Day 1: Wednesday, June 25

I'm laying here in bed trying to fight off the tiredness and jet lag since it's not even 7 pm bali time, so i decided to write a little journal so I can remember what goes on each of the days I'm here.

Well we officially spent a full day on airplanes getting to Bali...which had us wondering why we didn't pick somewhere much closer by the end of our flights. We had a layover in Taiwan for about 4 hours where we went exploring and checked out all the cute shops. Melinda got some tea and a sandwich and we paroosed all the knick knacks they had to offer. I can't believe I'm really in Asia. I've always wanted to go, but I never expected Bali to be my first destination. 

We arrived at the airport in Bali and did the usual: get a visa, get your bag, go through customs. We exit the baggage claim area to see a huge herd of people standing there with little papers with random names on them. After exchanging my dollars to Rupiah, we made our way towards the crowd and spotted Melinda's name. The man holding it was smiling and giggling in his skirt (sarong) when we walked up to him. He introduced himself as Gun, short for Guntur, and started chatting with us about Bali and where we are from until our driver showed up. The driver's name was Ben, and it was a relief to see him holding two cold water bottles in his hands for us. (We're very nervous about getting a dreaded case of "Bali Belly" which is probably unavoidable.) We drove for a little over an hour through the bustling streets of Bali and out into the less crowded cities while Gun told us all about the island and himself; how he is Buddhist and a vegetarian which I thought was awesome. There are kites flying all over the sky here as a symbol of good luck. Some of them were even bigger than cars with long streaming tails. We made it to our hotel and they greeted us with some fruit juice, which I sadly didn't dare to drink. I was sticking to bottled drinks for now. The kind older man at the front desk got us checked in and a young guy showed us to our room. It is beautiful. We are sleeping in what used to be a house for royalty if I remember correctly. Its called Puri Taman Sari which translates to something like beautiful royalty gardens. We have two twin beds with a big canopy (mosquito net) over the top and little flowers on our beds. The most interesting part would have to be that the shower and toilet are outside in the little yard attached to our room. It was quite an experience using the bathroom out in the open, but when in Rome, eh? The shower should be even more interesting. 

After settling into our room and resting for a bit, we went in search of dinner so that Melinda could go to sleep for real after. The jet lag is hitting her harder than it's hitting me at this point. We saw some people hanging out around the grounds and eventually spotted some people sitting down for dinner, so we wandered over in that direction. Our friendly waiter informed us that we have a preplanned set menu for dinner as part of our tour, but Gun had told the hotel earlier that I am a vegetarian and that Melinda is allergic to shrimp. We ordered a couple of bottled waters and waiting for the rest of our food. I was perfectly entertained by a couple of lizards that were crawling around on the lamps hanging over the family next to us. We had a vegetable soup to start before our giant entree plate. Our meal came on a huge plate decorated with some sort of leaves. There was a vegetable spring roll, some tuna fish something, a fried thing of corn, some white rice, and something that was definitely a meat product which I bypassed when having dinner. After, they brought us a little plate of fresh fruit which I am still completely paranoid to eat, but I decided to chance it...mostly because I was worried about being rude. Looking back I realize I was being crazy about what I wasn't eating, but it's better to be overly cautious I guess. We finished dinner and headed back to our room to get some much needed beauty sleep. We fell asleep to the sound of bugs, music, singing, motorcycles, roosters, and rain. 

Update: it's 3:45 am and Melinda and I woke up to a really strange creature noise. I'm telling myself that it's a frog or lizard so that I'm not too scared to go outside to the bathroom. We're both wide awake now and listening to the rain. 

Day 2: Thursday, June 26th

Melinda and I managed to get back to sleep after chatting for a few hours in bed and woke up just in time for breakfast. We walked back over to the outdoor dining area and took a seat at the same table we had the night before. A woman came over and pointed out the buffet breakfast of toast, fruit, and coffee or tea as well as took our egg order. We had a cliche "western" breakfast and I was very thankful for it. The view from our table was so beautiful in the day time. 

