After thoroughly exploring Ubud, we ventured out on our trusty scooters and explored other parts of Bali. Our first day trip was Kuta, known for being a party hotspot and its beaches great for beginner surfers. It took us about 1 hour to get to Kuta, mainly due to weaving through traffic blocked by temporary road closings due to religious festivals (felt like every day there was some sort of religious festival in Bali). Once there though, I had a brief flashback to South Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. Big souvenir stores and people walking around in bathing suits—it definitely didn’t feel like Bali! We parked our scooters and walked towards the beach. We arrived in the late afternoon, so the first thing we did was find a place to rent a surfboard for Bryan. After much haggling and frustration, Bryan finally got a decent price for a foam surfboard. We set up a place on the beach, and while he set himself up for surfing, I took a brief dip in the ocean. It was warm and the sand was soft. I was having fun diving into the waves and swimming along until my hand caught onto something. I came up and noticed I had grabbed a discarded chip bag. That’s when I looked around me and realized how much trash was in the ocean. It was horrifying and disgusting. Unfortunately, the rumors are true. Trash is everywhere in the oceans and beaches of Bali, as they only have 2 ways of getting rid of trash—burning and dumping into the ocean. These once beautiful paradises are now full of plastic straws, plastic bags, bottles, and other single use plastics and trash. After my swim through the trash, I was glad to just sit on the beach and people watch for the next hour while Bryan surfed. I watched dogs play and a few pups even laid down next to me (what can I say—I’m a dog lady at heart and they know it!). I was also an impromptu photographer for a group of goofy Chinese tourists who didn’t so much ask as demand I take their posed photos on the beach. The most entertaining thing by far though was the beginner surfers. The waves were gentle enough for the surfers to attempt to stand up on their boards. It was more hilarious watching people initially go into the water with their surf instructors all excited and hopeful for their first lesson, only to come out 20 minutes later short of breath. I saw one guy sit down on the beach with his instructor saying he needed a 5 minute break. 20 minutes later he was still on his “break,” and the instructor after multiple attempts to get his student back into the water finally said his hour lesson was over. The student’s face had relief written all over it haha. I don’t think most people realize how much work it is to paddle out into the ocean after riding a wave in. Surfers don’t have great bods from spending time in the gym—it’s from paddling out to sea and fighting huge waves!
By the time Bryan’s hour was up, the surfboard rental guy came straight to me and said, “Time is almost up. Where is he?” I looked out to the beach hoping to see Bryan walking up, but he wasn’t. The current had long ago swept him down the shore, so I looked up at the guy and pointed down the shore. He sternly said, “I watch your things. You go get him. He has 5 minutes.” Because it was the end of the day, I figured this rental guy probably wanted to pack up ASAP and go home, so I jogged down the beach scanning the ocean for Bryan among the other surfers. Finally, I spotted him walking out of the ocean and looking at me with a confused look. I told him the rental guy had said time was almost up, and Bryan said, “I know. That’s why I was coming out.” He then proceeded to walk straight up towards the back of the beach. I laughed and then pointed up the shore towards the tiny speck of a person the rental guy was from the distance, and said, “No, our stuff is this way. You drifted quite a bit down shore.” He was surprised how far he had gone since he thought he had been keeping an eye out for one of the bright colored umbrellas near our towels. After returning the surfboard and drying off, we hopped onto our scooters and drove though alleys barely wide enough for two scooters to pass each other towards one of the few vegan restaurants in Kuta. The food was okay, but my favorite part was the two girls working there. We sat down and they let us peruse the menu. After we ordered, they reluctantly played a CD of acoustic covers of famous pop songs (we were the only ones eating there). I thought maybe they just preferred silence over this terrible music. After the first song ended, one of the girls prematurely started singing the second song. I turned and laughed, “You’ve listened to this CD a lot haven’t you?” She and her coworker nodded and said, “Too many times.”
Back in Ubud, Bryan and I had many great vegan meals. Two of our most frequented restaurants, Zest and Sage, were perfect spaces to journal and work on the blog. They became our favorite places to get some work done—and the food never let us down! The breakfast sandwich at Sage is probably the best vegan breakfast sandwich I’ve ever had. And you couldn’t go wrong with the jackfruit pizza at Zest! For a taste of Balinese food, you have to visit a Waroeng, a small family owned restaurant. These places are where you get the most bang for your buck and always tasty and filling! Our favorites were Siboghana and Wulan.
