Sunday, September 30, 2012

Up and Running

Blog Up and Running…
Wow!!! Have I really been here for 5 weeks or 5 months? I am so sorry this has taken me so long to get up and running! I can’t begin to tell you what has happened here these past few weekes! I can’t possibly tell you everything, but I have included emails that I sent to my family when I first got here for you to read about my journey thus far! Please forgive my grammar, spelling and punctuation…I am not editing anything while I am here and it is difficult for someone like me to give you poor pieces of writing, hahaha So forgive in advance! I want this to be something that is fun and light! I am so grateful for all of you that decide to read this! Welcome to my life here in Bali! 

To play catch up...I have included all emails that I have sent to family here!! Feel free to leave some comments, I'd love to hear from you all!

Journal Entry 1: August 15th, 2012-HONG KONG

I have arrived in Hong Kong (acually 2 hours ago, but I needed to charge my computer, and look they have free wireless)!! This must be one of the nicest airports I have ever been in. They aren't very friendly here, lol but I am enjoying being in a clean spot. Speaking of clean, I decided to splurge on myself and get a pass into the airport spa for 25 american dollars. i got a shower in a 5 head shower stall and I had an all you can eat chinese style breakfast, which was weird as hell-lots of chewey pork, noodle, hot, and sweet dishes. I stomached it and found a few things I liked. I must have looked like a wasteful American with all of my different plates biut I wanted to try stuff! They also had unlimited lattes and a lounge area where I could put my feet up and read while eating and charging my appliances. I think it was one great 25 dollars well spent!!! I feel so much better now that I have showered.

The plane rides weren't too bad. I slept most of the first flight to LA and about 6 of the 13 hours to Hong Kong (my sleep prescriptions rock), however my knees are killing me, haha, hence the hot shower being a brilliant idea!!

I imagine I will try to sleep as much as I can on this next flight, I think it is close to a 5 hour flight...we will see! I met a really nice couple in LA on my layover who are on their honeymoon, so we chatted as we ate some tex-mex before my flight. Turns out they were actually on my flight and in the same row, what are the odds? I bit them farewell here in Hong Kong and gave them my contact info in case they want to drop by indonesia. :))

I hope you all are well. I don't have a ton of charge on my computer but I will let you all know when I get to Bali-3am your time.

I love and miss you all already!!!

Your Erin

Journal Entry 2:  August 16th- I AM IN BALI

I am in BAli!!! Holy crap!!!! Hii..sorry it took me awhile to get to you- i am alive and well and very EXHUASTED. just a recap:

landing in Denpasar was probably the most interesting airport experience I have ever had..what a "cluster-fuck" no really, haha. I was in complete culture shock and may or may not have had a partial mental breakdown, funny now. hahahaha. 3 international flights landed at the same exact time in an aiprort that has maybe 4 terminals all together. I couldn't make out where my driver or Emma were because signs were everywhere with ppl's names on them. I have never seen anything like it--hundreds!! lots of different languages, mostly balinese, a lot of french people and a crap ton of asians from EVERYWHWERE> and then you had the occasional american couple in their mid-50s who were bitching the entire time. ha. I kept my cool, but after having to pee for forever, I realized that was my biggest mistake as everyone got on line before me. I had to stand in a line for 30 mins to purchase the visa on arrival--(just to get the receipt) and then I waited another 45 mins to get my visa (IT WORKED YAY) and last but not least an hour more for me to get through customs. I did all 4.5 bags by myself/ I must have run over a thousand "china men" in the, but actually!! I may be sent back to the states for agressive driving my luggage catty into the foot of a jerk porter who tried to rip me off. After he tried haggling me I told him I was stronger than him and 20 american was a rip off to carry my baggage 20 yards. I showed him, hahaha. it all worked out, but God I wish I hadn't worn jeans, LOL.

Emma met me outside of the aiport with my driver and she was just the sweetest lady. it took about 45 mins to go 2 miles because this is high season for tourism, buit I finally made it to my little homsestay, little pond. which litertally means it is little with a pond that you can go swimming in, pretty amazing!! The people here are very sweet, helpful and polite from what I have gathered. I told Emma i would see her for my apt in the morning. I am taking a cab to the school for my introduction to EF.

I checked in, settled in and played with my fan and ac??? ha, sort of. and then I decided to hang up some clothes, do some organizing since I will be here 4 nights and then I went out on a little Erin adventure. I was starving and at this time it was 5 pm so chelsea and I werent meeting until after 9 so I thought that getting something small to eat would be perfect. I walked up to a little place on the main strip in Sanur and got the best freakin pork fried rice I have ever received. A huge plate with veggiess too all for 1.75 american. HOLY CRAP!! turns out when I was at the aiport I only took out 300 rupiah which means I had less than 30 dollars on me. I still have 24 left after an entire evening here...WOW.

