It has been over half a year now that I’ve been living on the enchanting island of Bali, and months since my last update. Where to begin?
An awesome month long Bali adventure for entrepreneurs from around the world. This wonderful event introduced me to new people with brilliant ideas, cool projects, new experiences and adventures like hiking the tallest volcanic peak on the island. I could do a post on the challenging hike up Mount Agung alone. For purposes of keeping it brief, the highlights start with sleeping at 8pm to waking up by 2am and a sleepy drive through the night, offerings to the volcano and gods. Everyone prepared with their flashlight and ducktape rigged hats used as headlamps, Bali Buddha bakery reserves, lots of water, matching track suits, a hiking buddy (at least I had one), and some “Lord of the Rings-esque” music…a dramatic kick off to the beginning of the hike.
The groups separated. Soon it was just me and my buddy at the bottom with no one else in sight. There was a leg cramp (aka- Charlie Horse) situation that I had to attend to, that had me abandon my hiking partner…whoops. I set off on my own, looking to each side was slightly disorienting, with a steep incline, the moon to my left and the sun slowly peaking to my right. Beautiful. Made it to the top! Was greeted by many smiling faces. Felt good to reach the top. The way back down was manageable with my new friends. A lovable and hilariously fun British dude and goofy Danish party go-er tumbled down Mt. Agung…taking breaks, sharing waters, blistered feet, muscle fatigue, and complaining about how it felt like we’d never reach the bottom. Worth it.
The best part is having made some great connections, new friends with great energy, people you actually want to keep in your life moving forward.
There for a demo for a startup competition for Mailbird, I had the opportunity to revisit my old stompin’ grounds. A place I spent 9 years of my life, where some of the more important life changing events occurred that have made me the person I am today. Oh Jakarta. It was just as I remember, only a little more congested, more 2 hr stand still traffic to go 15 minutes through town, more skyscrapers, tons of malls, lots of places to eat, and great night life. Visited my old house, my old (and awesome!) school Jakarta International School, the local restaurants I’d frequent regularly, hanging out with high school buddies, cheap and delicious local eats at places like Bakmi GM at Pondok Indah Mall. Went to a bar that was new to me, called Skye Bar at the top of one of towering bank sky scrapers downtown. An old friend was DJ-ing that night, apparently Maroon 5 was there but I didn’t see them. Neither did I care much haha. Great music, amazing cocktails…little pricier for my taste but was worth it with the spectacular view from the top and was lucky to spend it with awesome people.
Ahhh…back to Bali. Then jet set off to Singapore.
I was actually really happy to come back home to Bali from the hectic city life in Jakarta. I felt a lot more relaxed, feeling the zen as soon as I landed back on the island. Bali really feels like home now, I love it here. Was great to revisit Jakarta, but I was definitely happy to be back home. More new faces! Had a great connection with a new friend that joined our co-working space. A very cheerful gal who I instantly bonded with. Getting really close with everyone here, and I adore each and every one of these amazing human beings. They are my family here in Bali (Oooo… Getting a little too sentimental and mushy. For those of you who know me well, so not my style, but I mean it. Great people here.)
Feels good to be home, and even when you leave and visit other beautiful islands surrounding Bali like “Gili T”, it is still always wonderful to come back home, tucked away in our cozy neighborhood in Batubulan, Gianyar. Dinners with the gang, learning sessions, encouraging group and individual physical work outs that are actually fun, 5k run for charity, purpose, and giving back to the community. We have some great movie nights, sneaky trips to the local Indomaret convenient store for Pisang Goreng Spesial. Battered and fried banana slices, sweet condensed milk, drizzled with palm sugar, chocolate shavings, white shredded cheese that pairs so fantastically well with it all…I get carried away. Oh, and the amazing massages…I think I am addicted to Bali.
Revisiting the Gili Islands.
This time, no dodgy room, with wild gecko’s in my bathroom, squiggly worms and centipedes, or a guy with a metal stick jabbing away at all the little night crawlers. Found a place in-land that was a great deal, a traditional bungalow like an elevated hut, outdoor stone bathroom, AC, and breakfast for about $15/night. Also nice that it was really close to the night market that is totally packed at dinner time with backpackers from all over the world, sharing stories, laughs, eating delicious local food (by my standards, the best real nasi goreng can be enjoyed here), and a nice cold Bintang. Also, it’s very cheap.
Cheesy White Linen Dresses.
Spent some time in Bukit Peninsula and Ubud when mamma and the aunties came to visit. Watch out for these sassy Filipino broads, they are the ultimate Pinoy triple threat…and I love them 🙂 They were all like “Hey everyone! Let’s wear white and take picturesque photos by the beach!”…Ok, ok sure why not. Got to do a lot of the more touristy stuff during their short 5 day visit. A mish-mosh of temples, oceans, rice terraces, monkeys, Kintamani buffet lunch overlooking Mt. Batur, strawberry valleys, sunsets, and kecak dance sight seeing.
Now we are in Ubud. There was a cute fruit bat named Charlie that would flirt with Ubud Inn guests walking by, as well as an amalgamation of food experiences which is now the main reason I go to Ubud. A nice visit to Sari Organik, a wonderfully tasty and healthy cafe in the middle of the rice fields, where a simple salad and fruit shake leaves you feeling totally satisfied. Carrot and Mango juices at Sari Organik below = the bomb dot com 😀
Sunrise in Northern Bali and Dolphin watching…does it get any better? Lovina is nice and quiet, not much there, but beautiful nonetheless. The beach is so calm that it feels more like a lake. Perfect for watching the sunset sink into the ocean- even when a friendly Lovina local comes up to you. Cannot remember the guy’s name but very chilled out, friendly, and spoke English really well. He sat with us, chatting away and happy to be in our company. After he showed off some handicraft shell jewelry he had polished, carved, and shaped himself, we said our goodbyes and it was off to dinner. The next day was a trip to Air Panas (hot springs) where you submerge into a warm, greenish murky water. Sounds gross, but it was wonderful. The little kids were hilarious plopping into the water, showing off by doing front flips into the hot springs. Dolphin watching was beautiful. I always talk about the sunsets in Bali, not the sunrises. This by far was the best sunrise I’ve seen on the island. Snorkeling wasn’t too shabby either. A pit stop at the Git Git Waterfall on the way home was a must, along with coffee and tea tastings at a Kopi Luwak plantation.
