Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Xmas in Bali

It is tough to be away from family and loved ones during the holidays. I've done it before because of work and I was doing it now because of the only routing I was able to get. I spent the 24th shopping for gifts, getting a massage, attending an expat xmas eve dinner/ cocktail party and just soaking in the peacefulness that permeates Ubud. And peaceful it is. Between the many practicing Hindus placing daily offerings of fresh flowers on sidewalks, the ever-present lingering incense and the travelers trying to attain their best selves via yoga mats, this is somewhere that just feels special. There is no way for me to describe it without sounding trite or hokey but spending time, even just a couple of days there is bound to change you, for the better.

It was in this state of mind that I spent Xmas day. It was my last day in Bali and I just wanted to take it all in. After another lovingly home cooked breakfast, I decided to return to one of my favorite places on the island. It should come as zero surprise to anyone who has been following the last couple of posts that this involved monkeys. Lots of monkeys.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Bali Bliss

My second day in Bali was about as perfect as any day should be permitted to be, combining many of the things I love. Sleeping in late, check. A delicious vegetarian homemade breakfast waiting for me when I did wake up. Check. Right next to the fresh cut fruit, a binder listing all my tour options for that day. Are you kidding me?! If heaven existed, forget the fat floating babies and harp noise, this is what it would look like. And did I mention, monkeys? I probably shouldn't have to since I already stated a couple of posts ago that this Malaysia/ Bali series was going to be seriously monkey-fied but this day, this ideal day, was one of the most monkey of them all.

I signed up for an afternoon tour which visited a couple of temples, a monkey forest and culminated with sunset at Tanah Lot in the southwestern part of the island. The pickup time was 2pm so I had some free time and although I would be revisiting it during the tour, I decided to go the monkey forest.  The Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest was only a ten minute walk away and I figured this was a place best enjoyed leisurely.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Country #100: Bali, baby!!

December 21, 2015: the day I officially hit my 100th country. Or more accurately put, the evening I landed in Denpasar airport and ticked Indonesia off my list. I'll confess I hadn't really set my mind on any one country as my milestone destination, instead I'd left it up to chance. Well, chance had come through like a champ. I would now be celebrating both Xmas and my first foray into triple-digits on the idyllic island of Bali.

I arrived late at night to find a driver waiting to take me on the one hour drive to Ubud, the cultural heart of Bali.  He was a member of the family that owns the Depa Guest House, my home for the next five days.  These people were amazingly warm and gracious.  They were accommodating beyond belief, which made my entry into their peaceful little complex even more disturbing.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Pulau Langawi: Welcome to Vampire Island

During the two weeks I had been bouncing around Malaysia, one place kept coming up in conversations with fellow backpackers. It was a small island in the middle of the Andaman Sea, where the beaches are beautiful and the drinks are cheap. Everyone I met had either been or was on their way to Pulau Langkawi. I followed suit, traveling via the three hour ferry from Penang.

Upon my arrival and throughout my two day stay, I learned a couple of things that I feel I should share.

First, this is an island with no means of public transportation. They have approximately 65,000 residents, probably a couple of thousand tourists and zero buses so your best bet upon getting off the ferry is to befriend the first backpacker you see. Odds are that they too are heading to Pantai Cenang, the main strip of beach and therefore you can split an overpriced taxi.