At the end of my 2nd semester in Chiang Mai, I traveled with a group of Wild Rose friends to Bali for a little vacation and the beginning of some traveling for me.
We stayed in a beautiful bungalow called Kunang Kunang (firefly) and the staff were wonderful, everyday our room was blessed with a flower incense offering (these are everywhere)
we had a big balcony and that we did yoga on in the morning, gazing out onto this view
Ubud is beautiful, with temples on every other corner, and flowers everywhere
We hung out a lot at Kafe, Yoga Barn, Bali Buddha and Little K, drinking fresh juices great local coffee, delicious local organic vegetables, and eating amazing raw desserts. Through a friend I met Leah Rinaldi (raw food chef and trainer) and chatted with her about the raw food diet and have become really interested in it, I plan to do some experimenting this summer.
We also sampled some local food, amazing sate (charcoal grilled meat sticks with peanut sauce), as well as this
which is rice flour cake puffs with a sweet soy sauce and coconut on top, yum! and this bubur ayam, a savory chicken and rice soup... love Balinese food.
Overall Ubud had a great vibe and I would love to go back.
After about a week in Ubud, Chris and I rented a motorbike and headed North through the mountains.
The drive was gorgoeous, up through the hills past rice terraces, stopping for durian on the way, riding past monkeys on the side of the road.
When we reached the top, we just turned off the engine and coasted down to the ocean for about an hour stopping for rambutan on the way.
Whoever said Lovina was nice was wrong! The first guesthouse we looked at, we wandered down to the beach and saw a dog carcass floating along in the water. Needless to say, we didn't stay there. We stayed in Lovina for one night, and left as soon as possible.
There were some nice hot springs nearby though, so we went to visit those, then we drove east along a beautiful coastal road, stopping at a temple on the way
The road was incredibly bumpy and the suspension on "Seabreeze" our motorbike was shot, so every hole we went over sent pain shooting up my spine into my skull.
Chris laughed at me when I asked him to slow down (like a good big brother) until finally I yelled at him to pull over right NOW, or when he finally did I would beat the crap out of him.
He did and I stormed off to relax and stetch for a few minutes and by the time I came back he had talked to a local girl and found out about Gaia Oasis, and so we drove down the little pathway to the beach.
We stumbled upon paradise...
This unresort (technically a resort, but with none of the stuffy, snobby feel of one - built by a group of people who felt a good energy in the place and wanted to create a resort where people could do yoga retreats and the like). When we arrived they said they were full, and we walked around, feeling the good energy of the place.
As we were about to leave, the manager came up to us and said they did have one place available, he had just been told the broken water pump was finally fixed.
We got to stay in this beautiful 3-story house, the walls on three sides were full windows that opened completely, and we were seconds from the beach.
We had a kitchen where we cooked fresh fish and squid that we bought from fisherman who pulled up on our beach every morning and evening.
We planned to stay only one night, as a whole house is a bit expensive... but we just couldn't leave and stayed for 4 days.
When we finally tore ourselves away, we followed a beautiful road along the east coast
and we made our way back to Ubud for a few more days.
You shouldn't be surprised to see me living in Bali for a while sometime soon... :)
Bali Travel Tips:
a few people have asked for this, so I'll post some suggestions here, but this will probably only be of reading interest for those actually going to Bali.
First of all, don't go to Kuta (sleezy, dirty, party beach), and don't go to Lovina (dirty, run-down, overflowing with touts) I would basically do what I did.
Go to Ubud for a while, do some yoga at the yoga barn (they also have movie nights and philosophers chats), eat at Kafe (make sure to try the Raw Key Lime Pie and Raw Carrot Cake) and Bali Buddha (their oatmeal cookies are great and lots of good shakes) I actually prefer the vibe of Little K (underneath, behind the yoga barn) better, and you should try the raw lasagna, plus they have amazing yoghurt and honey.
For local food, there are lots of warungs (little restaurants), but just go up to the main road and drive towards the statue, there'll be plenty of sate places, and definitely try sate lilit (fish and coconut and spices).
For the bali cakes and bubur ayam above, go to the main road, and take the road north that's by the big temple (this will make sense once you get your bearings in ubud). We drove for about 10 minutes and found this lady on the right side of the road. She's got good coffee too.
For massage, there's a good place just down from Kafe, with water in the windows, they do a great foot massage, but there are tons of places, ask for recommendations from local expats.
For batik, I found that most of the souvernir shops on Jl. Hanoman (where Kafe and most stuff is), import everything from Java and I didn't like the dark colors and designs. There was a place just up from Bali Buddha on the main road that had really bright, happy colors and designs, and the guy that owned the place made his own batiks actually in Ubud.
Two more palces to eat, Sari Organic - amazing organic food, and beautiful rice paddy sunset views (it's about a 20 minute walk through the rice paddies from the main road, you can motorbike it, but the walk is beautiful!)
Warung Igelanca (on the main road just up from Bali Buddha) has really good Balinese food and great teas.
As for the rest of Bali, buy a map and rent a motorbike and just explore. I loved Tejakula, and the whole area around there is beautiful. Wasn't a big fan of Ahmed (snorkeling/diving), Candidasa (beaches) or anywhere else in the Lonely Planet.