Bali, Indonesia

Bali, Indonesia

Apr 9-May 8, 2019

Time to slow it allllll down…. This is the place we’ve come to recharge and just be. Catching up with ourselves, blogging, writing, reading, video editing, sleeping, just being and reconnecting with my heart. Traveling, while I’m so grateful to be able to have this experience, is exhausting! I’m going to create a few blog posts on how we decided what method of travel, where we decided to go next, how long we decided to stay in places, etc… all of this takes brain power and is something that Luc enjoys but also, there are so many options and sometimes we take the cheapest (usually walking and bussing) and sometimes we take the easiest (plane). But Bali is a break from the fast travel and a rest before Australia where we have volunteering lined up, traveling in a van for 5 weeks around the coasts of Australia and lots of discovering.

I was really excited to go to Bali. It’s my second time being here. I came here 20 years ago with my mom and her friend for 10 days. I was excited for the beauty of it, the massages, the avocadoes, the beaches, and the people. What I wasn’t afraid of was getting sick. Last time I was here I came down with a terrible fever and all associated issues with food poisoning or a parasite/bacteria so was really worried about that. I’m writing this after 26 days and (knock on wood) we’re still totally fine.

I really feel that Bali is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Everywhere you look it’s stunning and breathtaking. Avocadoes aren’t what they used to be. I can hardly find them anywhere. They are still big but not as in abundance as before. I’ve had two massage since being here and I think that’s my fault for not putting time aside for that. Must get one more in before I leave here. And the people are so kind and beautiful.

Legian and the Fancy Hotel: Element

Not much to report when arriving. It was dark, the taxi drivers at the airport are pretty aggressive (I told one to leave us alone he was that in our face). We stayed our first night in a little place with a nice pool in Legian. It was nice to get our footing and hit a bank to take out some money.

Then we moved to Ubud where our 4th fancy hotel was. This was an eco-hotel and a little bit on the lower end but still really beautiful and the breakfast was out of this world. We checked in and just spent the day at the hotel enjoying the pool and room. We met some people from the States who also are super savvy with their points and told us about all the amazing places they have stayed for free. They earn points with work so that gets them to more places than us.

In the morning we did some yoga at the hotel (I hurt my neck… sigh….) and Luc took off on a bike ride to explore the rice terraces and discover Luwak Coffee. Vivi and I played in the pool some more.

It’s always a nice transition when you start your new country with a fancy hotel to get your bearings and not feel like you have to start exploring and discovering immediately. You actually feel like you need to take some moments of relaxation and moments of research to study where you want to go next.

Ubud: Bali Sunshine Homestay

We booked a place for a week called Bali Sunshine. We picked a place with a pool as we thought that there would be families and kids there. Turns out that it’s the low season and we were the only ones there. Hmmm… but the place was stunning. We upgraded to a room beside the pool for an extra $6/night. Luc is still sore about that. But I wanted to be beside the pool so we could just walk out and take our coffee, or write a blog, do learning time or watch Vivi play in the pool from the room.

Only thing was that this place backed onto a rice field which was stunning but also bug infested where we found cockroaches, crickets, spiders, ants, lizards. When the room is only about 400 sqft that’s a little piece of shared space with a lot of bugs.

The other things was we were located about 6km’s away from Ubud. So really out in the sticks. But being in the sticks has it’s pluses. We frequented the same two restaurants for a week and got to know the staff and the menus. The pool was wonderful so we really enjoyed our time in there. And I got to learn how to ride a scooter!

For the most part we hung around the pool while Vivi swam and did learning time. We ventured out 2 times on scooters to visit a waterfall, Luwak coffee farms, rice terraces, Pura Tirta Empul and eat lunch (where I got stung on the toe but I was assured from a local it was not a hospital visit I needed) in one of the most beautiful restaurants I’ve seen (the view was incredible). All of those places I mentioned were absolutely stunning. It was like candy for my eyes everywhere. Being on a scooter is so much fun! Vivi would ride on the back of Luc’s as I was super nervous and to be honest, if we crashed, our insurance wouldn’t cover us so we needed to be hyper focused. I made sure that we went out on our first ride on a Sunday, when there wasn’t much traffic. I also didn’t want to go too far for the first go. I love it so much I want to get a scooter now when I get home. Preferably an electric scooter so there’s less pollution.

We stayed at Bali Sunshine for a week and it was just what we needed to chill and actually be on vacation.

