A Travellerspoint blog

February 2015


Padang Padang, surfing, Uluwatu, Pendawa Beach, and pushing comfort zones.

sunny 88 °F

My friend Trey and I journeyed down to the Bukit Penninsula in search of some surf.
The ride down was a bit tough with my stomach still aching from the day before but later in the afternoon is settled down.
Trey knew a driver who took us down the coast and we found a nice place to stay in Padang Padang. A very nice place , with my own room no longer dorm style bunks! Our own bathroom, beautiful gardens and a gorgeous clean very private pool. All for about 8$ a night. We don't have A/C but I have a fan, and there's a nice outside shower too.

Right down the road is a yummy cafe called Buddha Soul with an amazing amazing chic pea feta salad but the first day I couldn't eat any solid food yet so I ordered some fresh green tea kombucha and iced ginger tea drink. The perfect hangover or sickness cure.

I thought Valentines Day was a commercial Americanized Holiday but right across the street from us the restaurants are decked out. We decided to explore the area and rented a motor bike and get away from all that nonsense. This area of Bali is much more spread out than Sanur and Seminyak and Trey knows his way on a bike so I put my helmet on and trusted him and all is well.

The first day we explored Pendawa Beach Balis best kept secret. It actually had some good surf, epic views, and lime stone statues everywhere of Hindu Gods. Throughout our stay in this area we found an awesome cheap local Warung to eat at (Warung means 'place to eat' but usually means a place with authentic local indonesian food for very very cheap) .
Throughout the week we surfed another beach right next to Pendawa, Padang Padang, and Uluwatu. I didn't think I was going to surf any of these areas but this week the swell is pretty small for Bali and I woke up every day and checked it and didn't count myself out. I even surfed at Uluwatu and all we had was a 6'2 tiny short board (which I never ever ride) and I went out there in a super crowded line up and hung in. I know to some of you surfers I sound like a total dork right now, but I'm very proud of my willingness and progress in my surfing abilities :). But more surf and time in the water means more sun, and sometimes my body is too burnt and worn out to be as fully dedicated to my yoga practice as I should be. I am brushing it off because the last two weeks of my trip should be yoga non stop.
One day was pretty small and we rented a SUP to surf and do some yoga on and did some snorkeling.
I like to challenge my practice on the SUP because poses that normally I take for granted and can always do are suddenly so much harder. Head stand was quickly accessible for me, forearm stand took a while longer but I am now comfortable with, and I am still getting used to the handstand. But it's still quite scary because if you drop back into wheel you can slip and slam your back on the board, which I've done and it hurts. But fear does not prevent death it prevents life! Right? So I kept trying And that day I did catch more hang time on the SUP than I ever have. My falls are getting more graceful, but I did take one that some limbs landed on the board and that's when I called it a day haha.

In this area you can get caught up in the single surfer almost club like scene and spend a whole lot of money or you can motor bike around and find the chill surfer vibe. After paying for a watermelon mixed drink at the Single Fin Uluwatu that cost more than the place I am staying, we decided to stick with the Warungs.

Haven't done much yoga in the past few days because I am so sun burnt from surfing, but I must say this area has been my favorite thus far.
One of our last nights here We put on our purple sarongs to cover our knees in the sweltering heat and caught a beautiful sunset at the infamous Uluwatu Temple. This temple was smaller than Tanahlot but it was more about the view, a long walk on giant cliffs over the ocean. If the breath taking view wasn't enough this temple gets its character from those meditating around it and the little monkeys running around that look and act so human it reminds you how much we are all connected. We shared some quiet moments with the monkeys as we all watched the sun the energy source that supports us all, lower over the Indian Ocean.
I said thanks to the sun for all the energy I am given, for growing our food and providing us warmth and light. Feeling so grateful for the life I am given but also proud of myself for choosing to live it. For choosing to go out in the water, to come to Asia alone, to follow a spiritual path and sometimes dare to be different than the average. Because life is not happening to us, it's responding to us, and only I can create the life I want to live. I must be true to myself and what I want. And respect others and what they want to do. Because in the end we are all connected by the same sun that warms us all and the same love that we all seek.














Posted by rachaelob 03:51 Archived in Indonesia Tagged monkeys bali nature indonesia temple meditation surfing snorkel yoga uluwatu sup connection spirituality bukit_penninsula pendawa_beach buddha_soul padang_padang Comments (0)

Bali Background


So I've realized after my visa nightmare post I've probably made bali sound so horrible. So here is just some background and history on the beautiful island that it is.