When I got home from eating, I decided to take a long coma and wait for chelsea. I overslept, whooooops, but she came right on over with her motorcycle and knocked on my door. HOW SURREAL> she did buy me a phone and when I cn figure out exactly how the hell it works I will send you the number. she took me put on a date on Sanur to one of her fav restaurants (again, this food is to die for) and then we drove to a new beach bar that just opened and met her friends. I ended up dancing with the owner and the general manager. they have only been open 6 weeks and I am already feeling like I will be a regular there. Tomorrow is Bali's independence day and all bars offer free beers all night all over the island from 7-1am????WHATTTTTTT? hahaha.

I just got dropped off and am barely making it, I am so tired. I am sorry I cannot respond to everyone's indvisiual emails but receiving them has been amazing. Although gorgeous here, I can't help but think of all of you. I am a bit homesick, more than I'd liek to admit but I know I will feel settled soon. I love you all beyond words. I will make sure to message you tomorrow after my meeting at the school. I am not sure when I will get back to my computer but know I am with chelsea and exploring the island.


Your Bear

Journal 3: August 17, 2012 Adjusting

Hi Family and Ami,

It is about 9:30pm here in good ole' Indonesia. I called it quits early tonight so that I could come home and rest as today was a busy one and I am still recovering from my flights. Believe it or not I am not too entirely jet lagged, I am guessing it must be the adrenaline from trying to adapt to a new place.

So, ok I feel like I have so much to tell you and I wish I could just pick up a phone and dial each and every one of you. I feel like my typing skills are definitely going to increase while I am here in Bali. Ok, where do I start? How about what I did when I woke up? Oh no, I feel like I need to fill you in on last night. So, my sleep was really weird..everything was fine until about 3:30am and then I woke up in cold sweats and almost like I was going to throw up. I had the craziest scariest dreams. I don't think they were from the malaria pills, and I wasn't ure if I was ill from something I ate, but once I took an anxiety pill everything was much better. I slept through the night and woke up feeling just fine. Anyway, that was very strange...i am hoping tonight I have better luck. Speaking of which-THE FOOD. I was picturing spicy and very hard to find things on the menu that I like--EHHH-WRONG. THe menus are very diverse and have many different options invarying levels of spicy/curry/sweet/spur/ American/LAtin/Dutch--You name it, I have seen it on a menu if not all on one. insane! I like the food thus far. Sanur has more restaurants and shops than south beach/soho and brussels put together--no but really! ha. Where I am staying is fantastic. I love my "Little Pond" and yes mom I did swim in it as it is bulilt to look like a pond--it is chlorinated, my rough hair is proof. :)

I woke up this morning at 8am (proud? yes!). I walked to my favorite little spot called The Little Bird which is a local favorite and I was lucky enough to have picked it as my first restaurant in sanur to later find out that it is where all the locals eat. YAY Erin. no lonely planet needed here. I just wanted something simple because I knew I would be running around all day and I knew that my stomach probably needed some American-ish things. Great thing about LIttle Bird is that it is a good middle ground. They have american style breakfasts/sandwiches and then they have their regular menu. Not to mention one whole menu for coffee items (OMG AMI I AM IN LOVE AND WISH YOU WERE HERE TO TRY THEM WITH ME). I had bacon, eggs and toast with homemade strawberry jam, a biscotti and latte for 4 american dollars. pretty awesome. anyway, I then made my way back to my little apartment to get ready for my meeting at school. Initially I was going to take a taxi but then chelsea called me in the morning and offered me a ride, so she was able to show me where to go! YAY!! The school is about a 10 min drive from where I am staying in sanur (aka I want to live in sanur very badly).

My meeting was with a woman named Claire (she is the principal for the Bali-town school--the online school-they are on the same property) which apparently I will have some classes at. Chelsea doesn't think so but we shall see. Anyway, Bali Town and EF are EF but EF is the classroom setting, sorry that was confusing. I am still confused.haha. Anyway, she was very sweet. To welcome me to Bali, to make sure I had a cell phone, to ensure that I had most of my questions answered and to inform me about scooter rentals and accommodations. I was then handed over to Emma again who was to take me around Bali to look for a long-term rental...>SEAN I FELT LIKE I WAS ON HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL. Total, I saw 4 places today. I could write a novel just on what I saw but my brain won't let me lol. so I will give you the highlights.

