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March 20th 2016
Published: March 20th 2016
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I split a taxi with a couple from my van and headed to my hostel, a place called In Da Lodge. Right when we arrived it started pouring rain. We ran to reception. I checked in and was shown to my 6-bed dorm. I spent the first night hanging out in the common area. Everyone was German. All of the people. Germans. Three German girls and I went out to dinner at a place called The Yoga Place. I had some kind of tofu and lemongrass thing wrapped in a banana leaf, and it was one of the best food decisions I've ever made. When we got back, I met two guys, Rik (Dutch) and Matthew (Belgian) who were renting motorbikes the next day. I decided to join them. I got up around 8, had breakfast, and rented my motorbike. A guy showed up 45 minutes later with my bike. He showed me the controls and asked me if I had ridden one before. “Of course! But it's been almost 2 months.” I proceeded to accelerate right into another motorbike about a meter in front of me and keel over with the bike on top of me. I had no injuries. The bike got a bit scuffed, and the guy charged me 100,000 rupiah for it ($8). Fair enough, even though all the other scratches on the bike were covered with bumper stickers. That's quite an expensive bumper sticker. I regained control of the bike and followed the boys into traffic.

The first thing that happened was that Matthew and I lost Rik. He was ahead of us and turned somewhere and we couldn't find him. So we filled up our tanks at the gas station and went back to the hostel where we found Rik, who had thankfully had the same idea as we did. Once we got all that sorted, we set off to see temples and have an adventure. We stopped on the side of the road at one point so that everyone could catch up and we could check to make sure we were going the right direction. A Balinese guy stopped as well, told us where to go, and then took us there. When we arrived at the entrance he mentioned that he works in hospitality and it was his day off but he loves practicing English on his days off. I invited him to come into the temple with us. And that's how we got a free tour of the temple. It used to be Buddhist but is now Hindu and was full of statues of water gods, moss-covered ruins, caves, and sarongs. We had to wear sarongs to go in, and even a giant tree had a black and white sarong around it. Our guide told us that the sarong around the tree is black and white to acknowledge that there are good and evil spirits inside of it, and if we acknowledge the bad spirits, they'll stay in the tree and won't come out and wreak havoc. We also learned about the doorways that are classic for every temple in Bali. They're two stepped columns on either side of a doorway, and there's no top, so the doorway has the effect of infinity. The first doorway into the temple is to leave all the bad spirits behind. The second doorway is to let all the good spirits and good intentions in before you fully enter the temple. Very cool.

After wandering around that temple for a while, our guide escorted us through winding roads full of beautiful rice paddies to the next temple. He kept trying to get us to go to the coffee plantation, but the boys had been before, and I wanted to stick with them for the day. Our guide said goodbye to us at the entrance. We thanked him and rode in. We passed by all the women trying to sell us sarongs (“you buy sarong? You need for temple” and borrowed sarongs at the entrance when we got our tickets. It started to drizzle (before yesterday, I hadn't had rain since Nha Trang in Vietnam way back at the beginning of December). We walked down all of the stairs into a beautiful area full of terraced rice paddies. The rain was darkening the dirt and bark of the palm trees, which made everything else look bright green in comparison. We crossed a bridge and entered the temple. First we circumvented the main part of the temple because a man told us there were 3 others around. The first one had a sign on the gate that said “Ladies are not allow to enter this temple.” Surprisingly enough, that's the first time I've been rejected from a temple based on my gender. Apparently it's pretty common in SE Asia. The boys went up and quickly came back down. They said there was a good view, but there wasn't much else. The other temples were mostly ruined walls with caves for meditation. The rain was making water cascade down the walls, and the steps were really slippery, but thankfully I didn't fall. When we got to the main part of the temple it started to POUR. We sought shelter and waited for the rain to calm down for about 5 minutes. We were so lucky it was only 5 minutes. On the way back as we were climbing back up ALL the stairs, I heard a Hungarian tour group! For being such a small population, they sure are everywhere. At this point we were pretty hungry, so we drove around looking for a place for lunch. We found a place just sketchy and local enough to be good and cheap, so we stopped, parked our motorbikes outside, hung our helmets on the seats, and walked in. About 5 minutes after we arrived, it started to monsoon again. We had the kind of lunch where the food is sitting in the glass case and all looks fried and strange and you just sort of point at a bunch of things and then they charge you about $3 at the end. We ate our lunch, but it was still raining. We each had another coke. Still raining. We found wifi and bummed around on the internet for a while. Still raining. We played cards a lot. Still raining. We lamented about the rain. Finally it stopped after about an hour. We dumped all the water out of our helmets, put the disgusting things back on our heads, and rode home very slowly as the roads were now incredibly slippery. We made it home. I went out to dinner with a bunch of people from my hostel to a place called Fair Warung. It is a non-profit restaurant. All of the servers are medical staff, and the profits from each meal sponsor two medical consultations for locals. And the food was incredible. I had a tuna steak with balsamic and tomatoes, and I was so happy. When I got back to the hostel, I met an Aussie guy staying in my room and asked him what his plan was the next day. He said he was waking up at 4am to motorbike to a temple way up north on a lake to watch the sunrise and then spend the day going to all these waterfalls. I asked if I could tag along because that sounded amazing. He said, “of course!” I set my alarm for 3:45 and went to bed early.

