Posts Tagged With: bali

Indonesia- Know Before You Go: Temperature and Clothing

 

Ahh Indonesia. Great weather. If you like it hot. and humid. :0) As you can see in the above world temp map, Indonesia is in a hotter portion of the world. Indonesia sees at a maximum, a change in daylight of about 48 minutes between its longest and shortest days; equating to an awesome year-round growing season with temperatures that are pretty constant throughout the year. To give you an idea of heat and humidity, when we were in Jakarta in May, it was typically between 80-90 degrees. The kicker was the 95% humidity (feels like 104 degrees when 85 out). In Borneo in May it was 91 degrees with 97% humidity (feels like 133 degrees). Check out this handy dandy heat index calculator if you want to see what it will actually feel like where you are going based on the temperature and humidity.

Because of the heat, it is important to pack accordingly. However, you also have to be mindful of what you are wearing. While many tourists traveling to “hot” places typically get giddy and roll out the booty shorts, tanks and strapless tops, flip flops, and board shorts, if you want to stand out less and show that you’ve actually done some research and respect the people you around, do yourself a favor and leave he see-through (albeit, much cooler) tops at home. Ditch the booty shorts. Stow the flip flops for Kuta.

In Jakarta, the majority of the population is Muslim. They pray multiple times a day and you can hear loud speakers blasting prayers at different times throughout the day. While many women still wear the traditional hijab (see photo at right), in this more modern day, a lot of women have put aside the hijab. Regardless, the majority of women in Jakarta wear shirts with sleeves that are not low-cut and shorts/skirts/pants/dresses that go past the knee. While you may see some women defying the “norm” in short-shorts or spaghetti straps, these women stand out completely. Do yourself a favor and get some linen pants or some leggings for under that dress. Additionally, I wore simple sandals- not much more than flip flops, but they had straps around the heel and looked a bit more dressy. Trust me you’ll be more comfortable- especially if you try your luck at walking around the city. You may not always find 100% perfectly maintained sidewalks.

While we were in Jakarta, I frequently wore jeans that I rolled once or twice at the bottom to let some air flow up my legs with a pair of a sandals, a short sleeved-shirt and a button down 3/4 length sleeve shirt over the short-sleeved shirt (unbuttoned). I also brought a light weight halter dress (not a vneck but a straight across dress) that I wore leggings and a light weight shirt over so my shoulders were covered.

As for the men, similar dressing/clothing means apply. Don’t wear booty shorts or see-through shirts or tank tops or flip flops. Stick to pants and polos or t-shirts or light button downs. Sneakers or comfortable shoes are preferable to flip flops. For work, Andrew typically wore khakis, shoes (think work shoes but not polished shiny ones– more comfortable Toms work shoes), and a button down.

The biggest thing that you’ll notice is that locals don’t sweat nearly as much as you do. They are used to the weather or were somehow graced with non-sweating genes. They can wear layers or long-sleeves and look like they’re relaxing in the air conditioning… I on the other hand tended to look like a drown rat after 10 minutes outside :0).

In Bali, things are a bit more flexible because of it being a major tourism location, combined with the fact that most people in Bali are Buddhist and thus you more rarely see the hijab. While in areas like Kuta, Lovina, and Ubud, you’ll find tourists wearing the whole gamut of clothing from pants to bathing suits, remember that rule #2 of traveling (at least in my book) is to always do your research and dress respectfully; even though you may still completely standout, it will look like you care and locals will appreciate it.

A note on Bali temperatures/weather: while it is still warm and humid (80 to 90 degrees most days), if you travel to the mountains, you will find it to be A LOT cooler. When we traveled to Bali, we made sure to pack a sweatshirt or warmer long-sleeved shirt for mountain travels.

A second note on Indonesia dressing/custom: Depending on where you travel, if you visit many Religious sites, you may need to rent or purchase a wrap or remove your shoes. In many of the larger touristy sites, you are not required to do this, but you should be especially mindful to not wear revealing clothing when visiting Religious places. Finally, note that it is considered a sign of disrespect to show the sole of your foot. While we never had locals mention anything to us, it’s something to make a mental note of and try to avoid crossing your legs in a way that shows the sole of your foot. Just something small that you can do that will be more respectful!

Helpful Resources/Apps:

1. Wunderground (Website and Free App for Iphone Users): This App (and website) is fantastic for weather. You can search by zip or city or country. It will pull up a graph of the temperature changes over the past several days (and for future days). You can also see a map of the location, the temperature, humidity, and the “feels like” temperature. Additionally, with the App, you have the ability to select a “green check mark” or a “red x” to agree or disagree with what the App’s weather is saying– ie, social media/real time weather updates.

2. NOAA’s Heat Index Calculator (Website): Mentioned earlier in this post; this website allows you to plug in the temperature and humidity and spit out the “feels like” temperature.

