed. One monkey crawled onto my lap trying to get at my sarong thinking I was just not sharing. He soon realized it was just cloth and went for my sunglasses on top of my head. We were warned about any excess items that we would take in with us that the monkeys would like to steal and we may never get them back or need to ask for help to do so from a park attendant. I stupidly grabbed them quickly causing the monkey to get a bit upset with me because I hid them in my purse and zipped it shut. Making him angry wasn’t a good decision because soon after he latched onto my neck on his way down from my lap. Freaking out on the inside, I calmly scolded him and got him to let go. He was an animal and I did make him upset, but thankfully he didn’t bite me hard enough to break skin. Now with the girls attention, they snapped some photos of me and were a bit afraid as they saw the entire thing unfold. Not so smart, they did the same thing and Jenna was nearly bit herself. Laughing and moving on we called Becca and Marissa paedophiles because they were only targeting the babies, but all in good fun we walked down a couple of the small allies to explore and interact with more of the monkeys. A few of the boy monkeys were pulling on themselves and feeling weird about what they were trying to accomplish we turned away back down the ally to get a few last looks at the babies and other monkeys before departing Monkey Forest in time to make our Balinese yoga class a short walk away.

Upon arrival to the Yoga Barn, we found a mat and prepared for our authentic class, as if we were Elizabeth living the love portion of Eat Pray Love. Yoga has been a new practice of mine that I have grown to enjoy, both mentally and physically. The yoga class we were joining would be spoken only in Indonesian and just a simple intro class. Having taken some yoga in the past and doing some on my own, I felt confident I would be fine in this class. Having no idea what the instuctor was saying, We followed along with the others who did. Catching on after a bit, we realized what the words for inhale and exhale were and started to catch onto the count. I began counting in Indonesian in my head along with the instructor satu, dual, tiga.. Until I realized this practice would be much harder than the others I had previously taken. It was extremely humid causing my palms and soles of my feet to sweat more than normal and by your thoughts exactly I began to slide and became unable to hold simple poses. Wiping my hands as much as possible on my clothes I pushed to finish the practice and focus on my breathing and counting in Indonesian. When we evolved the practice into some new poses, nearly the entire room got confused. The instructor realized that only a few students were actually fluent in Indonesian, forcing him to reiterate the practice in English as well. Even though I was struggling I managed to collect myself enough to complete the practice as I was exhausted from just trying to stop my hands and feel from sliding. Thanking the instructor and god for a good day and night I put my palms together and whispered to myself namaste. Rolling up my mat and walking out with the girls after a much needed reflection and realization that I was in fact in Bali and enjoying myself and every moment I was spending on this beautiful island of Indonesia. I was hopeful that there might be a class for meditation before we left, but fell short realizing it would cost me a bit of money and a considerably early morning. We made our way out of Yoga Barn and off to dinner to feed our very hungry tired bodies.

Walking the distance back to our hotel and wandering around back in the same general direction we made our way to find dinner. Taking some time to see some markets we all involved ourselves in a bit more bartering and came out with various clothes, surrounds, trinkets and accessories. I myself came out with two headbands that I thought would be great for myself and possibly a friend. Once we concluded our shopping we continued walking and Stopped at Warung Semesta to get an authentic Balinese meal. Resting and taking in the good vibes, we read over the menu. Starting off with some crispy fried spinach and a cooled down with a tangerine and orange squash. The fried spinach was light and got my taste buds ready for my meal that was awaiting me. I prepared for my meal by cooling down with my squash that was a combination of the two juices with bubbly soda water and a beautiful simple syrup. Once my meal of amazing curry and pisang goreng arrived, I ate it quickly, hardly leaving a trace that it even existed and washing it down with what was left of my squash before the girls and I carried our lethargic bodies back to our hotel to shower and crash after yet another amazing and long day in beautiful Ubud.

