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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Middle East & Southeast Asia Vacation: Part 4

Friday October 21, 2016 we woke up in Phuket, Thailand around 5:30 am to pack, have breakfast, and get a shuttle to the airport for the last leg of our trip...Bali, Indonesia.  We arrived in Bali late that same afternoon and took a taxi to our hotel which was in the heart of Kuta and Legian Beach area.  We got checked into our room at the Swiss-Belinn Legian and changed clothes before heading to a restaurant across the street to have dinner.  Hendrik had steak tips in a gravy sauce and I had a traditional Balinese dish...nasi!   

While enjoying this dinner and chatting about our new surroundings a thought dawned on me!

Insert Side story
Hendrik and his family are Dutch, his parents immigrated to the US in the 80's.  His mom makes nasi and it is so yummy.  When they come from Holland or when we have visited we always bring back spice packets to make it at home.  Also when we were visiting family in Holland in 2015 (see HERE)  we had "Chinese" food one night.  Its a great treat and the entire family joined together as we ate.  It was good but definitely not what I was expecting for Chinese food.  So a couple years have passed and I never thought any more of it until we were in Bali at this restaurant...Before our trip Hendrik's dad was giving us the history of Bali and how Indonesia was once a Dutch ruled nation, as were SO many other countries around the world. Now LIGHTBULB MOMENT... we were sitting in the restaurant and BING!!! What they have been calling Chinese food and what I thought was actually Dutch food (nasi) was in fact Indonesian food. Due to Indonesia being ruled for so long by the Dutch the people took back to Holland some of the flavors and recipes and have since evolved them to what is now referred to as Dutch Chinese food. I thought it was so funny and how it finally makes perfect sense and how everyone interprets things in their own way.  

After our fantastic dinner (the best on the entire trip) we browsed all the open shops and stalls and stopped in for some ice cream.  We really wasted our money on it as it wasn't that great or we really weren't that hungry.  We went back to the hotel and we both finally slept like rocks.  

Saturday October 22, 2016 was our first full day in Bali.  We had breakfast in the hotel and decided on our plans for the day.  We had looked at and talked about a snorkeling trip as we REALLY love it but given the area we were in and given how much time we had snorkeling would have filled an entire day, been pretty expensive, and not allowed for much else.  We still had other things that were high on the list so we opted to forgo the snorkel adventure this trip and decided on lounging at the beach and surfing all day instead.  Mainly a wing it lets relax day since we were only in Bali for 2 full days excluding our travel days!  

We were at the beach LITERALLY all day it was awesome!  After breakfast we headed down and found some chairs and rented surf boards for the day.  The first half of the day I sunned and Hendrik surfed. I got a beach mani and pedi...and I tell you it was the best 20 bucks I have spent on my nails in years.  That polish lasted for weeks after the trip and the sand never messed it up!  Around the time we were headed out to find lunch it started to cloud up and we got a little shower through lunch but  the sun came out and we headed back to our lounge chairs.  We took turns surfing through the afternoon and hanging out.  I had heard such good things about catching the sunset on Kuta Beach so we decided to trade our beach lounge chairs for a couple of bean bag chairs to enjoy the sunset.  We people watched and drank a beer as the sun went down!  

After the sunset we headed back to the hotel to shower and change for dinner.  We walked the streets looking for something that sounded appealing for dinner and decided on Romeos a nice restaurant with a lot of different types of food.  We sat at the patio facing the street and people watched and visited over our dinner.  Once dinner had finished we browsed more stalls and shops before heading back to the hotel to get a good nights sleep before our sightseeing day in Bali the next day!

Sunday October 23, 2016 was our last full day of Bali and of vacation in general before starting our  long journey back home!  I was so excited about today because we were going to be doing some things that I had only dreamed of.  We had set up a private car the day prior so after breakfast we met our driver outside our hotel to set out on a perfect Sunday of adventure and culture.  

view from our hotel room
We started out the day enjoying a traditional Balinese dance that had 5 acts.  Hendrik and I were a bit lost but thankfully we had a pamphlet that gave a synopsis of each act so we could halfway keep up.  I enjoyed the culture and the costumes, it was really neat to see.  