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Nusa Lembongan: Another Island Paradise

For the last two nights of our trip in Indonesia, we were scheduled to be on Nusa Lembogan, a small island off the coast of Bali [and a part of Bali]. It is right next to Nusa Penida, another small island. Andrew set this part of the trip up and it was awesome! As you already read, the first day started in Ubud on our rather crazy, hectic, fun scooter adventure around Ubud. When we eventually made it back to Swasti Eco Lodge, we packed up our stuff, checked out, and grabbed our ride to the coast. When we arrived at the ticket office, we talked over our reservations, and then moved to the beach. When the speedboat appeared on the beach, the employees grabbed our bags and loaded them first. Then it was our turn. True to the island life, we took our shoes off, rolled up our pants, and walked through the water to the boat ladder. The boat was small- about 6 or so benches. It was covered on 3 sides with windows. We all sat down and took off. If you’ve never been on a speedboat before, let me tell you, it’s pretty insane. I don’t get motion sickness at all and I love boats, but this ride was crazy. I’m pretty sure I left a dent in the bench back in front of me from squeezing so tightly. The boat “FLEW” over the water, hitting massive waves where water would cover the boat. I don’t think I like riding under the covering of the boat… next time I’ll opt for the open air part. After an hour or so of too much crazy [I think it was actually a 30 minute ride, but felt longer], we pulled up to the coast of a small island. Boats everywhere. It looked awesome. Again the employees carried off our bags and then we followed in suit. We waited a bit until a truck with two long benches in the bed came over. Again we loaded our bags and ourselves up. On this island, there are very VERY few cars/trucks. In fact, I think the one we were on was one of about three. The truck drove us around dropping everyone off here or there on the island. We were the last to be dropped off. We were staying at Alam Nusa Huts and Spa.

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The first night on Nusa, we relaxed. We walked down to the beach [about a 5 minute walk] and enjoyed the sunset. We chatted with the owners of Alam who were so completely friendly and we dined on delicious Indonesian meals and tropical drinks. We also lined up a snorkel trip for the morning. In the morning, we ate breakfast at Alam [can’t get enough of Nasi Goreng!] and then we met up with our boat driver for the snorkel trip. He wasn’t very talkative but apparently knew the folks who owned Alam, so we happily followed along. He took us two different places; one a calmer place for snorkeling and the other on a drift. It was awesome. So many fish and coral. He also brought along bread that he crumbled up and threw in the water to attract the fish– they were everywhere and completely surrounding us. Just an awesomely amazing experience. To top it off, we went in a traditional fishing boat- just the two of us. What an awesome time.

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After the snorkeling trip, we changed our clothes and decided to try another place for lunch that was a few buildings down from where we were staying. Ah island time. We were the only ones in an open-air restaurant that had darts and pool tables. We ordered and were served and then the person working disappeared. As in, we could have gotten up, left, and never returned and no one would have even noticed. It was relaxing and fantastic, but we had sights to see! We paid our bill and then grabbed a scooter to explore the island. We drove all the way to one end and sat amongst mangrove trees, sipping out of a fresh coconut… then we turned around and crossed the bridge between the two parts of the island– only accessible by scooters and walkers. We watched on as workers farmed seaweed [the big economic focus of the island]. We  took pictures of seaweed drying and looked at plots set-up just off the beach using bamboo stakes. We drove by a cemetery where a large platform used for cremations was still smoking from the previous day. We walked through the small road-side shops, talked with locals, and purchased bamboo goods and batik fabrics. We explored every edge of the island under the beautiful sun, shaking our heads and laughing at what an amazingly awesome time we had on the trip. We finished our day with a delicious dinner at Alam. It was starting to sink in that we were leaving. But really, our adventure was just beginning– we were getting ready to fly to San Francisco, California, to embark on an 8-day, 525 mile bike ride from San Francisco to Santa Monica to raise awareness of Arthritis. A bike ride, that we hadn’t even trained for.

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Indonesia is a place of awesome culture and bountiful beauty. It is colorful and vibrant and full of love and passion. I would spend so much more time there if I had the chance. There is so much to see and do. I would recommend it to anyone craving adventure and one hell of a time. Andrew summed it up perfectly– “Never have I felt closer to death… and never have I felt more alive.”

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Until next time, my friends…

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Ubud and Surrounding Areas by Scooter

Our last morning in Ubud, we decided to rent a scooter [I guess getting back from Rinca yesterday made us once again yearn for the air in our faces]. We rented a scooter from our home away from homes, Swasti Eco Lodge. We dawned our helmets and headed out for the open road. We cruised through the city and out into the great unknown– enjoying the temples and rice fields flying by us past scooters weighed down with goods and children hiking to school and women and men working through the day. We road and road, knowing we were on a time schedule, because we had a ferry to catch later on… we were heading to our last portion of the trip, Nusa Lembongan. Sigh. What a trip.

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Cruising along, everything was going well until it wasn’t. One of our tires deflated completely— a flat tire. Something we were used to after getting them in Costa Rica [multiple times]. Such is life I suppose. We pulled over not sure what to do. There was a doctor’s office across the street that Andrew decided to check out. About 10 minutes later, a woman in pink scrubs came out, hopped on a scooter, and rode away. Andrew came over indicating that he had tried to explain in Indonesian [what little we knew] that we had a flight and needed a tow to a shop. The woman returned about 20 minutes later shaking her head– there was no gas station or shop that way. About 5 or so minutes later, a pick up truck pulled up– apparently the nurse’s brother or friend or maybe that was lost in translation and these people didn’t know each other at all. All I know, is that for some sum of money, they offered to tie our bike up in their truck and drive us back to Ubud. Four guys easily lifted the bike and tied it up in the bed. I hopped in the back, Andrew hopped in the front and we took off. A few miles down the road, we did see a mechanic and Andrew said they could leave us there– they asked if we were sure and said that we had paid them more than enough for the ride all the way back to Ubud, but we shook our heads. They had done their deed for the day. We thanked them profusely and they helped us unload our bike and talk to the mechanic. They offered us a seat and some cold water and said it would be about 30 minutes or so. We relaxed and laughed at ourselves– how do we get into these situations? All we knew is that we had to get back and make decent time so we could return the scooter, pack, and catch the ride to the ferry. The mechanic was quick to fix the bike and I think the total was about $5 or so [American]. Andrew paid him more and made a very happy Indonesian friend.

