Thank You Kadek! Our last Bali blog (for now)….

Let me begin by giving everyone a little background on the pictures that were attached to the end of the last post. To do that I must start with a little background about our good friend Kadek. Kadek is a young man from an island off of Bali who I met last time traveling here. He is almost exactly the same age as me and is without a doubt one of the people that I am happiest to have met in my travels to Bali. We met last trip when we were lucky enough to happen into him as we were looking for a driver in Sanur. Immediately I could tell that Kadek was different from the other drivers that we had encountered. He was not pushy, did not over charge and was incredibly friendly. He and I immediately hit it off and for the remainder of my trip he was my go to man when I needed a ride. After leaving Bali almost two and half years ago now, Kadek and I kept in touch. We found that we could text each other internationally and over the past couple years every few months we would talk via text to see how things were going.  He was the first person I texted after we got our tickets for this trip and upon arriving it was wonderful to see Kadek when he picked us up from the Airport.

During our trip Kadek has taken us anywhere we could not go on a motorbike and we have had the wonderful opportunity to spend a lot of time with him. Since my last trip his English has improved 100 fold and him and I have been able to develop a great friendship during our time here.  He has been the most hospitable person we have come across and consistently helps us in any way he can. He is just a spectacular person and a like mind. That is why when Kadek invited us to come and meet his family on the island where he grew up and spend some time with his family we were overwhelmed with joy at the opportunity to get to know him better.

The pictures that we included at the end of the last post detail some of the time that we spent with Kadek. It was a magical three days to say the least. We left Lembongan early on morning to take a boat ride to the island where he was born. Kadek met us with his brother, Ketut, at the harbor with a motorbike for us and a welcoming smile. The first thing we did was that Kadek took us to his grandparents house which was only a short 20 minute ride from the harbor. Due to an unusually rowdy world cup game the night before we had only been able to get about 5 hours of sleep and Sasha was spent after waking up at 6:30 to catch the boat. Upon arriving Sasha passed out in Kadeks house while he and I went for a ride to the market

We killed about two hours while Sasha slept and went to the beach and bought some fish off the local fisherman for just 30 cents a fish. After riding around for a bit and giving Sasha her much needed rest we came back, picked her up, grabbed the fish and headed for the hills. The island where Kadek grew up is amazing. There is virtually no tourism there and during the entire three days we spent there we did not see one other tourist. It is completely pristine with little development and the most spectacular natural beauty at ever turn. Climbing up the mountains on our motorbikes we immediately knew that Kadek was showing us something unique and special.

After a 40 minute ride we found ourselves deep in the mountains at the house of Kadek’s mother and father. Kadek’s entire family was so incredibly hospitable it is hard to put into words. Immediately upon arriving they greeted us with fresh coconuts and delicious treats to satiate our hunger while they prepared us a feast.  As we took a load off Kadeks father and brothers prepared a fire to roast the fish for our traditional meal. Sitting there in the sun filed jungle, sipping on coconut juice with the smell of fresh fish wafting through the air we felt as though we had finally arrived. The fish was done after about a half hour and we had a delicious meal with Kadek’s family as we laughed, played card games, had a mock cock fight and thanked them all over and over.

Another highlight that cannot be avoided were the children that lived in the small village where Kadek’s parents reside. Given the remote location of the village and the fact that there is relatively no tourist industry there, these young boys had never seen tourists in person before.  They were completely curious and enthralled with us from the moment we arrived to the moment we left.  The entire time we spent time with Kadeks family they were playing hide and seek, peering over the wall to steal glimpses of us. When I would catch them and make a face they would laugh hysterically and then scatter. After about to hours of these games we were finally able to catch a photo of them and after showing it to them they warmed up to us and started giving hi-fives. Finally as we were leaving we got some wonderful pictures with Kadek and his brother and then the ragamuffin crew under a huge tree outside of the village.

Hoping back on our bike we headed to the coast and an incredible beach about an hour away. Arriving at the white sand we once again could not believe that there were not more tourists on this island. The beach Kadek brought us too was completely deserted and covered with brilliant shells and coral.  We soaked up the views, swam in the bay and counted our blessings as we enjoyed the beach with our friends and one lone local fisherman.

As the sun began to get lower in the sky we headed to the harbor and caught a boat back to our motorbike far away on another island. We agreed to meet Kadek again the next morning for more adventures and thanked him profusely for everything. Despite my insistence that we pay for the motorbikes and food Kadek would have no part of it. We got on the boat watching the sunset already looking forward to our next day with Kadek.

As we awoke the next day we had no idea the adventure that was in store for us on our second day with Kadek and his family. Arriving back at the harbor Kadek greeted us again and we headed back to his grandparents house. We were once again warmly welcomed into their home as they dressed us up in the traditional Hindu sarongs to visit the different temples throughout the island. Once we were ready we headed to the first temple.

Our first stop seemed mundane at our first take and we thought that we were simply walking up another flight of stairs to yet another similar temple. Little did we know we were about the enter “the bat cave.” After being blessed in the traditional fashion by a priest at the temple we climbed through a small hole in some rocks that was just big enough that I could squeeze through. As crawled through the small entrance and was able to stand up I saw the enormity of the cavern that we had just entered. The “Bat cave” is a huge temple with many separate caverns all containing a number of shrines for the different areas of the cave that are seen as holy. We were lucky enough once again to be the only ones there with the exception of the preists that work and worship there daily. Emerging on the other side of the enormous cave we were blessed with more spectacular views of the amazing landscape on Kadeks island.

After we were done with the cave and made a quick visit to another much less exciting temple we were hungry and decided to head back to Kadeks grandparents before heading onward. Since tourism is basically nonexistent on the island our options for food were limited and after Kadek’s grandparents offered us another traditional meal we could not say no. Literally. We were a little uneasy about the meal presented, but due to their incredible hospitality we decided to accept despite our hesitation. Our instincts and hesitation proved to be correct, but I will get to that shortly. Most importantly, the food was delicious.

After our hearty meal of fish, we took off to the southern end of the island. I told Kadek that I wanted to see the Southern facing part of the island to look for surf and because I had heard that there were the most intense cliff faces that a friend of ours had ever seen. Kadek said, “Of course! I will take you down them, its easy there are stairs!” We both immediately jumped at the opportunity, not knowing just what we were getting ourselves into.

