Joined January 2020 Message
  • Day4

    Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

    March 9, 2020 in Thailand ⋅ ☀️ 93 °F

    Day 4
    Today is elephant day! How can you go to Thailand and NOT spend the day with the beautiful Thai elephants? I chose to go to an ethical elephant sanctuary an hour and a half from Chiang Mai which doesn’t have any riding or cruelty involved with the animals. The owner of the hostel set this all up for me, all I had to do was be waiting outside to get picked up at 8am. They picked me up in a pick up truck with a topper on it so it was likely sitting outside while driving, odd but a cool experience. We drove about an hour before stopping in a small town to go to the bathroom and grab food to break up the trip. The drive was remote through winding roads and once we got closer we went off the road and pretty much off roading to get to the sanctuary, which was a huge open space. We arrived at the sanctuary around 10:30am and had a quick introduction to the history of the place and learned a little more about the elephants and their behavior. We all were given traditional shirts to wear and bananas before we were introduced to the elephants to spend time feeding them and taking pictures. We see elephants in movies and at the zoo and know they are big animals but standing next to them it was still shocking to me to see just how big these animals are. The elephants are able to walk freely and are not forced to do anything they don’t want to do. They seemed so happy and engaged with all the visitors. After taking some time feeding the elephants, the staff walked them down to a stream that was in a shaded area to spend more time with them there. While we were down by the stream one of the guys proposed to his girlfriend which was really sweet. At 12pm it was time for lunch which was rice, salad, chicken wings and some fruit. Everyone chatted getting to know each other and talking about their travels while eating. Once lunch was cleaned up we learned how to make herbal medicine balls which have ingredients that help to kick the elephants healthy and make sure they are getting the nutrition that they need. We mixed all the ingredients together and rolled them into baseball size balls to go feed to the elephants. When we fed the bananas to them, they would take it with their trunks and put it in their own mouths. With the herbal medicine balls being the consistency that they were, we had to get the elephants to open their mouths and feed it to them. The staff taught us the Thai word to have the elephants open their mouths and I was able to put the ball right inside. I found myself several times looking at the elephants and just amazed that I was spending the day feeding and touching these animals and felt so grateful to be experiencing this. My favorite part of the day was the mud baths. There was a huge mud spa area where we got in with the elephants and rubbed mud on them and then we walked down to the river and threw buckets of water on them to rinse off the mud. Besides the fact that this is fun for the elephants, the mud baths actually help to build a natural defense on their skin to keep them clean so it is also good for them. We spent a little time swimming with them and after the staff brought them back up, which was so refreshing because it was very hot out. Once we were all done swimming we went back to the main area and it was time to watch them measure the elephant and learn how they calculate the weight of the elephants and the checks they do to ensure the elephants are healthy and growing the way they should. They did have a baby elephant onsite that they had separated from most of the other elephants that we were not allowed to touch (since they don’t have an immune system developed yet) but we did get to look at it. Like baby koalas, baby elephants eat their mother’s poop to obtain the bacteria required to properly digest their food, which we actually saw happen while we were there. After changing back into our clothes we said goodbye to the staff and were given a traditional shirt to take home with us which was unexpected but a nice souvenir. We left the sanctuary around 4:30pm and headed back to our accommodations. This elephant sanctuary offers morning visits, afternoon visits, full day visits and overnight visits. I decided to do the full day visit which I am happy about because I feel like the half day visits would not have been enough time. I got back to the hostel around 6pm and after showering I decided to go to a restaurant across the street for dinner because it was convenient. I was getting up early the next day to take a bus to Pai, so after dinner I decided to watch some Netflix and go to bed early.Read more

    Bob Weireter

    need some pics !!

    Bob Weireter

    sounds like a great experience

  • Day3

    Chiang Mai

    March 8, 2020 in Thailand ⋅ ☀️ 91 °F

    Day 3
    I got up early to pack up my stuff and grab breakfast at the hostel before getting a taxi to the airport. My flight to Chiang Mai was at 10am so I went to the counter to check in and because it was 9:17am they wouldn’t let me because the counter closed at 9:15am. Even though I could have easily made the flight, they made me pay for a ticket on the next flight which was at 12:20pm and I didn’t get a refund. I was really annoyed not only because I could have made the flight but now I also had 3 more hours to kill before the new flight. I called some people to catch up and made sure that I was at the counter right when it opened this time. The flight was quick and before I knew it I was checking into my hostel (The Islander, which had great reviews on hostel world). The owner is originally from the UK and after I brought my bags to my room, he sat with me and went over the map of the area and pointed out the must do things. I took my map and made my way to check out some of the temples that he had pointed out, the first being Wat Phra Singh, also known as the Gold Temple. It was a pretty temple with a giant gold building, it was a small temple compared to some of the others I had seen. The next temple that I went to was Wat Chedi Luang, which was just beautiful; the detail in the buildings and statues were just unbelievable. There was one temple here that said “Men Only”, apparently monks are forbidden from touching or coming close to women’s bodies and therefore some temples, especially the non tourist ones, do not allow women. I was able to go into all the other ones which were bigger anywhere, but this was something that I found interesting. When going into the temples you obviously needed to have your shoulders and knees covered but you also had to take off your shoes, luckily I had slip on shoes which made this easy. It was very hot out, so after finishing at this temple I went back to the hostel to shower and the owner of the hostel booked my excursion for the following day. I met some people at the hostel who I went to the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, a huge night market that is probably 5 blocks and one of the biggest in Thailand. The streets were filled with clothing, soaps, souvenirs, food and much more. We grabbed food from one of the street vendors, I got pai thai which was amazing, and then we walked around and looked at the vendors. I didn’t want to buy anything at that moment because I was still planning to do a couple more months of traveling and planned to buy the famous thailand elephant pants another time. At the end of the market there is a big sidewalk area where there were street performers dancing and eating fire. We watched this for a little and then headed back to the hostel because most of us had to get up for excursions the following morning.Read more

