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Paradise Found, Part 2

We left off with a visiting Gramma and a new foster pup, who by the way has never had a single accident in the house! Our neighbor tells us that this is an actual Bali dog thing. I’m not sure how that’s possible but we are very happy about it. Unfortunately puppy chewing and biting is still a thing; we are still working on that one. The morning after our return from Sidemen there was no rest for the weary. We had promised Gramma a trip to Ubud so we did a quick load of laundry, repacked for another trip the next day, and headed up to Ubud. On the way we stopped and let Elena pick out her own birthday present. Jason and I had spotted a cheeky monkey painting a month earlier and we were pretty sure she would love it, but art is a tricky gift (learned that one the hard way). Thankfully she loved it, and her room is now a little cheerier.

Music Man

Ubud is a complicated place. It is legendary for yoga retreats, vegan cafes, art markets, temples and the jungle. The part that isn’t in the guidebooks is the abhorrent traffic in the city core. Many of our friends actually park outside of town and take a cab ride to the center. I hated it when we came to visit last March, but like many things in Bali your focus shifts (or blurs) and suddenly the traffic, crowds of tourists and hippy ex-pats, treacherous sidewalks, and higher prices don’t seem so bad. There are some really cool spots in Ubud and even better ones on the outskirts of town. We took Gramma to our favorite restaurant, the Hobbit place, or more officially named Clear. It is beautiful and hippy-dippy, and oh so delicious. They also have the best milkshakes in town. We actually haven’t tried any milkshakes anywhere else in Bali, but if any of you have suggestions we would be happy to take a Bali Tour de Milkshake. We checked out a few shops and then made the near fatal mistake of walking to the other side of town in the sweat drenching heat to visit the Kupu Kupu foundation gift shop. There was a birthday donation a friend made in honor of our triplet birthdays last month (3 of us were all born in 1972 exactly a week apart). The money was burning a hole in my pocket and my guilt ridden heart. We dragged Gramma and the girls across town, dodging scooters, dogs and bus loads of Japanese tourists just to hand over the donation. We then dragged our sweaty bodies back to the car for a traffic jammed ride home. Did Gramma complain? Hell no, but me? I was a pissy whiny baby…and yes it was my idea.

The evening turned around quickly as we did a quick change (whiny baby snuck in a shower) and went out for Elena’s birthday dinner at her favorite Indian restaurant. It didn’t disappoint. We then took her to Massimo for gelato. She doesn’t like cake or pie; they may have switched babies at the hospital but dang she looks just like us. We had actually ordered a gelato cake for her the week before and as we sat down to “order” the waitresses came out with her surprise cake and a song. It was a sweet ending for a very sweet girl.

Friday morning was another quick turnaround. We had a boat to catch, two actually. Elena opened her cards and presents and then we raced out the door. We were on our way to Gili Asahan, a tiny island off of Lombok that is nary a mention in any of the guidebooks. We were accompanied by our favorite neighbors, Sharon and Olivier, and met our good friends the Whelans on the island. They keep their sailboat docked on a nearby island and had moored it in front of our eco lodge for a weekend of fun. The Secret Gilis, as these little islands are known, are stunning, and the iPhone photos could never do them justice. We sailed to nearby islands to snorkel and spent the whole weekend on the water. Snorkeling there was like swimming in a warm aquarium just loaded with fish, many that we had never seen before. We also saw turtles and sea cucumbers. Games were played, wine was consumed, and I got to teach our Belgian neighbor what an underdog was! The kids were even lucky enough to catch an outdoor movie on the beach with the kids from the local village. Moana is apparently a hit in every language. Sadly the fun had to end and we returned to Bali tanner, more dehydrated, and harboring some feisty bacteria that would “bite me in the kidneys” two short days later.

Sunday night a tired and hungry Elena cried herself to sleep as the thoughts of returning to school and Gramma leaving set in.  “I want to go back to California right now!” she yelled, “but I want to bring Lucky and our neighbor Sharon with us!”

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 Thankfully after sleep, food, and a typical (fabulous) day at school she was smiling again. She still wants to go “home to California “ many evenings, but she bounces around like Tigger surrounded by his forest friends every single day.

We ended Gramma’s visit with a morning trip to the outskirts of Ubud, and quite possibly my favorite place on the planet, Karsa Spa. Gramma, Jason and I indulged ourselves with massages in their outdoor bales surrounded by rice terraces. We floated out of there and felt nothing but bliss, despite a typical harrowing drive home. We met our friends from Jakarta, who had just arrived here for their family vacation, and had a nice dinner on the beach. Gramma left the next day, nicely timed as the bacteria that had hitched a ride from the Gili islands were just starting to take me down. We hope that Gramma will come back soon and stay for longer. It was an exhausting whirlwind of nonstop fun!

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