Monthly Recap: Month 8

We are feeling strangely nostalgic for many of the places we have already visited on this trip. It’s not that the places we are exploring now aren’t wonderful, but it is because we feel the year slipping away from us already. Here we are on month 8, much closer to the end of the trip than we are to the beginning. It’s hard for us to imagine coming back to our real lives! But enough about the future, let’s talk about the present (well… past really) and think about our highlights of month 8!

Here are our stats for this month.

Countries visited:  3 (Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos) *Countries slept in: 4 Add Singapore to the prior list.

*Countries looked at: 1 (We watched sunset over Thailand, viewing it across the Mekong River from Vientiane)

Beds Slept In: 12 (This is a little higher than it could be. There were a few places, Phnom Penh and Siem Reip, where we switched hotels in the middle of our stay, and it counts one night back in Phnom Penh before our flight to Laos. *Chairs Slept In:  1 (See above about Singapore airport)

UNESCO Heritage Sights Visited: 3 (Cultural Landscape of the Bali Province, Angkor, Town of Luang Prabang) Total on RTW: 37

We traveled by 3 planes this month.

We traveled 5 long distance buses/minibuses.

Top Moments:

~ We really enjoyed meeting up with an old college friend in Bali at the beginning of the month. It was great to reminisce about some college times as well as talk about future travel! There were many great moments, but one of the highlights was experiencing a birthday party for the temple in the small town we were staying in near Ubud. It was just great to be able to witness this and the evening culminated with Eric dancing onstage!

~ We had heard about the evening aerobics in Phnom Penh, but kept not making it work to go for the first few days we were there. We finally made it on our final night and it was such a wonderful time! It is hard to explain how both peaceful and exhilarating it was to see so many people getting together to exercise. There were people of all ages doing all sorts of activities. Our favorite of which was dancing, of course! We met some really nice people who welcomed us into their evening tradition. It was topped off by a lovely sunset as well. Hard to beat!

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Runners Up for Top Moments:

~ We didn’t know exactly what to expect from Battambang, a town in Cambodia. Most people just hit Siem Riep and Phnom Penh and move on. We had just a little bit more time so headed to Battambang on our way to the temples at Angkor. We stayed a few nights and had a wonderful time in this less bustling, less touristy city. One of our favorite memories from there was to see the Phare Circus. The performers were delightful, both funny and talented. It was a lot of fun!

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~ As most people say, a trip to southeast Asia wouldn’t be complete with a visit to the famous temples at Angkor. We spent 3 days there and saw a lot of amazing temples. We enjoyed several of them, but one of our favorite moments was actually at the tail end of the second day. We had a long hot day on our ebikes, seeing several different temples. We were on our way home while the sun started to set. We rode through one of the famous complexes called Angkor Thom where we glimpsed some of the most famous temples for the first time. We headed out the south gate with the many faces, and had to immediately pause for the glorious sunset over the river/moat. We took some pictures and then continued on the ebikes where we rode past at got our very first glimpse of the most iconic temple of them all, Angkor Wat, before zipping on home. It sounds a bit anticlimactic but it was really one of our favorite times of the visit.

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Items Missing, Broken, Discarded, or Added:

Discarded/Broken:

  1. Della’s sunglasses broke. They had broken twice before and she had managed to repair them with super glue… and then monkey tape. But they finally bit it and died.

Added:

  1. New sunglasses for Della
  2. New sunscreen
  3. New deodorant
  4. New laundry soap
  5. New shoelaces for Eric
  6. New lotion for Della
  7. New multivitamins

Packing Update:

We are currently quite happy with the contents of our bags. After our repacking at home, we are feeling pretty good about what we have. We both are carrying some more cold weather gear which we haven’t used at all since being in Asia, but we still think we might need it for Nepal and it is comforting to know we have it.

Books Read: (Have you read any of these??)

Della has read Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling (4), 1984 by George Orwell (4), UnWholly by Neal Shusterman (3), Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind (3), No Birds Sing by Jo Bannister (3)

Eric has read The Blind Assassin by Margarat Atwood (3.5), Titus Groan by Mervin Peake (2.5), Gormenghast by Mervin Peake (3), Titus Alone by Mervin Peake (1)

Eric and Della have BOTH read nothing this month.

The rating system is for Della’s mom who is refusing to look at Goodreads. It is 1 to 5, 5 being the highest.

Make sure to catch up on all our monthly recaps: Monthly Recap 1, Monthly Recap 2, Monthly Recap 3,Monthly Recap 4, Monthly Recap 5, Monthly Recap 6, Monthly Recap 7

 

 

 

Budget: Bali

This is one of our Budget series of posts to give you an idea of how much we spent traveling around the world. Here we will look at Bali. Check our posts to see what kind of activities we did and where we stayed!

In Bali we used the Indonesian Rupiah. We converted to US dollars using the current conversion rates at the time of our visit. It was approximately 12,500 Rupiah to $1.00.