  • Day1


    March 6, 2020 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 93 °F

    Day 1
    My flight to Thailand was at 11:55am so I got picked up from the hostel in Bali at 8:30am and the drive to the airport was about 15 minutes. After getting through security I got an early lunch at a diner type restaurant and then went to my gate to wait for my flight. I bought disinfectant baby wipes to wipe down the seats in the airport and the plane because of corona. The flight to Bangkok was 4 hours and 20 minutes so it wasn’t too bad. Once I landed in Bangkok someone came up to me asking if I needed a taxi and we were able to haggle and agree on a fair price. I was staying at the Bed Station Hostel, which is about a 30 minute drive from Don Mueang airport. The guy walked me to a car with a driver and helped to put my bags in the trunk. I asked if they knew where I was going and they said they did. After 5 minutes in the car we dropped the guy off who originally discussed the price with me (his english was okay, a lot better than the driver). After 30 minutes in the car we pulled into a large parking lot and I realized they brought me to the bus station. I tried to explain to the driver the mistake and he wasn’t really understanding what I was saying. I didn’t pick up a SIM card for my phone yet so I couldn’t use my maps and my phone was on 10%. The hostel was 20 minutes from the bus station but we drove around for another 2 hours because the driver had no idea where the hostel was. I showed him the hostel address on my phone and he handed me a paper map and asked me to find it on the map…..umm I had just landed in this unknown city. Then he handed me his phone to search the place online but his phone was in Thai so we didn’t get very far with that either. He eventually stopped to ask another local for instruction and close to 3 hours later we were FINALLY there. Well, not quite, I had to walk 3 blocks with a dead phone to find the hostel. Thankfully I ran into a girl who spoke English and was able to point me in the right direction. After checking in, I dropped my bags in the room and took a shower before I ran to 7 Eleven to get a SIM card and a cup of noodles for dinner. I was so tired so I came back to the hostel to watch Friends (it wasn’t taken off of Netflix anywhere outside the US) and to catch up on sleep. My friend Kait was supposed to meet me in Thailand so that I had someone to celebrate my birthday week with but due to corona she decided not to come (which ended up being the right call).

    Day 2
    I woke up and watched some Netflix in the morning and around 12pm I went to the restaurant at the hostel and ate lunch. I got a grab and went to the Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market which was a 20 minute drive from the hostel. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, I thought it would be a lot of small boats on the water selling food but I didn’t see much of that. I am not sure if that was corona related or what but there weren’t as many people there as I am sure there usually is. I paid to go on a boat tour down the river that stopped at another floating market called Watsaphan, a smaller market and a flower farm which was nice to walk around. After checking out the market it was time to do some temple hopping. First stop was Wat Arun, a buddhist temple right on the water. It was beautiful, all the buildings and the statues had so much detail to them it was really breathtaking. There is a ferry that takes you to the other side of Bangkok with views of the city, so I took that to go to the next temple. Wat Phra Chetuphon also known as Wat Pho, is popular for the giant reclining gold Buddha which was really spectacular. All the temples have such long names and sometimes go by other names so it got a little confusing because there are so many throughout the city. I wanted to check out more temples but the popular ones all closed at 5pm and there wasn’t enough time to see them all. I started walking back towards my hostel, it was about a 45 minute walk, and stopped to grab food at a street vendor. I was planning on going to a rooftop bar to view the city and get a drink but my hostel was somewhat far from the downtown city area so I decided against it. I went back to the hostel to relax and go to bed early. I was going to spend 2 full days in Bangkok but last minute I changed my plans to be able to add one of the northern towns onto my itinerary so this was my only full day.
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  • Day10


    March 5, 2020 in Indonesia ⋅ 🌧 86 °F

    Day 10
    We slept in today and at around 11am Emma and I walked to a local coffee shop to get breakfast and do some travel planning on our laptops. We worked for about 2 hours or so and then went to the hostel to get our bathing suits on. We walked around town checking out the markets to do some shopping and then went to a restaurant to grab lunch. After eating we went to Potato Head Beach Club, a beach club right on the beach with day beds you can rent and 2 pools to swim in. We decided not to get a bed because it had a minimum spending amount but looking back we totally should have gotten one. We were lucky enough to grab a table right next to one of the pools with a view of the ocean. It is a high end place so the drinks and food are expensive compared to other places in Bali but really no different than the prices either of us were used to paying at home. We spent the afternoon sipping on fruity drinks and treating ourselves, these types of places you don’t go to too often on a backpackers budget. We ordered a snack and were really looking forward to seeing a beautiful sunset over the water but all we got was a cloudy gray sky. On our way back to the hostel it started pouring and we stopped at a convenient store to get tallboys and cups of noodles for dinner. We planned on having a calm night in (I had to get up early the next morning to go to the airport) but some of the girls in the hostel said that one of the bars was doing FREE drinks from 9pm-11pm. We couldn’t pass this up so we finished eating and shared a cab with one of the groups going. When we got there we waited in line for them to take our temperature before going in (this was the first time experiencing this since corona happened). There was a bar on the main floor and when you went upstairs it was a nightclub with a DJ. We had a lot of fun dancing and meeting new people, and the drinks were really good and strong. We stayed out until about 11:30pm and took a cab back to the hostel and I finished packing my bags.Read more

