Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bali Trip: Garuda Wisnu Kencana

Our last stop of our week in Bali before we left to come back home was to a cultural sculpture park.  The main attraction of the park is a giant, 66 foot tall sculpture of the Hindu God, Wisnu.  It was huge!  And really cool, although it did frighten Clara a little bit!

My favorite part of the park, however, was getting to see some traditional Balinese dancers perform.  It was really beautiful and the costumes were so ornate and incredible.  But again, Clara got scared!  As some of the men came out in their crazy costumes she lost her mind and was crying pretty hard, so we told her to just close her eyes and lay her head on Peter's shoulder.  She did . . . and then she fell asleep!  Which ended up being a good thing; no more being scared, and she got a nap in!

The stone sculptures in the park were absolutely remarkable.  Bali is full of cliffs and natural white rock in the earth, which is why it has such a strong stonework heritage with so many incredible sculptures and stonework artisans.  But back to the cliffs!  The cliffs really make the landscape unlike any other place that I've ever seen.  The magnitude of the rocks jutting up out of the ground was almost mystical to see and completely wondrous.  

We love you, Bali!  Hopefully one day we will be able to go back and visit again!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bali Trip: Tegalalang Rice Terrace

After visiting the Uluwatu Temple, our driver drove us up north of Ubud to eat lunch at Boni Bali and to see the Tegalalang Rice Terrace.  This was definitely the highlight of the trip for me.  I just couldn't get used to the beauty, design, and complexity of the terraced rice fields!  I was in complete awe the entire time we were there.

We drove through many towns along the way, which was just as fun as actually reaching our destinations.  It was fascinating to see the villages, all of their temples, and many people working out in the rice fields.  And one guy even let Peter hold his baskets and wear his hat!

After driving through the villages, we arrived at Boni Bali Restaurant, a cute cafe at the top of the hills, overlooking the rice terraces.  The food was delicious; both Peter and I had traditional Balinese food and the kids ate crepes and rice!  It was perfect!  Then, after lunch, we were able to walk down through the rice fields.  It was incredible!

Bali Trip: Uluwatu Temple

I was going to try and get the rest of our Bali trip all into one blog post, and then I realized that we've got about 400 photos from just three spots that we visited so I'd better split it into three more posts!  So, bear with me!

Our first excursion from our hotel was to the Uluwatu Temple, a Hindu temple built on cliffs overlooking the Indian Ocean.  Neither Peter nor I knew what to expect, and we were absolutely blown away by the breathtaking views from the cliffs.  I don't know if I've ever been in such an awesome and majestic place before.  It was no wonder at all as to why the temple was built in such a place; I don't know how anyone can visit this spot without marveling at God's creations and feeling grateful and humbled to live in such a beautiful world.

Upon arriving at the temple and paying admission to the grounds, adults not wearing pants are given a purple sarong to wear, and children and people wearing pants are given a yellow sash.  These are worn out of respect for the temple.  And, then another surprise walking up to the cliffs was seeing wild monkeys along the side of the paths!  They didn't look especially friendly though, so we kept our distance :)  They were fun to see though!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bali Trip: Nusa Dua, Hotel, and Beach

Last week we took our second big trip since being in Asia (the first being to Kyoto).  We went to beautiful Bali, Indonesia!!!  Bali was at the top of my list of places to visit; it just seemed so obscure, tropical, and foreign, but other than that I didn't really know what to expect.  But, had I had any other expectations, they would have all been exceeded!  Bali is incredible!  This was Peter's and my first visit to Southeast Asia, and it was unlike anywhere either of us had ever been before.  Bali is known as The Land of the Gods, or The Land of a Thousand Temples--which I didn't know before going, but now that I've been, I completely understand why!  There are literally thousands of temples--everywhere you go, every street you drive down, you'll see so many temples!  We hired a local driver for a couple of the days, and he was fantastic at describing Bali's culture, as well as Hindu beliefs and traditions to us.  He explained to us that everyone lives with their extended family, and each family's home has its own temple.  Then, in addition, every neighborhood has its own temple.  Then, of course, there are the bigger, well-known temples scattered throughout the country, making it really the land of tens of thousands of temples!  It was so fascinating to see a culture so unlike any other I've seen!  We absolutely loved it.

We spent about a week in Bali, but we didn't make any plans before going!  We had looked online and gotten a general idea of things we wanted to do, but we really just planned on relaxing and taking things day by day.  And it's a good thing we went about our trip that way, because the day we arrived Will came down with a double ear infection and tonsillitis!  Meaning, we had no choice but to relax and take it easy!  So, the first few days, we just enjoyed the hotel, its pool, and private beach.  All things we would've done anyway, so it worked out just fine while Will rested and started feeling better.

We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott in Nusa Dua.  And it was a steal!  For just about $100/night, we had a spacious room with two queen beds (which is very hard to come by at hotels in Asia and Southeast Asia) and room for a crib, free breakfast, a great pool, kids club, and private beach.  We felt like we had scored a great deal, plus it was the fanciest Courtyard Marriott I've ever been to.  And to top it off, the food was delicious!  The breakfast buffet was full of traditional Balinese foods and tons of fresh, tropical fruit.  I tried star fruit, jack fruit, dragon fruit, and snake skin fruit that week--all were delicious!  We really couldn't have been happier with the hotel, especially given the great price.

Nusa Dua is the peninsula down at the bottom of the island, and is very touristy.  Our hotel was located in a resort area next to a bunch of other hotels.  There are plenty of hotels and villas to stay in in different areas of the island that are less touristy and will give you a better glimpse of local life, but with our kids and for our current circumstances, staying in Nusa Dua was perfect.  Plus, it's still only about an hour drive to Ubud, which is the heart of the island where most of the activities and day trips were located.  So, it was very feasible to still get to see the "real Bali" (as our driver kept calling it) while staying in Nusa Dua.

Right in the same area as the hotel and beach are a bunch of little shops and restaurants.  And, at one of the shops, they offer a fish spa and foot massages!  We couldn't help ourselves, and Peter and I did both!  And it was hilarious!  A fish spa is just a tank full of doctor fish in which you stick your feet and then the little fish swim up and eat all of your dead skin off!  Crazy!  It tickled so bad and felt totally weird.  But, it was an experience we'll never forget!  And afterwards, we each got a foot massage with coconut oil and frangipani cream . . . so relaxing!  Both the 10 minute fish spa and 20 minute foot massage only cost us $11.00!  Best $11.00 I've ever spent!  Such a great deal!

Stay tuned for part 2 of our trip to Bali--it only gets better!