Brief Stop in Bali

Apologies for this longgg overdue last post of my trip–writing it slipped through the cracks of my back-to-school frenzy. To my dismay, the final stop in Bali was much shorter than my trip to the beautiful island last year. We headed straight from the airport to our first stop at Green School–the Green School on Earth located just outside of Ubud. We walked down a long path into the jungle before eventually reaching the entrance to Green School (seen below).

IMG_1162

We were led to what looks like a giant treehouse where Green School founder John Hardy was waiting for us. He told us his personal story of growing up in the GTA, travelling to Bali and picking up on local jewelry-making techniques, founding a jewelry business he later sold for tens of millions of dollars, and finally his latest project–Green School. We toured the entire school grounds; it is an absolutely stunning place with brilliant bamboo architecture. The school offers K-12 teaching for international students and locals alike. Below is an example of a Green School classroom. IMG_1156

Below is a panorama of the Heart of School building–the photo really doesn’t do it justice. Another cool feature of this building is the names of all the donors written on bamboo poles inside the structure–I even spotted Richard Branson’s pole! Green School aims to be the #1 model of sustainability in education in the world. Although certain aspects of Hardy’s talk were far-fetched, Green School students really are doing amazing things. He told of us of students’ project to abolish plastic bags in Bali; a government official told them they would need 1,000,000 signatures on a petition to make this possible and they have already reached close to 90,000. And who did we see at the airport on our way out but Green School students collecting signatures from travellers on their weekend!IMG_1159

We stayed in John Hardy’s “luxury eco hotel” overnight–to put the ‘luxury’ part in perspective, these cabins were $400/night while I was paying $25/night in Bali to stay in very nice villas last year. The resort was comprised of many small standalone houses on a gorgeous property overlooking the rice paddies. We only had 12 hours to relax at this beautiful hotel but it was a very relaxing way to end the trip! My house was the one on the far right.

IMG_1173

We had one final stop in Kuta at Pro Surf School before we had to begin our long journey home. We heard from the founder of the Surf School about the growth of tourism in Bali over the past couple of decades. He attributed the rise in popularity of Bali as a destination to be largely due to surfing–at least initially. From the little that I saw of Kuta I was happy Elai and I had decided against spending any time here last year. Kuta is by far the most touristy part of Bali and the beaches are quite dirty, with piles of trash all along the beach. It is interesting that so many people are still drawn to this location considering the rest of Bali is much more beautiful. I guess surfing must still play a bigger role in tourism than I may have thought!

Advertisements

Jakarta Part 2

The rest of our time in Jakarta was a 50/50 split between business and pleasure. We began our third morning with a guided tour of Istiqal Mosque–the largest mosque in Southeast Asia. The size of the building was quite impressive but it was quite industrial in terms of decoration compared to pictures I’ve seen of mosques in Turkey etc. Afterwards we headed to a local market before heading to our first meeting of the day.

IMG_1119

IMG_1108

First we met with Lippo Group–the Indonesian conglomerate that owns and operates the hotel we were staying in. They also do business in retail, real estate, healthcare, tech, financial services, and education. Lippo Group stressed that they feel Eastern Indonesia is where the future of the country is headed due to richness in natural resources. Next we met with a panel from the Asian Economic Development Bank, who highlighted regulatory uncertainty and bureaucracy, a large informal sector of the economy (66%), and sustainability as Indonesia’s key development challenges. Our last meeting of the day was at Norton Rose Fullbright–a UK-based law firm that has established operations in Indonesia through a partnership with local firm Susandarini & Partners. In this presentation we learned about the legal environment in Indonesia and the challenges faced by foreign firms. Shamim Razavi, Senior Foreign Legal Counsel for the firm, put it quite nicely: a good London lawyer would do very poorly in Indonesia. In London, everything has been done and it is just a matter of finding the right precedent. In Indonesia, nothing has been done.