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Elephant Safari Park & Lodge – http://www.elephantsafariparklodge.com

Day 4 | Rafting

Up and Adam early in the Balinese heat, we collected ourselves and got some breakfast at the restaurant out front of our hotel. I was dying to get more banana pancakes and hoping to never eat anything else for breakfast again in my life, I ordered them with a hot lemongrass tea. Scarfing down our breakfast that came with a small plate of pineapple, watermelon and banana, we met our driver to make our way to the rafting company. Becca, Marissa, Kristen and I were the only ones interested in going, which worked out perfectly because the raft only held four people and a guide.Thoroughly satisfied with breakfast and eager to get going, we rode in our taxi for an hour drive before arriving at our destination. Arriving at the rafting company was an experience in itself, it was set up like the shops, in other words disorganized and small shelters to contain the gear and payment area. Unaware we could have bartered, we paid the full amount nervous for what awaited us at the bottom of the hill. Once we paid, by pulling out our wads of cash, like amateur tourists, we got our gear on, secured our bags and walked the rouged concrete and dirt path down to the river, both excited and nervous for what was to happen next. We had no previous knowledge of this area, how rough it was or dangerous. We took it as a once in a lifetime experience that we weren’t about to miss out on while in Bali for maybe the only time in our lives.

Gear on and now with our guide, Gun, we got instructions for where to sit, how to safely hold our paddles and not fall out of the raft. We were all nervous and excited for what awaited us in the water because it had rained recently, making for higher water levels and a more intense ride down the river to our resting point and the ending point where we would receive lunch. Marissa and I sat in the front, which Kristen and Becca took the back for the start of the rafting adventure. Gun pushed off and hopped not he back to be our rutter as we navigated around the rocks that dotted the river. Whenever we were about to hit a big rock or the river bank Gun would call out BOOM. He warned us of this before we left base, but we just thought it was some kind of joke or misinterpretation of the English language. In my glory to paddled a little here and a little there as the river took us at its own pace. Not impressed that we weren’t going at high speed, I tried paddling faster to get us going, but it didn’t seem to do any good with all the rocks pushing us sideways rather than forcing us further down stream at a higher speed. Rather than get caught up in the emotions of speed, I looked up and around me to take in as much as I could before it was over. I found myself staring and getting excited for the mini rapids ahead. The thick rainforest that made gave off the hot sticky air and yet it was picturesque. I felt the sweat droplets pool and run down my back under my lifejacket, but soon enough we hit the short rapids that splashed over the edges of the boat cooling us down. I looked up for a great time, not paddling, seeing the rich lush green plants that made the forest look more like a carpet than foliage. Massive ferns, palm trees and small plants from the river banks to the tops of the hills surrounding us. If you looked close enough you could see the red, yellow and various other colors of flowers blooming off the lush plant life. Lost in thought and unaware of much else other than myself and the beautiful rainforest surrounding us i heard Kristen say, “look at Angela she is in her element”. I turned at the sound of my name and grinning from ear to ear I laughed out of utter bliss. I continued to stare in disbelief that this was a place on Earth. I got myself to snap out of it enough to paddle a bit and focus on the river ahead of us.

Our guide steered us around the major rocks because we weren’t paddling enough and correctly to really do what was needed. Marissa and I were in the front, while Becca and Kristen sat just behind us taking in everything the river and rainforest had to offer, when our guide said BOOM! and we braced ourselves for a collision with the bank of the river that was a cliff. Not aware that we would be hitting with such an impact, we casually hung on, but little did we realize it wasn’t going to be kind. Marissa and I flew backwards towards the girls behind us and after a split second of being in the air and landing at the girls feet we pulled ourselves back up laughing and happy Becca caught it all on her GoPro. After bouncing off the rock and out of seats we were prepared for any other collisions that would come in the next several meters as we rode down the river.

Coming upon our resting place roughly half way through, we climbed out of the boat making sure our oars were secure inside before enjoying the surroundings on solid ground. Taking in the foliage of great beauty, with the real focal point being the waterfall we became mesmerized by. The water shot out of the mountain at full force and with great beauty. I could hardly compose myself and probably should have pinched myself to breathe. The girls and I took a photo to commemorate the moment and before I knew it I was being pulled away from a place I could have spent hours in total silence. I looked back trying to take as many mental pictures of the surroundings as possible, including the man sitting in a small hut off to the side selling soft drinks and snacks to make enough money to help his family eat. I could hardly believe I was rafting in Bali, let alone how much poverty exists with the massive amounts of tourists that walk through this island each year.