After another scenic drive we found our selves at “the stairs.”  When we arrived we still didnt know what was to come. First we got off our motorbikes and Kadek explained that it had taken ten years to build the stairs to the bottom and that it would take about 20-30 minutes to descend them. We said, “No problem,” and passed through a small entryway that lead the to what would be one of the scariest things either of us had ever experienced. Within moments we were standing on the first stairs and the edge of death.  Our adrenaline shot through the roof the second that we realized exactly what making it down the stairs would entail.

The stairs were made of metal with no supports in between each step, were literally anchored into the side of a 1000 foot cliff and at points resembled a ladder more than stairs.  Every step we took downward we were looking straight down hundreds of feet through the gaps in the stairs to the surf breaking on the jagged rocks below. Every bone in our bodies told us to stop, that our lives were in grave danger and that we needed to turn around and walk the other direction.  Sasha said, “My legs are shaking uncontrollably” and I told her that we could go back if she wanted. Secretly hoping that she would say that she wanted to. I did not want to admit it, not being one to scare easily but my legs were shaking just as uncontrollably as hers. Much to my chagrin and surprise, Sasha said, “No, I think I can make it,” so we continued on.

Thirty terrifying minutes later we found ourselves at the bottom of the cliff face staring out at the most impressive views of nothing, but pure Indian Ocean in front of us. Once we made it to the bottom, Kadek informed us that we were two of only a handful of tourists that had ever braved the stairs. As it turned out, the views, crystal clear springs and waterfall spraying out of the rocks at the bottom made the life risking trip all worthwhile.  I finally admitted to Sasha how intimidated I was by the stairs as well and she said, “I’m glad you didn’t tell me at the top.” After giving our adrenaline just enough time to calm, we started the ascent back to the top and once again our legs were shaking.

Finally, back to the top safe and sound we kissed the ground, pledged to never make that climb again and got back on our motorbikes heading to the Harbor to catch a boat back to the island where our hotel was.  Soon after getting on the boat, Sasha started feeling queezy. By the time we got back to the hotel I was feeling queezy. Within an hour Sasha began worship to the porcelain god. I finished the worship the next morning and we were both holed up for two days working through the next terror we were to experience….Bali belly.

A bicycle carrying brightly dyed baby chicks for sale at the Denpensar local market

One of the best sunsets of the trip at the lovely Bingin

The reef at low tide and the last light of the sunset

The fish that Agus caught with the new fishing pole we bought him

Arise hamming it up for the camera like always!

Nyoman working the grill

Nicky, Lucy, and Nyoman cooking our delicious feast

The famous Tannah lot temple

The sign for the holy snake pointing towards the dark caves

The hindu men said that if you touched the snake it would bring you good luck, Sasha still refused to touch the snake

Tourist posing hard at the overrun Tannah Lot temple.

The sign for the holy spring at the entrance to the temple

You can drink the water from this fresh water spring that is considered a holy place

Being blessed with holy water and rice

Posing in front of the holy spring with our friendly guide

Our clothes got soaked during the wade across the water to the Tannah Lot

Proof we were there...

View from above of Tannah Lot and the crowds that gather to marvel at it's beauty

After a few days of recovery from our sickness we headed back to Bali to spend our last ten days in the Bukit so I could finish out the trip with some surf.  Unfortunately for me, the last week in the Bukit proved to be disappointing as far as the surf concerned. With the swell only picking up slightly for a day I had to make due with the small surf and great people. Not so bad if you ask me. Following are some pictures from our adventures going to the Denpensar local market and then kicking back hard in the beautiful Bukit. Going back to Nikki and Lucy’s was the perfect way to end the trip and once again they amazed us with a feast of fish, prawns and local finery.  On one of the flat days we motorbiked out to Tanah Lot, which is a temple plastered on almost anything that promotes Bali. It was overrun with tourists and despite its beauty it was a bit to overwhelming. Finally, with four days left in the trip and the surf falling off even more, we left the lake that the Bukit had become and headed back to Ubud to finish the trip off by treating ourselves right.

Trying out my new camera on Matt while waiting for food

Happy to be back in my favorite place... Ubud!

Newly formed rice blossoms on the backroads of Ubud

The Ubud botanical garden was another amazing place with almost no tourists that we felt blessed to happen upon

Sasha kicking back hard in the forestry

Puuuuurttty flowers everywhere!

Stream weaving its way through all of the native plant life

Another stunning specimen of nature at its best

One crazy looking plant!

Another shot of the creek... Sasha liked the creek.

We caught a glimpse of a troll on the bridge!

Waterfall down to a creek.... Sasha's favorite!

So fresh and so green.....

A picture of one of the many crazy bugs we saw at the botanical garden...this one was almost the Giants colors!

The gorgeous lilly pond surrounding the Muslim garden

Another lilly pond...thats all your getting in this caption.

The aloe next to the love nest were covered in the initals of couples who had been there we added ours!

Proof of the Love Nest for all you naysayers

My girlfriend was the prettiest flower of them all

Of course Sasha needed a shot with the pink flowers, that matched her purse and our motorbike and her pancho.....

Lovely, just lovely...( it is now, 1:30am....starting to lose my edge)

We got lost in it... and wait until the next pictures caption to see what we found!

At a dead end in the maze we found these little statues holding their Sasha decided to join the fun!

Its a jungle out there...

Purple vines to pass the time...

When we eanted to cross a creek we had to walk across these bridges... Everytime it was 50/50 on whether we were going for a dip

Sashas favorite part of the garden came at the end.... The Orchid Nursery...By the way if you want to buy the botanical garden you can.... only 1.5 Million USD

Even though seeing elephants in captivity is pretty sad, it was pretty awesome feeding a newborn baby elephant...

Sasha overcoming another fear and loving every second of it

This baby had a chain in its snout and was swinging it like a jump rope

The baby and her mama... Once again I was amazed by the intelligence and affection these amazing animals are capable of showing

After the Baby's we moved on to feeding the big folk

I thought Sasha was small before, but after seeing her next to the elephants now i know she is tiny

Yes I am three...

Yes, so is Sasha...

Once back in Ubud we filled our remaining three days by visiting an amazing and quite large botanical garden outside of Ubud. It was unbelievably gorgeous and since I have already written to much I will let the pictures speak for themselves. The theme of the trip seemed to continue as we were able to take in the natural wonders while enjoying great books and each other. We finished off the first day back in Ubud with some shopping at the market and a wonderful dinner by candlelight.

