Trip of a Lifetime: Day 18 – Monkey Business in Ubud

Today was our last day in Ubud, a city we already felt very connected to. We started with a lovely buffet breakfast at the Tjampuhan Hotel and Spa, a hotel we would be sad to leave for its unique look and the fantastic attitude of its staff.

They have a great variety of western and Indonesian breakfast foods with selections changing daily – plus a lovely balcony view of the grounds and rushing stream below to enjoy while you get down to business.

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We really ate a lot this morning and thus decided to take a stroll around the hotel grounds. Despite encountering uncomfortably vertical steps in all directions, the uniqueness of this unique setting kept us moving.

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You can go swimming in the river below!  The whole hotel and most rooms overlook this lush view.

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We had been to the spa two nights in a row but was hard to get nice picttures in the dark.  The spa is the main reason why we stayed here as it is carved like the inside of a Balinese Temple – so cool!

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We decided to take it easy, going around the town and then stopping at the Monkey Forest.  This was top of my list in terms of places to visit.

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I’m glad we gave it another go. We got there around 10am and it was already getting pretty busy. 

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There were a lot of intersting and quirky stone scuptures dotted around the forest.

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The big tree (with modesty cloth of course – these are commonly wrapped around revered objects in Bali) which is at the centre of the Forest (and a good meeting place)

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So I should mention that the ticket costs about £8 per person and from there we were told to observe the rules and head on in.  Right from the start there are monkeys everywhere, we made the mistake of buying a bunch of bananas and NOT hiding them straightaway – monkeys clocked us and started harassing us until we could hide them and give them out one at a time.  Some of them are pretty big and when they bare their teeth, all you want them to do is keep their distance so you give them the banana – LPT don’t try to take the banana back – they will get shirty – plus staff will tell you to let it go

 

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Some videos of the monkeys playing around the main temple area (this area is covered and the monkeys like to hang out there)

One of their favourite things to do is groom eachother

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Plotting?

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A sweet mummy and her baby

It was a hot day so we saw a lot of lazing around by the monkeys.

Having a snack – they can be relentless so hide your food!

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monkey watching other monkeys

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I could watch these guys forever!  We spent about 4 hours here total exploring the park and the various walks around the area on offer

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Bae making friends

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We walked along a small river that led us to a lovely green corner where we chilled out, watched some monkeys and took it all in.

20170602_12233120170602_12244120170602_12264820170602_12281720170602_12292620170602_123026As we were walking around the conservation area we came across the Rehabilitation enclosure, and a lovely little fella called Nelson.  You can see Nelson and read his story below20170602_120527

Quiet and pensive but aware of his surroundings, we spent a little while with him before continuing on our way

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After a lovely day at the Monkey Forest we drove around Ubud on our scooter for a bit more sightseeing

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For dinner our Bali based friend took us to a really good Vegetarian restaurant in Ubud.  There is a huge expat community here, a lot of them soul-searchers and new age folks, so healthy eating and living is  a way of life here.  Never have I seen such a concentration of raw food and vegan restaurant in one small area.

I am not really a fan of such food usually – I love meat in many forms – especially bacon!

The starter of mozarella dn tomato with tapenade was deliciously fresh

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However, I was blown away by this “I can’t believe it’s not Bolognese”  While the pasta had gluten (I have no issue with gluten, love gluten) the “meat sauce” was made with pasta and fresh herbs and tomatoes.  It was one of the best bologneses – meat included that I have ever had (although nothing will beat my dad’s spag bol – literally the best ever!)

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Tune in tomorrow!

Trip of a Lifetime: Day 11 – Kauai to Tokyo

Today we leave America and head to Asia and we hot the road early as Bae is keen to take the Mustang for a last fast ride before we have reluctantly give it back to Thrifty Car Rental. All in, it came in at about $200 for three days and it was worth it – the roads and scenery there deserve it…but more importantly, you deserve it 😉20170526_075149

Our flight to Honolulu is midmorning, so we decide to find a place to grab some breakfast before heading in. We were keen to try the famous Hawaiian Loco Moco – a Hawaiian speciality (basically rice, gravy, fried egg and a hamburger patty, topped with spring onions) – got the mini Loco and it was pretty good – very hearty.  Not something I could eat every day though!

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Bae went for pancakes (he always goes for pancakes lol)

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We arrived in Honolulu with about 3 hours to spare until our next flight to Tokyo (!)  I was a bit peckish (again!) so we got a quesadilla and ordered some bloody Marys to help wile away the time.

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We had an 8 hour trip, we would leave Kauai at 13:15 on Friday and arrive in Tokyo 17:00 on Saturday thereby losing a whole day.  Weirdly though, since the time difference is so significant, the jetlag should be minimal!

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Luckily the flight went well -also good to note, China Airlines economy has simple but tasty food! (for an airline).

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Tune in Tomorrow!

Trip of a Lifetime: Day 10 – Hike for our lives on Kauai’s North Shore

Today is the massive hike we had been preparing for the past 2 months or (by preparing, I mean a lot of internet research and a couple of long testing walks around Richmond Park). 