Taking the last mental photograph, we shoved off the shoreline and back into the center of the river. Paddling lightly and ready to enjoy the second half of our trip down the river, now sitting opposite to before. Sitting in the back and knowing our guide just behind us on the stern would guide us and if needed he would ask us to paddle. Continuing to take in the surroundings and unable to control how i felt, I smiled and conversed with the girls about what we were experiencing. Gun said something and Marissa and I turned to listen to what he was saying. He wanted us to put our paddles in the boat and prepare for the 40 meter fall they had informed us about prior to starting our journey. I was elated! My emotions went from being engulfed by the surroundings to adrenalin and ready for the big event. As we approached I got more and more excited, the rush of falling and not for to far grew. We flew off the edge gracefully and with a bit of a fright we landed safely. Becca and Kristen being in the front caused for some issues. They were a bit cramped on the landing, since the front of the boat collapsed a bit on impact. Thankfully nothing was hurt and they were just stunned a little.

With the majority of our rafting complete and only some smooth coasting to the finish we were greeted by a family around the bend bathing themselves. The adults covered themselves as we approached and passed, but the little kids kept splashing in the water and waved to us as we coasted by. They were so happy and enjoying life. Enjoying their life that consisted of merely needs, not wants. These children would not grow up with internet, getting a car at sixteen or the ability to receive dozens of gifts on special occasions. I envied these kids that envied me and my life. I enjoyed my childhood and my upbringing, but sometimes its nice to just have what you need and that is all. These kids would in fact grow up with parents that would take care of them by working hard every day, make sure they had a roof over their heads and had clothes on their backs. The little things in life are merely the only things that truly matter, these essentials will get them far in life and I couldn’t imagine a better and happier way to grow up. Sadly though, they don’t see it this way as they grow up, they see the disease and uneducated and people that are taken advantage of by the powerful. I believe their culture is the lesser of two evils, in comparison to mine. With these thoughts running ramped through my mind as we approached, observed and passed this family I was shown how lucky and unlucky I was, in addition to being blind when starting the journey down the river.

Sad to say goodbye to Gun and our adventure we came up to our final stop, where we would disembark. The river bank was steady ground that slopped up quite quickly. We had to walk up the bank that lead to the boat dock road and off to the side was our hut where we would be served authentic Balinese food for lunch. The buffet was lined with foods that smelled like nothing I had ever smelt before, but enjoyed it and took a little bit of nearly everything. Dishes that were rice, noodles, meat and vegetables. I just scooped it all up and didn’t look back. The flavor combination that ensued was enriching for my pallet, but more so for my soul. I couldn’t have asked for a better meal after this new and amazing adventure. The girls and I sat around the table under our hut enjoying the food and good conversation about our journey.

Really being torn from our journey now, we were to get back into our car and take the hour long ride to our hotel to meet up with the crew and see what everyone did, since we all went our separate ways. Staring out the window enjoying the view as the girls slept, i reminisced about our time in Ubud thus far and was happy to be a little sleep deprived to enjoy seeing more of the surrounding towns and countryside. Once we arrived back at our hotel, we paid our drivers and sat down for a much needed smoothie at our hotel restaurant. I chose the pineapple smoothie and after feeling refreshed was ready for some relaxing time before we went to dinner. Following our rule to not duplicate our meals or where we ate, we stumbled upon Barihati Warung for a good meal. Felling mildly hungry and wanting to be healthy, I ordered the Gado Gado, which is a vegetarian platter. Washing down my delicious veggies dipped in peanut sauce with a old fashioned bottle of Sprite. Feeling a bit nostalgic I decided to keep the bottle as a keepsake to remind me of Bali and our time in Ubud. I was elated to still be enjoying myself on such a wonderful island in Indonesia. With the bottle in my purse and everyone full from dinner we walked back to our hotel, but not before branching out and splitting up for some dessert. Jenna, Becca and I went for Frozen Yogi and were on cloud 9. Grabbing a cup and filling it with 50/50 coconut and chocolate frozen yogurt, before topping it with some rasperries, brownie, marshmellow and dark chocolate shavings. My mouth was watering just filling my cup and happy as can be I put it on the scale, paid and the three of us indulged in our creations outside in the cool nights breeze before returning to our hotel just around the corner for the night. 

