We are so blessed to be given the opportunity to live in Asia, there are so many fabulous countries and islands to explore. Some of them are places that are familiar to us, but we really don’t know much about the countries and cultures in this part of the world. Trent and I have decided that since we have a limited time to enjoy South East Asia, we will take advantage of every chance we can to visit, learn, and explore this area. (Thank you to our Woodbury MN friend Sue M. and Hudson WI friend Mirjam S. for drilling this into our brains before we moved over here. Sue & Mirjam both were lucky to be expats living in Singapore in the past)
In early November, we took a short 3 hour flight Bali, Indonesia. Bali is one of those places that most Americans have heard of, myself included. But all I really knew of this place was of it’s fabulous beaches, surfing competitions, and artsy natives. So I was really excited to be able to see this area in person, and to explore it with Trent and the kids. Bali is a destination that I never dreamt that I’d visit.
Our adventures began, when after clearing customs, we headed out of the airport to meet our hired driver. I’d been connected to Wayan through some expat women on facebook, who recommended him. When we Blinkmans first laid eyes on Wayan, we knew without a doubt that we were going to have a good week. When this man smiled, you could see the pure joy and happiness in his face. He smiled with his entire face. We immediately liked him.
Wayan was our driver and tour guide for five days straight. Each day he arrived at our hotel, still dressed in traditional garb having just come from the Temple, armed with an itinerary to show us as much of his country as possible.
He took us to rice terraces, where we learned how much work it is to grow and harvest rice
We explored the popular city of Ubud, with street after street of local crafter shops and we walked through Ubud Monkey forest, where Wayan pulled out some crackers and snacks to bring the monkeys over to us. This was probably the best part of this vacation for the kids!
to the top of Mount Kintamani, an active volcano, where we had a delicious native lunch,
He took us to Kuta, a touristy destination on the beach for private surfing lessons for the boys
He took us to a sunset temple ceremony, on a cliff overlooking the Bali Sea, to his Hindu temple where he brought us inside and showed us around, and taught us about the Hindu Gods and beliefs. Check out the date on the sign posted in front of his temple … “year 944”.
He took us to a coffee plantation, for a taste of the worlds most expensive coffee, Luwak, with retail prices of up to $700 per kilogram. It’s quite interesting … the coffee beans are eaten by a Civet, and then literally pooped out, cleaned, roasted, and then used to make coffee. The kids and Trent were so grossed out by this, but there was no way I was gonna miss having a taste of this coffee. The kids & Trent weren’t all that interested in seeing this, so the best picture I got was one of Wayan. By the way, the coffee was really bitter and didn’t taste like coffee at all. I drank 1/4 of the cup, could barely get it down, then I passed it to Wayan, who also grimaced with each sip.
He then took us for a day of watersports, which included “aqua walking” and the next day we went off-the-beaten-path private beach called “Blue Lagoon” for some snorkeling
And for our last evening, he took us to his family compound. This was one of the highlights of our trip, as we got to see how a normal Balinese family lives, and we were blessed to meet his wife and sweet 5 year old son, also named Wayan.
We learned that Wayan is a very common name in Bali, the 1st, 4th, and 9th sons are all named Wayan. Our Wayan was the 9th in his family, so he has two brothers all with the name Wayan. He has several nephews named Wayan as well, one of whom lives and works here in Singapore. I promised Wayan that I would look up his nephew here in Sing!
Our last day in Bali came too quickly, and while we were all exhausted from our week and needed a vacation from our vacation, we were all sad to leave. This was a place that felt like “home” to us. We found the local people to be warm, gracious, welcoming … just plain lovely. We loved their simple lifestyles, their colorful clothing, their exotic looks. The island offers hot temperatures and warm breezes on the beaches as well as cool refreshing winds in the mountains.
This was a vacation of a lifetime, and one that we will never forget.