One month ago, we set out for a week long vacation in an exotic paradise. There were many firsts for both of us: first time in SE Asia, first time in the southern hemisphere, new foods, first major American holiday alone, new culture, first time in a Hindu country (technically, Indonesia is Muslim, but Bali itself is one of its only Hindu islands), and a completely different style of vacation. That’s right – we’ve never purposefully gone somewhere to relax. We did have a few days of worthy exploration and note taking, but we booked more massages than museum/attraction reservations for once. In a sense, we hadn’t taken a lovely vacation together since our honeymoon in 2013.
But Elizabeth, that’s rubbish! You guys seem to travel a lot and have many adventures! (an actual quote)
You’re not wrong – we do love our adventures, yet most have been with friends, long day trips, or quick weekend jaunts to places that we’ve purposefully picked on the cheap side. Not to mention it’s Indonesia – our American dollar went far here. When your other half is working 12-14 hour days and late into the night and you’ve got a new job with conflicting hours, you never see each other. When you finally do, at least one of you can barely keep your eyes open while eating reheated leftovers. Long story short – this trip was much needed.
After landing from a 7 hour flight with Garuda Indonesia (amazing airline), we landed in Denpasar with our driver waiting to collect us. Given recent American events, we were questioned about our newest President-Elect – literally the last thing I wanted to discuss on vacation.
Once he dropped us off at this location, I knew we were in heaven:
Balinese High Tea
This was The Alena Resort in Ubud, Bali. It was located in a more remote part of Ubud, away from crowds and loud areas. It was quiet, in the jungle, and authentic – we actually had a snake in our room one night! At the time I certainly wasn’t pleased, but it’s a story we will always laugh about.
This 4 star resort was approx $50 a night – free breakfast/high tea, free yoga, free drivers, an attentive staff who helped us with any needs, and a spa with cheap services – you bet we spent most of our time here.
Two days out of the seven, we hired a driver to take us around the island. This is a very common mode of travel here, as people don’t normally rent cars nor is there a sensible bus/train system whatsoever around the different cities. On these rides, we….
Watched a traditional Balinese dance:
Visited an old Hindu Temple (required to be covered up, we were given sarongs at the entrance):
Took a dip in a beautiful waterfall:
Had lunch and Bintang with this view of Mt. Batur:
Tried Lewek Coffee (i.e. “poop stew”), the world’s most expensive coffee:
Visited another Hindu Temple, the famous Water Temple:
Saw the Rice Terrace fields (poor quality photo doesn’t give this place justice):
Played with some monkeys in the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary:
Enjoyed more fresh fruit and beverages:
Visited an old Royal Hindu Palace:
Keep in mind, these events occurred over the span of two days, which then resulted in days of sleeping in, enjoying fruit cocktails by the pool, having afternoon tea, and just enjoying being in each others’ presence.
On Thanksgiving, our driver Wayan took us to an amazing beach side restaurant for dinner. We landed a table with the most perfect view, and watched the sunset come across the water, the sky peppered in hues of pink, purple, and blue. It was magical. It was our first Thanksgiving alone, just the two of us together, all dressed up with our toes in the sand.
Did I mention we had freshly caught seafood for dinner? It took us ages to figure out how on earth to eat crab. When y’all give two Kansas kids seafood, a lesson should probably be involved somehow. Nevertheless, it was delicious, especially when washed down with Bintang.
Our last day we killed time by exploring Kuta Beach, which felt like we were walking in a picture book. It was gorgeous, clean, and not full of tourists! Since our flight was at 1:45am that evening, we walked along the beach, explored the town, saw a movie (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them for $8 total in a lovely movie theater with AC), booked a 3 hour couple’s massage, then taxied back to the airport.
We had such a lovely time, but part of us were ready to get back to Korea so we could snuggle with our cats. Funny enough, we landed in Korea with tans and tanks and shorts, only to be greeted with haze and snow. Some Koreans at the airport laughed at us because we did not bring any coats.
Bali was unlike any place I had ever been. Never had I truly learned so much about the Hindu culture, nor had a sincere appreciation for fresh fruit. I am constantly in awe of these new places we get to experience, and how we have so much fun together no matter where we are in the world.
Kisses & Kimchi,