Most of the girls caught the wifi and relaxed, but the boys and I felt a bit differently about how to spend our night. I sat out on the balcony playing cards and enjoying the cool weather as I listened to the boys enjoying themselves below in the pool. Jake heard me shuffling the cards and asked what game I was playing and why I wouldn’t come down to the pool. I replied with solitaire and I didn’t want to be itchy from the chlorine. They made bets as to how many games I would play before I could win one hand and I outsmarted them by winning a hand within about 30 minutes of starting and failing once or twice. I laughed at them and told them I had won and they were wrong about my abilities, but not without getting involved in their game. They had nothing to do in the pool, but drink beer and devise a plan for a game with the plastic bag they got to carry their beer. They called the game ‘Bags’. I listened as they threw the pool filled water bag back and forth keeping some sort of tally and continuously trying to get me to join them. I laughed and made fun of their game because it made absolutely no sense, but when life gives you lemons, right? I made a cheeky remark and that didn’t make them to happy, the bag was then flying through the air at me. Our balcony got wet, but thankfully that was all. Not thinking to far ahead, I was now the one with the bag and the boys had none. After listening to them beg to give them another one or the same one, I caved and tossed a new one down to them. Not much longer after their new bag ripped did they finally call it a night and would never play bags again. As I closed my eyes I thought, what happens in Bali, stays in Bali. Until we come back again, that is and another crazy adventurous day was in the books.

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Telaga Waja Rafting – http://www.baliskytour.com/telaga-waja-rafting.html

Day 5 | Temple – Waterfall – Beach – Rice Terrace

Making the most of our final day in Ubud, we grabbed some breakfast at our hotel. No other than the famous banana pancakes and tea before heading out for our final fun filled day. First on the agenda was to see another spectacular temple, but Jake had other plans. Jake, being the outgoing kind midwestern guy he is, got to know our driver and by getting to know this local, we were shown a new side of Ubud. Jake told us we would be going to a local jewelry maker, but when we rolled up on a small dirt road with what looked like to be only houses, we were a bit confused and unsure of what we were about to experience. We followed our driver into the shop where there were a few tables lined up with men and women tinkering with silver, gems and other materials used to make jewelry. I was blown away to say the least. It resembled a sweat shop, but everyone seemed to be comfortable and enjoying themselves by taking their time with each piece to make it as beautiful as the last. I could hardly find the words when we were pushed into the next room. The next rooms actually, were filled with clear and new glass cases that held anything from dangling earrings to rings. The cases just kept going, there were a total of 3 rooms that had several cases circling around the perimeter and down the middle of the room. I knew deep down in my gut I could not leave this place without buying something for myself, let alone others on my gift list. I methodically scoured the cases and narrowed down my picks to 3 cases in the last and largest room. I had my eyes on a ring that was perfect for myself with amazing intricate detail my eyes could hardly handle, it was like looking directly at the sun. My eyes finally focused on the price tag and I knew I couldn’t buy it, but rather I chose the next best one. Maybe not looking directly at the sun, but I still felt blind from looking at it. The girls were all going crazy for what we were all looking at and after waiting for them I decided to get some other gifts, a beautiful rustic pair of earrings and a pendent for two wonderful people in my life, my best friend and my mom. Having gotten the three things I wanted to and having little cares in the world I paid nearly full price for all and even asked how long it took to make a bowl that rested at the bottom of the case. The girls gasped and said, “Angela, No!” I laughed in reply with, “I was just curious.” The bowl being the most expensive and most time consuming product in the store, kept me busy while the kind Balinese women put my gifts in the most adorable woven packaging. The packages the gifts resided in were a gift in themselves and I was beyond excited to share my gifts and my own purchase with everyone.

Wandering out of the store and making sure to thank Jake and our driver for such a wonderful experience. Finding out the jeweler only sells locally and in the capital at a market, making that our only chance to buy something, made me beyond grateful that we got the chance to experience such a wonderful local establishment. Back on track, we drove to Ulun Danu Temple on Lake Beratan to pay our entrance fee into the temple and enjoy walking around. The temple was situated right on the lake, which gave us wonderful views of the surrounding mountains and even had boats on the waters edge. Boats of a different kind that were well crafted and painted with beautiful and rich color. We walked around the temple for over an hour seeing where ceremonies took place and what the temple truly meant to the indigenous. The beauty of not only the surroundings, but the architecture of the temple was outstanding. I wandered off with Jesse and Jenna talking to other tourists and learning from a returner that this was a much more magnificent place before it became subject to high tourist traffic. The forests have been cut to make room for more tourist traffic and accommodate for the needs of a largely popular temple. They keep the sacred part off limits to the public and I don’t blame them, but I would have enjoyed seeing where they pray, meditate and see what the heart of the temple looks like. After walking around the main walkway and experiencing an awkward moment of Asians taking pictures of us (caucasian people are scarce around here), we moved onto seeing the animals and shops. They didn’t have much that we hadn’t already seen, but the rusa (roll the R) was my favorite. A cute little dear like animal that was so friendly. The rusa came right up to us as we were looking at it, so close we actually got some good photos and had the chance to pet its cute little face. After heaps of tourists saw we had lured the little guy towards us they swarmed, forcing us to move out and continue along the path that headed towards the exit and the shops that were outside of the temple. Feeling a bit hungry now, we stopped at one of the shops with food and all picked something out. I chose to go for something local. I bought a bag of the chips, but not just any chips, sweet potato chips that were purple in color. They were very crunchy and could have used a bit of salt for flavor, but overall they were a nice snack as we browsed the surrounding shops and collected everyone before heading back to the car.

