First impression of Yogyakarta - I like it! Parts of it have a really cool youthful energy. There are a ton of adorable eateries, fantastic (and abundant) street art, and everyone has been really nice and helpful. We went to this place - Move On - for gelato. Oddly, you can be on the other side of the world, and never escape the bearded hipster.
2 March 2018
Squat toilets are still fairly common in Asia, so I guess it necessitates explicit directions on how to use Western-style toilets. Still makes me laugh though! 😂😂😂
Early leave time (3 am! Oy!) from Ubud to fly to Yogyakarta, called “Jogja” by locals. Sometime overnight, my phone went dead. COMPLETELY dead. So the first order of business was to find an Apple repair store in a large, unfamiliar city where I don’t speak the language, and get my phone serviced. 😳 Amazing to find - right around the corner from our B&B - an Apple service center where the technician not only spoke perfect English, but had also worked in Galveston, TX many years ago. The world feels so big, and so small, at the same time! ❤️ Our B&B has sweet little touches all over - like these decorative plates on the wall of our room - and the staff is incredibly kind.
1 March 2018
After the kecak dance and dinner, we headed home. Downtown was extremely crowded (more than usual). All week we had seen this bull in the center of town, and our driver Made explained that this is for a cremation ceremony that was to happen the next day, and that everyone had come to see the bull before the ceremony, hence the crowds. The bull is a cremation sarcophagus for a member of the royal family who had recently passed away, and thousands helped to build it, along with another towering sculpture. 200+ men will process through the streets carrying the bull and the tower, accompanied by a gamelan orchestra. Then the bull will be opened, the casket placed inside, and the entire thing will be burned. I found this video to be a good representation of what will happen. Warning, in the last few minutes you can actually see the body burning! https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=aJ0mnTexs0o
After a week of carrying my heavy backpack, I decided to just carry my small purse to the kecak and leave my camera equipment - except for my cell phone - at home. Did I ever regret it! The final part of the performance was the fire dance. A man came out dressed as a horse, and was blessed by a priest. A pile of coconut husks was brought out, doused In accelerant, and lit on fire. I thought he was just going to jump over the flames, but no - he stomped out the fire WITH HIS BARE FEET. And not just once - four times they poured more accelerant on top, and he would stomp on the flames. His feet were blackened by the end. CRAZY!!! 😳
After a brief rest back at home, our driver took us to watch a kecak and fire dance in a nearby village. The kecak is a dance performing stories from the Ramayana, and is done using only mens’ voices in polyrhythms as instruments. It’s amazing!
I can definitely understand the appeal of Ubud. I won’t go into the commercialization (directed at, and eaten up by, Westerners) of a vague spiritualism that runs rampant here, but will instead comment on the food and atmosphere. I haven’t had a bad meal yet, and when you’re eating in a place that looks like this (Clear Cafe, Ubud) , it’s easy to relax and take in the magic of Ubud.
Spent some time wandering around downtown Ubud. Found a quiet cafe rooftop that looked down into a family’s compound, and was able to capture this woman doing her daily offering. Before I arrived in Ubud, I kept reading that it was impossible not to run into some kind of ceremony, and I’ve been surprised to find this is 100% true. In the 4 days we’ve been here, we’ve encountered at least 5 ceremonies, not to mention the small offerings that are part of daily life here.
Another crazy view outside of my window this morning! This is our last full day in Ubud. We have a very early flight tomorrow to Java (need to leave at 3 am...ugh!) so my last sunrise here. The plan today is to go into Ubud center to walk around, maybe shop a bit and grab lunch and return to the villa. Then we’ll head out in the evening to see a kecak - a traditional Balinese dance.
28 February 2018
Our last stop was at Semar Kuning Artist Cooperative. Artwork by various artists, in all sorts of styles were available. I wanted something that was very “Balinese” and not modern, so I purchased a painting depicting a very traditional Indonesian scene. I would share a photo, but it’s wrapped up like crazy for the flight home! So instead, here’s a photo of one of the artists’ workstations.
Next was a stop for silver shopping. Various villages throughout Bali are known for their artistic trade. There’s a wood carving village, a batik village, and a silver village. At the entry to this store, there was a demo of silver making. Picked up these small but sweet earrings. Everything was very well priced for the quality.
More from Ulun Danu Beratan. There were all sorts of statues on the grounds. Some were regal and (potentially) had religious significance, like this one. And others...well...let’s just say there was a statue of Spongebob Squarepants. Yeah, I don’t know either. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The grounds at this temple were beautiful, and I can only imagine what the entire scene is like when you can actually see the surrounding mountains. A portion of the temple gives the illusion of floating on the lake, but in reality it’s accessible during low tide.
Woke up with a bit of the infamous “Bali Belly” - aka Balinese food makes newcomers a little sick. Thankfully it was quickly over, as we had another day of touring lined up. This time our driver took us north of Ubud, to see a temple I’d heard about - Ulun Danu Beratan. It sits on a lake surrounded by mountains. I’d hoped to get some great photos, and when we left Ubud we had blue skies and sun. As we climbed higher though, storm clouds began moving in. We ended up touring the temple in the pouring rain. 😕. Luckily, some enterprising women rent umbrellas, so we were able to stay relatively dry. This drive was my favorite, scenery-wise. Just gorgeous, everywhere you looked!
27 February 2018
After lunch by the volcano, our driver suggested we stop at Tegenungan Waterfall. We didn’t walk down towards the falls at all, but it was still nice to stretch our legs and get a few photos.
