Trip Start Feb 28, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2011

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Where I stayed

Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Saturday, April 2, 2011

I got to Bali and didn't know too much about it even though I dated a beautiful girl from Bali when I lived in Hawaii. When I got to the hotel it was about midnight and I headed straight to bed. I booked the hotel for about sixty dollars a night and tried to book it for a town called Ubud, which is considered the "real" Bali. Little did I know that the hotel was about forty-five minutes away from Ubud and hours from any other major city. It was so far outside any city that the cab driver had to stop and ask for directions three times on our way there.

However, this hotel was worth the trip to Bali alone. It is in the middle of a tropical forest with natural palm trees and flowers surrounding the enormous property. The hotel itself is on top of a hill and spreads down into a valley. The reception area is built like a Hindu Temple and leads out onto a balcony overlooking the property. Each hotel room is its own small villa with levels of stone steps cutting in between them. The steps and walls must be a thousand years old and the overgrowth of plants and moss make it feel like I stepped back in time. It’s the kind of plants and flowers that grow naturally and are not planted or manicured. In the center courtyard there was a beautiful pool leading into a tropical forest. My room was off to the side of the pool and had a huge balcony with amazing views of the valley. There are no roads, cars, people or other hotels within miles of this place. I believe I am the only person staying at the hotel this week leading to a certain mystical feel.

A few weeks ago, when I decided to take this journey around the world I got a message from Stephanie. We went to graduate school together in Philadelphia and she was in Bali the week before I got there. I missed meeting up with her by a few days, but she put me in touch with her friend Dek who is a local tour guide. I called Dek the next morning and he was able to pick me up at my hotel an hour later. I got into his car with no idea where to go or what to see and just said "show me Bali or as much as you can". One of the best decisions I have made on this trip was to put my trust in other people that I don't know and never question it. There is no way to see Bali all in one day but I think we came pretty close. Dek is another amazing person I have been blessed to meet along the way.

The first stop was at the Elephant Cave and I had to put a sarong on to enter as it is part of their culture. Before entering the cave itself there are fountains outside with Hindu sculptures worn down from hundreds of years of sun and rain. Once inside there are little areas cut into the caves walls where people would meditate along some Hindu sculptures. After leaving the cave there are flights of moss-covered steps that took Dek and I down to waterfalls and suddenly you’re in the center of a tropical forest with Buddhist and Hindu temples surrounding you. It was one of the most amazing places I have ever been and I was just in such awe of my surroundings. At one point I was looking off in the distance just reflecting on how I got to this point and Dek was a few feet behind me singing a Bob Marley song and the line he was signing in his Indonesian accent was "don't worry about a thing, everything gonna be alright". I asked him about it later and he didn't even remember signing it but it was another one of those amazing moments that this journey has brought me. I am looking up at waterfalls and temples where nature and man combined to create one of the most beautiful places on earth. Behind me a new friend is singing that everything is gonna be alright. I wish I was a better writer and could explain these moments better but it just feels right.

From there we went to the Water Temple, a pool built around natural springs where local people go to pray and it has special healing powers. Next it was onto a Bali coffee farm where they grow and produce the Kopi Luwak coffee. I learned the story of the Paradoxurus a small animal like a cat with a long pointy nose. It eats the red, ripe coffee cherry and during digestion the bean is fermented and comes out the other end. The bean is then cleaned, roasted and ground. I tried a cup and it is a rich, heavy flavored coffee. I was also able to try some local fruit grown on the farm as well. About thirty minutes later we arrived at Gunung Batur Volcano and had an Indonesian lunch with views of the volcano and surrounding towns. For desert I tried pumpkin rice with coconut, fried banana with honey and rice pudding. We stopped by a tiny town to check out the rice terrace and then onto the monkey forest.

I thought the monkey forest meant it was monkeys that were in cages and you could go up and see them. I was wrong. I got out of the car and before I was even in the forest there was monkey about two feet away. One came up and grabbed my finger and I had no idea what to do. I bought some bananas and tried to pass them out but one monkey didn't want to share and scared away all the other ones. He ate about fifteen bananas in two minutes. I walked into the forest thinking I was going to see about four or five monkeys and out of nowhere I was surrounded by thirty. It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. They would come up to me and I wasn't really sure what they were going to do. Some jumped up  like they wanted to fight me and others would ignore me. In the forest there are different groups of monkey similar to tribes and each has their own territory. One monkey decided he was going into another group’s territory and it got intense quickly. I'm standing in the forest alone and there were about forty monkeys screaming and fighting with one another. I stood there about ten feet away and just watched. The little monkeys were scooped up by their parents and carried away. I thought about leaving the forest because I wasn't sure if they would come after me but I felt safe enough to stay. After the fight some monkeys were doing cartwheels and I got one little monkey to shake my finger. I wasn't really sure what the monkeys were going do or if I was safe or not but that's what made it exciting. When I got back to the car I asked Dek why he didn't go in and he said he didn't want the monkeys to bite him. I told him thanks for letting me know.

I took a shuttle the second day to Ubud the nearest city in Bali to my hotel. I can't say enough about the people of Bali, especially Dek. Indonesia is a third world country and you can defiantly tell that as soon as you arrive but the people have a kindness that you can feel before they even speak, truly amazing. When I got to Ubud I had to check out another monkey forest because I could sit there all day and just watch the monkeys. After that I headed down a tiny coble stone street to a back alley until I finally arrived at the yoga barn. When in Bali I had to take a yoga class. The yoga barn is on the second floor of a building with an open-air 360 degree view of rice and pineapple fields. The yoga class was intense and the views were perfect. A statue of Ganesha, the Hindu lord of success and destroyer of obstacles, watched over us. Ganesha has a curved trunk with big ears and a huge pot belly of a human being. He has an Axe in one hand to cut down obstacles and a rope in the other to pull you toward your goals.

After yoga class I jumped on the back of a scooter taxi to the Agung Rai museum. The only thing scarier than driving your own scooter in Thailand is being this big on the back of one in Bali. In Bali two lanes are the size of one lane in the US and really anything goes. I didn't know where to put my legs and where to hold so I went with one hand on Kutu's shoulder and the other on seat. I think being on the back of that scooter was one of those times in life you just smile, appreciate it and know not to worry.

"When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself"-Wayne Dyer
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arsenalalice on

I am currently in Bali and really enjoyed reading this post! I am a little short on cash, being near the end of my trip, but hope to see some of the sights you have mentioned! Thank you :)

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