Jake continued to direct our day to more and more interesting places, along with the drivers advice. Waterfalls were next and surely there was fun to be had. We pulled up at the location of Gigit Waterfall and were in store for a bit of a walk down a dirt path to our destination after a bit of drive further north. Along the path we encountered several locals selling food and trinkets, but more importantly little kids selling things. We walked past not knowing what the reason being, other than simply because they were poor. Later we found out the truth, these kids were seeking money for school and if they didn’t make their goal, they wouldn’t be able to attend. I felt awful for not donating or buying something, but we were not aware of the reason and if I could go back and hand all of those little kids a few hundred rupees each, I would. I be aiding them in getting the education they need to thrive in such a poor country. Passing these kids by and arriving at our destination at the end of the dirt rough road, we took our shorts and shirts off to jump in, in our swimmers (Aussie for swim suit). The area we came across first had a little hut where we left our things and ran into the frigid water to jump on the rope swing and splash one another. Realizing quickly we didn’t want to be in the frigid water, we collected our things and ran further down the path and across a bridge to find the where the real fun was to be had. The waterfall that was supplying the frigid pool was here, with a bit warmer of water and a serious current. We jumped off the surrounding rocks into the pool, fighting the current we tried getting closer to where the water was crashing, but it was much tougher than we had anticipated. GoPros from Becca and Jake were capturing some amazing footage of us being wild, young and free laughing and living in the moment. Jake took it to the next level by beating the current and climbing behind the waterfall to jump through it. He got Jesse and Tom to follow, but Jake was the one with the go big or go home attitude. Jake made an awesome video with his GoPro as he jumped through the powerful water crashing to the surface of the pool. We watched from the waters edge and enjoyed every second of his enthusiasm. I only wish I was a stronger swimmer because I would have been there with him if I had a bit more confidence in my swimming abilities. Realizing soon after that the Asians on the trail overlooking the waterfall weren’t just enjoying the waterfall, but taking photos of us. Feeling increasingly nervous about our belongings and for ourselves, so we packed up and as we left I found a leech on my toe. Freaking out more on the inside than I led to believe because of how troublesome it was to detach. Once I finally did, I had no idea where I had flung it and began worrying I had several more on me. I examined my entire body and warned everyone causing for a mass freak out, but thankfully no one else seemed to have any attached to them. On our walk back to the car, Tom realized he had one attached to his leg and quickly tore it off, but not before his leg bled, as if he had cut  cuts himself shaving. It took a bit to get the bleeding to stop and it wasn’t short of a bit of stinging, but we were all fine once we rid ourselves of the blood sucking creatures.

Back at the car once more, we had one more destination for the afternoon before returning to Ubud for dinner. Black Sand Beach wasn’t to far away from Gigit, so we were off and enjoying one another company on the winding roads. Feeling car sick at this point and praying we were nearly there so I didn’t vomit. We arrived just in time, so just that didn’t happen. We walked out to a black sandy beach that looked beautiful in every direction. We were all very wrong about this beach. Our first impression showed us that it was wonderful, but taking a closer look we found out how polluted the water was and how nasty the beach was in reality. Cooling off in the water was probably the worst of all, the sand wasn’t normal sand, it was slimy and felt like I was standing on a dead fish. Leaving the water to dry off, I decided to go for a walk. I wandered off for a bit taking a short walk down the beach alone to see if there were any cool things that floated ashore, especially shells or dead sea creatures. Coming up short, besides a few small shells, I made my way back to the girls and guys who were trying to get away from the gross shore. A few went out further, making me nervous, but they had fun and came back ashore safely. Not caring to spend a lot of time at this beach, a few of us relaxed on some lawn chairs on the grass leading to the sand, while the others grabbed a bite to eat. Wrap up this fun day traveling to the northern part of Bali we all climbed into the car this time, we all were exhausted and ready for a nap, but we still wanted to see a rice terrace up close and possibly walk through it. Our driver brought us to one along the way that he knew, but to our luck, it was farther away than the first one we had seen. We attempted to walk through the foliage to get to it, but there was no hope with the sun going down and needing to be back at the car. Making the best of it, we took photos from afar and were happy we got the chance to see another one, even if it wasn’t the way we pictured it. I enjoyed the ride back staring at the countryside soaking up as much as remotely possible before my eyes would possibly never set on sight it again for as long as I live. We asked questions to our driver about the types of rice that was being produced in the fields we passed. The conversation erupted into a great one, filling the remainder of our drive educating ourselves on the Balinese industry.

