Rice terraces and all day spa days

Tegalalang rice fields

I had grand plans of finally attending a yoga class and improving my mind and body and stuff but for the next few days I take it easy and stay close to my hotel again. I do sneak out for pizza at some point though.

I book an evening tour to see rice fields (Tegalalang) and a show even though my stomach is still uneasy. I take medicine and head out to visit the rice fields in a town nearby. It is too far to walk so my only option is to hire a taxi or take a private tour such as this one. (No I am not renting a bike. It is very scary on the roads so not an ideal place to learn).

The iconic rice fields are beautiful to see. I am there in the afternoon and it seems like the crowds have passed for the day because it isn’t very busy. My driver tells me about the different growing stages and how they are irrigated and harvested. I take one or two kitschy pictures even though I feel ridiculous doing so. I didn’t shell out money for the bali swing though. I hear screaming above from people on the swing while they are trying to do their iconic swing photos.

I also notice a zip line across the fields that is actually a bike. I don’t see it in action but it seems scary. I have at least one friend that would try to talk me into that if she was here to see it.

Bike zip line

We head back to Ubud and my driver drops me at the market for a couple of hours. It is hot and my stomach is starting to make trouble. I really don’t care for shopping; there is no browsing because as soon as you show a little interest in an item a person will come up to you right away and start putting things in front of you and talking nonstop. I cannot shop under that stress. The thing is, if they let me be for a couple of minutes I probably would buy a couple things. Instead I get anxious and can’t decide therefore I walk away. I contemplate walking back to my hotel and forgetting the rest of the tour. After about 20 minutes of walking around the market I sit in front of a circle K and start reading. Eventually it starts pouring so I put on the poncho I’ve been carrying around forever for the first time. Other travelers see my poncho and ask where I purchased it. I tell them I brought it from home and this is the first time I finally get to wear it. Now I don’t regret adding it to the bulk of my backpack. I don’t want to visit a cafe during this time because I still don’t trust my stomach and I am too far from my hotel room. I eventually meet my guy an hour before my show is supposed to start and ask him to take me back to my hotel. I am not going to be able to sit through a show tonight. It is sad because it seems like a nice cultural dance show.

Treat Yo Self

Have I said that massages are so cheap here? I decide to treat-yo-self and book a half day spa package at a nearby spa (not the same one as before but one not too far with good reviews).

I first stop at my favorite cafe and get a nice breakfast. With all my misery in this town this is a bright shining light.

I head to the spa where I begin 90 minute massage which is part one the experience. They take me out to a private room with a very large tub. It is nice and relaxing but even 90 minutes is not long enough when it is time for my facial.

For my facial there is a couple of rounds of face mask and cleansers then a thick layer of honey topped with layer upon layer of cold wet cucumbers that sit for 15 minutes

Does my skin look rejuvenated, ha!

After the facial I go back to the main room to start my hair mask. There is washing and then cream hair mask treatment. It all feels very nice on my scalp.

I am served ginger tea and sweet potato snack at the end.

I must feel good because I decide to go out for dinner. The only problem is I really don’t have an appetite. I just starting taking the probiotics today so maybe they are messing with my appetite. I force myself to eat anyway and head back to the hotel. 3 years ago I would be finding a place to get some after dinner cocktails. How have times changed.

Next Morning

After breakfast at my hotel I thought about going to a yoga class since my stomach seems to be on the mend again. It then starts raining. It is already a minimum 30 minute walk so I decide to spend the morning in my room getting things done back home while things are still “open” for me to do so (13 hour time zone difference makes things hard).

I am craving a burger so I go out for a late lunch and some shopping. I buy a shirt that will come in handy in Oman when I have to cover up the majority of my body.

I also stop at my favorite ice cream chain in town and get a very weird vanilla charcoal ice cream. Nothing is wrong with the flavor but picture eating vanilla flavored sand. It has a weird texture but it sort of works for me.

I am still not able to locate the piece of art I want to purchase. I need to buy it before I try a shipment home tomorrow since I leave soon. This is always my problem. I am a terrible shopper. I will walk away 99% of the time initially then I have the hardest time finding the item I had my eyes on originally. I know some people are impulse buyers but I have the opposite problem. I need to be more impulsive.

Bali really does hate me

Starting to slowly get my stamina back so I enjoy some things around town.

Hotel breakfast

I book a lovely massage at the spa across the street (and a hair treatment a couple days prior).

Found a pretty great local ice cream chain.

One of the things I failed to do my last visit due to being sick is the Campuhan Ridge Walk (Bukit Campuhan). It is a short path so I figure it would be something nice to do this morning prior to breakfast. After the short trail you end up in a quiet town. I walk by the spa someone recommend earlier in my travels. I want to visit but I probably won’t because it will be a little farther from my hotel than I desire. It is still early so not much in the town is open. I turn around and head back toward my hotel.

I try the pancakes for breakfast today.