The following morning our first meeting of the day was with the UN World Food Programme. The representative emphasized that the goal of an organization like WFP is to be able to be out of a country as soon as possible. They attain this by creating programs that require buy-in from beneficiaries rather than spoon-feeding aid. He also mentioned that as a result of Indonesia’s fast growth, obesity is now on the rise. Our second meeting of the day was at Ogilvy & Mather, an international advertising, marketing, and PR firm. Their office was everything a creative office should be–beautiful, inspiring, and fun–complete with a slide to enter the main part of the office! A key talking point in their presentation was that Indonesia is a very happy country, with 51% of the population claiming to be “happy”; only 27% of the Canadian population feels this way! This combined with other important Indonesian values of collectivism, embracing ambiguity, work-life balance, and religion, have powerful implications on the way in which content must be marketed.

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 3.28.48 AM

We then set out for the office of XSProject–our local charity of choice for this year’s trip. The organization’s mission is to raise awareness of environmental damage and poverty through education, innovative product design reusing consumer waste, and creating new income opportunities for the disadvantaged. At the office we were greeted with a delicious lunch and we had a chance to watch the trash cleaning process in action and buy some of their beautiful finished product. Finished products include bags, wallets, umbrellas, laptop cases, luggage tags, jewelry, and more.

Afterwards, we went into the village where trash-pickers work and live and met with the children of these communities before touring around. This experience was nothing short of humbling. Hundreds of people were living amongst disease-ridden heaps of trash piled 8 feet high and days were spent sifting through it, picking out items which could be re-sold. Despite all of this, the 50 or so children we met had smiles on their faces. Although trash-pickers are among the most impoverished people in Indonesia, they are still respected for their efforts to legitimately better their situation rather than beg, lie, or steal. Part of XSProject’s work is to purchase trash from trash pickers at above market prices, giving them much needed extra income. The other part is to fund 12 years of school for 50 children living in Jakarta’s trash picker community. Leaving a community like that only confirmed that I won the genetic lottery and am amongst the luckiest people in the world. Now it will be a matter of how I choose to leverage my luck to increase the fortune of others. To donate to XSProject and help my class reach our goal of $5,000 please visit https://www.globalgiving.org/fundraisers/hot-cities-xsproject/!

IMG_1134 IMG_1146

Jakarta Part 1

Our time in Jakarta has been absolutely action-packed. On the first day we started with a visit to BTPN–a medium-scale bank that integrates social change objectives into its business via micro-finance. Micro-finance means providing access to capital for all; loans are as small as $200 and can be administered to citizens in the most remote areas of Indonesia. This is especially important with the huge growth of Indonesia’s middle class–those that live on more than $2 and less than $20 per day. The proportion of middle class citizens has risen from 37% in 2003 to 56% in 2010. The unique challenges faced by BTPN are primarily associated with Indonesia’s lack of infrastructure and the transaction costs associated with serving a nation that comprises over 17,000 islands across a distance wider than the U.S.

IMG_1125

Later we visited Deutsche Bank and two media companies–Femina Group and the Jakarta Globe. Femina Group owns a portfolio of women’s magazines that target the 20-34 age group mainly. They focus on issues like fashion, entrepreneurship, career, food, and lifestyle to name a few. It was interesting to look at the magazines and see examples of progressive Muslim media–that showed models with exposed shoulders and knees etc. The Group also puts on Jakarta Fashion Week, in which 2/7 days are dedicated completely to hijabi fashion. The Jakarta Globe is one of two English newspapers in Indonesia and our correspondent spoke at length about the changing media industry relating to the rise of the internet.

IMG_1126

Our second morning started with a meeting with the Country Director for Asia Pacific of international consulting firm AT Kearney. We discussed the consolidation of the consulting industry and the intricacies for international firms operating in Indonesia. After we heard from the President of Aimia–the Canadian loyalty company that manages programs like Aeroplan. She provided an interesting perspective on working in Indonesia as an ex-pat and cultural differences. We visited the Canadian Embassy and heard from the Canadian Ambassador to Indonesia–a Saskatoon native–about Canada’s relations with Indonesia. He joked that “diplomacy is the art of keeping your mouth shut in many languages.” Our last meeting of the day was at Edelman, a global PR firm with clients like Starbucks, Chevron, Axe, and many more. They spoke to the need to localize services for foreign markets and specifically Indonesia.