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We made our way back to Ubud and grabbed lunch at a Mexican place that we happen to love– knowing we were really low on petrol, we figured we’d just find some after lunch– there are always stands around. After lunch, we searched and searched but found no petrol. After speaking with a few folks, we learned that Ubud doesn’t really sell petrol because it’s typically tourists who don’t have cars. Lol. Naturally. After much more searching, Andrew found a place at one end of town. Somehow, we managed to get the petrol, put it in the tank, make it back to Swasti, pack-up, check out, and make the bus to the ferry… as they put it, it all works out in the end…

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Sunrise Trek Up Mount Batur

Well, we had originally planned on hiking up Mount Agung [where the gods live], however there was a private burial occurring and as such, hikers were not allowed up there the day we planned, so instead, Swasti suggested we do a sunrise hike up Mount Batur- it was a bit easier they said and we could leave at 3AM instead of Midnight [the time you had to leave to get up Mount Agung to see the sunrise]. In retrospect- Oh my god. I am so GLAD we did NOT hike Mount Agung…. especially if Mount Batur was “easier”. Mount Batur was like straight up a volcano. It was crazy– but a lot of fun and I’m glad we did it! A Swasti guard on duty overnight packed us breakfast sandwiches in the morning and sent us on our way. We were picked up at Swasti around 3AM or so. We picked up two other folks on the way. We drove for about an hour and then arrived in a parking lot that was pretty packed with other people waiting to hike. As it turns out, the hike up Mount Batur is basically a never-ending chain of groups working their way up the volcano by flashlight. Your guide carries water and breakfast/snacks with him. We made our way up the volcano– admittedly, slower than I probably would have liked, but I was out of breath most of the way up so really I’m just glad we made it up. We did- made it in time to sit for a few before the sunrise began and was it ever worth it. There was also a woman up there in a little shed who was selling coffee and food– apparently she hikes up every morning with everything- water, coffee, and all other supplies… just to try and sell to the people who come for the sunrise. As we sat taking pictures of the beauty before us, naturally a few curious monkeys came along out of nowhere. They ended up with one of our eggs and some toast. Pesky little things. As far as recommended tour guides for the trek- really any will do… you can typically just line them up through your hotel/eco-lodge, etc. We set ours up the day before. Easy peasy.

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On the way back to Swasti from the sunrise trek, we stopped by a tea and coffee plantation for tastings and we bought some coffee for the road. Yum! The best part was we still had the afternoon in Ubud to relax. The next morning we were heading out yet again– but this time to a different island for an overnight- 1 night, 2 day excursion- mostly built around seeing Komodo Dragons in the wild [they’re my favorite besides Manatees]! Anyway we walked into town again and relaxed– found a place to grab some lunch and it was so awesome. We were sitting outside in gorgeous weather and right next door is a rice field. How cool is that? I told you they put rice fields everywhere they can! I had a traditional Balinese dish with yellow rice, chicken, and veggies, while Andrew opted for the pizza. We also dined on pretty heavenly drinks, including passionfruit mojitos and lemongrass jubilees. For a country that’s not big on drinking, they sure do have some amazing drinks!

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Before we depart from this post, we wanted to share some pictures of Swasti Eco Lodge, our home base in Ubud. Delightfully wonderful place hidden away just outside of town. It was perfect.

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Exploring Bedugul by Scooter

After a wonderful sleep, we woke up to the sun shining and a gorgeous view of the farm from bed through a wall-sized window. Just gorgeous. We got dressed and headed to the kitchen for breakfast; by the way, if you stay at Village Above the Clouds, I highly recommend that you get to breakfast before the other folks staying there– if you do, you get to sit at the sole table that is outdoors and has a wonderful view over the farm! Breakfast was filled with coffee, fruit, and coconut crepes for Andrew and Mie Goreng with an egg for me. After breakfast, we spoke to one of the employees and in about 10 minutes, we had hopped onto our scooters and we were ready to go. It was about a 25 minute ride back into the town of Bedugul– up and down mountains and around turns and although the scooters seem really easy- it took us a bit to get the swing of things. Luckily, it seemed up in the mountains of this area, traffic wasn’t as bad as in other places [thankfully, since I ended up on the wrong side of the road several times]. After the day of scootering around, we decided that next time we come to Bali, we’re going to ride scooters everywhere- they are awesome! Anyway ,back to the day…

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We first road up to the land of the monkeys- up the mountain on the other side of the valley- there they were. Just hanging out and wanting snacks from people. There was one really really fat monkey [I dubbed him fatboy] that would tug on people’s pants to try and get a snack. Most of the monkeys were pretty mild, but some of them had personality to say the least. If you go after the monkeys, just a warning- don’t get too close and don’t try to tick them off :).

