Bali

Bali Staycation at Jannata Resort and Spa

Early on in the trip, Megan and I decided a staycation in every country is an absolute must. Her reasoning  may be a bit different than mine and I admit my reasons are a bit "high maintenance." BUT, sometimes you just want a soft cloud like bed with fluffy pillows, HOT water, full on water pressure, picturesque views, infinity pools and an American breakfast... all within a 24 hour period. I don't need this all the time. Once a month will suffice. Just like you all need a weekend getaway from your norm, so do I. 

I use booking.com for all my travel needs. Seriously, never will I ever use Priceline, Expedia or Travelocity again after dealing with their so-called "customer service." Booking.com is where it's at. They'll do everything they can to help you change your reservations, avoid cancellation fees, etc.  Because of this, I trust everything they tell me. Which is how I found Jannatta Resort and Spa on their recommended list of Ubud resorts. Let me tell ya, they didn't disappoint.  

When we walked onto the property we were greeted with a welcome drink. I'm not even sure what it was but it was green, tasted like cucumber and incredibly refreshing. We must have had that Bali glow because they also gave us two cold hand towels to wipe the grime from our face (and pits... stop judging.) 

All I did was throw them a smile and they upgraded us to the next best room, which happened to be a King size bed but whatever... I don't mind sharing with Megan. They took us to our room and I was instantly in heaven. A BATHTUB!!! That's all I cared about. My plan was to soak in that thing until my whole body looked like a giant prune. 

We still had a few hours left in the day so we changed into our swimsuits quickly and sat by the pool... and ordered food. Jannata, has really great poolside service. You ring a bell and someone quickly comes down eager to wait on you...but.... This infinity pool was a dream.  The views. I don't even know how to describe it. Layers of palm trees and rice fields, everything was emerald green. The pool water almost looked teal against the green landscape. Other than another couple we were the only ones there!! 

Jannata Resort Infinity Pool

We both had to work in the evening so the fun didn't last long but the hotel room itself offered a comfy place that allowed us to focus. Megan had calls much later than I so I made some time to soak in the tub. It was grand. 

Sticking to my normal routine, I woke up around 6 am and put in some work before going upstairs for breakfast. Megan continued to sleep but my stomach couldn't wait for her. I had a direct view of the pool while they served me every American breakfast dish under the sun. I'm feeling very sorry for anyone around me who may have watched me eat. I'm sure it looked like I was literally shoveling all the food into my mouth. So much for those charm classes, Mom. The breakfast started with fresh pineapple juice and a whole tray of coffee goods, a giant fruit plate, pastry breakfast with toast, croissants, and cinnamon rolls, a bowl of Kellogs cereal, and a plate of eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns. I had a little bit of everything. I'd go back to Jannata just for the breakfast. AND, it was included in our the price of our room which happened to be a whopping $120/night. Say what?!?! Should have stayed two nights. 

Partial breakfast. I must have been too excited to take a picture once the rest arrived :-)

Partial breakfast. I must have been too excited to take a picture once the rest arrived :-)

Megan arose from the dead just as I was finishing breakfast. We realized we should have spent more time in Ubud because the sun actually shines there. Who knew? The rest of our morning was spent by the pool before checking out at 1:00 pm. We had one more touristry stop before leaving Ubud and heading back to Canguu. 

If you ever take a 29-hour flight to Bali, please, for the love, stay at the Jannata Resort and Spa for a night. You won't regret it.

On our way back to Canguu, we stopped at Bali Swings. It's an Instagramers dream. Our expectation was to hop on the swing, enjoy the view, snap some pics and get out of there. Turns out, it's a full on business, offering several swings and will cost you $35 to get in (American dollars.) There may have been some groans but we thought... when in Roam. 

The place is set up with 5 different swings, some a bit calmer or less "dangerous" than others. It ended up being much more than a Kodak moment for me. While I was swinging I couldn't help but think about how lucky and blessed I am to be there in that moment, looking at that particular view, with an awesome new girlfriend, enjoying the perks of a flexible work schedule ... it was very much a pinch-me moment and one I won't ever forget.. that's due to the "moment" and not the 523 photos I have on my camera roll at the moment :-/. 

For those interested, the $35 comes with unlimited swing time, pictures in an awkward birds nest and a free lunch. Enjoy! 

Oh, Ubud

An hour and a half north of Canguu, Bali is a small town known as Ubud. You may recognize this name from the famous book/movie, Eat. Pray. Love. This is where Elizabeth Gilbert finds her zen and learns how to meditate and pray the Bali way. Hundreds of yogis from around the world go to Ubud for teacher training or yoga retreats. The vibe is very calm and every store smells like you’re walking into a yoga studio, sweaty with a hint of essential oils.