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Total Spent (7.5 days): $757.32

Accommodation: $224.37

We stayed in two Airbnb apartments which Phill paid for and we paid him back for through food…

Activities: $98.21

This included entrance fees for a lot of temples. The largest expenses were for a dance performance, massages, and a tour guide for two days in Ubud.

Alcohol: $0

This is misleading – we did drink in Bali, but we never purchased alcohol on its own. It was always with meals or other food…

Food: $264.85

We ate out for lunch and dinner every day. We purchased one breakfast from Payogan Homestay and the others from the grocery store. There was also alcohol consumed with most dinners!

Miscellaneous: $32.76

This includes one postcard… and a large airport exit tax. blargh.

Transportation: $64.15

This includes several taxis as well as a day we took a car and driver around near Seminyak.

Visas: $73.67

We purchased our visas on arrival. We should have paid in Rupiah as it would have been cheaper than in dollars. Oops.

This divides out to $100.98/day which is just about $100/day budget! We were expecting that we might go a little over in Bali as it was a special occasion and we were traveling with others. We have to give a HUGE shout out and THANK YOU to Phill and Izaak for being understanding and supportive of our budget. Thanks!

How to Accidently Dance Onstage with Drag Queens in a Temple in Bali

Step 1: Stay at the wonderful Payogan Homestay with amazingly gracious host Ketut. You can find this place on Airbnb. It is slightly outside the town of Ubud and is within the complex of Ketut and his family’s home. Ketut makes sure that you are comfortable and well cared for! He also is an excellent tour guide for sights surrounding Ubud. Make sure to ask for his special pancakes for breakfast! Payogan Homestay is not to be missed!

Step 2: Accept Ketut’s invitation to visit his village temple’s “birthday” celebration. The Balinese calendar has a 210 day year, so every 210 days, the village celebrates the anniversary of the temple. It is an amazing celebration with big processions, tons of offerings, and great music. The celebration lasts for several nights, with a large “dance show” on Thursday evening.

Step 3: Dress in appropriate clothes for the temple. This consists of a covering your upper arms, wearing a sarong (for both men and women), wrapping a sash around your waist, and donning appropriate headgear (just men).

Step 4: Shyly hang around in the temple for an hour or so waiting for the promised dance performance. Look awkward enough that many of the villagers attempt to make you more comfortable by giving you good seats or letting your sit right next to the orchestra (Gamelan) while performing. Make sure and enjoy seeing your host Ketut perform, but also make sure to wait for the second Gamelan to come in with very elaborate and fancy instruments: they will add a keyboard, bass guitar, a didgeridoo, and a tambourine to the traditional ensemble.

Step 5: Enjoy the Titanic song My Heart Will Go On as people from a neighboring village process out and Payogan villagers get ready to pray.

This dog is waiting too

This dog is waiting too

Step 6: Watch and listen as an entire village gets together to pray and be blessed together.

Step 7: Settle back as the promised dance performance finally begins!

Step 8: Begin to get a little confused as the dance performance seems to be primarily geared toward humor with two little boys inhabiting costumes of a monster and a monkey playing together. Become even more confused as two clearly male, but dressed as female, dancers comes out and dance quite suggestively before doing an apparent comedy show for the audience. Everyone else will laugh a lot… You will laugh because they are laughing, but will understand nothing.

Step 9: Continue to enjoy small snippets of dance and song in addition to the comedy show. Relax as the dancers pick on another foreign couple – asking them a lot of questions.

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Step 10: Panic when the male of the aforementioned couple refuses to come to the stage and as they spot you in the crowd.

Step 11: Think “shucks, I only travel around the world once… YOLO” and approach the stage along with your friend who also thought he was being pointed out, simultaneously.

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Step 12: Watch your friend learn to dance Bali style which means waving jazz hands, wiggling fingers, and standing on one foot.

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Step 13: Stand up to learn and perform your part of the dance, which basically seems to be doing a deep squat (frog style??) and hopping around like a monkey… for a very long time. Try not to pass out as your thighs begin to ache.

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Step 14: Smile as the crowd goes wild! Return to your group of friends and have Ketut congratulate you on a job well done.

There you have it! 14 steps to have one of the most unique cultural experiences of your life =)

Eric Experiences His First Ever Massage in Bali

Eric got his first ever massage during our holiday in Bali! What were his ultimate impressions?

I had never gotten a massage before. The closest I had come to getting a massage was our trip to the Turkish hamam in Fethiye, but that was a bit rough. It’s not that I actively dislike them, but it didn’t seem like something that was worth paying for.

During the second half of the week while we were in Ubud, Phill and Izaak decided they wanted to visit Jaens Spa. I certainly wasn’t going to sign up for one of the long treatments, but under some general pressure from the others plus a bit of curiosity, I decided to sign up for a 1-hour traditional Balinese massage. Della loves getting massages, so she agreed to join me.

The experience started off with a nice welcome drink as we filled out some paperwork. We could request a certain level of pressure, and I went with “Light” since I was envisioning the hardcore treatment I had seen in Turkey.