The next day we decided to make a little drive to what we heard was the best Sumatrian Elephant refuge on Bali in Taro. These elephants are the smallest Asian elephant and are extremely endangered with only about 2,500 remaining today.  The experience was a mixed bag of fun coupled with bouts of regret. While it was an amazing experience to feed and watch these impressive creatures, their exploitation for profit was a little bit hard to bear.  On the one hand, I can understand how the refuge can help the species through breeding and awareness. On the other, seeing tourists riding the elephants and the sad look in that animals eyes, took away a lot of the pleasure we felt at being able to interact so closely with them. We passed up the opportunity to ride the elephants and instead decided to head back to Ubud for some more shopping and rest before heading back to Kuta for our last day.

So here we are, riding out our last 24 hours in Bali. I am filled with overwhelming joy at the experiences we have had together and what an incredible journey it has been. Once again, I feel as though more has been revealed to me about the important things in life and the gifts that we have been given. Our experience together has exceeded all expectations and has been nothing short of spectacular. I gotta say, I love my lady.  At the same time it is incredibly hard to leave once again and say goodbye to this wonderful place. However, I know that we will be back again and that splendor of Bali be waiting with open arms.

We love and will see you all soon!

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Mountain Treks and Lembongan

Hey everyone. After a few days of surfing and ding repair lets take it from where we left off shall we. Breakfast atop of Mount Batur.

After a wonderful breakfast, overlooking the sunrise the more adventurous and less weary of our group decided that instead of just hiking back down that we should continue our trek upward. We grabbed our bags and began the short hike from the cater to the uppermost portion of the rim of the volcano. With daylight the hike proved much easier and while the terrain remained challenging at least we could see where we were stepping now.

Twenty minutes later we found ourselves atop the volcano at a small temple overlooking the most impressive views of the surrounding landscape. Everywhere we looked our eyes were met we unparalleled natural beauty from the grassy craters below to the mountain tops afar. Taking a break at the top everyone in our group silently enjoyed the scenery and couldn’t help but feel an immense sense of wonder and gratitude at the experience we were sharing together.

Leaving the relative safety of the plateau atop Mount Batur we began navigating our way around the thin rim. Entering the misty clouds hovering over the volcano we balanced along the narrow path hugging a steep decline into the mouth of the crater on our left and a jagged downward slope on our right. Hiking the rim was without a doubt one of the highlights of the entire adventure. Every so often the cloud cover would part and we could not help, but to stop dead in our tracks at the awe of our surroundings. Once another half hour had passed the path along the rim began to slope downward and our group was faced with what some would call a decision, but which we viewed more as an opportunity.  We could take the easy way down and be back before lunch or pay our guide another 100,000 rp ($10) to take us back down along the less trekked side of the mountain covered with trails through volcanic ash and passing numerous steam vents. Without hesitation we took the second of our two options.

For the next hour we had the most incredible decent back to Lake Batur. We were able to run, practically ski, down the gradual slopes of volcanic ash. As you ran down the ash, volcanic rocks would dislodge themselves and rolling downward it sounded as if a thousand raindrops were hitting the mountainside. At every turn we were greeted with more amazing sights. There were the most impressive steam vents which created colorful mineral deposits on the rough, hardened volcanic rock. There were so many craters and nooks that we took our sweet time making out way to the bottom exploring each and everyone. By the time we made it back to the base at around 12:00 pm our group was exhausted and not looking forward to the long journey back to the coast. After a brief dip in lake Batur, Sasha and I said our goodbyes and headed back to Sanur in preparation for an early boat ride to Lembongan the next morning.

Taking the local public boat to Nusa Lembongan.

Our guide lead us to this beautiful beach on the small island Chennigan.

We had the beach all to ourselves

Beautiful cove called the blue Lagoon

Another side of the blue Lagoon

The local that was taking us around kept asking us to kiss when taking out picture, but it made for some very romantic memories (minus the pervy local)

The Channel between the two islands Chennigan and Pennida

Our pervy local guide in full effect. It was a little creepy, but on the upside he seemed to REALLY like me. Just look at his face (then look at mine)!

A man spent 15 years making this underground cave. He was a very religious man who thought that because he gambled he needed to hide underground from the Hindu Gods.

This man's Father built the underground house.

He showed us the dark underground house and kept yelling at me when I would almost fall in one of the deep holes in the ground.

I was a perfect fit for the tight spaces in the underground house, Matt was not so lucky.

Nerd Alert!

The view from the pool at our first hotel in Lembongan

The early morning sun shinning brightly on Matt as we went trolling, unfortunately for us our fishing luck was not shinning so brightly

Heading out early in the morning to go trolling Sasha is loving all the boat rides

My first time snorkeling! It was absolutely stunning.

Matt blowing a sexy kiss in his snorkeling mask

We cruised around the islands for hours just relaxing on the boat

After our volcano adventure we had little time to relax because I was intent on arriving in Lembongan in time for the next swell to hit. We grabbed a room in Sanur, ate dinner and went to bed, waking early the next morning to take public boat to Lembongan. Upon arriving we found that my favorite spot on the island, Agus Shipwreck Resaurant, was all full so we had to settle for another amazing beachfront hotel. When we arrived Lacerations, Playgrounds and Shippys were all firing so after getting settled I went for a surf while Sasha relaxed.

The next week consisted of great surf and relaxation. Lembongan is a fairly small island which is connected to another island named Chennigan by a small and rickety bridge only wide enough to fit one motorbike at a time. We spent the next four days roaming around the two islands checking out the sparse tourist attractions in a day and spending the rest of the time surfing, watching the world cup and relaxing.

The two highlights of our first days in Lembongan, aside from the surf, were without a doubt when we went trolling and snorkeling. Trolling was uneventful as we didn’t catch anything, but the look on Sasha’s face the whole time was priceless. She had never really been on a boat in the ocean like this before and she loved every second of it. Even though we didn’t catch any fish watching the sunrise over Lembongan and the expression on her face made the trip more than worth while.

Snorkeling was a bit more fun, nerve racking, hilarious and amazing than our trolling experience. It was definitely a high point of the trip for both of us. Initially Sasha’s anxiety was palpable as we took the boat from Lembongan to another island nearby where the snorkeling and scuba diving is spectacular. In the past, Sasha had a traumatizing experience snorkeling and not being the strongest swimmer she was more than a bit tense on the ride over. I think she might have uttered three words during the 20 minute trip. The look of excitement at skimming along the ocean in a boat was replaced with a look of extreme discomfort as we approached a pristine snorkeling area called, The Wall.

