Tree Top Course and Natural Hot Springs!

Could it be? Our last full day in this alternative universe?! Well, we should probably make sure it’s a good one!
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We had another yummy breakfast looking over the mountainside. Gede (our personal butler) then took us to the treetop course we have been so much looking forward to.  We made a stop to see the Twin Lakes view again, just too pretty to drive right by!

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The ropes courses were total insanity. They had about 6 different courses that increase in difficulty, height, and fear factor. We made it through them all, but I chose to stop before the most difficult course. Kyle confirmed after the fact that it really required a good deal of upper body strength and it was a good thing I didn’t go for it.  We rocked it through all the courses, but at the second hardest level I was definitely scared. The craziest part was after shimmying up a tree, literally straddling it, you get on an extremely narrow platform (only one person can fit). From this platform, you had to reel in a rope, and then swing Tarzan style on it across to a rope grid ladder and catch the ladder. Like seriously whoa. After that part, I was shaken up and trembled through the rest of the course.  The zip lines were scattered within all of the courses, but the last one was highest, and longest, so of course the most fun! Okay, here are a lot of photos, the go pro rules!The first half of me where taken from the GoPro Kyle wore on his head, and the second half of him I took from the ground while he did the most challenging course without me. We have a bunch of videos too which came out great!

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After a few hours here, again pleasantly surprised at the lack of other people, we walked through the botanical gardens that we had read a lot about. Very pretty and exotic!

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From the gardens we headed to see another waterfall.. we like waterfalls ūüôā

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Next we took a drive to the north coast to see the black sand beaches in a town called Lovina. The Java volcanoes have been erupting so the sand was extra dark from the ash, but typically it is dark due to its distance from the volcano anyway. Very neat.

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Next up were the natural hot springs! This part was another honeymoon highlight. We got to these public hot springs as the skies opened up into a down pour. It was so cool to get into the hot water while it was raining. The hot springs are public and lots of people go under the running water to use the pressure as a sort of massage. We caught on quickly and really enjoyed ourselves. It was especially nice that everyone at the hot spring was Balinese. It’s just a thing to do for fun and relaxation for the locals! Not too shabby!

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We had our massage that was included with our honeymoon package at 6 o’clock and were back to the plantation just in time.  The spa was hidden on a neat path along the plantation in a location that was completely secluded. The massage was once again, awesome!

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We had just enough time to get showered and  ready for our candle lit dinner in the private pavilion on the side of the mountain. They had rose petals in a path leading up to the pavilion and a heart and an “I love you” also decorated with rose petals on the table. We had a tofu app, some Balinese soups, and traditional dishes for our entrees. We enjoyed our honey moon cake for dessert in the room which came full circle from the honeymoon cake we received at our first stop! Sad to know it is the end of our final day, but so exhausted from a packed jammed schedule that we were snoozing in no time!

 

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Hiking, Waterfalls, and Cooking Class!

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Our Munduk adventure started with a walk on the plantation after breakfast that led into a full blown day of hiking. The mountains and rain forests here are awesome and everything is so green. Oh and the constant background noise are the chickens and cows and goats that roam around and sing all day and night. The leaves are huge and the bamboo is everywhere! After about a two hour hike we arrived at a beautiful waterfall. It was in a canyon and just-out of a dream. While here we had our picnic lunch which was quite good, and headed off to see another!

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On our way to the next waterfall, we passed more locals playing spin the top, so cute, they invited us to stop and play for a bit! The next waterfall hike was shorter but much more challenging. 400 steps down (and back up) a steep and winding cliff to get to this one. It was definitely worth it! Way more secluded, and we even got in it! As soon as we started getting into the water it was like we were in a tornado with strong gusty winds. It was literally breath taking! I could barely stay standing it was so powerful. After our waterfall swim we agreed that it was definitely a honeymoon highlight! Wow.