  • Day9

    Nusa Penida

    March 4, 2020 in Indonesia ⋅ ☁️ 84 °F

    Day 9
    Today Emma and I planned a day trip to Nusa Penida (a newly popular island off Bali’s main island) which included pick up and drop off from the hostel, our boat pass and a driver on the island for the day. We packed our bags up in the morning before getting picked up and tried to check out a day early because of the AC situation but no one was at the front desk since we got picked up at 6:30am. Our driver dropped us off at the port and got us the passes for the boat and said we would get picked up by another driver once we arrived at Nusa Penida. The boat ride took about 45 minutes on a small crowded boat so it was far from a smooth ride. Once we got on land we were met by our new driver (he was supposed to be english speaking but we had difficulties communicating with him) and we were off to Kelingking Beach, our first stop of the day. Nusa Penida became popular through instagram over the recent years and Kelingking Beach (with the T-Rex shaped cliff) is probably the main reason why. IT IS GORGEOUS! You can walk all the way down to the beach but it takes about an hour and the stairs are steep and narrow. We walked down far enough to get a good view and pictures. Just like any other tourist attraction this place can get packed, but with Corona there weren’t nearly as many people as I am sure there usually is, which was nice. Next stop was Angel’s Billabong, a natural infinity pool that people are able to swim in (we decided not to because we didn’t want to be wet in the car). A 5 minute walk around the corner from Angel’s Billabong is Broken Beach, a beautiful spot with an arched tunnel that allows water from the ocean to flow in creating a natural pool. There is no way to get down to the beach there because it is surrounded by cliffs, but it makes a great spot to take pictures and enjoy the blue water. Once we finished walking around and taking pictures we headed to a restaurant to grab lunch at a place with all outdoor seating and a fabulous view of the green mountain landscape. The last stop of the day was Crystal Bay Beach, a stretch of beach surrounded by palm trees and green forest with a bunch of stands to buy food. It is apparently a great place to go snorkeling, but we didn’t have any equipment so we laid out on the beach and went swimming in the water. We relaxed here for about 2 hours before getting back in the car and returning to the port to catch a boat back. Nusa Penida has many popular tourist attractions, we did the ones on the West side of the island, we were unable to do the ones on the East side without spending a night on the island. The one thing that we found annoying was that you had to pay to use all the bathrooms (which were usually a pan on the ground you had to squat over) so luckily we had cash on us but they were kind of pricey. As we waited at the port for the boat we got a beautiful view of Bali’s main island across the water. Once we got back to the main island, our driver from the morning was waiting to pick us up and return us to our hostel. We were able to check out of our hostel once we returned and even managed to get refunded for that night which was great. Emma and I decided to get a cab and go to Seminyak, a popular tourist area about an hour drive from Uluwatu. I wasn’t originally planning on going there but things in Uluwatu weren’t as close to each other as I thought and so why not check out another area. Plus Seminyak is close to the airport. The drive there wasn’t too bad and after checking into our hostel we took a walk into town and stopped at a mexican restaurant for dinner. Since it was a long day we decided to call it a night and get some rest for the following day.Read more

  • Day8


    March 3, 2020 in Indonesia ⋅ ☁️ 86 °F

    Day 8
    This morning I got up and packed my bag instead of going to morning yoga. After I got everything together, I checked out and got breakfast at the onsite cafe. Then I headed over to Monkey Sanctuary, a natural habitat of the Balinese long-tailed monkey where they run around free. The place was pretty big and had a couple temples within it and monkeys running around everywhere; there were a bunch of baby monkeys which were adorable. Throughout the place there were signs warning not to look into the monkeys eyes because they take that as a sign of aggression and to make sure you hold onto your belongings because monkeys like to steal things from you. I spent about an hour here enjoying the monkeys and then decided to take a walk around town. I stopped in a dress shop and bought a navy flower maxi dress which was handmade. I decided to go to a store to buy one because I didn’t want to be harrassed by all the street vendors. When I got back to the hostel Emma and I got a taxi to Uluwatu, located at the northern part of Bali (it was another place that I read was popular for cafes and surfing). Emma had no solid plans so I am glad that she came down with me to explore. We checked into our hostel (which was completely dead, didn’t see anyone there and our room was completely empty besides us), we got changed into our bathing suits. We got a grab (like an uber but technically illegal because it takes away from the local taxi business) and went to a popular restaurant called Single Fin which is on a cliff overlooking the ocean and a great place to watch surfers. We got mojitos and I got a chicken burger which was not good, the place was overpriced for sure but you are paying for location. Right next to the restaurant was a beautiful infinity pool that we took a quick swim in. After cooling down in the pool we dried off and got a cab to Uluwatu Temple for the famous Kecak fire and dance show. This dance and fire show actually tells a story through ritual dance and chanting. When we got there we paid and walked in and grabbed a seat with a good view of the ocean in hopes that we would experience the popular Bali sunset, but unfortunately we didn’t get much of one. The show wasn’t really what I was expecting but it was very entertaining. It started with a bunch of men in a circle chanting and then all these people in costumes started appearing. There was a monkey character that ran through the stands messing with the audience which was hilarious. We were given a piece of paper that explained the story line and without it you would be completely lost as to what was going on. I was expecting there to be more fire in the show but it was only one little part. I felt like I got a better idea of the Bali culture and the beautiful location didn’t suck either. We tried getting another grab because the taxis were kind of expensive but our grab driver wanted us to walk away from the temple and taxi drivers. As we walked away we were walking into the dark with no street light on a main road with no one around, it was sketchy to say the least. We were finally able to get a grab and get back to the hostel. Right next to the hostel was a pizza place where we grabbed a late dinner and then walked over to a convenient store to get snacks for breakfast the next morning. When we got back our AC wasn’t working in our room and out of the 3 rooms they had only one with working AC; so we slept in a room with 14 people.Read more

