Friday, October 12, 2007

Bali Day 5

Our last day :(

Got up, did the usual breakfast buffet... savoring it even more because we knew it was the last time we'd have it. We were able to get a late check-out (3 p.m.), since we didn't have to be at the airport until 8 p.m. We decided to do the usual pool thing, down by at the saltwater pool. After we had checked out, we booked more spa things; I got a facial and manicure, Token got reflexology to pass the time (as if we needed an excuse!!).

We took some random pictures of the resort...

Me enjoying what was my daily does of sangria, and Token's Bintang Beer:

Sad to be leaving... ;)
We left the hotel around 8 p.m. (after a quick final dinner at Sami Sami), which was 2.5 hours before our flight left. Since we didn't get to do much shopping, we figured we'd buy some stuff at the airport. So not the case. When they say be at the airport two hours early, they totally mean it in Bali! To even get INTO the airport, you have to show proof that you are actually on a flight. After you get through the doors, all of your luggage and carry-ons are scanned, and then you are free to go to your airline's counter. We were able to get our boarding passes after what seemed to be way too long (we didn't have any luggage to check, we are Elite members, etc.), and then headed up to the gate area. Before you get to the gate, you get your passport stamped again, bags X-rayed yet again, and then are free to go in.

We were happy to see that there were plenty of little shops inside the airport, but as soon as we stepped into one, we headed an announcement over the loudspeaker: "Continental flight X to Guam is now boarding. Please make your way to Gate X." We were surprised, as there was still about 1.5 hour before the flight was scheduled to leave, but decided we better mosey on over there. We get there and there's a line of people waiting. We had our bags X-rayed AGAIN, and then stood in another line. One by one, each person was taken to a airport official, X-rayed, and then their carry-on bags, purses, etc. searched. I mean, we get it... the airport has had some security problems, but our stuff was X-rayed multiple times! Craziness! It did make me feel a little safer, though.

After you get through the airport official, you are basically stuck. You could go out from the gate, there was no restroom, or water, etc. One lady was absolutely FLIPPING OUT on her husband and was being really loud about it, so we tuned into that for awhile. It was entertaining to say the least ;). We also made some friends with a group of older ladies who were traveling together as a part of a book club. They were a riot.

The flight back to Guam was uneventful and we landed at 5:30 a.m. Friday, August 31.

Another vacation in the books!

Bali Day 4

Another day waking up in paradise. I'll never get sick of that!

In the morning, we lounged around yet another pool for a couple hours. We then decided to order up a picnic lunch down at the Ritz's private beach - Kuba Beach.

The walk to the beach isn't for the faint of heart. It's about 195 steep steps down (and then up!) to get there, but it's oh-so worth it!

We had lunch (Mediterranean) delivered later in the afternoon, and enjoyed yummy potato salad, pita bread, and fruit salad. We spent a few hours down on the beach reading magazines, books, enjoying a fruity drink or two (or three!), and just relaxing in the sun.

We had decided that later we were going to go to the Uluwatu Temple and watch a traditional Balinese dance, so we prepped ourselves for the climb back up the hill, and got ready to go.

We got a taxi from the front desk of the hotel, and made the 45 minute trip to the temples. The drive was pretty cool. There was a lot to see, including gas stations that basically take glass bottles and fill them with petrol, set them out on the side of the road and allow people to buy them. Crazy! It's hard to explain the "real" Bali. The stores in the Jimbaran area (where our hotel was ), weren't really stores so much as they were little roadside stands. I saw a barber shop, what looked like a game place where kids were playing on some sort of video game system, a couple cafes, and what looked to be a gasoline convenience store. Completely different than anything I've ever seen, yet so hard to describe. I wish our driver had pulled over so I could take a couple pictures, but he didn't seem like the talking type, so I zipped my lips and enjoyed the ride.

Once we got to the temple, this guy, whom we both assumed worked at the temple, came up to us and guided us around. He got our admission tickets for us, some peanuts to feed the over 500 free roaming monkeys, and led us around really, really fast (seriously, I could barely keep up, darn me and my not-so-sensible shoes!). At the end of his "tour," he took us into this little deserted room off to the side of the main temple area and demanded some money. Token gave him 9,000 Rupiah, which is about $1 USD. That seriously is probably a pretty good tip, considering how different their money is compared to ours, but the guy thought it was cheap and said that it wasn't enough. Me, being the outspoken one that I can be at times, told him that we didn't appreciate this, we thought he worked at the temple and was just doing his job, and he should be ashamed of himself for taking advantage of two foreigners. He walked away gesturing madly with his hands. I think I ticked him off. Whatever. Anyway.... here are some pictures! :D

The only good thing about our "tour guide" was that he kept the monkeys from getting Token's glasses. We saw one guy who wasn't so lucky. The monkey grabbed his glasses from his face and threw them over the side of the cliff!!

After wandering around the temple for awhile, we headed to the traditional Balinese dance/show. There was a story to it, but I completely forget what it was about... something about a white monkey. The dancing was pretty cool, as were the costumes.