Once we arrived, we got Sasha all set up in her life vest and snorkel as her fear and discomfort grew. I tried to be as comforting as possible, but when it was time to enter the water I feared that she may not be able to take the plunge. After I was already in the water and reassured her that everything would be fine she slowly entered after me. As I swam over to here I could see the fear in eyes, which were significantly magnified by the mask that she was wearing. She hyperventilated, “I don’t think I can do this,” and was on the verge of tears. Knowing that nothing I could do would help her anxiety, I grabbed Sasha’s hand and told her, “You don’t even need to put the snorkel in yet, just keep your eyes open, stick your face in the water and look down.” Sasha reluctantly agreed and put her face in the water.  As her head reemerged from the water all signs of anxiety we replaced by utter amazement and joy. She gasped, “Its amazing. I never knew there was so much down there!” and without another word stuck the snorkel in her mouth and was off and running.

The Wall, is an amazing shelf along an island called Pennida which is home to a spectacular array of coral and fish life.  The shelf is located in a channel between the two islands of Pennida and Chennigan and as such there is a current that slowly drags you along as you soak in the amazing sea life. Seeing the change and wonder in Sasha’s eyes was one of the most wonderful things I have experienced this trip.  I never would have thunk it, but right before my eyes I think a long time snorkeler was born.

We spent the next two hours snorkeling along The Wall and then  another site called Crystal Bay. At Crystal Bay I brought a bag of chips into the water and dove down about 12 feet before releasing the contents above me. Immediately we were surrounded by hundreds of beautiful reef fish glad to have a free snack. It was an incredible day.

After that we went back to Lembongan and switched rooms over to Agus. Agus just rebuilt his entire Warung and it is now one of the nicest on the beach. Agus and the boys all remembered me, as Poker King from my last visit and we were lucky enough to be the first guests to stay in the nicest room in the place. Our room had a TV with Satellite, air conditioning and the most amazing view of Shipwrecks right out front. We spent seven days soaking it all in, completely content with doing nothing, but sunning and surfing before embarking on our next adventure.

One of Kadek's brothers tending the fire for our fish feast

Mmm, my first time eating fish without their heads cut off, it didn't really bother me.

Preparing a feast in paradise

What did bother me was the ten massive boars right next to where we were eating

After tasting the fish, just looking at this picture makes my mouth water

Our good friend Kadek and gracious host enjoying the meal with Matt

We could not have been happier with our meal of fresh fish washed down will coconut juice

These boys had never seen tourists before and were incredibly curious. They kept peeking out from behind the wall to steal glipses of the new faces at their home

Kadek putting on a cock fight for us with his father and cousin. Sasha was scared and dont worry, the chickens were not harmed.

As we left Kadek's fathers house, these shy and curious little boys followed us all the way out. They were a definite highlight and so cute!

Matt, Kadek and Ketut hanging out under the trees after a great meal with even better people

After much persuading we were able to convince our curious little crew to come take a picture with us. When we showed it to them, they we so enthralled with the camera they forgot about us!

Another pristine view from an even more pristine island

Sasha loving being the only one on the beach. After two days we still had not seen any other tourists on this island.

The beauty of this bay was amazing. If only there was surf.

With white sand, crystal clear water and no people of the beach, what more could you ask for?

Ketut getting Matt all ready to hit the temples!

Matt all sarong-ed up in the local finery

Kadeks family thought Sasha looked beautiful in her local garb!

Sasha might have had a different opinion

One of the many shines in the massive cave temple

This unbelievable view of untouched mangroves and rolling green hills, greeted us as we passed through the cave temple.

At this shrine we were given bracelets that were supposed to keep us safe in our travels.

It was impossible to capture how expansive this cave was but hopefully this shot can give some sort of an idea

Just saying, Kadek might be one of my favorite people ever!

There were literally dozens of sites within the cave complex that we designated sacred and where temples had been built

The entrance to the cave was so small we could barely fit, but upon coming out of the darkness we were greeted with this view at the entrance,

At the end of the temple tour

The views just got better and better as we held on for our lives

Descending these stairs build on a sheer 1000 ft cliff face you could look down hundreds of feet to the surf crashing on the rocks below. Here we are almost at the bottom. Note the fear in Sasha's stance.

The stairs were literally built into the cliff face. I have no idea how they managed it. This section is actually as mild as they got.

Finally at the bottom of the cliff face we were presented with more unparalleled beauty

As we stood at the bottom of the cliffs on the south side of the island we were greeted with nothing, but the raw power of the indian ocean

Walking up the stairs where a small creek rushed down from a waterfall that came shooting out the bottom of the cliffs

Matt cut his toe deeply on a rock at the bottom and Kadek was quick to treat him with a local plant wrapped in wet vines.

At the bottom of the cliffs are pools of fresh water that have been created by the waterfall. The water is considered holy and we all took a refreshing dip.

Matt, Kadek and Ketut freshening up before heading back to the stairs of death

Going up and down these stairs was about the scariest thing we have done. One slip and you will fall hundreds of feet. Sasha keeping both hands on the rail like a good girl!

This shot gives a slight idea of the insanity of these stairs. Looking over the edge you could see straight down hundreds of feet, but the risk was worth its weight in gold as we took in the views.

The pictures above detail the best part of the trip. Everything seen above details a once in lifetime experience that we happened upon because of our good friend Kadek. I will continue next time with those amazing adventures.

All our love,

Matt and Sasha

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The overdue update!

Hello everyone! It has been far, far too long since we last posted a blog, but we hope you will forgive the terrible internet connections everywhere we have been recently. That being said, get ready for a long one because we have many more amazing adventures to share with you all. Now, picture time!

Living the good life in Sanur:)

Living the life of Luxury at Hotel Sanur's pool by the beach

Matt reading book number 5 and loving it

The best part of Sanur was sitting right next to me this whole time

Getting some sun and adventuring out on the reef

Matt checking out the tide pools at the Sanur beach.

I (Sasha) was not too fond of these sea worms that were all over the reef

Clam chug! Go!

I was annihilated by Matt and Mike when we played darts

Why is Matt so good at everything!?

Life size chess board at Sanur hotel! I was like a kid in a candy store!

After trekking the back roads of Ubud, playing with rabid dogs and fending off terrifying monkeys we decided that it was high time for some rest and relaxation so we headed to Sanur. After finding a wonderful hotel off the main road with a pool, TV, air conditioning and breakfast included for $20 a night, we knew the next few days would be just what the doctor ordered.  Prior to our Ubud adventures we met a couple of guys, Mike and Charlie, from the Bay Area with whom I happened to have a number of mutual friends. They told us that they would be in Sanur when we arrived, attending a conference that they thought I would enjoy at the luxurious Sanur Beach Hotel. Upon hearing luxury and beach in the same sentence we were sold and made plans to meet them the day after our arrival in Sanur.  Total relaxation was to follow….