When I woke up at 3:45 the Aussie and his stuff were nowhere to be found. Wtf? I was kind of pissed, but then I decided to go north anyway later that day, so I went back to bed and woke up around 8. I took myself out to breakfast in town where I had maple bacon waffles and a chai latte. I got on my motorbike and headed north. There were a lot of twists and turns, but the roads were small and bordered by rice paddies. I rode over gorges and then started going up. This part of the island was in the mountains. I had to stop about an hour into my ride because my butt hurt. I had some iced tea at a roadside stand and then continued on my way. I drove up a mountain road and around each hairpin turn was a new view. I couldn't get enough. I kept pulling over to take pictures. I was wearing my raincoat at this point because it was starting to drizzle, but it wasn't enough to make me go inside. I pulled over at a beautiful lookout point and started taking pictures. This was clearly a popular spot. You know it's a popular spot in SE Asia when there's a view, a place selling food, and something really random. This particular random thing was animals. There was an owl, two weasels, the biggest bat I've ever seen, a parrot, and a boa constrictor in a cooler. This wasn't a zoo situation. They were just there, on the side of the road. The bat was sleeping, and everything (other than the snake in the cooler) was just loose. I continued on after a few pictures and made it to the town of Bedugul where a very famous temple lies on a lake surrounded by mountains. Since it was getting to be the middle of the day, the clouds were rolling in and obscuring the mountains, but in a really cool way. The temple was smaller than expected but beautiful nonetheless. I wandered the grounds and found quiet places to sit and write. It was peaceful and serene and just a beautiful place. It started to rain. Then it seriously started to rain. I realized my raincoat was useless and doesn't work anymore. Hopping from stall to stall, dodging the rain, I finally found a cheap plastic poncho. I ran to my motorbike, turned my helmet upside down, and ran to a restaurant. I spent the next hour there reading my book and writing and eating chicken and fries just waiting for the rain to stop. I got tired of waiting before the rain did, so once it slowed down even a little bit, I got on my motorbike and headed home. I ate dinner at the hostel that night and booked a tour with 5 other girls to hike a volcano in the morning. I went to bed at 9 because the hike started at 2am.

