Tag Archives: Bali

July 22 – August 1 – Last week in Bali!

Well, our time in Bali is about to end. Tis bittersweet …

I am excited to explore more of Asia, but I learned a lot about myself in Bali and I will always be grateful, particularly to the community in Ubud, for incubating the changes in myself I’ve experienced over my 2+ months here.

In the spirit of reflection, here are some ways I’ve really grown since coming to Bali:

  • I will never have a life without balance again. I know I’ve said this before, but now I truly understand what not having balance can cost you. I sleep a full night every night (most days not even setting an alarm). I exercise regularly. I eat because I am hungry (not because I am stressed). And, speaking of stress, I’ve learned to control it rather than letting it control me
  • I will continue to travel. Honestly, I was a bit nervous to travel across the globe, but, guess what everyone?, traveling is not so hard. AND it really opens your mind to how big and diverse our planet is (and even how similar we all are). You can find a community anywhere. Don’t wait (seriously DO NOT WAIT). Travel while you’re young. You’ll make mistakes, you’ll sometimes spend too much, you’ll not always be comfortable, but you will grow. I guarantee it.
  • I am an introvert. I know I seem extroverted and am often times yeah-yeah’d every time I say otherwise, but this is who I am. And, you know what? I am okay with that. No! More than okay with it. I get my energy from time spent with myself and I cannot build a life without this space.
  • I want to learn how to code. And I will. I am planning to cut my travels short in winter and go to a developer bootcamp (I’ll apply to a couple and see what sticks). I don’t want to always be advising or helping someone work towards their vision. I want to build. I want to serve my own passions. I’ll learn how to code to do this.
  • I’ll stop apologizing, asking permission, and saying what I don’t exactly mean. It’s time I stopped being the scared little girl trying to fit in with the big bad boys. I am going to learn how to be confident in my own abilities and project this in my behavior. I think business school may be a way for me to work on this more, but I certainly plan to try to develop these habits on my own.

Thank you everyone who has supported my move to Bali! Next we are off to Malaysia (where I’ll be staying with Ravi and Arif’s family — Wahoo!!!! SO excited!!).

Now for the images from our last week in Bali ….

Amazing dragonfruit (get it, cut it, scoop it, go to fruit heaven):


My one true love, crepes, and the magical restaurant in Bali that made them for me (with only a dash of judgement!):


Final Galungan parade:

Galungan1 Galungan2

The newest in internet cafes:


A hip new restaurant owned and run by a single man (Restaurant Abels):


AND, hands-down, the BEST RESTAURANT IN BALI (Locavore — seriously at the same level as Lazy Bear in San Francisco — this place had innovative, stylish, surprising courses for half the price of any place in NYC or SF at the same level. A seven course tasting menu amounted to literally more than 15 actual courses —- best are NOT pictured below unfortunately, because I ate them too quickly. Reserve a month in advance):

Tomato Sorbet Salad?
Shrimp Salad Fish
Mashed Potatoes Steak Tartare
Pork Mackeral
Icecream Chocolate
Donuts Chocolate

Well — we’re off. Will let y’all know how Malaysia is!

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!):


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!):

Monkey 1 Monkey 2 Monkey 3 Monkey 4
Monkey 5 Monkey 6
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:


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


Discovered the fluffiest, whitest, tiniest bug:

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

Climbed Mt. Batur:

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IMG_1545 IMG_1544
IMG_1543 IMG_1555
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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:


Amazing rice patties everywhere:

IMG_1579 IMG_1580

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:


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!

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:

Pool 1 Pool 2

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:

Hash 1 Hash 2
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 (


    • – 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.

June 8 & 9: You get what you paid for

We finally moved into our new house!

My room Master bath
Living Kitchen
Shea's room Joel's room
Outside Hallway

The good

    • + Rent + Telephone line + Utilities cost about ~$180 a person


    • + One of the showers has hot water


    • + I went to the store and bought a fan (maybe don’t take a motorcycle taxi through downtown Ubud while carrying a massive box with a fan in it — life lessons by Sydney)


    • + Actually cooked in the kitchen!


    + Gilles left us this weird scaley fruit that was really tasty!

The less good

    • + When Gilles said “has wifi” what he meant was the house is capable of having wifi (Gilles c’mon: having wifi and being capable of having wifi are VASTLY different things) — I spent 2 days trying to get the telecom company to come out and resolve this, but after three phone calls, a whole day of missed appointments (by them), and failed conversation with our landlord, still no wifi. Admittedly, I was a little annoyed because of the above AND because I am the only one in the house that doesn’t actually need wifi. After some awkward back-and-forth, I finally got Shea (I’ve been spelling his name wrong :/) to agree to take this on since Joel and I were about to leave on a 6 day vacation. I have yet to return home, but I’d bet we still don’t have wifi.


