Bali

Pura Lempuyang Luhur (Gates of Heaven)

"Anyone want to get up at 3:00 am, look at a temple, climb 1,700 stairs and stare at a volcano??" ... Blank stares... 

The moment I knew Bali was on the agenda I started a bucket list of places/things/activities I MUST do while here. At the very top of this list sits Lempuyang Temple. You'll also hear the first temple referred to as Gates of Heaven. Per the usual, I've read every blog and travel site looking for the best information to plan the trip.

Gates of Heaven at Sunrise, overlooking Mount Agung

Gates of Heaven at Sunrise, overlooking Mount Agung

Pura Lempuyang Luhur is located in east Bali, sitting on Mount Lempuyang 1,175 meters above sea level. There are seven temples that make up Pura Lempuyang, the largest and most grand being at the very top. A total of 1,700 steps to get there. The walk is meant to be very spiritual and I've learned Hindus think "those with a heavy heart" won't make it to the top. Complaining about the steep walk and hundreds of steps is looked at as weak and disrespectful. 

From Canguu, the trip is about 2.5 hours with traffic. I was able to find three other Roamers up for the adventure. Round trip we paid a total of 600,000 RP ($11/each). The driver picked us up, waited for us while we explored and dropped us back off at Bona Kubu. When we arrived to Mount Lempuyang we were greeted by staff and I was surprised to see we were the only tourists around.  My research clearly didn't pay off. Staff was quick to inform us our outfits were not going to suffice. Sarongs are a requirement to enter the temple and shoulders must be covered (this applies to men and women)... So much for wearing a cute outfit. Luckily for us, they're prepared for the unprepared and have sarongs available for rent at 10,000 RP (0.75) a piece. 

NOTE: I'd recommend taking your own sarong and scarf (to cover your shoulders.) It looked like they didn't have a lot so I assume during heavy tourist season they run out quickly. The entrance fee into the temple is a donation. I believe I donated 8,000 RP.

The temple itself is surrounded by mountains full of lush greenery. Tropical flowers are in full bloom and green moss coat each step and temple. The air is clean but still thick from humidity.

We left at 3:30 am so we could see the sunrise. In the afternoons it gets very cloudy and we were wanting a clear sky to view Mount Agung (the active volcano in Bali.) The volcano became active again on Monday so we could see the ash but it wasn't billowing out like it had in December when it erupted for the first time. The sun wasn't up for long before temperatures reached a near 80 degrees. I was really glad I took water with me but there were several stands selling snacks and refreshments. 

The most photographed portion of the temple is the very first stop (pictured above.) Around 30 steps to get to Gates of Heaven (no sweat.)  The view from down below and once we got to the top was incredible. Mother Nature happened to be on our side as it was extremely clear and we had a perfect view of Mount Aguna. For a short period of time as the sun was rising we could see the a pink glow over the volcano. Majestic doesn't begin to describe the scene. 

We all snapped some iconic pictures but I feel the images really don't do the gates and the view justice. Aside from roosters crowing (Do roosters crow? - I should know this) around the temple, I felt so at peace. There is a calamity about being so high in the sky and looking at a volcano that holds so much power but yet isn't at all frightening. I tried to mentally capture this view so I can hold onto it forever. It really is a little slice of heaven. 

We decided since we were already there we would venture to the next temple. Before entering they require each individual to be blessed. We individually go up, open our arms and they sprinkle holy water on us. It was a special moment for me. 

When walking past the Gates of Heaven there were a dozen men on motorbikes offering to give us a ride to the next stop for a small fee. Having no idea what we were getting ourselves into, we kindly declined. WOOF! Talk about a steep mountain climb. <-- I'm NOT complaining, just trying my best to describe the situation. I was out of breath and wishing I would have brought athletic shoes and paid for the motorbike ride. My Birks were not handling the walk well. On the walk up we were greeted by the two cutest and most playful puppies and ....monkeys.

Monkeys....  I don't like em. They're not cute and to be honest, they're jerks. You're not allowed to look them in the eye or they'll bite you, they get in your bags and steal your stuff and they're just....I have no words but know I'm scrunching my face in disgust. I held on to my backpack for dear life and power walked right past them. In my next blog post I'll share all about my experience at the Monkey Sanctuary in Ubud. The anxiety was so real! 

We ended up walking right by the next temple without even knowing it and started a massive stair climb. By this time my legs were on fire, I was out of breath and soaked from sweat. Such a pretty picture. We ended up spotting some locals to get a sense of where we were and how much longer it would take to get to the top. We only had our driver for 8 hours total so we were on a schedule. I'm pretty sure they laughed at us when they walked away.. like "These tourists have no idea what they're getting themselves into and they're already dead." I believe we had an extra 1KM and it was all stairs. OMG. We had a major pow wow as a group and I'm thrilled with our decision to turn around and go back. I've heard the views up top are epic but it was starting to get cloudy... The clouds are the only way I can justify why we didn't go.. it had nothing to do with the fact we were scared of 1K stairs and already smelly. Eye roll. We failed and it was probably due to the fact that I was complaining in my head the whole way to the second temple. 

