Bali + Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

Ok you guys – just as a warning, this post will have a lot of excitement and a lot of pictures!  Bali is one of those places you see in movies, read about in books and hear about, but never actually think you’ll go there.  Well, Dan is amazing – and he took me!

We decided to stay in the Ubud area, which is more inland and full of forest, rice terraces, coffee plantations and CULTURE!  Our hotel was incredible, I can’t recommend it any more highly, as it was perfection.  It had 2 beautiful pools, a really cool bar with SWINGS (!!!) and their food was fantastic! Again – highly recommend the Sthala Ubud Bali.

We rented a motorcycle for our time on the island, as it’s really the best way to get around.  The roads are so narrow and windy (and not in the best condition), it is almost impossible to get around in anything other than a motorbike! And we love bikes…so it was perfect!

For our first full day, we started at the Sacred Monkey Forest.  Monkey’s are roaming all over Bali, but there is a small area in the centre of Ubud that has a high concentration of monkeys and you can go hang out with them.  I was in heaven as I just love animals, and I loved having little monkeys scampering all around.  If you have bananas, they’ll even come and climb all over you.  They’re feisty little creatures!  But you can’t get mad at them because they’re so darn cute!

After the monkey forest, we walked around the Ubud Palace and grabbed some lunch before taking the bike out to the countryside.

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We took a lovely ride through the “back” roads to get out to some of the most famous rice terraces.  We had so much fun driving through the windy beautiful countryside.  The jungle/country feel was incredible, and after a nice 45 minute ride, we arrived at Bali’s most famous rice terrace, Tegalalang Rice Terrace.  We read online how touristy it had become and a lot of reviews online said not to go because it’s just full of tourists now.  Well, either we lucked out or the reviewers were exaggerating!  It wasn’t that busy, and it was 100% worth it.  It was stunning.  I’ve never seen anything like it before.  They built these immaculate rice paddies into the rolling hills.  The area is the most beautiful colour green I have ever seen!

After walking around the rice terrace for awhile, we hopped back on the bike and went over to check out a the Elephant Cave, which is actually a sanctuary for meditation.  It’s gone back and forth between Hindu and Buddhism over the years.  The carvings and sculptures were beautiful!

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Lastly, we rode over to one of the big waterfalls, the Tegenungan waterfall.  At this point, it was early in the evening, and we were quite tired, hot and hungry.  So very unlike us, instead of hiking to the waterfall and jumping in, we decided to just grab a beer and enjoy the view of the waterfall from a viewing deck before heading back to the city to grab dinner.

Our hotel recommended a restaurant called the Dirty Duck Diner for dinner.  The restaurant is famous for it’s crispy duck, so we had to try it.  We did the sharing platter which was a half of a duck with various side dishes.  Dan and I love duck, and we love crispy duck.  And this crispy duck was fantastic!  We devoured it!  Although we still rank the duck in Beijing as #1, this is a very close second!

For our next day, we decided to take a trip over to one of the other Indonesian islands.  We decided on Gili Trawangan as it was the easiest to access from Ubud.  We drove our motorcycle 90 minutes to the port to catch a “fast boat” over to the island.  I’m pretty sure if you looked up Gili Trawangan in the thesaurus, it’d say PARADISE!.  Picture the most perfect blue/turquoise water with white sand beaches, colourful beach huts, boats and market stalls lining the beach, and amazing restaurants and bars and you have Gili Trawangan.  [Ok you don’t have to picture it…there are a million pictures below!] But seriously, it was stunning.  We quickly got off the boat and walked down the island [the island is TINY] and found some beach chairs and snorkle equipment to rent.  And that was it – we spent the whole day snorkling and napping in the sun!  The best part was the snorkling.  There were MASSIVE sea turtles in the water and you could just swim right up to them and alongside them.  They’re such beautiful majestic creatures! I was mesmerized by them! [And we’re both KICKING ourselves for not having a GoPro for underwater photos…we’re getting one NOW!] If you’re in Bali, it is 100% worth it to take a day or overnight trip to the Gili Islands.

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After a full day at Gili Trawangan, we took the “fast boat” back to Bali.  The journey back was quite the adventure in itself…let me just say that these boats would NEVER be

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allowed anywhere outside of SE Asia.  I wish we had better pictures of this boat, but it was so janky…it had about 40 seats inside then 4 “benches” on the roof where you could sit – and of course, Dan and I had to sit up top :).  The railings were little dinky things and you had to hold on for your dear life while crossing the sea.  We hit some massive waves and got entirely soaked.  We ended up putting our swimming goggles on because we were getting sprayed so frequently we couldn’t even open our eyes! It was so much fun! [Again – lack of photos because we didn’t have a GoPro/waterproof camera!]

The next day started quite early…about 2 am!!!  We decided to do a sunrise hike of one of the large volcano’s on the island called Mt. Batur.  Our guide picked us up from the hotel at 2 am and we drive 90 minutes to the base of the volcano.  Then we started climbing!  We climbed for 2.5 hours until we reached the peak, just in time for the sunrise! The first 2 hours of the climb were pretty easy, but the last half hour was quite challenging and I was very grateful to see the top!  The hike was totally worth it, as it was so rewarding to watch the sun rise over the island.  It was a memory we’ll never forget as it was so unique!

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After the hike, we went to a coffee plantation to do a coffee tasting.  Coffee in Bali is some of the best we’ve ever had.  And they’re home to the famous Kopi luwak coffee; which is coffee that is pooped out from cat-like animals.  It’s SUPER expensive because it is so rare and you can only get it in a few islands in the world.  We actually didn’t love it, it was quite sour tasting, but once we added a bit of sugar it was pretty good.  I don’t think I’d spend the money for it again though.

We spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool and getting a massage at the spa since we had been up so early hiking.  That evening we went into the city to check out the rest of the markets before dinner at a cool pig roast restaurant.

Bali was a dream come true.  We absolutely loved it.  4 days was great, but we could have easily spent weeks there.  There is so much to see and do throughout the island.  After 4 magical days, we hopped on a plane and headed off to Siem Reap, Cambodia…!

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