The next excursion we took on our scooters was South Kuta, which was at the southernmost tip of Bali. The drive down was long, and of course, interesting. We experienced the toll road, where they separate scooters and cars. Bryan was navigating, so as we neared the ramp to go towards the toll booths, I saw a sign that said the ramp he was going towards was cars only. He whizzed right onto the cars only ramp as he was busy following Google Maps directions. I honked at him and pointed to the sign and then caught up with him midway up the ramp to tell him it was cars only. We both were already halfway there, so we followed the ramp and ignored the angry honks from the cars. As we neared the toll booths we simply drove through the cones separating the scooter lane and the cars lane to wait in line to pay the toll. We then got to the toll booth only to discover they didn’t take cash or credit card—only mysterious toll booth chip cards. We asked what we should do, as there was no room to turn around and a line behind us was forming quickly. The person running the toll booth was little help to Bryan as he just pointed to the far toll booth and told Bryan to buy a card there. Bryan jumped off his scooter and ran to the toll booth, but no one answered. The scooters behind us started honking, and I just looked back and threw up a shrug because I couldn’t do anything. The lane we were in was narrow enough for only one scooter and on either side of the lane were 2 foot high curbs blocking us from puling over and letting everyone else pass. Furthermore, the guy at the toll booth wouldn’t let Bryan through without paying, and he was just sitting there watch Bryan try and figure out the vague instructions that were given to him. FINALLY, the man in our toll booth realized what a mess this was and ran over to help Bryan find the correct toll booth to buy a card. Finally through the toll, we made our way to South Kuta, only to get a few angry honks from scooters as they whizzed past us trying to make up for lost time. I laughed to myself thinking that road rage is exactly what my dad would do if he were stuck behind confused tourists at the Bay Bridge in Maryland. We stopped for a mediocre lunch and then went on a beach hopping excursion. The beaches along South Kuta are the most beautiful on the island—and some are even trash free!
Our first beach was Uluwatu—a small beach with vicious waves hugged by coves. It’s a gorgeous beach and wonderful for dipping your toes into but unless you’re an expert surfer we wouldn’t suggest swimming or surfing. The rip current is strong. There are people selling beer and cold drinks, so at best take in the view (including people watching the bus loads of Chinese tourists that wander down and take pictures) and bring a picnic. I helped a local woman selling scarves collect puka shells. The beach had tons of them! The way down to the beach reminded me ever so slightly of Santorini. We descended down a maze of stairs and shops/restaurants that seemed to be carved on the side of the cliff. I would definitely recommend checking out the beach, even if it is full of Insta-posers. While scooter-ing to the second beach, a large tour bus got in front of us. Bryan found an opening in traffic first to speed around it. While I was searching for my opening to get around the bus, a local rode his scooter beside mine and attempted to make conversation. “What’s your name?” “Where are you from?” “How do you like Bali?” At this point, I was just politely answering, but luckily right after his “You’re cute” comment happened I found my opening and whizzed away. Sorry dude, this lady is happily married! Byeeeeee!
The second beach we went to was Nyang Nyang. The parking lot for motorbikes is on top of a cliff with an amazing view of the beach below. We unfortunately arrived at low tide where the coral becomes exposed and swimming is nearly impossible without cutting your foot on a piece of coral, so we decided to skip the hike down to the beach in favor of trying to go to a beach where we could swim. I would definitely recommend getting to this beach though if you can get there around high tide. The beach is not crowded and looks pristine! Our last beach was Dreamland, and its name was very misleading. We rode our motorbikes past eerily empty resorts, some of which look completely abandoned. Apparently this area in the ‘90’s was going to be built out by Tommy Suharto, the youngest son of Indonesia’s president at the time. He bought up the land and forced locals and hardcore surfers out of the area. However, the late ‘90’s hit Asia with a financial crisis that put Suharto’s plans on pause. He then was convicted of ordering the murder of one of Indonesia’s Supreme Court judges and was sentenced to 15 years of jail. He served 4 before he was released…because corrupt government! He then apparently started building, but what Bryan and I saw was a bunch of abandoned half built resorts. It was interesting and eerie to look at half built luxury resorts complete with faded advertising posters on the construction fences. We parked our motorbikes, paid the parking fee, then ventured down the boardwalk that parallels the river that outfalls into the ocean. This was the number one turn off to Dreamland beach—I didn’t realize the river was there at first because it was FILLED with trash. Which meant the ocean and beach was filled with trash. It was unfortunate to see, as apparently Dreamland beach used to be a little known pristine paradise in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s! The only reason to even venture down here would be to check out all the creepy abandoned buildings!
