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.
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.
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!