Hello again! Finally prepared to chat a little bit about our much anticipated trip to the island of Bali, Indonesia. It was certainly at the top of my Asia bucket list and certainly did not disappoint! Truthfully, we got a lot of unsure looks from people when we said the trip was me, J-Mar and mom, but we’re a pretty good crowd and know how to handle each other. Either that, or we should all be impressed that J-Mar maintained his sanity the whole week. Just kidding!
Before we flew out (which was a rush after cutting it close on the airport train) we stayed with our friends Jake and Kayla again, and had a ton of fun as usual! We enjoyed the food scene in Seoul and got the chance to indulge in (a new trend?) dry-ice ice cream! They opened a shop similar to this on our side of town in Ulsan, but we were very intrigued by it when we first caught glimpse of it in Seoul. In fact, when I visited in March, the shop was still under construction, with the outside displaying a banner that said “World’s Greatest Ice Cream Coming Soon”. I wondered for months what could possibly go in there. Jeni’s? Graeters? Blue Bell? Nope, just this:
J-Mar was excited because they had cereal flavors. His favorite, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, was on the menu! At the end of the day, it was pretty mediocre ice cream, but the serving method was definitely worth the pit stop. After a hilarious discussion about C-strings (DON’T google that…) we were off to bed and before we knew it, caffeined up at the airport. I loved the Charlie Brown cafe (shout out to my real cousin Charlie Brown!) but hated that some new policy barred us from bringing our caffeine on board the plane. Whose cockamamie idea was that, anyway?
Check out my single carry-on, folks! I packed just that for a 9 day trip. Be proud.
After a 7ish hour flight, we landed in Bali in the early evening. Mini review: Garuda Indonesia is a decent airline. Good value for the money. Food wasn’t terrible, in-flight entertainment was decent, and the seats were comfortable. The flight attendants were great.
Upon arrival in Bali, the first thing we did was check out our villa and then head straight for some food. We stopped at a locally recommended place in Seminyak called Warung Mimpi. We got our first taste of Indonesian food which became a staple in our diet over the next week, nasi goreng, mie goreng, and sate. Essentially meat or seafood with fried noodles or rice. How can you go wrong?
And then this became a habit:
I am unashamed to say we got massages everyday. Who wouldn’t when this place was a 10 minute walk from our villa, open until 11pm and cost $7 for 30 minutes?
The next day, our plans were a little off. In Bali, tourists typically hire private drivers to get around the island. It’s seriously cheap (~$50 a day) to the point where you become concerned about your driver’s quality of life on that income. In any case, we had contacted a company recommended by a couple of friends and the owner was supposed to come out and talk to us about all the options for things to do in Seminyak. We were ready to be lazy by the beach, so pre-planning wasn’t a necessity.
Long story short, a driver showed up (not the owner) and we pieced together that we really needed to have a plan for what to do. This got better as our driver, Kadek helped us the rest of the week, but for the beginning of the trip it was a little tough sorting out an itinerary. The first day, we settled on a massage at the villa and lunch at the beach, what a life! Lots of beach restaurants had these awesome bean bag chairs and I had my first decent taste of salad in a long time. Plus, who can forget the frozen cocktails?
Later that evening, we ended up at a lovely temple called Ulu Watu. Oh, Ulu Watu will forever hold memories for us. First, the views were phenomenal.
The cliffs were just stunning and it was a beautiful (though a bit crowded) walk along the length of the shore. In Balinese temples, women are required to cover their knees, and as such, most temples you can visit provide sarongs for tourists to wear. That’s why I look like I don’t know how to dress myself and J-Mar looks like he decided to put on his yellow belt from his childhood karate lessons. That he actually took in college.
Every trip has a story, and this particular adventure, there was just something about the monkeys. I am terribly sorry I missed witnessing this moment, but take a look at my Mom’s story, in her own words.
Not only will we always remember this, but so will the poor guy and his future wife, assuming she’ll still marry him after all that! 😉
Despite the monkey disaster, we managed to enjoy the remaining afternoon sun and stifling heat before we made our way to the outdoor auditorium where we were to watch our first Balinese dance.
Each Balinese dance has a story, and there are so many of them you can see that I’d never be able to remember them all. This one at Ulu Watu was special in particular because it was a famous “fire dance” that took place as the sunset, without any musical instrument accompaniment. They had a lit torch on center “stage” and dozens of small Indonesian men came out chanting “cak-cak-cak-cak-cak-cak…” on end in a very short and startling tongue. They made this background noise throughout the dance and sometimes sang or hummed while the main characters presented the story.
Above: The princess and her protective detail wander through the jungle.
The English description of the dance was hard to follow, but from what I gathered, a princess was in danger after being captured in the jungle, and her suitor used a monkey sidekick friend to defeat the evil King and save her and/or his kingdom. The costumes were quite ornate and it is amazing to see the dancers move the way they do in all of that motion-impeding attire. To provide comic relief, the white sidekick monkey would jump into the crowd and bother an audience member or two at random, which got the crowd going.
The evil red monkey sidekick consults with the king. Spoiler alert: the white monkey is the kind’s ultimate demise in the top two photos.
Apart from the incredible cultural experience, you really can’t beat this sunset.
Bali was off to a great start, with only more monkey stories in store!