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After checking out the monkeys, we headed back down the mountain into the valley with at least three purposes still for the day: 1] eat something with strawberries because this region is known for their strawberry growing, 2] check out the Ulu Danu Water Temple [one of the more famous temples], and 3] check out the open air market on the way back to our cottage. On our way back down the mountain however, I quickly became distracted by a tiny little stand next to the road that had two GIGANTIC bright orange iguanas sitting outside and sunning themselves. Naturally, I had to stop. We pulled over and it turned out to be some really weird touch zoo… at least that’s the best way I can describe it. The deal is you pay to have a picture with the animals. Before we could decide what to do– the guy working there took out a mongoose and promptly put him on Andrew’s shoulder. I’m not going to lie– I was kind of in love with that mongoose and he really seemed to like Andrew. Andrew’s picture day ended there and I jumped in. First, I got a picture with one of those orange iguanas I was talking about… then I got a picture with a giant bat hanging onto my belt loops. Next up was a boa constrictor– to be honest, I had no real desire to have the boa on me but I didn’t really have a choice- the guy just put him on me. My last animal was a little hedgehog… it was awesome. Naturally, it was bad that these poor animals are here and so tame when they could be in the wild and what not… but I still liked holding them :0) What can you do?

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After we played with the animals for a while, we were hungry…. so we went off in search of a strawberry place. We ended up at a small hotel/restaurant called Strawberry Hill where we promptly ordered strawberry pancakes and a strawberry milkshake– both delicious and fresh and just yum. After our snack, we went off in search of Ulu Danu Water Temple. This is one of the more famous water temples in Bali so we knew it would be crowded…and it was. It’s located on Lake Bratan. We read about some sunrise trips you can take on the lake that give you great views of the temple- didn’t get to them this time, but perhaps next time :). Anyway, the temple was positively gorgeous and the detail and designs were so intricate. The views were amazing and even though it was crowded, the temple area is large enough that you don’t really feel all that crowded unless you are in the “big picture” areas. Even still, we got a number of photos and were very happy with our visit to the temple. Bonus– the painting that Andrew had been talked into purchasing in Lovina… it was of Ulu Danu Water Temple! So it all worked out in the end- we got a painting of place we had visited…that really could have turned out worse :).

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After the temple, we made one more stop on our way back to Village Above the Clouds– the outdoor market. I have a real love of seeing different markets in different places in the world… [read about this historical market in Fremantle, Australia… I also need to post about an amazing Sunday Asian Market in London that we visited in 2012, as well as our hometown markets…]. Anyway, this was a small open market on the side of the road that was touristy but so cool. They sold all sorts of things from garden plants to masks to kites to spices to fresh fruits and vegetables to jewelry. While we ended up only purchasing some fruits [ok, a lot of fruit], we did also snap a few cool pictures of the various wares… afterwards, we bought a hot corn on the cob [they sell them a lot around here– it’s a bit on the tough side but still tasty] and then headed back to Village Above the Clouds for our dinner.

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Village Above the Clouds

After a great and relaxing evening, we woke up at Puri Mangga in Lovina and had a delicious breakfast that consisted of fresh fruit plates, coffee, fruit juice, pineapple pancakes for Andrew, and the more traditional Mie Gorenge [Fried Noodles] for me.

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We then loaded up our stuff and headed towards the sky…. Village Above the Clouds, more specifically [also known as Desa Ata Sawan]. It’s located past Bedugul, in the center of Bali– up in the mountains, above the clouds, as it may be. Andrew found this spot and I am so glad that he did— it consists of a main hut that is just a sitting room with a view over an organic farm, three separate huts [we stayed in one of these], and then a kitchen building with two separate rooms above the main floor. It is tiny and a hidden gem- tucked away in the mountains, far away from the hustle and bustle. It is well worth the drive and I would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone [website here: A Village Above the Clouds]. On our drive there, we again saw gorgeous rice terraces and tobacco plants as well as…. a new item to check off the list- monkeys. Lots and lots of monkeys. More on them later.

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When we got to A Village Above the Clouds, we asked one of the employees if they had a map of the area so we could walk around and his response was, “oh you don’t need a map. Just go get lost and have a great time.” Ummm awesome. We were allowed to wonder through the terraced organic farm and surrounding areas. Ugh just gorgeous. There were all sorts of veggies and plants growing in all different stages. We saw integrated pest management [ a way of naturally dealing with pests rather than spraying] or perhaps it was just shade tolerant plants growing in between non-shade tolerant plants. Either way, I loved it. We saw some intricate bamboo watering systems that carried fresh water from the stream nearby and diverted it down into the farm rows. Bamboo, of course, was also used as growing trays for seedlings. In the mornings, from our hut, we could watch as farmers picked the fresh produce and took portions of it into our kitchen to place on the menu for the day or night. The menus for dinner at A Village Above the Cloud are pre-set but they let you see the menu earlier in the day so you can provide comments or choose not to eat there… it’s very “Americanized” in the sense that they didn’t serve anything too exotic while we were there and the first night it was actually Mexican-Themed [and delicious, by the way]. Our first afternoon here, was spent as mentioned above- exploring and walking and relaxing and deciding that the next day we would rent scooters and ride back into town: destination: Monkeys, Straberries, and Water Temples.