IMG_1123

Some of the interesting facts, figures, and anecdotes about Indonesia that came out in our meetings are as follows:

  • Despite being the largest Muslim population in the world with 90% of the population identifying with Islam, Indonesia is very tolerant and moderate; women play a large role in society and the country is not classified as an Islamic state
  • Traffic in Jakarta is horrendous and it was recently named the worst city in the world for traffic jams according to oil giant Castrol’s index
  • There are said to be between 10 and 20 families that control most of the Indonesian economy
  • Indonesian’s are very hopeful for the future after the election of their new President Jokowi in the fall–he is the first President to be elected without strong ties to the Indonesian elite
  • There are more phones in Indonesia than people and Indonesians are among the most active social media users in the world

IMG_1120

Happenin’ Hong Kong

Jet lag had me up at 5AM on our first morning in HK so after getting out my first blog post I hit the streets for a workout. I decided on a stair workout after discovering Ladder Street the day prior; the street is a 30-flight stair case that extends up four city blocks.

IMG_0974

After breakfast at the hotel, we set out for our first meeting of the day at Hutchison Whampoa with Frank Sixt. He is a McGill grad that now serves as the Executive Director for the multi-national conglomerate. He spoke about his career path, gave an overview of Hutchison Whampoa’s operations, challenges facing the company, and opportunities for growth. Hutchison Whampoa is a Fortune 500 company– chaired by the richest man in Asia–that operates businesses across 5 main categories–telecom, infrastructure, retail, energy, and ports. After a fascinating talk with Frank we got to visit one of their many businesses–Hong Kong International Terminal (HIT) at the Hong Kong Port; HIT is the largest port operator in the Hong Kong and the world, controlling 16/24 berths in the HK Port. We got a driving tour of the cargo terminal that was followed by a question and answer period with a HIT employee. The scale of the operations in Hong Kong’s port was jarring–last year alone the port moved 13 million shipping containers and employed 200,000 people. Perhaps the most shocking factoid was that there are 5 operators in the port and there is no common IT system between them for logistical coordination and communication.

IMG_1013

We enjoyed a delicious Dim Sum lunch at HIT before heading to the Shangri-La for our last meeting of the day. The Shangri-La is a renowned 5-star hotel chain based in Hong Kong with 89 luxury hotels across the world. The chain is a family-owned business and we were lucky enough to hear from Chye Kuok–fa senior family member and McGill alumni. Kuok spoke at length about the emphasis on Shangri-La’s customer and employee obsession and the importance of customer experience in the 5-star hotel industry. A challenge facing the Shangri-La now is maintaining the “familial” feel of the chain as they grow and approach 100 hotels. The Director of the hotel we visited specifically added a personal story of a career highlight–when the former king of Saudi Arabia booked out the entire hotel for his stay in HK. We then took a one hour guided tour of the beautiful hotel which included two Michelin star restaurants, the Presidential Suite, the world’s largest painting, amazing views of Hong Kong, and more.

IMG_1028

We spent our free evening grabbing a bite and drinking in the streets (totally acceptable) of LFK–the bustling nightlife strip of Hong Kong Central.

11034289_10206255616569053_6432491353806107985_n

Our first meeting of Day 2 was with McGill alumni Bruno Roy–Director of Asia-Pacific for McKinsey. Bruno was a fabulous speaker that spoke primarily about working and living in Asia in general. He spent his first 5 years In Beijing and made the move to HK last summer. Roy said the reason he loves working in Asia is because there’s so much left to be done. North America is such a mature market and work in consulting is focused on incremental improvement.

