In February 2012 I made a crazy, but what turned out to be, awesome decions: quit my job and move to Korea. After two years I wrapped up my life there and moved on to travel the world. That was another two year stint before guess what, returning to Korea! So here I am, back in Kimchiland with lots to say...
On my second full day in Bali I wanted to get out of Ubud and see some more of the country. Usually i'm not one for organized tours but there were some pretty sweet deals that took you around so I signed up for the "Kintamani - Besakih Tour"...thankfully it wasn't your typical tour guide bs trip. The group was just me and two other girls from the Netherlands and of course our guide. Local guy from Ubud named Juk who seemed pretty BA. I started the day off early with another 7am yoga class and was at the visitors center by 9 (after stopping for some fruit at the market and getting ridiculously ripped off). We set off with a full day of fun ahead - first stop the Elephant Cave Temple.
After a quick tour of the Elephant cave temple it was back in the van and on our way to the next destination. While we were driving Juk's phone rang and he kept apologizing that he was on the phone...not a big deal at all. So he hangs up and starts laughing, of course we're confused since his entire phone call was in another language... he explains to us that someone called him and told him that his son was in jail (in Denpasar) because he was caught with drugs (super illegal in Korea). Funny thing is that his son should have been in school in Ubud (over an hour from Denpasar) so obviously something was fishy. The guy proceeds to tell him that if he wires him 30million Rupiah he will let his son go. Clearly scams aren't only for foreigners. Whoever this guy was didn't want to give up either, he repeatedly called and so finally Juk decided I should try talking to him....the next time the phone rings he hands it to me and says "just talk to him in English, say i'm busy driving". uhh okay? So I talk to the guy, who is now utterly confused seeing as i'm speaking English at him. So while i'm on the phone with this weirdo Juk uses his other cell phone (why he has two i'm not sure) to call his son and confirm that, yes he is in school in Ubud - not in fact in jail in Denpasar. Nothing like a little prank phone call / kidnapping action to start the day. Anyway, after that fun we arrived at our second destination, the Holy Spring Water Temple.
We sat and watched for a while as various groups made their way through the pools. I felt a bit awkward at first taking pictures but a few different people (old and young) approached us asking where we were from. They were very welcoming and eager to share information with us about the temple, and themselves. I talked with one boy who just returned from working on a cruise in the US for 6 months....he explained that people come to the temple when they have a problem in their life (sickness, money issues, family problems) or after having a bad dream. Going through the various pools will bring you good health/solution to the problems.
Back in the van we were on our way to the next destination - a traditional coffee and fruit plantation. I was really hoping we'd get some samples seeing as I missed out on my morning cup of coffee. We got a quick tour of the grounds, learned about the process, had our hand at roasting and grinding coffee beans and then we presented with an array of samples - woo hoo! Interesting fact of the day, there's this coffee in Bali called Luwak coffee and it's super expensive - why you may ask?? Well, it's rare and goes through a long process...the luwak (pictured below) eats the coffee beans and then poops them out, then they make the coffee with those. Yum, right? I'm guessing it is but I can't testify because one cup to sample was like $10 which I didn't really feel like forking over. Maybe next time.
So much to see and do and our day wasn't even half over! Next we made a quick stop at a look out point to grab some pictures of Mount / Lake Batur. The mountain is actually an active volcano that last erupted in the 90's, you can see the black area on the front of the Mt. I was considering doing the sunrise hike but with it being rainy season I didn't want to waste a day wet and miserable. As you can see the weather wasn't optimal for our viewing.
Back on the road, and pouring down rain, we were on our way to the biggest temple in Bali, Bukit Jambul. Our tour guide was telling us how there was some ceremony or something going on at the temple that day so it'd be really crowded but to just go ahead anyway (he didn't join for all the temples). He explained that we would have to show our ticket at the entrance where they would try to tell us we'd need to pay for a guide to see the temple - he said to just ignore them and keep going and that when we got up to the temple there would be more guides offering their service for a donation (of our choice). Umm sure, whatever. Unfortunately it was pouring when we got there and there were (like he warned) people everywhere. We found ourselves a guide (patron of the temple that seemed pretty legit/cool) and made our way in.
The roof is made from parts of a palm tree, who knew?
After a bit of a hectic temple visit we were back on our way and hungry. Thankfully the next stop was lunch, which turned out to be another adventure for the day. We planned to have lunch overlooking the rice terraces, which we did...but unfortunately the restaurant that was chosen was also part of resort and of course, expensive. Seemingly the only option was the buffet which was 90,000 Rupaih (okay still only like $10 but expensive for the country)...we decided we'd get our money worth - making this lunch and dinner for the day. Thankfully the food was pretty good, we were able to escape the rain for a bit, and the view wasn't too bad...
This is the point when we became lazy tourist as we decided to skip the last stop on our tour. But, to be fair it was still pouring rain and we were all now stuffed, nap time sounded more enjoyable than wandering the Klungkng old court justice. So we did a "drive by" and continued on our way back to Ubud. Although tours aren't usually my thing i'm glad I signed up for this one, it was a fun filled day and an easy way to see many sites throughout Bali. After getting dropped back off I decided to attend one more yoga class before calling it a day and relaxing back at my room and repeating in the morning with more yoga. Since there wasn't much else I was dying to see in and around town I actually went back for two more classes that afternoon before making my way to the airport for my flight back to Seoul.
I could write a whole other post on my adventure back to Seoul but i'll save you the drama. To keep it short - my flight was supposed to leave at 3:40am (terrible to begin with) but I think we finally took off closer to 5:30am (horrible). Arrived at Shanghai for a layover filled with idiots, seriously the staff at Shanghai (both on the way there and home) gave me a terrible impression of China. I finally got back to Seoul around 8pm at which point I still had to catch a 3 hour bus ride home to Gumi (oh and one more taxi). After fitful bouts of sleep on flights, airport chairs, and buses let's just say my bed was like a cloud in heaven Sunday night.
Oh welcome back! To the snow....
Traveling through Malaysia for one month, by myself is definitely not something I ever imagined I would be doing, especially not at the age of 24. I'm amazed at the direction my life has taken but couldn't be happier about it, I have to continually remind myself to step back and take it all in. In the last year I've moved to another country, by myself, toured said country, and traveled to and explored 5 other countries during that time, by myself. I constantly have people telling me how amazed they are that not only am I doing these things, but that i'm going at it alone (when necessary). I guess I've always known i'm pretty independent and go after the things I want but when I step back and look at my life or compare it to others I know, this fact becomes even more evident. I obviously have a strong support system of friends and family that have helped guide me to this place and so it is to them that I am thankful. Although my future is still in the works, hanging out on the drawing board, i'm perfectly content with the place i'm at now.