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After surviving the 400 steps back up the cliff, we headed for a third hike of the day. This hike was around one of the lakes that are a part of the Twin Lakes. This is the true rainforest. Again, being that there are temples everywhere, there was also a temple by the lake. And additionally, many more wild monkeys! After our lake hike, we had a canoe take us across the lake. This was the most legitimate canoe I have ever seen. Essentially two tree trunks, carved out to make two side by side canoes. Raw wood. They were attached side by side with two boards so that they balanced each other on the water. This was yet another incredibly authentic experience!

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After a nature filled day, we returned to the plantation for¬†a private cooking class. First we picked some veggies from the plantation and then chopped and mixed etc. all of this was done at a wooden table by an outdoor “kitchen” for us. It was another special Balinese experience. We made papaya soup, chicken in banana leaf with fragrant rice, and candied bananas for dessert (candied with palm sugar). It was so fun! And we were proud and pleased with our results. Yum!

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As we were finishing up with cooking, the sun set was just perfect timing for some more relaxing in our private pool and jacuzzi! The view of the sunset is spectacular and just this place-wow. The sky was extra sharp so we played with some photos at the shared infinity pool as well.

What a great day ūüôā

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Off to Munduk!

Today we had breakfast by the pool before showering and packing up for our 12pm transportation to our next stop. Munduk (moon duke) is a town far north on Bali and high up in the mountains. Our driver from the Munduk Moding Plantation (the coffee plantation/hotel we will be staying at) offered to stop anywhere on the way that we wanted. Someone had advised us to ask to stop at the Twin lakes so we did ask that. Before we got there (the lakes are closer to Munduk), we stopped on the side of the road for some coffee at a plantation that welcomed us in to sample all the teas and coffees and to show us the process. This was very neat to see.

In Bali, there is a very “special” kind of coffee that is known to be the good stuff and is more expensive (about 5 U.S. Dollars a cup but very expensive in comparison to everything else here). It is called Luwak coffee. A Luwak is a cat/possum looking animal. As with the dogs and the chickens here, they are “owned” by families but they live cage free. A few places cage the Luwak to show tourists the animal as it is special here, but mostly they live free on the plantations. What happens is they eat the coffee beans, digest them whole, their stomach acids ferment the coffee beans and then they pass them. Farmers and plantation workers search the plantation for the Luwak poop and use the beans to make coffee. This is so normal and fine here and so not okay with me, but when in Rome!

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We sampled the Luwak in addition to their homemade vanilla, mocha, cacao, coconut, and ginger coffees and lemon grass, tumeric, and some tea to name a few. After this stop it was clear we were headed into the mountains as the temperature was much cooler. We then stopped to see the Twin Lakes view of the two side by side lakes. When we were almost to the Moding Plantation, our driver asked if we could stop at the market to pick up the hotel’s fruit order. That was a neat stop too and we loaded up with potatoes and beans, etc. We also passed a group of kids playing a traditional game called spin the top.  There are two teams and a completely wooden top that they wind rope around and then see who can spin their top longest.

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When we got to our next home, they too welcomed us home. We were greeted with bright yellow lais and taken from the reception area to our “luxury villa” via golf cart through the plantation grounds. We have the only one bedroom pool villa on the grounds (only 17 rooms total here).  This place is magical! The resort itself is very similar to the last one in Ubud with its beauty and level of service, but this one is less in the forest/jungle and more on the side of a mountain overlooking the rainforest and plantations. Plus, at this one we not only have a private pool, but a private jacuzzi hottub and outdoor bamboo shower as well! The main infinity pool by the hotel restaurant is among the top ten infinity pools in the world and we had some fun taking pictures here. Especially because it was a bit cloudy so it made the view and reflection really neat.

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But being that the sun was going down and it was slightly cooler here, it didn’t take us long to get into our private jacuzzi and enjoy the magnificent view! We were given a personal butler and cell phone to reach him any time. Gede is his name and he helped us to plan our next few days. We had a quick dinner before bed as I was starting to not feel well. We later learned that this is normal for people to not feel well the first night as you come from hot temperatures and lower altitudes. We were told it is especially likely to not feel well if you had been scuba diving and then to these high altitudes. Makes sense!

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The rice paddies, a small village, and a romantic dinner!

