Moments to Remember

So, I’m not even sure where to begin on wrapping up my whole Asian experience. Of course, I had the time of my life. I did and saw things that people dream about. Honestly, before arriving in Asia, I couldn’t even show you on a map where Thailand or Bali was located. Really, the whole experience just blows my mind and often bring tears to my eyes. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would climb the Great Wall or ride an elephant through the jungles of Thailand or take a road trip in Bali or see the shocked faces of school children during a bus ride through the Philippines. These are the moments I will carry with me and talk about for the rest of my life.

Not only did I learn countless things about the world and other cultures, but I learned even more about myself. I realized that I am pretty hardy and adaptable. And that I can hold my own when I’m outside my comfort zone. Also, this experience taught me to dream big. I learned to be able to depend on someone. And that I am a good writer. I learned how to negotiate and not take shit from anyone. I learned to appreciate home. And really, I could go on and on.

And lastly, I can’t even put into words how grateful I am for Fabien inviting me to come with him. We will always share this amazing experience. I often go through our pictures and am thrilled that we have all of these great memories and stories we can share with our children and grandchildren. I don’t want to make you all nauseated and completely embarrass Fabien so I’ll just sum it up by saying that he is really the greatest man that ever lived in the entire universe and I love him so very, very, very much!

Well kids, this is the end of Stacie in Asia. The response, feedback and praise was simply overwhelming. I was stunned overtime I checked my stats and saw that I had over 100 hits a day. You all made me feel very loved and missed. So….as they say in Mandarin, Thai, Balinese and Filipino…..Xie xie, Kop khun kha, Matu suksama, Salamat or simply, THANK YOU!

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Bali in a Coconut Shell

Indonesia does not share the same views on efficient immigration as Thailand and Singapore. Getting through customs took two hours.  This includes the part where you have to pay 25 USD simply to enter the country. Whatever, I’m in Bali I thought. Then I looked around and scoped the people. I’m going to put on my pretentious hat….I thought I would see all of these beautiful, earthy,  yogi’s. What I saw was America and Australians finest. Mullets, missing teeth, a cut off Skynard t-shirts  and even one looker with sweat pants hiked up so high they were now daisy dukes. WTF are these people doing here?
Eventually I got through customs and arrived at my “hotel” for the night, the Gong in the south, Ulu Watu. It’s run by a typical Balinese family. When I walked in, the father was dressed in white and throwing holy water on the grounds. Unfortunately and fortunately, they gave away my room. Instead of a basic twin bed I had been upgraded to an apartment with a living room, dining room, huge king size bed and ocean view terrace. Score! In the morning I enjoyed coffee and ocean breeze before I headed to the beach to sunbathe on the sandy cliffs, watch surfers and waste the day away. In the afternoon I went to the seaside temple and fought off the monkeys who were trying to defend their territory and Asian tourists who wanted their photo taken with a white American girl.
After sunset, Balinese dad drove me to Sanur where I planned to meet up with the girls. We chatted and I was surprised to hear that he has never left the island. This is typical for a lot of Balinese considering the hefty air ticket expense. In Sanur we were hooked up with another huge room and terrace and I splurged on a pedicure and foot massage while I waited for the girls.
The next morning we took the boat to Nusa Lembogan and did nothing the whole day. This is a little island an hour boat ride west of Bali known for seaweed farms and mangrove trees. Believe it or not, there was another girl from Michigan on the boat. It was my favorite leg of the trip. Laying on the beach, listening to the bar play Jack Johnson, reading, swimming in the infinity pool and enjoying our gorgeous beach bungalow that we only paid $30 for. Our 2nd day in Lembogan was spent snorkeling in the morning and biking the island in the afternoon. We weren’t prepared for the hills which was comical to the passers by who intelligently rode motorbikes. It was a fantastic way to see rural Bali and a few of the secluded beaches. Sadly, our plan was to leave the next morning.
We thought it was a joke when this little fisher boat pulled up to our hotel. Nope. This was going to take us back to Bali. We braced ourselves with sunscreen and Marjorie took a motion sickness pill. Fortunately, we survived and washed ashore our first black sand beach. From there we hit Ubud and hiked through rice terraces, which are truly works of art. After a couple strenuous days we felt it was time for massages, milk baths and body scrubs. So we paid $15 and spent the evening at the spa. The next morning was spent visiting Ketut Liyer, the famous palm reader from Eat, Pray, Love. I could write a whole separate blog about that experience, but I’ll summarize. Basically he told me I was good, pretty, smart, lucky and a good driver. What a waste of $15.
Then the real adventure began. We rented a car and drove to the north city of Lovina. The cars are right hand drives and they use the other side of the road but fortunately, Marjorie is well versed having lived in South Africa. The drive was picturesque and included more rice terraces, a ride up a volcano, a crater lake and many surprised Balinese. I guess they don’t see three white girls in a green car that often. Lovina was a tad disappointing considering the dirty beach so we only stayed there a day before heading to Balian Beach for our last evening. There we splurged and stayed in a huge guest house with ocean and rice field views. The last day was spent like a lot of the others – laying at the pool, reading and napping.
Bali is a magical place. I went to there expecting to find the “balance of worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence” just like Elizabeth Gilbert did. I didn’t and the reason is because I already have it and visiting Bali just just made that clear. But I did find a great vacation and a fun adventure with two great new friends.
This Sunday I am off to Beijing to conquer the Great Wall with one of my favorite partners in crime, Holly.