Bali is a tiny Hindu island, only about the size of Delaware, in the middle of a two thousand mile long Indonesian archipelago. This specific stretch of islands constitutes the most populous Muslim nation on the earth. It is so picturesque and immaculate it could almost be a painted backdrop. It has rice paddies tripping down hillsides like giant steps, volcanoes soaring up through the clouds, dense tropical jungles, long sandy beaches, warm blue water, crashing surf everywhere and friendly people who don't just have a culture but actually live it.

Mostly everyone speaks English to help you, the westerner with the credit cards, be served more easily. Which is a relief because although I reviewed a few words I would have no chance speaking Balinese, a language more foreign to me than Martian. There's no parallels like say Spanish or Italian. I mean the only similarity is Yes is Ya. No- is Tidak. Like what?? Plus there's two types of language , Indonesian and Baha Indonesia which makes it all the more confusing. I'm also meeting lots of Australians, Canadians and other westerners on the way. It's actually crazy how everyone speaks English. I feel so grateful yet spoiled. I mean we show up to other countries and then expect them to speak our language to us. It makes me wonder how long it will be untill all of these smaller languages just fade out, which is sad because they are all so beautiful.

But anyway The Balinese are very kind and want to make you as comfy and safe as possible. Their economy suffered for years after a bombing about 11 years ago in kuta killed Australian tourists so they know the importance of us visiting here to them and our safety to their economy.

In Bali spirits come out to play in the moonlight, and offerings and prayers are put out by the local women every morning. It is estimated that a Balinese woman spends 1/3 of her life preparing for, participating in and cleaning up after ceremonies. There's a strew of 8 temples along the coast dedicated to various dietys supposedly making a wall to protect from evil spirits where monthly odalan (temple festivals ) are held.

The islands Hinduism was exported from India by way of Java. In the 16th century a violent Islamic uprising swept across the nation and the shiva worshipping Hindu royalty escaped to Java fleeing to Bali. The high class Javanese Brought with them only the royal families, the highest craftsmen and priests. So basically everyone in Bali is a descendent of some kind of royalty, religious figure or artist and you can feel this as you wander the streets rich with art and spirit.

It's the perfect balance of fun and partying, with surfing and chill spots, yet filled with yoga and spirituality. And just enough chaos that I feel like I'm getting a good travel experience.
Feeling so grateful for my time here.

Aho. Xo. Namaste . Rachael


Posted by rachaelob 07:09 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali indonesia travel yoga sup spirituality wanderlust Comments (0)

Happiness is now.

Happiness is a state of mind.

I left seminyak with my two friends from Canada Kelsey and Jennifer. On the way we stopped to see the beautiful temple the Tanahlot Temple. The perfect lefts coming in crashing on the shore next to this beautiful building built to fight off evil spirits in Bali was such a sight to see .
Then we arrived in Sanur at Big Pinapple back Backers.

I have been told that the Uluwatu Temple and many others are cooler or bigger than Tanahlot and I will get to those too. But I wasn't there to compare. I was there to just appreciate and I was content with the beauty right in front of me .
I've been having these moments of just pure bliss and ecstasy for no reason.
I am so happy. Right now. Yes it's easy to be happy when you're in indonesian paradise, but I'll be happy when I'm home and I was happy before I left. I am happy because I choose contentment. Often times were comparing our life to everyone else's which is easy to do when your constantly have instagram or Facebook and things where people post their best moments for everyone to see but often not the worst. It's been raining a bit here because it's the rainy season, but instead of complaining and wishing for the sun I am trying to be content and enjoy the rain. It gives me a time to get to know the people I'm living with, to read, and to give my peeling skin, or as my friend Trey from Hawaii calls it "howlie rot " a break from the sun.
Happiness is something we must fight for and choose at every moment.
And so I am happy. Now. This is something to keep in mind with the ever famous Hallmark holiday 'Valentines Day' coming up. Last year I taught a class on 'love day' love for yourself, just love. Love is happiness. And I am happy now.
Not later when I get a boyfriend or new job. Not when I've been more places or have more things. Not after I goto India or get better at surfing or see more temples. I experience joy today. Right here. Not when I can please everyone else, when I change something about myself. Not when I am skinnier or stronger or can do more things and hold my handstand even longer. I am happy with who I am today. Joy is not just a wave of consciousness that comes and goes depending on life's circumstances. It is a state of being. Life is ever changing and flowing, but I can choose bliss in every moment. Happiness is now.






