I’ve wanted to travel to Indonesia for as long as I can remember, so the entire time I was in Bali I had to keep telling myself that it wasn’t just a dream. Everything about the trip was absolutely perfect, despite a few minor hiccups, such as Michael’s horrible case of food poisoning (courtesy of China Airlines), and my brush with fire coral, but I guess you could say those are the things that make for the best stories. 🙂 Besides the endless sun, immaculate villas, and delicious veg-friendly meals, one of my favorite things about the island – and this may sound weird to anyone who’s never been there – was its scent. From the moment we got off the plane, our noses were hit with a magical mix of incense, fragrant rice, and tropical greenery, as if to say “welcome to Bali”.

Even with the temples, beaches, and world-class surf, the one thing that stood out to me the most was the people. The people of Bali are the most incredibly nice and welcoming people I’ve ever met. On the first day of our trip, we were wandering through an alley in Seminyak, and the most adorable little Balinese lady beckoned us into her home. She did not speak any English and she lived a very meager life, but she still offered us fruit to eat, showed us her family’s temples, and gave us a taste of genuine Balinese hospitality. It never ceases to amaze me how people with very little tend to be the most generous. It really goes to show you that things don’t make you happy, but compassion and community do. All over Bali, especially on Nusa Lembongan where people literally lived in dilapidated metal shacks, we saw how people with far less often live far happier lives.

– TRIP ITINERARY –

First stop: Seminyak
Stayed at: The Nyah Bali Villas, where we had a spacious 1-bedroom villa with our own private pool!

We had a blast exploring the town by scooter, chilling at the beach, and treating ourselves to the most indulgent spa treatments at the villa. We also witnessed one of the best sunsets in Bali at Tanah Lot, a famous temple surrounded by crashing waves.

Second stop: Kuta
Stayed at: Kuta Paradise Hotel

First stop in Kuta was world-class surf spot Airport Reef, which breaks far off the shore so surfers have to charter a traditional boat to take them to it. The boat operators told Michael the surf was 4 feet at most, but when he got out there it turned out to be double overhead and a little hairy, but he survived. Good thing too because I needed him to haggle with all the stall owners at Kuta’s street markets. 🙂 Kuta is a little touristy, but I’m glad we checked Bali’s most infamous party town.

Third stop: Uluwatu
Stayed at: Anantara Bali Uluwatu Resort & Spa, one of the nicest resorts I have ever stayed at!

The resort upgraded us to an ocean-front suite that was bigger than our Solana Beach apartment, with a balcony that had an outdoor bath and perfect ocean views for Michael to scope out the surf. The resort had an exclusive elevator(!) down to Ulu’s famous “Impossible Beach”, and Michael was absolutely frothing over the incredible surf. I spent my days here getting served oversized cocktails at the infinity pool, watching Michael score perfect wave after perfect wave. Ahhh, paradise. We also went to the Uluwatu Temple for an epic sunset and to see the famous Kecak and Fire Dance. Our last night at the resort, we had the most romantic, picture perfect 4-course dinner overlooking the ocean sunset with two personal butlers!

Fourth stop: Nusa Lembongan
Stayed at: Poh Manis Lembongan Hotel

We took a little boat from Sanur to Nusa Lembongan, a tiny island off at Bali and probably my favorite stop of the whole trip. The island is far less touristy than mainland Bali, and we spent our time there cruising around the island on a moped and lounging at our hilltop resort. The nicest kid who worked at our resort hooked us up with a private snorkeling tour with his cousin (best snorkeling I’ve ever experienced!), and he even took Michael to some secret surf spots. I loved how calm and quiet the island was, and really enjoyed listening to the sounds of nature from our bungalow. I could have been happy there for the rest of my life.

Fifth and final stop:Ubud
Stayed at: A magical bamboo treehouse booked through Airbnb. Yeah, I’m not kidding. It was a fully open-air treehouse surrounded by rice paddies. We weren’t exactly roughing it though as it came with wifi and a courtesy cell phone.

Michael’s favorite part of Ubud was Monkey Forest where he let the cheeky little bastards climb all over him (those things are evil so I didn’t go anywhere near that). I loved the elephant sanctuary; getting to be so close to these magnificent creatures was something I’ll never forget. But remember, if you love elephants, don’t ever ride them (here’s why).

Bali will always have a special place in my heart and I can’t wait to go back!

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