Adventures in Bali

Two weeks ago I got back from my trip to Bali.  Some friends and I spent a week exploring the island and had such a great time.

Day 1: We drove south and visited a place called Blue Point Ridge.  There were shops and restaurants on the side of a cliff basically.  We enjoyed some lunch while watching the surfers catch waves.  After lunch we walked down a bit more and found some stairs that led to a hidden beach.  The view was so pretty and there were many other people trying to get good pictures here.  It was a challenge trying to get a few good photos without random strangers in them.

Day 2: Another friend of the group arrived late last night, so this morning we walked down the street from out house to a really good breakfast place and enjoyed a good buffet before starting our adventures for the day.  After breakfast we drove north 1.5 hours to Ubud.  Let me tell you that the traffic in Bali is unreal.  They do not have actual laws to follow when they drive, or maybe they do but no one follows them.  This is probably one of the busiest places in the world where scooters take over the streets.  And when I say that I mean hundreds of them weaving in and out of the cars….sometimes an entire family on one scooter.  That was so scary to see, because I was constantly afraid I would see someone fall off the back. Anyway…once we made it to Ubud we went to the famous Tegalong rice terraces.  The rice terraces were so cool to see. We bargained for clothes and small souvenirs at the shops along the streets, which was always really interesting.  After walking around the rice terraces we went to Ubud and found a nice little lunch spot and had some delicious Balinese food.

Day 3:  The last two people in our group arrived last night, so today was our first officially day where the whole group was finally together in Bali.  Today we traveled north to Ubud again, but this time we visited the sacred monkey forest.  Now I know you probably think that the monkey were really cute, cuddly, and sweet….but not so much. I mean they were cute, but they weren’t always very nice.  Actually one of them kind of got aggressive and made us run in the opposite direction.  We did see some monkeys trying to steal a baby from its mom and that was kind of sad, but she eventually ran away with her baby so they were safe.

Day 4: Today we hiked Mt Batur, an active volcano, to watch the sunrise at the top.  We woke up at 0130 to get ready for our driver who was picking us up at 0200.  We arrived at the base around 0330 and met our two tour guides who would be hiking to the top with us.  We each got flash lights to carry since it was still really dark.  We started our hike at around 0345 and made it to the top right at 0600.  The hike was pretty strenuous at times, but for the most part it was doable.  Now coming down was another story.  At the top of the volcano we enjoyed some hot coffee and a banana sandwich that our tour guide prepared for us.  The sunrise was really pretty from the top and the view was amazing.  We had to come down the same way we came up and that was not as easy.  People were sliding and tripping over rocks…good thing our whole group survived the descent.  After our hike we were dirty and tired, so we decided to go visit some natural hot springs that were in the area and soak in the warm water for a while.  On our way back to Kuta after hanging out in the hot springs, our driver suggested that we visit the coffee plantation and since coffee runs in our veins we were all pretty excited to see this place.  The guide walked us through the plantation and explained the process of coffee making in Bali.  Basically, they feed the coffee beans to a mongoose, the mongoose then eats only the best beans and eventually “passes” the bean.  Then they brew coffee out of it. Sounds a little gross, but Luwak coffee sells for about 25 dollars a cup in the states.

Day 5: Today was our last day of adventures and we wanted to spend the day in the water.  We went snorkeling for a while and then our guide took us to a sea turtle rehabilitation center.  They rescue the turtles that are caught in fisherman nets or other items floating in the ocean and then take care of them until they heal and then release them back in to the ocean.

Trip to Japan

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This last week I had the opportunity to travel to Japan for work.  I attended a Resiliency Trainer Course and learned so much.  The Resiliency skills we learned will really make a big impact across the Air Force, teaching our Airmen how to better take care of themselves.   One of of our evenings,  a group of us ventured out and found delicious, fresh sushi for dinner.  But there were some interesting rolls to say the least…

Next week I am traveling to Bali for a week with a group of friends. So excited to go explore the temples, trek a volcano to watch the sunrise, and visit the monkeys in the Sacred Monkey Forest.  More blogs and pictures to come soon!