  • Day6

    Northern Bali

    March 1, 2020 in Indonesia ⋅ 🌧 72 °F

    Day 6
    Emma and I woke up early to do the 7am free yoga at the hostel right next to the pool in front of a huge Buddha, so Bali. I enjoyed this yoga more than the one at Kos hostel because it was a combination of breathing and lots of movements to strengthen and stretch your body. Once yoga was over I got changed and ate breakfast at the hostel cafe. Today I made an appointment to go to the spa (Putri Bali Spa) and pamper myself for the day. I did a spa package which included pick up and drop off from my hostel, so after eating I went outside to wait for the car. I have gotten massages before but I have never done a full spa day and didn’t know what exactly to expect. It was better than I could have ever imagined and so affordable. I did a 5 hour spa package which included an hour full body massage, milk body scrub and mild body mask, a warm herbal oil drip, a floral bath, a spirulina mask facial, air brush spirulina, organic hair creambath, lunch and transportation both ways from my hostel for only $105 USD. I can’t even imagine how much all that would cost at a spa in the United States. I was escorted to the room which was mostly covered and had an area that was opened to the outside with a tub and 2 outdoor showers. I was immediately given a foot bath before the hour long massage began (the women spoke great english which I was very happy about). The massage was the strongest massage that combines assistant yogic stretches and pressure points with rich and medical oil. It started out with the women on the table with me pulling my legs and arms up in the air and right away I was wondering what I had signed up for. Thankfully she only did these yoga stretches for about 5 minutes before starting the massage with oil, best massage I have ever had. Next came the milk body scrub and mask which was cold and pretty thick on my skin. Then she did the warm oil drip which was very interesting. I laid over the top of the table, with my head hanging over and she poured warm oil all over my forehead. At first I thought it was really weird and I didn’t like it but it grew on me quickly and my face and hair felt so good. I used the outdoor shower to rinse off and my skin has never felt so soft and hydrated in my life. Then came the famous floral bath, you will see pictures of these all over instagram so it was definitely something I was interested in experiencing. I was brought into another room and when I walked in I was amazed by this floral bath, the circular tub was filled with flowers in a really cool pattern. I almost didn’t want to get in and mess it up. It took a minute to get used to because I kept getting freaked out every time a flower would graze my leg. The women came in with hot ginger tea and cantaloupe on a stick for me to enjoy. It was so relaxing and smelt incredible, I even had some snails floating around on flowers enjoying the peacefulness. I showered again and was given a robe to put on before heading back to the first room. Next was the spirulina facial, which smelt disgusting but it was so cooling. I have never gotten a facial before but will for sure get more in the future, my face felt and looked 5 years younger. The airbrush was next and it was like mist was being blown onto my face, it was incredible. I was then brought to the onsite salon where I had my hair washed and then they did the organic hair creambath which brought my hair back to life, it was so soft and looked so much healthier. While I was getting my hair done, I was given more tea and fruit and a menu to order my lunch (which was at a restaurant down the road from the spa). When I was leaving they gave me a bottle of massage oil as a gift and I was driven to the restaurant for my included lunch. I got a dragon fruit juice and a chicken dish that was a little spicy and served with rice (can’t remember the name of the dish or the name of the restaurant but it was delicious). After I finished lunch the car picked me up and brought me back to my hostel. I would fly across the world any day to experience all this again, worth every penny and it was great customer service. It was raining all afternoon so when I got back I relaxed for a little and Emma and I decided to go to the local mini mart to pick up snacks and ramen cups and spend the night eating and watching Netflix.

