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Monthly Archives: July 2015

July 15 – July 18 – Staycation

Back to Bali (and Ubud) with Stef!

One thing worth mentioning though about our flight back to Bali:
Around the time we were in Singapore, many of the flights out of Denpasar (where Bali’s airport is) were grounded due to dangerous ash clouds created by one of the volcanos in the area. While our flights weren’t affected, we did actually SEE the volcano spewing ash into the sky on our flight home (whoa!):

Volcano

Back in Ubud, I spent the next few days with Stef and Joel knocking out a few of our Ubud bucket list items.

We did the ridge walk:

Ridge 1 Ridge 2
Ridge 3 Ridge 4

Explored monkey forest (actually going inside the gated part this time!):

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Monkey 7 Monkey 8
Monkey 9 Monkey 10
Monkey 11 Monkey 12
Monkey 13 Monkey 14
Monkey 15 Monkey 16
Monkey 17 Monkey 18

Watched True Detective at Paradiso:

Paradiso

Toured the city’s decorations in celebration of the Balinese holiday Galungan:

Galungan

Discovered the fluffiest, whitest, tiniest bug:

Fluff
Note: Check my facebook for our video reaction to the bug jumping crazy high in the air

Climbed Mt. Batur:

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And had a spa day (no pictures!)

July 19 – July 21 – Canggu of Pace

Next Stef and I (still recovering from our Mt. Batur sunburns …) decided to spend his last few days at the coast in Canggu (pronounced ‘chain goo’).

Boy is Canggu calm, hip, peaceful, and NOT packed with tourists. Joel and I both think if we had a time machine, we’d pick Canggu as our base instead of Ubud. What a great town!

You’ve got cows hanging out:

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Amazing rice patties everywhere:

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VERY hip places to eat, chill, drink (like Deus Ex Machina – the bike shop / bbq / barbor shop / hotel / tattoo parlor / skate park / restaurant / bar – or Old Mans – a beachy restaurant right in the sand – or warungs aplenty – particularly a Japanese one near Old Mans):

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Killer surf, beach, and ocean awesomeness:

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And, pretty nifty street art:

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Stef and I had a very relaxing couple of days, a solid end to Stef’s two months of nonstop travel.

Going to miss him, but eager to pick up the pace on Trip. I’ve also just been informed Joel and I have less than two weeks left in Bali so hopefully I can grind on my writing and still make these last two weeks here count!

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July 6 – July 14: Singapore – the land of malls

After spending a day or two worrying that our flights would be cancelled given volcanic ash clouds spewing hazardous mist into the air around Indonesia (?!?!), Joel and I were fortunate enough to make it to Singapore. Glad we made it out!

My flight got me into Singapore a bit earlier than Joel’s on July 8th. Boy was I excited to finally feel some wonderful AC! And, was definitely delighted by how easy Singapore’s public transportation is (go MRT!).

Stefan, a friend of mine from CA, had arrived at our hostel even earlier than I had. I dropped off my stuff and he and I began adventuring.

We stopped to grab Pho, checked out a crazy costume store, rode the Singapore flyer, explored Marina Bay Sands at night, and walked through no fewer than five malls (we would quickly learn that the malls are endless in Singapore! Although coming from Bali, we weren’t complaining about the endless AC and diversity of good food options).

Costumes 1 Costumes 2
Flyer 1 Flyer 2
Flyer 3 MBS

Next day we (now including Joel who got in late the night before) headed off to the Civic District to catch a free walking tour. Someone (*coff* Stef *coff*) slept in a little late so we missed the tour, but we ended up back near Marina Bay Sands so we decided to walk the mall with Joel:

Civic 1 Civic 2
Civic 3 Civic 4
Civic 5 Civic 6
Civic 7

Joel and I also split two desserts for breakfast, one with a heavy durian topping. I gave durian my best shot, but I just prefer fruits that don’t smell like spoiled garbage:

Durian

We then decided to check out the Deep Sea exhibit at the Arts and Science Museum (that big flower looking structure near the Marina Bay Sands mall). Seriously, natural science is the best and deep sea fish are just amazing. The exhibit had tons of the ACTUAL fish. Maybe not distinctly Singaporean, but c’mon! how cool!