After Tirta Empul, we drove to a village called Kintamani. It’s up in the mountains, and our driver dropped us off to enjoy lunch at an outdoor restaurant directly across from an active volcano. NO BIGGIE (ha!) Unbelievable. We sat there eating, completely mesmerized by Mount Batur (...ummm...someone pinch me!)
More scenes from Tirta Empul. The large boxes in the second picture are offerings.
The next stop was Tirta Empul, a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu. The Balinese come here for ritual purification in its pools.
Today was exhausting, but fantastic! We hired a local driver for the day (with an air conditioned car THANK GOD because it is frighteningly hot here) to take us around to various sites, and it was amazing! First stop was Tegalalang Rice Terraces. I now know why this place has been Instagrammed to death - it’s spectacular! I’m still having that feeling of living in a dream. Some of these landscapes just don’t seem real!
Nasi Goreng is a traditional Indonesian breakfast. Basically fried rice with spices, chicken and a fried egg on top. Absolutely delicious!
This is the view I woke up to, right out my bedroom window. I can’t believe this is real!!! 😮
26 February 2018
First impressions of Ubud...this place is weird! It’s not at all what I expected of what is considered the spiritual and artistic center of Bali. It is loud, congested, very shopping oriented and there’s a Ralph Lauren Polo store almost everywhere you look (not kidding!), which I don’t understand at all. There’s Dairy Queen and Starbucks and...well, you get the idea. Very Westernized. I’m hoping that our day tour tomorrow will show us the Ubud I imagined. We did, however, have an incredible meal at Nomad, a restaurant recommended by our driver. Coriander crusted tuna steak on a potato cake, and a nice glass of wine.
Today, small boat then truck then fast boat back to the mainland. Long day, and the first frustrations of the the trip emerged. While the villa itself is okay,, the communication and scheduling with the staff has been pretty poor due to the language barrier. We finally crossed paths with a driver who speaks pretty good English, and who will take us all around the island tomorrow to see the sights. Despite a slog of a day, this view from my room at the villa makes me happy!
25 February 2018
The final stop was unbelievable...a natural cavern that violently “spits” out the water that comes in. The spray and height of the waves was crazy! Our driver told us to stay clear of the cliffs - four people have already died by falling in the churning waves. The sunset here was amazing!
Next was Dream Beach, which was absolutely breathtaking. It looked far too dangerous to swim there - enormous waves were tossing people around - but plenty of swimmers were willing to risk it! 😳 We sat at the beach restaurant for a drink and snack, taking it all in.
There were so many interesting sights and people to capture as we rode around in the back of the pickup truck.
Next stop, Mahagiri Beach.
At 2:30, he took us one by one on the back of his scooter to the yellow bridge meeting point. We hopped in the back of the truck and we were off to explore Lembongan. First stop, this look out point. We finally got a small peek (over that ridge of clouds) at the mighty volcano Agung, which erupted this past November.
Today was the most incredible day I’ve had in a long time. We were sitting taking in this view of our hotel when one of the staff came by and asked what we had planned today. Not really knowing what to do, he offered to have a friend drive us around Nusa Lembongan, the next Island over...
Bali is known as “Island of the Gods” and spiritual life is deeply entwined with the everyday. The smell of incense hangs in the air and you often stumble upon tiny offerings like this one.
Every morning so far - even back in Sanur - we’re awoken by roosters. I guess some would find this annoying, but I find it kind of charming and funny. Here are two of our feathered pals here on Ceningan, hanging out in front of our bungalow. ☺️
The view from our bungalow, across to our neighbor.
24 February 2018
We’re staying at a small eco-resort with only eight traditionally built thatched roof bungalows. Last night, we were treated to a tropical rainstorm - the sound of rain hitting our roof was absolutely magical! We sat out on the (covered) porch, relaxed, and watched the rain fall.
At our next location, on Nusa Ceningan, and another indoor/outdoor bathroom. I could get used to this!
Arrived at Nusa Lembongan after a mildly terrifying boat ride. Totally worth it, as we were greeted with this view as we pulled into the bay. 😍
On Sanur Beach, waiting to board the fast boat to Nusa Lembongan.
More scenes from the hotel. The first two are our bathroom (!!!). It’s indoor/outdoor, and makes me feel like I’m living in some fancy architecture magazine. 😍
23 February 2018
Dinner tonight - salad and tiny cubes of fried tempeh, a fantastic chicken curry with fresh vegetables. And for dessert, small banana pancakes with a small dollop of vanilla ice cream, drizzled with honey. Didn’t get a picture because it all was gone too fast! 😆
Our hotel is absolutely gorgeous and Merry, our hostess, is wonderful.
Breakfast included fresh fruit - watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes and dragonfruit. Dragonfruit was new to me, and it’s delicious! Very mild taste, and a texture similar to watermelon. Merry, our hostess, says it’s good for circulation of the blood.
Getting off the plane and was bombarded - offers of cabs and SIM cards and other services coming from all sides. No matter how many times I’ve traveled to places like this, it’s still a bit of a cultural shock. Easily found our driver though, who is incredibly kind!
22 February 2018
More landscape from the plane, this not too far from Khabarovsk. About 2 hrs left until we land in Seoul!
22 February 2018
The light as we came into Incheon, Korea was unreal! 😍
Getting close! About 1.5 hrs away...
Roughly 10 hrs into the flight. Not sure what we’re over (maybe Russia?), but it’s beautiful! ❤️
Finally got to watch the new Blade Runner! Well at least part of it. Then I fell asleep. 😂😂😂
This is what happens when the airport has a Swatch store and you squeal out loud because you haven’t seen a pop Swatch since 1993. GUYS THEY STILL MAKE POP SWATCHES!!!