So we honeymooned in Bali. We honeymooned in Bali and it was probably the best decision we made.
“Why Bali?” I get asked A LOT.
I shrug my shoulders and add “I let Sean pick”. Which is totally true. I was making so many ridiculous decisions planning this wedding that Sean was on honeymoon duty. I had veto power, but I was open to whatever he suggested. For us, Bali was the perfect blend of adventure and relaxation. We spent a week in the beach city of Sanur, and a week Ubud, which is kind of the rainforest. We stayed away from the largest tourist area of Kuta, which is rumored to have beautiful beaches, and more of the “nightlife” which… we weren’t all that interested in. Bali was amazingly affordable, we ate like kings (sometime I ordered two meals… in one sitting) and we had pretty much any activity we could dream of at our fingertips.
Some things I learned in Bali:
- Bali is the only non-Muslim island of all of Indonesia. Which is why alcohol is heavily regulated (and heavily taxed!). I should have know this when planning outfits, they should be kept a little more modest when you aren’t at the beach.
- I love lemongrass. Lemongrass just, lemongrass in my savory foods, and definitely lemongrass ice cream. Who knew?
- Porridge is a thing. Savory porridge. I found that out on the plane on the way to Taiwan, and by the end of the trip even ordered veggie porridge for dinner once.
- I also love Snake Fruit. Doesn’t sound appealing, but it’s my new fave. There are pics coming, don’t you worry.
- Don’t bother with wearing makeup in Bali. You’ll sweat it off the second you walk outside. No matter what.
- Honeymooning is cool. I didn’t think it wasn’t… obviously. But getting to spend a bunch of quality time with the love of your life after months of stressful planning. It’s worth it. Skimp on the wedding if you need to, (but not on your photographer, duh!) but carve out some time to honeymoon ASAP.
- We were tipped off by friends before we went – but, alcohol is kind of expensive. In restaurants… it’s a little pricey. Beer is cheap (Bintang! light, easy drinking, not very good, but totally fantastic and part of the Bali experience) but we tried to buy a bottle of Yellow Tail wine (the cheap stuff!) at the grocery store in Bali, and it was going to be like $29 American dollars. You can buy a large Bintang at a restaurant for about 1-2 bucks. So Bintang is was. We packed a bottle of whiskey for the trip, and honestly, it came in handy.
- They have two seasons. Rainy and Dry. We got there just as “dry” season was starting, but it was still a little stormy. It was never a problem, and the storms were fun to watch and usually passed quickly.
Also, Balinese people might be the kindest people on the planet. The only time I ever felt unsafe was when we arrived at the airport. The very first day. There was a crazy bustle, a storm brewing, and we kind of thought that there would be a car for us waiting from the hotel. There was not. And cab drivers CAN be a bit pushy. Luckily we had read to look for a BlueBird taxi, they are the trusted taxi of choice in Bali apparently. We negotiated our rate, located our hotel on a map, and we were on our way. Other than that, though we were obviously still very careful, I realized I could let my guard down a bit.
We only brought our iphones, so excuse the poor quality of pictures. Sean lost his phone shortly after our honeymoon, and unfortunately lost most of the pictures on it, even though we thought they were backed up. We probably should have brought another camera, but for me, that is a little bit of a liability, and I didn’t want to carry the extra weight. Next time! We did bring a GoPro, and cannot wait to finalize the footage from our white water rafting trip, snorkeling, and general shenanigans in hotel pools. Stay tuned.
For some strange reason, all I wanted in the Taipei airport was a picture of us with these crazy bears in the background, and like a good slightly delirious new husband, he made that happen. Handstands, because our 13 hour flight was followed by a 5 hour flight, and Bali is far, far away.
Just as we arrived in Bali, a storm was settling in, it blew through quickly, we walked to dinner, and the next morning at Sanur beach:
SUN! Gorgeous, beautiful beaches and sun. You can walk up and down the path at Sanur beach for miles. We swam, walked, laid by the beach, read, enjoyed some Bintangs and see why I married that handsome hubby?
And now to our hotel. If you’re going to Bali, stay at the Katala Villas, and spring for your own private place with your own private pool. They come to your suite and make you breakfast every morning. I don’t think we spent more then $100 per night for this place and I’d spend a MONTH here if we could. Short walk to great restaurants, cab rides, and that really crazy gorgeous beach.
Did I mention the outdoor shower and a private pool!? Oh, and the kitchen is obviously outdoors too. Still in Sanur & the views of the bay. Little streets are busy, and I cannot explain how weird it is to see so many scooters and motor bikes, often with 2 adults, and multiple kids on one bike.
We did take a SUPER touristy day trip to a nearby island Lembongan. I didn’t take many pictures because I may have gotten a little seasick, but it was nice. Probably would consider it a “skip”, but that could also be because of the aforementioned seasickness, ect.