I've read it takes 2 hours to hike up to the top and it may require one to be somewhat fit.. I'd like to think I'm fit but clearly not because the sad truth is, I woke up with sore calves (stop judging me.) I can't even imagine what my personal trainer back home would say! Sorry, Duke. The short climb we did was a rude awakening and I'm pretty sure a gym membership should be next on my to-do list. 

By the time we got back to the van we were all starving. At that point we didn't have breakfast and it was 9:00 am. I bought a sleeve of Oreos and a bag of white rice from a local. So random, but I was desperate. The Oreos were like heaven in my mouth. It didn't take long for me to put the whole sleeve down. 

On our way back to Canguu, we were only the road for a few minutes before I saw this amazing rice field. I remembered quickly a coworker showing an article while I was still at home. Apparently, a lot of people were seeking this field out to get an iconic picture of the volcano. As soon as I recognized the field both Kahlah (<-- she is one of our amazing program leads who happened to go with us. She's responsible for finding a driver and being a rock star photographer) and I asked the driver to stop the car. We quickly got out and started trekking through this rice field looking for the best view. The field was acres upon acres of rice all at different levels. We saw some locals waiving a red flag at us and at first, we thought they were upset with our trespassing but quickly realized they were happy and probably thought we were a little crazy. It was a bit muddy but the view was well worth muddy Birks. 

Mount Agung

I remember getting back into the van and thinking "I feel pretty good for getting up at 3 am." It wasn't 10 minutes later we had all passed out for the majority of the ride home. 

The scenery and temple were totally worth the 3 am wake up call and 5 hours on the road. I would do it again in a heartbeat. 

NOTE: for anyone considering a trip to Pura Lempuyang Luhur here is some advice to consider. 

  • You shouldn't have to pay a driver per person but a total fee and for a certain number of hours. We paid 600,000 RP for one van that fit 5 people. This gave us 8 hours of round-trip transportation and time at the site. 
  • If you get car sick, make sure to take some motion sickness. The ride up the mountain is really curvy and a few times I felt really sick. 
  • Go early in the morning, you'll have better views and beat the heat. Sunrise in January is around 6:00 am. However, if it's a clear day and you can get there for sunset I think it would be unbelievable. 
  • Take a backpack with an extra pair of shoes for the hike. Maybe throw a bottle of water or two in there as well but if you don't want to carry it take some $$ so you can buy snacks and drinks along the way. 
  • Pack a sarong or two. One for your rear and one to cover your shoulders. Make sure you have enough money to rent if you don't have one. 10,000 RP/person
  • While at Gates of Heaven there will be other people around. You need to be aggressive (without being rude of course) to get a picture or people will keep jumping in front of you. 
  • Go with an open mind and prepare to hike!! 
  • The rice field is on your way to the mountain. You can't miss it. Make sure you ask a local if you can enter. There were several people attending to the field and they'll welcome you with open arms. 
  • Don't be afraid of the volcano. If the locals are there, you should be too. 
Day Trip to Pura Lempuyang Luhur

Bali Is Life

Saturday marked a week of life in Bali and in all honesty, I feel like I've been here for a month. Every morning I wake up and think "Is this real life?" To sum up, Bali is my jam. I love everything about it and will be returning here someday soon for a period of time. 

Outside of work and keeping up with loved ones, I have very few responsibilities. No need to clean, grocery shop, cook, or do laundry. My errands consist of going to Dojo (coworking space), getting a massage, some sun and keeping up with this blog... I'm assuming this will all wear off and change next month but for the next two weeks, I'm taking full advantage of the free time I have. There really isn't a typical day as every day has been so different. I have a lot of trips coming up to play more of the "tourist" role but for my first week as a Roamer, I've been getting to know the town of Canguu and everything it has to offer. 

Everyday for the past week I've taken some time to walk or scoot down the main street in our little town. Energy and life on Bali streets is unlike anything I've ever experienced and I'm soaking it all in. Girls from all over the world are walking around in swimsuit tops, high waisted shorts, flowy dresses and the best accessory, deep tans and beachy waves. No one wears makeup or curls their hair. It's full on all natural. The guys all look like they came straight from the surf, caked with zinc on their faces and hair a mess. Unique boutiques, restaurants, surf shops and spas line the streets. Temples are a dime a dozen, all ornate and bring so much character to the town. You better believe I've shopped at ALL the stores and have found several unique items (all made in Bali) that I'll be able to wear for a long time. Blush, mustard yellow, burnt orange and the whitest whites seem to be the fashion trend.  Every place having its own unique twist to the Bali lifestyle with different variations of lush tropical gardens and decor that only enhance the feeling of being in paradise.

