We left Hanoi for the final time on a Thursday night, cozily tucked in to the back of a sleeper bus. Our main mode of transportation throughout all of Vietnam were these buses. The first experience on a sleeper bus was to Sapa and it was not terrible, so we agreed to buy an “open bus” ticket for Vietnam. That meant we could travel between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, with stops in Hue, Hoi An and Nha Trang, for $34 each. And we could stay in each stop for as long as we wanted.
After leaving Phuket (for the third time) we headed to Ko Samui, Thailand. It involved a full day (12-ish hours) of travel for 2 very exhausted girls. We arrived in Ko Samui and it was raining and ugly weather in general. And that weather continued for the next several days. Since we weren’t doing anything but sitting in a hotel room, we decided to leave early and explore other parts of the country. The next stop on our tour of Thailand was Bangkok. Getting back to a bigger city was something that intrigued us and we were ready to explore and see what Bangkok had to offer.
Leaving Ao Nang brought us back to Phuket and provided the opportunity to see another part of the island and do a few touristy things. We opted to stay in Kata this time around as it was a bit more calm and claimed better beaches than Patong. We found a cheap hotel that had good reviews, booked it and set out on Phuket Adventure, Round 2.
Our ferry and shuttle dropped us in Kata around 6 pm so we checked in and headed out to the Kata weekly market that was in town that evening. We sampled a variety of tasty fried foods, had a Chang beer, dominated some sticky rice, paid way too much for a cup of buttery corn and tried a new, yellow curry grilled chicken. After we were sufficiently stuffed we headed “home” for some sleep. We had a big day ahead of us the next day.
We were so excited to finally reach our first destination in Southeast Asia! We flew into Bali and were greeted by humidity and heat, 2 things that we will need to get used to pronto, because there will be no relief from hot temps for a few months at least.
Awaiting our arrival at the airport was Michael, or Pak Jessi (he goes by both names). We had pre-arranged for him to be our driver because Jenny’s friends Ashley and Joe had met him while on vacation in Bali about 5 years ago and said he was fun and a great tour guide and personal driver. Jenny had messaged him on Facebook a couple of days before our arrival to hammer out the details of our flight into Denpasar. He even printed out a sign with our names on it so we could find him easily in the sea of drivers standing outside the airport terminal. We spotted him nearly immediately and were quickly on our way to an ATM to get cash in the local currency, Indonesian Rupiah (IDR), then onward to our hotel in Seminyak. We opted for a hotel here over a hostel because, well, they are pretty cheap. And we heard from multiple people in Perth (Australia) that the safer bet for Bali was a hotel….We trusted them because Bali is a very popular holiday location for people living in Perth due to the close location and easy 3 hour flight. We have deduced that Bali is to Western Australians what Cancun is to Texans, an easy and fun party getaway town!
Here is a breakdown of what we did while in Bali:
We were able to take in a traditional Balinese Barong Dance, which is essentially a play with 5 acts and live music. We learned that the Barong Play represents the eternal fight between good and evil spirits. The Barong (a mythological animal) is the good spirit and the Rangda (a mythological monster) is the evil one.
We heard that there were a few monkey temples in Bali to go to and Michael had suggested Uluwatu, which is a Balinese Temple on the coast with stunning views and lots of monkeys. He warned us not to wear our sunglasses inside and to clutch tightly to our belongings in the temple area, because while the monkeys are adorable, they are incredible thieves! We indeed watched people lose glasses, caps and even flip flops to the monkeys!! It was an extremely hot day, and we were required to wear satin sarongs to cover our legs which added to the sweltering heat. There were several sets of stairs leading to the temples (that tourists are not allowed in) and lookout points with views of the water crashing against the rock cliff…made it worth the heat!
Potato Head Beach Club
We had gotten a few recommendations from Aussies to hit up Potato Head for a day of relaxating by the pool and beach. We spent the day after Kerry’s birthday here as a birthday treat and it was quite luxurious and well worth the small splurge (mind you it was still much cheaper than any day at a beach club in the US would cost)! The service was impeccable and we got a bed right in front of the pool with the best views. We knew that we wanted to stay through sunset, as we heard that the views were killer from right on the beach, and to say it did not disappoint is an understatement. We took in one of the most gorgeous sunsets we have ever seen! We also had some great food and tried a new Balinese beer as well. We did not want to leave at the end of the day!
Last but certainly not least, we celebrated Kerry’s 33rd birthday here in beautiful Bali. It was a day (or two if we consider that we also celebrated her U.S. birthday) full of authentic Balinese experiences and some tasty food and beverages. We sat at dinner the night of Kerry’s birthday and had some great conversations about friends and family over Bingtang beers and some pretty darn good “Mexican” food. Our waitress and the other servers even sang Happy Birthday and Kerry blew out some candles on her birthday ice cream dessert. It was an unforgettable birthday. It is certainly not lost on us how lucky we are to get to spend this time enriching our lives and gaining life experiences that can only come from travel.
All in all, we have had an incredible time in Bali. We enjoyed many authentic Indonesian meals and have added a couple of new beers to the growing list of delicious local brews we’ve tried on our journey. We’re at a stage now that we are rarely planning and trying to just go with the flow instead. It’s making our trip much more flexible and adding to our laid back approach.
~Jenny & Kerry