On our way back to our Airbnb, we got our first taste of the corrupt Balinese police. We were driving up a hilly section of the road and as we came to the top of one hill, we saw two policemen on the side of the road. As we were not speeding and wearing our helmets I didn’t pay them too much attention. But they quickly crossed the road to block our path as they waved us to pull over. The handful of locals driving in front and behind us of course were not pulled over. We asked them what was wrong, only to get a “License, please.” We both showed them our international drivers license to which they glanced at and smiled, said, “Thank you!” and let us on our way. I was unsure what this was all about until the next time it happened about a week later near Denpasar. This time was a little different because instead of both of us driving our own motorbikes, I was on the back of Bryan’s motorbike. We were driving along a very busy 4 lane road when again, 2 officers stopped all traffic to pull just Bryan and I over. Again, we weren’t speeding (traffic was heavy…it would be impossible to) and both of us had helmets on. Before we had a chance to say anything they asked Bryan to show his international drivers license. He pulled his out and one of the officers inspected it, this time opening it and reading through it. He then said, “No motorcycle license. You need a motorcycle license.” I pulled out my license and showed him mine, and he said, “Yes, like this. Where is his motorcycle license?” He of course did not have one, so I tried the “well this is not a motorcycle—it’s a scooter” argument which did not work. I later realized it’s rare to find motorbikes in Indonesia under 50cc…we had 125cc motorbikes. They have way more pep in their step!! So they requie a motorcycle license. Well, lesson learned. The officer smiled at Bryan and said, “I give you good price. 300,00 IDR and you can go.” Otherwise he would get a ticket and have to go to court. Meanwhile, locals without helmets are whizzing by. I muttered something about extortion a little too loudly, but luckily the language barrier meant they didn’t understand what I was saying. The rest of our time in Indonesia if we were driving we would either avoid eye contact with police or hide behind large vans or trucks when we passed them on roads. This worked exceptionally well, but I’d say to anyone looking to rent a motorbike in Bali to get a motorcycle license first. We didn’t have any trouble with police on other islands of Indonesia—just Bali!
Speaking of Denpasar, one of my favorite things I did in Bali was take a cooking class! This one was specifically about how to make tempeh. What’s tempeh? A delicious plant-based high protein substitute made of whole soybeans that are wrapped in a banana leaf and fermented for 3-4 days. What this results in is a sturdy block that can be cut into cubes or slices. My favorite way to use it is to make tempeh “bacon.” You slice it, marinade it in a smokey, savory sauce, then pan fry it on both sides until crispy! Tempeh actually originated in Indonesia—the first written reference known is from a Javanese book from 1814. Even though I commonly cooked with tempeh at home in the States (you can even get it at Trader Joe’s!), the tempehin Indonesia is the best I’ve tasted yet. It’s fluffy with a fantastic nutty/mushroom-y quality to it. I always have to either marinade or steam tempeh I buy back home in the States to remove the slight bitterness it has, but Indonesia’s tempeh doesn’t require that. By the time I had done this cooking class, we had eaten plenty of delicious Balinese and Javanese tempeh dishes, so I was beyond excited to learn some recipes. I arrived Ngurah & Ayu’s house and was greeted warmly. They also had two dogs that sniffed my direction and then went back to sleep. Both of them were impressed I was riding a scooter by myself, but I told them even though driving in Bali was crazy, it was also pretty fun. I then met the other 3 in our group, a Dutch woman and a father daughter duo from Germany. We were all then driven to one of many small tempeh producers in the area. Along the drive, both Ngurah and Ayu told us about Balinese culture and answered our many questions. We then toured the small factory, which produced enough tempeh for the daily market nearby. The owner showed us how tempeh was made step-by-step. I really enjoyed seeing it in person. What I particularly loved about this experience was the small group which allowed us all to ask our questions and talk to the owner. We then headed back to Ngurah