Emma was born and raised in Bali so she knows the area well. She also knows that everyone's tastes are different. She looked up some places/some good. some interesting and some bleh. either way, what a fun afternoon. So here I am ,picture american, justin bieber look alike is the biker babe for this itty bitty little muslim lady covered in a parka, sweatpants a head wrap and flip-flops. dude, this should have made national geographic. Traffic here is insane and road signs are kind of non-existent. I am a little nervous about it, but I think I should be fine since everything is very close.

So, keep in mind, a cheap cheap price for rent is 1 million rupiah=100 american dollars a month. Chelsea was paying 1.5 million and is now paying 2.5 million to live in Sanur. My goal would be 2 million in sanur but it is going to take some time as sanur is small and very competetive. Renting here is a lot of he said, she said--not really bullshit. ha. Bottom line is I need to make friends with the locals FAST and find out where I can live. no rush as I knew I would have to wait it out.

Ok, so Emma brought me to a place that was nice, clean and HUGE for 2 million (not in sanur) down a grungy third world country street. Nope, no thanks. The goal is to have everything: ac, hot water, wifi)-Thats the 5 star package here and I won't budge for those 3 things.
The next place was in Denpasar(The capital) off the main drag down a side alley by an art center. It was like driving through a scene in eat, pray love for a moment. Here comes the land lady dressed like a geisha, fabulous! She doesn't speak a word of English but her smile is very approving and she took my hand to show me the place. I took notes and pictures and Emma acted as my translator. Listen, this place was old, a bit smelly of indonesian spice, coffee grinds and stinky bits. I fell in love with it when I walked in. It wasn;t the nicest, cleanest...but it just felt right when I walked in. I have my own patio, a huge queen bed, a shower and a bathroom that is the size of my room in DC. lol and a kitchen/dining area/clothes hanging area for 1.3 million rupiah. It is bunglalow style..meaning it opens up to a large mass of trees, gardens and terraces. It would be like the scene of a poorer Julia roberts film. LOL. no, it is perfectly charmning and just wjat I am looking for until I can get a place in sanur. Plus it is a 10 min walk to school and a 1 min drive. She only had one of these apts available. I took her number down.

We went to a few more places but none caught my eye for the price. I was pretty exhausted by the time we were done so I came home to eat at a local spot. I was getting ready to sunbathe and go out to the pool when there was a little knock at my door. (Back story:-I asked if I could stay at little pond instead of my second homestay because little pond is much nicer and cheaper. The lady here told me that if there were an opening she would be sure to let me know. It is high season here so tourism has been insane. Anyway, so she said she would talk to her friend who has a homestay and see if she had an opening down the street. Well, she did and she came to my place to pick me up on her scooter to drive me to see it. OMG-this little alley way was something out of a made up world. She opened her gate and out comes a baby puppy. The place looked like swis family robinson with a hindu flair--freaking COOL. The room they showed me was huge and the same price for what I am paying now. I obviously told them Yes. Her husband offered it to me for long-stay as there daughter is in colege and that was her old room. Apparently they rent the other room to a french couple--place is massive. I asked how much and he said 2.5 SHITTT and it doesn;t have wireless, OHH well dreams were shattered but really, it's ok.

When I got back to little pond I went swimming and tried to nap before meeting up with chelsea but all I could think about was that place I saw today (the cute bungalow one with the geisha) and how I think I might be crushed if the room was taken tomorrow, so I called her and then called Emma to translate. Within 5 minutes I was confirmed for 1.3 million rupiah (not including electric-another100) but OMG--WHAT A STEAL for tthat much space. I HAVE MY FIRST PLACE IN BALI!!! YAY... The one drawback is that the internet is a bit slow she said. I figured i'd deal as I know this will prob only be for a month or until I can find something else. I move August 20th (day that I check out from little pond). I am also off Monday so I thought that this would be a good way to get settled before classes start. I am also thinking about doing something touristy on Monday so that I can feel like I am here because without a motorbike I haven't seen much yet (although I have only been here 2 days) lol.

Ok, so some thoughts..more to answer dad's questions.

First impressions: the airport experience that I had was indicaive of the driving over here-HA. I like the food. The people are a bit weird. Really having a hard time figuring it out. Some are very sweet and peaceful while some look really angry and unapproachable. Overall-helpful and willing to be patient with questions/exchange.
Other things: Apparently when you live in Bali you don't cook. ? Ok. Not sure how I feel about that but kitchens don't really exist. I wish I could show you. I am going to have to budget myself carefully so I don't go over. I feel good about living in an inexpensive place to start off so that there is wiggle room for figuring things out. Hard part is, it will be a bit more difficut to find meals that are good/reliable. I just might have to be in Sanur a lot. I don't mind the 10 min drive.