Posted by rachaelob 06:50 Comments (0)


overcast 80 °F

My time spent in Sanur became a bit less lonesome and disciplined and a bit more social. But It was all worth it. Big Pinapple backpackers was a great place to stay and make connections with friends from all over the world. We had some rainy mornings by the pool, then afternoon hut yoga, walks along the beach with the most beautiful funky boats, ended with drinks with everyone from the hostel. The woman who was running it was very nice and her little girl was just the cutest thing and such a joy to be around.
Kelsey and I took a day trip to an elephant tour which at first I was a bit iffy about because it costs 60$ and seemed quite touristy. But I was pleasantly surprised the whole day.
We were picked up in our own private van with AC and drove about an hour past beautiful rice paddies to the place. I was greeted by a fresh iced ginger tea and then we played with the elephants. I'm not sure exactly how I feel about it because elephants don't belong in Bali. They're shipped in from another island and are a tourist attraction . But it seemed like they were pretty nice to the elephants and I bought the youngest baby elephant Delah who is 13 years old a fruit basket to feed her. Afterwards Kelsey played with a honey bear and we got a free tour of a chocolate factory on site and some chocolate samples! Then we got our lunch that was included with a drink, appetizer, main course and dessert ?. Not my usual lunch. After some beautiful jungle pics we started our journey back and our driver told us that with our 60$ was also included a free tour of the tea and bali coffee plantation .
Here is the explanation of my Instagram saying 'cat poop coffee' for anyone who has been waiting for it ;
In bali they are infamous for something tourists call Cat Poop Coffee. Which is made when an animal that looks kind of like a cat or possum called a Luwak, is used in the making of the coffee bean to make it have less caffeine and taste better but be just as strong. I said I would never be interested in trying it at all. But there we were at the plantation seeing the process. So what happens is when the coffee bean plant is ripe, it is fed to a Luwak, some kind of process within the stomach of the animal changes the chemical composition of the bean over night. When the Luwak poops the bean comes out whole and still in a shelling. Someone gets the glorious job of collecting these droppings and separating the beans and then taking them out of the shells. The beans are then boiled in very very hot water and then roasted. They let us watch the whole process and even help to roast. Then they are ground up and boom, cat poop coffee. The plantation was beautiful and you could also taste and smell all the fresh plants made to make the tea from mangosteen, tumeric, ginger, mint, so many healthy lovely plants.
It is said that the Luwak Coffee is very expensive in other places especially if sold in the US. So me and Kelsey shelled up an extra 3$ and split a cup. And included for free with our tour was about 10 of the best tea samples I've ever tasted and 10 coffee ones as well as a giant plate of chocolate and two shots of Arak.
Side note; Bintang is basically all we drink here because wine and liquor is very expensive. But there is one local Balinese liquor I have had a few times Arak that is quite cheap. If you look it up online it says the alcohol content is from 25-75% and my friend Matt told me they say people have gone blind from it. So it's a bit shady. The guys at the plantation explained to me that if it is made from the rice it is 25% and that is the one he gave us.
Talk about a glutinous day... Got back to our place in Sanur and enjoyed some drinks with a big group from our hostel and you can see why I had my first Bali Belly experience after this combination of things. But how can you say no to a party with friends from 9 different country's or a free plate of organic chocolate made on sight the day before Valentine's day?
I know I was asking for it. That night from 4 am all the way to 4 the next day I didn't eat a thing and felt so sick. But all things must pass, and it did.
As the girls head to their yoga retreat I thought I'd take the opportunity to head down the Bukit PEnninsula to check out the famous surf breaks before meeting back up
With them for the Gilly Islands and then AUSTRALIA!! To escape our eventual visa arrest from Bali. Found a great price for a round trip to Perth and if anyone has any suggestions or info on that area please send me a Facebook message!
My friend Trey from Hawaii is also headed down to the Bukit as well to surf so we picked up a board from his friend down the coast we go!
I hear it's quite cold at home. Sending warmth and love ! Xo

Sanurs word; Fun or Friendly.
Baha Indonesia word of the day ; Apa Kebar - How are you?













Posted by rachaelob 06:36 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali indonesia travel elephants cat coffee arak poop sanur Comments (0)


sunny 88 °F

If you don't want to read all of this, basically;
If anyone is visiting Bali for over a month ever, make sure to plan a quick round trip ticket in the middle to a close destination of your choice or figure out your extended visa before you leave the states...

Explanation ;
Upon arrival in Bali I paid 30$ in the airport for a one month visa. I am going to be here for a while over a month but I figured that I had just gotten away with it or would deal with it when I pay my departure fee on my return flight .

So my two Canadian friends who I am traveling Kelsey and Jen with have been dragging me to the immigration office every day to work on getting our visas extended . Luckily Jen is very organized and notified me that if I don't do this I will be charged at the airport upon arrival for every day over 30 days and it's actually quite illegal if you're a week over and I could Goto jail.
SOO our first few days in Sanur have consisted of paying for cabs and going to the immigration office in Denspasar every day to work on this .