I relax and later head back out for a burger since its what I am craving. I am enjoying being able to eat foods again.

My time of normalcy is short lived….

I am sick again. I thought because I was so ill a week prior and almost fully recovered that I had built some sort of immunity to Bali. I was wrong. Luckily it is not as bad as before but I am drained of energy and have little motivation and big fear of being too far from my hotel. This is supposed to be a relaxing place that everyone loves. Why am I always so miserable here?

Mount Batur

It is 1:30 in the morning and my alarm goes off. I went to bed early as I could ~ 9:00 PM but it is sure to not be enough sleep. I’m in such a deep sleep that I am not really registering what the alarm is for. I decide to blow off whatever plan I had because I am not ready to wake up. Luckily I only press snooze (three times total). Eventually I remember that I have a driver coming for me at 2:15 to take me to Mount Batur. I am to do a sunrise hike.

I get myself ready quickly, luckily everything laid out the night before. I am outside a minute early and my van is already there. There is one other sleepy guy inside. He’s had an even earlier pickup than I. I try to sleep on the hour or so ride, eventually doing so. Awakened by the arrival at a resort where we are given tea and wait to meet our guide. It is chilly but I refuse the large jacket they offer because I have my own and I rarely get cold.

It is still pitch black when we start walking up toward the summit. The guide and the much younger guy start ahead and it becomes apparent there is no way I can continue at the pace they are going. It is 5 minutes in and I am exhausted. They put me in the front to set the pace and I trek up for a little more and realize even though my stomach has almost fully recovered from my recent sickness, my body has not. I have an embarrassing lack of stamina. Eventually I tell the guide I am going back to the parking lot because I don’t want to ruin the morning for the other guy. The guide tells me if walk another 15 minutes there is a motorbike I can hire to take me the majority of the way. It is an embarrassing option but at least I don’t lose out on the entire sunrise experience.

I put on the helmet provided and then wrap my arms around him to hang on for my dear life. It is a 30 minute scary and bumpy ride in the dark, maneuvering around hikers. As scary as the ride is, I know I have made the correct choice. Today would not have worked out the way I wanted it to. On a good day I do well with self-paced or at least a companion who can deal with my pace (I always say I am slow but I will get there) but today there was no way I am getting to the top with those legs and body and definitely not with the defeatist attitude of feeling like holding up a healthy 20 something on their journey. This is another reminder I can never do group hikes. It is never a pleasant activity for me.

We stop along the way for a picture. It is still sort of dark out but you can make out the lake and the mountain in the distance.

My bike drops me off on the last point that bikes can go and from there I have to hike the rest. This is supposed to be the most challenging portion but short. There is a guide helping me and a couple other “bike people”. They keep telling me its ten minutes to the top. I NEVER believe the timing in foreign countries because it is almost never representative of the time it would take ME. I assume it could take me up to thirty minutes to climb and I am ok with that but I am being chaperoned and constantly asked if I am ok and hands given to me to help. Please let me take the journey at my pace, alone. I actually feel better climbing this portion because even though I am weak, this is the part of climbing that always gives me a bit of a rush: uneven rocky surfaces with a bit of scrambling. If I wasn’t annoyed by the constant attention I might actually like this part. My original guide catches up with me with the other guy and I join them again. We are going to the summit and the guide is going to cook us an egg in volcanic steam while we wait. There is another “just another 5 minutes to the top”, all lies of course. At the top I am warm from the hike up but it is noticeably cool. I am still wearing my short sleeves because I love the feeling. We still have an hour to wait for sunrise. I eventually put all my layers on too because it gets windy and we are just standing still at this point. We eat breakfast and it is becoming obvious that the previously clear morning is now very overcast with strong winds. We remain hopeful but as sunrise comes and passes we have no view of the mountain. A thick fog covers the sky. So disappointing, but it would be even more disappointing if I actually hiked the entire way.

The last part of the climb during the daytime

Our guide shows us the volcanic steam area and shortly after we start back down. As we drop in altitude the view becomes clearer and we actually get some good shots of the mountain.

Some artsy stuff

I meet back with my motorcycle because I decide a round-trip is a good idea. It is still a scary ride down but I also see people slipping and sliding on the trails as we pass them. Maybe I am smarter than I think.

I’m back quick so I rest in the car waiting for the tour guide and the other guy. Eventually they make it back and we head off to visit a coffee farm. The coffee farms are much smaller here. The talk about the Luwak coffee that I have heard mentioned before. Luwak coffee is a rare coffee that is made with beans that are from the poop of the Luwak (or a civet). Civets only eat the best coffee berries and then subsequently poop out the beans whole. They are cleaned up and roasted into an expensive coffee. They didn’t have the coffee to sample but they did have some to buy so I bought some to take home along with another tea and coffee. After my visit I read about the conditions that the Luwak are kept in and I am not happy. When the guide told me about the coffee though he told me that the beans here are collected from the wild so perhaps not all farms use terrible practices for harvesting this rare coffee? After our tour we are able to try a good number of coffee and tea combinations. This is a nice stop on the way back.