    • + There are quite a few ants (okay — a lot of ants) and even though Gilles said he brought in a cleaner (which we paid Gilles to do), the house is dirty


    + The beds are pretty uncomfortable (but, maybe tonight I’ll feel differently after spending so much time truly roughing it)

Basically tl;dr – move was good, but I spent two days before our vacation pretty stressed out. The move, the problems, the frustration with taking in basically all the logistical stuff for the house, realizing how big a burden applying to bschool would be, stressing about not having enough time to write before taking a trip ALL were freaking me out.

But, turns out, even though I was not thrilled about heading out on vacation, it turned out to be just what I needed …

Day 16 – 21 / June 10 – 15: Two groups, one boat

Joel and I began our adventure with a flight to Lombok. If you’re going to fly Garuda in Indonesia, save yourself the hassle and buy tickets through Expedia or the like. At least as of this writing, their English site is pretty poor and will charge you without confirming your ticket (problemo!). Use the workaround.

Even though the flight was 45 minutes, they fed us! Tuna roll (meh) and yellow spongey rice cake thing (++).

We got in pretty late and headed to the Sheraton in Senggigi (an hour from the Lombok airport). Yay for consulting SPG points still being useful!

Night beach

After a glorious night of sleeping in a real bed, Joel and I awaited our bus to our boating adventure with Lombok Travel Agent a boating company I ultimately would not recommend (it’s passable and cheap, but operationally an ex-consultant’s nightmare).

The bus dropped us off at a random building in the middle of nowhere where we and the other boat passengers spent FOUR hours (not an exaggeration) waiting while LTA made sure everyone had paid and argued with this massive group of French college students. It was fun to talk to so many new folks, but pretty bad to feel like we paid for a day of sitting in a hot, concrete building.

The problem basically was LTA worked with a bunch of street vendors throughout Indonesia that sold tickets to the boating trip at different price points. Many groups had been told their tickets covered all costs and then came to find that 1) that wasn’t true and 2) they would not be allowed on the boat if they didn’t pay these extra fees (think: admission to Komodo National Park)

After several long arguments and failed negotiations, everyone paid what they were told and we all (finally) headed to the boat around 1p.

The boat was pretty small (and the mattresses smaller), but the food was good, the scenery was amazing, the komodo dragons were great, snorkeling was A+, and the group of people we hung out with were awesome.

The boat basically split into French and non-French. I think the French group was too large and so really weren’t motivated to socialize outside their group. Later in the trip, when we were dropped off at Labuan Bajo on Flores, we caught up with 2 from the group in a smaller-group setting and they were super cool.

Still, our crowd was pretty international and we spent most of the trip calling each other (lovingly) by each person’s country and (at least for me) really reconfirming that, fuck-it, for as different as our nations might be, we are just people and ultimately the same. Also, there is nothing like playing hours of Bullshit with two decks of cards and:

    • + 1 Ukranian


    • + 2 Germans


    • + 1 Brit


    • + 1 Australian


    • + 1 Italian and


    + 1 American (me)

The boat View 1
View 2 View 3
Where we slept View 4
Komodo Komodo 3
Scenery Scenery 2
Sorry I suck at remembering to take lots of pictures

Of course, I’d be lying if I said Joel and I were extremely social. We spent a lot of time reading and going to bed early. Yay for being cool!

As icing on the cake, when we got dropped off at Labuan Bajo, Joel and I spent about one hour exploring and the rest of 2 days working, which we like 🙂

I actually spent a fair amount of time on the boat digging into The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (no one warned me the book was >1000 pages … and unfortunately the last book I read that was this long was The Wise Man’s Fear and Rothfuss is probably an actual wizard so not who you want to be compared to).

One note on The Wise Man’s Fear: Doesn’t this title kind of make you think of Wise Man from Sailor Moon? Or do I need to finally let go of Toonami and middle school?

Anyway, Sanderson reminded me how fun it can be to totally create worlds so, pretty haphazardly, I’ve decided to throw all sense to the wind (highstorm?) and rewrite the 90 pages I have already written and totally invent my own setting. Yay for redoing a ton of work! But actually I am excited. Seriously, I am so grateful to Sanderson for giving me the confidence to do this: you are a genious world-builder even if I tend to prefer The Kingkiller Chronicle to The Stormlight Archive (but hey it’s not really a competition, everyone can be grade A beef!).

So hopefully that’s it for awhile. I am eager to buckle down and grind on my writing over the next few weeks before Singapore come July. Will keep y’all posted!

Double throwback:

June 5: Indonesian food for the masses

Today marked the first day of Ubud’s Food Festival!

After a quick (and hard, but not as hard as last week’s sprint-themed workout) Wild Health class in the morning, I quickly showered and headed to the Arma Gallery and Resort where the first Food Festival event I was attending was being held.

Arma is beautiful. No idea how much it costs to stay here, but you get your own private villa tucked away in a private, wondrous, secret garden, that feels as large as central Ubud.

Just walking to the Food Festival event was stellar:

Arma Walk1 Arma Walk2
Arma Walk3 Arma Walk4

After arriving (on time at 12) to the event: No Discount on Local Taste, we were told that lunch would be served at 1 and first we had to sit through a talk:

Talk Space1 Talk Space2

Needless to say I was not pleased. Joel seemed a little upset too that we had to wait for food and listen to a talk in the overpowering midday sun of Ubud.