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North Bali: The Drive to Lovina and Some Downtown

When we departed from our seaside eco resort of Puri Dajuma [website here: http://www.dajuma.com/en/eco-resort], we headed towards Lovina. We knew that Lovina was going to be at least a bit of tourist trap. It’s a town that is frequented by beach tourism. Andrew had found us a place that was a hidden gem, so to speak, up on a hill with a view of the beach, but not in town. The name of the place was Puri Mangga Sea View Resort and Spa it consisted of rooms and houses and somehow Andrew swung a house with a private pool. The drive there was via Bunut Bolong Tree. Roughly translated, this means hole tree or a tree with a hole in it. It is a sacred tree in Bali- located near the area of Pekutatan. It is related to the Banyan tree is quite simply, a massive tree with a hole in it that is large enough to drive through… there is a clove plantation on one of side of tree [located on a hill of sorts]. In addition to tree, there were also two offering temples. We had requested that the driver go by the tree, as I had a lot of interest in seeing it– it really is quite cool, reminded me of a strangler fig. However, as you might guess, it also has become somewhat of a miniature tourist traps and locals are plentiful, willing to sell you anything and everything… or to take your picture with the tree. We declined and after snapping our own photos, moved on with the trip.

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The drive to Lovina was full of all sorts of great views and picture moments. We saw a ton of rice fields, which really do appear to be placed anywhere there is spare space. Many of the rice fields are in different phases of growth– some fields just being plowed, some with baby rice, some with full grown. Based on what we saw, it would be extremely interesting to do some research on how much water is used each year for growing rice on Bali… and where it comes from.

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We also continued our list of usefulness of bamboo for everyday purposes. On this section of the trip, we saw bamboo being used as a fence, as scaffolding [to hold the building up], and as a billboard sign stand. In addition to the bamboo views, we saw a number of other awesome sights, including massive bunches of bananas, massive bags of rice, street-side stores selling roosters in large woven baskets, statues, and temples, and beautiful architecture. We also saw roadside stands with what looked like homemade dishes in pots and bowls— I’m sure they contained something most delicious!!! Perhaps some Nasi Goreng [fried rice]?

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As I mentioned earlier, we were headed for a house with a private pool. We got there fairly early and it was absolutely gorgeous. I highly recommend Puri Mangga if you want an awesome time away from the crowds [website here: http://www.puri-mangga.de/en/]. Our house was beautiful. Complete with two bedrooms [next time, we’ll have to take a friend!] and two outdoor bathrooms that each had toilets, sinks, and shows. I have mentioned lately how much I LOVE outdoor showers and bathrooms? I’m not sure I have in a few posts– I love love LOVE them. They’re so nice and there’s so much space, and it’s just awesome with the sun shining down. I digress… the pool was also phenomenal. The “resort” itself [I put that in quotes because it’s not like a Sandals resort… it’s much cooler. By that I mean, it’s smaller and remote and just beautiful]. Anyway, the resort itself has a pool and tub that were beautifully sculpted, but we instead, turned our attention to our own rectangular infinity pool that looked down into a valley and you could see the coast. On either edge of the pool was a giant papaya tree and to finish it off, there were lounge chairs to sit in and watch the hours pass by… We swam for a while and read a bit before deciding to head down into the town of Lovina.

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A driver was around almost immediately and told us he would drop us at the Dolphin statue and when we were ready to be picked up, just give them a call and they’ll meet us back there. Easy enough. We stepped out by the “dolphin” statue… I put that in quotes because most of the dolphins on the statue, appeared to have had a run in with the Queen of Hearts [as in, OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!].

We also noticed immediately, that we were no longer in seclusion. We were immediately approached by three different people wanting to sell us things– fruit, jewelry, and paintings. We assured them that we would look again later but that we were looking to get lunch and had other plans. We happened upon a thai place in Lovina called Jasmine Kitchen. I highly recommend it– fantastic fresh dishes and drinks. It was down an alley of sorts and well, away from the mayhem of the beach. We were the only ones at the restaurant and as we found out later, since it was the off-season, we were hit up by all the locals trying to sell goods [fewer tourists to take them on]. Our lunch was amazing… really. We sat upstairs on giant pillows on the ground around a low table and we ate, admittedly, way too much but it was sooo good! They also have homemade ice cream on their dessert menu which a little different from our Western-style ice cream, but still worth the taste. They also will fill your water bottles for a low price, so it’s worth the stop even if just for water [why not grab a snack, too?] After stuffing ourselves, we walked around a bit more [avoiding the beach] so that we could hopefully avoid the sales. Eventually, close to sundown, we decided to head back to the beach because we wanted to watch the sunset. It was worth it. True, we came out of it with some jewelry, a bag of fruit, and a painting that we hadn’t planned on initially… but we also made three locals very happy and took some AMAZING shots of the sunset on the water.

After sunset, we decided to look for a bar with some music for an hour or so before calling Puri Mangga to pick us up. We found an open-air spot [Kantin 21] with not a soul inside other than the bartender and a few waiters. There was a stage and a banner outside said there would be music. We stepped in and were seated at a table with an umbrella. They gave us a MASSIVE drink menu– the second they gave them to us, it became apparent once again that Lovina is not “true Bali”… it is built to appease the tourists– a fact that is made obvious by the multitude of cuisines in town as well as the bars themselves and the extensiveness of the bar menu. Most Bali folks don’t drink at all or at least not a lot. The fact that this drink menu was larger than most American bar menus is saying something. But we didn’t care. We were excited to grab a crazy drink and maybe some food and some music. One of the drinks we ordered was called the Kantin 21 Level 17— 17 alcohols mixed together. We figured, why not, right? I’m not sure the bartender even knew they made that— but they mixed one up for us and we drank it down– bright green, really funky, not sure I recommend it :). We both ended up ordering pizzas [they had an outdoor brick oven]– although I got their special pizza which ended up being a square pizza dough covered in greens and veggies [delicious]. The live music turned out to be a main singer and some back up band. The main singer was apparently a massive America fan– as he kept giving us shout outs and yelling “Obama” and “I love your movies”. Needless to say, we had a great time- as always everyone is super friendly. By the time we left, a few other couples had joined us– representing France, Australia, and Germany. Our driver met us as promised, by the dolphin statue. All in all, a great day and night!

