Turn Right At The Equator. Then Eat, Pray, Love and Eat Some More.

Turn Right At The Equator. Then Eat, Pray, Love and Eat Some More.

I am eating my face off in Indonesia. Actually I have been eating my way through all of southeast Asia, starting back in Vietnam and then Thailand. But I digress. Bali, and all of Indonesia for that matter, was nowhere on our radar until a few weeks ago, so we had no idea what to expect, food- or otherwise. I already gushed about Gili Air, our entry into Indonesia, here, and after 5 nights on that perfect little island that sits just below the equator we headed to the bigger island of Bali. I thought it was just one big Caribbean-like honeymoontacular place, full of sand, flowers and pina coladas. I had no idea about the rice fields, temples and ceremonies. Unlike the rest of Indonesia, which is Muslim, Bali is Hindu, and it’s a different Hindu than India’s. More than just religion, it’s a way of life. Offerings to the gods are scattered on streets and sidewalks, every house has a temple and the very complex Balinese calendar (1 year = 210 days = 6 months, 35 days each ) is consulted before doing ANYTHING — buying a house, starting a new job, cremating the dead, getting a haircut — because certain days work and others don’t. On the morning we took surf lessons in Canggu, there were two cremations and a wedding because “this is the good day for it.” Surreal to be surfing (fumbling) with a cremation happening on the beach in front of you.There are four first names in the Balinese culture, and they mean only First, Second, Third or Fourth. As in when you were born in your family. The names are unisex, so if you’re a firstborn and you marry a firstborn, your name is Wayan and so is your spouse’s. If you’re born second, your name is Made, pronounced Mah-DAY. If there’s a fifth kid, the names start over at some variation of the firstborn’s. Nicknames are rampant, because otherwise a community with only four names in it would be rife with confusion. We started in Ubud, known for its yoga and monkeys (it’s also where the Love happened in Eat, Pray, Love). Our place, Dragonfly Village, sits up above the town in the middle of rice paddies and the stars are incredible. We came specifically to Ubud to get our yoga on, then fell in love with it and extended our stay. It’s like a cute little Southern California town filled with great restaurants and shops, except that every third or fourth building is a temple and scooters make up the traffic instead of SUVs. Everyone rides them everywhere and often one scooter holds a family of five. Yesterday we saw a man driving with a little kid on his lap and a woman sitting sidesaddle behind him breastfeeding a baby. I just saw two children and a dog climb aboard another. We rode one past vast rice terraces that are so green they look like golf courses from far away (“turn left at the big tree” is an actual direction we were given), out to a sacred water temple, past an active volcano and through a forest of monkeys. This was my first time riding on a bike with Anthony and it was alternately super fun and terrifying. You don’t know fear until you’re on the back of a scooter going up a steep hill and it just STOPS. MOVING. mid-hill because it’s not getting enough juice. You just think to yourself ohmygodwearegoingtorollbackwardsontoallthesepeoplebehindus (breath) ormaybearewegoingtofallonoursidesfirstandthenslidedownhillwiththebikeontopofushowdoesmyhairlook. This happened twice and thank you Saint Christopher and everyone else above, the bike somehow found enough power deep inside its 6-oz motor to propel us up over the hill. This wasn’t Anthony’s fault. Another time I was riding on the back of a hotel driver’s scooter — they load up their scooter with your heavy bags then tell you to hop on the back and drive you to the hotel over gravel roads weaving through the rice paddies while you try to avoid hitting passersby and other scooters with your foot or head — and the same thing happened. I think my 40-pound suitcase was more than the driver bargained for. All this plus Indonesia drives on the opposite side of the road. But Anthony and I bravely set out to explore the land and explore we did. Temples are everywhere. Some make you feel like you’re Indiana Jones, others like you should really just pray more. In all of them, both women and men must wear a sarong that covers almost all of their lower body, topped with a sash around the hips. Even for the holy spring water temple we visited outside of Ubud. You do a ritual of sending up your prayer, drinking the water (yes the same water everyone is standing in, I’m still here by some divine intervention), immersing your head in the pool and then repeating this several times. It was beautiful. When we’d had enough of the ceremony and rice terraces, we moved on to the beach, spending two nights at Frii Hotel (one of our favorites of our trip) in the suuuuuper cool town of Canggu, the laid-back it’s-cool-man counterpart to Bali’s nearby party places. Surfing is the main draw in Canggu, so Anthony continued his education he’d started in Spain and I took a stab at starting mine. After getting pounded early on by what was probably a 4-inch wave, I almost called it a day, but I could see A in the distance out on the bigger waves while I played around on the bunny hill and I couldn’t just give up like that. So I went back out, got up a couple of times and it was really fun. Remains to be seen if it happens again. I might just stick to frolicking on the sand. We loved loved loved Canggu and would have stayed longer (this is becoming a pattern with us) but after nearly two weeks in Indonesia, we had to leave for the Philippines where my older sister and nephews live and because my parents were flying 89 hours to meet us there BECAUSE THEY ARE THE BEST PARENTS IN THE WORLD. That I’m excited to see them after nearly six months is an understatement. Manila, here we come!! Bring on the motherland.