You can't walk into a restaurant without seeing smoothies, cold-pressed juices, acai bowls and kombucha on the menu. Everything is healthy and exactly what you'd assume a surfer or yogi would want to eat. I however, order the one thing on the menu that is deep fried and loaded with carbs (you'll see more than a few pasta dishes in my photos below.) A lot of the restaurants have caught on to western diet fads. After eating a Paleo brownie I've decided to have the boyfriend bring me some cosmic brownie Debbie Cakes next month (Thanks Babe!) The food here is vibrant and fresh, every dish looking like a piece of art. While dining, there really isn't a distinction between inside and outside, as most of the restaurants have an open concept, letting the island breeze come in (Thank God! I'm a sweaty mess all the time... that Bali Glow). I could probably live here for 6 months before eating at the same place twice, so many options and I haven't scratched the surface. 

The streets are filled with locals and tourists scooting to their next destination. These scooters often times have an entire family or a 20-foot ladder hanging from the side. So many are honking as they try to navigate (this is putting it nicely) around the slow tourists <-- Me. But scooting around the island has given me a sense of independence as I don't have to rely on anyone else to get around. However, it's very dangerous and makes me a nervous wreck. Four girls have had accidents!!!! Skin has been lost and large bruises have been formed. Knowing I could be next keeps me on high alert. It's a beautiful thing that 60-minute massages are $9 here in Bali to break up all the tension brought on by my Scoopy. For those wondering, I always wear a helmet and try to avoid driving in the rain. 

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Trip to La Laguna

We had to take a shortcut to get to La Laguna. The road is wide enough for traffic to go one way. The locals will ask you if you've seen a car tip over on this short cut.. what does that tell ya? Needless to say.. I was scared and almost went into the rice field more than I care to admit. 

You can't walk (or scoot) a couple feet without tripping on a stray dog. They're everywhere and very street smart. They walk the streets like they own the town and very aware of traffic. I've noticed several dogs look both ways before crossing. My heart breaks for them but they seem to be fending for themselves just fine. I've found an organization here in Bali who work to feed, spay/neuter, and treat stray dogs. Check out BAWA (Bali Animal Welfare Association) if you'd like to know more. I'm extremely passionate about animals and hope to work with a few nonprofits in the cities I'll be visiting over the next six months. More details on this later.

Both weekends I've spent some time at different beach clubs. They're a popular choice, as the beaches here aren't that nice. I have yet to see a clean beach with clear turquoise water like you'd assume. The sand is black and when wet, it looks like a black glitter bomb went off. The rainy season causes trash to line the beaches (there is a scientific explanation, I just don't know...), a problem they're constantly fighting this time of year. The beach clubs create an excellent alternative to laying directly on the sand. I tried to be a beach bum last weekend and ended up attracting two stray dogs who thought my blanket looked comfy cozy. Exhibit A. 

The Lawn, La Barisa and La Laguna are popular beach clubs to watch the sunset while sipping on a Bintang, the local beer. Each club is lined with colorful bean bags, umbrellas, and views of the infinity pool and beach. I've enjoyed watching sunset surfers catching a few more waves before dark. I'm envious of their skills and keep kicking myself for not heading out myself. I look around and everyone is laid back, relaxed and I feel so at peace. 

 

There is so much for me to explore here in Canguu and the island of Bali. I have yet to surf, practice yoga, visit a temple or find a waterfall. I've been trying to soak in every bit of sunshine ... but crispy doesn't begin to describe how my skin feels so maybe now is the time to visit those temples and steer clear of the intense Bali sun. The picture below is one day in the sun and yes, I've applied more than enough sunscreen. 

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Taking donations for aloe

This week I will be visiting Pura Lempuyang, a temple two hours north. It's home to the Gates of Heaven, which has been at the top of my "Must See in Bali List" and also overlooks Mount Agung (the active volcano.) I will also be taking a Balinese cooking class, visiting two of the famous islands and taking a second trip to Ubud. 

While we're all enjoying Bali, the majority of us are starting to plan our bucket list adventures for Cambodia. So far I have a special visitor, a day trip to Koh Rong, Angkor Wat and a weekend trip to Bangkok, Thailand with a short island visit to Phi Phi Island. Pinching myself. 

 

 

We Roam: Bona Kubu, Canggu, Bali

In terms of living space, We Roam has set the bar high here in Bali. There are currently 12ish roamers staying in Bona Kubu, a popular guesthouse here in Canggu. The remaining roamers are staying at two other locations right down the street. 