The next day marked the first of a three day, non-adventure into the joys of doing nothing.  We proceeded to lounge at the gorgeous Sanur Beach Hotel pools during the day, taking full advantage of their dart boards, table tennis, water polo and poolside service, while retreating in to Sanur for delicious eats and the first games of the world cup at night.   We fully indulged our inner children as we explored the reefs, splashed in the pools and helped Sasha to perfect treading water.  Unfortunately, once the conference ended we no longer had our free access to luxury and again had to figure out where our next adventure would come from.

Initially, we were going to take the public boat to Lembongan, but unbeknown to us Mike and Charlie had other plans that proved irresistible. The next day, we hoped on our motorbike to meet up with Charlie, Mike and their huge crew in Seminyak.

Shes all strapped in and ready to go! But in all seriousness, Sasha refused to put the visor up even after we stopped.

The motorcycle gang stopping for petrol

The crew enjoying Babi Guling, a traditional Balinese meal, as we wait for the rain to start before getting back on the road. Yes, start.

We ordered "the special" at a famous restaurant in Ubud. It has EVERY part of the pig in it, mmm...

This rice farmer wanted to trade the Pancho for a hat... but Sasha said she didn't think pink was his color.

We made a brief stop at the Ubud rice terraces on our way up the mountain. Marshmallow spotting, second from the left.

After eating, the rain started and we all bought ponchos for the ride. Sasha's just happened to match her purse and our motorbike.

Beautiful sunset after a long day of riding.

Upon arriving in Seminyak we got the first taste of what would be an incredibly entertaining and fun adventure for the next two days. Arriving at Mike and Charlie’s hotel, we were greeted by a group of 9  world travelers, revving their motorbikes and ready for a long ride. Immediately excited to meet everyone we quickly attempted to introduce ourselves, but before we could even finish the introductions Charlie was flying out of the driveway with everyone in tow. Within moments we were on the main junction, 5 motorbikes deep,  driving towards the hills surrounding Ubud with an assent of Mount (Volcano) Batur on our minds.  Sadly, Mike had to stay behind as the initial onset of Bali belly had snuck up on him overnight and  he was too fatigued for the journey ahead.

After driving for about 1 1/2 hours we found ourselves back in Ubud. Our rowdy crew pulled across the intersection at JL. Monkey Forest Road and JL. Ubud Road and parked in front of a busy, but unassuming local restaurant. One of the boys that came on the trip had been living in Bali for the past year and a half and insisted that we eat here. He informed us that this restaurant was known across Bali as having the best Babi Guling around.   Without knowing what Babi Guling was yet we said, “Great!” and immediately ordered the special. As it turns out Babi Guling is a suckling pig dish. The pig is cooked over a spit and every part of the body is used. As we were chomping down on delicious ribs over rice, Sasha picked up a red sausage took a bite and said, “mmmmm…what is this?” Charlie, having already been keenly watching her nibble at the sausage casually said, “Pig blood sausage,” after which the look on Sasha’s face changed from mild curiosity to intense disgust.  Frowning at me, she placed the rest of her sausage on my plate and told me I could have her blood sausage. I excitedly obliged and quickly ate both hers and mine.  Aside from that, Sasha (and I for that matter) loved our Babi Guling, pig skin and all.

With the cohort pleasantly satiated after a lunch of swine followed by ice cream, we made the brilliant decision to get back on the road just as the clouds were darkening. Mounting our motorbikes everyone driving down from the mountain was either soaking wet or covered in a Pancho. With the wit of the monkeys Sasha dislikes so, I quickly found a store that sold Pancho’s and we snatched their entire inventory for the crew. Panchoed up and ready to go, at the very moment we hit the road so did the raindrops.

Another 40 minutes uphill we stopped once again at the rice paddies of Telengan only this time Sasha was replaced by a huge pink marshmallow. By the time we arrived at the rice paddies the rain had subsided and everyone, but my sweet little girlfriend, had taken off their pancho. Sasha, ever fearful the rain would return, instead bounced around the rice paddies like an overstuffed pink pillow and was somehow magically spotted by a local rice farmer. He flagged her down as we took pictures with some of the boys and the priceless  pictures seen above were the result.

After the Sasha show at the rice paddies dusk was quickly approaching and we still had a long way to go before reaching Lake Batur at the bottom of the Volcano.  We charged along for the next hour and reached the lake just in time to watch a beautiful sunset over the ring of mountains surrounding the lake. Finding a hotel just five minutes away from the base of the volcano we all were relieved to stretch our tired limbs and kick back for the remainder of the night.  After a wonderful dinner of laughs and fun, we all headed to bed in preparation for our 3:00 am wake up call to begin the ascent of Mt. Batur.

Finally at the top of Mt. Batur after a treacherous and pitch black night hike

So happy to be at the top of the volcano... little did we know... we had a long hike down. Time check: 5:45 am

The first light of sun showed at around 6 am , This is the volcano around 6:15 in the morning.

Charlie took over the camera.

watching the beautiful sunrise

The sun rising high in the sky

Those who made it to the top first feeling great!

The sun shining down on the volcanoes.

Feeling pretty good after conquering the volcano.

Volcano monkeys with the steam from the sulpher vents in the background.

The Mount Batur monkeys were much less aggressive and welcomed the delicious peanuts we gave them.

Done watching the sunrise and ready for the next leg of the hike!

A para-sailor enjoys the view.

A small temple at the very top of the mountain.

The sun was so bright, I was straining to open my eyes.

grassy crater of the volcano

I'm not sure what that says but I'm pretty sure it's something along the lines of "don't fall over the side of the volcano because you'll probably die".

there were beautiful views everywhere you looked

the towns and farms below

Beautiful landscape as far as the eye can see.

the guys smoking cigarettes during a break from the hike.

Our hike guide was a really nice Indonesian man who hardly spoke English.

Carefully making our way back down.

Matt soaking up all the views

Walking along the narrow rim of the Volcano.

checking out all the different views.

posing for the camera as we practically ran down the side of the mountain.

checking out the crater before we sprinted down the hill.

the volcanic ash was so soft you could actually ski down the hills at top speed.