and Ayu’s house to begin cooking! We made five dishes, all vegan, and took turns chopping and prepping various ingredients. They had delicious snacks and freshly infused water to whet our appetites. We also received gift bags which had an apron, recipe booklet, and a pencil to write down notes! I cannot describe how kind Ngurah and Ayu were. After spending close to 5 hours with them, I felt like family. They even stay in touch over WhatsApp and encouraged us to send them pictures of our recreations when we got back home. After feasting on our massive spread, they even put together a boxed meal for me to take home to Bryan! After knowing tempeh’s history, I thought it would be easy to find an experience that would show how tempeh is made. But of the dozens of AirBnb experiences listed, this is literally the only one I could find. There are by far more Instagram tours than cultural experiences, which saddens me a bit. Anyways, I hope Ngurah and Ayu continue to offer this invaluable experience! I included a link down below for anyone heading to Bali to check out!
Our next adventure was in north Bali to visit the Aling Aling waterfalls. Now, Bali has TONS of waterfalls to explore, so how do you choose which one to visit? If you like to avoid crowds of people taking endless selfies and staged photos like we do then Google “best waterfalls in Bali without the crowds.” After perusing multiple blogs and TripAdvisor boards, I settled on Aling Aling. To actually get to this waterfall you HAVE to pay a local guide. We rode about 2 hours north from Ubud to a parking lot of 2 restaurants and an open-air stand with a group of locals hanging out. We went up to the stand and they explained to us the 3 different trekking options: A short, medium, and long trek. We opted for the medium which allowed us to see the waterfalls we wanted and take a dip in the Blue Lagoon. Our guide knew very little English, and I think he partly took up the job to speak English. Anyways, he was clearly used to tourists as he would take like 10 steps and then ask us if we wanted our picture taken. While this was kind of him, I had wished he could tell us a bit more about the area. He loved pointing to various exotic fruit trees and asking us if they grew in America. Anyways, our first leg of the trek took us through terraced farms and fields, and we finally ended up at a local’s house where we were given fresh coconuts to drink while a man lazily played a bamboo xylophone. After finishing my coconut, I asked to play after some encouraging from Bryan. I got up and pulled out a few jams from my middle school days of playing percussion in the band. The man seemed to thoroughly enjoy my performance as I got a round of applause from him and his daughter. We then made our way to our first stop, the Blue Lagoon. Of course It poured rain on us on the walk down making the stairs nice and slippery! At the bottom, we wrapped our backpack and dry clothes in our rain jackets and set them up on a rock that was half covered by tree foliage for extra rain protection. The actual lagoon, which isn’t as blue as I imagined, probably because the rain had stirred up the pebbles and dirt at the bottom, was a perfect area for swimming and even had a small waterfall feeding it. The water was icy cold, which always feels amazing when you’re in hot and humid Indonesia. Seriously. I didn’t turn on the hot water in our AirBnb ONCE while we were there. It was icy cold showers every day—and I LOVED IT. After splashing around a bit, our guide told us it was time to continue on to the next spot, so we awkwardly scrambled back to our backpack and semi dry clothes, before setting off again. The next stop was the Aling Aling waterfall, which you cannot swim in because it is sacred to the people of Bali. It is a powerful waterfall. Getting a photo from the viewing platform was tough because the mist coming off that thing is intense! The next waterfall was a 10-15 minute walk from Aling Aling. Along the way, our guide reached into the bag he was carrying and brought out seedlings. He handed one to each of us and dug holes in the ground on the sides of the paths with his fingers, showing us how to plant them. Throughout the entire rest of the trek, our guide kept asking us to plant these young plants from his bag. He would also point out flowers or young trees, and say he planted them. I thought it was nice that he was replanting the area, as parts of it looked like it had been cleared for concrete path making. We then reached Kroya, where the adrenaline rush began.