BUT, to (at least) my surprise, the talk was excellent:

Cuca Talk

Kevin Cherkas, the head chef and owner of Cuca in Ubud AND a former chef of several well-known Michelin-starred restaurants (e.g., Spain’s El Bulli and Daniel in NYC), spoke about his passion for local cooking and how he developed Cuca, a high-end restaurant in Bali that only uses locally sourced ingredients. He also makes his own salts (aka my favorite food for those that know me well):


Anyway, by the time Kevin was done talking, we were ready to eat some all-local cuisine. Here was the space:


And menu:


I took pictures of all the dishes except the pork, which was my favorite of all the dishes. I’m sorry, but I just got too excited when that was put in front of Joel and me.

Corn Pumpkin

We also met a nice couple who moved to Indonesia from Santa Monica ~3 years ago. They had some great tips for things to explore in the country. Joel also mentioned afterwards he might be excited to stay in Bali / Indonesia longer (SCORE, will continue to work on this now that I know this is a possibility muwahahaha).

After lunch we decided to explore the gardens and the art museum (which would normally cost money to view, but we were in the area already for the event). There was some really cool stuff:

Arma Art1
Arma Art2
Arma Art3 Arma Art4

There was even a picture of Goku going Super Saiyen:

Arma Art5


There was a cool night market that night, but I was in the writer’s flow and didn’t want to stop (killed off my first character — well sort-of).

June 6: Friends and daddy issues

Okay, I am done with bananas for breakfast. Banana Homestay has been really stretching with their recipes lately and today was the final straw.

Let me recap the evolution of breakfast at Banana:

    • + Banana pancakes (okay, seems like a clear thing to do)


    • + Banana crepe (okay, again, I can dig)


    • + Banana grilled cheese sandwich (yeah that was weird)


    • + Banana butter sandwich (uh ….)


    + Banana-stuffed rice rolls, unsweetened (and I’m done)

So today, I went to Bali Buda for breakfast and got their Breakfast Monster (eggs, bagel, baked beans, sausage, beef bacon, tomato, kombucha – 61.000 IDR or ~$4.88 — yes, please).

I had intended to peacefully work and watch the morning rain (mind you, that I had walked through to get to Bali Buda), but, after I sat down in the lounge area, a bunch of Kuta surfer dudes took over the seating and started talking about “all the shrooms they did last night,” “swappin’ chicks,” and “finding mute ladies to mack on.” At best it was distracting, at worst it was disgusting. Even some of the staff seemed bothered. Sigh.

Went home to finish working and napped instead. Woke up a few hours later (after some pretty vivid dreams…), got a some writing done, and then walked to the Food Festival’s Night Market.

Walk took me longer than expected (~1 hour), but saw some cool sights:


AND didn’t get lost:

UBF Signs

The market had a pretty packed entertainment schedule:

UBF Schedule

And overall was very cool. When I arrived a DJ was playing. Literally everyone was just chilling on bean bags watching the poor guy play some club sets. Weird, but certainly my type of people:


Then a seemingly well known acoustic guitarist named Nanoe Biroe took over the stage:


He was actually pretty good I thought! I meant to video one of his songs, but didn’t actually press record (oops :/). So here is a song of his from YouTube instead:

Joel arrived and we went through the food-part of the market:

Food place

He ended up finding a pretty decent rice dish for 15.000 IDR (~$1.20) that was good but spicy. I had to wash it down with tons of milk tea.

We then found another one of our new friends, Lisa, in the film screening area of the festival. The festival was screening a new Indonesian film called Filosofi Kopi. The movie is about a coffee shop owned by two best friends, one who is more focused on the business side of the store (and getting themselves out of debt) and one who is more focused on the art of making coffee (and won’t sacrifice integrity for profit).

The star of the film was there to introduce the movie (and was also not bad to look at):

Movie Star

He said the movie was about “friendship and daddy issues.” Boy, was he not lying. The first half of the movie was good, but then, somewhere in the middle, all the characters meet at a coffee plantation and share some crazy left-field family drama stories that come out of nowhere. Hmmmm … let’s recap:

    • + Character 1: Dad died leaving him responsible for millions of rupiahs worth of debt


    • + Character 2: Dad may or may not be responsible for killing his mother, but either way becomes abusive after mom dies


    • + Character 3: Dad ignored her her whole life, doesn’t show up to her 18th birthday party, she yells at him, he immediately dies in a plane crash


    + Characters 4/5: Couple who had a daughter that asked them not to move to the coffee plantation, they do anyway, she catches disease there and dies

Yeah. So that was a bit of a downer and felt really random. Movie took a bit of a turn from there and probably was 30m – 60m too long.

Here’s the trailer though:

Trailer has no subtitles, but the movie did …. Don’t know what to tell you!