Ok, so what is tomorrow? I did a lot of paper work today and not a lot of play so I am going to try and take the next few days (besides moving) to enjoy myself in Bali before I start work. I plan on going to the beach tomorrow and getting a 6 dollar/hour long massage at the place my homestay owns. GO ME.

I am exhausted and I love you all very much. I can't tell you how excited I am to move into my very own place!!!! It definitely has character, no doubt about that...I am sure I can make it look cute, the space is very cool!) I will try and send pics as soon as I can.

I love you all so much and I can't tell you how honestly I am missing everyone right now. Lots of big steps ahead and I am taking them one at a time but I really wish I could have your hugs.

Going to bed now.

Your Erin

 Journal 4: August 19, 2012 Awaken
Good evening or good morning shall I say to you!!

It is 11:15pm here and I am currently sitting outside my little homestay on my private porch enjoying the stars and reading! I thought before I got ready for bed that I would fill you in on the adventures of day 3. P.s. the goal is to have my blog up and running in the next 2 days so that these posts can be made on there and all of my friends can follow them.

So, today was my day to really enjoy BEING here and to give it my all to just CHILL. (You all know how hard that is for me to do). I am proud of myself. So last night--No scary dreams!!!! YAYY! and crossing fingers but food has been a very positive experience for my digestive system thus far. knock on major wood, I have been loving every culinary venture I have experiences thus far. BEST FOOD!

I had originally set my alarm for 10am so that I could sleep in today but my body was up and ready to go at 7:30am. I tried to force it back to sleep but it tugged at me and told me to go be awesome. So, I did. up at 7:30, naturally, not groggy? not for summer school? What the hell? it was the best wake-up I have had in months! I felt so good and well rested. The birds here help the situation as they are insane and start chirping and yelling at me in tongues to not waste a minute inside. So, I listened. I packed myself a nice little beach bag and headed to my favorite place for an early morning breakfast. =again, this place is my favorite. They are all so nice and pleasant and a an amazing breakfast for 4 dollars with a latte is incredible. I then made my way down the main strip (f you veer off any of the side alleys, you will hit the beach). Well, I had seen a sign yesterday to these really expensive and traditional villas/bungalows that are for "rich" travelers. The gardens, orchids and bonsai trees just make you want to break the gate down. I didn't do that, but I did talk to security and they said I could talk to the owners to try and get a day pass to the resort ameneties. and yes boy I did. Mission of the day: pampering Erin!!! I paid 10 american dollars to the dront desk staff and was able to get a private lounge chair and table, towel and water brought to me by a little balinese man. I also had bar access and pool access until closing tonight. Holy crap, I felt like a celebrity, because I was so early to the beach every single server, massage therapist, jetski rental, parasailing, diving, snorkeling person wanted tot talk to me. I heard them say, "look there is an Bulu"--meaning WHITE PERSON=$$$$. well, they were shit out of luck with me of course as I am just a little poor expat wanting luxury things for cheap. I did however get the names of some really nice ladies for a massage. Another day!! I stayed out and swam for a long time. The water here is perfect. not too hott like south beach and not freezing like the rest of the united states...just right. The weather was so nice.y. a few clouds to cut the heat and a nice cool breeze to make you satisfied to be reading a book on the beach without itching to jump in the water from heat stroke.

I feel pretty safe leaving my bag for a swim as security is everwhere hovering around...apparently theft is not big in bali at all, but of course I am careful. Soon, the beach started to fill up and it became a little too warm...i don't want to burn my first week here. a nice glow is alright with me. Off to the pool? indeed. WOWOW. pool was sooooo cool. it was not very big but it had fountains and there was this little nakey 1 year old walking around the pool trying to escape her father. she liked the statues of frogs and if I could have gotten a picture of this kid hugging it, I would never have to work again--What a doll! The pool also had these old statue stool things in the water so you could sit and have a drink. I read the "BAli Times"...speaking of newspapers. I have been trying to read the local stuff to know what's going on. damn, the reporting is so raw...not so dramatic but really to the point and very scary with how honest it is (?). The communications major is fascinated by all of this. don't even get me started on the advertising, HA. hilarious!!! Anyway, I could go on but here is what happens next.

