As was becoming the trend on this trip when moving from place to place, we were both filled with a bit of sadness for what we were leaving behind, but also with excitement for the unknown of what was to come. We made it back to Bali by boat (thankfully sans the bongo playing Australian family), and met our driver. We planned on heading to Ubud next to explore a bit more of an urban center and some more of the Balinese Hindu heritage. I was super excited about getting back into some Hindu temples as I had not been in any since time I spent in India in 1997. I was curious to see how different this form of island Hinduism was compared to what I had seen in the past. We also planned on staying in a much nicer guesthouse. As this was our last real destination, we wanted to treat ourselves. However before we left, our good friends Spencer and Courtney informed us that they had already paid for our 4 night stay at the place we had chosen! Definitely an unexpected and amazing wedding gift.
The place was super nice and we had an entire wing of it to ourselves. It included a master bedroom, large bathroom, outdoor shower, huge veranda, and a little canopy hut sitting in a pond of lotus blossoms. To top it all off, as we approached we had heard the sweet, sweet whir of an air conditioner. After spending 9 extremely hot nights living in bamboo bungalows, sleeping in bug nets that did not necessarily allow any breeze, we were pretty giddy to get in the AC. However, there was one slight concern that we both had about the place. When we decided to stay there, we were excited to read about the views of the rice paddies from our veranda. However, what we did not realize was the there would be people working in the rice paddies from sun-up to sun-down, and only a very low wall separating things. We would both feel a bit guilty (and kinda colonial to be honest) as we sat out playing cards and drinking beers, while the villagers worked their asses off feet from where we were.
He is not my favourite (he is Ray’s though) and I was excited to get into this monkey preserve that both honors him and is home to a rather large band of Balianese macaques. Kathleen was as nervous as I was excited. Mere feet into the park and meeting some of its inhabitants, she began to mutter “I don’t like monkeys. Don’t like the monkeys” again and again. She loosened up after awhile, but they must have heard because one of them peed on her. Unfortunately the temple in the middle of the park was closed, but we got some pictures.
After the forest, we wandered through the city a bit and were thoroughly underwhelmed. Now Ubud is the setting for the awful (in my mind) book and forthcoming movie, Eat, Pray, Love. I never finished it but supposedly Ubud is where her final awakening occurs and she goes on and on about how amazing and spiritual it was. I am not sure if our perspective was tainted by Balian and Gili, but the place was just filled with tourists and people harassing tourists. This place seemed pretty much overrun and overdone. We did manage to check out a few super cool temples and a market, but ended up taking a very leisurely lunch.
After our exploration, we quickly realized there was no way we could spend 4 days here and began to seek out a new destination. But where should we spend the last 3 days of our once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon? Should we go back to Balian? Should we go back to one of the Gilis? We both decided we wanted to go to a beach, but were apprehensive about going somewhere that we had not researched. We also wanted to continue to pamper ourselves a bit (we talked to Mandala Desa and they amazingly agreed to refund the remainder of our stay so we could put it to our next destination). After discussing it a bit, we decided to go all out. It was our honeymoon after all and what couple does not deserve a 5-star resort stay for at least part of their trip? After a bit of on-line action, we booked a 3 night package at Ayodya Resort.
The Ayodya is located at the end of the island on the Nusa Dua peninsula. Our guidebook described it as ‘a gilded (gated) ghetto of enormous hotels. There are no independent developments, no hawkers, no warung, no traffic, no pollution, and no noise.’ We had prepared ourselves for the fact that we were essentially leaving Indonesia for this nation of upper-class conveniences, but we were OK with it. Apparently as we arrived and checked out everything the place had, I kept repeating excitedly “there’s no shame in my game.” The place had pretty much everything: pristine beaches, amazing bedroom, beautiful outdoor verandas and fountains, a humungous swimming pool, a big lake filled with 2 foot long aquatic lizards, and a great selection of bars and restaurants. We spent the next few days just taking it easy and enjoying things. We read, played a lot of cards, had some amazing games of poolysthide, and drank a fair amount.
We hit happy hour a few times and were even embarrassingly serenaded by a group of musicians whom we could not figure out if they were Indonesian or Mexican.
As the last day of our honeymoon unfolded, we reflected a lot on our trip. We had found an off the beaten path beach to stay and surf at. We learned how to scuba dive. We biked. We ate amazing food. Kathleen read 78 books (at least). I saw the sun rise over Indonesian mountainous islands repeatedly on during my morning runs. We explored temples and markets. Generally we laughed the entire time. And now we had pampered ourselves to the limit. It was super nice to be waited on and to live in this bubble of exclusivity, but we really could have been anywhere in the world. Kathleen and I both loved all the adventures we got into in Bali and Gili Trawangan, and they were by far the richer parts of our trip. I am absolutely positive all couples say this, but as we waited at the airport to board our flight, we agreed it had been the perfect honeymoon. Coupling this trip with our mini-honeymoon to Paris, we couldn’t think of anything that would have made it better. But by now I think you all know we were wrong and had some more surprises waiting for us…