At Kroya, the first thing our guide did was make an offering and pray at the local temple set up by the waterfall. He then told us to put our belongings in an open area with cubbies. We were noticeably uncomfortable with this, but our guide insisted our stuff would be safe. At the end of our trek all of our things were there untouched, so the locals there do make an effort to make sure this area is safe for tourists. He then had us put on life jackets and took us to the waterfall. As we were standing on the platform that jutted out into the pool of water the waterfall fed, our guide then told us to JUMP. The 5 meter (16.4 feet) high platform looked instantly higher. As we stared into the wildly swirling water below us, we noticed a rope on the right side of the pool, which was a rock wall by the way. Bryan asked if I wanted to go first. “Nope!” The guide then told Bryan to jump to the left in order to be pushed away from the waterfall and downstream. Bryan then jumped. He jumped out and slightly to the left and went under to appear again on the right and getting pushed into the wall by the swirling pool of water. He told me the water was very strong and had pushed him straight into the rock wall. And he had almost lost his Tevas upon jumping in. As he used the rope to pull him self to the other side of the pool towards the gentler stream, a fear was growing inside of me. I took off my Chacos as they were already pretty loosed on my feet, and our guide set them aside on the rock. Our guide kept trying to reassure me that everything would be fine, but the roar of the waterfall became louder and the swirling of the water below just seemed all the more intense and that platform just kept seeming to rise higher. I was terrified! I turned to our guide and just said, “I can’t.” He then led me to a lower 3 meter ledge, which I had to literally rock climb down to. I felt a bit more comfortable and saw Bryan was on the other side of the stream encouraging me. Our guide jumped in and floated off to the left with ease. I turned my brain off and jumped what I thought was far left enough, but wasn’t far enough, because I immediately was pushed into a rock wall and came up to the surface grabbing for the rope. The wind knocked out of me from the force of the water, I pulled myself to where the current created by the waterfall dissipated to the stream and crossed to the shore on the other side. Once there, we climbed the concrete steps up to the top of Kroya waterfall. I thought we were going to cross the top of the waterfall and return to gather our things, but I was so wrong. Our guide points to the bed of the stream feeding the waterfall and says, “Natural water slide.” Yes, we were to slide down the stream and be thrown off the same waterfall that forced my body to slam into a rock wall. My terror returned, but the leftover adrenaline from my last jump dulled my fear a bit. The guide motioned for Bryan to come over and sit down in the “slide.” As he was sitting down, our guide was telling him to cross his arms over his chest and other instructions to survive this slide. Our guide however, was smaller than Bryan and couldn’t hold him against the strong current, so about halfway through his instructions he lets go of Bryan and just says, “Sorry. Good luck!” I can only imagine what was going through Bryan’s head, because what was going through mine was panic and my husband is going to die. I saw him bob up and get to shore again safe and sound with a smile on his face. It was then my turn. With less hesitation than the jump, I got in and sat down. Our guide released me, and off I went! Bump, bump, bump on the stream bed before a giant free fall and WHOOSH, the wind got knocked out of me. That was followed by another body slam into the rocks. While Bryan had popped up on the gentler downstream portion of the waterfall, I had been yet again pushed towards that same rock wall. As I tried to catch my breath, I found the rope and pulled myself towards the gentle downstream and shoreline. Our guide asked us if we’d like to go again, and we declined. Maybe if we were just out of college, but something happens between your early 20’s and your late 20’s that makes you more cautious.
