TRAVEL DATES : December 2015




We arrived in Bali around 8pm and it was HOT.  Like seriously, the sun was down and I was dripping in sweat.  It was December (rainy season) and they hadn’t seen rain in 7 months.  So it was hot.  And humid.  And the worst part : “BANDAGE NO WET!” With Dorothy’s stitches she couldn’t swim.  And I felt so bad going to the pool and not letting her get in.  I was so impressed how obedient and willing she was to stay out of the water.  Poor girl didn’t want to hurt her chin again and end up back at the hospital.  These days she is SO very cautious around bathtubs and showers.  

So for our 3 days at the Ayodya we stayed INDOORS.  Which actually was very doable.  They had a wonderful kids club that Dorothy and Manilla loved.  That gave Garrett and I some gym time together, which we love.  We knew we were going to be working at an orphanage when we left, so we were prepping for that and buying lots of toys and supplies to bring the kids.  Dorothy was so excited to bring her new friends toys, but was super bummed to have to wait to open them.  

Ayodya is in Nusa Dua which is at the south end of Bali.  It is a secure area that holds multiple 5-star resorts.  Since the 2002 bombings at a Bali hotel, the security was tight.  Which was actually very comforting.  There was a great shopping center right around the corner with tons of restaurants.  It was very nice.  But very touristy.  Oh...there were a TON of Asians that thought we blondies were quite the spectacle.  Chinese tourists are never shy to pull out their cameras and start snapping pictures of Dorothy and Manilla. It was also super fun to run into a bunch of Russians.  We were able to use our Russian!  And by use, I mean understand very well and sound like an idiot when I tried to speak it.  I was SO tongue-tied!   

Bali is great in that you can hire a taxi driver for the whole day for about $50 USD.  So the day we left for Ubud our driver gave us a wonderful tour.  Turns out, Bali people are quite the artisans.  Each town is known for some sort of craft: silversmiths, woodcarvers, metal workers, etc.  We were amazed by their talent and hope to support their craft when we decided to build a house of our own.  We stopped by a Silversmith house and I purchased some rings that I’ve been wanting for a while.  My first trip to Tahiti, we boated out to the middle of the ocean to a pearl farm, dove down and pulled up a net of oysters.  Each oyster had a beautiful black pearl.  Now I have some great, meaningful jewelry for my black pearls!  

When we arrived in Ubud we went straight to an orphanage about 15 minutes away.  These particular children didn’t have parents, but did have relatives whom they lived with but came here at 2:00pm for after school activities and learning.   We quickly fell in love with these kids and with the school.  It was beautiful.  

To be honest, I had expected a run down school with starving children.  But this was not the case.  These kids were running, playing, singing and having so much fun.  They didn’t have any clue how little they had.  And it was so refreshing.  As soon as we walked in, every little kid came up and shook mine, Garrett, Dorothy and Manilla’s hands.  The little girls took Dorothy and went off to play.  Their English was so poor, but it made me so happy to see their kindness.  The little 8 year old boys came up and picked up Manilla and started to play soccer with him.  

I’m sure this is said very often of service… I went in thinking I could serve them and I was going to change their lives.  When in reality, they were the ones that changed me.  They made me want to “becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love…”

Children are awesome.  They saw no race, no age, no stature, no wealth.  They loved us.  We hadn’t done anything yet, and they welcomed us so warmly.  

Every day we had a theme like sports, art, animals and even holidays.  Dorothy brought in her favorite, playdough!  Manilla played soccer with the boys.  Garrett flew his drone.  I was days away from turning the big 3-0.  So, we told them the day before it was going to be my birthday.  We had planned to bring in a cake, balloons, and teach them some songs.  The day of my birthday, I walked into the classroom and they had written on the board “Happy Birthday Jess.”  And then, halfway through the lesson they all walked up to me and brought me presents.  SERIOUSLY!!?!  These kids!  They had nothing and every. single. one. brought me a little gift.  A piece of candy.  A bag of chips.  A hair clip.  A beautiful picture.  A nice note.  Man, these kids had nothing, and they gave what they could.  I was in tears.   I was so humbled and grateful for the lessons I learned from those children.  

