Ubud, bali

After another exhausting day of traveling in Southeast Asia, Tre, Katie, Sarah and I finally landed in Bali and anxiously exited the airport arrivals terminal. Just as we started to think “is this where we’re supposed to meet them?” two more of our best friends that we hadn’t seen in 6 months jumped out from behind a group of innocent bystanders and practically tackled us. It was Ben and Greer, who had arrived in Ubud a few hours earlier having travelled 2 days straight from NYC. A big concern of ours when we decided to take a year off was Christmas and New Year’s. What would we do and where would we be for the holidays that we are so accustomed to spending with our friends and families? We didn’t have to stress out very long before 6 of our favorite people in the world told us that they were going to meet us in Bali and they wanted to be there for the holidays!
Our group was almost complete now and we were in Bali, Indonesia! As usual, we had arrived late and we were all starving. Luckily our friend Ben had lived in Bali for almost a year and had us hooked up with an amazing place to stay. After dinner and a few drinks, it started to settle in that we were all together again, and it felt great. We immediately rented scooters to aid in our exploration of the city. Compared to everywhere else we’d been in Southeast Asia, Ubud was by far the most westernized that we’d seen. They even have a Starbucks! Ubud is a fascinating contrast of Hindu tradition, master craftsman, and the influence of Expats from all over the world. We spent a couple days exploring rice paddies, eating traditional Balinese food, and shopping the various markets.

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Seraya shores, Bali

We had a couple more days to kill before our other two friends were coming with their 1-year-old, Charlie, so Ben decided to take us to one of his favorite spots on the east coast of Bali called Seraya Shores. A beautiful resort way outside the chaos of the city, it was the perfect place for us all to relax and enjoy each other’s company. We explored the area a bit, but mostly just hung out by the pool and ate and drank too much.

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Balangan, Bali

Once we were back in Ubud we moved into a big house that would be able to fit all of us. Another friend of Ben’s was able to rent us a great house with epic views, a pool and two separate decks to keep everybody happy. When Bethany, Sean, and Charlie finally arrived our (rather large) group of friends was complete! Most days included personal massages by the pool, big breakfasts and everyone making dinners together. After Christmas we all decided to head down to Balangan on the south of the island for New Year’s Eve. Balangan is a legendary surf spot with tiny guesthouses right on the beach for the hardcore surfers. Luckily we were able to stay at a resort up the hill and rent boards for the couple of days we were there. After we celebrated the New Year we all started to get antsy as the weather (and waves) deteriorated.

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Pemuteran, Bali

After we were back in Ubud for a few days, Tre and Katie had to leave and the rest of us headed up to Pemuteran on the northwest coast of Bali. Sean had arranged for us to have an entire house rented with a huge yard / guest house / pool / and private beach. We knew about it, but could never have guessed how incredible this accommodation would actually be. We lounged, watched movies and, again, were spoiled by an entire team of native Balinese who cooked the most delicious food you could ever imagine. We also had the opportunity to go out on a traditional Balinese fishing boat, which is a very unique. It’s basically a very deep and skinny canoe with pontoons and an outboard motor. We didn’t fish, instead we just snorkeled around and took pictures. It was especially cool to see the island from the perspective of the water…absolutely beautiful.

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Lombok

Ben and Greer left the rest of us on the last day we were at Pemuteran. It was sad to lose two more of our friends, but we had one more destination we wanted to see and we still had Sean, Bethany, and little Charlie with us. We all hopped on a small plane over to Lombok, the neighboring island to the east of Bali. Right away we were relieved to be in a place that was so much less developed than Bali. It’s amazing how close yet how different the two islands are. We showed up at Qunci Villas and realized very quickly that we would continue to be spoiling ourselves for the next few days. It was the most beautiful resort we’d seen so far, and we’re not big into resorts. This place was absolutely beautiful, and not too expensive, considering. After the last three months roughing it through the rest of Southeast Asia, we thoroughly enjoyed our time at this incredible resort.
During our time in Lombok we heard news from home that a very close friend had passed. One of our biggest fears about going on this trip was being far from our friends and family, and especially in a time like this. It was heartbreaking to be physically so far and in a lot of ways we felt helpless knowing that we couldn’t just be home in the snap of a finger. As difficult as it was to learn of the loss of our friend, being in such a beautiful place somehow made it easier to accept that when you lose someone, you can be at peace knowing that they are also somewhere beautiful. We were so lucky to have known such an amazing spirit and to have our amazing friends Sean, Bethany and Charlie with us for support. We spent every minute of the last days with our friends and baby Charlie exploring the island and enjoying everything about the experience.
Overall, the time that we spent with our friends was not necessarily what we had expected. There was still a lot of stress around decision-making and transportation, which was to be expected considering there were 9 of us that needed to get everywhere. We could not have been happier to see our friends, but it was bittersweet knowing that they’d be leaving and going back to our home without us. Something about that made us feel more homesick. We left Indonesia wondering if we had the energy to keep on traveling for 3 more months, as we had planned. In the end it was the encouragement of our friends that helped us realize how important they are, and why we should look forward to the last major part of our trip. Next stop Australia, and then on to New Zealand!

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