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Tenganan Village- East Bali

4 Dec

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As I mentioned in my previous post Brian and I ventured away from the grounds of our hotel, Alila Manggis only once during our five-day stay. It was too damn pretty to leave! Our one big cultural outing was a guided tour through Tenganan Village, an isolated community located in East Bali. At one time it was even referred to as one of the most secluded societies of the archipelago.

The people of Tenganan are called Bali Aga— “the original Balinese”. They are descendants from the pre-Majapahit kingdom of Pegeng. They have strict rules as to who is allowed to live in the village- only those born in the village can stay and become full members of the community. There are also strict rules regarding marriage- anyone who marries outside of the village….must leave the community immediately. Ouch! The Bali Aga also speak a dialect of the Balinese language that is entirely their own, dating back from thousands of years- supposedly it varies from village to village.

Tenganan Village is separated both socially and economically from the rest of Bali, shut off by a solid wall that surrounds the entire village- the wall is meant to keep outsiders away. There are four gates that you can access the village from, one facing north, south, east and west. Due to the inclusive nature of the village I was surprised that they were open to having tourists come in. Our guide explained that due to the entrance fee (two dollars per person) as well as the opportunity to sell their art; beautiful wovens, Ikat textiles & wood carvings, they make an exception. Tourists flock to the area due to the fact that the village still holds to the original Balinese traditions, ceremonies and rules.

It’s like walking into another world when you pass through the gates.

Roosters, dogs and even cows roam free in the village, although some of the roosters are also in bamboo-cages, some spray-painted in different colors for cockfights. When I first saw the brightly colored roosters (hot pink!) I was amused….until I learned about the cockfighting. Then I wanted run around and free them all. Our guide explained that cockfighting is over thousand-year-old Balinese tradition in Balinese Hinduism, and part of religious rituals to expel evil spirits. I found learning about the details of cockfights both fascinating and terribly disturbing at the same time.

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The houses of Tenganan are arranged in rows on each side of stone paved avenues. In the central place is the council house where the elders meet. This council house is some seventy feet long, strongly built and very old.

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It was an amazing few hours- there is nothing I love more (other than Brian and Frank) then learning about other cultures.

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All photos by Brian Glodney photography 

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east bali

1 Dec

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The last stop on our honeymoon was five nights at the insanely gorgeous Alila Manggis located in East Bali- a quiet section of the island known for its lush forests and the active volcano, Mount Agung. After traveling for almost a month through Hanoi, Halong Bay, Ho Chi Minh, Ubud & Nusa Lembongan, we were both pretty exhausted from the non stop movement.

Our vacation was making us tired…take out the tiny violin, right?

Considering neither of us wanted to fly back to Los Angeles without our batteries fully recharged, we allowed ourselves to do the unthinkable for people like us…do absolutely nothing for the last leg of the trip. We fought it the first day, both feeling bad about not scheduling more things during our stay. We spent the first day by the pool sipping fruity cocktails and flipping through the hotels activity brochure in search of something. An afternoon of sailing? A scenic bike ride? A sunrise trek up Mount Agung? Although, I simply couldn’t fathom waking up at 3am to trek to the top of Mount Agung. Since we couldn’t settle on anything, we just kept sipping fruity cocktails by the pool. Normally, this would have been a pool/beach combo but this section of Bali isn’t known for its beaches. Transalation….there really isn’t a beach, especially at high tide. So we pooled it. I wasn’t disappointed though because the pool at Alila Manggis was epic. It begged to be sat by for five days straight. It would have been unfair to it if we didn’t.

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Our daily routine was pretty solid…wake up by 9am…eat breakfast (which happened to be an amazing complimentary feast. It kept me full for most of the day)…go back to our room to change into our bathing suits and proceed to the pool to swim, read (I laughed and sobbed my way through “A Fault In Our Stars”), eat, drink & sleep, usually wrapping it up around five when we would go back to our hotel room to lounge around in bed until we got hungry for dinner.