For our third day in Ubud, we got up early for a 7am trek through the forest and up to see some of the local villages. The walk was cool with some nice views and we were told to be careful of the snakes because they are poisonous. Ummmmm. Stressful hike. Once we made it through some of the forest, the land cleared and became plots of land owned by different Indonesian families. The land is all owned in small plots and everyone helps everyone with the farming. We saw all of the rice paddies and several people working on their land. The motor bikes even make their way through the fields of land and we have been told the women bike the food to eat to the men in the fields so that they can keep working. We saw some people washing their chickens for the cock fights that are illegal here due to gambling, but allowed for the ceremony as part of their traditional celebrations.

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After seeing many of the rice fields and local workers, we walked into a small village. We have been learning a lot about the culture here and above everything that we have learned, the most important is how incredibly nice the people are. They don’t look at us as Americans or outsiders, but treat us as friends and welcome us very kindly. There are stone walled/temple like perimeters around the “compounds” that make up the village. We were invited into one and offered some coffee which they made fresh from the beans that they grow. Offering coffee is a way of welcoming here. One of the men spoke some English and we learned that this compound has about 19 people living in it including brothers and their families down to grandkids. The coffee was really good and it was really neat to hang out with a few of the family members and “try” to talk with them for a bit. Another fun fact that we learned is that every household has a dog for “security.” The dogs seemed to just roam around the town but I guess just head back home as needed. As we were leaving to head back, one dog who was guarding his household started barking at us, a lot. Then the next one started, followed by the next and the next… Before we knew it, every town dog was barking at us. It got worse. The whole pack then started following us. Basically escorting us out of town. Not fun. We were told later that a dog bit a tourist once and the corrupt government here ordered all the dogs to be killed. Clearly all were not killed, but very sad nonetheless.

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We survived the morning without snake or dog bites and we’re back by 10 for breakfast and some play time by our private pool! When we lost sun by our pool we went up to the main pool and hung there for a bit until lunch.

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After lunch we took a driver into town and walked around a bit more, saw some more of the ceremonies concluding and were back to the hotel to get ready for our “red light” dinner-a honeymooner’s special!
Our villa was transformed! Candles in Palm leaves lined the walkway all the way along the house back to the pool. The pool was COVERED in rose petals and candles and the cabana was set up for our special dinner. It was decorated with the Hindu decor and the ceremonial music was playing in the background. Unreal. We had duck and about a hundred other things to eat. So good. I don’t think I have ever been so stuffed.

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 The monkey forest and the town of Ubud 

Today (Friday July 24th) we started with a breakfast overlooking the pool and jungle following by a 10am shuttle to the monkey forest. We have read and heard a lot about this forest and were excited to see the monkeys!
IMG_7022 IMG_7020 When we got there, there were instantly monkeys surrounding us… everywhere! They walk right up to you, eat bananas from you, run around you, and play with each other on the paths and in the trees surrounding. It was pretty crazy. We saw some that were probably the grandpops (the big gray bearded kind), and some that had little babies. People were holding bananas over their heads and having them climb on them to feed them-not us though, that was a bit too close for comfort.

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We did get up close to the monkeys sometimes, specifically this one for this picture.
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However about 3 seconds after this photo I had a monkey dangling from my hair and scaring the you know what out of me. I must have leaned against its tail or something. Kyle said he didn’t know what to do and almost hit it with the GoPro stick to get it to let go of my hair, but it let go on its own. Was a tad frazzled after that, but the gorgeous hike through the forest fixed me right up!

  
  


  

  

       

After we had enough with the monkeys, we walked the “Ubud center.” There are markets and temples and it is quite an interesting town. I have never been somewhere like it before. Busy with motor bikes and cars, but also very still and charming surrounded by greenery, the forest, and a river running through the middle. Lots of shops and restaurants as well….

            
  
We quickly learned that we happen to be here for the most special weekend of Hindu celebration. Since we were in the south at the start to our trip we have seen these little “offerings” scattered around the city, on storefront stoops, on dashboards, on all of the temples (which are everywhere) and outside of every door sat these little offerings smoking with incense. They are little squares made of palm that have flowers, fruit, sometimes crackers and anything that is considered an offering of thanks.

