No passport needed

Yokohama beach, Oahu -Hawaii

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After a bit of traveling, you start to really appreciate the small things that home has to offer. For us in Hawaii, I can’t get over our (mostly) clean and beautiful beaches. The water is clear and blue and unbelievable sometimes.

DCIM102GOPROGOPR2297.JPGSeriously, you don’t even need a filter to bring out color. Our west side of Oahu looks this perfect. I have the sunburn to prove it.

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You can literally swim with turtles!

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I never though much of it growing up. Oh birthday, let’s have it at the beach. Oh 3 day weekend, let’s camp at the beach. Nothing to do, let’s go to the beach. I mean yeah, I live on an island but it really never occurred to me that people spend thousands of dollars and travel many miles to adore these beaches that we often take for granted.

 

Everyday I remind myself to be thankful.

 

 

Day 14

Day 14- Ubud

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Today’s bike tour started with our driver causally smoking a cig, waiting at the front desk. He seemed in no hurry for us to come down from our room or to get us to the main office. I already knew I was going to like these guys. Ebikes Bali had easygoing kids with jokes on jokes on jokes. We started with me fumbling with my helmet and I said it’s because I got a big head. Without skipping a beat, Ajus (ah-juice) said ‘big brain!’ Haha yes, Ajus πŸ€“

Once we figured out our bikes had an electric motor good for 50 km (our ride was 18 km) we didn’t hesitate to press that little gray button.

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Our first stop took us to a temple where Ajus explained that there are over 40,000 temples in Bali not including family temples. He said there are so many because you first build 3 temples for the main gods (I can’t begin to attempt to spell their names), 3 more for their respective wives, 1 at the crossroads or what I took to be the entrance to the village, and 1 at the northern edge to mark their limits. Totaling 8, and epic number.

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From there we headed to the rice fields where Ajus warned ‘men be careful. Me be careful. Bumpy road. Watch your balls.’ πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ oh Ajus.

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At the rice fields we learned the cycles and the farming methods like using ducks to help clean up the fields before they burn it. He said farmers are very careful to collect the quack quacks or crispy duck! He also mentioned that sometimes rodents are a problem and snakes are brought in. But don’t worry, only poisonous snakes in Bali are in the forest. And don’t worry, don’t worry you have three days before you die!

We continued cycling around town and ended up at a coffee tasting company. They specialize in Luwak Coffee which lets these weasels eat the green coffee beans, pick up their poop, clean and grind the beans to reduce the level of acid in the beans and produce the ‘most expensive coffee since colonial times.’ (I guess homeboy never went to a Starbucks) The tasting of their blends were free but the Luwak coffee was relatively expensive at 50,000 rupiah a cup. Once we finished at the tasting room, Ajus asked how it went. He said they call it ‘catpoochino’ and I said oh yeah ‘cappuccino!’ and he said ‘ya, catPOOchino’ smiling with all this teeth.

Seriously, you couldn’t help but enjoy his company. It was all downhill from there- literally. It was a bit intense sharing about 12 feet of road of cars, mopeds, pedestrians, and stray dogs (there are quite a few) but we made it back in one piece. Another guide was joking legs not sore just here- pointing to his left thumb that controlled the electric motor. He couldn’t be more right 😭

Back at our hotel we took a quick nap and headed to the Monkey Forest. It describes itself at a nature sanctuary and reserve but it felt very much like an open petting zoo. They sell bananas and the monkeys are… tame… yet very unpredictable. Honestly scary is what I’d use to describe them. You can’t look them in the eye since it’s a sign of aggression, can’t approach the babies, can’t make loud noises, can’t run, can’t leave trash around, don’t tease them, don’t hide food, don’t panic but yet there are ‘handler’ type people around to help you feed them and take pictures. It’s hilarious because when they start acting up they pull out a sling shot (still wrapped up) and the monkey instantly obeys. The handler said it’s the monkey tamer πŸ˜‚ We also saw Aunty with a long metal pole. She raised it up like how your mom looks when you answer back and the monkeys scatter so quick! She’s the guardian of the bananas. A small bunch is 20,000 rupiah with maybe 5-6 apple bananas or 2 min play time with monkeys 😭 we got a small bunch and instantly one latched on to Michaels shirt. Michael spun around and he looked like the carnival ride, you know the one with the swings. I wish through my laughing I was able to take a video or picture since it was beyond ridiculous. After that we headed out quick seeing how feisty the monkeys were. It didn’t seem like much more than a couple hundred monkeys running around, eating bananas, and scaring little children.