We then climbed up the same steps to the top of Kroya waterfall, and with the help of our guide we crossed the waterfall, which was a bit painful barefoot I might add. Bring some snug fitting water shoes or sandals if you go! We walked down past where we had put our belongings to the next two waterfalls. Each of these waterfalls had higher and higher jumps, one being 10 meters (32.8 feet) and 15 meters (49.2 feet) high. Our guide tried to get Bryan to jump off the 10 meter one, to which he quickly replied, “No thank you.” So, we watched him jump off and met him at the next waterfall. The last one he only asked once before telling us to go to the bottom of the waterfall, while we watched him jump off the last one to what looked like a death jump. At the bottom he told us to swim in the large and calm part of the pool the last waterfall fed into. He went off to the large temple next to the waterfall and made another offering while Bryan and I relaxed in the pool. Then, another guide and two tourists were walking down. The guide asked us if we had a guide. If you swim in the waterfalls without a guide, you are fined, but there are tourists that still try to trek and swim without guides. We told him we did have one, and he followed up with, “Where is he?” We both pointed towards the temple and said, “He’s praying.” To which the guide responded by telling his tourists to swim while he went to double check our claim at the temple. He came back satisfied we weren’t breaking the rules and did a back flip off the 15 meter high waterfall! After taking our last dip, we hiked back up to our belongings (and my sandals!), planting seedlings along the way.
Riding back to Ubud, I noticed my fingers went numb as my whole body was wet and cold. The closer to Ubud and further away from the mountains we got the warmer I became, which I know doesn’t seem strange, but as I said before, Indonesia is HOT HOT HOT, so having this feeling of shivering was new to me here. It was the ride back to our AirBnb in Ubud that affected my last week in Bali. Bryan and I were riding our motobikes back along these wide and empty rural roads. With no speed limits in between towns, we went at speeds locals were going at and only as fast as we were comfortable with. As we would arrive in a town, we would slow down a bit as the roads narrowed and dogs would precariously run into roads without looking. We were going through one particular town 30 minutes outside of Ubud, when a large dog that had been lying down on the sidewalk, jumped up and ran full speed into the street. Bryan saw it run behind his scooter and directly in front of mine. This happened in a split second and I had no time to even react as I hit the poor dog straight on. I heard a heartbreaking howl from the dog as my motorbike slid out from under me and I skidded on my left side. In shock in the middle of the road, I immediately began looking for the dog, but could not see it anywhere. The dog had ran off, but I don’t know how hurt it was. A local family immediately helped Bryan wheel my motorbike to the sidewalk and they checked to see if anything had been damaged. Beside a few scratches the bike was fine. I on the other hand I had a huge road burn on my knee and a few scratches on my hands. Luckily, we had our first aid kit with us and Bryan did the best he could to temporarily bandage the scrape on my knee which was the diameter of my hand. I kept looking frantically around for the dog, but couldn’t find it. I think I was in a state of shock, as I didn’t say much, but Bryan said he could tell I kept looking to see if the dog was okay. After helping me back on the motorbike, we thanked the locals and went on our way. It was about 5 minutes in that I noticed how painful it was to twist the handle on the motorbike to accelerate. Squeezing the brake was even more difficult. I honked my horn to let Bryan know I was pulling over, and he stopped and asked what was wrong. I told him I couldn’t keep up with him because it hurt to accelerate, so we slowly went the rest of the way back, and I just focused all of my energy in getting home. When we got home, Bryan was amazing. He helped me clean my wound and get ice for my wrist. He then got dinner (and dessert!) from our favorite nearby restaurant (Sage). The next morning, my wrist was swollen and I could barely move it. I told Bryan I wanted to have it checked out just in case of a sprain. I got an x-ray and was told I didn’t sprain or break anything in my wrist (I thank my intake of dark leafy calcium-rich greens for that!!). It was only a badly bruised bone. They wrapped up my wrist to keep me from moving it. They were more concerned with my knee and gave me some sterile water to clean it. They told me to cover it while showering as the local water not being potable would lead to infection! So, that ended up being the most annoying part of the whole healing process. Throughout the next week Bryan cooked and drove me places when he wasn’t having his own adventures (you’ll hear about his attempt to scuba dive in Bali later!). By the time we left Indonesia 3 weeks later, my wrist felt almost normal, and was completely healed 6 weeks later. My knee took every bit of 2 weeks to stop oozing and grow new skin, which I think was because of the sheer size of it and the fact that I kept it covered more than normal to avoid infection. The rest of the time we were in Indonesia, Bryan would honk his horn at every dog we saw on the street or on the sidewalk to make eye contact before passing. You can never be too careful!