After about 4 or 5 hours I finally leave my little sanctuary to go find me some more credit for my phone and to get more familiar with Sanur. Mission accomplished. What I think so far:  Ok, I think I have some thoughts, but they might change drastically from now until tomorrow or the next day or week. I think Bali is beautiful. I think Bali can be a bit touristy (hopefully this will calm down after the high season)-i mean it is bumping...and sanur is one of the more "local" spots so I am curious what is happening on other parts of the island. hmmm. I also think and know that the people living here are very very very poor. I can't begin to tell you some of the things I have seen that make me so unbelievably sad or gulity for having possessions. I also think that the balinese are very nice people. I also think that many or all of them make their money here from tourists and if they don't get what they want they can be so unbelievably pushy you wish you had water balloons in your bag to chuck at their asses. OMG, I can't walk 5 feet witjout trying to be sold something or offered a pedicure name it...crazy!!!!! I also HATE horns as it is but every taxi in bali feels it necessary to honk at anyone who isn't "brown" damnnn, which means I really need some surgery soon because I get honked at at least 75 times a day for "transport, transport" they eveb sing it to you. yikes!!!  As a whole, I love sanur and I definitely know that I will and NEED to live here as opposed to denpasar but I will need more time in low season to find a place. it is mayhem right now.

So, I headed home after having a nice sandwich at a place right by Little Pond. It was a smoked chicken +roasted vegetable sandwich with a yogurt sauce on ciabatta. The smoked chicken looked like pate' freaked me out big time when it came out but it tasted SOOOO good, I got over it. :)) and i am not dead yet! yay! +biggest accomplishment of everyday is not getting Bali belly=no diahhreea or naseau for erin--PLEASE KEEP PRAYING!!

I took a very long nap and then chelsea came over and picked me up on her scooter. We had a delighful evening together, just the two of us. It was a great reminder as to why she is still one of my closest and dearest friends. We went to another part of sanur that I havent been to yet and I loved it!!! We ate at a place right on the sand. Believe it or not, I had meditternean food-it was no Zatinya but how could I complain? I had a spinach and feta puff pasrty and a greek salad. I am trying to watch the carb overload that happens to ppl in bali because everything is served with rice.

Ummm, what else? Novel? yup always. I just have so much going on in one day. Ohh ok, so chelsea leaves for the Gili islands tomorrow and she needed a few supplied to bring with her so i went around sanur with her on her bike and then we walked a whole bunch. OK BEST PART OF DAY-_READYYY---i found Bali's version of Target!!! HAHAHAH. It is seriously 3 floors and has anything and everything you need. Did I mention I discovered a Dvd and music place today that sells rip offs for 1 dollar. OMG--I can have enterntainment. YESSSS. a well spent 3 dollars toda: Bought the movie The Grey, and a Best of U2 and the movie i dont know what it's called, shoot. well, anyway a new release and i tried them on my labtop and THEY ARE GOOD. chelsea says it's her favorite thing ever, hehe. so they have that here at this "target"too. and they also have a camera store, an incense and soap store. a grocery store. it is divided into two parts: the "belu ---WHITE side, and the "indo" side. HAHAHAHAA, well, that's how chelsea described it and it is sooooo funny and true. Haalf the store are items in balinese that I couldn't tell ya if a bag of chips was really toilet paper because the all have these pokemon characters all obver them. I thought they were fruit snacks..nope it was a box of tampons! fantastic!!!

Highlight of the day: Chelsea gave me a "how to rifde a scooter in hell 101." Seriously a bit nervous about this driving in SE asia with no real rules thing. mom and dad, don't be a nervouswreck. I will drive as LITTLE as possible. I did a great job-very easy, not like the motorcycle I operated so we are a-okkk. and no aggressive speeding tickets because i will be the slowest on the road, praise took me moving here to figure that out! yay me!

I ended my evening by sending chelsea off and then i took a very long--maybe 2 mile walk back to my homestay so i could browse the nightlife. Apparently where I am syaing is the more queit side. I was wondering about I know where the action is and I am glad to have my peaceful little pond tucked away in an alley.

I made friends with 2 baristas who are these 2 high school girls who speak perfect English and made me a delighful latte to enjoy with my cadbury chocolate outside on my porch while typing this. Erin +Latte= this kind of email.

I had to pack up my little home here because they need me to change rooms. apparently someone asked for this specific room as like an anniversary thing, months my ass has to move right next door. sounds easy right? whoa, i didn't prepare. I had to pack all my bags up again nice and perfectly so the staff could move me because i won't be here during the day tomorrow so the owner is moving me--apparently this is common practice so i shouldnt worry. dont' panic, I have my passport.

