Going our separate ways from Melody and Michael was bittersweet. We were excited to hear about all the rest of their travels, but it was also really fun to have another couple around that has a similar dynamic to us! I know Scott and I are definitely looking forward to traveling with them in the future.
Originally, we had planned to go back near Canggu/Kuta but we liked Ubud so much we decided to stay there for another two nights. The place Scott found was fifteen minutes outside of town on a family property called Umah de Ubud. When we arrived, they warmly welcomed us into their home with fresh fruit juice and small chit chat. They surprised us and upgraded us to a pool-side villa. Where we had our own kitchen, king size bed, living room, outdoor bathtub, and a pool steps from our door. It was absolute heaven. Breakfast was included and consisted of Indonesian favorites like nasi goreng (fried rice) or fried bananas with cheese and sugar (trust me this is really good).
We decided to enjoy our pool both days but go into town in the evenings for dinner and live music. The first night we ate a Japanese restaurant called Kyoka, the second an Italian fusion place called Bonito. Both were really good and cheap compared to how the meals would be priced in the states. If you wanted to eat fancy food for not a lot of money Ubud was the place to be. Our nights ended in an outdoor restaurant that felt like Hawaii with acoustic music and treats. It was the ultimate relaxation.
Each night our biggest challenge was getting into and out of Ubud to our accommodation. Grab was banned in the area, but drivers were still available because the app didn’t shut them off. We were able to take several Grab’s back and forth but many times they had to drop us on a side street because they were scared to get in trouble with the local taxi drivers. We also used this to find a driver to take us to our next destination of Ahmed Beach about 2 hours away. Drivers in Bali are always hustling, so when we found a Grab driver we liked we asked them for their rates and WhatsApp information to use later! We ended up finding a super nice guy named Made who drove us to Ahmed. But before that we had a night where we couldn’t get a Grab driver and had to settle for a guy yelling taxi at us on the street. He definitely wasn’t an official taxi, we loaded up into the back seats of his truck and trusted him to get to our destination… In hindsight we are pretty sure he couldn’t see very well, but he was nice enough to drive us home so no harm done.
After our time in Ubud, our friend Made took us to our accommodation in Ahmed Beach area. Scott had booked this place last minute and said that it was the one place we could “cash out” meaning $40 a night, which is A LOT in some Asian countries. We arrived at Kubu Kangin Resort and were absolutely in awe. Greeted at the door we walked into paradise. A winding pathway through a perfectly manicured garden with four individual huts, a swimming pool, and a common area. It was pretty picture perfect. They offered us a welcome drink (Asian countries are really about the welcome drinks, and we aren’t complaining) and talked with us about the facilities. We could rent a scooter for the day from them at a reasonable price or just hang out all day at the pool.
Because we got in rather late, the sun had already set but we hadn’t eaten so we ventured to the beach to find some food. There we ate satay, spring rolls, and Balinese chicken with our toes in the sand listening to the waves crash. On the way back we stopped by a place called the Meeting Point for a warm brownie and ice cream (and that wouldn’t be the last time).
Our next day we decided to rent a scooter and head to one of the snorkeling beaches about 5km away. Lipah beach was a total treat, the second we got there we were offered beach chairs and fins and told the proper place to enter for snorkeling (a perfect sandy path in the water out to the reef). Before we left for Asia we decided to invest in a good pair of snorkel masks and they totally paid off! It was so much more enjoyable having good quality gear that you didn’t have to fiddle with while also trying to stay afloat. We saw hundreds of fish big and small, bright and blending in, long thin ones, my favorite a large neon rainbow one. It was probably some of the best snorkeling in the world and I felt so thankful. We even saw a sea turtle camouflaged in the sand. Moments like that when you’re floating in the middle of the ocean totally in awe are the ones we’ll hold onto forever. It was incredible and I would go back to Bali just for that.
That evening we were told that the best place to watch the sunset and have dinner was from a place called Blue Earth Village. We had our scooter rental for a day, so we took off there right around golden hour to catch the sun going behind the volcano and lighting up the mountains behind. It was beautiful and unique; we were perched up high so we could also look down into the ocean and at the village we had come from. The Village was kind of like it’s own community housing yoga, free diving, homestays, a restaurant, live music, they really had it all and were preaching sustainability and local economic growth, what’s better than all that!
We decided the following day to take advantage of our last full day in our resort and stayed by the pool most of the day, lazily order lunch by the pool, and just chat about the rest of our trip. It was relaxing and we got caught up on some random busy work too. Scott took some drone footage of the resort and shared it with them so they could hopefully use it to promote their new spot. Our dinner was at a small sport called Warung Ahmed with a little local woman preparing everything fresh to order. On the way back we found a man selling grilled corn off the back of a cart smothered in hot chili butter, one of our favorite treats in Bali.
A man who had been our server the first night in Ahmed offered to take us to the airport the following day, so we took him up on it! For three hours $30 is basically a steal for a ride, but the road was windy and by the time we got to the airport we were done traveling for the day (but we really had so much more to go).
As we reflected on Bali, Scott was definitely more of a fan then I was. I liked the areas we were at towards the end, but I think it would be hard to justify flying so far for a tropical destination when you could just go to Hawaii. The upside of Bali is it is astronomically cheaper than Hawaii for a similar vibe. You can snorkel, surf, eat great food, enjoy some night life at the fraction of the cost. A lot of Bali was also very sad, the country is incredibly poor in some places, trash everywhere, health care scarce, stray starving dogs, but SUCH happy hardworking people. It’s a coin flip, will we be back, probably…