Buddhist temple, Royal Palace, & TACOS

This past weekend we went to Seoul and visited some really nice places.  My friend John was my tour guide since this is his fourth time in Korea (he’s basically a professional around the city)

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John the tour guide

Our first stop was lunch at Vatos Tacos. Now I know you wouldn’t think that tacos in South Korea would be a thing, but let me tell you…they were amazing! The atmosphere there was really laid back and entertaining.

After lunch we walked to the Jogyesa Buddhist temple in downtown Seoul.  Jogyesa is the main temple for Korean Buddhism.  The first thing you notice as you enter the temple grounds are the pretty trees. These locust trees and baeksong trees in front of the Daeungjeon (the main temple building) are about 500 years old.

After walking through the temple grounds we walked a couple more miles through the city to the Gyeongbokgung Palace.  It was the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty. Built in 1395, it is located in northern Seoul, South Korea. The largest of the Five Grand Palaces built by the Joseon dynasty, Gyeongbokgung served as the home of Kings of the Joseon dynasty, the Kings’ households, as well as the government of Joseon.

This is the reception hall where the king met with his officials and held his meetings.

Boryeong Mud Festival

This past weekend my friends and I decided to go to Boryeong to see what this famous mud festival is all about. People come from around the world to experience this festival, so we had to go check it out for ourselves.  When we first arrived it was pouring rain, windy, and cold…yes I complained for the first few hours and started wishing we would leave to go back home.  I know I know it’s just a little rain, but who like to be cold and play in the mud…not me!  Eventually the rain stopped and the wind died down.  Once the sun came out everything was all good.  They had a huge dance party on the beach, which was probably the highlight of the day.  It was so much fun! They had obstacle courses, mud pits, huge slides, and random little mud stations for people to throw more mud on themselves. Some of the pictures below are a little blurry from the rain, but I still want to share them with you all.

At the end of the day, once it was time for us to make our way back to Gunsan, I was happy that I went despite the crappy weather in the morning.  I promised myself that during my year overseas I would go to as many places and festivals as I could.

 

Get together

Tonight we got to meet up with some of our Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) counterparts.  Every couple weeks a group of us get together, cook dinner, and just talk about each others cultures and lives.  It’s sort of a neat mentorship opportunity. I found it very interesting to learn a little about each one of them and was very surprised to learn that a few of them even attended college in America.  The Koreans are such friendly people and are very welcoming.  The ROKAF members cooked a Korean dish for us called Dduck Bukgi and we brought normal finger foods…chips & queso, cheesecake, lumpia, mac n cheese and some other things.

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One funny thing that happened is I was telling a few of them that we plan to go “up north” to the beach this weekend and one guy looked very confused and whispered…”did she just say they are going to North Korea?”  We all laughed pretty hard, because he just misunderstood…and no we are NOT going to North Korea lol.  We are going to a mud festival in Boryeong this weekend and I will post about that adventure later.

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Where to start…

And so it begins…my first blog post. Ahhh I’m excited to get to writing. Weird I know. So let’s see… I arrived in Korea a little over a month ago.  I have been thinking about starting a travel/photography/capture all my memories blog, because a) it sounded fun, b) my friends and family would enjoy it…I think, and c) because I just wanted to.  I know my friends and family will want to know what I am up to and how my travels are going, so this seemed to make the most sense.

So far I really enjoy Korea.  It is very different here compared to America and Germany (the only two countries I have lived in).  Initially I was in in a little bit of a culture shock, because I realized I can’t speak or understand the local language at all….then I panicked a little.  But the people are very nice here and the food is AMAZING.  I know when I found out that I was moving here that was one of the things I was looking forward to the most is trying all the delicious food.  Last night after dinner, we went to a place called Acqui Terme, waffle  & gelato espresso bar…but to us americans it’s known as “Crack Waffle”.  If you look at the pictures below you will know why it is called that.

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So many flavors of Gelato
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Tiramisu Crack Waffle