Tag Archives: culture

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 

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.

first taste of Kathmandu

18 Dec

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(ALL photos by BHG / facebook page )

Since we arrived in Kathmandu in the dark of the night, I wasn’t sure what to expect the first morning. Once we made it out of the confines of our hotel, I was immediately overwhelmed by it. It was an exhilarating shock to the senses. The narrow streets were packed with people, rickshaws, stray dogs, cows, traffic and new smells and sounds. I had read in my guide book that most travelers develop a throat infection the first few days due to the heavy pollution. When I read this I thought…how bad could it be? Well, I learned it was that bad. My eyes began to burn and my throat itch as soon as we walked out the door. This was the start of my love/hate relationship with the city.

Equipped with our Lonely Planet guide-book, Brian and I decided to take the recommended “walking tour” to see some of the major sites. Problem is, there aren’t street signs in Kathmandu. It was incredibly confusing and Brian and I began to get frustrated. As we stood on a street corner, dodging traffic and stray animals, going back and forth about the direction, a sweet smiley young kid in his teens approached us. He struck up a conversation with us in his perfect English. Where were we from? How long had we been in Kathmandu? Did we like it? He said he was a student and an artist. This was my first real taste of Nepali people. They are wonderfully open and friendly people. We answered his questions happily and made polite small talk, but after a few minutes we tried to keep moving- we had stupas to find! It was no use though, because he just walked with us and kept talking. In pure Kate fashion I kept the conversation going because I didn’t want to be rude. Brian, of course, was less engaged, opting instead to take pictures of me making conversation.

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After twenty minutes, I realized that not only was he not going stop talking to us but he was also now taking us on a tour of the city himself. I wasn’t quite sure how this happened but I was pretty sure it was going to cost us something. Two hours later we were buying his family groceries and let me tell you, a two ton bag of rice isn’t cheap. I’ll admit it- we got taken. We must have had a huge sign on our head that said “these two idiots just got off the plane and are totally overwhelmed- they’re primed for the taking!” Our unrequested tour wasn’t all bad though and I doubt we would have found our way around town without a little help!

My first taste of the history and culture of Nepal was intoxicating. Mixed in with all the chaos, grime and dirt, you find beautiful medieval alleys, Hindu temples and Buddhist stupas. Ancient history lives on every corner. You’re walking down a dilapidated street and all of a sudden you’re in front of a golden temple.

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Swayambhunath up next!

103

27 Mar

ROAD TRIP

This road trip is shaping up to be the most insane adventure of my life! It’s becoming way more fabulous then I could have ever imagined it to be. I’m not going to lie, our itinerary is insanely ambitious and we may die from exhaustion trying to stay on schedule but that’s part of the adventure…right? Rachel and I will have to survive the driving and appointment booked days armed with laughter, cameras, our beloved computers, lots of red bull and the support of all our readers!!

New things added to the itinerary

{Living Desert Museum}

{Living Desert Museum}

AMAZING!

(Cup Cafe- Tucson}

I have a feeling that my Huevos Rancheros breakfast from the Cup Cafe is going to be pretty amazing!

{The Compound Restaurant}

I just LOVE this.

{The Compound Restaurant}

Is that not the prettiest dining room you have ever seen?? I hear the food is even prettier…

{Puye Cliff Dwellings- New Mexico}

Puye Cliffs was home to 1,500 Pueblo Indians who lived, farmed and hunted game there from the 900s to 1580 A.D.- I cannot wait to see it in person!

{El Cosmico- Marfa, Texas}

Sleeping in a teepee!! Yes Please!!

{Torchy’s Tacos- Austin, Texas}

I have been dreaming of eating a taco from Torchy’s Taco’s again ever since I tried one three years ago…so delish!

{Hotel Provincial- New Orleans}

This hotel is supposed to be haunted! I can’t tell if this excites me or terrifies me.

{Haunted Ghost Tour- New Orleans}

To really ensure we see a ghost while in New Orleans we have signed up for a ghost tour as well…

{Poogan’s Porch- Charleston}

The menu at this restaurant makes my mouth water- Rachel and I have decided that we MUST order the fried alligator salad because how often do you see that on a menu?

{Graceland- Memphis}

Elvis! Need I say more?!

{Smith-Byrd House, Alabama}

Is this not the sweetest Bed & Breakfast you have ever seen??

{Carriage Tour @ Middleton Place– Charleston}

The above picture is going to be re-created with Rachel and I inserted in to it.

Have any of you guys been to any of these places?? Do you have any tips? Thoughts?

113

17 Mar

It’s starting to happen…I’m starting to loose sleep over the road trip because I am so damn excited about it!!! I seriously can’t stop thinking about it- I’m obsessed. I’ve already fallen in love with each city- I’m in love with the history, the restaurants, the hotels, the people, the food, the music….everything about this trip excites me. I simply can’t wait to be on the open road with Rachel! I’m so excited to write my way across the country.

 I’ve gone mad!! Why can’t it be April 12th yet?

Here are a few inspiration pictures (ok maybe a lot)

{Arizona Inn}

{Arizona Inn}

{White Sands, NM}

{Ten Thousand Waves, Santa Fe}

{Georgia O’Keefe Museum/ Santa Fe, NM}

{I guess I’m just hoping I see this!}

{Abiquiu Inn/ Abiquiu, NM}

{Ghost Ranch/ NM}

{Labyrinth at Ghost Ranch, NM}

{Barton Springs/ Austin, TX}

{Vintage shopping / Austin, TX}

{Degas House / New Orleans, LA}

{Galatoire’s / New Orleans, LA}

{Monteleone / New Orleans, LA}

{Preservation Hall / New Orleans }

{Dauphine Books / New Orleans}

{Blues City Cafe / Memphis}

{Cafe Du Monde / New Orleans}

{Martin Luther King Home / Memphis}

{F. Scott Fitzgerald House }

{wild horses on Cumberland Island}

117 New Orleans Inspiration

13 Mar

DRIVE ACROSS THE USA: INSPIRATION PHOTOS

NEW ORLEANS

Don’t these photos make you want to leave your life right now and be transported to New Orleans!? That’s what these photos do for me! When planning the stops for our upcoming road trip, spending time in New Orleans was a MUST for both Rachel and I. We have always wanted to go there…always. One of my favorite things about planning a road trip is that you can stop wherever you damn please…such freedom! Our plan is to spend a whole weekend exploring the city of New Orleans (compared to one night most other cities) and we also hope that our lovely boyfriends can fly out to join us for some fun.

I am so excited to immerse myself in the New Orleans culture for a few days. Have any of you guys been there? I would LOVE to know your favorite restaurants, bars, coffee shops, stores, hotels….anything!! Please share your secrets!