The scooter ride through Ubud was fun. It was amazing to feel the wind on my face and to zip through the streets. There were a few nerve-wracking moments as the streets were packed with traffic, but ultimately, Jerome had adjusted well to Bali driving. We zipped and weaved through the streets of Ubud until we found the path leading to the restaurant. It was very long and kept getting darker and darker. We began to wonder if we were even going the right way, but I assured Jerome that I was a great navigator and that we were on the proper route according to Google. Finally we saw the restaurant with a very well dressed Balinese man standing at the door. Another man saw us pull up and ran out to take our scooter and park it for us. This should have been our first clue that this restaurant was very elegant, but it wasn't until we got up the stairs and into the restaurant that we realized the extent of it. Our jaws dropped. It was beautiful! The windows were all open with lush palm trees peeking through. The tables were extremely well dressed. All of the kitchen and wait staff greeted us with large, beaming smiles. They seated us, placed the menus neatly in front of us and laid napkins in our laps. I opened my menu and again, my jaw dropped. Jerome and I were shocked at the high prices on the menu, but we both agreed that we would only eat there once and it would be our one big splurge in Bali.
Jerome Sitting Across the Table From Me at the Most Elegant Restaurant in Ubud, Bali
The Juiciest Steak I've Sunk My Teeth Into
The meal I chose, a medium-rare Australian steak with mashed potatoes and vegetables, came to approximately $82 CAD. Before we got our main meal, we were served a small sample of the steak we had ordered. We were also presented with an array of steak knives to choose from: American, Australian, Japanese, Swedish, or Swiss. I chose the Japanese knife for its elegant form. The wait staff were right there after we had finished our sample and even brought us new forks for our meal. When we were served our meal, for the third and final time, our jaws dropped. The steak was so juicy and tender. We both took our time and enjoyed our expensive dinner. Unfortunately it had begun to rain while we were eating, which made me nervous for our scooter ride back through Ubud. This would turn out to be the one and only rain storm we experienced in our time in Bali. November is normally Bali's rainy season, but this year was proving to be an unrelenting drought. Jerome and I walked down one of the streets of Ubud, poking around in different stores and boutiques, but not finding anything worth buying. The sidewalks and bars were packed with tourists and the streets buzzed with scooters. We stopped at a bakery and picked out a delicious dessert before heading back to our guest houses. By the time I arrived back to my room, my tummy was turning. I discovered that I could not eat red meat after only eating vegan and vegetarian meals for the past week.
Vegan Chocolate Smoothie Bowl
Before Jerome and I left the Shala that night, Ourania had warned us not to over-exert ourselves the next day as the training was already difficult enough. Due to her warning, the group of us decided to not make the mountain trip. Zhana suggested that we try a vegan restaurant that she enjoyed for breakfast and then go see a waterfall afterward. I decided to join the group for this activity as I still wanted to see some sights on my days off. Back in my room, I finally headed to bed on my jerk of a mattress after a short conversation with my Mom.
The next morning I awoke, excited for our first full day off. I met up with the ladies at the front of the guest house and we set out on our short jaunt to the restaurant. On our way, an adorable little puppy started following us. He followed us all the way to the restaurant and found a cozy spot under our table to lay down. I was actually considering bringing this little guy home. It hurt my heart to see a puppy on the streets, but in Bali, this is a very common occurrence. Street dogs are everywhere and they are treated as a nuisance. At one point another customer asked the staff to shoo the puppy away as it was scaring her toddler. The pup hid under our table, deterring the staff for a short while. We ate our breakfast, but myself and Alina, another German lady, began to feel sick. We determined that it was the coconut milk that caused it. Due to this, a few of the ladies decided to stay behind and spend the day in a spa instead. As we were paying for our meals, the security staff came in and got hold of the puppy. He yelped and cried as they carried him out and I had to turn around as I shed a tear. I truly am such an animal lover and it kills me to hear them cry.
We found our cab driver out front and set out on our journey to the waterfall. Or at least I was under the impression that we were going straight to a waterfall. I found out during the car ride that we were actually going to another town first. The ride was an hour long, and very shortly into the trip, my stomach started to flip. I fought the urge to vomit the entire drive to the town. I was so relieved to get out of the car when we finally got there, and shortly after we began walking, my stomach settled. This town was beautiful. Every home entrance was like a shrine and they all had a prayer podium just inside their front entrance. There were beautiful, sacred temples everywhere that tourists were not allowed to enter. My favourite site was a massive, gorgeous tree that had thick, long vines hanging down. I have never seen a tree that big in my life. We walked for a good hour through this town, being invited into some homes and seeing how they created their traditional wedding costumes. The costumes were beautiful plated gold headdresses and jewellery. I felt honoured to be invited into their homes like that. The locals were all very kind to us, and we were even invited in to check out a wedding ceremony.