Ubud: Dewa Bungalows

We moved for 5 days into the centre to be around some more people and see Ubud a bit more.

Dewa Bungalows was where we chose to stay. We met a really nice Aussie couple at the pool where Vivi got to play Uno with the woman and we asked a lot about Australia. We also got to connect with other people (which we love), tell our stories, listen to their stories and I got to talk about the Camino as Nicola was thinking of doing it as well. They are also on a 1 year trip around the world just starting out.

We arrived on Thursday in the early afternoon and I had a couple of places I wanted to visit. An eco-store and the post office to pick up stamps. We also needed to visit the bank. We left Vivi back at the room for a bit while we set off in the run our errands. By the time we got to the bank, most of them were closing (2:30-3pm). And the following day, it was a bank holiday so they weren’t open. We walked from bank to bank. Some banks were already closed, some banks were just closing and some wouldn’t take our credit card to give us cash advances. You would think that an ATM was a good idea but we wanted to take out more than an ATM would give us and more importantly, they don’t work with our Visa card. NONE OF THEM DO. So we tried our MC. That didn’t work too. Last resort (because of the incredible bank fees) our bank card (that worked but would only give 300. We were stuck: we would need to leave one day later and wait for the bank to open on Monday. I guess it’s not so bad when you’re stuck in paradise.

The next day we walked to a nice walking area. We tried to get there early enough in the day but it was already blazing hot. We found the cheapest Bali swing ($5 vs $15) we had seen and Vivi went for a swing. Then I took off to walk to another eco store that I wanted to visit.

We met back at this really expensive cool restaurant where we got fancy juices.

The next day was a day at the hotel and Luc hiked to the Volcano! We didn’t want to get up at 2am – nope not interested. We just lounged, washed laundry in the sink, and I went to my first grocery store in what seems like 3 months. I spent an hour in there just looking around at all the cool stuff. It felt like a new world to me. So tired of doing my food and beverage shopping in 7/11s and Circle K’s. I found S & V Kettle Chips for $8 a bag!!! I almost got them. I also had a reflexology treatment.

Amed

We hired the guy who we rented a room off of to pick us up and take us to Amed. Amed is a slow little diving and snorkeling area on the northeast side of Bali. We booked for 3 nights and stayed for 8 we loved it that much!

It’s 2.5 hours from Ubud to Amed and the drive is worth paying $50 to get there. We had a room right beside the pool (there are two pools) with a view to the ocean. The ocean is quite far away to see (only 8 mins to walk to) but so beautiful. Again not many people staying at this hotel (it started to pick up before we left). But the cleanliness and the staff make the stay here so worth it.

Last month they had a 6.8 magnitude earthquake and it rocked and rolled a lot of stuff. The pool that we swam in got a leak from it. It was a little unnerving to live in a tsunami zone for 8 days and even more when we moved into a red zone for a couple of hours (where if the active volcano erupts we were goners) but I kept telling myself that we can’t live in fear or we’d never leave our house.

Luc signed up for 4 dives and 1 night dive and Vivi signed up for her first diving! I couldn’t believe at 8 years old they will take a kid into the ocean with dive gear. She was nervous and excited and probably one of the most proud moments of my life (right up there with taking her first steps). I actually cried. She did two dives with Julien who was excellent with her (and with me the nervous mom). She was so proud of herself. She did really well equalizing her ears and breathing all the time. She only went to 4 (5.5) metres deep but it was enough to get a taste of diving and she loved it. She cried the next time we were at the dive shop and she couldn’t go (It’s expensive!). I’d love for her to go diving in Fiji when we’re there (they also let 8 year olds go) but it’s even more expensive there.

3 mornings I got up at 5:30 to watch the beautiful oranges and be there when the sun came up. It was exquisite. One morning Luc joined me.

Once when Luc did two dives, Vivi and I hired a guy for $15 to take us snorkelling around where he would be. I wasn’t confident enough in the water with Vivi to do it alone and to be honest didn’t know what to do it I got into a current. I’ve had some experiences with rip tides in Australia and also getting rescued by the coast guard when I was in my teens. So some of my past definitely lives in my fears now. The snorkelling was awesome! We saw 2 turtles: one on the sea floor and one that was swimming with us. Vivi and I fell in love. It was just too bad that there was also a plastic bag swimming with us at the same time. We also saw many fish, coral, a snake, a sea cucumber, and dolphins from shore!

