We got engaged in June of 2011. So much needed to happen to plan the wedding, but the first order of business was deciding on where to go on our honeymoon. We knew that we wanted to start a family soon after our marriage so we wanted to go somewhere we thought might be harder to go to once you have kids. I am a California surfer girl so a destination where surfing could take place was a must. Nicholas grew up on the beach as well but on the opposite coast, so the beach was a must for him. Both of us are goofy foot so going somewhere where there were lots of waves going left was preferred. Put that all into the honeymoon machine and you get Bali, Indonesia.
We knew the South Pacific would be a trek from California, but we had a feeling the adventure would be worth the 30-hour travel day. Once the destination was chosen we had to figure out how to get there. Not a cheap trip but we had heard that some of our other married friends had used websites where people could contribute towards your honeymoon. We did some research and decided that Travelerʼs Joy was perfect for us.
We had a wide range of generations attending our wedding so we wanted to create a registry that was friendly for everyone. The older generation wanted to give us things that were “practical” for a newly married couple starting out. The younger generation was completely fine with giving us “elephant rides.” Travelerʼs Joy enabled us to do both.
We were able to put up pictures like linens and flatware as well as activities such as elephant rides, and parasailing so that whatever people wanted to give it was available. We knew we didn't want to ask for cash directly, so using this site enabled us to use the money however we wanted to. Most of our honeymoon fund from the Travelerʼs Joy site went to our honeymoon in Bali, Indonesia.
We left for Bali a few short days after the wedding. It took us three flights to get there. We left from San Francisco and headed to Tokyo, Japan. Had a few hours there before boarding a flight from Tokyo to Singapore. Eighteen hours later with our days and nights completely flipped, we boarded a flight from Singapore to our final destination, Bali.
The first two flights were about 12 hours each, not exactly a short travel, but we thought if we could use gifts from the registry in combination with some saved up miles, that we would be able to go first class. Well, mission accomplished. With miles and funds from Travelerʼs Joy, we were able to fly the first two (and longest) legs of the trip first class, which really helped with being on the plane for 24 hours.
Once we arrived in Bali we still had plenty of funds from our registry to do all the things we wanted. We decided since we had traveled so far that we should stay as long as we could and make the most of it. I work in the school district as a speech pathologist, and Nicholas has saved all his vacation time working as an engineer, so we stayed for three weeks from July 31 through August 23.
That is actually the end of the summer season in Bali, but we had plenty of hot days. We decided to stay at a few different places in Nusa Dua, Bali. That way we could keep a home base and travel around the island from there. It was perfect. There were so many highlights from our honeymoon that whenever anyone asks, “How was Bali?” our simultaneous automated response is, “How long do you have.”
During our three weeks in Bali we split it between hanging out at the beach reading and relaxing and traveling around to different places on the island. Regardless of the dayʼs agenda, our first adventure always started at our hotels breakfast buffet. Tables and counters stretched out for what seemed like miles piled with incredible looking food. Exotic fruits and pastries as far as the eye could see. Endless options of food from around the world to help get us ready for our daily adventures. We knew that Bali is known for massage so we headed first to the spa at our hotel to help with the jet lag. Traditional Balinese massage is just what we needed. This is where we first discovered the beauty and magic of Balinese tradition and people.
We were able to relax and have a little downtime before heading out. Our first outing we took a taxi to Jimbaran to visit the Ayana Resort & Spa where they have a bar that you get to via gondola. It was called the Rock Bar. It was balanced on the edge of a cliff looking over the ocean. They had great drinks, great appetizers and it was by far the most beautiful sunset we have ever seen. It was the first time we were able to sit and be together after the chaos of the wedding and chaos of traveling and just be. We watched the sun slowly set while holding hands and sipping drinks. It was a perfect start to our honeymoon.
A few days later we took a taxi to Seminyak to check out the many beautiful temples that are there. It was amazing to see the amount of detail that goes into each tile that surrounds the platform where people go to pray. Balinese people are very spiritual, regardless of religion, and it felt to us like it brought a certain level of happiness to them. It was incredibly contagious.
