Kuta | Bali

Our ferry leaving Gili T starts off casual. Several of us head to the top deck for a good long bask in the sun. The water is rougher on this leg of our journey, and we are lightly misted on occasion from our vessel and the rough seas colliding. After a while I realize that many people have gone down to the lower deck because their side has been essentially doused (the boat is not big, so I’m surprised I haven’t noticed). What started as refreshing mist has now evolved into literal gushes of the sea coming too close for comfort. I make moves to get down.

Unfortunately, the ladder is being bombarded with water, as is my pathway to it. I’m soaked just from standing up, so I might as well continue my plan. Lolling at myself, I grab my things, chuck them down the ladder sending them flying every which way, then scurry my hind down to the dry lower deck. I’m positively drenched. The crew clambers back to see what all the commotion is. Just me! After some others come down after me, and almost fall off the boat doing so, the crew decides it’s unsafe for people to be on the top deck and ask the stragglers to come down. The boat has to slow down to a crawl to make sure no one goes flying off. Safety first… After a small ordeal, the remaining human cargo from up top is nestled safely on deck, completely drenched. We continue our journey to Bali, and I shiver, sitting in my shady spot at the back. Back on the main island, our ferry company drives us to our next destination, Kuta.

The hostel here is great. We meet up with some other people and embark on a journey to the famous and stunning temple, Uluwatu. Our hopes to watch the sunset are, unfortunately, foiled by the somewhat overcast weather. Sundown is not quite visible. No matter. The temple itself is incredible and the clouds are gorgeous, too. I personally feel that clouds don’t get enough credit. They’re magnificent, and can really add to a sunset when done right.

We excitedly scamper around Uluwatu for a while. We meet some guys feeding the monkeys on our way out. They offer to let us feed them, too. It’s funny to see the monkeys slinking around, kind of like cats, but a lot less sophisticated/dignified. Our trip to the temple takes nearly an hour each way by taxi, which is a lot longer than I’d initially guessed. The cab driver offers to wait for us and take us back as well, which works out nicely for both parties.

The next day, our group is picked up bright and early for a day of activities funtivities. This is the bike tour we had booked weeks ago, which also has other activities tacked on to it. First is a tea plantation, where we sample coffee and tea of different kinds. The woman serving our tea is lovely and jokes with our rambunctious group. She explains what we are drinking and fun facts about each cup. I’m a beverage person, myself, so this is a positively joyous activity for me. My favorite teas were the ginger, ginseng, and lemongrass. I believe these three were known for their nausea and/or digestion benefits. We also tried several coffees, all of which were fabulous, too. The Luwak Coffee, aka cat-poo-chino, is made with a coffee bean that has been digested by a weasel. Seeing the caged weasels makes me feel bad though. Despite the fact that it’s supposed to be expensive, rare, and fancy, I don’t think there is anything special about the weasel coffee. I prefer the ginger coffee’s unique flavor.

Next, we breakfast at a stunning vista point of Mount Agung, an active volcano in Bali. The view is incredible. If I don’t end up hiking the beast (which I would like to, but unsure if I’ll have time), I’m glad I’ve at least gotten to see it. While posing for pictures, I run into a sharp end of bamboo stalk, because I am graceful. My forehead bleeds. I went to Bali, and all I got was this Harry Potter scar.

Minor injuries. Next, we bike! Our bike ride is SO MUCH FUN. The sights are amazing, riding through rice paddies, jungle foliage, and temples everywhere you look. I think this is the best way to see Bali. Bali seems like the happiest place on Earth, as 90% of the people we pass wave and grin at us.

We ride on low-traffic, “country” roads most of the day. At the end, we head down a very busy road at what feels like rush hour to end our tour at our tour guides’ home. They prepared a most delightful meal for us, leaving us all stunned. Skewered meat, savory corn fritters, homemade peanut sauce for dipping, Indonesian noodles, rice, and a tempeh dish. Fruit for dessert. Plenty of food, even for a veg like me. I want them to adopt me, so I can eat like this forever. It’s a fun-filled day with our friendly and informative guide, follwed by a scrumtrulescent lunch at their picturesque abode. Couldn’t have been better.

We’re each exhausted for our drive back to the hostel. After some rest, I head to the beach with my brother. After some glamour shots, we encounter a sea turtle foundation having an event. We get in line wondering what it’s all about, only to find that we get to release a teeny, baby turtle into the ocean! I’m tempted to keep my turtle, but I decide against it. Mine is one of the slowest turtles to make it to the water, and in fact gets quite a helping hand from the man in charge. I just know that turtle and I were meant to be.

We have another day of activities ahead of us. Our second tour is jam packed. We start at another tea plantation. It’s essentially the same, but at a different location than yesterday. There must be dozens of these plantations in Bali. I enjoy it again, but we don’t want to admit to our tour guide that we already did this. Speaking of which, our tour guide is super knowledgeable. He tells us a ton about Balinese Hinduism and the festival coming up soon.

Our second activity is rafting. It is the most fun I’ve ever had, mostly due to our outrageous rafting guide. I haven’t laughed so hard in years. He gets us bumper boating with some of the other (more docile) rafters around us; they seem wholly unamused at our rafting antics. Aside from being a blast, we’re also able to take in our stunning surroundings. The most wild, greenery I’ve seen. It’s like we’re in the jungle or something.

Post raft excursion, we shower and lunch. The monkey forest is next. We buy some bananas from the entrance, so we can get some monkeys to come up to us, an asinine idea. But it’s really fun and exciting when a monkey leaps out at you suddenly and starts eating a nana on your shoulder. Just don’t make any sudden movements (I do), or it’s off with your head (goodbye world). The monkey bares its chompers at me and I fear I’m on the verge of receiving rabies/death. I’m not the biggest fan of these monkeys, and now I understand the Wizard of Oz a lot better. Flying monkeys, so appropriately terrifying.

We are taken to see elephants next, and we get to ride on one. To be honest, I don’t feel good about it, not one bit. Even before I get there, I just have a feeling it’s one of those places. I get to pet an elephant and ride on its back. The elephants are sweet, and the workers are fun. But, it just feels wrong. I would have preferred to visit an elephant sanctuary (popular in Chiang Mai & Malaysia). They focus on saving elephants, teaching visitors about them, and letting them live like elephants do. (After visiting, I found this interesting article, which seems to support my uneasy feelings about our elephant experience; it also makes me want to live with elephants like Eliza Thornsberry, so goodbye forever).

At the end of our day, we head to a spa for massages and spa treatments (and a frangipani petal bath) Luxuryy. The spa is incredibly relaxing, aside from the house music that starts next door toward the end of my therapeutic, soothing bath. Lucky for me, I like house music, so it only added to my evening. I also had a body scrub, which I loved. She used cocoa scrub (I asked for avocado, but I didn’t have the heart to tell her). The smell was meh, but it felt glorious. And lord knows my skin needed a hefty scrub.

Twas a jam packed day. After rafting, I could tell our tour guide was rushing us through things a bit. We didn’t get to linger and peruse the monkey forest, nor did we head to any of the craft shops he suggested. Not really a big deal to me. We got our money’s worth, and then some considering we were picked up at 8am and dropped off at 9pm. No shortage of activity, making for yet another memorable day in Bali!

Aside from our day tours, the beach in Kuta was nice, though too rough for a leisurely float/swim, in my opinion. If when I return to Bali, for beaching I will stay elsewhere. Somewhere more low-key like Seminyak. I’d like to have gone to the other beaches, but a cab drive takes a long time. Kuta was fine, but kind of reminded me of the Balinese Panama City Beach.

Let the photo frenzy commence…

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