Bali on the Brain

Words can not describe my excitement about going to Bali. I’d be lying if most of my excitement didn’t have to do with the fact that my all time favorite book, Eat Pray Love, partially takes place there. If you know me well, you know that this book is my Bible. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then you must watch the movie trailer (in theaters August 10th) for the story. I may have watched it 100 times since booking my flight. Check it out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZzmqHJ0gPU

I know, it’s a total chick flick and I totally love it. I read the book at the most perfect time in my life to read such a story because I was going through many of the same things the author, Elizabeth Gilbert, was going through. I won’t bore you with those details here, but basically, I can’t help identify with the author, Elizabeth Gilbert. She loves yoga. I love yoga. She leaves the US to experience another kind of living. I am doing the same. She meets an amazing, romantic man with a great accent. Me too. Basically, I love her, she is my idol and I can’t wait to see and experience some of amazing things that she describes in the book (including a visit to Ketut Liyer aka yoda). I’m not alone in my quest because the Lonely Planet has a special section titled “That Damn Book”, where it describes Gilbert followers……..”A mixture of self entitlement, and too much yoga, with just a hint of desperation that they hadn’t yet found their Felipe.” Haha…I don’t care.

The book concludes in the magical place of Bali, which is one of 17,700 islands in Indonesia. Bali offers everything from amazing beaches, picturesque volcanos, rice fields surrounded by tropical forests, cliff side temples, hot springs tucked away from civilization, cheap lodging, tasty food and all in within miles of each other. As of right now our plan is to stay the night in Sanur, hop on the boat to Nusa Lombongan, then back to Ubud and finishing the week in Lovina. Click on the links that have had me dreaming for the last month. And if you are asking yourself, “Where the heck is Bali?”, then see below.

Agrandir le plan

My travel companions are two French girls, Marjorie and Julia. Marjorie is amazingly interesting having traveled all over the world including a year of living in India and another in South Africa. She is my China running buddy and through our long chats during night runs in Zhuijang Park I can vouch that she is super cool. Julia works with Fabien and has all the great french traits of beauty and style topped off with being really sweet. Her MO on his trip is relaxation and I’m on board with that.

On the way back I plan to stop in Singapore for a day by myself because who knows if I’ll ever make it back. There I plan to visit the city and experience my very first hostel.

Then shortly after I return Fabien and I will be welcoming various friends and family from the US and France. With them we will be traveling to Hong Kong, Macau, Beijing and the Philippines. The next couple months promise to be jam packed, but I promise to keep you updated with pictures and stories from our travels.