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We left the hotel grounds once…once!! How crazy is that? On day five we finally put the fruity cocktails down and ventured out for a little culture, a guided tour through Tenganan Village, which is often referred to as the original Bali.

The tour through the village will be up on the blog next!

photos by Brian Glodney Photography

inspiration photos / spring road trip

11 Nov

After our mini road trip to Ojai this past weekend planning our spring road trip from Los Angeles to Seattle is front and center on my mind. I love being on the open road with Brian. We are both at our happiest when exploring- Brian equipped with his camera and me my journal. There is also nothing I love more than planning road trips! I get such a high researching every little detail. Although, I imagine planning this road trip will be far less time consuming than when I drove across the country with One Part Gypsy.

At the moment the itinerary is…Los Angeles, Big Sur, Carmel, San Francisco, Tomales Bay, Ashland, Eugene, Portland, Olympia & Seattle. Thoughts? Has anyone ever done this route? Are there other places you think that we should make a point to stop?

Brian and I have only ever made it as far as Tomales Bay so any tips (hotels, restaurants, things to do/see) are welcome in any of the cities.

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“Once the travel bug bites you there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected for the rest of my life.”

Michael Palin

Ojai

10 Nov

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To celebrate our first wedding anniversary yesterday, Brian and I drove up to Ojai for the day- a sleepy little town 80 miles from Los Angeles. Ojai holds a special place in my heart. One of the last times I was there was for a weekend Manifestation Retreat with my dear friend Jen Pastiloff. That was the same weekend I drove home to a house filled with candles and roses and one very adorable and nervous boyfriend standing in the center of it all with a diamond ring in a box. Talk about manifestation! Now every time I think about getting engaged to Bri, I invariably think about Ojai.

So it seemed like a perfect place to get away for the day to celebrate year one of marriage.

The plan was to wake up early and be out the door by 8am but like most plans go we weren’t on the road until 10am. Mapquest advised us to take a different route then either of us had ever taken before. One that had us coming in the back way instead of the coastal route. Brian and I like driving new routes so we went with it. The weather was absolutely perfect for a drive through the mountains. The light was simply perfection. I kept excitedly pointing out the window and saying….Seriously?!?! How gorgeous is that?!??

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On the itinerary for the day…

A stop at Meditation Mount, a 32 acre garden perched above Ojai with a gorgeous view of the valley. We wandered the grounds taking in the natural beauty- it was so serene.

After Meditation Mount we strolled through the main drag of town exploring all the little shops. I fell in love with a new store called Fig Curated Living. If I could have, I would have purchased every single thing in that store. But since that wasn’t an option, we settled on a new Christmas tree ornament in the shape of the state of California. We thought it would be a sweet reminder every holiday season of our first wedding anniversary spent in Ojai.

Next up was lunch at Osteria Monte Grappa, an Italian place in town. We sipped on wine and beer and dined on bruschetta, avocado salad and spicy sausage pasta.

After filling our bellies we made the short drive to Old Creek Ranch Winery to go wine tasting. The last time we went to this winery it was for Brian’s 30th birthday and it was pouring rain. So this was the first time we got a good view of the property and it is lovely, it’s surrounded by rolling yellow hills. After wine tasting indoors (which is an incredible deal…ten different wines for ten dollars) we both picked our favorite (a glass of rose for me and a glass of grenache for Brian) and found a spot on the patio over looking out over the hills and took in the warm afternoon sunlight.

After finishing our glasses of wine we decided to make the drive back home, this time taking the coastal route in hopes we would catch a beautiful sunset over the water. Boy did we time it right…it was the perfect way to end the most perfect 1st anniversary.

Love you, Mr. Glodney! Here’s to many many many more.