    Day 7
    After yoga we grabbed breakfast at the hostel cafe and then got dressed for the day. I arranged for the 3 of us (Emma, Michelle and I) to have a private driver for the day to go up to northern Bali to explore and I created an itinerary for us. The private car (with an english speaker) was $40 USD for the day which was nothing split between 3 people. We got picked up at 9am to start the day and quickly realized that our english driver barely spoke english. I showed him the list of the places that we wanted to go and we were on our way. Our first stop was Pura Ulun Danu Beratan which is a beautiful temple located on Lake Beratan, it was somewhat pricey to enter the area considering you aren’t actually able to go into the temple (it is floating right off the shore) but it was worth seeing and the landscape was breathtaking. It was pretty empty so we were able to take our time getting pictures and taking in the views. Three random guys came up to us asking to take a picture WITH us (we were all white, 2 blondes and a brunette) and we didn’t really know how to react so we just went with it. This is apparently pretty common in Southeast Asia and I think it is extremely odd and made me feel uncomfortable with strangers having photos with me. After this we decided to move on to our next stop which was Handara Iconic Gate. This is actually the entrance to a golf course but has become famous on instagram to take pictures in front of so now you must pay to be able to get a picture taken. It is beautiful but not worth the money in my opinion. We were able to get our pictures taken quickly and the guy who worked there used this black square to make it look like there was water in front of the gate and your body reflected off of it. Since everywhere in Bali is so well known on instagram, the locals seem to know all the tricks for getting that perfect insta picture. Next on the list was Wanagiri Hidden Hill, another famous instagram spot in Bali and for good reason. The backdrop of the pictures you can get can’t be beat, Google it and you will see. When we pulled up I was surprised to see that it was right off the main road, there were different giant bird nests you could get pictures in and a swing you can go on. It was really expensive just to get pictures so we walked off to the side where we could look at the view and get some without having to pay the crazy entrance fee. The lake with the mountains in the background was just picture perfect. Next on my itinerary was Banyumala Twin Waterfall which is a gorgeous waterfall in the north of Bali. As we were driving, I noticed we passed the monkey sanctuary which is in Ubud and the driver completely forgot to take us to the waterfall (which was really disappointing because this was the thing all of us were looking forward to). He didn’t want to drive all the way back up north (an hour and a half drive) to go to the waterfall so we went to the Pura Taman Saraswati, a temple in Ubud that has a pond in front of it. There were definitely more people here than any of the tourist attractions up north, so we didn’t spend too much time here. The temples in Bali are gorgeous and they are everywhere (every house in Bali also has a temple for the family), the detail and architecture is something that I have never seen anywhere else. We popped into a starbucks right next to the temple to grab a drink and then found our driver so that we could get lunch. The one thing I was hoping with a private driver was to get local recommendations and see things off the beaten path that tourists don’t know about. We asked our driver to take us to a local balinese restaurant for lunch that tourists don’t know about, and he brought us to a tourist restaurant. Although it had a lovely view of a rice field and the food was good, it wasn’t what we were hoping for. After we were done eating we got back in the car and headed to Goa Gajah also known as Elephant Cave which served as a sanctuary. It was very pretty and seeing it just makes you wonder how on earth they were able to sculpt these rocks so long ago with such detail. Behind the sanctuary was a wooded area with another small temple, a pond and a stream, it was very peaceful walking through it, although there was a lot of garbage in the water unfortunately. Since we didn’t go to the waterfall in the north we had a couple more hours of the driver so we tried to ask if he had any recommendation of places that we should go, and he was no help. We found the Tibumana Waterfall right in Ubud and decided to check it out. The waterfall was about a 3 minute walk from the road and there were locals swimming and hanging out in the water. It was a simple waterfall with a somewhat small swimming area and because it was afternoon, the water was shaded from the sun. We took some photos and planned to go swimming but the water was a little cold and with the sun covered by the trees we decided against it. We still had extra time left so we decided to go to the Campuhan Ridge Walk which is a lush green walk through the trees. We were hoping to be there for sunset but were there too early. After a very long day we were ready to head back to the hostel and jump in the pool to cool down. We showered and the 3 of us went to a local cafe called Kafe (the food was amazing) for dinner and wine before calling it an early night.
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  • Day4


    February 28, 2020 in Indonesia ⋅ ⛅ 88 °F

    Day 4
    I woke up early to finish packing before grabbing breakfast and going to another yoga class. Once the class was done, I went back to my room to change into my bikini and went to the front desk to check out and store my luggage for the day. I decided instead of rushing to my next location, I would spend the day by the pool getting some color and taking it easy. I met someone else from New York by the pool and we started chatting about what was going on back at home. At the beginning of January the coronavirus was discovered in China and since then, as we all know, it has spread around the world. Since mid February the virus has been a topic of conversation among travelers, discussing what is going on in their home countries and determining what to do about current and future travel plans. Even though the virus is spreading so quickly throughout Europe and the US, myself and the people I spoke to all feel safe in Southeast Asia and really didn’t see anything being affected as a result of the virus the way we were hearing it was at home. We spent some time chatting and getting to know each other before I got a cab to head to Ubud. This hostel was advertised as a party hostel with activities and a lot of people and I don’t know if it was the time of week I was there or because of the virus but there weren’t a lot of people. I was a little disappointed since this was the one hostel I was really looking forward to and I wonder if I would have enjoyed Canggu more if I made some friends. I arrived in Ubud around 3pm, it was about an hour drive there and there wasn’t really any traffic (Bali traffic is a real thing, an hour drive could take 2 plus hours if there is bad traffic). After checking into my hostel (Puri Gardens) and getting shown around, I brought my bags to my room and got showered. I spent late afternoon walking around Ubud and getting to know the area as well as getting a SIM card for my phone. I came across a lot of cafes and little temples and there seemed to be a lot going on. The one thing about Bali that I definitely don’t like is that you can’t walk 5 minutes without hearing “taxi taxi.” Coming from New York, where it is impossible to get a taxi, this once nice the first 5 times but after 10 minutes on the streets of Bali, you never want to hear the word taxi again. I headed back to the hostel and started talking with a girl in my room named Emma from England. We went down to the pool area together for the Balinese BBQ that the hostel was doing. We went to the bar and got drinks and started talking with a couple other girls while we waited for the food to be done. Once the food was ready we lined up and grabbed plates (which were woven) and filled them with traditional Balinese food. I got satays (meat on a skewer, I got chicken), nasi goreng (which translates to fried rice, which is exactly what it is), mie goreng (fried noodles), corn on a stick and salad. The food was amazing and it was really nice to be able to try some of the traditional balinese cuisine. They had traditional Balinese dancers perform for everyone which was interesting to watch and we all took pictures with them afterwards. The atmosphere at Puri Gardens was very chill and everyone was very friendly, a group of us played some beer pong before heading off to bed.