Anyway, afterwards, it was late and dark and I really didn’t want to walk home. So I hitched a ride with Joel who had rented a scooter bike for the festival. He is really good on a bike! Totally lane-splitting like a champ! At one point, I even pretended I had some sort of nun-chuck weaponry and we were in a biker gang. A+ riding! And those things are small (even for two people). Record we’ve seen so far is four on one.

Although, I am glad he waited until we got to Banana to tell me he was really worried about the drive home once I asked to hitch a ride (he’d never biked with two on a scooter). Next up, I’ll need to learn to motor bike!

Day 13 / June 7: Oh God Essays

Stayed up late last night finishing a Neil Gaiman book (“The Ocean at the End of the Lane”) so ended up sleeping in.

Decided to skip breakfast and write instead (I have a new favorite character!) and then headed to Semestra for lunch (except they still had the breakfast menu available so I got an omelette).

While there, I had a brilliant idea. Oh Sydney, feeling good? No stress? Now is probably a great time to start thinking about applying to graduate school and looking up what materials are needed to apply, right? Ugh. Not surprisingly, now I am super stressed about applying to grad school. I guess the good news there is I spent the afternoon writing out my first essay and redoing my resume (so actually making some progress?). I’m such a loser.

But then of course I had another Ubud Food Festival event (my last one) – The Mad Hatter Tea Party

Mad Hatter

Janice Wong is a dessert beast (and she was named Asia’s Best Pastry Chef by San Pellgrino Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2013 AND 2014):


The event was awesome! Tons of dessert, sandwich, and quiche finger food (all top-notch) and bottomless champagne. PLUS, because Joel didn’t come with me, I was forced to make new friends, which I did! Great company, great food, great setup!


The best item was the Pandan icecream (which I did not take a picture of — my new friends mentioned early how “uncool” it is to take pictures of food, hence the sparce photos — AH! Peer pressure!). But actually that was the best icecream I’ve ever had.

Now I am horribly full though and think I will skip the party tonight (unless Joel says it’s good) and instead go home to edit what I wrote this morning and pack. Tomorrow we move into the villa!

May 31: Phoney

This morning I said goodbye to Adi House and moved right next door to Banana Homestay.

As if to honor my new location, my last “breakfast” at Adi House was deep-fried banana and then immediately upon moving to Banana Homestay, I received four mini bananas as a welcome gift. Okay then.

Rooms, pricing, breakfast, etc. are apparently exactly the same. I can dig! And Buda, my new landlord, is Koming’s cousin. Old room / new room below:

Old Room New Room

I spent most of the morning trying to find a place that would sell me a local SIM card for my phone, but, as it’s Sunday, everywhere was closed. So I went to Hubud, where I was 100% unproductive. Joel discovered there is a major Food Festival in Ubud in a week or so, thus I spent the late-morning looking at all the events, picking which ones I wanted to attend, and buying tickets. We then went to lunch at Seniman Coffee (one of Joel’s favs) where we had breakfast for lunch (yay!)

We then sat and planned a vacation. We want to go to Komodo National Park, but need to balance awesome and cheap. We think we found a great 3day / 2night deal (but more on this later if it comes through).

Afterwards we split, Joel heading back to Hubud, and me going to pick up my laundry. The laundry place was closed and on the walk back I decided to not do yoga today in favor of a more productive afternoon.

Ran into an OPEN SIM card store on the way home and decided to try my luck at getting a local phone. Unfortunately the SIM card didn’t work in my phone (AT&T must not have unlocked it EVEN. THOUGH. THEY. PROMISED. THEY. HAD. UGH!) Anyway, the guy offered to actually just sell me a cheap phone + local SIM for 350.000 IDR or ~$28 USD. Didn’t seem like a bad deal (was going to pay ~$12 for the SIM alone anyway) so I said yes. Meet Phoney:


And before you say, “not cool,” check out this old friend:


My snake score is already >3000. Try not to be too jealous. AND, if you are in Indonesia, call me at 0812-3791-2698 (country code +62).

June 1 – 4: Tra-la-la

So nothing too exciting to report the next few days. Basically my days have been going:

    • + Breakfast at Banana House (every breakfast is bananas T_T)


    • + Exercise (Wild Health or Yoga) + shower


    • + Writing (tra-la-la)


    • + Lunch break


    • + More writing


    • + Reading


    • + Editing what I’ve written


    • + Taking pleasure in the pure elation of NOT EATING DINNER


    + Sleepytime

Food festival starts tomorrow though so maybe I’ll have more to report? Joel and I are also taking a 5 day vacation to Lombok and Komodo Island next week followed by (literally 2 days after we get back) a 3 Bali Volcanos in 24 hours overnight excursion. So hopefully more exciting things to come.

In the mean time, things on my mind:

    • + I am 95% sure I want to stay in Bali past August. Joel is 95% sure he wants to leave and go to Japan in August. This makes me sad, but I promised I would make this year about me and be selfish. Following Joel to Japan just because he is my friend and I want to hang out with him might not be a compelling enough reason. The last few days my routine has been excellent and if every day were basically like these, I think my year would be ++. Also not too thrilled to figure out living in a new place so soon. I suppose August is still a ways away so I have time to think on this more. I will also need to communicate the above to Joel at some point ….


