Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bali: Week 1

It is with a bittersweet heart that I write our first full post documenting our honeymoon in Bali. We've just arrived back in San Diego and I am already missing the perfume of burning incense and the chimes of the Tingklik. 
We arrived in Bali in the late afternoon, punch-drunk from our 24 hours of travel but encouraged by the views of the warm, tropical waters outside our airplane window. 

After we braved the customs line, we were swiftly transported through the frenzied streets of Denpasar, the capital, and delivered to our first hotel: Taman Suci. The grounds were a maze of ornate stone and woodwork- a real feast for the eyes. We were escorted into an elegant suite and greeted with a banana leaf comically spelling out: "Happy Honeymoonen, Mrs. Natalie Honda & Couples". That evening, we took a taxi to a busy street in Denpasar, ate delicious Indonesian dinners, and had our first experience with haggling and imploring salespeople. 

The next day, we were driven to Rama Candidasa, the place we would call home for the next two weeks. Above is a photo taken by the pool. Looks like a Corona ad, no? Candidasa, located on the eastern shore of Bali, is a much smaller and slower paced city than Denpasar. Though the streets were still hectic with motorbikes and overbearing pickups, the landscape was dotted with open rice terraces and lush hillsides and the Balinese people were more relaxed. 

Speaking of motorbikes, here's my stud on the zippy little Honda that we adopted while in Candidasa. 

Before continuing with the tale of our journey, let me first tell you about the canang sari, the offerings that pepper every sidewalk. Well, for that matter, they also grace every compound, every taxi dashboard, and every mantelpiece. Just about everywhere, these offerings are made to Balinese gods three or more times a day. Bali is the only predominantly Hindu island in Indonesia, and the Balinese people wear the religion on their sleeves like badges of merit. They are proud of their strong and surviving culture amidst the commotion caused by all of the Western tourism. 

Now, back to our trip. The first thing we did, as one could imagine in Bali, was set out for a beach proper for swimming and relaxing. After some diligent searching, we found our favorite which is aptly named White Sandy Beach. Located just past the village of Bug-Bug, this beach provided the ideal setting for some serious unwinding.

Another day, we ventured to Tirta Gangga, a water palace built in 1946 by the King of Karangasem. The grounds featured menacing statues, impressive stone monuments, healing waters, and an enormous Banyan tree (holy to the Balinese people) that Ty and I gaped at for a good five minutes. 

One of my favorite days of our honeymoon was our trip to the Bali Safari Park. Besides getting to see white tigers and a piranha feeding, we got to hold and pet a baby orangutan and a lion cub. We also went on a fantastic elephant ride (as featured in the last blog post). Only in Bali! 

On July 27th, I celebrated my 23rd birthday in beautiful Candidasa. Tyler arranged an action-packed day for me including a submarine ride, inner tube rides, snorkeling, diving, spa treatments, and a delectable dinner at Vincent's Restaurant (see above for photos)! The fish we observed while snorkeling and scuba diving were captivating and vibrantly colored. From the small, bright-orange Clownfish (Nemo) to the imposing, barbed Lionfish, we saw swimming creatures of all shapes and sizes. 

The day after my birthday, Tyler and I came down with a horrendous sickness that the locals call Bali Belly. Many travelers acquire this nasty bug from uncooked or contaminated food or from drinking unfiltered water. Drinking out of manhandled straws or eating fruit washed with tap water could have also been a cause. Suffice it to say, I don't wish this foul illness on anyone. I won't waste space providing the glamourous details, but we were bedridden for 5 days. After we finally recovered, we bade our friends at our resort farewell. Next, we taxied to the famous city of Ubud, which you can read about in our next post titled Bali: Week 2. 

In memory of our first week in Bali, I will leave you with some photos below chronicling a few additional faces of our Candidasa experience: 

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