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Gorgeous views on the way in.  There was a bit of traffic but pretty smooth sailing

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You always feel so close to the clouds in Kauai as they

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The Hike is the Hanakap’ai Hike – an 11 mile roundtrip (we weren’t doing the 22 mile camping one) to a beach and waterfalls.  We set off about 6am to get to the north side of the island as was recommended.  I thinking we were trying to be optimistic as it had rained very heavily the night before and when we got to the trailhead at Ke’e beach, our worst fears were confirmed the trail would be closed for the rest of the day. 

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Exactly what we DIDN’T want to see!

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Consoling ourselves with a selfie by Ke’e beach

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On the walk back tot he car we spied this cool looking cave

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The faceless man…

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A more normal selfie

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My brother and wife met us on the north shore a bit later and we had a quick breakfast together then Bae and I had heard about another hike nearby. Determined to do some sort of hike today so as not to feel like pussies (I had even brought a hiking pole!) we headed to this hike trailhead.

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This hike, while a lot shorter was rated 9/10 on some hiking site which is strenuous – I could definitely see that as this hike was entirely uphill- I mean we basically walked up a mountain which tested our bodies and relationship but was ultimately worth it for the view, plus there was a nice bench at the top to soak in the sun and the amazing vantage of Hanalei Bay.

Downhill was a pleasure after that 2 mile climb although face planting was a constant worry!

We decided to drive to Queens Pond, as the photos looked epic!  Sadly it was high tide, and there was no way you could swim in it without being swept away (seriously, they had a sign showing about 25 people had died there so far!)  This place is definitely worth the wait.  The parking lot is super small; about 8 spots total so there is a bit of a wait. Luckily people don’t spend the whole day here so after about 20 minutes of waiting, we got to park and head down a short (but moderately strenuous downhill) hike (flip flops no Bueno for this terrain).  The hike down, while a bit difficult, is really beautiful.  The trees were reminiscent of something from a dinosaur movie and almost all the way down; we encountered a lovely waterfall set against some dense green lush vegetation.  Then the vegetation stops and you are at the coast, replete with volcanic rocks over which to clamber, hop and jump.  We stayed out there watching the waves crash into the tidal pool and spotted dolphins and lots of giant turtles frolicking in the rocky waves.

After we had had our fill, we were in need of some nourishment.  My brother and wife had checked into the St Regis for their stay post wedding so we met them at the swanky hotel pool. The drinks they had were amazing and we scarfed down our sandwiches brought from some random café in the morning (we like to keep it classy in these establishments you know)

It was the last time we would see them for a while so we hung out by the pool and chatted about the beauty of Kauai.  My brother and I went down to the beach to have a quiet moment for our father, who had sadly passed away a couple of months before.  My brother wasn’t there when he was cremated so I brought some of dad’s ashes so we could do a little remembrance and send off.  My plan is to take his ashes with me all over the world and spread them around – just like he was a world traveller, I think and hope he would appreciate being spread around the world.

Tired and satisfied, we started our longish drive down to the South Shore. As we were driving through Kapa’a I got peckish (what’s new) and spied a couple of food trucks on the side.  We bought a couple of tacos and sat by the beech on a piece of driftwood to enjoy the Hawaiian sea one more time.  I must add that these tacos were amazeballs as well.

Tune in Tomorrow!

Trip of a Lifetime: Day 7, My brother’s Wedding

My brother’s wedding day is finally here!  My sister and I are bridesmaids so we headed over to the bridal suite in the morning to have our hair and makeup done.  Cue many cute impromptu pictures, chilled champagne and a lovely spread that my sister in law’s father (who is a chef) had kindly prepared for us.

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A nice couple pic of us before the wedding.

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The ceremony began at 16:30 next to a gorgeous orchid garden in the Kiahuna Plantation and it was such a beautiful and heartfelt ceremony. 

Both parents typically cried and after the vows we got pictures done (in the blazing sun) and then headed over for a cocktail hour.  After the cocktail hour we had a lovely dinner, although typically for me, I peaked too soon having loaded up on some delicious hor d’oevres and ended up having to take my steak in a doggy bag!

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Tune in Tomorrow!

Trip of a Lifetime: Day 6 – Kauai Beachtime!

Waking up in Kauai and walking out onto our lanai to see the sea and the sun was definitely something special.  



Had some amazing banana and macadamia nut pancakes (with coconut syrup) for breakfast – I will say that the only complaint was that they were too big to take down!


My sister and I had to do the obligatory walkthrough of the ceremony and then we all went to find a nice beach to chillax on for the afternoon- good times. 


 We drove to the west side of the island and found a remote beach (we were the only ones there) where the waves were nice and mellow and the sand soft and velvety between our toes. 

our British pasty bodies need to catchup to the beautiful background!

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Taking it all in…

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LPT – even if it doesn’t seem that hot and sunny, WEAR SUNSCREEN!  We regretted this over the coming days.

After the beach we headed to Ishihara Market to have some of their famous Poke.  This is just a local supermarket, but they have a fresh fish and seafood counter at the back of the store where you can find all manner of amazing poke.  We got three different types of poke with rice and seaweed salad all for under $10!