    • + Writing every day is hard stuff. I didn’t realize how difficult it is to be creative so much each day. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but it isn’t a breeze. So far I have been having no trouble hitting my daily minimum word count goal (2000 words / day). In fact, so far the fewest words I’ve written in a single day are 2500. But, MAN, writers who have the stamina to do significantly more than this AND edit what they’ve written AND keep their creative juices high AND read a lot (actually, I think, a pretty important thing to do if you are writing) must not sleep at all. I love sleep. Man I hope my book is not shit :/


    + No matter what you do, no matter how many notifications you send, emails you write, calls you make, your bank will NOT remember you are traveling and freeze your account the moment you do anything abroad. Just be prepared to spend hours (HOURS) dealing with your bank and your credit card company and paypal and AT&T and just about everyone. This piece of the travel experience has seriously made me question whether or not “going off the grid” is such a bad idea. Seriously team, get with it!

May 28 (cont.): Yes and …

Put down the deposit on our new house (yay!) and headed back to Hubud (where I logged into Paypal without my VPN on and created a whole whirlwind of Paypal drama). One of our new friends, ½ of a digital nomadic couple, Tess, tapped me on the shoulder in the afternoon and asked if I wanted to go to an improv class with her that evening. Yes, Tess, why yes I do.

Improv was a bit of a walk away, but we definitely got to see a new part of Ubud (a more high-end touristy part, but whatever). We ended up walking down this somewhat sketch alley that led to a row of houses. One of the gated houses had a footpath leading to a massive villa, which we just wandered into and sat (we just assumed it was where improv was as neither of us had been before). Thankfully we were correct.

— No pictures, because I didn’t want to seem like a noob in front of Tess …

Improv was fun, but also over 2 hours (that’s a lot “Yes and”). Apparently it happens every week. I will probably go back but likely not every week.

Half the group wanted to go to dinner after, but we all know how I feel about dinner. Instead I walked home, bought some, what turned out to be, some pretty bad frozen yogurt, and happened to run into Joel at a restaurant near home (really need to start writing down names of places ).

He was almost done, but we split a raw beet cake dessert (actually it was pretty good — next time pictures!).


May 29: Lock the doors

Woke up early to go to Wild Health again, this time with Joel. Sadly I caught Koming before and my room at Adi House is booked starting Sunday. Which means I will need to find another place to stay until 6/7 when we can move into Gilles’ place. Koming said he would find me a place. I am going to put all my eggs in his basket. Will keep y’all posted on how that goes.

Wild Health was HARD today. Circuit training with sprints up and down the soccer field between each set (even Joel said it was hard). Sadly, if a sprinter returned back to the circuit training area before the last runner, they had to pickup the last exercise and keep doing it until everyone was finished. In other words, everyone in that class should thank me for helping them build even more muscles!

Here are my legs covered in leaves and sweat:

Legs after Wild Health

After showering, I walked back to Hubud where, like a good little hobbit, I had second breakfast (this time raw pumpkin cheesecake, don’t ask). The view by the café is pretty amazing though:


Then I had a pretty productive day. Finished tweaking some short stories and sent three out to some friends ( not as easy as it sounds — getting feedback on creative work is so hard amiright?)

In the evening, Hubud was hosting a happy hour at a restaurant just on the opposite side of monkey forest. Of course I took more pictures (On the left: I promise they didn’t look afraid of me until I took the picture. On the right: Yeah I just couldn’t resist taking a picture of *whatever* these guys were up to)

Monkey Family Monkey Fun?

The Happy Hour was fun, but I actually have a really hard time in big groups of strangers. I felt pretty drained and really strained to make interesting conversation. Three highlights of the night:

    1. Frankie: A graphic designer originally from the UK, but has spent most of her adult life in Australia. She started a company in Oz that helps students studying graphic design connect and network with industry so they don’t have as much trouble finding work when they graduate. Frankie had just finished a road trip through New Zealand (they hitchhiked the whole way!). Her whole adventure is on film (see below). One night on the roadtrip Frankie and her friend squatted at an abandoned hotel. The squatter who lived there (and let them have a room) “offered” to visit them that night … I am glad Frankie is still with us …
      The Design Kids – 2015 NZ Roadtrip from The Design Kids on Vimeo.
    2. Caroline: A life coach who just seems awesome. Her teaching is all about NOT making you amazing, but showing you how you are ALREADY amazing (all about confidence boosting). She is planning a 4 week (once a week) workshop / support circle thing. I am not usually one to go for this type of thing, but she did make it seem pretty compelling (I mean if she didn’t it wouldn’t be her job right?). She is giving a talk at the Onion Collective on June 8th. I’ll check it out with Frankie before deciding whether or not to commit to something paid.