Ubud was our next adventure. Since it was a little further away we decided to hire a driver to take us there. We totally lucked out with a driver named Eko. He was our age, spoke English well, and ended up being such great company that day. Ubud was lush green and roughly ten degrees cooler then the rest of the island. Our driver first took us to visit the monkey temple where monkeys will sit on your lap and take bananas from your hand. It was incredible being so close to them, watching them with each other and with their young. There were literally hundreds of them all around as you walked the path of the temple. Luckily, we were with someone who has great knowledge of the monkey temple and he told us to take all food and drinks out of our pockets and bags. The monkeys can smell any food or drink through bags and will jump on your back, unzip you bag and grab whatever they would like. We also heard many pairs of sun glasses have been taken off peopleʼs heads there, so we left everything behind in the car.
Afterward the monkey temple we went to a restaurant called Suri Organik. It was a self-sustaining organic restaurant, and we got to visit the garden they draw from afterwards. It was a 25-minute walk through rice patty fields and well worth it. We sat outside looking over the expansive rice patty fields. We felt as if we had never seen anything so green and lush. It was easy to enjoy the incredible food and get lost in the beauty of it all. It was the best food we had on our trip as well.
Our next adventure took us a little bit further north to Taro, Bali. An hour or so car ride and we were there. We went to the Elephant Safari Park and got to ride, feed, and watch elephants. The elephants are all rescued and cared for very well. It was an incredible experience. We took a 45-minute ride on a beautiful elephant named Maggie. We went on a path through the green fields of Taro. Maggie stopped a few times to snack on bamboo, but we eventually made it back to the park. After our ride we were able to feed many elephants. There were adult and baby elephants and they were so gentle and beautiful for their size. They take the food right from your hand and they look directly into your eyes. We felt like we could see their souls, beautiful peaceful animals. We felt like as if we never wanted to leave, felt so at peace just being around the animals. Eventually, the shuttle called our name over the loud speaker and unfortunately before we knew it we were headed back to the hotel.
A few days later we visited Uluwatu, where the oldest temple on Bali is located. It sits on the edge of a cliff that looks over the ocean. Itʼs stunning. We hiked up to the temple and looked down onto the expansive ocean as the sun started to set. The views that Bali has to offer just seemed to be getting more and more breath taking. Before the sunset we took our seats at the temple to see the traditional fire dance called, Kecak fire dance. Young talented local Balinese men and women show off traditional Balinese dancing while acting out a Balinese fable. It was fantastic. The costumes and dancing were incredible and there was lots of real fire and singing. We sat and watched the fable play out while the sun sat over the ocean.
Between many of these adventures we were also able to walk across the street to the hotelʼs beach for some perfect surfing. We rented boards from the local surf kid and enjoyed hours of warm water consistent left wave surfing. Coming from a place where the water temperature averages are in the mid 50ʼs the 80-degree water was more than welcome. We got to know the surfboard renter and spent many days out with him enjoying the water.
Our last night of the trip we decided to go to the local theater to see Devdan. It was a sort of Balinese version of cirque du soleil. Once again the talent and beauty of the Balinese people blew us away. The costumes and dances were all traditional so we were able to learn a lot about how the customs were started.
Overall the trip was above and beyond anything we ever imagined it to be. Our total honeymoon cost us about $5,500. We used as many miles as we could but knew we wouldn't be able to go without the help of our wedding guests contributions. Travelerʼs Joy made that possible. We would hands down recommend Bali and Travelerʼs Joy to anyone looking for a little more flexibility with their registry.
Bali exceeded all of our expectations. We were expecting yoga, surf and massage and ended getting all of that and lots more. There seemed to be so much beauty not just with the physical parts of the island but within the people. Everyone was so kind and caring, warm and friendly. We would love to have another chance to go enjoy all that Bali had to offer.