After the show, we found our driver and headed back to the hotel. I don't remember what we did that evening, but I'm sure it was fun. Ha!

Bali Day 3

We got up early and hit the gym. After completely gorging ourselves the night before, we needed a good sweat session to ward off not only the extra calories, but also the guilt!

Included in our package was a couples massage, so we took advantage of that in the morning. It was really nice and the spa at the Ritz-Carlton has won many, many awards. The massage was really nice, but as with all massages, they go way too fast.

After our pampering, we headed down to the saltwater pool to relax. The pool was actually an infinity pool, which meant that from certain angles, it looked like the pool and ocean were one. Pretty cool! Token had found this canopy thing that swung, so we decided to go lay on that for awhile. It was amazing... every time you went to the pool, they had employees there who would unroll towels for you and set up your chair. Complete luxury, I tell ya.

We actually spent pretty much the whole day down at the pool... pretty exciting, right?

After getting our tan on, we decided to hit the putt-putt course. It's an 18-hole "executive" course that we kinda just played around on. It was fun and we didn't take it seriously at all, so that was even more fun! Look at that form... amazing ;).

That night, we ate at Padi, a Thai restaurant. I had the green curry, Token had the pad thai. Though our dishes were both excellent, it was the dessert that truly was the showstopper. It was fried bananas, but not in the normal breadcrumbs... I had no clue what it was, but whatever it was was amazing. Along with the bananas, there was caramel and vanilla bean ice cream. Oh my gosh, rockin' party in your mouth. It's so hard to explain how good it was, but it's something I'll never forget. Later in the evening, Token had a business call, so I had booked a spa package. I had a massage and then a body scrub. It was really nice and relaxing. Day Two in Bali = success!

Bali Day 2

We got up early because we were so excited to see the landscape, the grounds of the hotel... everything!

Our package included daily breakfast for two at a restaurant called Padi, so we headed down to peruse the selection. Oh my gosh... this has to be the best breakfast "buffet" we've ever been to. Anything and everything you'd ever want was here. Yum!!!

We spent much of the morning and afternoon exploring the grounds. Beautiful. The attention to detail was amazing. We saw Ritz employees sweeping petals from walkways, grooming the MANY flowers and plants, and going about their daily thing. It was just amazing to me that they keep the hotel so immaculate. I don't know how many different species of plants and flowers they have there, but the upkeep is amazing. Plus, every single employee, from front desk, to grounds crew was quick to say "good morning/afternoon/evening" every single time you passed them. Customer service out the wazoo. Seriously.

We eventually settled down at one of the many pools and spent the afternoon reading and enjoying the sun. We agreed beforehand that this trip would be a relax and chill vacation, no a "go go go" that we are so used to. It was a nice change of pace.

However, we did have to venture into the main tourist area, Kuta, just once to check it out and to get Token's cousin a Hard Rock pin. Before we left, we had to exchange some money. The exchange rate is such that we because instant millionaires!

We took the hotel shuttle into the city and wandered around a bit. I expected it to be full on chaos, because before I came, I had read how there are many people trying to sell you things while you walk around. We experienced some "braid your hair?" "transport?" queries, but a "no, thanks" was all it took for them to leave us alone. Another thing about Bali, and I'm guessing Indonesia, as well, is their crazy transportation system. Since the price of gas is so dang expensive, Balinese mainly drive motorcycles around. We saw a family of five (mom, dad, baby, and two young boys) on a motorcycle that was actually more like a moped. Insane! We also saw a guy with probably 500 inflated balloons driving down the street. It was hilarious. I only wish I could have taken a picture of it!

After wandering around a bit in Kuta, we hailed a taxi and headed back to the hotel to prepare for dinner. We had dinner included in our package, and it was at the Italian restaurant Sami Sami. We freshened up, and headed down to dinner, only to be greeted with a personalized menu with our names on it, and a prime spot in the restaurant. The meal was ginormous and way more food than either of us could ever finish. We started with a tomato caprese salad, the second course was a vegetable soup, followed by a side of asparagus. My main course was a trio of pasta (gnocchi, a spaghetti dish, and some kind of pesto ziti), and Token had the red snapper, which he says was the best fish he's ever had. It's a shame that it was so much food... I really only had a couple bites of the soup and the asparagus, because I was just too stuffed.

After dinner (and after being serenaded by two guys singing Eric Clapton's Beautiful Tonight), we waddled back to our room, completely stuffed and satisfied.

Bali Hai!

Token and I are so lucky! At the end of August, we went to Bali for five days. We originally were going to go two years ago, but they had a bombing and we decided to postpone. I was still pretty nervous about going this time, but since Token likes 'livin' on the edge,' I sucked it up and agreed.

We left Guam on August 26 and got in to Bali at 10:30 p.m. I had done a ton of research before hand and we had decided that we were going to travel with carry-on bags only, which was a huge help. At the airport, we had to pay our Visa on Arrival fee of $20, get our Visas put in our passports, etc. It's funny, I went through the Visa guy first (although Token was right next to me), and once I was through, he told me to step aside. Fine, whatever. Five minutes or so and Token came through and told me that the Officer had asked him for some money! Token just pretended not to hear him... Crazy!