After breakfast, we came back to the room to get prepared for the day. We packed our bags and headed out to explore the hotel grounds. We walked over to the rice fields and around a large glass-walled building near the dining area. We then went in search of the pool, which was a little difficult to find. We passed by tons and tons of offerings that the Balinese put out every day on amazing concrete sculptures. We kept walking around for a while until we decided to go back to the pool. Melinda had a swim while I dipped my feet in the water. It's was very refreshing on such a hot day. Our activities with our guide don't start until the afternoon, so we came back to our room. We sat on the patio for a little while and Melinda bravely tested out the outdoor shower.

We decided to try making offerings because it is one of the activities the hotel offers. The man we met on the first night, Bret, took us to a covered area where we have seen women making things out of palm leaves at all hours of the day. Bret would show us how and then we would copy him. We each got to make four. It was definitely difficult, but it was really cool to be able to take part in that. The women at our hotel make 100 offerings every day for all of their temples.

After making the offerings, we grabbed our stuff and headed out again with Gun and our driver Ben. Our first stop was a royal temple called Taman Ayun next to the former palace. Gun explained the history of the place and of the royal family while I tried to snap photos of all the little stray cats running around. Then it was a short drive to the next temple we were seeing. 

Tanah Lot is a temple built in the rocks along the coast. It is only accessible during low tide. There was a long, touristy market leading up to the coast and there were several other temples nearby in the cliffs too. We walked to one of the smaller temples along the cliff to get the best view of Tanah Lot and the huge crowd of tourists swarming around it. We walked even further past this small temple and down some giant steep stairs to reach the black sandy beach. After a few minutes of walking around the beach and touching the Indian Ocean, we went back up the stairs and up close to Tanah Lot. I saw a sign above a cave that read Holy Snake and was very curious about it. Gun said that there are extremely poisonous snakes inside the cave that people go and touch. The water snakes are apparently really docile in the day, but come out at night to eat fish. After he told us a little more about the temple, we parted ways for a bit and Melinda and I went off to watch the sunset. The sky was covered in clouds so we had no luck seeing the sunset, but we did meet a couple of Balinese girls practicing English who hung out with us for a bit. We practiced speaking with them and got to know them and took a few photos. They had friends who were pretty shy except for one guy who asked to take a photo with me too, even though he didn't talk to me at all. People have been staring at me all day, and I can't figure out if it's because I have red hair or am so pale or what. Large groups of school children stood and blatantly stared at me today while I was listening to Gun at the royal temple. Since we couldn't see the sunset, we walked back through the market to find Gun. Melinda found a tea place that had boba, which she was very happy about. After the temple, we went back to our hotel and had dinner. We were able to choose off the menu this time. Melinda had a chicken satay dish with peanut sauce and I had a tempeh dish with peanuts and greens. We finished it off with some tasty chocolate ice cream and headed to bed. 

Day 3: June 27

We left Puri Taman Sari this morning after I used the strange outdoor shower and packed my things. We grabbed a quick breakfast before we left; I had a pancake and Melinda had deep fried bananas. We headed toward the mountains in the car and stopped along the way for some scenic photos. We knew that there was a 1 hour trek through the rice fields scheduled for today, but we did not know what we were in store for. It started out as an easy walk along a cement path which suddenly turned into climbing down hills through the mud and bushes. We were in no way prepared for this. Melinda fell pretty hard on her butt in some mud, a fire ant latched itself onto my foot, and we were all sweating buckets. I am happy to say we made it through to the other side with only minimal damage and looking back, it was a pretty awesome experience.