 The main celebration day (Saturday-tomorrow) is named for and based around the sun. The day before it is tradition for kids to start the ceremonies by playing music while two kids are dressed in a horse monster thing and collect donations. We saw several groups around town.

 We had an awesome lunch at a really neat second story place on a busy road. Prawn fried rice is one of my faves! After lunch we continued to bop around town and did some shopping. Since we weren’t at the hotel for afternoon tea, we stopped at their sister hotel in town to have tea there. Another beautiful location!

 

              

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   After tea we walked a bit more and noticed since tomorrow is the big celebration, things were closing early so we hitched a ride back to our spot. We did dinner room service style and ate in our villa. This was nice because we didn’t feel the need to get dressed and we could just relax! Have I mentioned that this place is nuts? It’s pretty nuts.

Day of Travel

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Today we were up for one last sunrise on the island. What a unique and captivating experience it has been here. We received our scuba certification cards and dive team t-shirts upon checking out and snagged a horse cart to take us to the harbor. While waiting for our boat we got freshly cut and carved pineapples to snack on and boarded our boat back to the Bali. The boat was an hour late, but nothing to complain about because that just meant another hour of Gili bliss!


 

We relaxed on the boat ride (again about 2 hrs) and were greeted by a driver from our next hotel who was waiting for us at the harbor. We were headed to Ubud (oh-bood). This is a town known for its “city center” and markets as well as for rich Balinese culture. It was under two hours to the incredible hotel of Komaneka in Ubud. We were greeted with the warmest, smiling, hands together and bowing in namaste form staff. They all greeted us with “welcome home.” We were immediately told that from now on, this is our home, we worry about nothing, and they will take care of everything and do absolutely anything we need. They’re serious. They took us on a tour of the grounds which consists of different tiers of platforms fanned out in different directions into the forest/jungle. There is a yoga studio, gym, sauna, fully loaded spa (we get an hour massage included), restaurant (but you can request any of the meals anywhere on the grounds or in your villa/private pool area), two pools, a heated pool and jacuzzi, and as I mentioned, our own private pool villa. This place is like being on another planet. We called the front desk to say the time we would be looking to shuttle into town and there response was simply, “you do not need to make reservation, this is your home. Do what you want when you want.” And then they magically have a driver ready whenever we want. They talk to each other through their wrists or something C.I.A.-ish because as soon as we leave our villa (for any amount of time) they sneak in and out to freshen up, open or close curtains, lay out our slippers and night gown, or adjust the mood lighting. We have never been anywhere so incredibly attentive and accommodating without being in your face or in your way… At all! They told us that from here on out Kyle would be called “bapak” and I would be called “ibu.” Those are Balinese for sir and ma’am or mr and mrs. They sometimes call us ibu Alex and bapak Kyle. Very adorable. ¬†

  
  

  
  

Every day afternoon tea is served (anywhere we want) from 3:30-5:30. We made it just in time upon our arrival for our first tea. They served us overlooking one of the pools and our minds are pretty much blown. They also gave us the Balinese form of munchies to accompany our tea… No clue what all the little things were, but they disappeared nonetheless.

  

For our first evening we had an early ish dinner followed by our hour long complimentary couple’s massage. When we returned to our villa after dinner they had our robes laid out to wear and picked us up to walk us to the spa. The massage started and ended with some tea and the entire facility is part inside part outside so the sounds of the forest are constant and awesome. Definitely added a neat vibe to the massage. The whole hour (side by side) our masseuses were in sync with each other so we knew we were having the exact same experience simultaneously. Incredible!



A day to chill!


¬†¬†For our final day on Gili Air we decided to have a relaxing day with no plan. After breakfast (I had a papaya and watermelon stuffed crepe-yum!), we walked a bit in a direction we hadn’t yet been. We saw some of the off the beaten path life that we were so enamored with. ¬†On this walk we came across a restaurant that Anika (our diving friend) raved about being delicious. We checked out the menu and agreed we would have dinner there. When we kept walking, we encountered a sunset paddle boarding rental. Sold! After booking that, we plopped our butts on the beach and ordered some cocktails. Bloody Mary’s, Mohitos, pina coladas, sangria… To name a few.