So where am I going??? Well, I did a lot of research since being here about different tours and where to go for what price and I decided what suited me best was a private driver to take me around the island in a convertible. I am going very far tomorrow with a well respected local named Wayan-and he is very popular with the Little Bird ppl (where I get my breakfast everyday) and the car holds 2-3 people so it should be very ncie and private. an 8r tour is 65 american (i am splurging since this is my -get into bali phase before work becomes crazy!!! I am very very excited and must go to bed soon. I am heading to Jatiluwih (north central bali) to visit rice terraces, tamn ayun temple, coffee plantations and Bedugal temple..finishing off at jatiliuwuh). I AM PUMPED to use my new camera.

Ok, that is it. swear, I am typed out.

I love you all very much and am so happy to have shared this with you!!! I miss you all and wish I could hug you!

Your Erin

Day 5:August 20,2012 I am different today...
Day 5: I am different today

My trip to Central/West Bali-

The sun woke me on its own today at 7:30am. Also, the crickets and exotic birds also help-not to mention the random roosters that crowd the streets (which crow all day for some reason-guess nap time will be interrupted frequently). As an aside, I have not taken a nap since my first day here. Am I still Erin? Haha. The jet lag really was non-existent for me; I guess my timing of sleep on the 42 hrs of travel was pretty impeccable. YAY.

So, I prepared for my all day journey to central/west bali. I didn’t know what to expect really. I knew that I would have my private car with 2 other ppl and that I’d be visiting temples but that’s all I knew. I was ok with just going for a ride.
Purprose and goal of trip: To see the “real” Bali and a lot of the island before the craziness of my move happened and before school starts. Well, that was accomplished in the first 20 mins of the trip, not to mention about 4 million other gifts and blessings that I was able to experience.
I wish I was more fresh writing this because it has been 2 days since my trip and I know I am forgetting LOTS, but I will do my best to convey the amazing-ness as best as possible.

I went to eat my delightful breakfast at little bird. I was sitting there for about 15 mins as the only customer in the place (Which is pretty typical-because it was only 8am) haha, when a Balinese looking Bob Marley guy came up to me and asked me how my breakfast was. He told me he was the “boss” hahaa, later to find out this charming gentleman would be my driver for the day, not the owner of Little Bird, but you wouldn’t have known it because he really “owns” this island with all of his wit, friendliness and knowledge of his hometown.

He told me he would get his “bat mobile” and that we could start our journey after I finished my breakfast. I laughed and had no idea what the hell he was talking about. About 15 mins later, this Rastefarrian pulled up in a convertible looking safari/rolls-royce/hummer/jeep mini thing!! Hilarious! I am going to see Bali in that??? AWESOMEEE!!! Semore, who I now refer to as “Batman” doesn’t speak that great of English but enough to banter with for 8 hrs so I was happy about that. I asked him where the other passengers were and he smiled and said I was the only one. “it’s you and me, and you are the boss. Wherever you want to go, I go, and whatever you want to see, I will take you. You want to stop, I stop. 8 hours is all yours”, he told me. I was so excited. My tour was for Central Bali- to go up to the mountains, to see some temples and lakes, rice terraces and a coffee plantations. I had no idea what I was in for- there was no preparation for the things that I was about to see. Landscapes that you only dream of seeing in real life: the ones where you think you “know” when you see them in movies or read the descriptions in a novel or see on the discovery channel. I thought I had too. I was pleasantly wrong and there are no words for what I did see, so a lot of this will be in photos.

It is about a 2 hour drive to the mountains and no real highways here…so lots of back dirt and gravel roads as well as one-way for two lanes of traffic streets for motorbikes, cars, wagons, bikes, walkers and workers alike. WOW—CHAOS. I thought I was in a movie. Honestly, if I had never gotten out of the car I would have had one of the top5 best days of my life. Semore and I were like peas in a pod. We did just the right amount of talking, day dreaming and listening to music. By the way when Semore put in his usb cord, and turned on the stereo you would have thought you were listening to my ipod. The guy loves Guns and Roses, Aerosmith—he also like norah jones, Howie day, jack Johnson and of course, Bob Marey!!! Hilarious. So, you are probably wondering? How much does a private driver cost to take you around Bali for 8 hours? Well, I got one of the more mid-range deals at 65 american dollars. (He took me out for 10 hours) because “I wasn’t done yet” he said. Everywhere we stopped he told me to take as long as I needed and that he would wait for me at a coffee shop. I was to text him when I was 5 mins away and he would pull up and pick me up! J) I can’t tell you how much I missed having someone drive me around. As you all know, I love my car to pieces and would opt to driver anywhere rather than to be a passenger, but today was different, today was my day to take it all in.