Our next stop was to visit a sarong factory where they demonstrated how each one was handcrafted, spun, and designed with paint not colored thread.  It was very interesting!  I purchases a scarf and then we were on our way to the kopi lusaka coffee plantation.  I had heard about this certain type of coffee and tea that is made from the passing of the kopi berries... essentially coffee and tea made from berry poop! LOL  We like touring the plantation and seeing the animals. We did a tea and coffee tasting but didn't try the kopi luwak coffee.  I did find a really nice flavored tea called Rosela that I bought a bag of.

On our way to have lunch we stopped to visit a traditional Balinese temple.  We had to have our legs covered so Hendrik and I both got sarongs and went on a self guided tour.  The temple was ancient and beautiful!  It amazes me that with the lack of technology someone can make something so beautiful and big!   I also learned a fun fact from our driver that over 80% of Indonesia is actually Islamic not Hindu!  I asked him about it because I had notice while traveling around the city and through the airport the amount of women I saw in hijab. I was surprised by his info but it was nice to know for sure.  

We ate lunch at an Indonesian restaurant on our way through to the Monkey Forest.  Neither of us were crazy about our food but did love the setting!

more nasi

The afternoon was my favorite part of the day.  After lunch we headed to the Monkey Forest in Ubud.    It is a reserve for the long tailed macaque monkeys and there isn't a fence or anything.  The monkeys know this is their home and they are safe so they stay.  Once buying our tickets our driver came with us into the forest to help navigate and take pictures and enjoy it with us.  We bought two bundles of bananas to take though the forest and treat the monkeys.  As soon as we bought the bananas we had to hide them fully in the backpack because they were literally jumping on us and climbing up to get the food.  It was so cute.  

We weren't allowed to touch them but they were allowed to climb and feel all over us and they had the softest fingers.  They were really friendly and sweet but we were warned they could be a bit cheeky.  We were instructed to take off sunglasses and other things they could take as they would take them and run!  

talking big business!

Besides the experience with the monkeys the forest itself is beautiful with carvings and really pretty vegetation.  

We had one more stop planned in our day and that was the rice terraces!  OMG this was the part I had been so excited about. I had seen other blogger's pictures and pictures while researching our destination and I just couldn't imagine how green and beautiful and picturesque the rice terraces were/are!  We parked the car and Hendrik insisted the driver come along too so he could take pictures plus we enjoyed talking to him about Bali and what we were experiencing.  

first view of the rice terraces and it is already post card perfect

We hiked all up and around the terraces and I could have used all the space on my SD card snapping pictures of the same thing trying to capture this beauty.  

This is also the spot where Hendrik chose to PROPOSE to me!  I have a whole post coming on this so more later!  

After the proposal we were about halfway done with our hike so we finished on an engaged high!

We headed back to the hotel after the rice terrace adventure and decided on the way back that we would use our same driver to have one last dinner in Bali at a romantic ocean side seafood restaurant to celebrate our engagement.  We were flying out at midnight that night so had to get back, pack, and get ready to head directly from the restaurant to the airport.  It started to rain on our beach side table so everyone had to get moved inside but we enjoyed a family style meal which was good before heading to the airport.  

Peace out Bali you've been so good
Bali was incredible for so many reasons...of course we got engaged at a scenic location and it couldn't have been more perfect but also because the entire time in the country we just couldn't get enough. The food was amazing, there was a variety of activities that we loved to do and the culture is awesome to learn about. The people are helpful and friendly and it was very inexpensive...even more inexpensive than Thailand.  Our days in Bali weren't near long enough and I'm really against visiting the same place twice because there is so much of the world to see but we are not done with Bali.  We will be going back in the next couple years for sure to finish with this beautiful Indonesian island!

This was a jam packed vacation where it was relaxing yet exhausting and exciting all in the same breath. We can't wait for more adventures...as husband and wife! 

After Bali we stayed on a long layover in Dubai at The Palm you can read all about that HERE!

If you missed the previous posts about our Southeast Asia vacation see the links below




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