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Summary of Day:
Route: Pekutatan to Lovina [Southwest to North-central]
Breakfast: Puri Dajuma Hotel [included with room]- delicious and fresh, fruit and hot, cooked food
Lunch: Jasmine Kitchen [Thai Food], Lovina Beach; Cash Only; Fresh and Delicious; 5 Stars
Dinner: Kantin 21 [Open Air Bar], Lovina Beach; Small Food Menu/Huge Drink Menu; 3.5 Stars
Hotel: Puri Mangga Sea View Resort and Spa, Lovina; House with Private Pool; 5 Stars

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Pura Dajuma: Mention of Illegal Sea Turtle Harvesting

As described in our post on the first day of the trip, things didn’t go exactly as we had planned; namely, biking around Bali appeared to be perhaps, not the best choice. So, we decided after arriving at Pura Dajuma [our destination for the second night], that we would spend an additional evening there so we could regroup and figure out our plans for the remainder of the trip. This extra evening, unfortunately, meant that we would skip out on the far northwest Bali trip we had planned, but we decided it was for the best and that we’d keep that on the “to do” list for our next trip to Bali. The map below shows the travel route from our first night to our second night [Legong Keraton Beach Resort on night #1].
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Because we had another night at Pura Dajuma, we decided to simply check out the plot of land that we were on— it was naturally located down a dirt, bumpy secondary road… getting back up to the main road would require a chunk of time to walk or a taxi… we opted to check out the coastline and we are really glad we did. The day turned out to be a relaxing one and we saw a lot of cool sea life. Of course, the day also included us watching two young boys who walked down the beach to a box looking object in the water. They opened it up and one of the boys grabbed what was inside and threw it over his shoulder. We took a lot of pictures since we couldn’t see exactly what it was… after we reviewed the pictures at home… sure enough, it was a sea turtle. Further googling online also revealed that the killing of green sea turtles is illegal. We do not know if the turtle we saw was a green or other type, nor do we know the in-depth policies of sea turtle catching and killing in Indonesia. We do, however, know that Indonesians prefer to eat green sea turtles and that in recent months there has been a push to stop eating and killing of green sea turtles. Obviously, there was nothing we could really do, especially after the fact. I would, however, have liked to have a conversation with those boys to get a better understanding of what they were doing with it, why, etc… Naturally, I [Meghan], love sea turtles, am an environmentalist, and an avid animal lover. I also would like to uphold regulations such as not allowing green sea turtle harvesting. However, I also recognize that every person’s story is different. Part of the reason I enjoy traveling to different places around the world is that things like what we saw today make me stop and think. Is there a deeper reason other than “they just want money” for breaking a law? Perhaps they don’t have enough money to eat and this turtle will feed a family of four for many days. Perhaps selling the turtle will make a better life with less poverty. Perhaps, they just hate sea turtles. I want to be clear- I’m not okay with breaking the law, especially when it involves animals… I’m just saying that I would have liked to have the other side of the picture and the story to go with it.

Below are some pictures of the crazy things we saw during our day…

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Balinese Food

Balinese food is delicious… especially if you like rice! Our experiences in Bali showed that it is very possible to vacation in Bali and never eat Balinese food; but why would you want to do that? Sure Balinese pizza is delicious too, but if you haven’t tried the signature nasi goreng [fried rice] or mie gorging [fried noodles], with some homemade sambal [sauce, typically spicy], in my opinion, you haven’t lived. During our travels I made sure to eat as much Balinese food as possible. The typical and traditional nasi goreng is a simple fried rice with vegetables, some egg, and typically a meat. Chicken was prevalent, most likely for multiple reasons including Indonesian Religions; one of which holds cows sacred and the other does not eat pork [2 of the 4 major religions as described in a previous post]. My other belief of the prevalence of chicken is that it is relatively inexpensive and chickens can be found EVERYWHERE. In fact, just take a cruise down the road and you are likely to see two chicken-related items: 1) large woven basket cages- each with a rooster in it for sale and 2) a motor bike with about 100 dozen eggs stacked on the back.

One fairly large difference between Balinese fried rice and typical American/Western Fried Rice [and I would assume this is also different from other countries that serve fried rice] is the oil that is used for cooking. In Bali, it is most frequently palm oil. This oil is a slightly different taste if you are used to eating food cooked with a different type of oil [ie, olive]. The nasi goreng that I ate typically consisted of rice, spinach or leafy greens of some sort, capsicum [pepper- usually red of a fairly mild variety], and shredded carrot. I often ordered my nasi goreng with chicken or just vegetables. Traditionally, nasi goreng is also served with a fried egg on top of the rice pile. The fried noodle dishes typically had Ramen-style [quick-cooking] noodles and the same list of veggies above along with cabbage. Both the fried rice and fried noodle dishes typically have their own flavor as well.

