Bali, Indonesia

When we were looking for place to spend our first anniversary together and realized we were only a 5 hour flight away from Bali, it just felt like a no brainier.

After a little bit of research and taking in suggestions from a few friends that had travelled there before we decided on booking an air bnb in Ubud for 4 days and then spending another 4 days in the busier Seminyak.  When we landed in Bali late at night, we were greeted by our driver Wayan, who also owned the Villa we were staying at in Ubud.  We couldn’t see too much of our Villa or surroundings at night so weren’t really sure what kind of place we booked and we were mostly just concerned with getting to bed because we had a big day the next day.

After heading to bed around 11 PM we woke up the morning of our anniversary (5/15/16) at 3 am so Wayan could drive us about an hour to meet our guide for what would turn out to be a very memorable day.  At 4 am we met our  guide and start our trek up Mt Batur which is fairly dormant Volcanoes (from what we were told).  The 2 hour trek up wasn’t too bad, but because it was a Volcano there was a lot of loose lava rock which made it a little more challenging than we expected.  The trip is also pretty much in pure darkness so luckily we had purchased a few headlamps a couple days before.  Once we reached the summit of the Volcano we find a nice little rock ledge were we able to let our feet hang and get comfortable as we waited for the the sunrise.

While we were waiting our guide provided us our breakfast that Wayan’s wife packed for us to help us replenish so much need fuel.  We sat up on the ledge for probably a good hour waiting for the sun to fully rise while we reflected on the year behind us, the year ahead, and of course took some phenomenal pictures of sunrise and surrounding Volcanoes.  As we wrapped up Sunrise we were one of the first headed back down the mountain to meet Wayan again so he could take us to the next stop of the day, the natural springs.  We’re still not entirely sure how it works but essentially the steam from the surrounding volcanoes is able to heat nearby water and a few entrepreneurs are able to harness the water in a few different springs and create a series of different pools for us to relax in.  We lounged around here for a bit dozing on and off until we decided we probably should get a real view of our villa and we could probably do the same thing back there.

After a quick pit stop to get some necessities (snacks and booze) we arrived at our Villa during the daylight and realized just how great of a find this place was.  Pictures below barely do this place justice as we were basically surrounding by rice fields that were manicured by Wayan’s family and our own private pool and oasis to do with what we wanted for the next 3 days.  It didn’t take long for us to change into our swim suits and spend most of the day relaxing by the pool.  To help break up the day we headed to a local lunch place 5 minutes up the road that served a combination of Balinese and other East Asian food. Sarah went for the Chicken Curry and Scot went for the Cashew Chicken- our bill for the 2 of us totaled about $5 USD.  Following lunch we headed back to the pool until we determined it was time for cocktails and to get ready for the evening.

Given it was our Anniversary we did decide to splurge a bit on dinner that night and headed to Cascades which is part of the Viceroy hotel in Ubud.  Dinner was nothing less than spectacular, after a couple of delicious appetizers, we split a beef wellington with a few “compliments of the Chef” brought to us in between.  We finished the night off with a couple delicious desserts and full stomachs before heading back to our Villa for a night cap.  All in all if day 1 was a sign of things to come for Bali we weren’t going to be disappointed.

The next day we woke up early and headed to the Yoga Barn at a nearby resort for a vinyasa flow class. We were pleasantly surprised to find that due to some construction at the hotel, the resort was offering a complimentary class to anyone that showed up, regardless of whether or not a person was staying at the resort. After 90 minutes of sweating, we headed into Ubud town to take in the atmosphere and grab a juice at a local restaurant. Wayan picked us up a short time later and took us back to the resort to work out and relax by the pool.  We had no definitive plans for the day, so we ordered lunch from a the local restaurant Warung Bintangbali (delicious!) and enjoyed ourselves outside until 4 pm, when we decided it was game time. We drank and played Jenga and 500 rummy until we finally grew hungry for dinner several hours later. Being unfamiliar with the area we googled the only place we knew: Warung Bintangbali where we had eaten lunch! We walked to the restaurant and enjoyed a delicious dinner of fries and onion rings (appetizers) and fish curry (Sarah) and ribs ( Scot).

By the end of dinner we had enjoyed a few bintangs, so the local restaurant workers offered to give us a lift back to Wayan’s place on the back of their mopeds (we happily obliged!) We were not ready to turn in for the night, so we decided to FaceTime some family and friends that we hadn’t seen for a while. We started the night with Magiera, who had just gotten to work and snuck out of the WGN studio into the stairwell to talk to us. Next we caught up with our vicar, Mike Burg, which seemed only fitting on our one year anniversary. Finally, we finished the night with Cassie, Grayson, and Ollie (Danny was at work and little Danny was at school).

