Monday, April 1, 2013

Ubud, Bali

Our plane to Bali left at 6am and we got to the airport before they even opened the check in station. It was brutal being up that early, but the excitement made it easier. The plane ride was a blur because I slept most of the time. After we landed and got our bags we grabbed a taxi to our first destination - Ubud.
Good morning, Bali!
The taxi took about an hour and a half and dropped us off near some places to stay. The first place was full so we kept walking til we got to another, where we ended up staying. We got a huge room with a/c that had floor to ceiling windows on the 2nd floor so we had a lovely view of the palm trees. There was no hot water, but aside from that it was great. Once we were settled we took a walk around to find a place to exchange our money and get some food. We also tried to find our friend Josie who was also staying in Ubud so we made plans to visit a volcano with her in the morning. I desperately needed a nap so I went back and the other three continued the search. They found her eventually then came back for me and we all went for dinner. We called it a night after that so we could get up to see the sunrise (third time in a week!) on top of this volcano.

The alarm went off at around 2 and we hopped on a van for an hour until we reached the base of the volcano. Alexis ended up staying behind because she wasn't feeling well, so I took her camera for her. The volcano is active, but hasn't erupted since 2000 or so. Anyway, our guides gave us flash lights and led us through the dark, taking several much needed breaks. It was pretty chilly when we got there, but about 30 minutes into the hike I was drenched in sweat. The steepest part was fairly short, luckily, and when we got to the top they had breakfast and hot drinks for us. The breakfast consisted of bread with pineapple jam, peanuts, chocolate bars and juice. It wasn't exactly what I would call breakfast, but whatever. The sunrise was pretty awesome and after we took about 100 pictures we explored the opening of the crater that was left after the last eruption. There is quite of bit of steam coming out of the crater and at one spot it created a cave that they called the sauna. It was pretty neat. After the little tour we headed back down, which was actually harder than I imagined it would be. The rocks made it very slippery and we all slipped a few times. We all made it back uninjured though. Once we were back at our room, Shannon and I took a nap and we didn't do much of anything the rest of the day.
In the morning we rented two motorbikes and set out to see some of the sites. The first one was a temple in a cave and a ruin of a temple that used to be over a river. The temple wasn't super interesting so we decided to take a stroll through the jungle to see a different temple. Again, temple wasn't so cool, but the jungle was really pretty. Extremely hot, but pretty. After that we got some lunch and headed over to another temple that is set into the side of a cliff surrounded by rice paddies. It was really beautiful and peaceful. As we were leaving (walking up a seemingly endless stairway) it started pouring rain. We made it to the top of the stairs and ended up having to wait under a pagoda for the rain to ease before hoping back on our bikes. (E- I looked in a couple of stalls for souvenirs and slipped on the rain soaked tile and fell on my butt. Everybody started laughing and whenever I walked by a new stall, the owner would say, "slowly. slowly. more slowly." It was fun.) Of course, we all left our helmets with the openings pointed up so they were all filled with rain water - it did not make for a comfy helmet! By the time we left it was getting late, but we wanted to try and make one more stop and crossed our fingers that it wasn't closed.
(E- Skye left out an important part of our Bali trip. I led us through a "shortcut" to save time that took us on roads that weren't clearly on the map, but we got lucky and I found the way perfectly. However, the shortcut took us through some very rural villages where we were witnesses to a woman standing on the side of the road, smiling at us, while peeing down her leg. We also saw a woman that had her traditional Balinese dress not pulled up all the way. In other words, her female chest parts were out over her dress. Again, she just stood there with a big grin on her face.)

We pulled in and to our surprise it was open an hour later than we thought it would be. Hooray! The place is a coffee plantation that uses cats to ferment their coffee beans. The cats eat the raw beans and then poop them out and that's what they use to make coffee. They also use normal beans to make coffee, but the Luwak coffee is their specialty. So we got a tour of the plantation and then got to sample all of their coffee flavors for free! Except the Luwak. That was $5/cup, so we got one for everyone to try. Anyway, we tried 7 different coffees and 2 teas. I pretty much hate anything that tastes like coffee, but I really liked their chocolate and vanilla flavored coffees. I also never drink coffee, so I was a little buzzed after we asked for 2 more cups of those flavors. It was too good not to drink though. After the tasting they send you out through the store, but we didn't buy anything because it was all way overpriced.
The next day we checked out of the room and made a quick trip to what is known as Monkey Forest. It's essentially a sanctuary for hundreds of monkeys and people go there to feed them and watch them run around. The monkeys are used to being fed and know exactly where to find food on people. If they see you with a plastic bag, they know you have food. We brought a bag of bananas for them and Ethan was handing them out to some of the monkeys. As we continued walking the monkeys got less afraid to approach him and eventually a couple of them ended up climbing right up his legs and onto his back and shoulders for their snacks. Monkeys are cute, but I really don't want them touching me so I was really glad Ethan had the bananas. At one point a very large monkey aggressively yanked the bag out of Ethan's hands. Ethan wasn't about to try and get the bananas back, but he wanted to throw the bag away, so he tried to pick it up. Big monkey did not like that and hissed very loudly at us - we let him have the bag too and ran away. After the monkeys we walked back to get our stuff and grab a cab to our next destination.
Trying to negotiate to get my bag back.
As we were walking toward the main road in town, Alexis fell behind a bit (happens all the time). After a few minutes we stopped to see where she was and saw her walking very quickly toward us. She had an interesting look on her face and blurted out "Ummm did you guys see who that was back there? That was Tyra Banks!" I was totally lost, but Ethan and Shannon said that they thought it was her, but couldn't believe that she would just be casually shopping on this random street in Ubud. I was in disbelief and turned right around to check it out for myself. Sure enough as we got closer I saw her - it really was Tyra Banks. Alexis bravely walked right up to her and told her we had to stop and say hi because we were huge fans. I said nothing because I was so starstruck and in such disbelief that this was happening. She asked what we were doing etc and Alexis told her our whole spiel and Tyra asked where we were from so we each got a chance to proudly tell her our home states. It was awesome, but I  am sure I looked like a an idiot with my mouth hanging open and my "deer in the headlights" look on my face. Anyway, we said goodbye to Tyra and continued down the street in a complete state of shock. We talked about our past celebrity sitings the entire way to our next spot - Padang Bai.

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