Ballin’ in Bali – Honeymoon time!

Top 5 things to do in Munduk and Ubud

  •  Munduk
    1. Brahmavihara Buddhist temple
    2. Stay in Munduk Moding Plantation (Villas, Spa, Coffee Plantation tour, Village bikeride)
    3. Waterfalls (Git Git and Munduk)
    4. Hindu temples (Lake Tamblingan, Ulun Danu Bratan)
    5. Lembuyang rice fields
  • Ubud
    1. Mt. Batur volcano hike
    2. Cultural Dances (Kechak at Uluwatu temple and Legong)
    3. Hindu Temples (Tanah Lot, Pura Lempuyang, Tirtha Empul Temple, Besakih Temple)
    4. Monkey Forest Temple
    5. Downtown Restaurants (Clear Cafe and Kaffe)
  • If you have time go to Java and see Borobudor Buddhist Temple!

Out of all our travels so far, going to Bali with Nelli is my absolute favorite….it was fitting that it was also for our honeymoon!  Nelli really went out of his way to ensure it was an enjoyable experience and that each of us got what we wanted out of Bali.  The above list only represents a FRACTION of what we did the two weeks we were there. We visited so many more places, temples and waterfalls but I chose my favorites above.  As you can see, we were quite busy but there was also plenty of time for relaxation (we had 3 spa sessions and stayed at the BEST hotels) which is important for me (read: spoiled).  We also got sick (as usual) so that really slowed down our days and it was nice to lounge around our villa recovering from our coughs!  Please bring A LOT of cough medicine when you travel internationally – I still haven’t learned my lesson and didn’t bring enough!  Here are some tips and tricks related to our favorite activities in Bali.

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Our Trip to Trinidad (The Blindian Connection)

Our experience in Trinidad was one of a kind and definitely felt like we were at home.  The beginning to our trip was a tad rocky though.  We arrived a day earlier than Phylicia so we stayed at a hotel close to downtown.  As soon as we hopped off the plane and headed for customs our jaw dropped:  the line to get out of the airport looked miles long.  We ended up staying 4 HOURS in the airport just to get through customs – very frustrating time for us and other people.  It was utter chaos: people were skipping, complaining, cutting, arguing; this debacle ended up being front page news in Trinidad next day.  Luckily, our trip only went uphill from there.

The taxi ride to our hotel was lovely, there were 2 other ladies in our car who were coming back to their homeland Trinidad and were able to give us tons of advice about where to eat close to our hotel.  Even though we were emotionally drained, our stomachs weren’t so as soon as we layed down our bags in our room we took a short 5 minute taxi ride to the street food they recommended.  We ended up getting a couple Trinidad staples (corn soup, potato pie, roti, etc) and shared it between us.  The food was delicious, veg friendly, Indian oriented and very cheap.  The next day we had breakfast and explored a little of the surrounding areas before Phylicia’s friend’s cousin picked us up.

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Top 5 things to do in Sri Lanka

My top 5 things to do:

  1. SIGIRIYA
  2. Visiting elephant orphanage
  3. Nuwara Eliya
  4. Anuradhapura
  5. Tooth Relic

After we spent a couple days in Manipal and roadtripped to Bangalore – we hopped on a flight from Sri Lanka.  Sri Lanka was an absolute dream, we had a packed schedule and a driver/tour guide the whole time we were there.  One thing, I immediately learned is that even though some Sri Lankans look Indian, the small country is mostly Buddhist.  Maybe it’s just me but the countries that are mostly buddhist have the friendliest, calmest people I’ve ever encountered.  I really loved the vibe I was getting in Sri Lanka.

The moment we landed, I was struck by a blast of heat.  I had some layers on the plane so I discreetly changed in the car – I was too hot to function!  Our driver immediately took us to the Pinnewala orphanage – he wasn’t playing when he said we had a full itinerary.  I loved seeing all the elephants and we even got the chance to wash and ride one!  After the elephant ride, I had a lady accident but I tried to not let it dampen my plans.  We also visited a ayurvedic farm and I tasted the best tea I’ve ever had and got some lotion and hair stuff.  We later stopped by the Tooth Relic Temple which is apparently from Buddha.  I didn’t like the crowds there but I enjoyed these murals that depicted how the tooth traveled and ended up in Sri Lanka.  Our first night, we stayed at a fabulous hotel and thank god because that was the busiest first day I’ve ever experienced when traveling.