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all photos by Brian Glodney 

Ketut

25 Aug

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Have you seen the movie “Eat, Pray, Love”? If you have then I assume you are aware of who Ketut is, but for those of you who missed the movie (is that even possible?) he is the medicine man in Bali that reads Julia Roberts fortune, helping her transform her life after a painful divorce. I loved his character- he had such an infectious laugh and smile. I had always assumed that Ketut was an actor but discovered shortly before we left on our honeymoon that he was indeed a real medicine man in Bali. Thrilling news for a gal like me. I’m a sucker for fortune tellers & psychics….I also take people’s astrological signs pretty seriously. I know, I know, I’m such a product of growing up in LA. But I really do believe in the magic of it all. With that said I knew I would find a way to visit with Ketut while we were in Ubud. IT WAS A MUST.

Cut to our last morning in Ubud…next stop the tiny island of Nusa Lembongan off the coast of coast of Bali. The ferry that was taking us from Bali to Nusa wasn’t until 2pm so had many hours to squeeze in a few things we still wanted to see before leaving Ubud…first up a visit to Ketut and then lunch at the famous sucking-pig restaurant (Clearly, the latter was Brian’s choice).

After saying goodbye to the lovely staff (that I had somehow grown very attached to in three short days) and the gorgeous Rivermoon Villa (mark my words…I am going back to that place again) we packed Nyomen’s car up and headed to Ketut’s home. My excitement level was at an all time high. I was going to meet Ketut!

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Through my lengthy Ketut research I learned that he worked on a first come first serve basis so I made sure that we got there a 1/2 an hour after his doors opened. Sadly, this still left me in 8th place. The only highlight to being in 8th place is the fact that eight is my lucky number…obviously I took this as a very special omen.

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Brian on the other hand was not impressed with the number 8 considering that Ketut spent 1/2 an hour with every person. Yes, let’s do the math….we were going to have to wait 4 hours. HA. The loving wife part of me offered to forgo my reading with Ketut but the crazy fortune-teller obsessed part of me was pretty sure it was a pretty weak offer. Thankfully my sweet husband agreed to wait. I mean, I can’t go all the way to Bali and NOT meet Ketut. Plus Ketut is very very very old (I think over 100?) and I was rather certain that this was my one shot at hanging with him.

So we waited…..

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doesn’t Brian look thrilled?

After four glorious hours baking in the sun, number 8 was called!

I’ve been going back and forth on what to report about my time with Ketut. Truthfully, I was expecting a tad more from the whole experience. Although, I suppose nothing lives up to ones expectations when they were as high as mine were. I was expecting some groundbreaking, life changing, epic shit to occur during our 30 minutes together. Instead he told me I was going to have three kids, warned me not to screw up my marriage with Brian (thanks for the vote of confidence, Ketut. Ha) and that I was a highly creative soul. Yes, there was a bit more than those three bullet points but you get the point. I will say that being in his presence might have been worth the four-hour wait. His energy is infectious! His whole face lights up when he laughs….and he laughs a lot! I pretty much spent 1/2 hour giggling with him. He really is a light.

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After my visit with Ketut it was time to repay Brian for the five hours of his life that he wasted for me and stop for some suckling pig! Nyomen dropped us off at the famous Ibu Oka restaurant in Ubud for lunch.

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Bali is notorious for its Babi Guling, a Balinese style whole roasted suckling pig! The entire pig is stuffed with a combination of typical spices used in Indonesian cooking including turmeric, coriander seeds, lemon grass and more. Babi Guling is unique to the island and very rare in other parts of Indonesia as the country is a predominately Muslim (consumption of pork is prohibited), whereas the majority of the population in Bali is Hindu.The dish is another of Anthony Bourdain’s favorites when in Ubud and I can see why. While I am not a huge fan of pig in general the mix of flavors was delicious.