  

    
We pretty much just chilled on the beach for the day before heading up to paddle board at sunset. The paddle boarding was a great call. At one point we were in the Pacific AND the Indian Ocean! I was fairly comfortable on the board although it was certainly a workout. I didn’t fall at all! Kyle fell a bunch, but we don’t think his board was big enough and his center of gravity is not as low so makes sense! The sunsets here seem fake. And seeing it on the water was the best!

              

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We tried for a pic of us but had water in the lens!!!

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After paddle boarding we walked back to our hut, changed for dinner, and tremendously enjoyed eating some of our sea creature friends we had met the day before ūüėČ

  
We have had NO trouble sleeping and got another good night’s rest!

Turtle Haven and the Deep Blue Sea!

  
 

  

  
  
¬†We were again up for sunrise and breakfast before our third and fourth dives. Today’s dives would be to 60 feet. The first is called Marlin Hill (aka Turtle Haven) and the second is called Air Wall. I’m writing this after the fact and don’t really remember details of the first dive unfortunately. They say that happens with nitrogen narcosis, but for real… It was cool! This was the first dive Kyle and I were allowed to be buddies and also the first that he was allowed to bring the GoPro. I do remember that right when we got down I noticed Kyle and Tammy linking up and messing with his buoyancy compensator (bc/vest). Apparently when we were neutralizing our buoyancy at about 20 feet Kyle realized his didn’t work! We all surfaced, and they took an extra one from the boat for him before we tried take two which went smoothly! Turtle Haven was wonderful. Not only did we see several sea turtles, but my favorite was when they got up and swam around. So neat! Almost seemed like slow motion. They were super friendly and fearless and swam along with us for a bit. We had to do some more scuba skills on this one, but in general it was my favorite so far. We were very confident and comfortable and just taking in the gorgeous underwater world! I didn’t want it to end! Because we were much deeper we use more air more quickly and had to be extra conscious of our air supply. In the end, it is the air getting low that ended up concluding the dive. It was about 45 min underwater. Not long enough!¬†After this dive we went for a juice and a snack but the service was so slow because they had to go pick a pineapple and some bananas for our juice etc., we ended up canceling our spring rolls and chugging our juice to be back in time for our last dive. Sad.

   

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This dive was again to 60 feet and lasted a little longer than the others. We were buddies again and the GoPro joined us once again! The Air Wall dive site was pretty crazy because although we stayed around 60 feet , below us was much deeper. It was really wild actually. Basically as we swam, the “wall” of coral and fish etc sloped down down down to our left. To our right? Deep deep blue sea. I felt like most of the divers were staring at the sea life on the wall and such which is more of the point, but I was really mesmerized by the view to the right. I really felt like it was a whole world if it’s own out there. We saw more turtles, blue spotted sting rays, and some other unique and large fish as well as lobsters and some other crustaceans. We also saw an exact replica of the anemone and clown fish that was right out of Finding Nemo. The little clown fish swimming in and out of the anemone checking for danger! We also saw a ton of the Dory and Gill type fish from that movie. They were everywhere. We saw several species giving birth too! Al, who was leading was really good about signing the type of fish showing us where to look and signaling how close it was safe to get. We had to keep our distance from the mamas in labor of course! Under water language is fun ūüôā I was only given the signal to stop trying to go deeper maybe one time or two…. Hehe whoops!


  

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Again since we were very deep for our longest dive, our air supply is what determined the end of the dive. We did require a safety stop at 15 feet for 3 minutes because of our duration and the depths we were swimming in order to offgas the nitrogen from our system. I did some flips and Kyle tried the “smoke ring” bubble breathing. We had a blast. At the end of the dive I was feeling great but also kinda bummed that it was over.


