Before heading back to Canada for the summer Matt and I ventured to Bali (a travel destination that has on the top of my list since the famous ‘Eat, Pray, Love’). The island was everything and more that I ever imagined. The people were welcoming and kind, the food was incredible (with international, local and organic options), the rice paddies were 50 shades of green, the Hindu temples were surreal, the hiking was challenging and rewarding, the arts and crafts were unique, the beaches were stunning AND diving in the Gilis was the best!
When we arrived, a man named Wyan from our guesthouse picked us up at the airport. He drove us to Ubud, where we stayed at a home stay (Pondok Bulan Mas) owned by his wife’s family. Wyan took us around the central part of the island to some of the most popular sites. We visited Pura Taman Ayun, Pura Luhur Batukaru and Pura Bedugul! He was well informed and very excited to share his life with us!
On the second day, Wyan took us to Mount Batur for sunrise. We left the home stay at 2:30 AM and arrived at the base of the mountain with plenty of time to hike to the lookout. It was pitch black while we hiked and all we could see were dots of light from other hikers’ headlamps leading all the way up the mountain. When we finally got to the top, Wyan prepared a small breakfast with hot coffee and tea for us. It was very chilly, so I was thankful for the heat in my hands. The sunrise was breathtaking and we were so lucky to share the moment with our Canadian friends Kelsey, Emma and Gian. Hiking down was the coolest part because we were able to see everything that we couldn’t see on the way up. I was surprised to see the view, the size of the mountain, the craters and the fresh tomatoes growing along the path. When we finished out hike, we went to a hot spring to defrost and warm up for another day of exploring.
Next we stopped at an incredible temple called Gunung Kwai. The walk into the temple was lined with locals selling beautiful crafts. We bought a carved coconut, which you can see the elderly man finishing for us, and a few fridge magnets to add to our collection.
The same evening, we met our friends at the main intersection in Ubud for dinner, drinks and a traditional Balinese dance. We watched a performance at Ubud Palace, an open stage covered by the stars. I was able to capture some beautiful pictures with my zoom lens (I guess it was worth lugging around after all)! We enjoyed the dance.. it was entertaining and a great evening activity in a small place like Ubud. Definitely worth checking out!
The next day we went to Monkey Forest and wandered around the streets of Ubud, admiring the art. Matt bought a traditional Balinese mask of the God Ganesha (which is now hanging in Mexican apartment… down the hall from the Buddha statue and across the room from a cross). I also bought a picture frame for Kayla, it had her name all over it the moment I saw it!
In the afternoon, we hired a taxi to take us to Tulemben to dive the US Liberty Shipwreck. This was the first dive I’d done since I being certified in Koh Tao and I realized how much I love being under the water. I saw my first sea turtle and Matt took this picture of it! Unfortunately I had some issues equalizing but our guide helped me by rubbing and tugging on my ears. I never understood how painful this was for divers until I experienced it for the first time! Now I always take a decongestion pill before going under.
After the shipwreck dive, we knew that we wanted to spend some more time diving. As planned, we headed to the Gili Islands to get started. We had a difficult time deciding between Gili Trawangan, Air or Meno, but due to lack of time, we decided on Gili T. even though it is more developed and busy with tourists. We wandered around with our backpacks until we found one of the diving schools we had read about in our Lonely Planet guide. Gili Divers Hotel is where we ended up living for the next three nights and we couldn’t have been happier! The staff was amazing, the hotel was cozy, food at The Deck was great and most importantly… the dive sites were UNREAL!
Over the course of three days, we did a night dive, deep dive, drift dive, navigation dive and buoyancy dive. I’m proud to say that we now have our ‘Advanced Diver’ certification and are already thinking about where we could do our Diver Master (hopefully we’ll find ourselves back in the Gilis…).
We are already counting down to our next trip to Bali.. I’d love to spend a month there.. eating, diving, hiking and exploring the little villages! I’m thinking about the Travelling Mudskippers right now, wishing I could join them in Bali for the start of their trip around the world!