Retreat to the Southeastern Coast
I could keep on going… as there are so many wonderful places to experience in Bali. This time, it was a 5pm boat ride from Sanur to Nusa Lembongan, a small, quaint island in the Southeastern part of Bali. Had gone snorkeling here before which was rad, but never had the chance to explore the island. There are several little coves and bays around the island that are fun to explore. The best way to do it is to rent a scooter for about Rp. 70k/day (about $7 USD) and get lost. Seaweed farming is big on the island, and the benefits of seaweed are used for many high end cosmetic products seen on the beauty market today. I learned this through my weak attempt conversing with one of the local gals in Indonesian as she weaved seaweed into bundles. There I was thinking it was for eating, but glad it wasn’t because the smell of the seaweed when laying out in the sun to dry is rather, well….stanky, and hard to escape when it is laying around all along the coast.
Mangrove beach was great, sat on a raft with loungy pillows, colorful ball shaped lanterns, sipping on Es Kelapa (Hack a hole in a big green, fresh coconut, add some ice, palm sugar, limes, and a straw = Es Kelapa), then later snacking on the coconut meat. Good stuff. The experience of hand picking small ripe mangoes along the road, right off the trees when feeling a little hungry, biting into them without even having to peel off the skin, resulting in a Mango slimed face and sticky hands, felt primitive and earthy. I liked it. Had a pretty heavy stash of mangoes and coconuts now. Excellent.
There’s a suspension bridge that crosses you into Nusa Ceningan, just South of Lembongan. Many beautiful beach coves here that are iridescent with sparkly pockets of blue and green water.
Went to a place called Mahana Point which was still new in development. Here, you can watch the big rolling waters of the Bali sea, while surfers are speckled several meters from the shore, catching waves where the reef breaks. Took a ladder from a cliff at Mahana Point down to the water, floating around in the sun, full of happiness. I’ve done cliff jumping before, and there are two cliff jumping spots at Mahana Point that looked super fun. Instead, I chose to sit on the edge of one of the jump-off planks, with my bare feet dangling off the edge, taking in the moment with a cold glass of papaya juice and soaking up some matahari.
Again…it’s all about the people.
I spent my first Christmas and New Years in Bali. Christmas was not the same as being cozy by a fire, with comfy warm jammies on or perhaps a Snuggie for you “As Seen On TV!” folks, eggnog, and several feet of snow glittering outside your window…but honestly, it was pretty badass spending it on a tropical island. With friends at home bearing the cold winter, I would only feel like an asshole if I were to ever complain about the heat over here in Bali. We actually had a blast with two celebrations, a Danish Christmas “linner” (lunch+dinner = linner) on December 24th. What makes it Danish? The great food, which includes a deliciously hearty, dense, and nutty rye bread (no, its nothing like American rye bread…it’s way better), and apparently copious amounts of drinking, specifically shots of 80-100 proof Snaps (again, not like American Schnapps. This stuff gets you warmed up for a wild night).
This all lead to karaoke, dancing on stage at a gay bar, salsa dancing, and then….more dancing. Ending with a lovely chat, with a lady who offered up some mie goreng, a.k.a. Mi-Go, a.k.a. fried noodles. I said no. She was totally into me, not because I am a narcissist, but…
#1 We were on the gay friendly strip in Bali (Jl. Dhyana Pura) which is totally full of life, loud music, and beautiful “lady boys”.
#2 To paint a picture, this broad wore her hair in a tight bun, no makeup, dressed in a tightly wrapped flowery sarong, and very forward, never breaking eye contact with me, even when I’d try to look away mid conversation. She motioned by twirling her hand around saying “yeah most everybody here is…you know.” Not sure why she didn’t just flat out say, “yes most of the residents on this street are part of the gay community here in Bali.” So I was like, “Oh ok, cool.”
#3 One of the sweetly flamboyant boys nearby, one of her friends I presume, was very complimentary. He snuck up to me asking if I was “into” ladies. I laughed and said no. He laughed, pointed at the woman I was just chatting with to whisper that she thought I was “hot stuff.”
All in all, I was ultimately flattered…but exhausted and ready to jump on an Ojek (scooter taxi) and head back home.
Then a second marvelous Christmas celebration on the 25th. Dinner with friends at Chandi in Seminyak with crackers, cocktails, and Cointreau engulfed chocolate fondant.
To end the year and celebrate 2013, we did dinner at Ultimos, open bar at a penthouse party at the W hotel, courtesy of a good friend of mine that I’ve known since second grade. The espresso martini’s were perfect. Watching fireworks from a penthouse balcony overlooking the beach, pretty awesome. Dancing the night away even when it was raining the dj’s kept playing, staying up to watch the “sunrise” on the beach (not really, because we were in the West), still awake to take our first morning swim of 2013, passing out at 8am, then waking up to an over the top brunch with raw oysters and champagne mimosas. Amazing.
2012 has to be one of the best years. So many remarkably kick ass people, accomplishments, challenges, and life-changing moments. I want to say Thank You. I cannot wait to see what 2013 has in store for me.