We were very happy to be back in the air conditioned car to recuperate for a little while. We had lunch at a popular honeymoon hotel called Strawberry Hill, named after the strawberry fields surrounding it. We were the only ones there, since it is not high season in Bali yet. (On a side note, we have seen plenty of other tourists when we are out sight seeing, but no other Americans really. It's strange.) For lunch, we were supposed to have a meal made of goat meat, but Gun talked to the waitress and told her that I am vegetarian, so they made me a curry dish instead. We started the meal with yummy fruit juices, orange for me and pineapple for Melinda. Then we had veggie spring roles. Next, I had curry and Melinda had her goat or lamb soup...we're not sure which. We finished it off with a bowl of fresh strawberries and some traditional Balinese ice cream. The taste of the ice cream was so familiar that we spent most of dessert trying to figure out what it was and finally realized it tastes just like vanilla pudding. Gun and I have been talking a lot about being vegetarian since he is, and he has also been telling us about tasty Balinese snacks, and he surprised us when we got back in the car with a chip-like thing made of tempeh. 

Our next stop was a market in a Muslim compound where Melinda bought some beautiful souvenirs after bargaining with the stall owner. We only made it to one of the shops because everything inside was so beautiful. In no time we were onto our next stop. 

We parked the car and started walking through a big open park towards a lake. There was a big stone gate between us and the lake, but we didn't go through it at first. We turned left to go see a Buddhist shrine and took a roundabout way to the temple. On the Buddhist temple and several other places in Bali, we have seen the swastika symbol and been a bit concerned, so eventually I asked what it means. Gun explained that this symbol represents a certain chakra that is near our tail bones. The chakra is represented by a cross that looks like a plus sign, and the reason it turns into the swastika shape is because the chakra energy is spinning so quickly to the left that the cross bends in the wind...or something along those lines. It is actually a positive thing in this culture and Hitler adopted it because it symbolizes victory among many other things. I'm sure I am not explaining this correctly or very clearly, but that's what I took from learning about it today. This has been my favorite place so far. I love the places where there is water for some reason. We came up to the lake with the most amazing temple sitting on it called Ulun Danu Beratan. It had two pagoda buildings, one with three pagodas and one with eleven. The three pagodas represents the trinity of Hinduism and the eleven represents the volcano on the island where their gods are thought to live, Mt. Agung, like mount Olympus in Greek mythology. We then walked back through the large gate that we saw coming in. Most of these gates that we have seen all over Bali look like one piece of stone has been cut down the middle, and Gun explained that this symbolizes yin and yang. 

After the temple on the lake, we started to our hotel. Our driver stopped suddenly on a steep road to point out monkeys sitting on a turnout. I got out and Gun and I fed them crackers, the whole time trying to stop smiling since the monkeys see showing teeth as aggressive. We so stopped high up in the mountains on our drive to look down upon "twin lakes". There was a beautiful panoramic view of the lakes and several groups of people were there looking at them too. There was a man at this viewpoint with two bats, a snake, and an iguana that he tries to get tourists to take a photo with, but Melinda and I did not go for it. There are also swallows all over the island that like to rush full speed at your face...I think they find it funny to see me spastically flail around every time something flies inches in front of my face. 

We arrived at our hotel and discussed plans for tomorrow. After today's "light trek", we decided to change the itinerary for tomorrow since there was supposed to be a trek that was twice as difficult. After seeing our room, we explored the grounds a little bit and walked through the jungle, but after remembering all the stories of wild boars, tigers, rabid monkeys, Komodo dragons, and scorpions, we decided to head back. I feel cliche for using the word beautiful so much here, but there is really no other way to describe it. Our hotel, besides all the construction going on, is really something special. We are up in the mountains overlooking tree covered hills. There is a running waterfall and koi pond right outside our window and once again our bathroom opens up into least we are on the second floor this time so there is privacy now. 

Also, I think I learned today why people have been staring at me. There is a legend I'm bali that sometimes people get lost for long periods of time in another dimension. In this dimension, there are the same people that exist in our dimension, but they have red hair and no Cupid's bow. Balinese people get stuck in this dimension for some time and sometimes even fall in love with these alien people before eventually returning to their real dimensions and families. I think people are staring at me because of this legend and my red hair. Pretty weird, but I feel better now that there is an explanation to why everyone is staring...or it's just because I am incredibly pale and funny looking haha. 

