The vision of a morning in Southeast Asia consisted of handcrafted coffee, beautiful bowls full of fresh fruit topped with chia seeds and granola, a swaying palm tree, and a cool ocean breeze sent to tickle our faces and give us a break from the strong rays of sunshine. Sounds nice, right? Well, I am excited to finally say that we eventually entered the land of those lovely things!
Bali: a wonderful 2-month adventure of exploring every in and out of the beautiful island and that image of Southeast Asia is what we had been looking forward to most. The vision of color in the form of our foods and culture had not exactly been the case in the previous countries leading up to Bali. Instead, most mornings prior to Bali consisted of the pale color of rice, the warm steam of broth, the soft scoop of instant coffee and the sweltering gust of air that makes us all feel as if we need to rush to a cold shower. All those things are wonderful and great because they were what they were but we were all excited to begin our mornings with the anticipation of fresh fruits and veggies awaiting our consumption for breakfast, lunch and dinner from the amazing cafes that dotted the streets of Bali. And…a kitchen that welcomed us with open arms and allowed us to enjoy the satisfaction of chopping, stirring, sizzling, and sharing all while slightly swaying to music in the background and sipping on our glass of wine or ice cold beer. Those were the moments where we could actually be in the moment because the moment is just that good.
In Bali, we explored the markets, the local tastes and flavors, the ingredients available to us and we created our own versions of favorite dishes…sometimes with a Balinese flare! We made the grocery store (Bintang!) our second home and got to know the aisles like the back of our hand. We found “pasars” (local street markets) and filled our fridge with what was available to us. We appreciated the cafes and restaurants that were in abundance and we went to those places with intention because we wanted to…not because we had to. The act of going out to eat suddenly became less enjoyable because we were forced to just because we were hungry…not because we actually wanted to enjoy an evening out at a restaurant. The idea of staying home and cranking up the tunes while the smell of whatever was cookin’ filled the air just as we filled up our glasses with crisp white wine and Bali Hai beer was beckoning our names! But, we regained our strength for the desire to go out to eat in Bali because the cafes were just too good to pass up! Can I get a hoorah for Betelnut Café?! Or The Shady Shack?! How about Café Organic?? If I had the ability to transport all those places (plus many more) to California, you bet you’re a$$ I would!
I know it seems like all we did in Bali was cook and eat and eat and cook but that was a huge part of our time there. And…lets be fair…the name of this blog is “The Table Trail” so it’s natural for us to highlight our moments in the kitchen and gathering around the table during our travels! But I guess I will touch upon some of the other amazing things we saw, did, explored, experiences, etc..etc..etc.
As we near the end of our travels, people are constantly asking us what some of our favorite experiences have been thus far and without fail, Sean mentions how one of his life long dreams has come true! Drumroll please……..buying a surfboard in Bali and getting to shred the gnar daily at some of the best surf spots in the world! And the cherry on top? Getting to do it with his best friend. Honestly, I don’t think Sean and Taylor would have minded if Kaila and I weren’t there! But then they would realize that without us, they wouldn’t have had their weekly dose of banana pancakes and a pot of hot coffee waiting for them after catching some waves. They surfed daily at their “local” spots in Canggu and Berawa and then we made a few day trips on our trusty scooters to Uluwatu where their Bali surf dreams came true. The smiles that were on their salty faces after they emerged from hour-long surf sessions really said it all! Topped off with ice cold beers and it was happy days. While the boys surfed, my best lady and I got some lovely quality time. We wouldn’t even know that the boys had been gone for hours because when we get to talking, all of a sudden it’s as if we have been sucked into some type of time warp and hours pass without us even knowing!
Most days we spent lounging by our pool…oh yeah, did I mention we had a villa? A VILLA. I never thought those posh words would come out of my mouth. Especially since the name of the villa was “Villa Champagne”…who are we??? How we scored this amazing place is a long story but to keep it short (and interesting) all I have to really say is that our first villa gave us all rashes because the water was infected blah blah blah so after 2 weeks of scratching our skin off, our AirBnb host moved us to his other AMAZING property for the same price as our original booking. Every morning we woke up to the views of rice patties and our sparkling pool while the smell of Balinese coffee filled the air. Life was oh so good there. But when we felt the need to drag ourselves out of luxury, we took to our scoot scoots and adventured the day away! Sometimes, our adventures would take us to beautiful places in Ubud (anyone recognize that city from Eat, Pray, Love?) where we would marvel at the incredible rice patties and green landscape, then make our way to a delicious vegan café where we never missed the meat. The food was THAT GOOD! We actually came across this café called “Sage” that made THE BEST vegan carrot cake ever to appear on this earth and I have a personal mission to recreate that little slice of heaven.
Other days, our adventures would take us a whopping 10 minutes away to this amazing place called “The Lawn” and it was exactly that. A lawn. But it was free (yay budget traveling!) and there was always something fun going on there! Even if that “fun” just consisted of people watching and let me tell you…you think the airport is good? Just spend a day there and it might give the airport a run for its money! The Lawn also had a slack-line and we all made it a personal goal to be pro slack-liners by the time we left Bali and I guess it depends on your definition of “pro” but I’d say we all reached pro status. Kind of. When we weren’t slack lining or people watching (it’s really hard to do both at the same time!) we were usually enjoying the beautiful sunset while sipping on a coconut. We met some really lovely people at The Lawn so it was like hanging out with old friends every time we went. Sadly, we just heard news that they are changing The Lawn a little bit so we have no idea what it will be like when we return to Bali but I am very glad we got to experience it the way it was! Simplicity at its finest.
Our 7 weeks in Bali can be summarized by loads and loads of Banana Gram games, adventures that left us lost a few times but always took our breath away, daily near-death experiences on our scooters, trips to the grocery store, chopping and stirring the night away, dinners that warmed our soul, movie night EVERY NIGHT, skinny dipping (sorry mama and papa), early morning surf sessions, late night swims in the pool, chatting with locals, and wayyyyy too many memories to even count. Leaving Bali was hard…really hard. We felt as if we were leaving home and a part of us stayed there for sure. We all can’t wait to return this incredible haven but until then, we will hold those memories close!