Monday, January 27, 2014

Birthdazed in Bali

Dear Friends,
This is a post about my birthday. It was in November. I could go into detail about the reasons I've been backlogged on posts for the last few months, but I'd rather just leave you with this image.
(Moving on.)
My trip to Unawatuna re-wetted my appetite for travel and plans for a birthday holiday to Bali voraciously brewed before I even stepped back onto my resort's jetty and returned to work. As some of you may or may not remember, Bali had been a dream destination of mine before my travels even began. Planning to ring in my next birthday there not only excited me, but occupied much, if not all, of my free mental space at work. Eight weeks of work passed quickly, and before I knew it, I was back on a seaplane heading to the Male International Airport to meet my boyfriend, Sanoon, and begin my birthday celebrations.
Sanoon and I had plans to spend the afternoon in Male then take the first flight out in the wee hours of the morning to begin our long transit to Bali [Male--->Sri Lanka--->Singapore--->Bali]. However, the underwhelming qualities of Male propelled us to change our tickets the minute we passed the main terminal and we flew out on the next available flight to spend one night in Sri Lanka.
Without any plans or reservations set upon our arrival, we hopped in a tuk tuk and found the closest hotel to the airport that was not only affordable but also looked like we could succussfully avoid waking up in bathtub full of ice missing a couple of our vital organs in the morning.
("Good Wood"... just what type of clientele frequents this rent-by-the-hour establishment?)
With all our organs in tact, Sanoon and I started to leisurely make our way to the airport. Since Good Wood was a stone's throw away from our terminal, we figured leaving just before 6am for our 7:30 am flight provided ample travel time. However, we forgot that Sri Lanka is an extra half hour ahead of the Maldives, and it was actually 6:30 in the morning when we left, making us dangerously close to the closure of our check in.
After a frantic tuk tuk ride, [and thanks to the fact that we had no baggage to check] we were able to snag our tickets at a kiosk and make it just in time for the final call at our gate.
(The face of success/someone who didn't look at their iPhone World Clock.)
We flew to Singapore's Changi International Airport, where we spent the next 5 hours of our layover exploring the many shops, restaurants, free wifi and [my personal favorite] the butterfly garden.
(Sanoon and I agreed that there's more to do in Changi Airport than the entire Republic of Maldives.)
We arrived in Bali late in the evening. As I habitually changed over my money at the airport, I was happy to discover that I appear much richer in Indonesian rupiahs than I've ever appeared in my life.
(Move over, Denzel.)

My dear Balinese friend, Nur, made sure Sanoon and I would be taken care of immediately upon our arrival to Bali, so she employed her friend Gede to be our personal driver on the island throughout the week.
(Nur's too lovely not to post a picture.)
(Gede, the best guide in Bali.)
It was rather late when we arrived, but Gede graciously took us for our first meal in Bali.
(Nom, nom, nom.)
Gede dropped us off in the west coast village of Seminyak. Known for its nice beach and night life, Sanoon and I occupied our time there scooting around town on our Scoopy, shopping and eating.
(Perhaps it wasn't the beachiest way to spend our time in a village reknowned for surf and sun, but I live on a sand bank in the middle of the ocean full, meh.)
I was happy to ring in my birthday at the Seminyak staple, Potato Head, a beachside bar/club with as many beds as there are couches and an enormous pool that's good for a drunken dip in the dark [not that I did that].
The next morning, Gede picked us up and we drove through the countryside towards our next destination, Ubud. The ride was lovely as we passed through many rice paddies and rural villages.
Somewhere along the winding roads of the island, we made a detour at a local coffee plantation. The plantation was beautifully sprinkled with Balinese handicrafts,
And the famous Luwak, a weasel like creature that sh*ts coffee beans.
(I think this coffee machine needs to be serviced.)
(Yes, the Balinese drink this. No, I did not.)
(Plumber or Barista? You make the call.)
There were other types of coffees and teas to try at the plantation,
but my favorite was the Ginseng Coffee, good for stimulating the central nervous system, lowering blood pressure and enhancing virility. Make sure to drink it in moderation though, otherwise this could happen to you.
Sanoon attempted an intervention,
but ended up succumbing to peer pressure buying his own package of coffee instead.
Another hour and a half of winding mountain roads later, we arrived in Ubud. Ubud is the spiritual center of Bali, renowned for its arts and crafts, amazing architecture and yoga [my personal draw to the region].
The guest house we stayed in was lovely.
It boasted many gardens,
rice paddies,
and a swimming pool [I think].
Since I tend to be a bit of a birthday glutton, Sanoon and I celebrated my birthday a second night in a row by going to dinner at the 5 Star restaurant in COMO Uma Ubud.
The rest of our stay in Bali was spent practicing yoga, visiting with a couple of my pals from Koh Phangan, shopping [more than necessary] and hanging out at various bars and cafes around town.
Before we knew it, our whirlwind time in Bali had come to a close and we were heading off to our final birthday destination...Singapore!
I'll write more about that part of our trip in a separate post that I promise to publish in a more timely fashion [i.e. less than three months].
Scout's honor.