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Next up…our crazy journey to the tiny island of Nusa Lembongan…

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Ubud : day one

11 Aug

 

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We arrived in Bali late at night- via Malaysia Airlines no less! We booked the tickets long before any of the accidents occurred. This leg of the journey was causing me some serious anxiety but it ended up being a very enjoyable flight. Sure, I had to take a xanax and have two glasses of chardonnay to calm my nerves but we landed safely! The first stop on our Bali tour was three nights in Ubud. We arranged for a pick up at the airport through our villa. Our driver, Nyomen (who happened to be the sweetest man on the planet) greeted us with a big smile and a sign that read “Glodney” – I was still having a hard time remembering that I was now officially a Glodney!

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After an hour’s drive we arrived at Rivermoon Villa, our home for the next three nights. The villa is part of a seven home compound called, Desa Bulan located in the village of Lodtunduh- just outside the center of Ubud. I found the it on a fellow blogger’s site, Hither & Thither, when researching places to stay in Bali. Brian and I both wanted to stay somewhere intimate rather than a large hotel. We certainly chose right because this place knocked our socks off the minute we walked in- even in the dark of the night. The villa is owned by an Australian couple (she has a cool interior design blog) who split their time between Bali & Australia. Not a bad life, eh? You can tell how much they love the villa because every detail is perfection, from the jaw dropping outdoor bathrooms to the romantic canopy beds. After oohing and ahhing over the place for a bit, we ordered a pizza to be delivered (I was shocked that this was an option!) and crawled into bed.

When I awoke in the morning, I popped out of bed like a kid on Christmas to see the villa in the light of day.  Hands down…one of the most gorgeous homes I have ever stayed in. In the morning light I could now see what surrounded us-vibrant green rice paddies as far as the eye could see. It was the most peaceful place I have ever been. Bali had stolen my heart and I had been there for less than 24 hours.

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One of the many perks of the villa (other than the view!) was a staff of three that came into our place each morning and prepared us breakfast. They were such a lovely group. I couldn’t get over how warm the Balinese people were. After a delicious breakfast (eggs & fruit for me and banana pancakes for Brian) we decided to take a bike ride into town and explore. The staff generously offered us motorbikes but we kindly declined and instead opted for the bicycles- they seemed much more our speed.

And off we went to explore central Ubud! We peddled through the narrow and windy roads as cars and motorbikes zipped by us…it was a tad terrifying especially when we had to go down steep hills and I discovered my brakes were useless. What was supposed to be quick 10 minute trip somehow turned into an hour. Clearly, we were lost. We even found ourselves stuck in a rice paddy. Oh the looks we got from the local farmers as we made our way through! They were rather confused. By the time we made it to the heart of town we were both covered in dirt and sweat. But that didn’t stop us from exploring. Ubud is known as the cultural center of Bali because it is home to many artisans. The stores are filled with beautiful wood & stone carvings, paintings and crafts. In addition to art the town is filled with cafes, temples, clothing stores and yoga studios. I fell hard and fast for Ubud- it offered all my favorite things! I could honestly see myself living there.

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We stopped for lunch at a little Balinese cafe and ordered two spicy fish dishes with rice and vegetables.  We decided to go as light possible because we had big plans for dinner at Naughty Nuri’s that evening, a favorite of Anthony Bourdain when in town and famous for its ribs and martini’s, something Brian had been looking forward to for weeks.

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After a lazy lunch we braved the roads once again and peddled back to our villa for an afternoon swim in the gorgeous salt water pool. It was during this swim I made Brian promise we would come back to Bali and stay at this villa again. If only I could figure out how to split my time between Los Angeles and Bali.

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After a few hours by the pool we cleaned up and headed out to dinner at Naughty Nuri’s. Anthony Bourdain was right…this place kicks ass. The dirty martini was the best I have ever had, which surprised me considering I don’t equate Bali with a killer dirty martini. Oh, and the ribs…to die for!

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Bali driving tour / water temple / Balinese cuisine up next!

 

Ho Chi Minh – day 3

4 Aug

After eating breakfast at the hotel we headed back into the sweltering heat to explore. First up, a very sobering morning at the War Remnants Museum. So sobering in fact, I didn’t even make it through parts of it due to the graphic nature of some of the photographs. You forget how truly devastating the Vietnam War was. The morning left me in tears. Don’t worry this post gets less depressing.