Day 4: Saturday, June 28

I woke up at 5 this morning and could not get myself to go back to sleep, so I stayed in bed until 6:15 and then went out on the patio to watch the sunrise. Melinda was up at that point too, so we both got ready for the day and packed up our things. We left our luggage in our room and went to the restaurant/ lobby to have breakfast and soak up some wifi while it lasted. I ate pineapple pancakes with fresh fruit and tea while looking out over the tree-covered mountains. I was able to talk to my family for a bit and post some photos before it was time to go. Two young guys rushed to or room to get our luggage and we hopped in the car to start the day's adventures. 

Our first drive was really short; just up the hill from the hotel. The long trek that was previously scheduled for today was adjusted to a shorter one, which was exactly what we needed. We walked down a steep cement path while motorcycles flew past us. At the bottom of the path, after walking a bit, we came to a huge waterfall. We admired it for a minute and snapped a few photos before heading back up the hill to the car. 

We drove a little ways to get to our next stop, which was some natural hot springs. There was a row of shops leading up to the hot springs with some pretty aggressive sales ladies. It made me quite uncomfortable when one of them was literally pressed up against me trying to sell me some fabric. We changed in a little changing station and locked up our stuff in a locker before heading to the pools. We started off in the biggest pool which was very slippery. There were a gaggle of little kids splashing around in the pool, and I was trying my hardest not to get water in my mouth, so I got out and went up to the smaller pool which was slightly warmer. Since it is so hot here and the sun was beating down on us, we didn't stay long. We were back in the car yet again and headed to a Buddhist monastery. 

We arrived outside the monastery and Gun wrapped Melinda and I in sarongs before we could enter. Melinda got a fancy dress wrap and I got a skirt. Gun told us about some Buddhist teachings while we walked around the grounds up some incredibly tall stairs. When we had reached the highest point in the monastery, Melinda said she thought she might pass out so we went back in the air conditioned car and I tried to force her I drink water. Luckily our next stop was easy on us.

After driving for a while, the road started getting really bumpy. Gun and Ben both stuck their heads out the window to ask directions from people on the street and I started getting nervous that we were lost. After driving along the beach so far that the road turned into gravel, I was pretty positive we were lost. We suddenly pulled up to a sign that said Kali Manik Eco Resort and my faith was restored. We could see the restaurant through some trees right along the beach. We walked up and it was empty except for one table covered in flowers and candles for us. Melinda said it reminded her of an episode of The Bachelor which was actually very accurate. The restaurant was beautiful with a very tall woven roof and a tree coming through the middle of the restaurant. When we walked up, three adorable dogs came and greeted us. We were sat at our table and Gun explained what we would be having for lunch. The Eco resort serves all organic food and I was really looking forward to it. I always get a different meal than Melinda because I am eating vegetarian when we eat out. For this meal, I was given some naan with several different sauces to choose from. Then I was given a bean curry with naan, rice, and falafel. To finish, I had a guava spring roll with vanilla ice cream on the side. The food was delicious, but the atmosphere made it that much better. This was by far my favorite meal of the trip. Melinda and I couldn't help but give the doggies some love while we were there, and a big frog also greeted us during lunch. 

After we ate as much as we possibly could, we came to our next hotel called the Aneka Lovina. Lovina is the name of the region we are in now; it is a combination of the words love and Indonesia. Our hotel has a large driveway to the elaborate lobby. We checked in and were driven my a golf cart to our room, which thank goodness has an indoor bathroom for once. No more having to look over my shoulder for spiders while I use the least for one night we can relax without worrying about too many insects. Interestingly enough, this is the only hotel we stayed at that did not have a mosquito net. After getting settled into our temporary home, we took a stroll down to the pool, restaurant, and beach. We passed the restaurant as we approached the pool. It looked lovely and clear, and we got very excited to swim. We continued down to the black sand beach, which was a poor decision. There were a lot of people down on the sand and all of them were trying to sell us something. After being offered boat rides and snorkeling, two women came and tried to sell us jewelry. After insisting that I did not need jewelry, I told them that we were going back to go swim. They stayed on the beach and asked us to come back. Luckily, it was much calmer at the pool and we spent a good amount of time swimming around. People were noticeably staring at me here too, which made me uncomfortable, but I try to ignore it. The stares I have gotten at this hotel are less of a confused stare and more of a creepy stare. 