Day one we arrived at 220 and they close at 2. Day 2 we got there at 1 and the minute I got the forms in my hand the power went out.
Day 3...

I start my day with an Instagram post. (See happiness is now blog) saying how happy I am and how no matter what is going on in your life you are able to choose happiness and joy in every moment.

We get to the office at 12 . The immigration office in bali is just about as slow and friendly as maybe the DMV in south jersey, except your in a foreign country and you can't trust anyone.
So I take my number, get my paperwork, fill it out, wait again, hand it in, am told I need a photocopy of my passport and departure flight itinerary, walk around the corner pay for photo copies, go back, and hand in all of this including my passport.
I should have known right then that something was weird why do they need my passport if they already have a photo copy of it, but I thought maybe they would stamp it with my extended visa I would pay 30$ and Id be on my way. At about 1159 the guy gives me a paper that says return for payment February 18th and then my visa will be extended for another month. And untill then they will hold on to my passport and folder of paperwork. This is when I knew something was wrong. I explained to him that I don't want to come back a fourth time and I do not feel comfortable leaving without my passport and I would like it back right now. He said he can't give me my passport back and I need to cancel my application if I want that. I said okay I want to cancel please hand me my passport back . We went back and forth untill he handed me an oh so official blank piece of white paper where I should explain why I want to cancel and then told me it's his break time from 12-1 (even though he gets off at 2) and to come back at 1.
I stayed and intently kept my eyes on that folder.
While waiting an e mail comes through from the friend who told me of olap and is very experienced in Bali. I had written him about my visa issue and his response went something like this ;
"It might seem paranoid, but even when you overstay, just a few days, if there's a problem and the police ask for your passport, if you don't have a current visa, they can make trouble and it will cost you much more than a round trip plane ticket and you won't enjoy the experience . Never give the police your passport, just give them a photo copy, because they might try to keep it and sell it back to you. You can't trust the police or Immigration officials, there. It's not New Jersey."

Ect ect. As you can imagine Im freaking out.
And I think of my Instagram post. Ha what a test. If it wasn't for my two new friends standing by my side throughout this I may have cried. Instead I patiently waited and kept repeating in my head, choose happiness in every moment, deep breaths. Because even if I had freaked out and let myself cry and get angry and build up my temper, it wasn't going to get my passport to the other side of the window.
So instead I calmly waited and tried my best to be happy and put things in perspective, after all I am still in paradise, things could be worse.

About ten minutes later another worker from immigration asked me what my problem was as I was anxiously waiting at the window not leaving. I tricked him into giving me my passport back by saying I just needed to write down my passport number for a moment. And then once it was in my hands explained that I want to cancel and am going to write why on that white paper and be done with this. He said okay just give me your passport and go write it out the pens are over there.
No I think I'll hold on to this thank you. I wrote them a letter that ended in this was my third time to this office and I am done. Thanks. Rachael May O'Brien. I wish I took a picture of it. I told them that I will be headed to Singapore for a few days instead and will get another visa upon arrival.

We left Denspasar, came back to Big Pinapple Backpackers, and started looking up flights! What a head ache that was the past few days, but now I am being sent on another adventure! Perth, Singapore, Thailand where to?? It will be an unplanned expense yes. But I don't have much of a choice, and it makes sense to see somewhere else in south east Asia since I am over here. I am going with the flow of what life threw at me and now I'm on the search for the cheapest flight for a few days out of Indonesia!

Everything happens for a reason right? :)
Sometimes I am skeptical about the whole social media yoga world. We can post and say all we want but how many of us are really living it? And are my posts stemming from my ego just wanting more likes ? Why do people need to know what yoga poses I did today? It seems like just about everyone today is posting head stand pictures.
BUT it makes sense to share with others the catalyst of inspiration and peace in my life . Social media can be a platform for social change, we are all looking at it all day every day and it affects us. So if there are more and more positive quotes and healthy posts every day. That's something to celebrate . I would much rather see juices and crow poses than negativity, violence, and club pictures. Posting those pictures and that positivity, makes you more inclined to live it, because you don't want to be a hypocrit right? That's how it all starts. You fake it unyill you make it. We all have a vision that's not quite real yet and then we work work work untill it becomes our reality. That Instagram post and words I said that more helped to remind me to keep the peace within, while there was chaos and stress all around me .
And so I choose happiness and I will continue to do so.

Denspasars word; frustration.
Baha indonesia word of the day ; TIDAK- NO

Posted by rachaelob 06:35 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali indonesia travel visa happiness yoga inspiration wanderlust Comments (0)

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