The Light

After two days of rest at granny’s hostel I was ready to move on again so I went to Ubud with two girls. Ubud is in the center of Bali and is also the place where Elizabeth Gilbert (I think that’s her name?) from Eat, Pray, Love was staying when she was doing the love section in Bali. Eddy from the hostel drove us and took us to his “aunties” hostel as he kept calling it. It was great; big beds, wifi, and the best free breakfast I have had in Bali! Apparently her husband is some sort of a chef and he made the most delicious banana pancakes. Ubud was really nice and relaxing, we pretty much spent 3 days shopping and trying to find a western union that would let me get some money! Remind me to never lose my credit cards while traveling again… The second morning we walked into town to get some coffee and we heard there was some sort of cremation ceremony going on so naturally we went to search for it. Turns out someone of “royalty” in Ubud had passed away and they were having this huge celebration. I’m not really sure what it means to be ofmroyalty in Bali because as far as i know there is no royal family but i guess you can still be royal! They had this giant, ornate, colorful tower that was being carried by about 60 men. The body was placed in a coffin in the top center of the tower and the brothers of the deceased were all sitting up there with the body. They had also tied live chickens upside down all around the tower. There were about 5 other float type things that came through in a sort of parade and stopped in the center square to spin the float in circles a few times (almost hitting a few bystanders in the process). It was really incredible to watch and everyone was so happy and cheerful. It felt so much more like a celebration of life rather than a mourning of death. I think it shows a lot about cultural differences and the way which death is viewed between eastern and western societies. Anyway, we followed this procession for about 25 minutes before ending up in a park. The men carrying one of the float/statues that was in the shape of a big white bull cut it open and the coffin was placed inside. All the locals who were partaking in the ceremony then came up with offerings (which in Bali are square shaped banana leaf trays filled with flowers and incense) and they torched the bull until everything was burnt to a crisp. It was insane to watch. After that we walked around Ubud and that night went to see a Balinese dance. It was a very cultural day! The dance was cool- very colorful and the music was awesome. Every single movement in Balinese dancing has a meaning, even down to the eyeball movements so it was very entertaining. The next day we got up and got a taxi to an amazing temple called Gunung Kawi. We had to walk down 300+ steps to get there and when we finally arrived we were standing in a jungle valley surrounded by huge carved rock walls. According to Balinese myth the temple was created in only one night and was carved by God’s fingernail. We spent a fair amount of time at the temple then headed south to Sanur to catch a fast boat to Nusa Lembongan. More on that later…

This Must Be The Place

Sorry I’m behind! I arrived in Bali 3 weeks ago after a looooong flight from Istanbul. I met some Aussies on the way to the airport though who were on my flight to kuala lumpur and we navigated the airport together which was fun. I got off the plane in Denpasar Bali and was immediately attacked by so many taxi drivers trying to take me in their cab. When I finally arrived at the hostel I had booked (granny’s hostel which I read online was the best hostel to meet people) I had accidentally booked my bed for the week before- oops! But the owner (balto) said not to worry and they put an extra mattress on the floor for me. That’s pretty much how granny’s hostel goes. Everyone wants to stay but they dont have enough room so there’s people sleeping everywhere. The staff at granny’s is Balto- the owner, an amazing and kind Indonesian guy who also speaks german and is a shameless flirt, Lexy- also Indonesian and also a flirt and very sweet, Dedy- the driver, who is hilarious though I can barely understand a word he says, the ladies who work in the kitchen, and ALL of their friends who come every night to play guitar and drink arak (the local vodka which I refuse to drink because it is sometimes mixed with ethanol) and bintang (the local beer). I immediately felt welcome, safe, and comfortable here and met a ton of other solo travelers. We have a little family in granny’s hostel. Grannys is the type of place where one can get stuck easily and I did just that for a week and a half. Time moves so slowly and everyone is so relaxed. Oh also I was swimming in the ocean with some hostel friends late and night and left my stuff on the beach and it got stolen. Totally my fault but huge pain to try to figure out this credit card situation and get some western union money (thanks mama!!) After about 3 days of non activity I decided to do a temple tour, I got some friends from the hostel and Dedy drove us all around Bali. We left really early in the morning and I was so happy to get out of kuta as it is sort of a surf/tourist trap. Driving around the island I was mesmerized by the architecture, detailed wood, carved doors, silk fabrics, Buddhas, vibrant colors and motorbikes everywhere. Our first stop was Ubud where we went to a monkey sanctuary. It was basically just a bunch of old temples with monkeys hanging all over them but it was really cool! From there we drove up a mountain called Tegal Alang and stopped to check out a beautiful volcano that sits on a river. We continued north and arrived at the basaki temple which is nestled into the Kintamani mountain and it was so beautiful. We were there during a ceremony so there were a lot of locals all wearing white and carrying baskets on their heads. Also in the temples everyone has to wear a skirt (even the men). After the temple we headed back to Kuta. I did one more day trip to Uluwatu which is on the southern coast of bali this beach is known for its surf breaks as well as its stunning cove beaches that come straight out of cliffs. There is a beautiful temple there on top of one of the cliffs where we watched the sunset. We took a taxi there which took about 2 hours and cost us about $3 a person it was a nice drive and so worth it! Pictures to come. Other than that, During my week and a half in kuta I did a whole lot of nothing (other than the temple tour). Beach, beer, delicious food, massage… The money here is amazing! 10,000 rupiah equals $1. There is a food stand who parks outside of the hostel and makes mie goreng (friend noodles) nasi goreng (friend rice) cap cay (vegetable soup) and mie ayam (noodle soup) all for 10,000 rupiah. So I don’t spend more than $4 on food even when I go out to eat and to get an hour long massage at the spa it costs $5. So that’s awesome! One thing about Indonesia and I’m guessing the rest of Asia is that people try to rip you off a lot. It’s not a big deal because instead of $2 they want you to pay $5 but now that I have been here for a little while I know what things are supposed to cost and can bargain down pretty well. Next stop: Gili islands.