    Day 5
    The hostel provides day trips that you can pay for, so today I signed up for one of the tours that hits all the popular tourist attractions. It was only two of us and a driver so it was nice to have essentially a private tour for the day. I got up early to have breakfast at the hostel cafe and then waited outside at 9am to get the day started. The other guy that was on the tour was from South Africa and he was staying at another hostel in town. Our first stop of the day was the Tegalalang Rice Terrace which is a scenic terraced hillside offering rice paddies and beautiful greenery with 2 large swings that you can swing over the rice field on. When we arrived I was taken aback by just how green everything was, it was amazing. Bali is known for its swings and woven baskets that you can take pictures in, so naturally I had to do both when in Bali. Right when you walk in there is a heart shaped little bench that you can take a picture with that gives a beautiful background. After taking a picture here we continued walking and came across the big swing, which I was excited to try out. Since it was a big tourist attraction it was overpriced but it actually was more worth the money than I had originally thought. They put a harness on you and attach you to the swing and then they grab the rope that is on the swing and run backwards so that you launch into the air. I got to do multiple swings facing the fields and multiple with my back to the fields. Bali is like heaven for instagram people because everywhere you go is picture perfect between the greenery, the temples, and beautiful views that the place has to offer. It was really amazing being on this giant swing going over this amazing scenery. Once I was done swinging, we continued walking through the fields taking the views in and taking pictures (our tour guide would stop us and say “this is a great place to take a picture” so we got plenty throughout the day which was nice). We got back into the car and made our way to our next stop which was the Salria Luwak Coffee Plantation. We walked past many different herbs and trees (cocoa, coffee, guava and so on) before getting to an area where locals were sitting roasting coffee beans over an open fire. They explained to us the process of roasting the beans and how there is male coffee (from the male bean) and female coffee (from the female bean). The male coffee is stronger. Bali is the home of the world famous and most expensive coffee in the world, Kopi Luwak. This is the specialty coffee that is digested by, fermented within, and then excreted by the Asian Palm Civet (an animal). Sounds disgusting I know, but people come from all over the world to try a cup of this coffee. I got the opportunity to sit and help roast some beans before we went to the patio where we were given a tray of teas and coffees that the plantation has made to try (Kopi Luwak was not included in the tasting and I decided not to buy a cup to try it). I am not a huge coffee person but this was hands down the best tea and coffee I have ever tried. We had coconut coffee, vanilla coffee, avocado coffee, and the male and female coffee. This is something I probably would not have done on my own but I am very glad that it was on the tour. Not only was the tea and coffee out of this world, but the view from the patio was incredible, surrounded by green everywhere. After we finished the tasting we went into the gift shop, where I picked up some coffee as gifts and then we got back into our car. Our next stop was Tirta Empul Temple, which is famous for its holy spring water, where Balinese Hindus go for ritual purification. As most people know, when visiting temples around the world you must have your shoulders and knees covered. When we walked in we were given sarongs to wear, they are people who try to sell them in the parking lot but they are free when going in. The temple was huge and I was blown away at all the structures and beautiful detail. It was Hari Kunungan a Bali holiday which marks the end of the Galungan holiday. The Balinese believe that Kunungan is the day when their ancestors return to heaven after visiting the earth during Galungan celebration. As a result of the holiday the temple was packed with locals praying and people purifying themselves in the holy springs so we decided not to go into the springs. It was nice to see the temple on a holiday where people were praying and it wasn’t completely filled with tourists. After a morning filled with temples and views, we stopped at a local restaurant with beautiful views of a rice farm to grab a traditional Balinese lunch (I ordered chicken nasi goreng). Our afternoon stop was to the natural blangsinga waterfall where people can go swimming and take pictures with the waterfall. It was probably a 7 minute walk down to the waterfall, water past pool clubs and restaurants. Once at the waterfall there are a couple swings you can pay to go on and a bunch of people swimming enjoying the beautiful weather (I decided against swimming but the other guy did). We took some pictures and went across a short, shaking bamboo bridge to get to a giant rock that gets you close to the waterfall for a great picture (once we were done taking pictures I was soaking wet). The guy I was with was annoying with the pictures, he had me take probably close to 100 pictures during the 45 minutes that we were here. Since there were only 2 of us we were able to see everything in less time than usual, so after leaving the waterfall we headed back to the hostel. After showering I took a walk to Pasar Seni Ubud, a traditional market in the heart of Ubud with art, clothing, bags, dreamcatchers and much more. All of the stands had pretty much the same things and it was hectic walking through with people saying “cheap for you” and trying to get your attention. Once I got back to the hostel I met up with Emma and Michelle (a girl from Germany) and we decided to go to a meditation class at Yoga Barn, which was down the street from the hostel. As I mentioned before, Bali is known for its yoga and this is the famous place to go. There weren’t any yoga classes that night but we still wanted to go to check it off the list. You can’t reserve a class so you have to get there at least an hour early to make sure you get your name on the list. While we were waiting for the class to get called we went to one of the cafes onsite to grab some food. This place is hidden right off the main road, you walk down an alley and it is like you are at a yoga retreat in the middle of the jungle. We finished eating and went back to the desk where they started calling names for the class. When they called your name you walked up a staircase that brought you to a huge wooden room with no walls (it was very dark so unfortunately I wasn’t able to take in the whole room and I banged my leg into a bench at the top of the steps). Everyone sat at a yoga mat and in the middle of the room there were giant bowls that they used during the meditation for sound. It was a very interesting experience that focused on breathing and clearing your mind while just laying still on the mat. I definitely would have preferred doing a yoga class (exceptionally since the class was pricey) but I was glad I was still able to experience it. We went back to the hostel and all headed to bed because we were getting early for the 7am free yoga at the hostel.
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    Bob Weireter