Taking in everything, made me happy and sad, especially once we arrived back at our hotel for the night and it was truly over. The girls and I would leave Ubud very early in the morning, but I made the most of my trip in Ubud to the best of my ability. The night wasn’t over yet! We paid our driver and got dressed to go out for dinner together before really calling it a night. Just across the alley that connected our hotel to the street was a great restaurant that had live music. Being up for anything, I agreed with the girls to listen to a live local band and enjoy our last meal together in Ubud. Finding a large table at Bamboo Bar & Restaurant was easy, giving us a front row seat to the band. Starving, I, along with Jesse opted for the beef burger with tomato and cucumber that came with a side of fries. Enjoying the music to keep our minds off of our grumbling stomachs, we talked about how much fun we had in Ubud and how tough it was going to be saying goodbye to it tomorrow as we left the island of Bali to spend four days on Gili Trawangan off the coast. I ordered a drink to distract my stomach, in the meantime and indulged in what they call a lime squash. Confused, but intrigued, I was and wasn’t surprised at what was placed in front of me. It looked and tasted similar to a Sprite, but being a tropical area the flavor was immaculate. It was sweet, but tart the perfect amount to satisfy my tastebuds before my food was placed in front of me moments later. The burger was light and refreshing, but that seemed to be the problem for Jesse and myself. With a clean plate we looked at each other and agreed we needed to eat something else if we were going to feel satisfied. Concluding with the garlic bread, we ordered and split it, while I ordered another drink. This time I was full upon completing my food and couldn’t have felt better. The garlic bread was made with fresh garlic and butter, giving me the amount of carbs and fat I needed to say, “I’m full!” This time I was much more impressed with my drink of choice, a lemonana, mainly because I enjoy lemons over limes, but truly because it was the freshest and mintiest lemonade I had ever had. The flavor combination of everything I devoured, was quite out of balance, but all that mattered was I was full and ready to take a break before seeking out some dessert for yet another restaurant in Ubud. Enjoying the music and each others company on a beautiful evening, we departed to find dessert at Mingle a short walk down the street. Wandering into the cute place we browsed the menu and with so many good choices I decided to get the brownie and ice cream. Warm rich chocolate brownie with melting vanilla ice cream on top. Can you taste it? The flavors of rich Balinese chocolate with light and sweet balinese vanilla melting ice cream, it was simply delectable.

Every second being one less that we were in Ubud, I was getting terribly sad. The dessert helped offset the sadness for near an hour, but didn’t quite solve the ever increasing problem that we were leaving this wonderful city in just hours. Arriving back at the hotel soon after everyone finished up their dessert, it was time to pack up and get ready for bed. I refused to call it a night and was lucky I had a reason not to. Having made a comment to Jake when the boys were playing bags the other night about getting me a beer next time, I figured it to just be one of those comments I make, but it became a reality. Jake bought me a Bintang and urged me to come hang out with him and enjoy a beer before having to head to bed one last time in Ubud. We talked about everything under the sun and enjoyed our beers while sitting outside his room that overlooked the courtyard and pool below my room. Having a great conversation and enjoying myself, it was increasingly becoming later and later. Noticing the time, I said goodnight to Jake and made my way back to my room to crash for a few hours before needing to be up for our car that would take us to our ferry. Closing my eyes as I pulled the sheet over me, I smiled, realizing how blessed I was to have spent my time in Ubud seeing beautiful places, finding adventure and enjoying it all with some great people.

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