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).

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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.

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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!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!?

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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Day 20: Uncovering Ubud

Our ambitious plan to go to 6am yoga didn’t quite pan out–underestimated the effects of a 15 hr travel day. We moved hotels first thing to be closer to the town centre and diversify our accommodation experience in Bali. Our new place is just off the main road in Ubud but far enough that it’s quiet and picturesque!

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After checking in we hit up breaky at Kafe, another place recommended to us yesterday. I had pesto and parmesan scrambled eggs, om nom nom.

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We then headed to our afternoon silversmith class. Here we were able to pick a design from pages and pages of pictures and create it with the help of the staff at the studio. Elai made a rooster ring (our zodiac) and I made a pendant of a sign that is quite popular in Bali! Despite a few hiccups–me consistently cutting the wire too long/short and Elai stamping Ubud 2013 on her ring–the staff was extremely patient and our pieces turned out fab.

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For the rest of the afternoon we wandered and shopped the streets of Ubud that are lined with great shops–jewelry, yoga wear, and bags galore. One of my favourite parts about Ubud so far is that almost every single house or hotel has an entrance fit for a temple! So intricate–they really don’t build things like they used to.

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For dinner we headed to a spot we had walked by earlier in the day. We split on a couple appys and mains: curry fries with coconut lime dipping sauce, fish tempura and banana avocado sauce, pork tenderloin, and duck breast.

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Finished off the night with a WOD:
50 Rounds for Time of
-1 burpee
-1 push-up
-1 jumping jack
-1 sit-up
-1 handstand kickup

Day 19: Arrival in Ubud

After a loooong day of travelling (1:30am-6pm), we finally arrived at our Inn in Ubud–the cultural centre of Bali.

Let me just say that it has been love at first sight with Bali. Our car ride from the airport was so scenic, I cannot wait to start exploring.

Our Inn is located in the outskirts of Ubud amongst the rice paddies. After putting our stuff away we headed out for the forty minute walk into town–more than enjoyable when the views are unreal.

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We met a couple European girls on our walk and one that had been in Ubud a few days recommended a restaurant called Clear Cafe to us. It turned out to be a delicious (and pretty much paleo) meal. So good we are tempted to return but must resist because there’s just too little time to go to the same place twice.

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Did a quick hotel WOD before bed: 150 push-ups, 150 air squats, and 150 sit-ups.