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Next we walked to the Gardens by the Bay and explored the free gardens. We even rode to the top of these huge tree / light structures built throughout the gardens. Apparently one has a bar at its top, but we didn’t end up checking that out. We also found a nice gentleman to take our picture, although (at least for me) the wind kind of ruined it:

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From there we walked to Bugis street, maybe my favorite area of Singapore we explored. More malls, but some quirky alleyways and really close to the Middle-Eastern section of town.

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We grabbed dinner with Gabby, a new friend from our hostel. At dinner I think I ingested something that would lead to Sydney vs food poisoning round 2 (but not until later). We ended the night with store-bought whisky and drinking games out on our hostel balcony.

The next day I started to feel sick. Managed to squeeze in Little India, one bowl of Tonkotsu Ramen, and Magic Mike (worse than expected) before needing to totally bail on the day and go home, in utter misery, to our hostel. My goose was cooked for the rest of the day (I don’t wish food poisoning on my greatest enemy!)

Felt better the next day, so we all headed back to the Arts and Science Museum to check out a Dreamworks Animation Exhibit there Gabby told us good things about. On the way we saw a ton of soldiers running drills / exercises in preparations for Singapore’s 50 years of independence celebration coming in early August:

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Joel and Stef seemed totally enamored with the Dreamworks exhibit. I was feeling it until I realized about halfway through that literally zero Dreamworks Animation movies have a strong female lead. NONE. Once that unsavory realization smacked me in the face, I was pretty cranky about the exhibit. Glad Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron got a shout out though:

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Afterwards we headed to Chinatown, maybe my second favorite neighborhood in the city, and grabbed some food at Maxwell Food Centre (a really cheap and well-known food court in Chinatown). We tried some “famous” chicken and rice, fried sweet potato dumplings, and a vegetable roll (reminiscent of Indonesia’s gado gado).

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After, we explored Chinatown’s open markets, where we saw the amazing dance performance posted below (I dare you not to smile while watching this!)

Next we went to a rooftop screening of five short documentaries related to Singapore via the Discovery Channel. The films were okay, but what was really awesome was seeing more of the 50 year celebration military practices from the rooftop (fighter jets and fireworks included!)

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After we found a very cool speakeasy (password: tell a joke — CLUTCH!) called Study near Chinatown. The drinks, like most of Singapore, were pricy, but very good. Lucky for us Americans, Singaporean night life starts a bit later so at about 10p we were one of the first parties in the bar and got to nab a table.

Study

My drink was awesome, but (like much of the crazy street food I had that day) likely too much for my stomach. Cue more food poisoning woes. Was up all night and only (finally) went to sleep at around 8a … so I slept nearly the entire next day … womp womp.

Woke up in time for dinner. We headed off to Clark Quay to meet a friend of Joel’s. Another very cool area.

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The next day I decided to wake up early and head out on my own. Took the Circle Line MRT all the way to HarbourFront to get a look at the expensive Sentosa island. Then took the MRT back to the Singapore Botanic gardens where I spent my morning walking and reading (and seeing wild lizards that I hope were not wild komodo dragons considering how dangerous komodos are!):

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It started to rain pretty heavily so I exited towards Orchard Road (“A Great Street”) where, supposedly, all the most epic shopping in Singapore happens (to be honest I could not believe I had not yet seen the “shopping part” of Singapore yet given how many malls we walked through). Most of the malls I walked around in were actually like 3-5 stories deep UNDER the street which was admittedly pretty cool. I ended up in a Japanese mall and grabbed some more ramen and hire (which, to my embarrassment, my waitress had to teach me how to properly eat). Hey! I was doing great with the ramen!

Ramen

Stopped back at the hostel for a quick nap then headed off to meet a friend for drinks back in the Orchard Road area (shrimp & Chinese wine marinated chicken wings included).

Today we return to Bali where I will need to actually start writing again. Singapore + food poisoning has stalled both my exercise and daily writing. Taking breaks is good I think, but I am ready for the break to be over. Will definitely miss Singapore though!