Our second meeting of the morning was a panel discussion with five McGill alumni. The interesting and informative panel was focused again on what it’s like to live and work in Hong Kong.The key points I took away from the session were:

  • Low taxes are great–16.5% is the highest tax rate you could face in HK
  • HK is extremely expensive and owning real estate is completely out of reach for most–rent ranges from $2,500-$4,000/month for central locations in HK
  • Work/life balance is non-existent so you have to love what you do–12 hour work days are not unusual and leaving the office at 5:30 usually prompts the question “are you only working a half-day today?”
    • One panelist told us his company’s recent new policy that allows employees 1.5 hours/month of personal time
  • The opportunities in HK are endless but very competitive

IMG_1074

After a quick lunch it was time to make our way to the airport to head to our next stop, Jakarta! All in all I can say that our stay in HK was only a teaser and I will definitely be returning for more. Further, our amazing speakers definitely piqued my interest in living and working in Hong Kong so perhaps I will be back for much longer next time!

Luxurious Layovers & A Taste of HK

Our excited group of 30 students, 2 professors, and 6 alumni departed on Thursday evening for the first stop on the Hot Cities Tour 2015–Hong Kong. Our route with Qatar Airways had us spending 8 hours in Doha before reaching our final destination. Normally, the words “eight-hour layover” do not exactly make me jump for joy, but this layover was a little different. We were picked up at the airport and driven to “the Pearl”–an artificial island similar to “the Palm” in Dubai that is the first land in Qatar to be available for freehold ownership by foreign nationals. Here we met Qatari native, recent McGill grad, and former Hot Cities Tour participant Majd Steitieh and her father for a short walk around the harbour. Afterwards we set out for the Steitieh family home where they graciously hosted all 40 of us as well as a number of other guests of honour. IMG_0963 We enjoyed an amazing dinner at their palatial home with a number of McGill alumni and Qatari locals. After dinner we heard from Morgan Waters–Executive Producer at Al Jazeera’s English channel, Andre Dubois–the Canadian Ambassador to Qatar, Issa Abu Issa–CEO of Salam International Investment, his son Mohamed–Dakar Quad Athlete and budding entrepreneur, and Stephen Anderson–Partner at PwC Qatar. It was absolutely incredible to hear from these individuals about life and work in Qatar and particularly about Qatar’s growth over the past 10 years. IMG_0962 Stephen left us with some striking statistics that make his consulting-driven branch of PwC an exciting place to work: 250,000 Native Qataris 2,000,000 people living in Qatar $210,000,000,000 GDP $50,000,000 available oil reserves per capita (native Qataris) $100,000 GDP per capita (highest in the world) To put this in perspective even further, Mohamed is planning to open a very unique and high-end gym concept in the coming year. Being a member at his gym would mean being matched with a personal trainer that monitors your progress and nutrition at the swanky facility–for $600 USD/month! 11025179_10153171586056388_6639082457885424660_n All this to say that this was a layover I certainly won’t be forgetting anytime soon! We flew Cathay Pacific for the last leg of our journey to Hong Kong and touched down late afternoon. By the time we were all checked in to our hotel it was around 4:30PM and I decided I needed to get out for a jog after 30+ hours of sitting. I find running to be a great way to explore a city–Hong Kong’s density presented unique challenges to city jogging but I still managed to dodge pedestrians, take in lots of interesting smells and wander the neighbourhood of Soho around our hotel for 30 minutes. IMG_0971 That evening, we attended an alumni dinner/cocktail in the financial district of Hong Kong. The event was facilitated by Alvin Chung–McGill’s Director of Asian Advancement–and we learned that there are roughly 3,000 McGill alumni in HK and they regularly have 200+ people turning up to events! The cocktail was a great chance to talk to a diverse group of alumni about living and working in Hong Kong. IMG_0985 Of course, it was only a matter of time before I ran into someone I knew… As I got chatting with one of the alumni at the event, it didn’t take long for us to realize that I played rugby with his daughter in first year at McGill! Of course we promptly took a selfie and sent it off to her. Despite being tired from a long day of travel, a group of us rallied to go for a walk which turned into a couple of drinks at a nearby watering hole. Hong Kong is full of expats and they definitely dominate the nightlife scene. A couple of the Brits we met at the bar described Hong Kong as a small town in a big city if you’re living in the expat community. Overall, a whirlwind 36 hours and I can’t wait to continue exploring HK tomorrow