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 After the museum we decided it was time to try the southern Vietnamese pho. As I mentioned in a previous post there is a bit of a debate as to whether the northern or southern pho is tastier. After polishing off a big bowl of southern pho, I came to the conclusion that it was the winner. I found it lighter and more fragrant. There were also more options with the vegetables you could put in, including basil (although basil is a herb isn’t it? but you get the point), which added such a nice kick. For Brian the pho debate was more of a tie…noting that he liked the meat better in the northern pho. So there you have it folks!

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After filling our bellies (thank God we were walking as much as we were otherwise I am convinced I would have gained 20 pounds on this trip) we headed to “antique street” to look for…you guessed it, antiques! Brian and I love to come home with treasures from our travels- my favorites include…a bright blue woven hammock from Nicaragua, a plush orange blanket handmade in the mountains of Nepal and the colorful bells from Nepal that hang around water buffalos necks on the trekking trails to warn you that they are coming. I make Brian wear them around the house sometimes. HA.

That day I was on the hunt for a small elephant statue with his trunk in the air, which supposedly brings good luck. Brian was much more open to what his treasure would be. We strolled from tiny hot store to tiny hot store.

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After hitting the whole block we circled back to our favorite one to do some bargaining- something Brian excels at and I fail miserably at. You can pretty much sell me anything. On the table…one elephant with his trunk in the air, one buddha head and two opium pipes (to be used as table art and not for smoking said opium). I let Brian do the talking while I continued to explore the shop. I can’t even watch people bargain with out getting uncomfortable. Finally I heard Brian say, “Do you take American Express?” and I knew we had a deal. We were now the proud owners of an elephant, a buddha head and two opium pipes. Winning! Clearly our antique street success called for Bintang beers so we decided to head back to Tiny’s in the backpacker district.

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After a few Bingtangs we headed back to our hotel for the routine three-hour afternoon break in our air-conditioned room, but not without a stop at the famous pastry shop, Tous Les Jours. Yes, this trip to Vietnam was becoming quite indulgent. Because of the French invasion in Vietnam many French influences can still be felt and I quickly learned I had a favorite…the baked goods!

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After picking out a few (I blame Brian) we walked back to the hotel where we then proceeded to eat pastries in bed while sipping on iced Vietnamese coffees.

After our siesta, we went out for Greek food followed by after dinner drinks at Casbah. Casbah had a completely different energy than the previous evening. The place really livened up as the evening wore on. It was packed with people and there were even belly dancers! The place was jumping. Luckily we found a quiet spot outside and away from the chaos. After imbibing in a few too many beverages, Brian and I decided it was the perfect time to face-time with Frank (yes, you read that correctly), via my sweet mama who was staying at our house to watch him. We both did the math and concluded it was 10am in LA, so we dialed and eagerly watched the phone as it rang. Suddenly my moms sleepy face appeared on my screen and she confusedly said  “Kate??? Hi honey. I can see you? I can see Brian? Why are you guys calling me at six in the morning?” Two thoughts crossed my mind at this point…shit we woke her up!….and….I can’t believe she’s never face timed before? It was then she shrieked “Does that mean you can see me?!! OMG I’M NAKED!!!”. At that point the screen went black and all I could hear was yelling. Poor thing! Not only was she rudely awakened at six am but now she was convinced her son-in-law just saw her naked. I was laughing so hard I was literally crying. Moments later she reappeared in a robe and just as I was about to reassure her that we couldn’t see anything the volume of the music went from 0-100 and a belly dancer appeared in front of our table. Clearly, it was our turn for the show. I tried to yell over the music but she couldn’t hear me and there was only one thing to do…wave and hang up. She must have thought we were insane.

After the required belly dancing show we strolled back to our hotel laughing about the evening. My heart and my belly feeling very full that night…day three in Ho Chi Minh was a good to us.