The sand in Amed is a black gold sand which is HOT and very interesting. If you go there, Lipah beach seems to have the best beach for sand (not rocks).

Two times we rented scooters and zoomed around the countryside having so much fun. I also got in some shopping and we took out kayaks. These kayaks are from the 70s though and I couldn’t steer it so gave up after falling in and I couldn’t get back on.

All in all most days were spent doing something in the morning and then chilling at the pool in the afternoon. Vivi’s swimming has increased exponentially and she is such a strong swimmer now. It’s incredible to see the transformation she’s taken in the last 10 months with her confidence in the water. She loves her snorkeling mask and spends most of the time under the water. She loves to swim between our legs and her most somersaults in the water is 6! She is a pro diver, front crawl and recently we told her how to do a front crawl into a somersault at the wall, push off and then do front crawl again and she’s mastered that. A swimming group and/or synchronized swimming is something that we’ll be looking into when we get home.

We said goodbye to Amed and the staff at the hotel and we were ready to move on. We absolutely loved Amed but really felt like we were ready to experience something else now. Most times I just feel like we move on before we’re ready but spending 8 days here exploring and breathing and being close to the ocean has reinvigorated me.

Sanur

We jetted into another 2.5 hour drive to Sanur. We had heard that the beaches in Sanur are nice and so we wanted to check it out. We also heard it was good for kids too.

We checked into our bungalow but it turned out that the room we had was the most we’ve paid since Thailand and probably the worst we’ve been in. It smelled old, rotten, moldy, like moth balls. There was mold on the walls that had been painted over and it was nowhere close to the massive pool. The resort (?) was huge with no one around. Everything seemed pretty run down. We asked to change rooms and they moved us to the pool. A step up but still pretty dindgy. Attention to detail = -4. Then after a dip in the warm pool, we went back to the room (37 degrees out) and the AC wasn’t working. A guy showed us 2 more rooms and still no AC working. They said that they would get an engineer out to fix it.

We took off for the beach. The beach is a seaside little area with lots of Bali shopping and it’s a jumping off to Nusa Penida. After walking around and exploring we ate and headed back to the hotel onto to find out that the engineer hadn’t been by and that we could move to a room that we had already checked out and there was no AC. But shockingly there was AC! Thank you universe as I really didn’t know what I was going to do. We stayed two more nights at this place and were happy to leave.

Interlude:

Sanur is a quiet little beachside resort town which I liked. I think I’m just a bit sick of the heat and walking around in it. You know how you get when you know you’re going on vacation and everything at work begins to bug you about 4 days before your last day at work? Well, we’re about 5 days away from cool weather and Australia and I think we’re just done with the tropics. I’m done with eating out and can’t wait for yummy salads that I can prepare, lentils, sandwiches filled with veggies, food I can buy in a grocery store. We’re thinking of going vegetarian or eating meat just one day a week to limit our impact on the environment and just start to get back to basics and flush our body with fresh vegetables and whole grains. It’s going to be cool enough that hopefully I can start running in the mornings and doing workouts outside. We are also looking forward to our first volunteering opportunity when we get to Fremantle. We are staying for free in a woman’s home for 1.5 hours of house and garden work a day. After we leave there, we go down south for a week and check out Margaret River and the wine area. I CAN’T WAIT!! Then back up to Perth to pick up our camper and hit the road up north to Darwin. We’re taking 3 weeks. I’m just so excited about what comes next and the cool weather and salads. When we get to Australia on the 8th it will be 4 months that we have been backpacking.

Kuta and the last 3 days

We grabbed a GoJek to take us to Kuta and checked into a backpacker hostel here. Happy to be around a lot of people and so close to a white sandy beach. We’re now on the west coast so the sunset is profound. There is also an incredible cool pool here with lots of floaties and people to play with. And a slide! As you can tell, I’m writing in the first person so I’m finaly caught up to our travels! This is monumental! But I think this place probably set me back the cost of getting my website free of hackers unfortunately. I realized at this moment that my blog had been hacked so I needed to pay someone over $350 to fix it. Sigh…

We have just been laying pretty low our last few days here. We watched an incredible sunset on Kuta beach and then moved to another hotel closer to the airport. I’m spending my last days enjoying Bali and looking forward to Australia. We went and saw Avengers: Endgame on our last day.