I took 683 photos on this one trip. My new camera iS WOW-awesome so thank you to everyone who contributed to my new toy, it is fantastic and has many settings.
Anyway, my first stop was a coffee plantation before getting to the top of the mountains. This had to be my favorite thing I have done all trip thus far. Me+coffee+landscape=Heaven!! I tried THE rarest coffee on earth-in the states it goes anywhere from $30-$50 dollars a cup to $300 a lb. What makes it so rare? It is called Lewak and the coffee beans are come from the poop (yes poopie, like number 2) from a cat like animal called a mongoose. The plantation has one baby one and it “poops” often so a good amount lewak is made each day! The process here to make one cup of coffee is 2 hours long. I will post pictures of me stirring the lewak in a pot over heat. This little plantation is run by less than 20 people and they were some of the kindest people I have met all trip. The girl who was my tour guide (21) spoke pretty great English and was so fascinated by me..she asked me a lot of questions and asked me to speak slowly. The people that were working, stopped and came and sat by me as I drank my Lewak. They also had a little table set out so that I could try 10 teas and 10 coffees (Yes, they made me my own 20 cups right then and there for a taste testing). By the way this tour was free—what?! I obviously bought some coffee so I am very happy about that :) and tipped my girl guide. I walked through the little forest and saw all kinds of aloe, clove, mint, ginseng, coco, lemon plants and trees. Also, papaya, starfruit, (which I got to try everything)-amazing!!!!

I bought semore a coffee and once we were done we headed off to the mountains to a lake called (Bedugal). I had way too much coffee so my bladder was a little weak so we had to make a stop and boy the toilets in this country are :UNREAL” wow, really!!! Unbelievably disgusting!! I have lots of alcohol wipes. Also the locks rarely work and you are bound to get walked in on 2 times a day. Yup, it’s happened lots. I was embarrassed at first and now I got over it. It’s just the way it is!
Once at the ulun danu temple, I couldn’t stop taking photos, it was one of the coolest things I had ever seen. This is a very big month for the Muslim and Hindu people so there are lots of celebrations, music, festivals and prayer. I came at a good time as there was a big celebration here with lots of “barong”-traditional dancing and a ceremony with the older men with instruments and meditation. I will post pics.

Next stop: rice terraces: We drove to the very top of Jatiluwih for some really unspoiled scenery. It was one of the coolest drives through the mist of the mountains and you could see perfectly clear once you got to the top. There is a place there called “billy’s café’ ad

Next on the agenda was to go to the rice terraces in “Jatiluwih“ mountain. Talk about a cool drive from the lake to the mountains!!! The mist, the color, the scenery, the personality of it all-it really made me feel like I was in Bali. It was here that it hit me-this is my home and I am so proud to call it mine for a year! Breathtaking!!!
When we first got to the top of the mountains, I told Semore I wanted to buy him lunch to thank him for our trip. It is good practice to tip your driver, but I thought buying Seymore a nice lunch on at the terrace café’s was a great idea, that and he is great company so I wanted him to eat with me as we enjoyed the views. He brought me to the top and we ate at a very famous restaurant overlooking the terraces called Billy’s. It was an all you can eat Indonesian Buffet for 4 american dollars. WOW-I was so escited, They had tempe (almost like a tofu cake pressed), tofu, fried rice, noodles, curry chicken, satay sticks, spring rolls and for dessert black rice pudding with coconut milk—YUMMMM!!!! John and Sean would be in heaven!

Once we sat for awhile and digested, Seymore told me to go for a walk through the terrace and that he would pick me up about a half mile down. I was really excited that you could get down and dirty to walk them because they looked so pretty, you worried that your foot steps would ruin the much tended to fields. In the distance there were three women who had been picking rice all day. Apparently the wage for working 9-12 hours here is 12,000 rupiah- only $1 american dollar!! This is so very sad and it was very painful to watch them work so hard; however you could tell they were very good friends and were chatting away in Balinese. I really wanted to tip them for how awesome my pics were but that is very rude, I swear I just wanted to hand them 20 dollar bills. Ahhh. I moved on and trekked through the fields, which were a bit soggy from the mountain mist (So glad I wore jeans and proper shoes) haha, much of Bali can be very dirty and rural so flip flops and boadrdshorts are best to be worn at the beach and in the cities. Here, you feel much cleaner if your jeans can protect you. I made a video of me in the terrace that I will try to post here.
Last but not least we looped back down towards the coast and went to the very famous temple called Tanah Lot, which means "Land sic: in the Sea" Located in Tabanan, about 20 kilometres (12 mi) from Denpasar, the temple sits on a large offshore rock which has been shaped continuously over the years by the ocean tide.
*Tanah Lot is claimed to be the work of the 15th-century priest Nirartha. During his travels along the south coast he saw the rock-island's beautiful setting and rested there. Some fishermen saw him, and bought him gifts. Nirartha then spent the night on the little island. Later he spoke to the fishermen and told them to build a shrine on the rock for he felt it to be a holy place to worship the Balinese sea gods.*
At this point in the trip I was exhausted so I only stayed there a bit so I could get back to the car as we had another hour and a half drive back home and it was already 6 (my tour should have been over at 5) hahhaa and I think we got back to Sanur around 8.
After our long, rather peaceful trip back, Seymore and I sat together at Little Bird, listened to some live music and he bought me a beer and introduced me to his friends that are some of the staff. We also had a very nice dinner.  These were the the very first moments in which I realized….I am a local, sitting at a bar with my very first friend.