June 28 – July 5: Good News & Bad News

Not too much has been going on. Still writing a lot (I broke 70,000 words today! Now keeping an updated word count tracker on my twitter – Follow Me!).

Some comings and goings

Joel and I got in our first motorbike accident. We were driving to a pool party one night and we got lost. Ended up on a not-so-paved road and turned too quickly. Thankfully we weren’t going too fast and only got a bit scraped and bruised:

Scraped Knee

Admittedly I am now very nervous riding on the back of Joel’s bike. I don’t think motorbiking is for me. Maybe this is the old lady in me talking, but we were very lucky we weren’t more seriously hurt (also, after the crash, even though our lights were broken, the mirror had fallen off, and it was night, we tried to bike in the dark. Those 5 minutes were possibly the scariest of my life).

We never did make it to that pool party, but we went to another one for the fourth of July:

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It was so nice to swim in a pool — I cannot express how glorious it was!

Later that day our trainer from the Wild Health class, Evy, asked if we wanted to join her for a “Hash run” in the afternoon. We really didn’t know what to expect. Boy were we in for a treat! Apparently Hash runs happen all over Asia (and maybe elsewhere?). Hash runs are these really intricate, long, and tricksy natural obstacle courses that trail throughout various scenic parts of an area you’re in (we were 20 minutes outside of Ubud). The trail is marked by bits of colored paper thrown on the ground (sometimes “colored” means brown which is the same color as the dirt and horribly difficult to see). The paths wind and climb and slope. They go over rivers and through rice patties and construction sites (?) and main roads and basically all over. The path is meant to be hard to follow and was supposed to take about 2 hours to finish (it took us first timers about 2.5 hours). It was muddy and filled with adventure! Would definitely recommend:

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Hash 3 Hash 4

Only downside was a friend of mine was planning to stay with us that night, but had only told me that morning he was going to be in town. He got to the restaurant right in front of our place an hour after we’d left. I’d told him we’d likely be a few hours, but the drive+run+drive lasted even longer than I had expected. He ended up finding another place to stay and I missed him 😦

Joel, Joel, Joel

Aside from when Joel sometimes critiques my often anti-social tendencies (ahhh! I have a hard time spending lots of money for parties at which most of the people want to talk about yoga and crystal healing or other stuff like that) when I wouldn’t particularly call him social either (:P), he has been an exceptional travel buddy. I’ve had a lot of fun exploring with him and it has been nice to have someone so like-minded and cool as a partner-in-crime while we’ve made our way in Bali.

Last May he applied on a whim for a PhD position at a university in Scotland he thought he’d have a low chance of getting (I even told him at the time he was going to get it for sure! Joel is amazing and awesome). Surprise surprise, he just found out he got in!

I am super pumped for him, but it means he’ll need to go to Scotland in September / October and thus we’ll need to part ways (sad face 😦 ). I’ll miss him, but I am excited for him and also still excited to travel solo.

His decision to shorten his own adventuring inspired me to spend a bit more time thinking through how I’d like the rest of my trip to go.

As of now my confirmed schedule is thus (confirmed as in plane tickets are purchased!):

    • + Bali, Indonesia until Aug 2

 

    • + Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia until Aug 15

 

    • + Orlando, FL, USA until Sep 8 (Bar Mitzvah I am required to attend + I need to get a visa to China)

 

    • + Portland, OR, USA until Sep 14 (

XOXO

    • – which Joel should be going to too! yay!)

 

    + Osaka, Japan until Oct 21 (So excited for this!)

Thinking I may do China (Shanghai) for a month after, then Thailand (make my way south as it gets colder and colder).

Also, I just confirmed I will be doing New Years in London with a friend. This has made me very strongly consider scrapping going back to Asia in early 2016 and instead do a swing around eastern Europe …. more thinking on this will be happening soon 🙂

This week we head off to Singapore (where Stef will be meeting us) and then will bring him back to Bali. We’ve done like zero planning so hopefully we can wing it and still have a great time! Will share more when we are back.