Our last day is tomorrow and we have a spa day planned. Excited to be going home and sad to say goodbye. Still a longs ways to go though πŸ‘‹πŸ» Malaysia πŸ‘‹πŸ» Korea πŸ‘‹πŸ» Hawaii.

Coulda been πŸ‘‹πŸ»Australia πŸ‘‹πŸ» home. My bad Mike!

Day 13 pt 1

Day 13- Seminyak/Ubud

We arranged for our driver from the airport to shuttle us around today for 650,000 rupiah or approximately $50 USD for eight hours. Everything he said ended either in “yes my friend” or “brother.” Can we go here? Of course brother. Is this place worth the stop? Yes, my friend. It was very endearing. He’s in his late 20’s and very chatty when we were up and quiet when we needed some alone time. He would wait in the car and it felt like he put a beeper on us because when we would walk back to the car he would pop up from his seat with his bright red polka-dotted neck pillow and a huge smile. If he wasn’t in the car he was making friends with the nearby shop keepers or smoking a cigarette with old men. He would always keep an eye out for us and make sure he’d beat us back to the car by a few steps.

Our first stop was an outlet mall of sorts. He was as excited as us to look around because as soon as he parked he said “I will come with you. See something!” He was bored after about 20 min but he’d jump up when he’d see us and ask if we wanted to put our new things down in the car. And then follow up with “no rush no rush, look around.”

Back in the car we chatted with our driver. He was anxious to know where we came from, what we do, what it’s like at home, the cost of things, the beaches, you name it. He described life in Bali to be very hard on locals and very expensive.

For example, hotel workers work a regular workweek- 5 days a week 8 hours a day. But in Bali there’s an additional 6th day a week for with a 10 hour shift. And roughly a hotel worker would make $4-500 USD per month. most of these people know Balinese, Indonesian, English, and/or Japanese.

We told him we were looking for a small condo/apartment at home for $300,000 USD and he couldn’t believe it. He said we could buy a small hotel here…

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Ubud seems to be a quaint artisan community, we went through a silver district- very popular in Bali. A woodwork area with lots of furniture, wooden sculptures, rattan cages baskets chairs and tables, intricate doors and hanging pieces. Masonry as well, with large statues and pillars ready made to welcome guests in to homes or temples.

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We visited a batik weaving factory and watched women use wax to hand make designed as well as weave. The prices were quite expensive but they used silk and I assume cotton.

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We also checked out a couple of silver stores on the insistence of our driver. He said he loves silver! The items are again handmade with many pedants available, large rings, bracelets, and earrings. I tried really hard to find something but couldn’t find a piece I really loved and worth the price tag. Most pieces were about $50-100 USD.

For lunch he took us to a place he knew and enjoyed with his girlfriend. A BBQ place specializing ribs πŸ˜› And a coconut because yes.

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I’ll post more about the temples separately since we went to a few. Ttyl πŸ‘‹πŸ»

Balinese driving

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Balinese use their horns like warning bells. They even sound more friendly as opposed to a f you. It’s good to see all those in mopeds using helmets, very unlike Thailand. Traffic is pretty bad maybe and seems to be at all hours of the day.

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If possible the driving here is even more insane. Two lanes suddenly means three cars side by side and often a bike lane with mopeds. Cars are still straddling center lines, mopeds overtaking on the left and the right sometimes simultaneously, and no one bats an eye with all this frantic movement. If I ever saw tailgating this would be it. Honk you’re getting to close toot toot thanks for moving from the center to the left honk watch out honk what are you doing honk coming around this corner honk moped you stupid honk don’t try to merge here honk honk do you need a taxi. It’s almost comical how often they use their horn. We’re really not at our full potential America. And truthfully we haven’t seen any accidents and haven’t be that close to being in one either. Although our driver said there are a lot of casualties since sometimes as many as 4 people on a moped… and as young as 8 or 9 driving mopeds as well even though the law is 17.

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Our driver also said that police only ever pull over international drivers, never local because they want to fine them and line their pockets. He said the corruption is very bad here.

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Taxi or taksi drivers and cars are rampant here. I would say more than half of the vehicles on the road are metered. And the honking is nonstop. I think they do it to tourists who are walking to alert them that they are available… I think. Either that or Michaels got really nice legs because I know it’s not me.