Sambal is type of secret sauce that is prevalent in Bali. While you can purchase bottled Sambal in a variety of flavors from the larger stores [ie more touristy] in Bali, real Sambal varies from family to family. Families develop their own recipe which may range from sweet and sour to extremely spicy. I loved every Sambal that my meals were cooked with! In addition to these two dishes, Bali also cooks a good deal of satay as wells as Ayam Betutu; a dish that consisted of slow cooked spiced chicken, rice and vegetables. One restaurant in particular comes to mind where I ordered this dish in Ubud—the hostess/manager told me that it is very traditional and she makes it almost every day.

Fruit is also very common throughout Bali and many night markets sell a large range of fruits from snake fruit [shaped like a small pear, it’s peel looks like snake skin, but it tastes like an apple] to pineapples [a smaller, lighter and less sweet variety than what you might find in say, Hawaii or Costa Rica, but still extremely delicious], to A TON of Watermelon [both red and yellow] to dragon fruit to mango to papaya to strawberries [there is a large strawberry portion of the island located near the mountains in the north-central region]. Fruit juices are common [crushed ice and fruit, usually some sugar].

Desserts typically consisted of fried or grilled banana and/or pineapple to fresh fruit to more typically-western dishes like cheesecake, depending on the area or restaurant where you were eating. While restaurants are found throughout Bali, more common are “Warungs” or small café-type places. Warungs range from tiny, dimly lit, hole-in-the-wall feed stops to extravagant, large, exquisitely decorated getaways. Don’t be fooled by appearance- just because a place looks a little off the beaten track, doesn’t mean the food won’t be just as if not more delicious than its larger competitor. Ice cream can also be found in Bali, however it tastes more like ice mixed with a bit of milk, if you are used to the sugary, fattening, western-counterpart.

Another important question revolves around drinks in Bali! You shouldn’t drink the tap water [not even the locals do!] Bottled water is prevalent and although it is a large waste of plastic and creation of trash, it is better than getting a water-borne illness or bacteria. In an effort to curb plastic bottle use and trash, many places will allow you to fill up your own water bottle or canteen from their large jugs of water. Alternatively, you could ask for a glass of water from their large jug rather than a bottle of water. Coffee and Tea are both found in abundance in Bali; the major difference between Western Coffee and Bali Coffee is that in Bali they do not do “drip coffee”. Instead, they simple finely ground the coffee beans and mix them into a cup of hot water and serve it. If you are not used to this type of coffee, it can take some getting used to—you will find grit at the bottom of your cup and the last few sips will be rich and thick.

The main beer found in Bali is Bintang. It’s tasty, refreshing, and found all over the place. Mixed drinks can be found in more touristy areas—look for more exotic drinks like passion fruit crushes [passion fruit, club soda, simple syrup, and ice] or even the Lovina Special “Level 15”: 15 different liquor mixed in a glass including dry vermouth, crème de menthe, gin, vodka, rum, whiskey, and bourbon] along with some ice, grenadine, lime juice, and topped off with soda water. It comes out bright green, tastes like cough medicine, and is one hell of a strong drink. The other direction to go with hard alcohol is to try the “Arak”; a liquor made from rice. It is potent and tastes a bit like whiskey. Traditional drinks using Arak include the Arak Attack [orange juice, grenadine, and Arak] or the Arak Honey [Arak, honey, and lime juice]. It’s definitely worth a try as the flavor changes greatly depending on the mixers you choose. Because not many Balinese people drink you may find that your bartender makes your drinks a bit strong so just be careful!

If you are a vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, or carnivore- not to worry. You will find something to meet your needs. Vegetarian dishes are almost as prevalent as meat dishes and tofu and tempeh are huge. Be sure you try out the fried tempeh, it’s delicious! Depending on the warung or restaurant that you choose, you will also be able to custom order your meals. Tourism is a major industry in Bali and so they aim to please.

My last piece of advice is to relax when eating. As I think back to our trip, it’s hard to think of a meal when Andrew and I didn’t spend about 2 hours sitting, talking, enjoying each other’s company, and tasting the foods. There were even a handful of meals that lasted more than 3 hours. If a place says it has free wifi, don’t trust that it will work and/or that it will be a fast connection. Instead of searching for wifi, how about you turn off your phone, put away your ipad, and sleeve your laptop. Ask the locals for ideas of things to do, stop caring what time it is exactly [use the sun as your guide instead], actually enjoy the food in front of you including the multitude of flavors [a lot of curry spice is used], and take in your surroundings. Many of our meals lasted so long simply because of the scenery—rice fields, organic farms, busy streets, night markets, temples… Bali is a wondrous place. Immerse yourself in it; the rest of the world will still be there in the morning.

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A Rich Balinese Culture: Offerings and Temples.

As readers, I’m not sure how much you know about Balinese culture and/or religion. Truth be told, prior to Andrew telling me that he was being sent to Jakarta and Bogor for three weeks to conduct training on mapping and forestry for a few NGOs and other partners in Indonesia, all I knew was that Indonesia was relatively close to Australia, it was comprised of a bunch of islands, palm oil is big [from what Andrew told me], and I wanted to go there. I love new cultures and I live for traveling. Naturally, my mom was the first to google things like “Indonesian safety” and “women traveling in Indonesia”. Which, in retrospect, was a smart thing to do– you should never travel somewhere without first conducting a little research on the customs and traditions. The last thing you want to do is show up and make a full of yourself. I mean, would you feel comfortable showing up to a black tie event in pajamas? Would you feel comfortable being throw in jail for missing a curfew? No. So, here’s a brief breakdown on Indonesian and Balinese religion/culture.