 

Where we stayed in Ubud, Bali:

Drangonfly Village (up in the rice paddies)

 

Where we ate & liked in Ubud:

Oops Restaurant & Bar (great live music)

 

Where we stayed in Canggu, Bali:

Frii Hotel

 

Where we ate & liked in Canggu:

Old Man’s Restaurant & Bar (great live music)

 

 

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And now, a special 3am performance by our friend in Bali, The Gecko. Don’t try to adjust your TV sets. I took this video in the pitch black. Just listen and love. And try to imagine yourself attempting to sleep through this.

 

14 Responses

  1. Unbelievably interesting!

  2. Gina Artese

    I am so jealous of all your fabulous travels! This place looks seriously unbelievable! Seeing you in the sarong and Anthony in a sarong-skirt kinda made my day lol. And your scooter experiences must have been epic. Just be careful, have a great time in the Philippines and say hello to your parents. Enjoy every minute with your sister and all of them! xoxo

  3. Cheryl Mingrone

    Your lives will never be the same after this trip! Amazing! As always can’t wait till the next post! Enjoy York time with your family.

  4. Indonesia looks good on both of you. It’s all Fascinating! (And scooter stories are terrifying – good thing you are tiny and light) have so much fun in Philippines . That is SO cool that you’re parents are meeting you there. The best! Travel safe xo

  5. Rosemary Sylvan

    Bali has always been on my bucket list. Enjoy! I love your entire trip!

  6. I loooooove this!!! I am so jealous I am dying to get to Indo!!! Love it all. Xxx

  7. Nikki Conway

    The pictures are beautiful, what a great experience and memories you are having. Be safe and enjoy!!! xoxoxo

  8. TY for sharing, all the beautiful setting’s of this country, Your pics are so awesome, your sunrises & sunsets are, off the wall, the temples, the rice patties, the country is so lush, I can go on & on, I love U both, Be Safe, cannot wait for the next edition of your book. All My Love-Judy Serrone-jserrone4@gmail.com, OH exciting News the baby Paulie Serrone, is now engaged to Lauren Warhurst, I am so happy for my baby boy. I LOVE U BOTHxoxoxoxoxoxo

  9. As always, love the adventure stories and pictures. And NOW we are here to share in a small part of your journey, and are sooooo happy to be here with you.

  10. And how could I forget! HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO YOU!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. LOVE this! So glad you loved Bali and Indonesia. Have a great time in the Philippines with your family!

  12. This place is amazing! Love to Tricie & family and your folks.
    Happy 2nd anniversary to you both!! love yous

  13. Amazing!!

  14. Tita Kathy

    Loved your PI blog and pics. How wonderful!
    You know for some reason under that blog I couldn’t
    leave a reply. Had to go to your previous blog.
    Probably my system . Hope you see this.
    I am glad you clarified that your hubby is the tall
    white man. I wouldn’t have guessed. :)
    Love yous

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