Honeymoon - Bali

Here are the photos from Bali, Cambodia and Thailand to come soon!

The flight to Bali wasn't bad at all, it only took a few hours so we made it there in the early afternoon. Taking a cab from the airport to our hotel took surprisingly long! I think it ended up taking as long as the flight, mainly because there are mostly only two lane roads (one lane each direction).

Our first destination in Bali was a town called Ubud, which is known for being a cultural hub of Bali. We stayed at Uma Ubud which ended up being one of our favorite hotels of the trip. The lobby was just an area covered with a roof, no walls. The weather must be nice here!

Our room was very cool (check out the pictures). Each room was a semi-free-standing structure, usually sharing one wall with one other room. After opening the front door, there is a pond with koi fish right in front of the door with fountains shooting water into the pond. You cross the pond by walking across stepping stones. Above this area there is no roof, it is just open to the sky. After crossing the pond, there is a small sitting area, to the right is the bedroom and to the left is the bathroom.

The bedroom is not open-air to keep the bugs out and the A/C in. The bed had a mosquito net, which I think was mainly decorative, we didn't have any problems with mosquitoes in the room. The bathroom was mostly covered, but the near the back wall there was a strip that was open to the sky, which was nice since the breeze could pass through from the open area above the pond.

We were a bit hungry after arriving, so we walked down the road that the hotel was on to find a place to eat. We ended up eating at this BBQ place that had some pretty good ribs (not quite as good as Memphis, but not bad!). After that, we headed into central Ubud to check out the market there. Our hotel had a shuttle, which was handy, it is a bit too far to walk.

The market was not bad, they had the usual stuff you'd expect to see: sarongs, scarves, various woodcarvings, baskets, and other trinkets. Nothing of much interest to me, but it is fun wandering around to see what is for sale. I did find some puzzles, but they were mass-produced ones I had seen before out of low-quality wood.

After wandering for a bit, we got a bit hungry and decided to go back to the hotel for dinner. The restaurant is also open-air like the lobby, with just a roof and no walls. The food was great too! I had some lettuce wrap things with chicken and various spices. Kellian had some vegetarian sushi that was good too. We were a bit tired from our trip, so we headed to bed.

The next day, we were greeted by a massive snail on the door to our room! Guess that's the fun part of having your room partly open to the elements. We left him alone and headed for breakfast. The breakfast at Uma Ubud was incredible! It was included in the price of the room, and, unlike most places, was not a buffet. You picked which dishes you wanted from the menu and they brought them out, which is part of the reason why I think it was so tasty.

Each morning they had a different mixed juice from local fruits. We had some tasty pastries with some unusual spreads made from local fruit as well, and a plate of mixed fruit. The coffee here was incredible too, very thick and rich flavor. I had some amazing pancakes that I think involved coconut as well as some fruit. I don't remember what Kellian had, but it was quite tasty as well!

After breakfast, we went over for the free 8:00 yoga classes. We were still a bit jet-lagged, so we were waking up before 8:00 anyways. The yoga was pretty excruciating (Kellian enjoyed it), but the view was incredible! The yoga studio in the hotel is located on the edge of a valley, so the view looks down into this lush green valley with a stream running along the bottom.

We ended up hiring a driver to get back from the market the previous night, and ended up hiring him for today to drive us around to some sites, since it was a good deal less expensive than going through the hotel. Our first stop was the Elephant Cave.

The actual cave itself was pretty cool, but the best part was wandering around the area afterwards. We ended up following this increasingly rugged path way back into the forest, where we were pretty sure that we were going to get eaten by a snake or something. We kept following signs for a temple, so we hoped that something cool would be ahead.

Eventually, we ran across a nice local woman who told us that the temple was up ahead and she walked along with us while telling us a bit about the area. Eventually, we came to the temple! However it wasn't what you would expect: it was two doors that were carved into the side of a cliff, right at the level of the stream at the bottom of a valley. As such, you'd have to swim to get to it. Unfortunately, I didn't have my swimsuit (and the water was pretty rough!) so we didn't go in. Still, it was quite scenic and we were glad to have stuck it out to see something pretty far off the beaten path.

After that, we headed to the Rock Temple, which was quite cool. It was a long walk down a flight of stairs, I wasn't looking forward to climbing back up in the heat! The temple itself consisted of large figures that were carved into a rock wall, as well as some other structures that were carved out of the rock. It was quite impressive thinking how long it must have taken to carve them with primitive equipment.

The next stop on our tour was a town called Kintamani, which sits up high on a mountain and overlooks a very scenic vista. From this point, you can see two huge volcanoes as well as a large crater lake. It was quite impressive! We had lunch at a place where we could continue to take in the view, the buffet food wasn't that good, but the view was spectacular!

On the way back from Kintanami, we stopped by a coffee plantation where they gave us all sorts of free samples to try out. Very tasty! The coolest thing at the plantation was that they had two huge bats as pets! They just hung from this stick that they put in the ground and ate fruit that people fed to them. They were quite large (maybe 2-3 feet tall), and had faces like wolves. Still, very cute!

After that, we headed to a town known for their silver crafts. We were hoping for some boutique shops, but it ended up being a big road with a bunch of large stores that sold silver crafts. Even though they were hand-made, it felt a bit mass-produced like an assembly line. We didn't much care for the style of the pieces there, so we left empty-handed.