Sidewalks are uneven, mismatched, and definitely not for the elderly. Rolled curbs are also the norm since roadways are so narrow that drivers are often pulling over to let another pass or avoid a slow moped. I’d say the two lanes are equivalent to a lane and a half that were used to in the US. Maybe only 12-15 ft wide? Probably also why the standard car looks about the size of a Toyota Carolla. No one ever seems openly upset at being cutoff or having to let another through despite all the noise.

We hageΒ a full day of driving ahead so I will update will more photos and experiences!

Day 10

Day 10- Ao Nang/Kuala Lumpur

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Okay for real, our last time in Ao Nang and bye bye Thailand. Β I feel like I’ve been saying that for three days. Everything to see or do here is water oriented and I think we’re about waterlogged right now. We’ve swam, snorkled, been on the long tail boat, and kayaked so I think we hit all the main attractions. We missed Phi Phi Island due to the unpredictable weather but I imagine it’s like the other 82615183 other islands we saw. So last night we caught up on some Netflix franΓ§ais. Merci beaucoup Vanessa! PSA: remember to log out of your account.

So a quick brekkie, massage, lunch, shuttle, airport. Again the shuttle was about 30 min late but we got there in the half the time because the driver was driving like a maniac. Like Thailand maniac so US suicidal… can’t complain for 300 baht!

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Asiaair you sneaky bastards. Prebooking seats, meals, baggage, etc is clearly all the rage. You cater to those who preordered food first then go back along the aisle to sell the remaining meals. You repeatedly announce the ‘hot seats’ are for your premium guests. We get it πŸ˜‚ we’re being cheap!

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Bout an hour and a half south we arrive in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Ok. DMK, Thailand airport was ghetto. BKK, Thailand airport okay okay not bad πŸ˜‰. Krabi, Thailand airport uhm did I miss it? Chiang Mai, Thailand airport o-k. KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA WHY ARENT WE TALKING ABOUT YOU? There’s literally a sign that says, ‘a mall with an airport’ and I think that’s pretty accurate. It feels like we’re in a full shopping mall with food courts and everything. We barely left the airport to check into a rinky dink hotel for the night. I’m exaggerating. The hotel is perfectly fine it’s just not like what we’ve been staying at (shout out to Sandy for choosing the best of the best for like $30 bucks a night!).

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Seriously I think we’d come back just to shop. Not to mention our USD to Malaysian ringgit is pretty damn strong. About 1:4 so if you get the chance, I’d say save your shopping for SE Asia. Wishing I really did leave more room for shopping πŸ˜› Then again those baggage fees will blindside you like a linebacker when you don’t check beforehand haha whoops…

Day 9

Day 9- Ao Nang

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Today I stopped by Auntie Moon’s because her sign said laundry 35 baht but when we went inside it was definitely not 35 baht/kilo. But that’s okay because we already trekked it down from Mount Olympus took a tuk tuk and were ready for some clean clothes. I don’t know why I thought I’d wash my clothes in the sink as we go because it’s a lot of work. Wringing out two shirts and I’m like ok that’s enough. Fatal flaw number one: I brought too much clothes. When you bring too much clothes you wear your shirt for about two hours and toss it on the side and grab another one because you got a little sweaty. Then you don’tΒ remember which shirt is semi clean and which one is actually dirty because it’s all in the same pile.

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Fatal flaw two: I didn’t bring enough shampoo and conditioner. You ration yourself enough for however many days but realistically you’re taking minimum two full showers a day. It’s so sticky hot here you feel constantly dehydrated.

Number three: being one pair of shoes and one pair of slippers. No you’re not gonna remember to rotate your shoes, you’re grabbing whatever’s readily available. Come on Amara, let’s be real.

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I did learn from Auntie Moon that the hotel I’m staying at is always busy and the owner is very ‘business brain’ or very smart. She explained that Aonang Fiore really built up the tourism industry in their town (some of it not so legally, she said some marijuana and/or other drugs) but the residents don’t mind because it’s good for them overall. She’s a talker and told me a lot more but I couldn’t quite understand it all- she tried in Japanese but looked so disappointed I didnn’t speak Japanese… I know Auntie Moon, I know.

Even the concierge at our hotel was explaining that they learn English in school but the overachiever in her also learned Arabic and something else and Thai. Yeah, four. She asked me how many languages I knew and I said one. So embarrassing… So so so many people and multilingual it’s amazing. Even flight attendants are at least bilingual!! Seriously, we gotta work on this America.

Anyway headed out soon. Talk to you later 😘