We asked to have dinner at 8 tonight since we had such a big late lunch, but Melinda already fell asleep at 6:30. Jet lag is still hitting us hard, but I'm trying to hold out for the both of us. I woke Melinda up for dinner, but neither of us were hungry. They try to feed us way too much here. We walked out the door on our way to the restaurant and there were dozens of geckos covering the walls and ceilings of our hotel. They're so cute. At dinner, we skipped appetizers and dessert and just got entrees. Melinda had three bites of her lemon chicken and couldn't eat more because she was feeling sick. I got halfway through my tempeh with soya sauce and had to call it a day. We went to sleep quickly that night. 

Day 5: Sunday, June 29

We packed our bags (hoping that no geckos had snuck into them while we slept) and headed out. We started our day by stopping at a very crowded market and wandering through the narrow hallways. We found some very interesting foods, items, and people. The first thing that shocked me was a giant tuna just waiting to be butchered. Shock number two came when I saw little chicks dyed all different colors. Shortly after that, a little boy saw me carrying around my camera and his mom yelled for me to take a photo of him while he gave me a cheesy little smile. We squeezed our way through stalls and stopped to purchase some fabric before hopping back in the car. 

Next we went to the Beji temple in the north of Bali. It was a very quiet temple that is not often visited. It was very beautiful, just like everything in Bali has been, and very peaceful. We walked around hearing more Balinese legends and observing the priest taking care of the temple. The temple is dedicated to the spirit that looks over irrigation and farming. 

We then took some windy roads up into the mountains to get a great view of one of Bali's volcanos. This one is called Mt. Batur, which lady erupted in 2002. This is not the largest volcano in Bali, but it is the most active. We had lunch at a restaurant overlooking the volcano and a crater lake near the bottom of it. Our lunch was a really tasty buffet and Melinda got fresh coconut juice to go with it. We were also able to buy postcards there for US dollars, which was strange. 

Instead of visiting the second temple that was planned for today, Gun changed up the itinerary and took us to an old traditional village. When we arrived, we walked into the bamboo forest outside of the village first and eventually circled back around to the center of town. The town is built along one long street and the houses are built in the traditional style with bamboo roofs that have to be replaced every five years. There were tons of young Balinese kids here on a field trip exploring the village like we were. 

After seeing this village and the way they live, we hopped back into the car and had an hour long drive to our hotel, which is amazing as to be expected. The first thing I noticed when we got there was the beautiful infinity pool right outside our room. I got to the room first with the luggage and lost Melinda along the way. Little did I know she was off making a massage appointment for that afternoon. We lounged for part of the afternoon before Melinda had her massage scheduled. When 4:00 rolled around, I walked over to the meeting place with her and we asked if we could both get massages. We had seen the massage room earlier (and someone inside it...oops) and I noticed that there were two tables. She told us that I could get a massage too and we both followed her down to the bottom edge of the resort near a waterfall. I got a Balinese massage, which was the best massage I've ever had, and Melinda had a relaxation massage. After an hour of happiness, we walked back to our rooms and threw on our swim suits to get in the pool. The water was freezing, so we just dipped our feet in, but it was very refreshing. 

We had some time to kill before dinner, so we say out on our little secluded patio and played cards while I stared at the geckos in the ceilings. We have been quite adventurous with Balinese food since we've been here, so we took it easy for a night and had pasta and ice cream. We slept afterwards. Jet lag will not leave us alone and we have both been up at 5 am pretty much every day, but I just continue to lay snugly in bed under the mosquito nets until sunrise. 

Day 6: Monday, June 30

We woke up and had a quick breakfast of eggs and some homemade pastries before heading out in our final trek of the trip. We were very nervous for it, since the first trek through the rice fields was pretty difficult for us. Gun said that this time would be flat, which made me breathe a sigh of relief. We drove a little ways until we saw a guide sitting on the side if the road. He was our local guide for the day. He started out by showing us a local textile workshop and we were able to see how the women made the fabrics. We tried on traditional Balinese sarongs and also bought some fabric from these hard working ladies. 

