Those of you that read my blog know that I've been blessed to be able to do a great deal of traveling. That said, out of all my travels Bali is one of my favorite places. Now, first I must point out that Bali is NOT a south pacific island like Tahiti or Fiji like I'm sure many of you think (I know at one time I did). Bali is actually part of Indonesia, a smaller island just east of the main island Java. I think part of the reason why so many people don't recognize Bali as being part of Indonesia is because it has such a separate culture. While yes it shares government and money and all the other things that define a country the laid back surfer vibe seems much more like Hawaii than Jakarta. Another element that adds to this is that fact that Bali is primarily Hindu and Buddhist while the rest of the country is Muslim.
Our trip to Bali was unfortunately short. We left from Bangkok early Wednesday morning and got into Bali at about 11:30am. A van from the place we were staying came to pick us up and took us to the "hotel." Now I put the word Hotel in quotes because I wouldn't quite call it a hotel, it's much better than that. The place is called "The Chillhouse" and the compound consists of two main houses the chillhouse and the surfer house and then several bungalows as well all surrounded by beautiful landscaping and even a pool. Because we had an odd number of people we were placed in the surfer house where single surfers usually stay. I wasn't expecting it but the rooms were beautiful. Because of the nature of the surfer house each bedroom had a bunk bed draped with mosquito netting and each room also had its own outdoor bathroom. It was a little hard to get used to that at first but oh it was amazing. The owners also upgraded one of the rooms to a room they called the tree house. It took up the whole second floor of the building and then there was a ladder in the middle of the room which led up to a crows nest type thing. We let Heidi and Ann have that room because they were going to be there longer but we all spent time up in the crows nest just lounging and talking. The first day actually we had planned to go out that afternoon but we were so tired that we all actually fell asleep up there. It felt good.
Breakfasts and dinners were also included with our stay at the chillhouse. As if we hadn't already loved everything else the food just put it over the top. Amazing organic meals every night and I'm usually a very picky eater but I loved it. I must say that if you ever go to Bali you should definitely stay at the chillhouse. Me and Lucy are thinking about going back for October break and we'll probably stay there again.
As part of our package through the chillhouse we got a one day surf lesson. Because none of my friends had ever surfed before they sent us to the Rip Curl surf school in town. I decided that even though I've surfed before and know how to surf I would go to the lesson anyway because I wanted to be with my friends and also I'm terribly clumsy and therefore not very good at surfing I'll admit so I wanted to learn some technique again.
The school gave us everything we needed right down to boardshorts and a rashguard. I was a little disappointed that they made us wear a helmet though. I know it's safer but I just felt like a geek in it.
We went out in the water after they taught each concept just to try it out. The first time out was just catching a wave and riding it in on your stomach. Because they knew I had surfed before a couple of the instructors asked if I would try standing up. I gave them no promises but said I'd try and I did it! I actually got one of my best rides of the day because after that they taught everyone to stand up and with all the technical aspects refreshed in my brain I started to rethink EVERYTHING.
After that first day we had so much fun we decided to go back for a second lesson, this time the lesson was on paddling. Meaning the first day wasn't paddling at all be just stood and when a wave was coming we jumped on the board, so sissy surfing. Now paddling is SOOOO much more work and I had some pretty decent wipe outs. All the other girls got pretty good. Heidi just looks like a surfer. It must come naturally to her. If me and Lucy go back in October we want to take the rest of the lessons.
After our first day of surfing (Thursday) we got back to the chillhouse just in time to make a trip they had planned to a temple. Originally we had thought he would take us to a temple that was pretty close to the chillhouse but we ended up going to one that was about an hour away. Before we could enter if you were wearing shorts that made you wear this hideous purple sarong thing. Oh it looked terrible but I got to wear it all night :)
Like every other Hindu temple I've been to (except Mammallapuram in India) there were monkeys EVERYWHERE and they were sneaking little buggers. One monkey actually stole Lucy's wallet from right around her neck. She finally got it back after some kids chased it down and threw candy at it but it was a scary few minutes there. Lesson learned, Monkeys will steal ANYTHING. They even tried to steal the glittery pieces right out of my hair. That was my cue to exit.
We were at the temple right around sunset and apparently, conveniently (wink wink) we were there at the same time a big show was starting up and for only 50,000 rupia (about $5) we could go see it. Initially we all said no because the show was billed as a fire dance and we see our fair share of fire dances in Thailand, but then all the other people in our group were going to see it so we decided that instead of waiting around of an hour doing nothing we might as well see it. Well... they shouldn't bill it as a fire dance because it's not. It's actually several different scenes from the Ramayana acted out by people in costume. It starts out with this huge group of men coming out chanting, singing and waving their arms. Then those men actually remain on the stage chanting for the rest of the show while the actors come out and act and dance. I actually quite enjoyed it. I'm glad we went.
On our last full day in Bali (Saturday) we went on a Volcano/Culture trip which had been part of our deal with the Chillhouse. Our first stop was yet another show but this one was more traditionally balinese. It told the story of a prince and a Barong, which is a mythical good luck monster and how the Barong helps the prince when he is attacked by another mythical creature which I forget the name of :) Again I liked the show and I went a little picture happy, I took a lot but the lighting was awesome :)
After the show we drove for about another hour into Ubud until we came to this amazing overlook where we could see two volcanoes and a lake. The one volcano had just erupted in 1992. As I looked at the lava flow, right at the bottom were a bunch of houses. All I could think was are these people crazy? I personally would never build my house at the base of a volcano.
After that I thought we could continue on to at least the base of a volcano but our driver turned around and started heading back. That was a little disappointing. I have ACTUALLY visiting a volcano on my list of things to do when I go back to Bali.
We ate lunch at an overpriced restaurant right on some beautiful rice terraces and then we got to do some shopping in Ubud. Oh goodness shopping is my vice. I might like shopping in Bali more than I liked shopping in any of the other countries I've been to. They have these beautiful painted woven boxes. I bought 6 and getting them back to Bangkok was quite a feat, and even more I was able to get 5 of them back to America with me. I was impressed.
On our last morning Heidi, Heidi and I woke up early so that we could walk to the beach that's closest to the chillhouse since we hadn't been to a beach our whole time there except to surf. It was about a half hour walk to the beach. By the time we got there the water was already filled with surfers. We sat and watched them for a little while but we didn't have a lot of time since we had to leave for our flight at 9.
And that is the story of my trip to Bali. Hopefully I'll be able to go back again in October. We'll see :)