With the smell of plumeria around every corner, tinkling xylophones, relaxed hospitality, delicious tropical food, a unique mish mash of Hinduism and a deep appreciation for nature, what's not to love? We deeply enjoyed our visit to Bali a few months ago, it was the honeymoon respite we had actually never been on.

a mellow Menjangan moment with local snorkel boats

quiet scenery from Mimpi Resort in Menjangan, including a natural hot springs stone tub built overlooking the bay
A Balinese breakfast has plenty of tropical fruit, as well as nice breaded objects, some spicy stir fried noodles, salads with piquant dressings and green tea.

the evening plants were dazzling

a typical vegetarian Balinese lunch included coconut curry stuffed leaves, fried egg rolls, steamed veggies wrapped in cabbage with peanut dipping sauce (a form of traditional vegetable dish, gado gado), pickles of all varieties, pumpkin soup and stir-fried noodles with sweet chili sauce
Lakeview Eco Lodge lobby
David really in his element with temple gear: hat, sash and wrap (required gear for men when visiting temples)

the remains of a wedding procession at our hotel in Mt. Batur

our cab driver walked around with us at the temple, look at how contemporary and great his outfit is

Temple snippets from Pura Ulun Danu Batur

A little background on that honeymoon comment -- Dave and I went on a spectacular honeymoon 5 years ago when we got married. It was a yearlong sojourn around the world, spending most of our time in India, Vietnam and Turkey -- so yes, it was a honeymoon and it was stunning in its complexity/journey-dom, it was not a vacation where you lay on a beach and read books and hang . . . It was more of a figure-out-life abroad situation full of apartment hunts, visa renewals, budget travel questing, exploration and crazy train rides (those seem to be our speciality). So this Bali hang and relaxation fest was a whole new thing for us, and oh baby, yes we liked it.

I thought to break up our recommendations into two posts -- one centered around Ubud, the city we spent the most time during our 2 week vacation, and the other a taste of the other locales on this special island. Here we are at "other." There's so much to do, see and experience in Bali -- I'm glad we hopped about the island in a few (somewhat hair bending) drives of about 2-4 hours.

Mt. Batur
We began our adventure in Seminyak, decompressed at the pool and beach, then moved to the interior of the island, to Mt. Batur. After a few days of intense sea-side heat, Mt Batur, at higher elevation, volcanic area and lake, had plenty of cool, refreshing air. We hiked up the main mountain with local guides at 3 am, to arrive at the peak in time to watch the sunrise and bliss out over the pastel colors of dawn set against the other peaks and valleys of this area. The crappy nescafe coffee and cookies tasted like gold after all that climbing. With the heavy winds batting around and the smiles of a bunch of local high schoolers doing the same thing, I was really happy. Our hotel was very economical (I used for cheap bookings for our entire visit) and served a spectacular lunch of pickles, peanut sauces, noodles and coconut steamed dumplings.

Pura Ulun Danu Batur 
This temple was close to Mt. Batur and we explored it late afternoon after a long drive. The place felt very empty and here we learned that temples are used more often in Bali for monthly ceremonies and celebrations, rather than the everyday like in Southern India (where we had just come from). Instead, the Balinese have home temples or small altars within their homes to honor the Gods (and demons) on a daily basis. This temple was fascinating in that it was a very spacious complex, with lots of little nooks and crannies to explore, gorgeous golden temple decor and a wonderful, loose, imperfect vibe. These are my favorite types of spots when traveling, the oft-forgotten in tour guides and just chill local vibe zones. Plus it was fun to dress up and visit, it's a requirement to dress in appropriate gear -- hats for men, sashes and shawls for men and women.

Menangan is the North Eastern most point of the island of Bali. There are only a handful of hotels in this area, known for its splendid reefs perfect for snorkeling. We found a mellow resort called Mimpi, and spent a few days here exploring the ocean. There was a natural hot springs tub as well as 2 beautiful pools, for a bit there, I was more mermaid than human. It was glorious. We also managed to get the biggest sunburns of our lives  (I still have a tan line from my crazy Beyonce-inspired suit of many tiny straps). And eat the yummiest takeaway boat lunch, our snorkel coach packed it for us.


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