Bryan is going to jump in and tell about one of his solo adventures:
One of the day trips we were both really excited to do with our new open water PADI dive certifications was the USS Liberty wreck dive site on the north side of Bali off the coast of Tulamben. We had procrastinated on this trip because of how far the drive would be and how early we would need to leave to fit in a couple dives in one day so it was left for our last week on Bali. Well with Lauren out of commission from her scootapocalypse wounds I decided the rare chance to dive at shipwreck site was too good to pass up while we were there. I didn’t like leaving Lauren behind with adventure on the horizon and she was a good sport about it, but I could tell she was very upset with not being able to go. I set out at 7 in the morning for the 2.5 hour scooter ride wondering why google maps had me going a very different route this morning than it had showed me the night before. About 45 minutes into my ride I see a road block straight ahead with a couple of police and figure i’m about to be out another 300K after they shake me down. I had a bit of good and bad luck in the moment I approached as google wanted me to make a right but the police waved me to the left and allowed me to keep going. The road was a bumpy farm road that seemed to take a long loop around and tie back into the road I was just on. I continued to blindly follow direction from google maps because I just had so many options out in the boonies of Bali. Twenty minutes further down the road with the traffic quickly building the flow of cars and scooters stopped cold a couple miles from the next intersection I needed to turn at. Us scooters threaded through the gaps making the inching traffic move at least glacially slow until I finally arrived at the intersection to find of course the cause for all this was a religious ceremony. Getting away from the viscous traffic jam was a challenge that took all of my scooter wiles learned on Bali driving like an invincible local. Not far down the road another ceremony and road block delivered me to my next test of will power to dive on this day. I spent the next 30 minutes creeping up and down insanely steep and windy roads that snaked their way around the side of Mt Batur while pinned between a bus and a dump truck. I have been on the scooter now for two hours and google is telling me I still had over an hour to go. My patience was growing thin and my butt was getting sore. I finally snapped when the fourth road block of the day diverted me down what quickly became a rutted out single lane dirt road. I had enough! That last road block was made up a branches thrown on the road and I don’t recognize the authority of the two locals standing there redirecting traffic. I am going back and running this road block to get back on track with google maps and to my dive site. I didn’t make eye contact with the teenagers when they tried to stop me I had nothing to say to them mostly because this far out of town nobody speaks English. Not far down this road it also turned into a gradually narrowing patch of asphalt and that is when I started to hear what sounded like dirt bikes circling around nearby. I don’t care I have had enough get in my way today I’m following the route on google maps and not stopping for anything. I stopped to watch the dirt bikes flying across MY patch of asphalt in amazement of how nice these bikes are. We are talking some high dollar two stroke racing bikes loaded with aftermarket performance parts. What the hell did I find out here. Still I kept going past a whole congregation of 40 bikes and locals while they stared at me on my scooter. They tried to tell me to turn around, but still I would not listen until finally the patch of asphalt I had put my trust in along with google turned into a steep, muddy, and extremely rocky dirt bike trail. I am still over an hour away from the dive site, have been driving for three hours, my phone battery is below 20%, and I have to pee. Mid stream I decided to give up and just head back because by the time I get myself out of this mess it could be too late to even get a dive in. Good news is I thought ahead and did bring our external battery to keep the phone alive. Bad news is I lost signal an hour ago so google maps is useless and my old trusty ally Maps.Me doesn’t even recognize the roads I have been on so I rely on memory to track my way back out the same way I came while my phone charged back up. Some good did come out of this adventure other than a bizarre story of what the locals do on the weekends in the woods. On the way back I got do drive across an undulating sea of the 1968 lava flow on the south side of Mt Batur and got a great view point of Lake Batur. By the time I got back I had spent almost six hours on the scooter and humored Lauren with how I spent my day.
If you’ve made it this far in the post I applaud you! Welcome to the end! This was a lengthier post with few pictures, but we had a lot to share and not many pictures. I honestly wanted a break from documenting every second of our adventure, and it was nice to just be in the moment with Bryan during these adventures. Anyways, by the time our month in Ubud was over, we were excited to explore other islands in Indonesia. Stay tuned to hear about our time dodging potholes on Nusa Penida, living like locals in Lombok, lazing about on Gili Meno and Air, and scuba diving in Flores! we have plenty more to share.