Dazzling Dubai

We touched down in Dubai a few hours late after a small hiccup–our flight from Nairobi was diverted to Mombasa mid-flight after a crash on the runway in Nairobi (super reassuring). We arrived at our airbnb apartment in the middle of the night, caught a few hours of zzzs, and finally got ready for our 48 hour whirlwind tour of the UAE’s economic hub. We bought a two-day pass for the “big bus”sightseeing tour, as per a friend’s recommendation. Thank god we did; Dubai turned out to be the furthest thing from a “walking city”.

Our first stop was the Mall of Emirates. We headed straight for its most famous attraction–“Ski Dubai”–the largest indoor snow park in the Middle East. The park is complete with 5 runs, a chair lift, snow tubing, and zorbing. The funniest part to me was that no one has the proper gear so they are all forced to rent entire ski-wear and equipment. The end result is hundreds of people in the EXACT same outfit; just imagine how traumatic that could be as a child if you got separated from your parents in that place. Our next stop was Dubai Mall–the world’s biggest mall. At this point you might be thinking wow, why did they go to so many malls? Let me assure you that shopping is Dubai’s most beloved pastime and the malls are plentiful, luxurious, yet all a bit different. Another recurring theme of Dubai was “biggest, tallest, longest, best” etc. The city is obsessed with breaking records and having the biggest and best of everything. Below is a photo of an enormous aquarium right in the middle of the Dubai Mall (across from the world’s biggest candy store).

IMG_0510

Dubai Mall is located in what is known as Downtown Dubai. Dubai felt like it was separated into three micro-cities–Old Dubai, Downtown Dubai, and the Marina. As the city continues to grow I’m sure the lines between these areas will blur, but right now they feel like fairly isolated clusters. Also in Downtown Dubai is the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower at nearly 830m high. The Burj Khalifa stands adjacent to The Dubai Fountain–the world’s largest dancing fountain (are you seeing the trend yet?).

IMG_0516

We drove through Jumeirah, a residential area that passes by the notable Jumeirah Mosque, the beach, and the iconic Burj Al Arab. We took a stroll through Souk Madinet (souk means “market” in Arabic). This particular Souk was had all the fixings of a modern building but was designed to replicate a more traditional Arabian market.

IMG_0532

Our last big stop of the day was the Atlantis Aquarium. The Atlantis is located on the outer bank of the famous Palm Jumeirah–the iconic man-made island shaped like a palm tree built just off the coast of Dubai. Neighbouring the Palm are the World Islands–300 artificial island constructed in the rough shape of a world map.

We ended up taking the metro to our dinner destination that evening. Dubai’s metro was hands down the nicest public transit I have ever experienced and it was built in less than two years! While riding the metro Casey observed that there were a lot of women on the metro. We looked around a little more and noticed that Dad was one of two men in our crowded car; however, the car beside us looked to be about 50/50 men and women. Eventually the other man got off and dad was left as the lone male in our car and I caught an older woman giving him a very dirty look. Sure enough, when we got off, we saw signs that indicated we had been riding in a metro car designated for women and children only.

We eventually ended up in an area called The JBR Walk (Jumeirah Beach Residence) which is a beautiful strip of restaurants and stores right along the beach and close to our apartment. Most of the stores and restaurants in Dubai are actually chains from the U.S. and other Western countries, so we didn’t feel bad when we decided on Cheesecake Factory after a long two weeks of African food. Even Tim Hortons has made it pretty big in Dubai!

