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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)


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)



The first few days in BalinI have been staying in an area called Seminyak. Although very close to the ever forbidden Kuta that everyone tells me to stay away from, Seminyak has been just touristy enough that it's good for me to get acclimated to Indonesia . Plus the waves aren't quite like the infamous breaks of Padang Padang and Uluwatu so I am able to get some surfing in before
Moving on to the powerful areas that may be too big for me and the northern inland areas like Ubud.

A typical day for me in Seminyak goes like this:
Wake up at sunrise, morning cleansing, chanting and meditation .
Walk about 2 miles to Olaps house for his early morning advanced yoga practice. After walking down various alley ways and through the giant gates with the number 7 on them. I am greeted by geese, chickens, dogs and a green jungle wonderland where in the back you can find a large clearing and platform for yoga to be practiced. The platform has a rooftop so yoga can still be practiced in the rain and we can always stay for post practice chai tea :).

Olap has been teaching yoga for 30? Years I believe I have heard and was referred to me by a friend Jon via Adam green. He looks like he is 24. He is extremely knowledgable about the body and in his classes he asks you to dive deep within. Within his Iyengar style (whom he studied under for 20 years) he strongly emphasizes presence of the mind as well as awareness of every single tiny muscle in your body. He even has a skeleton in class so he can really break down what he's talking about. While originally Balinese and extremely traditional he kinda scares the shit out of me, but is very kind and keeps it light with humbling jokes throughout practice which costs about 7$ . He had me hanging off of every English, Sanskrit and Balinese word.

Next I goto the local organic vegetarian restaurant for a light post yoga breakfast if it is too late to get the free breakfast at my hostel.
Then to the beach to check the surf and either run or walk for a bit. Perhaps rent a board 3$ catch about three waves and get beat up paddling through the rest but walk away feeling tired and accomplished.

And when I decide I am beat up I head back to the hostel, on the way home stopping at my favorite spot Wayans authentic Indonesian
Side note: In eat pray love Liz explains that most of the population gives 1 of four names to their children, wayan, made, Nyoman, and ketut, meaning first second third and fourth. What happens If you have a fifth child you ask ? You start the cycle over again at wayan to the second power. I thought there was no way this could be true. But behold I have met several ketuts, mades, wayans and one Nyoman In my few days of being here. There's a Wayans Spa , Wayans Restaurant, Wayans surf shop, Wayans money exchange, and all on the same street. Liz wasn't fuckin around. Many of the Balinese have nick names to help avoid confusion because it wouldn't be uncommon for one Wayan to marry another Wayan and then have a child named; Wayan. And so you see how this gets confusing.

Anyway I stop at Wayans Indonesian. Here I can enjoy some authentic Indonesian Nasi Campur for 4$ and use the beautiful natural pool. Rather than the fake pool and hot dogs at the hostel, although the hostel is quite nice and has a great sense of community.
When all this is done I shower and change and do the walk once again down to the beach to enjoy a beautiful sunset on the beach, priceless. Unless a few bintangs are involved of course ;) and perhaps a light dinner to follow if I'm still hungry.
Life in seminyak is simple and good, and this is the area everyone says to run from. Can't wait to see the rest of it! Next stop ; Sanur , but first the Tanahlot Temple on the way :)

Today's Balinese word ; Terima Kasih - Thank you ? feeling grateful

Nasi campur (Indonesian/Malay: "mixed rice", also called nasi rames in Indonesia) is an Indonesian Classic. It is adish of a scoop of nasi putih (white rice) accompanied by small portions of a number of other dishes, which includes meats, vegetables, peanuts, eggs and sometimes fried-shrimp krupuk all for about 3$ .Depending where it originates, a nasi campur vendor might served several side dishes, including vegetables, fish and meats. It is a staple meal of the Southeast Asian countries, and popular especially in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and southern Thailand,

And here I thought I was going to be able to escape Valentine's Day...

Posted by rachaelob 23:58 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali indonesia travel yoga chai seminyak wanderlust nasi_campur olap gyspy Comments (0)


sunny 88 °F

I arrived 6 am feb 7th. Shared a cab with a new friend after bartering with the taxi drivers at the airport and got dropped off at my place. I had forever been thinking I arrive February 8th and not 7th and of course I messed up my booking. So when I showed up I got a room for the first night as well. The room I originally booked was full so I got another one with air conditioning. It is a little pricey compared to what I'd like to be paying but I do have my own room and porch and bathroom it's very private, but it is still not quite the American hotel which is fine and to be expected. ( Ashley there were spider webs all over my shower ! ;) )
I settled in and started to explore, it took me a while to get my bearings. I had an Indonesian health tumeric juice and breakfast. I forgot my lock and light and charger adapter I was supposed to bring so I did a little shopping . (Mom you'd be so happy the only flash light they sold at this market comes with a built in tazor for self defense if you charge it ) I feel pretty safe anyway, although I stick out as a tourist like a sore thumb, the Indonesians are harmless people, they just can be a little tricky and want to sell you something every five minutes.
I made it down to the beach and the waves were pumping and the beach was hot. I took my first dive in the Indian Ocean and watched some skilled surfers mixed in with plenty of beginners on surf boards, I contemplated going myself a few blocks down were it was a bit smaller and there is no reef, but decided I didn't want to get beat up my first day and I had spent enough money today.
I wandered my way back to my hotel looking like a total lost 'shoobie' as we would say. I had Been wandering around looking for a yoga teacher olap, a friend told me to find in seminyak, but was sun burnt already, dehydrated and had been up for two days, so I gave up on the first day. I could have paid a cab driver to take me but like I said I spent too much money because of my own forgetfulness that day and I figured I should meet this talked up yoga guru in a more refreshed state. It was only about 12 o'clock then and I was feeling discouraged, I wanted to stay up for the sunset but could do nothing else but pass out in bed by 2pm. I woke at 10 pm disoriented thinking it was the next day, and realized it was night time. Went back to sleep till 5 am today.

Today I wake up refreshed and calmed. I open My Daily book of living your yoga, yesterday's passage says you cannot get to grandmas house if you do not go through the woods, similarly, you cannot have the paradise bali is, untill you travel across the world and deal with the chaos that it also is. Today's passage is about patience . Yesterday I lacked patience, I expected myself to have it all figured out in one day. I was not connected, or confident. Today I will watch anytime feelings of frustration or anger come up and recognize that I am disconnecting from myself....
Morning meditation and chanting
108 x Ganesha mantra
Ganesha is the ruler of the root chakra, our seat of confidence, groundedness, feeling at home. He is the remover of obstacles.
... Fast forward 8 hours...
This time yesterday I was a mess. Today I have gone for a run, know my way around town a bit, had some Indonesian black rice coconut milk porridge, surfed in seminyak, made some new friends, found olaps place thanks to a free motor bike ride from a kind local surfer and now am going to watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean for the first time. Life is good ❤️ phew. ?






Posted by rachaelob 05:12 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali indonesia travel meditation fun surfing yoga patience ganesha Comments (0)

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