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2nd trip to India – Hubby’s Hometown

I have a travel rule that I never visit the same country twice (except for Costa Rica).  There are a total of 196 countries in the world and I average 2-4 country visits a year.  At this point…well you do the math…I will need to find the fountain of youth in order to accomplish my goal.

However, even if your home is 24 hours away you can’t help but go there yearly or every other year in the case of Nelli who’s hometown is in Manipal India.  I wasn’t really excited to go because we had just been there the year before and because of my on-going issues with his Mom.  In addition, my first trip to India was good but some aspects had turned me off…has there been a country that you didn’t love or is that an ungrateful or rude thing to say?  Each country brings an experience and I know I shouldn’t put my particular one experience as a view of the entire country but I just can’t help the feeling that India isn’t my dream land.  Nelli really wanted me to visit his hometown though so on the account that we would be visiting Sri Lanka as well I agreed to go.

There were a couple of roadblocks en route to going to India.  One is I learned at the last minute that we wouldn’t be traveling to Hampi.  Hampi is probably the most historic and well known tourist site in Karnataka.  I really wanted to take a day trip here but Nelli wanted to prioritize staying as much time at home so I was really bummed about that. Continue reading “2nd trip to India – Hubby’s Hometown”

An unforgettable vacation – Iceland

I DID NOT WANT TO GO TO ICELAND.

If you guys know me, my idea of a vacation is warm weather and a nice beach.  Nelli would always tell me that Iceland was one of his dream trips and I was dreading the day when he would inevitably book his plane ticket.  A couple months before he started planning and as usual, he was sticker shocked on the price as he started looking at airfare late.  He was disappointed and started looking at trip prices in Canada which would offer a similar experience in offering Northern Lights drives.  I knew how much he wanted to go to Iceland so going against my own pre-conceived notions, I pushed us to go to the little island somewhere near Europe.

The first stop after getting off the plane in Iceland was straight to Blue Lagoon.  I was horrified because have you seen me coming off a 7 hour international flight?  Apparently, going in the morning or right before or after a flight is common as the Blue lagoon is close to the airport and it gets REALLY crowded.  The Blue Lagoon is a must-see if you are in Iceland and I enjoyed the refreshing, hot water as well as the mud mask after a long, dry flight.

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Top 5 things to do in Costa Rica

My top 5 things to do:

  1. La Fortuna Waterfalls
  2. Arenal volcano visit
  3. Manuel Antonio National Park
  4. Cafe Britt
  5. Tortuguero National Park

This was Nelli’s 2nd time going to Costa Rica and he absolutely loves the country especially their coffee.  He actually planned his luggage around how much coffee he was going to bring back when we visited Cafe Britt.

Things I wish we had done – Because we only stayed for a short time, we definitely skimmed the surface of all Costa Rica has to offer.  I don’t usually prefer to visit countries twice because there is so much to see in the world but Costa Rica definitely warrants a 2nd time.

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1st Trip To India and the End of Visa Woes

By now you know Nelli returned home after his 3 month long sabbatical in India.  His visa had expired so he would have to return to India until it was renewed.  Every day during those months he called me twice a day without fail.  A quick morning call before I went to work and then after I came home for work for 1-3 hours.  It was amazing to have him back, and I never let him go after that.  So when he had to go BACK to India to make his visa automatically renew every 3 years I insisted I go with him.  At first he was a little hesitant because his priority was his visa business and he wasn’t sure I would enjoy myself – in the end, I won!

My first trip to India isn’t the typical experience.  When most people think of traveling to India, they think of the Taj Mahal and butter chicken.  Since Nelli is South Indian, he would have to travel to the South India Capitol for his visa business which is Chennai, Tamil Nadu.  I don’t think I have ever heard of South Indian States before I met Nelli.  Well anyways, he planned some nice things for us to do in Chennai and then we would be traveling to a neighboring state called Kerala.  I wanted to go to New Delhi and have a typical India touristy experience but Nelli insisted we wouldn’t have time.  In the end, I’m glad we didn’t because I had a unique experience.

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