 Journal 6: September 11, Singapore!

Hi Everyone,

Just got to fligh left at 6am this morning and my driver picked me up at my house at 3:15am. Because of our lovely language barrier he ended up coming at 2:15am originally but I gave him an orange juice and a snack and he told me he would wait on my porch while I got ready! Crazy! Anyway, I AM HERE!!! exhausted but so excited. As you know I taught yesterday til 9pm and didnt get to sleep until 11:30pm so i am running a bit low on sleep, hahaha, but very happy to be here safe and sound. Going on an adventure to see my visa guy and then getting a taxi to the local bus service. I have some notes so I plan on seeing as much as I can before I head out at 9pm tonight!

I miss and love you all dearly! Will let you know that I am home safe in Bali Tonight!!!


Let the race begin!!!!!!!

Singapore in a day for under 100 american dollars! GOOOOOO

Journal 7: September 24, 2012 A Breakthrough
 Hi Doyle clan,

I am very much enjoying hearing from everyone from all over the world--It is so cool to know we are all spread out over several continents and can still communicate this easily! yay!!!

John, WOW..that pork knuckle looked barbaric as hell, I feel like you should have been back in New Zealand with the Mauri and all Blacks rugby team eating that thing! It was bigger than Pikka (Cara). I am so unbelievably happy that you are enjoying your travel days with such a rad girl. She is definitely awesome and you deserve this vacation to just eat, chat and get crazy with the locals//drink lots of random beers at all times of the day. Have one for me-a nice brown lager! DING DING DING

Seanie, this role sounds PERFECT. Mom told me about it and I am so thrilled that you have something local and stimulating. I bet it will be a big relief being able to come home to the pup and david for once as opposed to stale hotel rooms. That and you will have organic/lovely food again at your fingertips.  I am so excited that you are even considering flying out here for a week!!!! what a crazy adventure...I promise it will be worth it, if not for anything else than to give me a much needed bear hug. I need those right about now!! I can take you around on my scooter in the evening if you'd like.

Mom and Dad have heard the most from me as you all know I was very sick last week and a few weeks before that! I am so sorry i have been missing in action on the uploads of pictures and blogging. Life here is very different to say the least. I am trying to adjust not only to new curriculum, a new school, new foreign students, and working a pretty long work week..I am also trying to find places that won't give me diarrhea, good places to snorkel and swim, places where I can ride my motorbike without dying and getting to know a very different/bizarre and fascinating culture that is so foreign to me.

This weekend I had a major breakthrough. I took my very first road trip via motorbike (about a 6 hour drive and 11 hour day trip) to the small village of sidemen on the west coast of Bali. I can't begin to explain how exhilarating it was to be amongst the local people, away from the bartering/markets and crazy shit that the city of denpasar (where I live) contains. It was incredible seeing the rice terraces, driving on a bridge that looked like it belonged in the movie indiana jones (no railing, no barricades and all waterfalls down below). You just keep your head forward, slow up on the gas and hope to God you make it out on the other side ok. I can't explain the smells of the mists here in the countryside. After driving to sidemen, the Bristish girls and I sat out at a Warung (an Indonesian cafe) and had fresh (Mi Goreng Ayam)--fried chicken noodles with an egg on top) and fresh Satay off the skewers. I then bought a small painting from a little boy named Wayan in the village who had sketches in his notebook from school. He was adorable and so proud of his artwork. I will frame it for my room! We then drove to the oldest and largest temple in Bali which was way out in the mountains. The last stop was a drive to Batur where there is the best view of the volcano! I felt like I was in santorini in a weird way because of the cafe we sat at to have dessert was overlooking the landscape of Batur. Sooo amazing. Pics to follow.

Sorry that was rushed. I just taught an online course and now I have 3/80 minute courses to plan for.

I love you all and miss you so very much. Thank you for your prayers.

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