    Bali looks beautiful, hope you keep it up with the yoga

  • Day1


    February 25, 2020 in Indonesia ⋅ ⛅ 90 °F

    Day 1
    Today was a day filled with travel, my first flight from Queenstown to Auckland was at 9:30am and arrived at 11:20am. After a 3 hour layover, I boarded my flight to Bali which was an 8 hour and 45 minute flight. Due to the time difference I landed in Bali at 6pm and was exhausted. I read online that you really have to haggle over the cost of everything, including taxis, so right when I got out of the airport I was bombarded with drivers asking if I needed a taxi. I took the first one I found and when I told him I was going to Canggu (which was a 45 minute drive from the airport), he pulled out a piece of paper that said the price on it. At the time I thought it seemed high but I was so tired I didn’t care (a taxi should have been $25 and I ended up paying $50, so was definitely taken advantage of). After about 15 minutes into the drive I realized that I hadn’t taken out enough money to cover the taxi fare (Bali uses the Indonesian Rupiah, which has a lot of zeros on it and is kind of confusing), so I tried to tell the driver that I needed to stop at an ATM to take more out and that’s when I discovered the only english words he knew was taxi, cheap, yes and no. Thankfully, he took out his phone and we used google translate to communicate and he stopped at a local market so I could take out money. This was one of the scariest cab rides I have ever been on. A lot of people in Bali, both locals and tourists, get around by scooters and there were hundreds on the road weaving in and out of cars. When I finally dropped off the driver dropped me on the side of the road and I had to carry all my bags down a dirt alley. Based on the pictures of the hostel (Kos One Hostel) that were online, I was surprised it was down a sketchy alley but when I arrived it was exactly what I was expecting. I checked in and was shown to my room and just spent some time hanging out before calling it a night.

    Day 2
    I woke up and headed to the outdoor restaurant at the hostel to get some breakfast, the food here was surprisingly very good. After breakfast I got dressed and took a walk into town checking out the stores and walking down to the beach. I was surprised when I got to the beach because there were only cement stairs going down and there wasn’t really a lot of beach and it was pretty dirty. I walked back to the hostel to eat lunch and get in a workout at the gym that they had onsite. After a great workout I went and hung by the pool because there was supposed to be a pool party with a DJ (this was a party that I had read was a must do while in Canggu along with going to Finns) and unfortunately it really wasn’t much of a party. I am not sure if the hostel was quieter than usual due to the coronavirus happening but there really weren't many people there. I talked to a couple of people who said the pool party a couple of days before was really fun so it sounded like it was a hit or miss. I laid out to tan and ordered a couple of drinks. I started talking to the girl next of me, Victoria (she is from Northern Ireland) who was only at Kos One for a day before starting a tour group the next day. We hung out for a bit before showering and walking to Finns bar for drinks and dinner. The walk was about 45 minutes give or take from our hostel and was pretty sketchy walking down dirt allies and near rice fields. I was hoping that we would stumble across the part of town that had all the cafes that I had read so much about but didn’t really see any. Once we got there we each got drinks and then decided to grab pizzas at their restaurant. Finns was really nice; it had day beds, multiple bars and pools and was right on the beach. It would have been a great place to go for the day to drink, dance and hang out. Instead of walking back home in the dark we decided to take a taxi back which was a little expensive since it was a private service through Finns but definitely better than walking. I was really tired so once we got back I headed to bed.