Indonesia recognizes six major religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. While all Indonesians are required to carry an identification card that includes a space for one of these six religions, some Indonesians may leave this area blank. Atheism is not recognized and blasphemy is illegal. A census in 2010 showed that the majority of Indonesians identify themselves as Muslim [almost 90%]. Most of the muslim population from my understanding and little research resides on the main island of Indonesia [where you’ll find cities like Jakarta and Bogor]. Here it is still common for women to remain covered up, including a head and face cover. So, if you are going to visit Jakarta, for example, my advice would be to cover as much as possible [ie, definitely NO tube tops or tank tops]. Obviously tourism has brought other types into the mix, but remember, it’s not always fun to stand out.

In Bali, the majority of people [almost 90%] relate to Balinese Hinduism, the remaining as Islam. Religion and culture are very big in Indonesia, and Bali is no exception. As the majority of my time in Indonesia was spent in Bali, I can’t comment specifically on other provinces of Indonesia, but I can comment on Bali. Just about every single home, shop, hotel, and other workplace had at least one small temple. Homes have family temples, intricate and elaborately designed temples with statues and pointed/angled architecture. I could honestly spend months just touring around Bali and looking at family temples. They are gorgeous. Balinese Hinduism includes a focus on local and ancestral spirits and is different from traditional hinduism which focuses primarily on rebirth and reincarnation.

One Balinese guide/driver we had during our trip told us that there are a number of ceremonies that occur for newborns and children and that the child is actually not given a name until one of these ceremonies about 3 months after the child is born. Ceremonies are also big around the puberty timeframe, marriage, and perhaps most importantly, during the time of cremation in celebration of the afterlife. When it comes to cremations, the Balinese conduct an absolutely remarkable event and celebration as we learned through a few Balinese folks and conversations in Jakarta with other native Indonesians [Andrew worked in Jakarta for a few weeks prior to our Bali trip]. Large cremations occur on different time intervals so deceased family members will be buried until the appropriate time. At that point the bodies will be dug up for a proper cremation. Large models/statues of animals are built in which the bodies are placed to be carried to the appropriate temple. Once there, the bodies are transferred to lion or tiger statues for the actual “lighting on fire” part.

During our time in Bali, we were able to catch some set-up for a Cremation, a short parade of a Cremation, and the aftermath of the Cremation next to the graveyard where the platform continued to burn. Our hope is that on our next trip, we will be able to attend a Cremation from start to finish. The Balinese do not seem to mind if you want to go along, as long as you are respectful and have the proper attire [including a sarong/sash].

Another large part of Balinese Hinduism includes offerings. These can be of all shapes and sizes and typically include flowers, some type of food [rice], and incense. They can include a great number of items and depending on the temple or the person, the size of the offering may vary. During your time in Bali you will see the occurrence of people taking offerings to a temple and lighting incense… many times. The offerings are beautiful and as you walk around town looking in little shops for Batik or other trinkets, you will likely also see women working to put together offering trays. The traditional offering methodology so to speak is described below. My understanding is that it varies from place to place and person to person. One many told us they only pray once a day, other people we saw pray more than once while we were in a restaurant [for example]. In some areas there is also a loud speaker that plays a prayer at certain time intervals throughout the day for prayer times. Again, it depends on where you are and how religious the folks are who are near you. For more detail on traditional Balinese Prayer visit the Balinese Prayer Page: http://www.filosbali.net/BalinesePrayer.htm. Traditional Offerings in a day:

1. Family temples are located in the corner of the house plot [or compound or land or whatever you want to call it] closest to Mount Agung [a volcano, the largest in Bali] where the Gods are believed to live.

2. The first act of the mother is to visit the family temple. The gods receive their offering in the family temple while the demons receive their offerings on the ground [Balinese believe in recognizing the balance between good and evil]

3. Women will repeat these offerings at work, in the shop, and at the beach.

4. Husbands will similarly pray and present offerings which are often seen in the taxis or other cars they drive.

In Bali, head covers are much less prevalent as islamic religion is not as widespread. However, it is still respectful and tactful to avoid wearing overly revealing clothing [including short skirts, tank tops, tube tops, halter tops/dresses, etc], especially in temples. In areas of Souther Bali [such as Kuta areas], you’ll find a plethora of Australians and other tourists. I relate Kuta to the “Cancun” of Bali. For Australians, a flight to Bali is often cheaper than flying across Australia so many younger people travel there for vacations, spring breaks, and surfing. We only drove through Kuta and did not spend any time there as we tend to appreciate the “not so touristy, glitzy” areas of the places we visit. This is not to say that we didn’t spend our fair share of time in touristy areas as well. Just putting things into perspective.

So, if you’re headed to Bali, remember- be respectful. Don’t wear overly revealing outfits and clothing. Your world won’t crumble if you actually wear a shirt on a moped and no one will check you out less for wearing a short-sleeved shirt instead of that new halter top to the sacred temple. Enjoy the ride!

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