Drinks in Sanur. The one of the right was a margarita from Warung Coconut Tree, where we had dinner two nights in a row. It was that good. The one with the naked lady… is just fruit juice. Why the naked lady? Really not sure. In related news, you can get pretty much any kind of fruit juice you want, almost anywhere, for pretty well under a buck. Mango juice? Watermelon juice? Banana juice? A bunch of fruits mixed together? Sure. The consistency was somewhere between and juice and a smoothie, and they were about 60 cents any restaurant you went. Copi Luwak coffee is plentiful in Bali, and drivers will offer to stop at roadside “farms” where they produce the coffee. They’ll show you the little animals that help “process” the coffee, as well as show you indigenous crops, spices, and native plants. First stop? Cool. Second and third stop? We fell for it. It’s definitely a tourist trap, but it’s fun to sample coffee and teas and there was usually a great view.We took a daytrip to Canngu, and definitely wished we would have spent a little more time there. It seemed to be a haven for ex-pats, and is definitely heavily influenced by the local surfing culture. Sean needed to stop by Dues ex Machina which was filled with surf boards, the coolest motorbikes around, great vibes, and people from all over the world. They had a great cafe, with probably the most western influenced menu we came across, so naturally I got a (veggie) burger the size of my head.
From Canggu we took a taxi over to Tanah Lot, one of the most famous temples in Bali. A big storm rolled in, and we watched lightning streak across the sky over the ocean.
Stray dogs are kinda everywhere in Bali. We often tried to pet them, but I don’t think we ever succeeded. Some of the pups were scared of us, and some of the pups were a little scary.
When we arrived to our hotel in Ubud, they were celebrating their first anniversary, so the went all out on decor and had a little event in the afternoon by the pool. The first day we were there, they had a party to celebrate and we sat on our balcony, had some Bintangs, enjoyed our welcome fruit basket (featuring snakefruits!), and we were serenaded by their celebration. They sang Happy Birthday to the hotel (in english-ish) and even covered some Green Day and Coldplay with a very out of tune guitar. Pretty odd experience, but absolutely one of our favorite afternoons.
In Ubud we definitely got more rain. Storms blew through almost every day, but they never really hurt our plans at all. Almost every evening we watched the lighting as we ate dinner on the patio at our hotel.
The monkey temple in Ubud was an obvious must. But I must admit… it was a little scary! I had read about the monkey forest a little bit in a travel guide, and learned to be careful smiling in the forest, because the monkeys interpret you showing you teeth (even with just a smile) as a sign of aggression. Walking into the forest, we quickly realized the monkey forest was a little less “cute” and these monkeys mean business. The first monkey we tried to take a picture of hissed at us, and showed his giant, GIANT teeth. The rest of the monkeys were nicer, but we didn’t linger too long. That’s also why I’m trying hard NOT to smile in the picture with a monkey on my shoulder.
The three pictures above are all shot out of car windows. We were fortunate enough to find a driver we really liked, who spoke English very well, so we hired him the next day to take us on a long trip to an American ship wreck off the northern coast of Bali. He drove us through Bali, and we learned a ton from him. We talked a little about politics, agriculture, adventure, his family, tourists, and life in general in Bali. He showed us a great place for snorkeling, and then took us to the beach where the Liberty is wrecked off the coast of Tulamben. The waters were a little choppy, and it definitely would have been easier to see while scuba diving, but it was still cool. And then we rode elephants! This was a splurge for us, and a pretty cool experience. Although I think we liked feeding and hanging out on the ground with our elephant more than actually riding him.
After the elephants we had an impromptu meeting with a Sun Bear. We absolutely feel like this wasn’t exactly a “sanctioned” activity, but definitely a once in a lifetime experience. The bear was heavy, loved snacks, and was way more interested in Sean’s hair than we were all comfortable with.
After the elephant/bear excursion we went white water rafting. The rapids we easy, and our guide let us jump out and swim a few times. It started raining pretty steadily half way through our trip, so waterfalls were cascading off the cliffs in the most magical way. It was absolutely a surreal experience, and though I was a little hesitant to do it, was probably the highlight of our trip.
After working up an appetite, we hit Naughty Nuri’s… and ate everything in sight. We sipped strong martini’s, Sean had the best ribs of his life, and I had a vegetarian feast. Noodles, fried tofu, veggies and BBQ grilled pineapple + fruit juice. This was only not our only trip to Naught Nuri’s while we were in Ubud, and we still daydream about it.
We stayed at the Puri Gangga in Ubud. It was gorgeous, lush, and really tranquil.
We took a cooking class through the hotel, and absolutely recommend it. We didn’t do a ton of work, but I think we learned a lot, and we went home with the recipes. Dessert was fried bananas, and black sticky rice with coconut creme and I’m still thinking about how fantastic it was.
During our cooking class, we casually mentioned it was our honeymoon, and the next day our hotel room was decorated. The hotel staff was seriously amazing.
We tried to take advantage of all the things our hotel offered. Sean was a good sport and went to morning yoga with me, we had complimentary afternoon coffee & tea on the patio, and one morning we took their bikes out and pedaled through the nearby village. Rice patties, a temple (we didn’t want to get too close without the right clothing) and stunning farm views made for a really relaxing ride. We bought baskets from a local store, and waved at school kids who offered excited “hellos”.
Our hotel was about a 20 minute shuttle ride away from the city center of Ubud. The city is full of yoga stores, upscale shopping, cafes, and a giant market with everything from produce to textiles, to wood carvings, clothing and tons of touristy knick-knacks.
weary travelers, headed home. Bali was a dream. We learned so much from some of the kindest and most welcoming people. We cannot….. CANNOT wait to go back.
If you missed our wedding pictures, you can find some on our photographer’s blog here: NickWisda.com