We were soon handed a bamboo stick and hat, and I knew our adventure was about to begin. We stared off down a road and over a bridge which was easy. We stopped under a cacao tree where our local guide smashed open a cacao nut with my bamboo stick. We tasted the inside of the nut, and it was surprisingly fruity and delicious, although weird-looking and slimy. It didn't taste anything like chocolate. From there, the trek got a little more difficult. We went off the road and through the rice fields, they started out flat at first and the first 20-ish minutes were relatively easy. The farther we went, the bigger the holes got and the slipperier the ground got. Of course I managed to gracefully fall down a hill face first and totally scrape up my knees. The lovely guide quickly helped me up and had washed off my knees before I even realized what had happened. We went a little farther and a snake jumped out from in front of me into one of the canals which almost scared the pants off me. We were getting towards the end of the hour long trek and the path got very steep and covered in plants. We made it safely down the giant hill to the river, which we waded across. That part was easy. Then we went back up the other side of the hill which was incredibly muddy. I lost my Toms several times in mud puddles. We were exhausted when we finally reached the end of our journey. In the rice fields there was a little cover set up with some benches under it. They had a fresh coconut cracked open for us to drink with a lime in it (because you put the lime in the coconut...get it). Our local guide washed off Melinda's shoes and legs and we sat down to eat some sweet potato and drink some coconut juice. Gun was asking if we wanted to try plowing the fields the traditional way by steering two cows. I said no thanks, but that I would pet the cows. I walked over to pet them and suddenly someone had taken my shoes off and was helping me down into the giant mud pit that was the rice paddy. I had to sit on a piece of wood and trudge through mud while the cows walked in front if me and a local farmer yelled directions at them. The cows were whipping mud into my face and hair, and one stopped to do it's business right in front of me. Definitely not the most hygienic thing I have ever experienced, but I'm glad I did it. Melinda passed on the opportunity. I tried getting out if the mud when the farmer called me over and handed me a bunch of plants. He was yelling at me in Balinese (technically the language is Bahasa Indonesian I think, but I'm not certain), but he showed me how to plant the little stems with enough room to grow. I was thankful to get out of the mud pit and wash off my arms and legs. My clothes were a little worse for the wear, but a little mud splatter never killed anyone. Sadly, my Toms didn't last much longer on this trip and I had to part with them.

Once I slurped up the last of my coconut juice, we walked up a little path to flat ground where there were several structures and many people working on all different things. At first, we watched an iron smith making a tool for cracking coconuts. Then we saw how they distilled a Balinese liqueur called arak. Then we went off to the kitchen where some women showed us how to make some rice cakes, and gave us a sample. They were drenched in liquid palm sugar, which tastes like heaven. Our next stop was to make some offerings, which turned out much prettier and easier than they were at our first hotel. We also learned how to crush rice to get the husks off, I think; and how to grind rice flower. We went back to the offerings area once more and made some interesting clay-like offerings. 

Eventually, we sat down to eat. We had a traditional Balinese meal with things like tempeh and tofu for me, since I'm eating vegetarian. We had more little rice cakes for dessert after. I think I could drink a whole bottle of palm sugar. I've eaten a whole bag of it before so I think I could drink it too...but anyways. 

We took a quick trip to a salt mine after the Balinese lifestyle activities. It was really interesting to see the process. First, they pour sea water over a big flat patch of sand. Then, they take the clumps and soak them in more salt water to make the water extra salty. Lastly, they pour it into hollowed out tree trunks to evaporate the water. We each bought a bag of salt to take home. 