IMG_0519

On Day 2 in the Dubai, Casey, my mom, and I got off to an early start with a jog on the beachfront located a short 5 minutes from our apartment–airbnb for the win! Our next stop was a short one-hour cruise through the Marina and out into the Arabian Gulf. The marina is lined with million-dollar yachts and surrounded by sky-scrapers–including the tallest residential building and the world’s tallest high rise building with a 90 degree twist–and from the Gulf we got a great view of the Burj Al Arab and the city skyline.

IMG_0570

IMG_0569

Afterwards, we set off on our tour of Old Dubai. At this point, we had only really seen modern Dubai; this meant that most of the buildings we had seen were constructed in the last 10-15 years, and much of the area we had covered was sandy desert as recently as 2000. Modern Dubai feels like a giant Disney World in a lot of ways; there is no trash in sight, the buildings are brand new and perfect, and the entire city is characterized by extravagance. In Old Dubai we finally saw remnants of the city’s more humble beginnings as a port town known for its pearl industry pre-WWII. We drove through the less Disneyesque streets and along the Dubai Creek. We stopped at the world famous Gold Souk to see what all the hype was about. Dubai is the world’s leading physical gold market, with more than 40% of the world’s supply passing through the city! On our final night, we toured out to the desert for a traditional Arabian evening of camels, henna tattoos, and watching the sun set behind the sand dunes.

IMG_0573

We enjoyed our final dinner right along the beach, non-alcoholic beverages in hand. We learned on the first night that only hotels are licensed to sell alcohol in the Emirate of Dubai because it is a Muslim nation. Each Emirate has its own rules on this but some are even more conservative and are completely dry. On our way back to the apartment we spotted this decadent Porsche police cruiser–yet another sign that the UAE is not strapped for cash at the moment.

IMG_0581

On the whole, 48 hours was not nearly enough to see everything. But I still felt like we got a very good feel for the city. There is still so much development ahead for Dubai and I can’t wait to return in 5 or 10 years to see how the city grows!

Day 24: Island Life

Nusa Lembongan is only 8 square kilometers so we decided to rent some bikes for the day to explore. We were too scared to rent motorbikes so went with regular old bicycles which they call “push bikes”–we soon discovered why.

We set off with a physical map in hand, big tingz for kids of the smartphone generation. The bike did not have a head low enough to conquer this first hill so we ended up pushing our bikes (hence the name) for about 10 minutes until we reached this spot: Panorama Point, a great view of a big chunk of the island.

20140121-084227.jpg

We continued on our journey to this suspension bridge which connects Nusa Lembongan and it’s neighbouring island Cenigan. We both agreed yellow was a great colour choice, so fun.

20140121-085048.jpg

The rest of the day we beach hopped around the island to Dream Beach, Mushroom Bay, and Sunset Beach. Dream beach was our fav, very secluded and great sand.

20140121-090722.jpg

Day 23: Nusa Lembongan

Got off to an early start but not without having room service breakfast on our front porch! I’m telling you, this is a pretty major perk of hotels in Bali: where else can you get a beautiful room in a great location with breakfast in bed included for $12.50/person a night!?

20140119-210328.jpg

We had a private van drive us to the port where we then took a thirty minute speed boat ride to Nusa Lembongan, an island off the southeast coast of Bali. Waters were a little rough not gonna lie..kind of felt like you were stuck on the worst ride at the fair for half an hour.

We checked in to our new accommodations. I must say pre departure I was expecting that traveling on a pretty major budget would result in some less than luxury accommodations but SE Asia has proved yet again to be the king of budget hotels. We literally have an ocean view villa and breakfast included for less than the price of breakfast by itself at home.

20140119-210542.jpg

20140119-210447.jpg

We’ve had a pretty busy last couple days in Ubud so we spent the afternoon lounging on the beach that is right beside our hotel. Despite the beautiful weather it is actually low season for the islands so we wound up with the entire beach to ourselves for the whole afternoon–can’t complain.

20140119-211557.jpg

Filled the canine void in my life by making friends with this little guy, too cute.

