Shortly after the proposal, Tyler and Natalie sat in front of a globe and spun it.
“We’re going on our honeymoon… here!” said Natalie, and her finger stopped in the Indian Ocean right under Indonesia.
“Indonesia?!” we both laughed. But upon further examination, we saw that my finger was right next to Bali, a small island province imbedded in the long chain of the Sunda Islands. We had both heard of Bali, but didn’t know anything about it. That week, we talked to some friends who had traveled to Bali and conducted some research on the Internet. Before long, we were positive of where we were going to honeymoon.
After discovering Traveler’s Joy through WeddingChannel.com, we signed up immediately. We decided that creating memories in Bali that would last a lifetime was more important to us than acquiring household goods, especially since we were going to teach abroad for several years after the wedding. Furthermore, Traveler’s Joy provided the unique opportunity for friends and family members to present us with hand-chosen experiences that were invaluable. We created our registry, personalized our page, and excitedly watched over the next few months as we began receiving gifts.
Following our intimate, rustic wedding in Snoqualmie, Washington, we embarked on a long journey to Denpasar, Indonesia on July 20. On the heels of approximately 20 hours of travel, we stumbled into a taxicab that took us straight to our first hotel. After winding through streets lined with banana trees and bamboo, we found ourselves faced with the most beautifully ornate wall of carved stone that served as the façade of our suite. A heart made of pink and yellow frangipani flower petals decorated our bed and a message was written on a large banana leaf: “Happy Honeymoon, Natalie & Tyler!”
The next day, we awoke well rested. Our friendly taxi driver first chauffeured us to a traditional Barong Balinese dance. The dance featured embellished costumes, frightening wooden masks, and enchanting, chiming music. Our taxi driver later explained that the dances are deep-rooted in Hinduism and Balinese mythology.
Next, we were driven along the stunning Eastern coast of Bali until we reached our resort located in the quiet seaside town called Candidasa. Staff dressed in traditional Balinese attire greeted us with flower necklaces and encouraged us to relax poolside, which was also seaside. We did not object. We closed our eyes, listened to the sound of the crashing waves, and sipped complimentary banana juices.
Later that day, we walked into town and rented a motorbike for a week, which at a whopping $5 a day put us at $35 total in transportation fees. Natalie clung on for dear life as Tyler fearlessly joined the frenzied stream of traffic on the narrow streets of Candidasa. We took a motorbike ride along the shoreline passing towering palm trees, terraced rice fields, and laundry fluttering in the breeze.
On the third day of our honeymoon, we awoke early to go snorkeling. Both of us were extremely excited since we’d never been snorkeling before. We were escorted to the beach where a small fishing boat was waiting for us. Two boatmen argued with each other in Balinese about how to start the motor as we looked on, slightly worried. After the engine successfully started up, we were hurled out into gigantic, oncoming waves, when the motor conveniently decided to choke up. The men began yelling at each other as they tugged at the cord on the motor and as we were tossed around by the ocean swells. Natalie sat wide-eyed as Tyler laughed and shouted, “Well, this is definitely an adventure!” Once the engine was fixed again, we were taken to our snorkeling site called the Blue Lagoon. We jumped in the warm waters and were received by scores of colorful fish.
The next day, we motored to the small town of Bug-Bug to find a beach recommended by the locals called White Sandy Beach. After winding around town with no luck, we found ourselves down a small, dusty street where a group of boys were playing Ping-Pong. Tyler, an avid Ping-Pong player, jumped at the chance to join in a game and was quickly defeated by a boy half his age. After talking to the boys in broken English, we were able to successfully find our way to White Sandy Beach. We spent the rest of the day swimming and basking in the sunshine.
The staff at our resort had recommended that we take a day trip to the Tirta Gangga water palace, so we journeyed there the next day. The grounds of the palace were breathtaking, offering us views of gardens, stone carvings, and a labyrinth of pools. We went trekking in the area and marveled at the gigantic Banyan Trees and the rice paddy terraces that laid the foundation for miles around us. We returned to the resort late that evening and had a to-die-for couples massage on the beach.