Every month, We Roam organizes a small excursion for the entire team and this month was a day trip to the Ubud Rice Terraces and Monkey Sanctuary. I was especially interested in the terraces because I’ve been watching the farmers beside our guesthouse and was curious about the process.  Also, growing up on a farm I always find it interesting to see the way of life for other farmers.

I made the mistake of dressing in a polyester romper this day, thinking I’d try to look cute for pictures. News flash… The sun actually shines in Ubud and it’s spicy. I was sweating bullets before we even started trekking.  The first view was breathtaking. Lush green palm trees and layers upon layers of terraces go deeper and higher than I could have imagined. We trekked all the way down and all the way back up.

The farmers had just harvested all of the rice and started prepping for a new round. Each plant is hand placed and in perfect straight rows.  I offered to help the farmers beside our guesthouse but my dad must have sent them a picture of my tilling skills – they kindly declined.

At all hours of the day I’ll see a farmer till the ground with a contraption that requires a lot of manual work, pushing this awkward machine through a foot of water. They make this look so easy AND it’s 85+ degrees with 100% humidity. No machinery, no GPS, no animals. Crazy.  I’ve seen up to 4 individuals hand planting a field, they’ll start in the late afternoon and by morning acres will be planted. They each wear rice hats that are big enough to shade their shoulders.  I admire their work ethic and perseverance. I have a hard time walking the streets to shop when it’s that hot, let alone plant an entire terrace. When I think of Bali, I’ll think of these rice terraces. They line every road and they seem to be the way of life and a main source of income for most families.

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Bona Kubu Rice Terrace

This rice terrace is located right beside the guest house I stayed in the month of January. I tried to help them but no dice. 

Our next stop on the We Roam excursion happened to be the Monkey Sanctuary. Before going I really hadn’t given it much thought and assumed it would be fun.. but certain individuals scared the crap out of me before going in. The rules 1: Hold your bag tight, or they’ll unzip it and steal your stuff. 2. Don’t look them in the eye, they’ll bite you 3. Don’t scream if they jump on you…. Uhh yea, ok. The first monkey I laid eyes on ended up jumping on some random guy, taking his water bottle and pouncing on a tree looking for his next victim. Like I said in my last post, they’re not cute. I think they look like rodents and some of them have FANGS!! I power walked through this sanctuary holding my back pack tight and right out the exit. I wasn’t about to let some monkey touch me and wanted my “free time” to start early so I could explore the market. Several other Roamers spent a great deal of time there. Why? Who knows. I was so thankful to be out of there and planned to never return.. or so I thought.

This is clearly a girl but her face screams old man. 

This is clearly a girl but her face screams old man. 

Megan, new Roamer friend, had several friends come into town and Ubud was at the top of their list, specifically a visit to the… you guessed it, Monkey Sanctuary. We had already planned an overnight stay in Ubud so we changed up our schedule to kill two birds with one stone.

On our way to Ubud we stopped at the famous Tegenungan waterfall. Unfortunately, Bali had received two horrible rain storms which caused a lot of flooding. We didn’t so much see crystal clear water but a waterfall that looked like chocolate milk. We weren’t allowed to swim as the current was so bad and we would have been swept away.  I’m not sure it was worth the stop so maybe if you ever decide to visit Ubud, go during their dryer season.

We took her friends back to the Rice Terraces. It was just as breathtaking the second time around. It was a joy to see how much the terraces had changed since visiting two weeks prior.  For anyone considering a trip to the Rice Terrace expect to pay 15,000 RP to get in and give a donation at two different stops throughout the terrace.

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On our way back from Gili T the day before, we were all talking about the famous “Cat Poo Coffee” so we made a group decision to try it out while in Ubud. We were under the impression a cat ate some coffee beans, did the deed and then some brewing took place. A deliquesce to the Balinese. We couldn’t leave Bali without trying “Cat Poo Coffee,” so we were on the hunt. Our driver took us to Merta Herum Lewak Coffee where we received a tour of the plantation and learned the proper ways Lewak Coffee is made. Let me give you a brief description of the process.

  1. A coffee plant produces what looks like small cherries and the coffee bean is inside, similar to the pit of an avocado.
  2. They feed these cherries to a Civit (Not a CAT!)
  3. The Civit … you know.. #2
  4. The coffee beans are washed, roasted and ground

I did try the coffee and I wouldn’t say it was any better than what I get at Starbucks or McDonald's. Yes, I said it and I’m not sorry. Now that I’ve had to reflect back I think this form of coffee creation is just cruel. The Civits are living in a cage and forced to eat the coffee beans (I’ve learned they also feed them bananas and other fruits.) I’m not a fan of any animal being kept in a cage, let alone for some freaking coffee that really isn’t that great. However, the plantation itself was gorgeous. They gave us a taste of all the different types of coffees and teas they produce from the plantation. It was quiet the experience.  I probably won’t drink Lewak coffee again but at least I can say I tried. I believe others in the crew really enjoyed it. 