Ubud was one of my favorite stops because not only did we spend our afternoons with those amazing kids, we spent our mornings doing that yoga yoga.  Every morning, Garrett and I went to The Yoga Barn.   I’ve done my fair share of yoga classes over the years, but never so consistently.  For two weeks we were able to go every morning and try different types of yoga.  Garrett had only done a hot cardio yoga class in L.A. once… so he didn’t quite know what real yoga was.  (Sorry if I’ve offended anyone by that sentence.)    He loved the meditation, chanting Om and stretching.  ACTUALLY, major props to my guy because when he started he could barely touch his mid-calf and after about a week, he could TOUCH HIS TOES!  I’ll never forget when I looked over at him during class and he was touching his toes.  He was so confused at first, he thought his legs must be bent or out of position.  So when he resituated and saw he really was touching his toes, we were both so stoked.  I progressed more than I ever had and finally learned how to do crow, a shoulder stand and got my scorpion back. :)  #stoked #yogi #yoga4life #lemmeseeyoudothatyoga

There are a few must-do’s.  Here’s our list:

  1. Cruise the rice paddies on a scoot - Don’t mind that we don’t have helmets for the kids… or that all 4 of us fit.  We were pretty apprehensive on the scooter and choose to take mostly side streets, but I think that’s where we saw the best stuff!  You could easily cruise around for hours on these.  

  2. Yoga - see above.

  3. Monkey Forest - This is something I pretty much hated but would totally recommend.  If you like your personal space, BEWARE!  Monkeys are shiesty and aggressive.  Oh, and don’t put your kid down to try to get a good picture next to a monkey. They’ll try to attack.  #sorrydorothy

  4. Canyoneering - This was one of the best excursions we ever did.  Adventure and Spirit picked us up from our hotel at 7am.  Drove us 2 hours through the island on an incredibly scenic drive and took us to the north shore where they had yummy breakfast prepared.  The tours often fill up, but this time it was just me and Gbum and our 2 guides!  They have great gear and took us 20 minutes up a mountain.  The trip had tons repelling, slides, cliff jumping and zip lining.  It was SO much fun.  The guides were so fun and chill.  They didn’t make me do anything outside of my comfort zone.  They had great snacks along the way and our guide GoPro-ed the whole thing!  We came back to Garrett’s favorite meal in all of Bali before we took off home.  Our whole trip was about 8 hours round trip.  

  5. Tenenungan Waterfall - This was super easy to get to and an easy little hike.  Perfect sized waterfall for you to stand under!  

  6. Date night - Garrett and I enjoyed a wonderful date night eating amazing Balinese food and getting cheap foot massages.  

  7. Beach day in Seminyak - Seminyak is swanky, young, touristy town.  It has fun shopping and yummy healthy food.  We took the kids there for the day and got caught in the rain.  We made the most of it and played in the ocean in the rain.  We thought about leaving and going home with the bad weather… but I’m so glad we didn’t.  I hope I never forget this memory of playing in the sand during the pouring rain!  (oh, rainy season FINALLY started once we got there…all the workers kept telling us we were good luck)

Something I personally really loved about Bali was what the Hindu religion brought to the culture.  Garrett and I have spent the last 10 or so years moving in and out of Utah...a place where the religion has a huge impact on the culture.  Here was very similar.  I loved seeing them pray, offer sacrifices and even having celebrations.  They were so kind to share with us their beliefs.  

Last but not least, I want to give a huge shout out to Pandawas Villas.  Pandawas is about 10 minutes outside of the city of Ubud.  It’s quietly tucked away and was an incredibly peaceful retreat.  There are 4 large villas that surround a beautiful pool.  While we were there, of them were under construction and the other villa was vacant.  So, for our time there it was just us!  It was heavenly.  The food was just amazing.  They were so helpful with the kiddies.  They brought in a nanny for us to use when we went to yoga every morning who was just incredible with the kids.  They provided fish food for the kiddies to throw to the bright orange fish in the ponds every day.  It was the highlight of Dorothy and Manilla’s day!  Every time we came and went they offered the warmest greetings.  Pandawas was so flexible with our schedule and helped us book everything and even drove us into town or to the orphanage whenever we needed it!  We were supposed to leave after a week and go to the Gili Islands, but loved it so much we extended another 5 days!  I can’t praise them enough.  We’re forever grateful to the incredibly kind staff at Pandawas and will absolutely be back!


Happy travels!! Sincerely, The Bucket List Family