After I go back to my hotel I clean up and rest a little and head out to lunch nearby (remember we left at 2:15 am this morning so it is still early in the day). After lunch I am done for the day. I spend the day napping and relaxing by the pool.

Back in Ubud

Due to my Lombok/Gili plans falling apart I decide to book some relaxing time in Ubud. After all, last time I was here I got pretty sick and missed out on many things so this can be a kind of do-over.

My hotel has a nice pool and my only bathing suit is looking really sad – like a hole can form at any moment bad. It is time to get a new one. I also need money and I start remembering things about Bali like how funny the ATM’s can be. It took me five until I found one that would give me money. Bali gonna Bali. I also forgot or blocked out the taxi guys. You get asked if you need a taxi once a minute while you walk around Ubud, no exaggeration, and it is not just the guys who see you walk by and show the sign and say “taxi”, it is the person out of nowhere whispering taxi in your ear, it is the person yelling at you from down the street “Hey lady taxi”. It is a unique experience that you just tune out eventually.

Swimsuit and clothes shopping in general as an “American” sized woman is depressing. All the bathing suits look like they are sized for children. I finally find one promising place with a bottom that fits and is conservative enough but the top, being XL, only covers 20% of my bust. I am defeated so I give up. Hopefully my suit has another week in it. I see other larger ladies here. Why is there no shopping available for them?

Every time I eat Indonesian food lately I have bad luck so I play it safe and visit a cute Italian restaurant. Finally my appetite seems to be back. I even try a glass of wine.

I also got to visit one of my favorite restaurants in Ubud, Watercress Cafe. Last time I was in town I stayed at the resort next door and the daily breakfast was at this glorious cafe. The hotel is too expensive for my taste this time around but I didn’t want to miss out on visiting this cafe.

Tomorrow I have a sunrise hike planned so trying to get to sleep early.

Bali hates me

I’ve come to the conclusion that Bali hates me. This is the second time I am in Bali and the second time I am very sick. I guess I could have been more careful but I think I am pretty careful. I blame the lunch we had on our snorkeling outing because the other two girls who ate there with me are sick as well, just not as bad as I. Not even mentioning the soreness and bruises from surfing, I haven’t really been able to leave bed except for a brief period yesterday where I thought I had the energy to surf (false Imodium hope). I tried surfing out there for max 20 minutes but did catch one wave so the whole week wasn’t a total waste. They caught my success on video at least. I feel really bad because everyone at the retreat knows I’ve been sick and keep asking if I am feeling better and my answer every time is no. Another few days wasted in Bali once again due to illness.

Surf pictures

I’ve been pretty sick and and I am tired of it. I canceled my plans for my upcoming silent retreat and booked a western style hotel for a couple days in Seminyak. If I still feel this bad the last thing I want to do is be at a place without air conditioning, far from doctors, and far from other comforts and conveniences.

I check into my new hotel in Seminyak and I can already tell I made a wise decision. My room is nice and comfortable. I settle in with my ginger tea and fall to sleep early. I mean to get a light dinner and medicine but it is not happening tonight.

I wake up and go to an impressive breakfast spread. I can only eat plain white bread today though. I am hoping to try more tomorrow.

After breakfast I go to the nearby pharmacy and FINALLY pick up antibiotics. They also talk me into probiotics and vitamins. I am sure I’ll regret these purchases later but for now I’ll buy anything they give me. Note: the probiotics were actually teen vitamins. So basically they talked me into two different types of bulky vitamins I didn’t really need and no probiotics.

Antibiotics, yes I know they resemble something else

I can tell within a few hours the antibiotics are helping. I should have done this days ago.

I finally have the energy to do something other than watch videos on my phone or movies on the tv. I decide to try to resuscitate my bathing suit. I could never quite get it clean while I was at the retreat and it never dried out in time before I had to use it again so it had caked on days of ocean, sweat, and mold. I am soaking it in my hotel in soap and hopeful it can be saved. I despise swimsuit shopping and I would at least wait to do so until I have a long time in Ubud.

While I feel a little better I can mention some more details about the hotel. It is fancy. There is a large amount of security around and they check our bags through X-ray every time I try to return. I did not think Seminyak is an unsafe place to be but if it is, I’m probably in the safest hotel.

During the next two days I slowly recover and every morning I add new food choices to my diet and one afternoon try to have a hamburger and cocktail by the inviting pool. Hamburger is a success but I can’t finish the cocktail. But it is progress.

I dress up and sit on a bean bag chair at my hotel to watch the fire show at the hotel courtyard. It is amazing the control they have over the fire.

I never make it to the beach but I have accomplished what my number one goal is – to get better. I am feeling much better before I head out to Ubud for ten days. I am hoping it is smooth sailing since I got my illness out of the way (spoiler alert: I get sick again).