After tackling Rinjani, we spent one more night on Gili T. We got a scary ferry back to Padang Bai and headed right to Ubud. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love, lived in Ubud. I really liked Ubud. Mar and I decided to do a home stay. We stayed in a little place, where Puntu and Rai served us tea and breakfast on the porch every day. They were a very nice older couple, but we had a hard time conversing with them do to the language barrier. If you ever go to Ubud I recommend Rai Home Stay! Everything about Bali was relaxed (except for traffic). I’d wake up in the morning, drink tea on the porch and read while enjoying the beautiful vegetation. Life was pretty simple. During the day we would walk around town, stopping in little shops and markets. We found Hidde, a friend from Gili T and go dinner. He met up with us again in Kuta. One afternoon I spent around four hours at a coffee shop journaling and reading, and I remember feeling so stress free and happy in that moment. I’m a coffee shop fanatic so I was in my element after being deprived of quality coffee shop time.
After Ubud we went to Seminyak. But we stopped to see the Tegalalang Rice Terraces first. They were impressive and beautiful. We got to Seminyak and could not find a hostel anywhere. We had no choice but to stay somewhere fancy, basically your average hotel room in the states. I didn’t like Seminyak, it wasn’t my vibe. It was week long vacation tourists than backpackers. The streets were filled with big name surf shops and expensive restaurants.
Next stop KUTA! I Love Kuta and I don’t care who knows it! Seriously, I arrived in Kuta expecting it to be completely ratchet based on what everyone I met had said. WRONG. It’s really nice and a lot of fun. You can run into trouble at night if you’re not smart (ie: stolen items, getting drugged, etc), but if you are smart (and it’s easy to be) than Kuta is a blast. Our friend Hidde joined us and so did Ben, who we met almost two months earlier in Vietnam. We found a sick bar called Espresso Bar that had a live band. This was hands down one of the funnest nights I had out in Asia. We jammed out to the classics and danced. I was forced to sing What’s Going On by Four Non Blondes because I requested it. It was not karaoke night? After making everyone’s ears bleed we got the best hotdog I’ve ever had in my life at a street stand. And by hotdog I mean Hotdogs. Another night we went to the infamous Sky Garden, a HUGE nightclub with four stories of different bars. This is where the Bali Bombings took place in 2002 and 2005, causing tourism to dramatically decline. The tourism industry has completely recovered since then. Caroline, who hiked Rinjani, joined us that night and we danced at the roof top bar sober all night because none of us could afford the drinks. It was a blast:)
One day, Martha, Ben and I rented two motorbikes to cruise to a temple two hours north. It wasn’t the right temple. But it was lovely. Ben almost got taken out by the biggest wave of the day! I also got pulled over by Bali police. Oh the corruption of Bali… I had to muster up tears to get out of paying $100 for not having an international license. Then he said I could just pay him 100,000 Rupiah ($10) and he’d let me go. So I did, but then another officer gave it back to me as I was leaving. How compassionate of him.
We decided the to go to Uluwatu Temple thinking that was the one we were looking for (it wasn’t). It took us like 5.5 hours to get there in Bali rush hour traffic. If I can drive in Bali rush hour traffic for five hours on the left side of the road complete with round-a-bouts then I can survive anything. Motorbikes weaving in and out of big cars and trucks… I had to follow suite. We got back to Kuta after dark but it was an awesome day. The best way to see Bali is via motorbike and next time I’m there I want to do the north coast on one. We put drove around for 8 hours that day.
We beach bummed in Kuta for a few days, said goodbye to Hidde and Caroline, then made our way to Sanur to Dive. Katherine and Alice were there. Mar and I read in the news about their shipwreck and were suprised to see them in Sanur. They lost everything but their credit cards and passports. They were pretty chill and casual in their description compared to the newspaper about the whole ordeal which was funny. They sat on the bobbing ship for ten hours, swam for 8 to the island with the erupting volcano, where they spent the day sitting around until they were rescued. No the waters were not shark infested…thanks dramatic newspaper. It was great seeing them again and comparing their story to the news! Essentially they were like “eh, no big deal, we’re alive.”
Anyways back to Diving. We took a boat from Sanur to Nusa Penida Island to dive Manta Point. WE DOVE WITH TEN MANTA RAYS. COOLEST DAY EVER!!! I love diving. I love it. I LOVE it. The manta rays were so majestic, like giant birds in the sea. You’d look up and see a huge shadow of one against the light and then you’d look to your right and there would be a big one coming at you. SICK. SICK. SIIIIICK. I still can’t get over how cool this dive was. The reef at the second dive was the most biodiverse and colorful that I have seen. Seriously, better than the Great Barrier Reef so far. We did not see any of the rare Mola Mola which was a bummer but the Mantas made up for it. Go get your diving certification people.
Diving was our last big hoorah in Asia. We flew back to Bangkok and spent a couple days doing our favorite things, like eating toasties and pancakes, getting changovers, doing a cooking course and walking Khao San Road. Our flight took us to South Korea for a 14 hour layover so we explored the city for a bit. When we got to LA we missed our flight so we stayed in a hotel, too exhausted to even leave it, we ordered pizza and fell asleep. Next thing we knew it, we were home.
UPDATE: I’M MOVING BACK TO NEW ZEALAND. This journey starts on January 28th in Edmonton, Canada. I will visiting Maddy and Des who I met at the very beginning of this trip in Thailand! We are going to visit Banff National Park! Then I will be visiting Megan and Anna in San Francisco for a few days before I depart on February 8th for Wellington!