So long Bali, you are so beautiful inside and out. I hope to make it back to you one day a few years from today to enjoy your beauty once again.

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Leaving and the epic journey

Leaving and the epic journey

When I was 18 I returned from Amsterdam only to be greeted with all my luggage searched and a strip search (thankfully no cavity search). Ever since then, transitioning through airports has taken on a new heightened anxiety-riddled dance. Try as I may, I know my heart rate is elevated and I always seem to be breathing as if the room is depleted with oxygen. Of course, I try not to let anyone know how I’m feeling so I’m also trying to stuff it all down. Keep this in mind as you read this blog post…

We arrived at Victoria airport, and find out our plane is 35 mins delayed leaving. Alaska Airlines says, no worries for the connection. You’ll just have to go through customs but you’re golden. Then the call over the PA system for me. Up to the front we go and we find out that in actual fact we might not make it. We will be rerouted through Dallas and then on to Philly with an arrival time of 12:50am. AFTER MIDNIGHT.

At Victoria Airport

This essentially means that we will miss picking up the rental car to drive to New York and we will have to find a hotel. Since this is the air traffic controls issues in Seattle, the airline isn’t responsible so we’re on the hook to pay it all.

Welcome aboard, your journey starts now.

Luc and I start to talk about options about what we could do if the latter issue happens… but there isn’t really much we can do until we find out how it’s going to go down.

We arrive in Seattle. Touch down: we have 50 mins before our next plane backs out of the gate.

We’re ferried onto a bus. Then through a maze of walkways, into customs. There Luc goes one way (he’s not Canadian so he has to go somewhere else) and this causes me a ton of anxiety. Jaedyn, me and Vivi head to the check-in terminals. I’m literally shaking wondering what is about to happen.

We get our paperwork, and off to the first person we see. We have big X’s on our slips so we have to head down the yellow line… why? Cuz we’re a family. Phewf ok. Then to the customs person named Howard (how do I even know this?). I can barely breath and he asks “Final destination?” New York. Well Philly first. “Reason for travel?” I sputter “to visit” Vivi fills in “It’s a holiday” yes yes it’s a holiday that’s what I wanted to say. Stamp stamp stamp. Carry on.

I’m frantically looking for Luc; he is already down at the carousel collecting our bags. Together again – thank god. We grab all our bags (forgetting the booster seat – damn) and head off to the next stop which is another person who asks us more questions (I think). Then to another place to recheck the baggage. I have a ton of judgement about this process of collecting bags and the rechecking them again. Stupid stupid stupid.

“Wait”, I say to the guy there, “what if we don’t have enough time to get to our flight? What happens to our luggage”? He asks “What time does your flight leave?” 11:55. “What time is it now?” 11:25. Plenty of time he says. And off our luggage goes down the conveyor belt. This is now becoming and exercise in trust and “it will all work out”.

On the plane to Philly

We leave there and next stop is the second security check of the day. This time the shoes come off, it’s hot, pandemonium and this guy asks to see our boarding passes. We show him and he says “precheck boarding is upstairs”. What the heck does that mean? So I say, “what does that mean?” He says it again. Luc asks this time “Are we supposed to go upstairs? What does that mean?” he says “If you don’t know what that means, then it doesn’t matter” HUH? “So we stay here?” No answer. Ok, we’re going to stay here.

As we get closer and closer to the screening, the four of us are spread across 12 different trays/backpacks… I’m beginning to wonder what we’re about to forget. Then I’m ushered into the device that encircles you with your hands up. Jaedyn has the same fate. Luc and Vivi get off much easier. Is it the red hair? Why us? No time to think about that, we need to get our shoes on, pack up our 50 items and truck along to Gate D.

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you, when we rechecked out baggage that guy told us it was two trains to get to gate D. Jesus. Time is ticking. Onto the first train. Off. Onto the second train. Off. Luc starts running for gate D. I have no idea how far away it is. Me and the girls start jogging. Clearly we’re going in the opposite direction as everyone else #swimmingupstream… then I see a guy driving a people mover…. I start to speed up until I’ve caught up with him and ask him if we can jump on and he can take us to gate D. “Sure!” he says. We get on, catch our breath and I yell out “excuse us!!” as people get in the way of the people mover.