(That picture is Annika and Lucian with us)

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(This one adds the dive instructors, Tammy and Al)

We were really hungry and after logging our dives and finishing up some paperwork we went to a warung along the beach for huge coconuts of coconut water for a good cleanse along with more food than we meant to order! We have been good about sticking to the Indonesian portion of the menus here but may have added some French fries to the order which is embarrassing but also the most fresh fries we agreed to have ever eaten. We were pretty tired as well and hung there for a bit to relax and then did the same in the hammocks at our “hotel.”

  
  

We may have been asleep before the sun this time around. Whatever!

Scuba Diving!

 
We got to breakfast just in time for the sunrise. Banana juice and watermelon juice with some Lombok coffee.  Lombok is the island nearby that has the mountain range. 

Time for our open water 1! First dive in the open water weeeeeeeeeeeee! The picture is of several dive groups heading out on the same boat for a dive. We are the least experienced on the boat, but check back tomorrow! Nerves were not nearly as high as I expected. We met with out team to review the dive site and protocols, then put our equipment together and loaded the boat from the beach/water.

Bounty is what they call the first dive site. It is a wrecked pier that was hit by a ship and sunk. We scooted out butts back to the edge of the boat, rolled backwards in and there we went! The descent was my main hiccup, my left ear was equalizing on the way down and my right was not and started hurting. I didn’t need to surface, but did need to slow the descent and ascend a bit until the pain settled. It only took me a few minutes to figure it out and I was proud to be very calm throughout the obstacle. Soon enough I felt like a mermaid. The sites under sea were more incredible that I ever could have imagined. Mountains and valleys of coral reefs all swarming with brightly colored fish and peculiar species. We swam around the wreck, and spent about 40 minutes at about 40 feet for this dive. The coolest sea life we saw were a pair of fish that I forget the name of. They were about the size of a cow and really unique and clumsy looking. For this dive, we didn’t have to do any scuba skills, it was just to get comfortable in the water. Al lead, Annika and I side by side behind him (we were paired as dive buddies), Kyle and Lucian side by side behind us, and Tammy bringing up the rear. They say they never buddy up couples together because if there is a problem they may go to each other as opposed to the dive master. We had practiced with a similar mentality and our buddies were awesome so it was all good.

We concluded this dive high on life! Wow! The boat took us back for about an hour break before our next dive, we grabbed a juice and relaxed a bit before the briefing for dive 2. Really cute to see two local boys having a grand old time floating in styrofoam coolers.


   
Al and Tammy told us they were majorly impressed with our first dive. In fact they said they had never had a group of beginners go so smoothly!


Our next dive would be to the Hans Reef and on this one we have to do some skills. The depth was about the same, but for this one we started on the bottom (the other dive we never actually touched bottom as is normal for regular dives). But we had to do our lost regulator and mask clearing as well as neutral bouncy test. All good except my arm hit the bottom during the buoyancy test which caused it to break out in a rash from the coral. Under water this rash looked purplish brown and very disturbing, but it didn’t hurt more than a slight sting and again I was impressed with the no panic mentality I had. I merely pointed to my arm to show the instructor who signaled “it’s okay” and we went about our business. ¬†On this dive were our first sea turtle sightings along with additional arrays of vibrant coral and wild life. So many fish! At the conclusion of this dive we had to simulate the out of air emergency. Annika and Lucian were out of air and Kyle and I did rescue breathing and ascents with them. Another successful dive! The rash disappeared with a couple coats of cortizone. The second was even more enjoyable than the first, plus the turtles made it extra exciting!

We were quite tired and hungry afterward. Where to eat, where to eat, how about… Here!

 
Life is not bad.

 
  
Next we took our dive teachers’ advice and walked through the island to see the village. It’s very sad how poor it is here, but also very endearing that there is no violence or crime and everyone is so damn nice. ¬†I cannot imagine walking through a village like this anywhere else without fearing for my life. It was a little uncomfortable taking photos so the only footage is undercover on the GoPro so will get that up at a later point. We made it to the other side in time for sunset. It just doesn’t get old. So beautiful.

 


Final obstacle before bed was getting the nest/whole head knot out of my hair. Not sure what happened in the water, but my goodness this is not going to be enjoyable!

