Bali, Bali, Bali…ohh, how I love you.
Well, first off, if you didn’t already know me and a few of my fellow Americans went to Bali for our Mid-Semester Break, which back home would be like our Spring Break. And it was AWESOMEEEEE, and like no other adventure I have taken yet. It was the perfect break from school and life, and was definitely exactly what I needed.
This is where we got dive certified! The dive company picked Meredith, Erin, and me up from the airport about midnight and drove us to the resort (quite an interesting ride as I constantly let out mini squeals as we nearly hit SO many dogs). When we arrived to the resort, it was way better than the place I had imagined we would be staying because it looked like a ritzy honeymoon spot as it was directly on the beach with a run off pool that looked like could have gone straight into the ocean if you looked at it from the right angle. Probably a little too excited, we looked like little girls who had just entered Barbie Palace (I’m saying that even though I never liked Barbies) as we cheered and soared across the beds. I could barely fall asleep that night too!
The next morning, we were greeted with a delicious breakfast of omelets, bacon, sausage, fruit plate, toast and jelly, and fruit juice (which we got EVERY day). Then we were off to the pool where we learned how to breathe correctly through the regulator and practiced certain skills like equalizing, clearing our mask, hand signals, etc. It was SO much easier than I expected, and I felt so comfortable that I could NOT wait to get to the ocean.
The next two days, we dove in the ocean! The deepest we went was about 18 meters over an old shipwreck! I touched the steering wheel, and then we saw sharks (6 or 7 feet LONG), octopus, banner fish, lionfish, sweet lips, seahorse, barracuda, little Nemo’s and Dori’s, and pretty much everything else possible to see EXCEPT a sea turtle. Bummer, I know. One scary moment though was when I had to take my mask completely off and put it back on while underwater as part of the skills test. I was already nervous to do this, and of course, as soon as I take my mask off, what do I do? I breathe in through my NOSE. I inhaled what felt like the entire ocean and started to panic a little knowing I couldn’t just swim right up to the top because we were so deep and my lungs could burst. Somehow, I managed to get my breathing pattern back on track, and my lungs thanked me. Positive note though… I passed my exam, and I AM OFFICIALLY DIVE CERTIFIED!! YA!! (had to say that for Courtney and our moms.)
When we weren’t diving, we hung out by the pool, ate delicious Indonesian food (my favorite was crab and corn soup), got FULL body massages (when I say FULL body, I mean FULL body), and chilled on the beach. My first black sand/rock beach that is. At night, we listened to locals playing acoustic American songs and Balinese songs when we asked them. I tried so hard to find someone that knew “Collide” by Howie Day, but NO one did. So… my second choice was Sweet Home Alabama! Even though Alabama isn’t my home sweet home, it’s my favorite movie and is almost the same thing. :D
Another luxury we had was our own motorbike! I’m pretty sure they didn’t give it to us for “joy” riding, but we did it anyways. We took it down and around the streets of Tulamben, which was such a cool town. One pit stop we made was at a restaurant that served octopus and ONLY octopus. Those that know me well won’t believe this, but… I ate my ENTIRE serving of grilled octopus, and it was SO good. (What is happening to me?!) Or…was I just THAT hungry again. Hahh.
One thing that happened that wasn’t funny at the time, but is now, occurred just as we were about to leave the dive place. I spotted a HUGE gecko, and knowing how much Meredith likes lizardy things told her to come look at it. Not sure where her brain was at the moment, she went to pick up this gecko, and it bit her all the way to the bone on her knuckle and had to be pried off with a knife. Luckily, the dive people had alcohol and band-aids and the wound healed nicely. Isn’t he cute??? NOT.
After a beautiful scenic taxi drive (I could NOT stop taking pictures), we arrived to Ubud where we were supposed to meet Clara and Marlee at the “Secret Garden”, but it stood true to it’s name of being secret because we could not find it to save our lives. After searching and searching and finding every other secret garden except for the one they were at, Meredith started to not feel well so we just found a homestay to sleep at for the night. We were pretty desperate to just take what we could find, which ended up being a sweet young man’s OWN room that he offered to us since all of his three person rooms were booked. It felt a little strange to say the least to be sleeping in his king sized bed on his sheets beside his bedside table with his personal belongings and using his bathroom with his personal hygiene items (I saw bleaching body cream…:O). There was also no air conditioning, but I learned the hard way (mostly because it was the only choice) that cold showers before bed are the key to staying cool at night. The next morning, we were given fresh watermelon and French toast for breakfast, which was a nice change from having rice, rice, and more rice in Malaysia.