For dinner we grabbed a bite at a vegetarian-friendly place that the hotel recommended, and then went out to see a dance performance. The performance had two styles of dance, Barong and Legong. The Legong dance was a bit slow for my taste: it mainly consisted the dancers slowly progressing through strange poses. Barong was a bit more interesting, there was a big lion (or dragon?) that danced around on stage (operated by two people), as well as some people dressed as monkeys. There was a story of some sort to go along with it, I think it had something to do with the usual theme of the battle between good and evil. Definitely worth checking out, but I was nodding off a bit due to the jet-lag. Kellian enjoyed it!

The next day, after another great breakfast, we headed out on a complimentary rice paddy tour around the area near the hotel. The guide first took us past a Balinese graveyard, which was pretty interesting. They actually re-use the same grave for many people, and then at particular points during the year (based on astrology) conduct mass-cremations. However, they don't actually cremate the body, they cremate a small amount of soil from the burial site.

After that, we we walked through the rice paddies a bit, and learned about rice cultivation. Bali produces quite a bit of rice, but they still have to import from other countries in Indonesia because they don't produce enough for their population.

After that, we went with the same fellow who drove us around the previous day up to Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, also known as the Temple on the Lake. It was a pretty long drive, I think over 2 hours. It turns out that we were visiting on a day that there was a ceremony going on, so there were a bunch of local people dressed up visiting the temple. The temple was pretty cool, it was on an island a short distance out into a lake, which made for a very picturesque setting.

We were close to the Bali Botanical Garden, so we headed over there next. They had an Orchid exhibit that I was interested in seeing, but unfortunately the orchids weren't flowering. I think the sign said that the collection mainly consisted of botanically interesting orchids rather than pretty orchids. Too bad! They also had a cactus exhibit that was pretty cool, but not really a must-see thing if you've see cacti before.

After that, we took another fairly long car ride over to Tanah Lot, also known as Temple in the Sea. This temple was built on a rock that is in the ocean a short distance from the shore. During low tide, you can walk across the sand to the island temple, but during high tide the sand is covered. We didn't walk over to it, since you can't actually go inside, and the view was better from the shore. The area is pretty crowded with tourists, and there is a bustling market of touristy trinkets nearby where we had lunch.

That evening, we went to see something called Kecak dance, which was performed by a group of around 100 men sitting in a circle around a structure with flaming lamps on it. They chant rhythmically in a very unusual way, as the solo dancers act out an excerpt from the Ramayana. Check it out on YouTube so you can hear what it sounds like. Very cool!

After the Kecak dance, they did something they call a fire dance, where this fellow with (wood) horse head strapped to his stomach gallops around the stage, kicking flaming coconut shells all over the place. It is similar to walking on coals, since the curiosity is how he keeps from burning his bare feet while doing this.

The next day, we were planning to make our way to Jimbaran in South Bali, but we hung out in Ubud a bit before making the trip. We stopped by the market for a bit, and then headed over to the Monkey Forest. The Monkey Forest was incredible! As I hoped, there were monkeys running around, and you could walk among them. They came quite close, and were fairly friendly though you weren't supposed to try to pet them or anything since they can be unpredictable.

I crouched down to get a better look, and this little monkey came up to me cautiously. He climbed up on my arm, then around to my shoulder and started picking through my hair. Eventually he figured out that he could grab my sunglasses and started to head off with them, but one of the monkey experts who was nearby clapped his hands and the monkey dropped my glasses so I could get them back. I love monkeys, so I was pretty excited that one actually climbed on me. I wish we could have stayed longer, but we needed to get back to the hotel since we had scheduled a ride to Jimbaran.

This was another pretty long ride, but eventually we got to our hotel, Ayana. Ayana is quite a bit more isolated than the other places we stayed, it is more of a self-contained resort with a number of restaurants and shops. It was very scenic, perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean.

Perhaps the coolest thing was a small infinity pool that was built on the side of the cliff. When you swam in it, it looked like the water extended right into the ocean. Very neat, and it faced to the west so was a great place to watch the sunset. Unfortunately, it was cloudy both days we were there so we didn't get to see much of a sunset.

Another cool feature is Rock Bar, a bar that they built on a rock out into the ocean. It was all open air, if you look past the bar it just goes straight out into the ocean. This was such a cool thing that folks came from other hotels in the area just to check out this bar for sunset. There was a thing called an 'inclinator' that you could ride up and down the cliff, sort of like an elevator but for going up an incline. Very cool!

The next morning, since we were on our honeymoon they served us complimentary breakfast in bed. After that hung around by the pool for a while, then watched the sunset from a pier that went out into the ocean. After sunset, we had some tasty appetizers and drinks at Rock Bar. A bit of a lazy day, but we had been running around like crazy in Ubud so it was good to have a bit of a break.

The next day, we headed to Cambodia at the crack of dawn. It was really hard finding a way to get from Bali to Cambodia in a single day, since there aren't any direct flights. So we needed to go to Singapore really early, then head to Cambodia from there.

We actually ended up with enough of a layover in Singapore that we had time to head downtown to check out a pocket-watch exhibit in the national museum! We had seen advertisements for it while we were in Singapore before, but it wasn't open while we were there. Fortunately, it was now open! It was a very cool exhibit with some amazing watches, so I'm glad we could make it.

Next up, Cambodia!

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