Monday, July 8, 2013

Slagle's are back in Bali!

After a 29 hour long journey, we landed safely at Denpasar Airport in Bali, Indonesia...otherwise known as heaven on earth to us. I arranged to have a driver pick us up and take us to our hotel, Saren Indah.
We started our Bali stay in Ubud, central Bali, just like last time, but we opted for a different hotel for possibly a different experience. And that we had! Saren Indah is about 100 yards from Monkey Forest, a forest inhibited by monkeys, of course. Those little boogers are everywhere! We could hear them running over our roof at night. We saw them in the rice fields surrounding our place, on our balcony, and running and playing all over the hotel grounds. The workers have to carry sling shots, and for good reason too! One morning at breakfast, the monkeys were in full force, and one jumped on a table while a family was eating and stole bread. It was pretty hysterical! Needless to say, we really enjoyed the stay.
You all know how much I love our driver, Wayan, from a previous post, so of course we had him take us around the glorious island again. This time we wanted to see totally different things from the last. We toured Gunung Kawi, a temple surrounded by the most magical landscape..hills, creeks, waterfalls, and the very important banyan trees. It took our breath away. Next, we went to Jatiluwih which is a Unesco World Heritage site. Jatiluwih is acres and acres of hills with rice terraces. Their irrigation system is actually what got Jatiluwih on the Unesco list. Next, we stopped by the Batukaru region and toured the Pura Luhur Batukaru, a very tranquil temple. Joshua got to have a small cleanse with holy water from a natural spring in Batukaru. We also had a few stops with beautiful landscape views with Wayan. Sadly, we only used him for a day because he had a very important house blessing ceremony for the new construction of his home. Each time a new building is constructed, the Balinese have a house blessing ceremony where a priest draws a blessing picture to hang on the very front of the structure. Things like this are very important to the Balinese culture so we knew this was Wayan's priority.
Along with walking and exploring all of Ubud, we went to a cooking class in a real Balinese home and learned how to cook with real, quite primitive, Balinese coking equipment. The kitchens are all in covered outdoor areas, and there is nothing all. Everything is blended by hand, no electric blender. The stove is a wooden stove outside where coconut wood is used for the fire, and coconut husks are used for charcoal. The experience was nothing short of amazing! We started with a tour of the local market to see the fresh fruit, veggies and spices, and ended up cooking 8 different dishes. We made friends, learned a lot, and we ate some of the best food we've ever had.
We also visited some pretty amazing restaurants. The food in Bali is so fresh, and the style of the restaurants is just so unique and beautiful. We started our first meal to celebrate my 30th birthday, which was actually the day we landed in Bali. The restaurant is quite unique in that the front faces the main strip, but the back faces rice fields which is exactly where we sat! Lots of restaurants look normal from the front then have an amazing rice field view once you go inside. And all restaurants are open to the outdoors as are most building in Bali, including the airport. We also ate at a really trendy vegan spot where you have to take off your shoes to enter, and everything is served up vegan or even raw. Actually, lots of vegetarian, vegan and raw restaurants are in Ubud because it's a big yoga town with lots of yoga centers and retreats. And every single menu, no matter where, has a vegetarian section..not as easy to find in the beef-loving state of Texas.
We both feel bittersweet about leaving Ubud. We are so grateful to have gotten this special experience twice in our life, and we aren't sure when we'll get to come back as there is so much of the world we hope to explore. But Ubud has made a deep impression on us, and we are changed by the sweet people and depth of spiritual life that thrives.

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