The rocks became more and more covered in sulpher as we neared the sulpher beds.

the yellow and orange walls of the sulpher beds

approaching the most active steam vents

Surrounded by steam and sweat after the long hike

Waking up at 3:00 am began what would be one of the most memorable days of the trip so far. Drearily rubbing the sleep from our eyes we wandered out of our rooms and lazily mounted our motorbikes for the five minute ride to the base of the volcano. Upon arriving we were quickly rattled awake as we approached the trail head. Standing before us was a throng of guides (required to hike the volcano) all vying for our business. Luckily for us we we only had to endure about ten minutes of confusion while the  guides argued about who would one to lead our large group up the mountain. Before we knew it we were trekking forward in the dark for what would prove to be a treacherous hike.

Just minutes into the first bit of the hike we realized that our lack of sleep had repercussions outside of our current fatigue. In our daze not only had Sasha and I forgotten to grab a flashlight, but so had 7 of the 9 others in our group.  This left just two flashlights among the 8 of us, including the guide and much to our chagrin within the first five steps of the hike we understood what a critical tool we had forgotten. Initially the ground we were hiking on was  fairly mild and solid underfoot. We slipped here and there when we encountered the inconsistent grove or incline, but for the first 5 feet the trail seemed as though it would quite manageable. On footstep number 6 everything changed. In the blink of an eye, the trail jutted sharply upward and changed to loose, sharp and uneven volcanic rock that slipped under each step. The slope went from an easy walk up Bernal hill to a practically impossible vertical incline consisting of treacherous terrain.

Upon realizing that the only way to avoid serious injury would be to stay as close to the flashlight as possible, Sasha and I scurried up to the front of the line and as close to the guide as possible. For the next two hours we scrapped and scrambled straight upward towards the top of the volcano. It was one of the most intense hikes I have ever experienced. In just two hours we climbed at least 3000 vertical feet. In preparation for the climb we had decided that wearing a sweatshirt in the chilly mountain air would be a good idea. Within 20 minutes that was a decision that we lived to regret as everyone was drenched in sweat as we charged upward.

After a series of near disastrous slips and quite exhausted, we were relieved to find ourselves at a small hut located at the top of the mountain. While Sasha and the others collapsed on the rickety one plank benches outside of the hut, Charlie and I ventured through the doors of the hut. Inside we found a group of locals chatting about the world cup with fresh coffee brewed for the weary climbers just arriving. It was about 5:30 am and everyone was in dire need of their first cup of coffee for the day so we ordered coffee for the group and joined them to wait for the sunrise outside.

Two coffees later, a small bit of light began illuminating the sky at around 6:00 am and with that faint sunlight our incredible surroundings began to be reveled. As the light increased we saw that we were sitting on the rim of the volcano directly in front of a massive crater created by an eruption of the past. Behind the crater the rim of the volcano jutted further upward and loomed ominously overhead. In front of us was a sheer slope that exposed the incredible trail that we had just completed. Looking over the edge you could peer down over 3000 feet to a spectacular view of Lake Batur underneath another large peak shrouded in the early morning clouds.  Surrounded by this spectacular beauty, we sipped on our coffee and watched the sunrise over the volcano as waited for a breakfast of toast and hard boiled eggs cooked over the steam vents of Mt. Batur.

Unfortunately the internet cafe is shutting down for the night so I have to end here. Tomorrow I will pick up where we left off and describe the rest of our amazing journey to the top of Mt. Batur.

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Volcanos, Puppies, Kittens and Police Bribes…

Continuing on with the adventures and pictures…..

The next day after happening across the rice paddies we woke up and decided to to take it easy after all of the adventuring the day before. We decided that would would drive around for a bit, maybe get some food and then go sit by the pool. Little did we know that after some energy drinks, our plan for a relaxed day would be tossed aside like the empty Red Bull cans we had just finished.

We hopped on our Motorbike and started traversing unknown roads once again. Passing more amazing rice paddies and sights, we continued on until one of the roads led us back to a main junction heading for the hills. We decided that we would just start driving upward and turn around soon. After charging up the road for about thirty minutes the clouds were getting darker and the air cooler. We knew that Mt. Kintamani must be close so we decided to push on despite the fact that we had left with no planning,no jackets, no pants and only about 15 dollars on us combined.

About ten minutes away from the volcano, we ran into our first bump in the road (aside from all the potholes). Two Indonesian police saw us coming and quickly stood in the middle of the road flagging us down. Bribe time. The officer asked to see my registration and international drivers license. The registration I had, but my license I had left behind (not that it made one bit of difference).  The officer put on quite the performance, pointing to parked cars down the road which he had “impounded” and explaining that he was going to take our motorbike for a week and that I would need to go to court. We patiently waited for him to finish, after which I asked if I could just pay now. He said yes and that he wanted 400,000 rupiah, more than 3 times the amount of money we had on us. We were able to talk him down to 50,000 ($5) and he smiled and let us go on our way.

Shortly after paying off the police we found ourselves driving along the ridge at Mount Kintamani.

Rain over Mount Kintamani

A cold and misty Lake Batur

Sasha happy, dry and drinking tea with a view of Mt. Kintamani

Just saying...Feeling pretty goddamn lucky right now!

Mount Kintamani looming large

Arriving at the mountain we realized that our lack of preparation was quickly taking its toll. A top the ridge the temperature was by far the coldest we have encountered yet in Bali with dark clouds looming overhead and the air a cool 50-60 degrees, which felt even colder with the wind whipping at as we charged around the mountain roads on the motorbike.

We headed town a curving road with forests on either side that resembled those of Northern California as you drive over Mount Tam. This road eventually lead to Lake Batur and initially we were going to try to brave the cool weather down to the Lake. Yet, as we drove we could feel cool rain begin to fall and we decided it would be best to save the extra 10 Km trek for another day. We quickly pulled off to the side of the road and were blessed with the incredible view of Lake Batur seen above.

Turning around we were starving and decided to try to find a place cheap enough for us to eat. Much to the chagrin of our stomachs all of the restaurants along the boarder of the mountain have expensive prices coupled with spectacular views. We pulled over to check the prices at a buffet and the moment that we stepped inside the clouds opened up with a torrential downpour with drops the size of small peanuts. Safely inside we realized that the buffet was a bit out of our budget at 150,000 ($7.50) per person. After gas and the police we only had 109,000 rupiah left. Fortunately for us the host there saw Sasha shivering and our dismay at the overpriced meal and let us eat for 100,000 ($10). We were so grateful to wait out the rain with a nice warm meal gazing over the spectacular views above.  Just as we finished our desert and tea, the clouds parted, rain stopped and we decided to head back down the mountain with with our last 9000 rupiah ($.90).