 

The island of Gili Air

A driver picked us up this morning from the fast boat company taking us to our next destination. Gili Air is one of three remote islands 50 miles off the coast of Bali known as the Gilis. Gili means island and air means water. Go figure. But needless to say, we are staying on the island of water. Of the three, it is the happy medium between the party island and the dead quiet empty island. Several people have described it as “perfect”. In fact our driver told us we will love it so much we are bound to have a baby by the time we leave? Interesting?

The travel from our first resort to the dock where we were being picked up was a very different part of Bali. Any part of a movie that needs to be filmed in a third world ghetto should take the drive. It’s a money maker.

We waited at the dock for about 30 min and boarded our fast boat in no time. I was picturing a ferry type boat for this 3 hour ride, but man was I wrong. It was a 40 person boat on which 30 went “inside” and ten up top. We were fortunate to be among the first ten and got seats/beds up top. They were really more just like laying seats? Either way this boat flew. Everyone else was like sunbathing and falling asleep and I was death gripping the side of the boat. The driver warned us that the area could be “very choppy” and damn right he was!

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I was able to get used to it and enjoy the scenic waters and perfection of the day. We dropped one load of people off onto the bigger of the Gilis and when we stopped it was immediately apparent that this area is about 15 degrees hotter than the Bali mainland. I’m talking HOT. Once we were moving again the wind took care of business and we were to “our island” in no time.

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This island does not have any motorized vehicles so we snagged a horse cart right off the boat. We do have two weeks of luggage and there is no dock on Gili Air, just beached the boat and we hopped off the side into the water and onto the beach. I was worried the horse cart wouldn’t be able to hold us and all our stuff, but this guy just squeezed us on in and click clacked us on the dirt/sand road for about five minutes to our “hotel”. ¬†We videoed the ride because it was inexplicable in every way. This place is like a dream. Completely surreal island life. My brother would never come home if he came here. ¬†Seriously.

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The horse cart stopped at the Manta Dive bungalows and these three dive/surfer dudes (an Aussie and two French transplants) literally pulled us and all of our luggage off the cart and before we knew it we were being shown our very own hut. It was buried in bamboo and tall vegetation. Absolutely unreal.

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This place is very eco friendly. They refill the bottled water bottles as opposed to replacing them, have stipulations on having lights on and flushing etc. All in all, we like it here :). Speaking of flushing. The bathroom is outside and really sweet. They even include a ladder in case you lock yourself out of the hut and are stuck in the bathroom with a need to climb over the wall.

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After an extremely relaxed check in process, we were paired with out dive masters Al and Tammy. Al is from Englabd and Tammy from Colorado (our second American Friend!). They wanted to do a quick check today in the pool to be sure we were comfortable and ready for open water tomorrow. Another two people, one from Germany, Annika and one from Switzerland, Lucian will be joining Al and Tammy with us for our four dives. Just the six of us-excellent!  Everyone is super low maintenance because you have to be here which has made everyone we have encountered completely awesome.  

If you looked closely there are practice divers in the pool. That was us at one point. Once our dive masters were able to see that we knew what we were doing, they said we were good to go! We meet at 8am tomorrow for our first dive and go out for our second around noon! We are super syked! The water here is a color I have never seen before. There are pockets of teal blue, very light and clear, and other pockets of a deep royal blue but also extremely clear. Kind of hard to explain, but gorgeous!

    
We went for a walk along the sand/dirt path that is the one road on the island and goes around the perimeter. It would take about 1.5 hrs to walk the island’s perimeter, but for now we just went part way, found a place on the water for a drink and snack and chilled out. It’s what people do really well here and we fit right in!

    

After our snack and excited chatter for our first dive experience tomorrow, we tried out the outside shower and got ready for another walk! We walked to the other side of the island for sunset on the beach at a place called Mowies that came recommended. We got killer seats and two flat bread pizzas. Having been advised by our scuba teachers from home (Andy, Gary, and Bill) not to drink alcohol before a dive, we hopped on the local bandwagon and tried some juice! The watermelon juice was yummy! Back for bed early cause first two dives tomorrow!