October 29, 2015

Bali, Indonesia

Indonesia is an interesting country made up of fourteen thousand islands. We were lucky enough to visit Bali, one of the more well-known islands, last month.

Bali, as well as all of Indonesia, is a considered an "emerging market", that relies heavily upon the tourist industry. Parts of Bali look like this,

parts of Bali look like this,

and sadly, parts of Bali look like this. There was lots of trash.

However, the resort areas were lovely and well maintained. We had a poolside entrance from our room. I highly recommend it!

Swimming was the first order of business, of course.

We spent the rest of the first day checking out the hotel grounds and magnificent views.

The girls love finding fresh plumeria to wear in their hair everyday.

We found a great Indian restaurant in the town for dinner.

And more swimming after dinner, while Matt and I enjoyed this view!

A quick break for a fancy drink.

The next day was more of the same. I loved how this hotel had a sand entry pool.

The girls spent most of each day here digging in the sand, 

and making elaborate sand castles.

We pretty much didn't leave the resort on our first full day in Bali. Would you leave this paradise?!

Ahhhh, the view from my beach chair. Yes, I was very content. The breeze was so lovely, I never once felt that hot, sweaty beach feeling, and coincidentally got more sun than I meant too. Ooops!

The pool had many different areas, including these water jets. The girls thought this was hilarious!

I also loved the poolside basket the hotel would deliver to your chair, complete with cold and scented washcloths, water bottles, and a cool scented spray. 

The beach wasn't the greatest for swimming, there was lots of seaweed. It seemed to be more of a beach for water sports.

Each day in the afternoon, we had "high tea" in the beautiful hotel lobby area.

Fancy drinks and lots of treats were the norm. Yummmm....

In the evening we loved walking this beach side trail that extended the length of the resort area. (This is Nusa Dua beach, a popular beach at the southern most tip of Bali.)

And every so often you would come across a shack surrounded by trash. Such an odd mix of scenery.

There are always a few shrines in Asia! This man was very friendly, but looks so small next to Matt.

Yes, I know this sign has religious significance, and I apologize in advance, but Matt and I joked about it anyway, wondering if they were going to need proof.

And at the end of the trail was this monument.

In the evening we saw a Balinese dance performance right at our hotel.

I didn't get great pictures, but the costumes were magnificent.

And more swimming to end the night. I'm pretty sure that the swimsuits never completely dried this whole trip.

Up next, a snorkeling trip and Balinese dress-up....

October 22, 2015

Batu Caves (and lots of monkeys), Malaysia

Our second day in Kuala Lumpur included a trip to Batu Caves, one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India.

Over 400 steps lead up the limestone mountain to a series of caves.

I love the use of color on Hindu shrines.

Also, the colorful and exotic Hindu sari.

There will always be fresh flower leis to present at the shrine, as well.

I had a hard time watching this beautiful child in her darling red dress crawl amongst these gross pigeons. I wondered why her parents were allowing this, then after a quick google search, I learned that pigeons are revered as a sacred animal in the Hindu religion. Ohhhhhh....

But, it still grossed me out!

From pigeons, to monkeys. Wild monkeys freely roamed around this area, and were so fun to watch.

But, be forewarned, they will steal your food and even water bottles, when you least expect it!

I think this little guy was planning to take Matt's water bottle from his pocket, but grabbed one out of a lady's hand instead.

He quickly bit a hole in the bottom of the bottle and began to drink. The monkeys were very smart and moved quickly. Watch out!

Taking a breather, about half way up.

The cave at the top, was more like a cove. It contained more shrine statues and there were many people in line to have a blessing from a Hindu priest.

The cave opened up into an open air atrium, of sorts, surrounded on all sides by the limestone. It was really beautiful.

And more monkey fun, we loved watching this mama with her baby.

The air quality in Malaysia was horrible. I guess every year at this time, they do a lot of burning to clear land, resulting in almost unbreathable air! We all had irritated lungs and watery eyes the whole trip.

The train ride back to our hotel.

That afternoon, the girls and I checked out a local mall.

I was stunned. This was one of the biggest, and nicest malls I had ever seen with every top luxury brand you could imagine (and I do consider myself a mall connoisseur). I found it so odd to have such extreme dichotomy in a city, from super impoverished slums, to Prada, Coach and Tiffany. Bizarre!

The mall even had a special area on the top floor called Tokyo Street, it was all things Tokyo.

We enjoyed exploring and discussing whether or not the area was authentic.

They even had our favorite Japanese dollar store, Daiso. There are a few Daiso's in the States now, so if you live in California, Washington or Texas, check them out!

And later that night, we had a fabulous view of the Kuala Lumper Tower, right from our hotel.

Overall, Kuala Lumpur didn't have the charm of Vietnam, the character of Thailand, or the beauty of Japan, it was just.....average. But, judging from the amount of construction that was taking place, I expect it to be a very different place in 5-10 years. We'll have to return to check it out!