  1. Shae: My future roommate (with Joel)! We ended up talking for over an hour about some pretty personal things. I am really glad he is living with Joel and meand I think will really balance us out. Shae is a web developer and a total yogi. Website here:

Came home pretty immediately after and just passed out.


May 30:

Had a bit of a lazier morning and took my time getting up. Then decided to check out Yoga Barn, a yoga compound in Ubud where LOTS of yoga happens. The path to reception once you enter the place is pretty magical:

Path to YB1 Path to YB2
Path to YB3 Path to YB4
Path to YB5

I took an Iyengar class (level 1 of course) which started soon after I arrived. The class was mostly focused on posture and stretching (I did things with my back I had no idea I could do!). The room was incredibly peaceful. We looked out to a small, green, swampy area:

Yoga Barn

Fifteen minutes into class it began to rain pretty hard which only added to the ambience. We were so zenned out that, at an hour in, when a mouse ran across the room and out the door, no one even seemed phased (yeah … normally that would have probably at least made me jump a little).

After class the instructor offered to drive me back home when she saw I was walking in the rain. She (whose name I don’t know! Ah! I’m horrible!) moved to Ubud from Japan 15 years ago and teaches yoga on the weekends. She was incredible.

Unfortunately I was so focused on our conversation, I kind of lost track of where we were and when she asked if we were close to my place, I felt bad for being lost, lied and said we were, and smiled as I waved her goodbye from a street corner in a part of town I had never been before. It took me another 40 minutes of walking to find my way home …

But, I made it in time for lunch with Joel and Shae! We went to a vegetarian place, Warung Sopa? (Godammit Sydney, just write the names of the restaurants down!). I dropped off some laundry and then returned back to Adi House for some “work.” Okay, so I didn’t work (I read and slept), but it’s Saturday so I think I can be forgiven this once.

At 5p, Joel and I left to meet Shae at the Green School for a movie. After an hour in a taxi (the Green School is only 30 minutes away, but all of us were lost), we made it just in time for the film.

The Green School is actually amazing. It is a private pre-K through High School near Ubud where most ex-pat parents in the area seem to send their kids. The school uses all recycled material, all the buildings are made out of bamboo, and is powered by solar energy. The students play a part in designing their own curriculum and much of the education has a sustainability bent. One interesting note though: I met the husband of a Green School teacher at Friday’s Wild Health class and he seemed to indicate that his wife’s experience was mixed …. Hmmmmmm (maybe more to be investigated here?) —- anyway, for now I am impressed:

Green School

The film we watched was a screening of a new documentary called Planetary. Film’s official description:

PLANETARY is a provocative and breathtaking wakeup call – a cross continental, cinematic journey, that explores our cosmic origins and our future as a species. It asks us to rethink who we really are, to reconsider our relationship with ourselves, each other and the world around us – to remember that we are PLANETARY



Film Screening

The movie’s strategy was all about pulling on your emotional heartstrings. Right after it finished Joel and I both commented to each other that we wished there had been more data (like even one piece of data) or interviews with the actual scientists running some of the peer-reviewed experiments pointing to environmental catastrophe (versus, ya know, only “Zen Priests” and “Meditation Instructors”). We both believe there is obviously a major environmental problem, but we just aren’t as affected by emotional content alone.

Of course, pretty immediately, we realized we were basically the only people in the room that felt this way and, at the very least, I felt like an asshole. Particularly when we shared our view openly with Shae and his friend Lisa (who I had also done improv with and who remembered me). I think we officially marked ourselves as not one of the good guys (:(), but we pushed through the awkward conversation and made it to Ubud-general-small-talk. Win?

Lisa’s friend / boyfriend (unclear) Nick told us about a pool party / open mic night at the Onion Collective that evening and we said we’d probably go, but on the cab ride home, Joel and I realized, we’d waited too long to have ribs. So we went to Naughty Nuri’s instead for some expensive (but good) ribs, fries, and margaritas (clean eating?):

Shout out to Kate for the recommendation!

I do think, having spent now a few weeks (gosh maybe over a month) without having had a sip of alcohol, that one margarita got to me a little #Joel&Sydneyrealtalk. And then I pretty much immediately passed out at home.

Things on my mind:

    • + Moving tomorrow (to Banana Homestay) – need to remember to give Adi House a good review on trip advisor


    • + I’ve finally been convinced to just get a local sim card (it would appear Joel’s patience is running a bit thin with me being entirely unreachable without wifi) — thank goodness I brought an old phone that I’ve already unlocked


    • + Joel keeps telling me about all this cool stuff around Ubud / Bali happening – I need to start figuring out what I want to do and start contributing ideas



I cannot believe it has only been a few days since moving to Bali! A brief recap of my days here so far:

May 26: Koming home

After a bit of waiting, Koming, the owner of a homestay called Adi House in Ubud, came to pick me up and take me to his homestay. The drive from Denpasar to Ubud had some pretty cool sights and Koming even taught me a few phrases in Bahasa (Terima Kasih!).