After caffeinating our souls, the crew was hell bent on seeing the dern monkeys so I willingly went back. Megan’s friend, Nate, wanted to get a picture with a monkey so, he was teasing one with an empty banana peal. When the monkey realized there was nothing inside, he bit Nate. We were all cracking up. Nate was so concerned he had rabies the rest of the day. I’m pretty sure at one point he said “I feel faint… Do you think it’s rabies?” Can I say “Told you so?”

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At this point, the day had been long and it was time to relax. The guys had to fly out so they left and Megan and I went to Jannata Resort and Spa. Next blog post.

Nusa Lembongan Day Trip

Not going to lie, I'm terrible at big group outings. There is so much I'd like to see and with 5+ people, there is a lot of waiting around and everyone has different interests. However, sometimes the research and planning is not worth the time and going on a trip when everything is taken care of and your a fan of the agenda, is often times worth it. 

Our coworking space in Canguu, Dojo, organized a day trip to Nusa Lembongan, an island off the southern tip of Bali. I've heard this island is filled with beautiful beaches and turquoise water. I also thought it would be a great opportunity to meet people who also work as full-time digital nomads in the coworking space.

Megan and I met the crew at Dojo around 8:00 am, Saturday morning and took an hour bus ride to Depensar, Bali's largest city so we could get on a speedboat. It happened to be pouring rain so it was a bit disappointing right out of the gate when we were sporting raincoats opposed to bikinis. 

Speed Boat to Nusa Lembongan

Due to the crappy weather, the ocean was a bit rough. I'm really surprised I was able to hold myself together. Another member of on our boat wasn't so lucky. :-/ I believe the total time to get to the island was around 25-30 minutes. I felt sticky and gross from the humidity and being drenched from the rain.

Our first stop was Crystal Bay for a bit of snorkeling. If you look up pictures of Crystal Bay on a sunny day, the place is breathtaking. Not that it wasn't during our time but the sun always makes the water and beach look oh so much better. I was able to get some horrible shots with my GoPro. Turns out I can't hold the thing steady to save myself. Megan, on the other hand, was able to capture quite a bit. A lot of the footage used in my montage video was shot by her... Thanks, Megan!! 

We only flopped around in the water for 20 minutes before we were ready to be on land. I think many others were feeling the same because we left early and took the boat to Selambung where we were supposed to snorkel a bit more. At that point, we were all hangry so we found a restaurant/bar that overlooked the bay. Ladies and gentleman, Megan and I had bruschetta, split a cheeseburger and steakburger.... No regrets. It was heaven in my mouth. The burger had all the grease an American burger comes with. This totally backfired on me and gave me some horrible acid reflux. I literally cannot win on this island when it comes to my health. 

After lunch, we rented scooters so we could explore the island. I was able to split the scooter cost with a more experienced driver because.... well I'm not great. One of our poor group members had a little bit of a fender bender. He happened to be the only one wearing a helmet and wrecked right in front of a medical clinic. The irony. HA

For the next two hours, we hopped from place to place, only staying for about 5 minutes at each location. This was painful in many ways. 1. The sun was finally out. 2. The beaches were AMAZING and the water was so so blue. 3. The more time you're on a scooter, the more likely you are to have an accident.

Dream Beach was on point! Getting there was a bit rough but the water was crystal clear, the beach pristine and the perfect waves for some epic body surfing. The cliffs surrounding the beach were also stunning. I had to soak it all up in a matter of minutes but I'd definitely recommend spending A LOT of time there!

Dream Beach Nusa Lembongan

Devil's Tear was my favorite. It's not a beach you can hang out at but the views were breathtaking. It's one of those moments where you look out, have a profound thought and then forget it as soon as the anxiety sets in from the scooter. If I could have figured out how to get down to the ocean, I would have in a heartbeat but the cliffs were high!! The picture below really doesn't do the water justice. 

Nusa Lembongan Devil's Tear

Our last stop was at Mahama Point, a small beach club we could all relax at for an hour. Some of the guys went surfing, others drank a beer, some jumped off the giant cement block for a bargain price of 50,000 RP ($3.76) and others (me) attempted to catch an ounce of Vitamin D. Watching the crystal blue water crash over the surfers was really relaxing and a great change of scenery from Canguu beaches.

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Our time in Bali is slowly coming to a close. Heading to Phnom Penh in 5 days so I'll be doing some last minute cramming this week. Megan and I will be venturing off to Gili Islands in the morning and back to Ubud later this week. Three weeks in Bali is just not enough. I'd like to think it's possible for me to come back with loved ones for an extended period of time.  Get your passports ready, people!!! 

Thank you, Dojo for an amazing day trip! 

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.