The staff has been super friendly. We've learned here in Bali everyone has the same name depending on your birth order. So, all first borns are named, Wayan, which makes differentiating everyone extremely hard. The owner of our guest house refers to himself as "Spunky Monkey." He and his staff have been very accommodating to our crew and helpful as we try to navigate Bali for the first time.  

Bona Kubu has two large guesthouses with 8 individual rooms in each. We all have our own bedroom/bath and share a balcony. When I walk out of the guesthouse I turn to my right and see lush tropical greens which happen to be home to a few roosters (see first photo below). Let's talk about these roosters.... They will forever be the death of me.  They get me up in the morning around 4am.. but the silver lining is.. my day is starting at 6am. Anyone one who knows me knows I'm NOT a morning person... nor a night owl. My prime time is around 11 am. HA.. Anyway, I'm an animal lover but some mornings I would like to put those dern roosters in a cage and drive them to a different farm. :-/ I might be a born and raised farm girl but roosters were never a thing. 

When I turn to my left, the balcony overlooks this amazing pool. I've had to use this lovely perk more often than not to cool off. I'm calling this my "Bali Bath." As mentioned in my last post, I've been working from 6-9am most mornings while lounging in front of the guesthouse swimming hole. We have breakfast offered to us which consists of hot tea, coffee, toast and fresh fruit. This has been helpful as we don't have kitchens and eat out for nearly every meal. I wouldn't mind this if I only ate 2-3 meals a day..However, I like to eat 4-5 so this has been a bit challenging for me. Still trying to figure out how to maintain normal caloric intake without feeling like I live at a cafe. 

Aside from the pool some of my favorite perks have been housekeeping and working A/C. Can I get an AMEN?!?! The staff looks after our rooms everyday.  When I get home from the day's activities my bed is made, I have a clean towel and my floor is clean. Feeling spoiled and blessed. We can also get our laundry done by taking it to the front desk. They will wash, dry and fold everything for a small fee.. This is why you travel to SouthEast Asia. I hate laundry. ;-)

As you can see in my pictures below my shower and toilet are in the same small space. It's been challenging to not soak the toilet paper as I take 2-3 showers a day. Eye roll. I find this a bit odd but I'm NOT complaining. A working toilet on an island. Score! ... Also, please don't mind the mess as you peruse the photos. 

Our space is also located in the middle of Canggu, which means everything is a short walk or scooter ride away. We have several amazing restaurants and boutique stores within walking distance. I've already checked out most of the strip and trying to eat someplace new for every meal. 

I'm anxious to see what our accommodations will be like in Phnome Pehn, Cambodia. City life will be a very different vibe and I'm sure I'll miss having a pool and beach so close. 

If you're headed to Bali in the near future and would like to stay in Canggu, I highly recommend Bona Kubu. You can book here. 

We Roam: Coworking Space, Canggu, Bali

I can now claim the title of an official "digital nomad." It's a lifestyle choice and I can totally see why many individuals around the world choose to work remote, hopping from country to county. I can already tell my time working is more productive and the environment creates a space that inspires. Perfect for any marketer. 

The number one priority of my world tour is keeping my job. Without employment, there is no way I'd be apart of this awesome program. A big piece of the program is joining a coworking space in every city we live. We Roam has done an excellent job organizing and finding one of the best coworking spaces in the world and it happens to be right here in Canguu, Bali...known as Dojo. 

Currently, Dojo has over 400 members from 60 unique countries. People from all walks of life and every career you can think of work from this space 24/7. A lot of entrepreneurs, freelancers, and individuals employed by American based companies. It's equipped with several different sitting areas, a pool (which I'm currently staring at), tasty cafe and smoothie shack, private skype booths, and air-conditioned conference rooms (this is a must as I'm currently sweating from the crazy humidity.) The wifi here is excellent, allowing me to join conference calls at any hour and keep working just as efficiently as I would back home.  

Dojo is located a short 5-minute scooter (more on the Scooters later) ride from my apartment (and more on the new home later too.) It's surrounded by restaurants and shops, all of which I plan to check out at some point in the next two weeks. 

My favorite perk is the 5-minute walk to Echo Beach, known for its surf. For the past couple days, I've come to work in my swimsuit and leave for a 30-minute break at the beach. I take a quick dip and walk back. I've found drying off to be a challenge as the humidity is so high. I'm taking full advantage of the beach being so close. The next time I'll have a beach in close proximity will be April when I'm visiting Florianópolis, Brazil. 

I'm still trying to figure out what the best work schedule is for me and those I'm working with back home. For the last couple days, I've been working from 6am-9am at the apartment and then getting back online around 6 pm so I can work some East Coast hours. I'm assuming every day will look a little different as I'm still adjusting to jet lag. 

My company has been extremely supportive of my world tour and flexible as I'm on an opposite schedule. Being 13 hours ahead will require me to be on calls late at night but the location and experience are hands down worth the sacrifice.