Drive picture

Adi House is great — I highly recommend it for the budget traveler. It is in Central Ubud, ~$11-13 a night, private bath, free breakfast every morning (good breakfast), and it feels perfectly secure. There is even a giant fan in my room that, when I turn on high, makes the room chilly (++ Adi House!)

Check out Adi House here

My friend Joel was also starting his time here at Adi House. So we quickly met up and (in Joel and Sydney fashion) immediately went to find food. Joel has been in Ubud ~2 weeks and had a pretty impressive lay of the land, a local phone, and some seriously good food recommendations (we ate pork belly for dinner!)

Pork Belly in Ubud!

Thank goodness we had a big dinner because, even though I was wiped from traveling, I only got a few hours of sleep and spent most of the night awake and jetlagged.


May 27: An anGilles

When I woke up the next morning ( / just exited my room after being awake for hours), Koming was up and cooked Joel and I breakfast. The eggs were A+.

Eggs for breakfast

I also made a new friend (he is a puppy and his name is Blacky):

Blacky the puppy!

Then we went off to Hubud, the co-operative workspace with community, free media, and fast internet. Really, if you are ever in Ubud working, this is the place to be. The people are wonderful, it is super easy to get setup, and they have a TON of community events (feels like one a day). My new office:


At 10a we had a very important appointment to visit a house we could potentially rent longer term (think: 2 months). The place is in Central Ubud, 3Br/2Ba (our new friend Shae could take the third), a full kitchen and living room, plus a giant private garden. Right now we’re thinking 2 months is perfect as we may want to travel some other place at that time (the digital nomad community is massive and there are so many places to go throughout Asia and Oceana!)

House in Ubud

At 4p we went back to Gilles’ place to meet the landlord and locked everything in! It is a great location. Yay for successful house-hunting in <24 hours of being in Ubud.

We ended the evening with Game of Thrones at Adi House. Apparently there is a movie theater here (Parardiso) that plays the newest episode every Wednesday (good call Shae!) and has dancing on Mondays (thanks Gilles!).

The plan was to go to dinner afterwards, but I was totally conked out from my lack of sleep the night before ( / as most of you know I also hate eating dinner). I went back to my room around 7 and was out before 715. Joel, like the incredibly nice guy he is, gave me bananas in case I woke up in the night and got hungry. He’s a hero, but I was actually okay. Didn’t wake up until after 5a.


May 28: Free Chemical of the Day

Woke up early morning to a delicious sweet crepe from Koming (Dadar Gulong?):

Breakfast Crepe

Joel talked me into going to this outdoor fitness class called Wild Health at 815a (guys’ class is at 715a so I can’t really complain). If you know me at all, you know I probably wasn’t too excited to go to a morning exercise class that reminded Joel of crossfit, but Joel made a good case for doing what the locals do. So I went.

Cool news is the fastest way to get to Wild Health is through Monkey Forest (literally Monkeys):

Monkeys Monkey Forest

Apparently they also have antelope (or reindeer?) — anyway I’ll be going back to explore soon so expect more on that at some point!

The fitness class was ultimately great. I am desperately out of shape, but you know, after doing this 3 times a week and yoga on the off days when class isn’t being taught, I shouldn’t be out of shape for too long (here’s hoping!).

Wild Health

Quick shower at home (ahh! Weird that I already think of my place at Adi House as home), then off to Hubud for some work.

Pillow Hubud

We just finished lunch at a local café (with a sign listing the free chemicals for the day?) and have an hour or so until we go back to Gilles to pay our rent for the two months (~$200 a person per month! Crazy!)

Tonight, Joel wants ribs. Will keep you posted!

Things on my mind:

    • + Ways to spend even less money (not spending a lot but think I could be spending less)


    • + Exercising in front of Joel tomorrow is going to suck (Wild Health on Fridays is gender-mixed)


    • + How to communicate to Joel that my perfect eating schedule does not involve dinner ….


    + Finding more time to focus on writing (I want to crank out one more short story to send around to my review committee before jumping back into my novel)

I’ve landed in Bali!

But, as anyone who has traveled across the world probably knows, the actual getting to the destination is never completely uneventful.

This is the story of a girl and her airports ….

It all began in Orlando. I said goodbye to my family (extended and immediate) and kissed my love goodbye (pictured below):

Syd & Keno
(she’s definitely frowning because she is going to miss me …. definitely)

Then I finished my last packing touches (spoiler alert: which I would later learn almost immediately upon touching down in Bali were for the most part a small portion of the much larger category of items entitled: “things I overpacked”):


Anyway, first airport: Orlando (airport code MCO)
Subtitle: Disney World: Remember your moneybag

Who would have thought the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend would be a busy flying day? Aha! It would be for those that don’t celebrate Memorial Day — aka our world travelers! Orlando is not a city unfamiliar with the visitor from abroad; as you might guess, Disney and Universal (among other park families) draw tourists from everywhere. And today I saw a bunch of them. For me the most surprising takeaway was that, like many Americans who travel abroad, these foreigners are just as concerned about getting their passport and monies stolen; there was almost a 100% hit rate of secret money patches being removed by folks as they walked through security. Weirdly enough, this actually made me, more than perhaps any other element of my 2 day journey to Bali, feel connected to all my fellow men. Everyone is concerned of getting their things stolen abroad: We are the world, We are the children.