Vivi working on her travel journal

We make it to gate D (American Airlines), thank the nice man and run up to the woman waiting there. It’s 11:44. Luc is there dealing with the fact that he has to get a boarding pass (so many problems if you don’t have a Canadian passport). We hand over our boarding passes. The woman says, “You’re going to need to check your backpack. And her backpack. And his carry on.” Say WHAT?!?

My heart is racing, I’m HOT, adrenalin is coursing through my body, and now I have to figure out what I’m taking out of my backpack to get on the 5 hour plane with. Out comes the laptop, the Euros, the American cash, the pens for Vivi to colour with. Luc grabs the iPads, the journal and activity books for Vivi.

The woman starts yelling at us, “you have to go or they will lock the gate. If you don’t make it there on time, they will cancel the flight.” Ok, now you’ve pushed me too far. I lash out “I’ve been moving for the last 45 mins trying to get to this gate. Do not pressure me into getting to the door of the plane. You can clearly see I’m trying here.”

Onto the plane… I don’t even know what seat I’m sitting in. Vivi and Jaedyn I assume are ahead. When I get close to our seats I see the girls in tears. I’m also close to tears. “What’s going on?” Jaedyn explains that the woman was also yelling at her “go go go! If you don’t hurry they will cancel the entire flight!” Jaedyn was trying to tell her that she didn’t want to be separated from me and Luc and the woman wouldn’t have anything to do with it.

That pushes me over the limit and I start sobbing… I mutter “horrible horrible”. I’m overcome with emotion from all the adrenaline, stress, pushing, lack of control and seeing my girls upset. Not being able to manage the unknown. I’ve literally been running and pushed for the last 45 mins trying to figure out my way through multiple gates.

One of the flight attendants comes by and asks me if I’m ok. “no I’m not” I say. He asks what he can get me. “Water please”. Thank you for showing me some compassion. It means a lot. Luc and Vivi are sitting beside me and hold my hand and fanning me. Vivi says “we made it. Just breath, Mama” and then she takes a deep breath like I do for her when she is upset.

She is wise beyond her years.

We made it.

I wonder if our luggage will be so lucky.

The journey has definitely begun.

After conversing with Luc, he says he didn’t experience the same thing. For him he says it was more like “it is what it is.” I feel like I have heard that one before.

UPDATE:

LUGGAGE DID NOT MAKE IT.

After collecting our bags that were checked at the door (thank god those made it), we waited and watched the spinning conveyor belt spin until there was no one left and it stopped spinning…

We walked to the baggage area where we spent the next 1.5 hours trying to locate and get the bags shipped to New York. We were starving and still needed to get to the car rental and then to New York (2 hours away).

I started to cry. Again. Overwhelmed by the day and knowing what was in front of me still.

We walked outside at 10:30pm East Coast time. We waited for the shuttle to pick us up to go to the car rental for about 30 mins. FOREVER.

We get to the car rental and they have a car for us. And a car seat. Hallelujah. I ask “Anywhere to eat near here?” the guys says “At this time? Doubt it.” It’s 11pm. So we take off for McDonalds. I can barely believe I ate there this morning – I think I was delusional.
I wanted to stay in a motel in Philly so that my night stopped and I could regroup. But Luc and Jaedyn assured me that they were wide awake and they would be capable to drive and co-pilot so off we went.

Stopped in at a store to go pee before our 2 hour drive to New York and one of the stalls had a hypodermic needle on the floor, one stall was flooded and thankfully one stall remained mostly untouched.

2 hours later and much of my heightened anxiety in the back seat, (yes I was your classic back seat driver) we arrive. Find the Airbnb, go inside, brush teeth and off to la la land we go.

What did I learn about today:

  • I probably need to do some completion around what happened to me in the airport when I was 18 years old.
  • Managing the unknown is exhausting.
  • It’s ok to cry and release on an airplane filled with people.
  • It’s ok to say that I’m not ok. I will get help.
  • My kids are more resilient than me. Damnit!
  • I need to practice letting go more.
  • The bigger the breakdown, the bigger the breakthrough
  • That this probably won’t happen again while we’re travelling.
  • That we have $500/person if we have delayed baggage to buy stuff with. World Nomads is our insurance provider.
  • Water and food are important and I definitely didn’t have enough of that yesterday (it was next to impossible TBH).
  • There are quite a few ways to look at what happened yesterday and I get to choose how I look at it:
    • Anxiety
    • Fun
    • Adventure
    • Incredulousness
    • It is what it is

Next time I will practice choosing differently.

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