After about an hour, the tour guide decided to take us on a spontaneous walk through the rice fields. I was excited at first, but it slowly became more terrifying and sketchy the further we went. At first, we were on a nice wide cement path, but after about ten minutes of walking, the path became much narrower, truly testing our Yogi balance. Thankfully I was able to stay on the path, as were we all. Despite the stress of the walk, the views were absolutely incredible. We saw lush, green rice fields, beautiful palm trees, and some old bamboo relaxation huts. They were square huts with three railings and one open sided entrance. We decided to stop and take a few pictures. Two ladies went up before me and got incredible photos. I was eager to get up and pose for a few as well. I gingerly got up into the hut, but once I stepped into the centre, I heard a loud ripping sound. I decided to stand on the edge of the hut where there was stronger bamboo to pose for my photos. We continued further into the rice fields. Eventually the cement path ended and the grass path began. At first it was just a bit nerve wracking as it had rained the night before making it muddy, and all I could think about is where I would run to if I saw a snake. But then we had to jump up and down from field to field, sometimes two feet, sometimes four feet. All the while the tour guide was looking around trying to figure out where he was. At this point, I was extremely annoyed and said as much, stating I wanted out, and doing everything I could to not panic. Finally, after many muddy jumps from path to path through the rice fields and one large jump over a narrow river, we came to a road. I was so grateful to be out of the rice fields! They were beautiful, but I had not anticipated having to work so hard to make it out safely.
Virabhadrasana II (Warrior 2) on a Meditation Hut in the Balinese Rice Fields
Yogis & A Tour Guide on the Tree Root Bridge
We were finally back in the van and on to our next destination. I was not in any mood for any more shenanigans and wanted to head straight to the waterfall. After a short trip, we all got out and walked into a wooded area. I honestly thought we would get there and walk right up to a waterfall, but no. We began our descent down a large set of stairs and onto another narrow cement path. I should mention that these stairs were not even at all. One stair would be 2 feet high, the next 1 ft, and the rest were other various heights down the entire set of stairs. And of course, where we went down, we had to come back up! So we continued down this narrow cement path and came to more stairs. These stairs were carved into the hard, dense earth and had a piece of bamboo at the edge. The pieces of bamboo were really only there to mark the edge of the stair and to stop you from sliding the entire way down. At the bottom of these stairs we came out to another incredible tree. This tree's roots had grown out of the ground and created a bridge over a ravine. It was absolutely stunning. Massive, thick roots and long, green vines hanging down. It reminded me of the vines that George of the Jungle swung on. I never realized how much I enjoyed trees until I made the trip to this part of Bali. We continued on down more earthen bamboo stairs until we came to the entrance of a cave. At first I refused to go into the cave, not knowing where it led or what to expect, but the tour guides insisted it would be safe. So they led us through the darkness. We could hear the sound of rushing water in the distance, so we knew we were very close. Then suddenly it appeared: the most beautiful, majestic site I have ever laid eyes on.
Tukad Barong Waterfall Number One
The waterfall was massive! It fell into a small pool area and spilled out onto a set of rock stairs. I was in absolute awe. I couldn't get enough of it. I made a promise to myself to never take any moment for granted and to be patient. This was a very clear message to me that everything worth seeing or accomplishing would take hard work that would sometimes make you want to give up. But if you stick to it, the results are worthwhile. There was a smaller hole in the side of the cave that led out to another incredible, even bigger waterfall. This waterfall was much wider and set further back. It fell into a small pond area that was surrounded by a rock ledge. These waterfalls were absolutely magnificent, but the best part was that there were no other tourists around. I felt honoured to have been taken to such a beautiful location where no other tourists had been. I was very appreciative, but annoyed at having to walk back up 100 uneven stairs. Those stairs nearly killed me, and by the time we got back to the top, I never wanted to walk another stair again! Despite my aggravation at having done so much physical exercise on my one day off, I was very grateful and awed by the day's events.
Tukad Barong Waterfall Number Two
My Really Bad Sun Burn
I was so happy to finally be back on our familiar path! I got a massage at Sri Bali Spa and my first-ever pedicure. I got the full works and pink polish on my toes. In fact, I still have pink on my big toes two months later... maybe I should take care of that. That night for dinner I got a personal Hawaiian pizza made in an Italian-style stone oven. It was delicious. I made a call to my Mom before I finally laid down. I was absolutely bushed after that long day, and I was not excited for our morning practice the next day. I was also extremely sunburned. I had not put sunscreen on as I did not expect to be out in the sun that long. Oh, how I regretted that decision. Not only did my mattress suck, but now I had to sleep while roasting inside my own skin. Fun!