So at 2:00 in the morning, I woke up and put on all my hiking gear. I met the rest of the girls in the common area, and we met our driver. Here's where it got confusing. The previous day, all the girls but one, Kimmy, had given me money to pay for this tour. I paid for Kimmy and told the reception area that if they saw a blonde American girl, tell her I paid for her already. I went to bed before Kimmy got back, so apparently she had tried to book a tour for herself, and reception forgot to tell her that it was already done. Fast forward to the next morning when the driver thinks he is picking up 6 people and then also picking up Kimmy. It's really hard to mime that Kimmy is part of the 6 and she was double booked. A lot of phone calls were made. A lot of confusion happened. I don't know if the driver fully understood, but the 6 of us got in a minivan that fit 6 passengers. Easy. There were two other girls at the hostel who had booked a tour, so they got in another car. Then the cars stopped in the middle of the road and the girls got out of that car and put into our car, which only fit 6 passengers and already had 6 passengers. We tried to fight it, but to no avail because that's how things in this part of the world work. We drove about 45 minutes in the darkness to the base of Mt. Batur. Our driver who couldn't speak English introduced us to our guides who could. The 8 of us got water bottles and flashlights and started walking. The walk wasn't difficult until we got to the steep part. The switchbacks were tiny and incredibly steep. It was one of the hardest hikes I've done. I had also had no food and very little water because of course when the advertise that you'll be getting pancakes and coffee and 1.5 liters of water, what they really mean is a small bottle of water and no food. We eventually summited at the rim of the volcano and all died on a bench. There was a higher summit on the rim as well but we were all way too exhausted, hungry, and thirsty to bother. As we sat on the bench, the sky started to lighten and we watched a magnificent sunrise. There was a mountain in the background and below that mountain and us was a thick cloud cover over the valley. Our guides gave us breakfasts of bread, bananas, and hardboiled eggs. Finally. The sky turned colors and then sunbeams appeared like something out of a Disney movie. We watched the sun rise surrounded by brilliant colors (see pictures). When it was light out, I wandered over to the mouth of the volcano. There was actual steam rising out of it! And the monkeys. All of a sudden, there were monkeys EVERYWHERE. The guide showed Kimmy and me where to put our hands to warm them on a steam vent. Of a volcano. How cool is that??? We took a different way down, and almost everyone fell but I had proper hiking shoes and didn't and I'm so proud of myself every time I don't fall. I must be becoming an adult. When we got back to the car, our driver handed out banana pancakes! We got back to the hostel and ordered more banana pancakes and showered and went to bed. The hostel had screwed up my reservation, so I needed to change rooms to accommodate a group (the downside to being a solo traveler). I slept for an hour and a half in my new room. I spent the rest of the day wandering around Ubud, shopping, and popping into different cafes. I read my book and wrote in my journal and just relaxed. When it started to rain, I found a faded sign on the side of the road advertising massages. I walked up the stairs into what looked like someone's house. A woman gave me a paper pamphlet with cheap prices for massages and showed me into a stone room with a curtain separating it from the outside. I stripped down and she gave me a Balinese massage with oil while the rain came down outside. It was so good. I went back to the hostel and really wanted a burger for dinner. I found a place that was expensive, but it had really good reviews on Tripadvisor. I decided to treat myself and ate an unbelievable blue cheese burger. When I got back to the hostel, Andy from Gili T was at the hostel! We caught up and he told me about the rest of his time in Gili T. He wasn't feeling so hot and told me that he was kind of afraid of what was put in his alcohol at this one bar in Gili. There's a big problem in Gili and Bali with methanol poisoning. The bars do it a lot because it's cheap, and there are signs everywhere warning tourists about it. Andy described a 2-day hangover coupled with digestive issues and disorientation. From all the signs around, I started to get a bit worried. He wasn't getting blurred vision, so I said to him, "We can do one of two things. We can find a medical clinic now and get this checked out, or you can go to bed and hope you're not blind in the morning." We went to the medical clinic. It was not methanol poisoning. Phew. I slept very well that night.

The next day Kimmy and I went to a yoga class at The Yoga Barn. On the way back I bought a coloring book. We came back to the hostel and showered, and much like the previous day, I spent this day as well wandering around the city and drinking coffee in different cafes while I read my book. I went back to the hostel where I met some people from my room. They were going to watch The Stanford Prison Experiment at a vegetarian restaurant, and that sounded interesting enough to say yes to. It was a crazy movie. I had an eggplant and goat cheese something covered in tomato sauce that was delicious. We went back to the hostel and went to bed. Huge nights in Ubud.

My last day in Ubud was my last day in Southeast Asia. I had a mission to get a full body scrub and found one. Again, it looked like someone's house. I walked in and ordered a package for about $25. 1 hour Balinese massage, full body salt scrub, foot and leg massage, manicure. I got Southeast Asia scrubbed off of me, and it felt AMAZING. I ate gelato and walked a lot and drank more coffee. I packed up all my stuff and spent the evening in the hostel playing cards with my friend Gary and waiting for 9:30 when a taxi would be coming to get me. The power went off for about an hour, so Gary and I played cards by candlelight until it got way too difficult. My cab driver arrived, and I said goodbye to everyone as well as Bali and Asia.

On to Australia!


20th March 2016
Mt. Batur Sunrise

20th March 2016

Birthday Blog
That was so fun! I am excited for you to be in Oz and NZ but I am sad to see you say goodbye to SE Asia. I had so much vicarious fun. Can't wait to get back there someday! Thoroughly enjoyed my mini bday immersion in Ubud - those bats eh? And that sunset?! On to the next chapter!

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