On the sixth day, we decided to venture further from our resort and take a trip to the Bali Safari & Marine Park. We saw dozens of rare species; our favorites were the white tigers. Additionally, we got to see a piranha feeding and watch several animal shows. The experience at the park was one of our favorites because we also got the chance to interact one-on-one with wild animals. We got to hold a baby orangutan in our laps, pet a lion cub, and ride an elephant!
July 27th was Natalie’s birthday. Tyler planned a thrilling day full of surprises that began with a submarine ride off the coast of Padangbai, a town located south of Candidasa. A diver came up alongside the submarine, feeding the fish as he swam, and brought a kaleidoscope of creatures to our window. After the submarine ride, we went on a banana boat ride led by a fast-moving speedboat. Following a rip-roaring twenty minutes of banana boat fun, the speedboat took us to a platform where we received our first diving lesson. We dressed in our diving gear, jumped in the water, and explored the depths of a lagoon with our diving instructor. The ocean floor came to life as we held hands and surveyed sea life from inches away. The night ended at a local restaurant with a delicious feast of fresh mahi-mahi for dinner.
Unfortunately, we came down with Bali Belly the next morning. Bali Belly is a form of gastroenteritis that many travelers get while vacationing in Bali. We tried to be as hygienic as possible by constantly washing our hands and not drinking tap water, but sickness is always a risk when voyaging off the beaten path. We were bedridden for several days and truly got to exercise our vows to care for one another “in sickness and in health!”
After we recovered, we said goodbye to all of the friends we’d made in Candidasa and traveled west to Ubud. Ubud had long since been on Natalie’s list of places to visit after reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. True enough, Ubud lived up to the book’s high expectations. The entire city smelled of incense and was bustling with good energy.
Once in Ubud, our taxi driver took us to see a traditional art and woodcarving gallery. The craftsmanship of the pieces we saw was unbelievable. Specifically, a ten-foot wood carving of a scene from the Ramayana left us speechless. We spent several hours in the gallery gazing at the artwork with our jaws on the floor. We left with two beautiful wooden letterboxes as souvenirs.
After we settled into our hotel, we ventured out to explore the Monkey Forest. As we approached, it was impossible to miss the entrance to the sanctuary. Crab-eating macaques sat in the trees, lined the telephone wires, and darted across the streets near the gate. We considered buying bananas from a woman near the entry, but after watching a group of monkeys jump on and pull down the pants of a man who was carrying a bunch, we decided against it. While keeping our distance from the monkeys in the park, we surveyed some beautiful trees and temples on the grounds.
The next day, we went on a trek along Campuan Ridge above the Gunung Agung River. After walking ten minutes from the central square, we found ourselves entering a quiet, riverside path that climbed into rolling hills overlooking mountainsides dotted with houses and trees. Despite it being the busy season for tourists, we only saw several others on the trail. The trek looped back around to the central square where we finished our walk with a traditional Balinese lunch.
Our most memorable experience in Ubud was the private silver smith workshop that we took together. Professional silversmiths assisted us in making silver necklaces that we independently designed and created. The friendly director of the workshop conducted the class in his own home and treated us to delicious cups of kopi luwak. Only after we’d sipped on our beverages did he tell us that kopi luwak is a special drink made from the beans of coffee berries excreted by civet cats!
On August 2nd, we headed to the airport to catch our flight back home. We wanted nothing more than to stay for several more weeks. Although our visit was action-packed, we felt as if there was so much more to explore. However, we made memories to last us a lifetime and had many good stories to take back home. Overall, our honeymoon cost roughly $6,000, half of which was spent on airfare. The other half was gifted to us from generous friends and family members through Traveler’s Joy and wedding presents.
Our honeymoon in Bali was truly sensational. We would highly recommend it to lovebirds desiring a tropical getaway offering both adventure and relaxation. To quote Natalie’s journal: Bali is such a unique and beautiful place. Everywhere, the foliage in bright shades of green covers the hillsides. The air smells musty and hot infused with sweet scents of flowers. People smile everywhere you go. They are extremely friendly and generous with their dispositions. Kites in all shapes and sizes color the sky. Geckos scurry across every warung wall, tiny ants line every restaurant table, and dogs nap in the shade on the streets. They are all saying, “Yes, I live in the land of tradition and prayer, laughter and late nights, incense and rice. I live in paradise."