On our last full day in Ubud, we woke up and did an early workout by the pool. We decided to spend the day at our villa, relaxing and enjoying the pool. We caught up on our books, and ordered from Warung Bintangbali (the same place as yesterday) for lunch. When late afternoon came we continued our game of 500 Rummy from the previous day until about 5:30 when we headed into Ubud town for dinner.

We stopped at a local bar for a beer and an appetizer, before heading over to get a traditional Balinese massage from a spa that we had found on Trip Advisor (it was pretty nice, but not the best). After the massage we did a bit of shopping (Scot bought a tank top and Sarah bought some colorful coasters to replace the horribly ugly ones from Ikea that we’d been using since we moved to HK). We continued to walk through town until we found an open air bar with live Western music (Led Zeppelin, Charlie Daniels Band, the Doors, the Beatles). The music was great but the food was really sub-par, so we treated ourselves to some gelato before heading back to the villa and calling it a night.
The next day we woke up early to get a workout in, then laid by the pool until Wayan came by to drive us to Seminyak. We checked into our villa at the Elysian Resort, then headed to the pool for lunch and drinks. A friend had recommended that we check out Potatohead for sunset, so we decided to check it out on our first night. He was right- it was an incredible place to watch the sunset! When the sun went down we walked towards downtown Seminyak and made a reservation at Bodyworks (another recommendation from friends) for services on Friday. Afterwards, we stopped at a bar across the street for a quick drink and to take some pictures in a cool looking Vespa with a side cart that they had on display.

For dinner, we went to Hank’s pizza, a super hip little pizza place that we just happened upon during our walk home. Hanks was great- it played nothing but old school hip hop (Jurrasic 5, Tribe Called Quest) and was decorated from top to bottom with Rock n’ Roll memorabilia and pictures of rock legends from the 70’s (mug shots from Jimmi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, David Bowie, and Mick Jagger were prominently on display). The bathroom doors were covered in a wall to wall photograph of Sid and Nancy. For dinner we ordered the “Axl” and the “Lennon”, both of which were both good. After dinner we headed back to the villa for a night cap, then headed to sleep.

The next day we woke up and after breakfast and a quick workout, we decided to head to the beach for part of the day.  After walking up the beach for a bit we decided to try our hand at surfing.  We took a short lesson, then spent an hour or so in the shallow area attempting to get up on boards. It was fun but also a bit exhausting given it we were both fairly new to it.  As we finished we decided to head back to the hotel to get a break from the sand, sea and sun. We grabbed lunch and lounged at the pool before heading to La Lucciola for sunset cocktails and some delicious appetizers.  Once the sun went down we stopped by a diner-like restaurant-bar called Sea Circus for a quick cocktail before heading to La Mexicola for dinner.  After some ceviche Sarah had the prawn and pork tacos andScot enjoyed a chorizo quesadilla.  As we walked back to our hotel we thought we stop for a night cap at Ku de Ta and scope the venue to see if it would be a good beach club for us to finish in the next couple of days.

On Day 6, we relaxed.  After our morning routine we headed to Bodyworks for our 1/2 day spa treatments consisting of a massage, facial, foot massage and manicure.  We definitely recommend that anyone visiting Seminyak should check out Bodyworks- all of our services cost us about $70-80 USD a piece (very reasonable price compared to US or Hong Kong standards).  Once we were pampered and relaxed we headed back to the Elysian pool to soak up some more sun before dinner time.  For dinner we elected for an in-villa Barbecue were the hotel brought a grill and chef into our patio and cooked up dinner right outside our place to enjoy.  To finish off the night we played some cards and relaxed watching tv.

On our last full day we had full intentions of trying to get the most out of the sun as possible.  We spent most of the day at the pool reading, relaxing, and working on our tans  until we decided we should venture out.  For sunset, we headed a little south of Seminyak to a section along the beach that is filled with outdoor bars with bean bag chairs and loungers on the beach. Although it was still part of Seminyak, this side of the island had a very different, more laid-back vibe- they played great music, and nobody was in a rush to do anything (including bringing us drinks, which was a bit annoying but it goes with the territory).  We settled at a place called Juice Bar to sit in a couple of bean bags, have a cocktail, play some cards, and watch the sunset.  After sunset we decided that, since enjoyed the food at La Lucciola so much, we’d head back there for our last dinner in Bali. Once again, it was delicious, and we soaked in one last view of the ocean before departing.  The next morning we were up early and headed to the airport to catch our flight back to Hong Kong

All in all, Bali was an amazing to place to celebrate an adventurous year together and an excellent combination of adventure and relaxation!

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