After the salt mine, we visited the water palace called Tirta Gangga, which means water of the Ganges. It may have been my favorite of the whole trip. There was a huge fountain that you could see as soon as you walked into the garden. There was also several ponds filled with fish. Gun bought bread just outside the gates and let Melinda and I feed the fish while we walked along raised platforms across the water. Melinda was not enjoying walking on the stepping stones, but I was having a grand old time throwing bread around her feet and watching her flinch every time a fish would jump up to get the bread. Gun was able to get us into one of the rooms of this palace turned hotel. We saw the elaborate room where the royalty used to stay. We wandered around the gardens for a while joking and feeding fish and taking photos. 

From the water palace, we went out to eat for lunch. We had another traditional Balinese meal on a patio overlooking the ocean. We topped it off with ice cream, yummmmm. After our late lunch, we went to a village where the indigenous Balinese people live. We walked the length of the village looking at their crafts and avoiding gigantic bulls walking around. Gun gave us some time afterwards to shop and you could say we did some damage. They had really interesting hand carved wall hangings and masks, which caught my attention. After shopping for a little too long, we went to our hotel for the night. We dipped our feet in the pool until a bat started swooping uncomfortably close to our heads and had some pasta for dinner at the hotel restaurant. TOO MUCH FOOD. 

Day 7: Tuesday, July 1

I spent this morning freaking out that I would have to go snorkeling, but I was actually able to do it. A fisherman took us out to a cove and we anchored the tiny boat  to an underwater shrine that I was positive a shark was hiding in, just waiting to eat me for breakfast. At first I just got in the water and held onto the boat with no gear, but slowly I was able to edge myself away from the boat and put all the equipment on, and I think it was the best experience I had while I was there. There is something so exhilarating about facing a huge fear...which for me would be the ocean. It may not seem like a big deal to most people, but I was incredibly proud of myself.

After a little rest and time to shower, we drove quite a ways to the Taman Ujung water palace that has been destroyed by a volcano eruption and rebuilt. We walked around the grounds and met some Balinese teenagers who were taking a trip together. Gun asked me what my favorite bug was while we waited for Melinda, and after I said it was a praying mantis, he started showing me some praying mantis martial arts. It was very amusing. We walked up a gigantic set of stairs to get a great view of the ocean. It was quite a workout. We had dinner at our hotel that night.

Day 8: Wednesday, July 2

This was our last full day in Bali, so we tried to do everything we had left on our list. It rained in the morning, which Melinda was thrilled about. The rain didn't last long, though. We started off visiting a temple that had been built around a cave. The cave is filled with thousands of bats, which are now considered holy. We stood in the rain and watched the bats in the cave opening. Gun explained that these are the weaker bats and that the stronger ones lived farther inside the cave. As cute as I think bats are, I did not want to see the stronger ones. We had seen plenty of bats since we've been here and I prefer the little mouse-looking ones over the "flying foxes". Nonetheless, I was very intrigued with the bat cave as I have been with all the wildlife here. The last photo in this collection is Melinda getting swarmed by people trying to sell her things on our way out of the temple. 

After seeing the little furry creatures, we went to visit the royal justice court in Klungkung known as Kertha Gosa. As usual, the building was stunning and it was located in the middle of a pond. There were two main structures there that were basically roofs with four pillars to hold them up. They looked very simple from the outside, but once we went underneath them, we found hundreds of drawings that explained so much about Balinese culture. There were tiles for ancient stories and to explain rules that must be abided and things like that. We spent a long time looking at the stories painted on the ceilings. Gun had showed us one of his blog posts the other day, which was about these tiny frogs in Bali that can only be found in certain months. While we were walking around the royal justice court, Melinda spotted one of the frogs! I was so excited to see it because it wasn't the right season for them. Then we kept walking and saw tons of them! I spent quite a while crouched on the ground trying to touch one and take photos of them all. I couldn't manage to convince one to take a little ride on my hand, but I did get some blurry photos of the little guys. Just across the way from the court was a textile market that we poked our heads into to see the hundreds upon hundreds of fabrics. 