Traveling back down the mountain we were relieved for the first time on our trip to feel the hot, humid air of Bali greet us after enduring the cold mountain air. Passing the spot where the police has pulled us over we laughed as all of the parked impounded cars the police had used as a warning of what could happen to us had magically disappeared. In high spirits, with full stomachs we raced back towards Ubud anxious to reach out last stop before a relaxing night of reading and naps.

Then, we felt a bump. Then, another. The road felt rougher than it looked and I immediately realized what had happened. Another flat motorbike tire! Upon realizing that we were at least 45 minutes from Ubud, with $.90 between the two of us, I grunted, “Again?!?” to Sasha with discontent as we got off the motorbike.  But, before any frustration could mount we realized how lucky we actually were. We had gotten the flat just 50 meters from a motorbike repair shop in the middle of the mountains. Relieved we wheeled the bike in and asked how much to fix a flat. Initially the owner quoted us 30,000  rupiah ($3), but we were able to talk him into 5,000 ($.50) for a patch. Relived we waited for the mechanics to work their magic and after giving them the entire 9000 ($.90) of our remaining loot we were back on the road and on our way.

Within 20 minutes we were once again blessed with more Balinese beauty as we sat atop the terraced rice paddies at Telangan.

The terraced rice paddies at Telangan

Rice paddies never looked so good thanks to Sasha

We sat forever just taking it all in

At the terraced rice paddies of Telangan we got off of the bike, walked down the stairs and collapsed in each others arms. Exhausted by the twists and turns of the day, but we could not help feeling immensely grateful for all of the wonderful experiences we were sharing. We walked along the terraces until we found a spot a bit away from the main tourist areas and walked further into the paddies. A young boy named Made spotted us and joined us on our walking, speaking to us excitedly of school, his grades and America. Made was one of the friendliest people we have met in Bali and his company was a wonderful way to end an already spectacular day. As the light began to fade over the rice terraces we hopped on the motorbike and eventually arrived at Ubud, then our hotel and finally bed.

The next day we got up exhausted, but ready for more. On our first day in Ubud we had spotted local animal rescue shelter that was in need of volunteers. After visiting the office and playing with the puppies there was no way we could avoid lending a helping hand. Within 20 minutes of walking through the door our paperwork was complete and we were ready to volunteer once the weekend was through.  Arriving at the animal shelter on Monday we were greeted by wagging tails and purring kittens…

The look on Sasha's face pretty much says it all!

Sasha didnt care one bit if this dog was in the quarantine waiting to be vaccinated for rabies.... just kidding... It already was!

We got to play with kittens too. My newborn homies...Fo' life!

"Your in a cage and im chilling with Matt and Sasha. Sucker!"

Sasha taking a break with Cakey and Lucy. Two of the dogs we had the opportunity to walk through the rice fields when volunteering with BAWA.

This little guy was so small he kept climbing through the cage bars to come kick it... then he was so tuckered he decided to nap with me.

When we asked if we could adopt they told us that due to the recent rabies outbreak the US and Australia wont let dogs from Bali be adopted overseas (even when vaccinated)....Weak sauce!

On the second round of walks through the rice paddies we got to take out some pups...only problem was they kept falling in the water.

Pretty much the best way and most amazing place to volunteer ever

We named him Super Spazz (Matt that is)

At first this Super Spazz was afraid to walk ten steps, but by the end I was running after him.

Volunteering with BAWA (Bali Animal Welfare Association) was by far one of the coolest experiences that we have had so far in Bali and so much fun. The organization houses over 100 cats and dogs that have been hit by cars, just had birth, need vaccinations or to be spayed and neutered, and tirelessly strive to find these animals homes. With so many dogs and cats to help they can always use volunteers to help socialize and exercise the animals. Not only was it an amazing opportunity to give back to the island of Bali, but it was such a unique experience for us as well. The animals were so incredibly happy to be let out and seeing their sheer excitement at the chance to run made us wish we could walk and play with them all.  Walking the dogs through the huge fields of rice paddies that are the backyard to BAWA, laughing every time they fell into the water and seeing how happy they were was so rewarding it is hard to describe. We absolutely will be volunteering there again before we leave.  After about 4 hours of walking through the paddies, playing and laughing with the dogs, cats and BAWA staff we were ready to head back to Ubud to play with animals of a different sort.

As we neared the monkey forest my anticipation grew almost as much as Sasha’s anxiety. Suffice it to say, the monkey forest was awesome for me and terrifying for Sasha. The monkeys at this forest were very aggressive, albeit adorable and hilarious all at the same time.  If you had bananas within seconds they were on you, climbing up your body to steal them out of your hands and then fighting amongst themselves over the spoils of their plunder.We will leave you with pictures of the forest and me smiling, while Sasha persevered through her terror and took some wonderful pictures of her monkey man bonding with his kin.

Dance for the banana monkey dance.... only question is which one is the monkey?

Hes taking off with all my Bananna loot!

The guy pulling on my leg was a big boss monkey as they call them. If you ignore the big boss for to long you might be on the other end of a monkey attack!

Go for the gold! (there was a bananna just out of his reach)

I cant get enough of the monkeys. Sasha on the other hand, has had enough of the monkeys. As can be seen by the look on her face in this picture as I poked fun at her about her monkey terrors.  She told me not to post this, but it had to be done. I’m sorry Squasha…. Love you!

No more Monkeys!

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The Spectacular Unknown

I have been waiting the past few days to really go to work on this blog thing and the time has come. The past three days have been an absolute whirlwind of amazing experiences and adventures. So much has transpired and we have been blessed with so many unique experiences that it would be impossible to do them all justice in the words that I write. So to aid me in my description I am going to post picture with some captions and write a bit after each series with anything that they cannot convey through their sheer beauty. So here we go….

Raaaaaaaaaaaar says the lion....

Showing love to the man in white

Cool ass old local who let us into a temple with no other tourists when we were wandering around!

You cant throw a stone without seeing an amazing temple in Bali

A few days ago we rented a motorbike in Ubud and decided that instead of taking the normal tourist route of hiring a driver to take us around that we would just start roaming and see what we stumble across. This roaming has proven to be one of the best decisions of the trip and we have come across so many incredible views, places and experiences that we otherwise would have missed out on. The first of these was being ushered into a closed temple by the man in white above (whose name i cannot pronounce let alone remember) We saw the tall pillars of the temple, pulled of the road and started wandering around. He saw us gazing through the gates and was kind enough to let us in and show us around. Without any other tourists or people in the temple is was a real treat.