    Day 3
    I woke up early to get breakfast at the cafe at the hostel (I got a very good smoothie bowl) and then headed to the free yoga in the gym onsite. Bali is known for its yoga, people come from all over the world to do yoga retreats throughout Bali. This of course wasn’t a world class yoga class but it was great for a beginner like me. It was very relaxing and really helped me to stretch out my back from sleeping in hostel beds. Once yoga was over I got my bikini on and went to the pool to enjoy the sunshine. After a couple hours in the sun, I went back to my room to get dressed and grabbed lunch at the cafe before taking a walk in town. I walked away from the beach this time and as I was walking I stumbled upon a flee market which I went into to take a look around. There was jewelry, clothing, purses, dreamcatchers and much more. I only stayed there for about 10 minutes because every time I went to look at something I would hear “cheap, cheap price for you” which was getting really annoying. As I continued walking I came across some clothing and jewelry boutiques (I bought a cute ring at one of them) but didn’t see as many cafes as I would have thought and some of the buildings seemed to be falling apart. There were stray dogs everywhere, some were aggressive and I even saw a couple dog fights. It was a little difficult to cross the street between the dogs, scooters and cars all over the road; it’s like every man for himself. It was late afternoon and the sun was beating down so I decided to go back to the hostel to take a shower and try and cool down. It is very humid in Bali and the sun is strong, so it is hard to stay in the sun moving around all day without overheating. We I got back to my room there was a knock on the door and it was one of the staff members letting me know that I had forgotten to pay for my lunch (they don’t have the same table service that we are used to in the states and after sitting at the table texting family and catching up for awhile I had completely forgot to pay my bill). After I showered, I did some packing and watched some Netflix before going to bed.
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  • Day15

    Milford Sound

    February 24, 2020 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 63 °F

    Day 15
    I woke up around 6:30am to finish getting my things together and then went to reception and stored my bags for the day. Today the contiki group continued their way to the next location which was Milford Sound but since I wasn’t doing the full tour I wasn’t going to be able to go. I decided that on my last day in Queenstown I was going to fly to Milford Sound (considered to be the 8th wonder of the world) which was an hour flight in a very small passenger plane. I sat in the front of the plane and the views were unreal. We flew over the lake and the mountains, some of which still had snow on them (and ash from the Australia fires). I couldn’t stop looking out of the window and taking pictures of all the surroundings. Since it is such a small plane, you could really feel the wind and would get that feeling of your stomach dropping a lot, definitely wasn’t my favorite. Once the plane landed we were taken on a 2 hour cruise on the water, surrounded by the beautiful mountainous landscape. The weather was a little cold but the boat had complimentary tea and coffee to help keep you warm. The boat was big but there were probably only 12 of us on it and because it was 9am, we were the only boat on the water until we returned to the dock around 11am (it was peaceful and the water was so still). I was surprised to see that there were several waterfalls varying in heights and sizes. There was one waterfall that we actually went under and got splashed by. You don’t realize how big waterfalls are until you are right under it. I stood on the front of the boat when it first went under and got some pictures but then went inside before I got completely soaked. After about 2 hours on the water we went back to the dock and got back on the plane to Queenstown. On the plane ride back I was all the way in the back, and that plane dropping feeling was even worse. I got back to my hostel around 12:30pm and after going back and forth I decided to sign up to go bungy jumping in the afternoon. I never had a desire to do it but after watching so many people on my tour group go, I didn’t want to regret not doing it while I was in New Zealand. I have done a lot of adrenaline activities while being in New Zealand, I was most nervous about bungy jumping. I think the fact that it was doing it alone and I actually had to jump made me more anxious than any of the other things I had done. I grabbed lunch and sat outside enjoying the sun before going back to the bungy place to get the bus. While I was waiting I met a guy from Canada so we started chatting and he was doing the same bungy as me, the Kawarau Bridge (the original that I had gone to a few days earlier). When we were dropped off we were given 5 minutes to go to the bathroom and put our belongings in a locker before going to the bridge. Unlike the other day, there was no line for jumping so once there was only one person in front of me. After he jumped, I went up and sat down for them to prepare me (they put a towel around your ankles and a black strap that is attached to the rope and a harness). When I got onto the wooden platform I looked down and it didn’t really look like it was that high, it was 141 feet high. They aren’t allowed to push you off so you have to jump, they hold the back of your harness and count down from 3 and once they hit 1 they tell you to lean forward and jump. I knew that if I didn’t jump after the countdown I wouldn’t have done it, so when I heard 1 I jumped. The fall wasn’t as long as I thought it would be and before I knew it I was on my way back up with my body flinging through the air. The up and down of the bungy was odd but it didn’t hurt my body the way I thought it would. Once I was hanging there no longer moving, a boat is sent over with a long pole for you to grab and they pull you down into the boat and unconnect the rope. The whole thing was over before I knew it and I was so glad I did it. I probably wouldn’t rush back to do it again but I know if I didn’t do it I would regret it. After getting my pictures, videos and free t-shirt we were picked up again by the bus and taken back into town. I went back to my hostel to get my bags and bring them to the other hostel I would be staying at for my last night which was right down the black from the lake. After getting checked in and getting my bags to my room, I met up with the guy from bungy jumping to grab a drink and dinner. When I got back to the hostel I ran into Simone (a girl from my contiki group), she missed her flight and had to spend another night in Queenstown so we went to a bar across the street to grab a couple of glasses of wine before calling it a night.Read more

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