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Also another LPT – if you have less than 20 minutes of sunlight left, don’t think you can “chase the sunset” around Kauai – the island is a lot bigger than you think! 

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20170521_192053Having read numerous reviews for the best Hawaiian tacos on the island, we found this cute hole in the wall type place with limited seating but offering sustainably sourced, organic food in Kapaa. Our fish and steak asado tacos took half an hour to prepare and about four minutes to eat – my oh my were they delicious. This place also serves vegetarian tofu tacos for those in need!

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Tune in Tomorrow!

 

Trip of a Lifetime: Day 5 – L.A to Kauai

Today….Hawaii!!  I have wanted to visit Hawaii for the longest time and have been excited about this day since I found out my brother was planning on getting married there.  He and his wife chose Kauai, one of the oldest of the Hawaiian islands, it is also the wettest and most lush of the islands due in part to its geology.

I will say that these tickets were probably the most expensive that we bought for the whole trip.  There is no getting around the fact that Hawaii is  a LONG way from the US mainland!  It is a 5.5-6 hour trip from Los Angeles.

We took an indirect flight via Honolulu because of the price and also because we only lost about 1-2 hours by doing so.  Since the flight from Oahu to Lihue is only 40 minutes, we didn’t mind the stop.

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After a long flight to Honolulu we had a 3 hour layover before we were taken to Kauai.  It was my first time in Honolulu airport and I had read not so good reviews about things to do or eat at the airport.  However, upon arrival we managed to find a lovely set of gardens in the airport.

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Though the weather didn’t offer too much respite, we got a preview of the beautiful foliage that would be awaiting us in Kauai at the Hawaiian garden, then sat and contemplated life (and for me, questioning how people can live in this heat – not the first time I would do that this holiday) We board a MUCH smaller plane to head on the 35 minute flight to Kauai and I must say that it was one of the more scenic landings we have seen the entire trip

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We are excited! (and a bit crazy!)

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Did I mention super silly?

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We jumped in a cab (you cannot get Uber from the airport, although you can use it on the island) and it cost about $40 going from Lihue to Poipu on the South shore. Our driver was a lovely guy who shared several things of interest specific to this island– that the centre of the island is one of the top three wettest places on planet Earth; that there is literally no crime there; there are thousands of chickens running around the island as they have no natural predators, ever since some escaped a farm in the 70’s.

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It’s pronounced Li Hoo EE (with Hawaiian words, pronouncing every vowel separately is a good start)

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We arrived at our apartment and met my sister and her husband. Took about an hour to get settled into our VRBO rental (hotels are more expensive per night, esp. if you are staying with 4 people or more.  One thing I like about Hawaii is that everywhere has a lanai (balcony/patio/outdoor space) and nearly every vista here is breath taking.

The gorgeous view from our vacation rental – only $1600 for the week! (3 bed, 3 bath)

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We were in Kauai for my brother’s wedding and tonight we had a casual meet and greet where we got to get to know the rest of the wedding party.

The dinner was held at Keoki’s Paradise, a semi casual restaurant in Poipu that makes amazing drinks – I had a minty flavoured pineapple colada served in a pineapple – what a nice way to start our Hawaii time!

Bae is trying to have some of my amazing drink here, hence the look!

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The wedding party getting to know eachother

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Sisters together again! Ready for our brother’s wedding in a couple of days!

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Tune in tomorrow!

Trip of Lifetime: Day 4 – Relax and Beach

My brother and future wife leave very early in the morning to catch their flight to Hawaii. A bit later in the day, my sister and her husband arrive at my brother’s house.

We drove around Sunset Boulevard (which is not what I expected!  Very bohemian, not glamorous at all but an interesting walk down the boulevard) and headed back to Santa Monica beach (again!) for some people watching and a couple hours later ended the day with rooftop drinks overlooking the pier watching the sunset – Lovely!

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Nice quiet parking lot about 500m from the pier (north) with lovely sands

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Gorgeous Sand and surf! – I recommend walking a bit down from the pier to get a quieter spot (there is a paved road to walk to the pier or car park)

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Chillaxing

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Some fresh fruit with a drizzle of lime juice and a sprinkling of cayenne – make sure the pepper is evenly distributed!

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Barbie’s house! (Or the owner of Mattel)

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There is a theme park on the pier but was quite expensive and we weren’t very interested.

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The food court is next to the theme park and offers lots of seating to chill and people watch

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Just had to go another round with these delicious corn dogs!

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The centre of a delicious bite

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The garlic butter parmesan fries are especially good!

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View from the end of the Pier (about 15 mins from the beginning if you don’t stop)

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Lot of people catching fish themselves too

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I was surprised at the (low) quality of street vendors and entertainers for the Pier,  most are typical touristy things like below but a lot of them you’d think there was no quality control – there was literally a drunk guy with his boombox doing a weird uncle at the wedding dance – and people were giving him money!

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Sunset on the beach

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We found a cool little spot at the beginning of the pier where we enjoyed some sunset cocktails20170519_183102

Tune in tomorrow!