Bali - Indonesia, April 2013

Quick....  you have an opportunity to fly anywhere in the world but you only have a few minutes to figure out when and where. When mistakes are made by airlines you better take action immediately or miss the opportunity.   We came home from dinner one night, glanced on a frequent flyer web site and saw that a computer glitch opened up every Singapore Airlines flight for frequent flyer mileage award tickets.  

The next three minutes went something like this: "Hurry, get the school calendar!" "check the dates!"  A few clicks later we entered the dates and the airport codes JFK, SIN and DPS.  We did it so fast our hands were trembling.  Not only did we get the exact flights we wanted, but we were able to book business class for the entire 27 hour journey.  Yes, 27 hours each way to a destination almost on the exact opposite side of the globe from home.

To make the deal even sweeter, had the chance to fly on the largest passenger airplane in the world.  The Airbus A380.   

Since they opened up all of their seats for awards we emptied  out our respective frequent flyer accounts and booked the trip in business class.  27 hours watching movies, playing video games and lounging in our giant recliner made the trip literally fly by.

According to the in-flight map we traveled above some rather interesting places.  The plane had wifi so we were able to message our friends from 35,000 feet above Afghanistan.

Welcome to Bali!  A toast in the lobby for the weary travelers.

Jimbarran was once exclusively a fishing village but now it is a fishing village with nice hotels.  The Le Meridien Jimbarran rooms are arranged around a salt water lagoon/pool.  Since we were in a first floor room, we were able to swim up right up to the patio.

Bali is a large island with a lot of diverse regions but unfortunately none of these regions are easy to get go. Because it is difficult to get around, we decided to spend the first few days in Jimbarran and enjoy the ocean before heading up to Ubud which is further north.

There is a big advantage to staying in a fishing village which is the abundance of fresh seafood.  Just outside our hotel was  a cluster of seafood restaurants.  Most of them looked very similar so we chose one to catch our dinner.  You first have to pick out your seafood from a tank or the ice chest.

A team of smoke loving chefs will then grill it over smoldering coconut husks while you wait outside with your feet in the sand.

And a few minutes later your fresh, yummy dinner arrives.

After getting as much sleep as possible we all took surf lessons with Rip Curl Surf School at Legian beach which is a perfect beginner location.  Shallow water and medium sized waves were perfect to learn on.

Elliot will tell you that most of the day was spent riding waves like this one.

Keith would probably do the same.

The reality is that a good part of the day was spent like this : ) Definitely more falling and flying.  It's not easy!

The Tanah Lot temple is situated on a large off-shore rock formation.   It is believed that sea snakes inhabit the surrounding water to protect the Hindu temple.

There are plenty of shops on the way to the temple and of course a sign leading to a snake compound where you can hold and touch a variety of snakes.  Definitely tourist-trap kind of stuff but we liked it.  As you can see Elliot has a healthy respect for snakes.

We spent the rest of the day visiting a few other Hindu temples on our way to Ubud.

The highlight for Keith had to be the Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest because he has a life long love of monkeys.  Here, generations of long-tailed macaques run free.

The monkeys generally keep their distance unless you have bananas and then you become their best friend.

These are mischievous monkeys,  but as long as you follow a few basic rules you will be OK.

First thing to know is that if you have bananas these monkeys are going to take them.  They are not pets and they are not trained but if you have bananas in your hand they are going to find you and your stash in 2 seconds.  Expect that they will either jump right onto you or climb up your body to get to it.

Even hiding it in your hand will will not fool them.

This would be a great romantic hotel for a honeymoon or alternatively bring the kids.

We stayed at the Komaneka at Monkey Forest.  A truly amazing value for a luxury hotel.

The next day started out like many days, with coffee but this would be different because in addition to the usual coffees, we all tried luwak coffee.  Luwak coffee beans are beans that were passed through a luwak's digestive system.  Yes, after they come out of the back side of the animal, then collected, roasted, ground and made into coffee.

It is the rarest type of coffee bean and the animal's digestive system is unable to digest the beans. In Indonesia it is expensive,  but back in the USA it can fetch as much as $500/lb.  Is it worth that much?  No way, but we had to try it.

After a good breakfast and sampling coffee we had energy for our bicycle tour through the countryside.  The trip took us through several small villages and rice paddies.

When the rice is first planted in the paddy field the area is flooded with water.

After the rice is harvested, the plants are smacked against the wooden boards to dislodge the individual grains onto a large tarp.

The rice is then sifted to remove leaves and branches before being placed in bags.  This job seems to be the domain of women who perform all the tasks from harvesting, collecting and transporting.

These bags of rice are HEAVY!!!  Keith could barely lift it.  He certainly couldn't carry it too far.

Elliot couldn't move it at all.

But these 110lb bags of rice are effortlessly transported by women who couldn't possibly weigh much more than that.  Additionally, it is hot, they are wearing flip-flops and not even using their hands.   Amazing!

Our last day was spent shopping and roaming around.  Elliot tried to bargain for this Pinocchio marionette but later decided on some Balinese instruments instead.

Here is a flavor you don't see every day.  You wont find these in local 7-11.

Bali was amazing and definitely a trip of a lifetime.  Five days is not enough time here and we only were only able scratch the surface of .  We are still happy that we had the chance to go and hopefully one day we will get to return.  Thanks Singapore Airlines and especially your IT department for the awesome opportunity!

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