In some of our conversations with Gun, we had mentioned that we really like jewelry. I specifically told him how I collect a ring from every place I travel, and I also couldn't shut up about how amazing all the art is there: the sculptures, the textiles, the architecture. Balinese people are incredibly crafty and talented. Since Gun knew how much we liked handmade artwork, he took us on a little unscheduled adventure to the town called Ubud. From what I understood, Ubud has many different areas kind of like neighborhoods that each specialize in a certain type of craft. We stopped first at a wood workshop to drool over their beautiful sculptures. If I had a bit more money and room in my luggage, I'm sure I would have brought home many trinkets from there. I spent a good amount of time pondering how I could carry a giant stone gate home with me. Next, we stopped by a kite shop with huge elaborate kites in all different designs. Lastly was my favorite - jewelry of course. We pulled up to the most amazing store and Gun took us into the workshop where ladies were making jewelry. I found it so interesting to watch them work on their tiny little pieces. Once we watched them make some jewelry and learned how it is done, we got to go into the show room. I had a field day there. It took all my ability not to go broke buying jewelry, but I found the perfect ring and stopped my search. Melinda was able to get herself a little something too, which made me very happy since she is always getting things for others and never herself.

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped by a Circle K to try to find some Balinese chocolate that Gun had told us about called Monggo, but they didn't sell it anymore, so we stocked up on junk food instead. I got Melinda her first Kinder egg just as a novelty treat and she shared some of her salsa flavored chips with me. We checked into our last hotel, which was amazing as to be expected by now. This hotel looks like a huge palace and it was quite authentic, inline the other hotels in the area. Melinda and I dropped our bags off and headed down to the beach. There were all these little piles of sand on the beach that looked like little splatters. When I got a closer look, I saw that each one of these little sand piles had a tiiiiny crab in the middle of it. I was so amused just watching them all climb in and out of their little holes. We took some photos and went back to the room to prepare all our luggage to go home. 

While I was studying in the Netherlands, I met two girls who lived in Bali named Nadia and Charlotte. Luckily, they were both able to come for dinner on our last night and it made our evening very special. They met us in the lobby and we walked down the beach to the restaurant Nadia had picked out. She said she has been eating there since she was little. Nadia even went to look at the raw fish and pick out which ones looked best. She ordered Melinda and I a coconut to share. She also convinced Melinda to get some corn from a man selling from a cart on the beach. It was delicious. Nadia and Charlotte had picked out clams, red snapper, and barracuda for dinner. We ate with our hands to have an authentic Bali dining experience...that was definitely interesting. Our table was right on the beach with just a little candle for light. We got to watch someone release a paper lantern from the beach and it was almost magical. It was so nice to catch up with the girls. Nadia had come from the other side of the island and had to head back early because she worked the next day. Charlotte stayed a little longer to chat, and we ended up going out in search of a bag of Palm sugar for me to take home. Driving in Bali is very scary and difficult, but she did a good job. We went to two stores and couldn't find it at either place, but at least we tried. She dropped us off after our little escapade and we went to bed. 

Day 9: Thursday, July 3

I could not accept that it was our last day in Bali. It has been the longest, most amazing few days of my life and it was bittersweet to be leaving. We woke up and headed to breakfast, which was the best one yet. I went back twice for fresh crepes and a whole host of other goodies. After breakfast, Melinda and I had arranged a nail appointment to spend the last of our money. The spa overlooked the pool and had a really nice, relaxed atmosphere. After our little pamper session, we went and got all packed. We checked out and waited for our guide and driver in the lobby. It was very hard to say goodbye to these guys, because I have grown to really like them over the last couple days. I will definitely miss them. It was a quick drive to the airport where two long flights awaited us. The silver lining is that we found Monggo chocolates at the airport! I got the ginger one for myself because Gun had talked about it, and I got some to take home to friends. Melinda and I grabbed some lunch before our first flight. Of course my very last meal in Bali had to be the one to make me sick. I randomly ran into a friend from school in the Bali airport boarding our plane...such a small world. 

In the end, Bali turned out to be one of the greatest adventures of my life thus far and I loved every minute of it. I miss it everyday. I would recommend it to everyone I know, but it won't be as good if you don't have Gun for a guide :) Now, begin photos of all the cats and dogs I've seen in Bali...


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