Tag Archives: exploring

weekend in carmel

11 Feb

A few weekends ago Brian and I road tripped up to Carmel for a few days to celebrate a friend’s wedding. I haven’t been to that area since I was a kid so I loved exploring it for what felt like the first time. We rented a house with some friends through airbnb which was so much better than staying in a hotel. It was in a great neighborhood and walking distance from the main drag of town. I knew Carmel was going to be visually beautiful with the sea as its backdrop but I was surprised to learn it also has some great restaurants and shops. Granted the whole place shuts down around 9pm- definitely not a place to go if you’re looking for a night on the town. But at 6 1/2 months pregnant I’m usually in bed by 9pm so it worked for me! We had such a fun three days. I’ll let the pics speak for themselves.

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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 

Bhaktapur, Nepal

11 Feb

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During our stay in Patan we decided to take a day trip to Bhaktapur. It is the third royal city in the valley- the others being Kathmandu and Patan. It is definitely the best preserved of the three- it was like being dropped in medieval times.

We spent hours wandering the cobblestone streets and narrow alleys, exploring the temples, courtyards, shrines, wells and monumental squares.  Bhaktapur is filled with Hindu and Buddhist religious sites and art. Although the population is primarily Hindu, there are nineteen Buddhist monasteries (don’t worry I didn’t make Brian stop at every one). The city is also home to a large community of potters who proudly work on the open streets, only adding to its rich atmosphere. It was a day to remember…

(ALL photos by BHG)

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Patan, you stole my heart

3 Jan

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(ALL photos by BHG / Facebook )

After a truly exhausting morning acclimating to the frenetic pace of life in Kathmandu, we packed our bags (well, actually our backpacks) and headed to our second stop, the city of Patan. Located in the Kathmandu Valley, on the southern side of the Bagmati River, Patan is one of the three royal cities in the valley, the others being Kathmandu and Bhaktapur. Patan, also known by its Sanskrit name, Lalitpur (City of Beauty), is quieter and far less touristy compared to Kathmandu. It’s filled with rich history, ornate architecture, dozens of Buddhist and Hindu temples and over 1200 monuments. It is a truly breathtaking city and became our home for the next four nights. You could say we fell in love.

After a sweat inducing drive across the foul-smelling Bagmati River (let’s not sugarcoat it- it was smelly) the rickety, exhaust spewing taxi dropped us off at the gates of Patan’s Durbar square. The friendly driver told us we would have to walk to our hotel from there because cars are not permitted through the square (Side note- it’s incredibly easy to get around Nepal because so many Nepali people speak English) We piled out of the car slowly, weighed down by our giant backpacks; Brian even had one strapped to his chest. He looked like a mule. We paid the driver the agreed upon rate in rupees (no matter how friendly the driver is always work out your rate before getting in the taxi!) and began our walk to the hotel. Before we could get far, we were stopped and asked to pay an entrance fee of seven US dollars to enter Patan, a fee paid only by tourists and used to maintain the city.

With our Lonely Planet book and map in hand, we navigated our way through the bustling Durbar Square and to The Swotha House, a restored Newari home that now acts as a six-room luxury hotel. We were warmly greeted by a gorgeous French woman named Camille. I immediately liked her energy. She had long messy hair, big brown eyes and a hippie sensibility. After we chatted for a bit, she led us up four flights of very very very steep stairs and to our room, the attic room. It was on the top floor, the size of a small apartment and came equipped with its own private patio overlooking the city below. Then minute we walked in we both looked at each other with big smiles and agreed we would be canceling our other night in Kathmandu and staying here until the trek began.

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Over the next few days we walked the city, explored the Hindu and Buddhist temples, laughed, had romantic dinners in our hotel, bought treasures, visited the Patan museum, drank turborg beer by candlelight, ate an exorbitant amount of momo’s and were asleep every night by 9pm. It was heaven. Here are some of my favorite moments and places captured on film by my talented photographer fiance

The Golden Temple– Finding the Golden Temple proved to be very hard for the two of us. I’d like to think we’re pretty savvy but when it came to navigating the Lonely Planet walking tour maps, we were dead in the water. For being a huge golden temple it was incredibly hard to find. It was hidden among the buildings. After passing it a thousand times we finally gave up on finding it and went in search of something else. Of course we ended up finding it that way. I’m so happy that we did because it was insanely gorgeous. It’s a Buddhist monastery, adorned with a golden facade. The Golden temple was built-in the 12th century by King Bhaskar Verma. It’s so incredibly ornate and fabulous and breathtaking that I felt moved by standing in its presence.

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Patan Museum- Formerly the residence of the Malla kings, it now houses one of the finest collections of religious art in Asia. Partly funded by the Austrian government, the Patan Museum is considered a national treasure. As beautiful as the art was, the view of Durbar Square from its windows took the cake.

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We climbed to the very top of a hotel and found this view of Patan. I couldn’t get over how jam-packed the buildings were and how polluted the sky was. You could barely make out the mountains in the horizon!

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This gorgeous photo taken of a sun drenched rooftop taken from our hotel balcony…

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we happened to be in Nepal during harvest season so the below photo was a common site. A local Nepali woman turning her rice to help dry it…

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everywhere we turned there were stunning whitewashed temples adorned with the all-seeing eyes….

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intricate stone carvings with Buddha…

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these little meat or veggie filled dumplings called momo’s became a fast favorite for us…

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Durbar square in the quiet of the night…

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Brian looking handsome by a Patan reservoir…

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and me by the same reservoir…noticing what was living in it…

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Patan, despite what lived in your waters, you stole my heart.

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