We were then taken into a back room and given a quick foot scrub. My feet were pretty sweaty and gross after having walked an hour and a half to get to the spa, so I was feeling a little self-conscious about how bad they must smell! I think that’s one reason I don’t like massages: I assume it must be weird for the masseuse to have to deal with someone else’s body. But in my head I told myself to get over it. At this point we also chose our oils for the massage. I went with a frangipani-scented oil, which they said was good for relaxing, while Della went with a ginger-scented oil for energy.

We were then lead into a massage room with two different massage tables. On each table was a shrink-wrapped piece of underwear, that was basically just some black mesh with elastic – seriously the skimpiest thing we had seen! We squeezed into these and hopped up onto our respective tables.

Our attendants then came in, draped towels over us, and began the massage. I have to say that the time flew by! The hour was up before I knew it. It was definitely a full body massage – head, shoulders, back, legs, feet and hands. There wasn’t really any improvisation in the massage – I could hear Della’s masseuse and we had the exact same things done to us at the same times.

It wasn’t as awkward as I had thought it could be. The back portion of the massage did go a little lower than I was expecting, but nothing inappropriate.

In the end, we got to take a quick shower and then relax with some fruit while we waited for Phill and Izaak to finish their spa treatment. At the end, I felt very calm and relaxed, so I think the massage did its job! I’m not sure if I am going to make getting a massage part of my normal routine, but if I see a cheap one I may just consider it!

Eric refreshed and relaxed after his massage

Eric refreshed and relaxed after his massage

That One Time Our Friend Got His Sunglasses Stolen by a Monkey!

During our holiday in Bali, one thing we were quite excited to visit was Pura Luhur Ulu Watu. This is a very important temple in a gorgeous location, perched atop cliffs on the edge of the ocean. The temple itself was lovely, with a lot of intricate carvings. The view from the temple was even better as the clear blue waves crashed on the rocks below. Wonderful!

However, the real attraction is not the temple, but the monkeys that live along the coast near the temple. We had been forewarned- the monkeys are mean! They will steal anything.

As we walked along the path we saw monkeys guzzling juice, stealing flip flops off a tourist’s foot, drinking (and dumping out) stolen hand sanitizer, and viciously eating stolen sunglasses.

We kept our hands on our valuables and stayed away from most of the monkeys. And, we admit it, laughed a little bit at the people silly enough not to heed the warnings and get things stolen! Ha!

After an enjoyable time observing the monkeys, we breathed a sigh of relief, and headed back down the path towards the temple, and our car ride home. Oops. Far too soon.

As we were walking back, we started to relax. Izaak put his sunglasses back on his head. Mistake. From out of nowhere (literally, he somehow came from below us, over the edge of the cliff), a monkey appeared and grabbed Izaak’s sunglasses before Eric (who was slightly behind and witnessed the whole theft) could even issue a call of alarm!

We then had the distinct pleasure of watching the monkey examine and then promptly gnaw on the sunglasses, bending the frame irreparably. Now, we have to admit, this was kind of funny, especially as Izaak informed us that the sunglasses were not expensive and relatively easily replaceable. We watched and giggled for awhile, and then left, leaving the sunglasses for lost.

However, a few minutes later, one the guards (there seemed to be a plethora of guards along the path for exactly this reason), chased after us and handed Izaak his crumpled and tooth-marked glasses. We never did figure out how the guard got them from the monkey!

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Izaak posing with his returned but broken sunglasses

 

So, while we lost a perfectly good pair of sunglasses, we gained an even better story!

Sports Fan Abroad: Watching the Super Bowl in Bali

When we scheduled our visit to Bali for Phill’s birthday, Eric consulted a calendar and realized that the NFL Super Bowl would be airing not too long after we got there. Unfortunately, his favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys, did not make it to the big game, but he still wanted to figure out a way to watch it from abroad, especially after being able to figure out how to watch the opening weekend in Budapest.

Luckily, it turned out to be pretty easy. We were staying in the resort town of Seminyak, and the main street was filled with quite a few tourist restaurants so he figured at least one would be showing the game. With the time difference, the game started at 7:30 on Monday morning – s the phrase “Super Bowl Sunday” is inaccurate!

Eric woke up early and walked out to the main street. After a few blocks, he saw the Nirvana Burger Bar, which had multiple big screen tvs and plenty of people watching. He found a table and ordered a papaya juice – it just seemed too early for alcohol.

One downside of watching abroad was that he didn’t get to see the commercials! The Australian channel was simulcasting the American feed for the game action, but the commercials were all low-budget Australian ones. He also missed the halftime show; instead, they just rebroadcast the Good Morning America pre-game show, so he was left wondering what all of the social media references to sharks and lions was all about!

We had already booked a day trip to the Bukit Peninsula leaving at 10, so Eric ended up missing the second half and the exciting end to the game. But he still is happy to say he was able to experience watching the Super Bowl in a foreign country!