After finally finding Clara and Marlee and THE Secret Garden (the bedroom was gorgeous), we explored the town of Ubud. We shopped, ate some sushi and eggplant, watched the Balinese women do offerings and carry things on their heads, gazed at rice fields, toured the monkey forest, listened to live bands, people watched, and just enjoyed the most relaxing, stress-free, and laid back atmosphere I had ever been in. The people there seemed so happy, healthy, and naturally beautiful. Wanna know their secret?? Yoga!! There was a yoga place on almost every corner of every street, and I have decided if I don’t become a veterinarian, my back up plan is to move to Bali and become a yoga instructor. ;) We also went to a really cool trance dance where there were really cool costumes, chanting, and dancing.
This was our next destination in Bali where there was supposedly surfing for “beginners”. As soon as we arrived, we we headed to the beach but were humorly surprised to see that the waves were about 12 feet HIGH, and the beach consisted of maybe 30 yards of beach and then all cliff and rocks. It wasn’t too hard to decide that that wasn’t the place to learn how to surf, so we just sat on top of the cliff and watched the experienced surfers surf while drinking banana milkshakes.
While walking in the sand, one of my flip flops broke and while I was fixing it, I looked down and noticed my other flip flop was gone! I laughed at myself…out loud, not knowing how I managed to do that. Since there were sharp rocks and glass pieces in the sand, I decided to just wear one flip flop so at least one foot wouldn’t get cut. However, as I was walking back up the stairs to the top of the cliff, I looked down and found a single black flip flop that I could wear on my other foot! I’m not sure what looked funnier, walking around with one shoe or walking in one white flip flop and one black flop (didn't get a picture of that!).
Not too long after, it started to rain so we sat outside one of the shops hoping it would pass by. As we were sitting, a girl named Jessyca (she was an Eskimo from Canada!) came up to me and looking at my shoes, said, “Hey, did you lose a black flip flop?! I saw that exact one in the sand!” I laughed and said, “Well, I actually lost a white one, but I just happened to find this black one on the steps.” Raining too hard to go back to look for the other black one, and too hard to head back to our place, the flip flop conversation turned into being invited to join Jessyca and some other people (2 Canadians and 1 Aussie) she had met to hang out with until the rain stopped. However, it continued to rain and rain some more, so we spent the rest of the evening playing cards and singing songs as our new Aussie friend, Sid, played guitar. What else better is there to do on a rainy day?
After planning to stay in Uluwatu only for a few nights, Meredith and I were enjoying ourselves and new “fam” (what we called our new group) so much, we stayed there for the rest of the time we were in Bali. There was a pool party one night at the resort down the street where we met some cool English boys (one told us a story about getting “Bali Belly” and my abs were sore the next day from laughing so much), a guy from Morocco, another guy from Australia, and some German guys (both could have been models) as we all just sat in the pool enjoying meeting new people and listened to a live band. They were also ALL surfers by the way... Hehee. We also spent some time at Padang Padang Beach where we enjoyed the sun, watched some fishermen, and even paddle boarded a little once the tide went down and the waves got smaller. One morning I woke up to go watch Sid surf! He was so good! We also visited the Monkey temple where they were extremely touchy and I carried a stick to shoo them away. For our last evening together, we all had a sunset dinner and then danced and listened to another live band, and ended the night gazing at stars by the pool. I saw TWO shooting stars…we’ll see if my wishes come true. The next day, the fam and I had our last breakfast of banana pancakes (I ate them EVERY day, they were so good) and headed to Kuta Beach.
This is where the fam had our final lunch together, swam in a pool, and then chilled on the beach until it was time to head to the airport in the evening. In the end, I’ve never been so happy to have lost something as it lead to meeting some great people that we made some great memories with.