Anyway, another important finding I realized early on into my travels (that would only get reinforced throughout the journey) is: if you have the miles (award points) to upgrade to business class for international travel, just do it.

I had been pretty sick leading up to my departure date. My mother, concerned and aware of how many leftover miles from consulting I had, encouraged me to use 40,000 of my 80,000 remaining miles to upgrade. I fought her for a few days, but then my illness (proving how resilient a cold can be) decided to hang around a bit longer than invited and I caved, purchasing the upgrade. What they don’t tell you is that, for international flights, these upgrades also buy you access to the business class lounges at many of the airports across the world. Think: warm meal, hot shower, free wifi (#clutch).

Here’s me on my Lufthansa flight from Orlando to Frankfurt:


Second airport: Frankfurt (airport code FRA)
Subtitle: You can’t just walk into any shower you want

What fun to land at a European airport midday! For some reason, I always end up in airports abroad at too early or too late of times to have any interesting (at least in a painless way) interactions. Really: ask my sister or me about the time we ended up in the Beijing airport at 2a with no visa at the front of the only customs line where the agent spoke no english.

Frankfurt security does mean business though. Apparently toothpaste counts as a liquid (but the agents were nice and let me keep the only toothpaste and hygiene supplements I was bringing with me abroad).

The Lufthansa lounge was luckily super close to my gate, so I was able to camp out for a couple hours in a pretty nice location with very little stress about making it onto my next flight:

Lufthansa Lounge

Things I learned from the Lufthansa lounge in Frankfurt:

      + Giant grapes probably have seeds in them


      + Good internet does not always play nicely with VPN services


      + You should ask to use a shower (“you can’t just walk in there”)


      + If you start a sentence with “this might sound racist but” it 1) is probably racist 2) is not something you should be yelling at your colleague in a very packed lounge with a lot of people sitting around who don’t know you


    + Try not to look lost while choosing what snack to take back to your seat, friendly Europeans will try to “help you”

Off to Bangkok:

Thai Airways

Third airport: Bangkok (airport code BKK)
Subtitle: Thai Airways is the winner

Thai Airways. You. Are. Amazing. Yes, an 11 hour flight is no joke. And, true, your movie choices weren’t fantastic. BUT, best sleep I ever got on a plane (you could really lie completely flat!) and your service was exceptional. Also, and to be fair, I am only 60% sure y’all planned this for me, but I sat next to the cutest baby (and how often do you hear someone compliment a BABY after an 11 hour flight).

We landed in Bangkok early (just before 6a). Not my first time at the BKK rodeo, but I have to admit, this go-around I was a bit grouchy. I de-boarded with a pretty bad headache and the airport felt 1000 degrees (I may be exaggerating). Thank goodness the Thai Airways lounge was right outside of security.

Royal Silk Lounge

I have never been to a lounge with so much good looking free food. We’re talking pork buns, we’re talking orange cake, we’re talking hot dog soup (don’t knock it til you’ve tried it), fresh papaya, creme tarts, a help-yourself-bar with pretty much anything you could want! Sadly, I did not eat much (maybe only time I’ll ever say this: but thank goodness for a tight layover). Showered quickly and grabbed what I could carry. Next stop Bali:

Thai Airways 2

Fourth airport: Denpasar (airport code DPS)
Subtitle: Order the fishballs / What do you mean by “clubbing”?

NOTE: I will always have a special place in my heart for Denpasar’s airport. DPS is the sickest airport code; as someone who always plays a melee DPS in video games, I (probably like an idiot) nerded out a bit too much over this, but I yam what I yam.

I also should mention, if you are ever on a Thai Airways flight and a food option is “fishballs,” just say yes. Amazing! Also, crazy that we got a hot meal on a 4 hour flight! American airlines, take note.

Pretty easy flight. Admittedly I passed out when we were landing so no cool pictures from the plane … next time? Customs was a breeze (the visas we got ahead of time worked! <— not not worth celebrating if you knew the pain it took to get these).

Koming, the owner of the homestay we are staying at while looking for a more permanent housing solution, was late to pickup. Good news though: I got to experience first hand how friendly (/ aggressively friendly) the Balinese people are! Not only did a complete stranger let me use his phone to call my ride, but another cab driver (just chilling in the airport) sat and talked with me for the hour I waited.

Mana (sp?), my new friend, told me all about Kuta and Denpasar. He thought we’d be bored in Ubud (central Bali), but I also quickly learned he thought I was here to paaaartaaay. Hey, at least now I have a friend in the Denpasar area. Even though, I was a little concerned about his comment that, “We could go clubbing together and you can meet my family” (his family including his 10 year old and 5 year old) — chalk this one up to “clubbing” being a lost in translation word.

Map of Bali


Well that’s it for my travels. Stay tuned for an update on my first few days in Bali soon!