20140119-211816.jpg

Day 22: To Infinity and Beyond

From the moment I started researching Bali I knew that the Hanging Gardens were a must do in Ubud. Pictures of this luxury hotel’s famous infinity pool are literally everywhere on Pinterest and it wasn’t long before the place ended up on my travel bucket list.

We got off to an early start and set off for breakfast at the Hanging Gardens Resort. It is about a 30 minute drive from Ubud centre literally in the middle of the jungle.

This place is the epitome of luxury–wooden cable cars to transport guests around the resort, private pools at every villa, and of course the most amazing infinity pool I’ve ever stepped foot in. Rooms here start at something like $450/night I believe.

We enjoyed a delicious breakfast buffet with an unreal view. I did my very best to act as though I was a trust fund baby who could actually afford to be staying there. BTW if you want extensive details on what I’ve been eating check out Elai’s blog, she is def the food blogger of the two of us–but check it out either way: detourtoaussie.tumblr.com.

20140118-140219.jpg

After eating breakfast we headed to the MOST AMAZING POOL I HAVE EVER SWAM IN IN MY LIFE. This gorgeous two tiered infinity pool looks out onto the surrounding jungle valley. Beyond cool. And the best part is the swanky wealthy guests are way too classy for swimming so Elai and I had the pool all to ourselves! This made our extensive photoshoot way less awkward for everyone.

20140118-140331.jpg

When we got back into town we set out on a walk we had heard about from our tour guide. A few wrong turns and we wound up on a narrow path in the jungle. Eventually we ran into some locals who kindly led us towards the rice paddies we were trying to see. We got to take the scenic route (walking across the rice paddies vs on the concrete path we had tried to find). The Balinese man could barely speak English at all but the one thing he did get out was “be careful, snakes” so that pretty much set us off sprinting across the rice paddies until we safely reached the comfort of concrete.

20140118-200902.jpg

We spent the rest of the day doing the rest of the local shops we had missed and trying to hit every food joint in Bali that we thought warranted a visit. The food scene in Bali is literally unrealllll–so paleo friendly and yummy–4 days was simply not enough time for us to hit all the gems but we did our best today. Highlights were the Living Food Lab “conscious eating experiment” (totally raw local and vegan) and Bali Buda (see food mantra below.

20140119-113457.jpg

Day 21: Bali by Bicycle

After some extensive trip advisor research, we settled on a bike tour of rural Ubud as our activity of choice for the day. Our first stop was at this beautiful view of the rice terraces. I picked out the fellow Canadians in our group immediately by the girls Lululemon apparel–super nice couple from Calgary.

20140117-202334.jpg

Next stop was breakfast over looking a volcano by the lake. Super yummy smorgasbord with one of the top watermelon juices of the trip!

20140117-202720.jpg

We then stopped at a coffee plantation where we learned about the process of brewing the specialty Lewak coffee. Coffee beans are fed to a ferret like animal and then the Lewak’s feces is dissected to collect the fermented beans which are then used to make the coffee. This “shitty” coffee goes for £40/cup in England!

We also got a delicious sampler of a big variety of teas and coffee. My favs: vanilla coffee and pandanus tea.

20140117-203117.jpg

Made a stop at the rice fields to see how the Balinese harvest their rice. Most of these workers are women that work for rice rather than money from the land owner so that they can spend the money her husband makes on something other than rice.

20140117-203514.jpg

The whole bike ride was nothing short of beautiful and the last leg of the ride was pretty physically demanding. Made our delicious lunch all the better–roasted duck, satay chicken, peanut tofu, and Balinese veggies. The whole tour was super well done–highly recommend if you’re ever in Bali (Bali Budaya Tours).

20140117-211504.jpg

At the end of the tour we got dropped off at Ubud’s famous Monkey Forest. I could have spent hours at this places, hundreds of monkeys everywhereeee. The babies were the cutest! As you can see below the monkeys do have klepto tendencies.

20140117-204450.jpg

20140117-211456.jpg

Ended the day with a bit of shopping and saw this gem and thought of Casey–you can say this at Parsons to all of your upper east side classmates.

20140117-204523.jpg