Sick local football match! The team in red is Ubud's local team who is the best in their divison. Killing it!

After taking an initial drive and coming across the temple we decided to go back into Ubud to watch the first local soccer match of the season between Ubud and a neighboring town. During the month of June there is a huge tournament with games going on everyday through the 25th. It was such a blast sitting with the locals, learning more about the league and watching Ubud dominate the competition. Seriously these players were so good at soccer it totally blew my mind. It was so much fun the by the time is was the half, it felt like we had been there for five minutes.

How big can a motorbike helmet be? This big! Matt chillin for a second as we drive the backroads of Ubud aimlessly!

All we need is a road, a motorbike and a prayer

Terraced rice fields with Mount Kintamani in the distance

More incredible views that we were blessed with when wandering about without a destination

Geese crossing a cobblestone road far off the beaten path

She works hard for that money!

The water was calm as can be and we were without a care in the world

Beauitful sunset over rice paddies in the hills of Ubud

Sun setting through purple leaves... Thanks Miss Hope!

Happiness over water

The best Gold I ever saw...

After the soccer game we decided to just keep on driving the roads around Ubud. We started out by taking a left on JL. Raya Ubud, the main road through the town and just started trucking. After driving through Ubud and over the most amazing bridge which crossed a roaring jungle river we haphazardly turned off the main road and started exploring. For the next 30 minutes we twisted and turned through narrow mountain roads lined with incredibly dense jungle and vines drooping overhead. After dipping down which steep valleys which suddenly shot upwards to the mountains we emerged from the jungle to at the top of a hill to the most amazing series of terraced rice paddies overlooking Mount Kintamani.

At the summit of the hill we had a decision to make. There was a sign reading “Sunset Hill” to our right where the road turned from asphalt to loose gravel and cobblestone, while the road we had been traveling on took us to our left. Seeing as the sun was getting lower in the sky we decided that “Sunset Hill” was calling us and much to our delight it certainly was. After traveling down this road for about three minutes we quickly realized the we had stumbled upon something spectacular. The road was nestled on the top of the hill between a steep jungle ravine to our right, thick with palm trees, vines and ferns, while to our left was slow downward slope of the terraced rice fields. Without another tourist in sight we pull off the road and watched the most spectacular golden sunset over the calm waters of the rice fields. With herrings and geese bathing in the water and the warm sun receding behind the palms there was nothing in the world, but this amazing moment and each other.

This is only where the story of the past few days begins, but rest assured this is not where it ends. We are hungry and tired from all of our adventuring so I will wrap it up for now by saying we miss you all and I promise to add more tomorrow!

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Ubud Adventures

A beautiful day in Sanur, on our way to Ubud.

In front of one of the temples somewhere outside of Ubud.

Checking out the inside of the temple.

It just gets better and better

More Amazing Bali Architecture

This might have been Sasha's favorite architecture yet

All flowered up and ready for the Barong dance

Tari Pendet Dance - Dancers give ritual offerings for a temple ceremony, scattering them like rain

Tari Pendet dancer

Barris Tunggal (Warrior Dance) - One of the oldest ceremonial dances in Bali where the dancer displays their skills with different weapons. Considered the most important male Balinese dance and all boys studying dance must learn it. Makusara Murti (The Power of the Provacateur) - A dance which is meant to reflect the situation of the world today

Makusara Murti - The end of a battle between the two sides

The Jalak Putih (Dance of Bali White Starrling Birds) - The story of a group of Bali White Stearlings. A dance to remind the people of Bali to protect this beautiful and increasingly rare species.

Tari Oleg Tambulilingan (A Graceful Love Dance) - A girl flower, dancing gracefully attracts a boy bumblebee. The flower and bee seduce and tease one another in a playful way.

Tari Barong (Barong Dance) - This dance is a study of the powerful and benevolent Barong creature.

The Barong creature is danced by two people in a costume and is ususally accompanied by a pestering monkey.

The cast of dancers

One side note about the dance is that the music which accompanies it is called Legong, which is performed by a about 24 individuals playing transitional Balinese Xylophones. The whole performance is quite an incredible sight and seeing how it all comes together is truly spectacular. Anyone visiting cannot miss the Barong and Legong dances.

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Happy days in Ubud

Hello! We left Sanur yesterday and are now staying in the beautiful artist town Ubud.  We are definitely becoming a little more spoiled because now we have a room with air conditioning, hot water,  and a pool just a few steps outside.We went on a crazy search for a voltage converter for all our electronics because I accidentally blew out the one we bought at home.  However, after looking all over Kuta and Sanur we were not able to find one and now we can’t charge our Ipods or our phones 😦

I absolutely love Ubud.  It’s a lot different from the beach towns we’ve been staying in.  I would compare it to the Balinese Sausalito or Marin.  It’s a lot classier than most of Bali with art galleries everywhere you look and cozy little cafes.  It’s considered the culture center of the island and it’s a big source of pride for the locals.  Last night we went to see the tradtional balinese barong music and fire dance (pictures will be posted soon!).  We also got acupressure massages which they have about every 10 feet here.  We found a really great restaurant/cafe that has live music every night.  I got seared yellow fin tuna and coucous with raisins and avocado for $4.50 and the band played beatles and creedance clearwater covers, it was amazing.

Matt side note- We are living the lap of luxury here in Ubud. I feel like king of the castle. It is such a pleasant change in senery and the town of Ubud is really laid back and lazy. We spent all day yesterday just walking around and enjoying the sights. Today I am super excited because there is a big local soccer tournament going on right near our hotel for the next month with games everyday! I cant wait to choose a side and get crazy with the locals watching the game. Later we are going to hop on a motorbike and start charging around aimlessly and see what we can find around Ubud to see. We are actually thinking about volunteering for an animal rescue center while we are here as well. There are so many stray dogs and cats everywhere and this center is one of the only places on the island that works to help get them vaccinated, spayed/nuetered and adopted. I was a little skeptical before coming up here since there is no surf, but all of my expectations have been far exceeded as Sasha and I finally get to just have fun time together in one of the most romantic places we have been in Bali. Life is such a blessing out here. There have been a series of great and stange coincidences our here and actually met some really great people who are from the Bay Area and know my good buddy  Bill W.  as well.

There is so much more to say and tell, but for now rest assured that we are living the dream!

– Matt and Sasha

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