I have to admit that after our magical trip to Bali last fall, being a 3-hour flight away from the Indonesian island was definitely one of the most tempting aspects about moving to Malaysia, and I was thrilled to spend another week here over the 4th of July, this time bringing one of the best friends from Colorado, Anastasia. Malaysia and Bali marked the first stop of Anastasia’s multiple-month, pre-grad school trip that also included New Zealand, NYC, and New Orleans, and it was great to have her as our first visitor from back home!

We started the adventure at Keramas Beach, a quiet black sand beach known for its world-class surf break. Keramas is situated on the Southeast coast of Bali near Ubud, and because of this location the surf is typically best during Bali’s low season and flat during July. For that reason we were a little skeptical of staying here, but somehow the surf gods listened to our prayers and Michael scored great waves for the first two days of the trip while Anastasia and I ventured into Ubud for some shopping, yummy food, and of course, the Ubud Monkey Forest. We stayed at the oceanfront Bali Diamond Villas, a very quiet and mellow villa resort perfect for surfers, and it felt great to be somewhat removed from the touristy side of Bali. After being landlocked in KL and missing the ocean more than anything, it was amazing to finally be able to fall asleep and wake up to the sounds of crashing waves again- definitely reminded me of home!

After a few days of chilling in Keramas, we made our way down to my favorite place in Bali: Uluwatu, where we stayed in a gorgeous pool villa within Karma Kandara resort. The coolest thing about this resort is its private “inclinator” down to the beach, offering breathtaking views of Uluwatu. The pristine beach here had some of the the bluest, most crystal clear water I have ever seen.

The next morning, Michael was dying to get back in the water so he and I booked a 6am cab to take us to Uluwatu Surf Break located just below the infamous Single Fin Beach Club. Unfortunately the cab driver misunderstood us and dropped us off at Padang Padang instead, a beginner surf break that was probably more appropriate for my level of surf skills than Michael’s (haha). We started aimlessly walking up the coast until we were able to flag down a Spanish surfer on a moped who said the walk was quite far, but offered to give us a ride. We hopped on the moped, me in the middle, Michael just barely squeezing onto the back, and proceeded to go on the sketchiest ride of our lives, flying around turns, racing up and down hills, Michael trying his hardest to hold onto his board with me wedged between him and the surfer. We somehow made it in one piece and the adventure began. After gulping down some coffee from a local stall, we climbed down to the beach which is only accessible through steep stone steps and caves. It was high tide when we arrived so the caves were filled with water, and Michael’s paddle out to the 10-foot waves was a little hairy. I climbed back up the steps to watch, but quickly lost sight of Michael. For the next hour or so I watched surfer after surfer get absolutely annihilated by the aggressive waves. One guy’s leash broke and his board got washed at least a mile down the coast while he paddled for his life in the open ocean. Another surfer’s board snapped in half and he came close to having the waves pummel him into the cliffs while onlookers screamed from above. It turns out that Michael got swept away by the current and ended up almost a mile down shore, where he had to hike barefoot through the jungle with his board. It was a chaotic morning to say the least. Lesson learned: Uluwatu is not for kooks.

Also in Uluwatu, we were lucky to get the chance to stay at The Edge, an incredible high-end resort offering a small handful of over-the-top villas that could easily be on an episode of MTV Cribs. The resort is located at the highest point in Uluwatu with the most commanding views of the blue sea. Our villa was beyond amazing with a huge pool, Koi ponds, majestic décor, unparalleled views, outdoor showers, a huge balcony with daybeds, and plenty of places to chill, plus our own dedicated butler Restu who was the man! That evening Anastasia and I went back to Single Fin for Bintangs while Michael got in a sunset surf sesh.

Next up, we travelled to Canggu which is a funky little surf town surrounded by rice paddies- it’s kinda like the Encinitas of Southeast Asia. We stayed in Villa Asana, which was just a 10 minute walk from the famed Echo Beach. Our second day in Canggu, Anastasia and I embarked on a sunrise volcano trek, which was so epic that it warrants a separate blog post.

Unfortunately Michael had to go back to KL, but Anastasia and I spent the last fews day in Seminyak, the most happening part of Bali, where we stayed at the brand new Katamama Hotel which is right next to Potato Head Beach Club. This hotel was insanely awesome. Every suite comes with a full cocktail bar with locally sourced, Bali-inspired spirits (like lemongrass gin!), so of course we had fun whipping up some martinis before taking on Seminyak’s legendary shopping. The last day of the trip, we posted up on a beachfront daybed at Potato Head, not wanting to leave!

It’s safe to say that Bali has stolen my heart once again. I can’t wait to go back soon!