Since we didn't have any luggage to claim from the baggage carrier, we walked out of the sliding glass doors to about, oh, 50 or so Indonesians holding up signs with peoples' names on them. I had confirmed with the Ritz-Carlton beforehand that someone would be at the airport picking us up, but our names weren't anywhere to be found. We decided to find a phone and call the hotel... 9,000 Rupiah later (only about $1), we got in touch with someone at the hotel and they said our ride would be there shortly. Talk about freaking out. I was already apprehensive to travel here, and then once we get there, our ride isn't there, and there are all of these people just staring at us. Awkward. About five minutes later, this guy wearing a Ritz-Carlton shirt comes over and we are off.

In the car, he popped a bottle of champagne for us and told us a little bit about the island.

About 15 minutes later, we pulled up to a security gate, where our car was inspected by working dogs and the truck looked in for anything suspicious. The gate was lifted and we were suddenly in another world. Although it was dark, we could both tell that the grounds were beautiful. You can see the pink flowers lining the roads from the lit up cement blocks that had roses carved out of them. The road was cobblestone, and you could smell incense burning. The drive to the front of the hotel is about a mile. Once we got there, we were greeted with a lei made with plumeria flowers and a cold fruit drink (I think it was pineapple/guava). We were whisked away to the front desk where we checked in, while our bags were immediately brought to our room.

The front desk agent escorted us to our room, 1326, and explained some of the area to us. Because it was late, we couldn't really see much, but were already excited to be there.

We went to sleep that night knowing that this was going to be one great vacation!
Hey, remember that "Yard of the Quarter" award we were hankering to get? Well... ch-che-check it out!

Token's such a green thumb. Me, on the other hand, I have trouble keeping the easiest plant alive, so this was all Token's doing. And the oh-so-classy sign? We kept it out for about, oh, two hours, before Token was embarrassed and moved it to the trash can. We don't want our neighbors thinking we are some kind of brown-nosers!

Sydney, Australia Day 3

After getting back to the hotel so late, we slept in a bit before hitting the streets. We eventually made our way down for breakfast (hey, it was included and we took full advantage of it!), and then decided to head out to Bondi Beach via the public bus.

It was pretty cool riding through all of these different neighborhoods and seeing Sydney. I really enjoyed the ride. Once we got there, we walked along the beach, people watched, and just hung out. We met this old man who was retired but now owns his own winery in the area. He gave us some suggestions on things to do while we were in town, places to eat, etc. It was nice!

After beachin' it, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner. We hit a little pub/bar first, and enjoyed a couple drinks before exploring the town a bit.

It was our last night (boo!), so we took full advantage of everything we still hadn't done, like going to the top of the lookout tower (the name of it escapes me right now), wandering the streets, and having our last french fries (which are SO much better than American fries).

The next day, our flight for Cairns left at 3:30 p.m., so we spent the morning wandering around looking at Sydney architecture, eating lunch, and picking up a few souvenirs for family and friends. We arrived in Cairns, and had about six hours until our flight left for Guam, so we hit the mall, the night shops (where Token bought a digeridoo (I completely butchered the spelling of that!)), and ate dinner at a great Italian place called Villa Romano. YUM! Before we knew it, we were boarding the plane to head back to Guam and life as we know it.

Until our next trip...

Sydney, Australia Day 2

Happy Anniversary to us! Three years and going strong ;).

We got up, ate some breakfast, and then decided to go to the Taronga Zoo, which was just a short ferry ride away. Token found us some tickets and we were on our way. The ferry ride was actually pretty cool, as we were able to scout out all of the multi-million dollar homes (we even saw Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban's home!).

We got to the zoo fairly early in the morning, which turned out to be a great thing, since it wasn't very crowded. We were able to see all of the animals at a leisurely pace, including the crazy hyper elephants who were going crazy in the pool. It was insane... we've never seen elephants playing like that before - they looked so happy. We saw all kinds of animals. See pics below.

After the zoo, we got back on the ferry and went for a little boat ride all along the harbour. It was so much fun. The weather was perfect, I was with the best man in the world, exploring life in another country, everything was fabulous. We eventually made it back to Darling Harbour, where we got off the boat and did a little walking, ate lunch at this place called Blackbird, and just enjoyed the day.

Later that afternoon, we walked down to Darling Harbour from our hotel (a few miles), to get ferry tickets to go out to the Acer Arena for the Keith Urban concert. What can I say? The concert was absolutely amazing. Hands down the best concert I've ever been to (Token says The Rolling Stones was his favorite), although our section didn't get up and dance. Boo on them :(. I had a great time, though! The ride over was a bit freaky... once we got off at our stop, we figured the arena was within short walking distance. Um, not so much. We had to walk about two miles in the dark, along a freeway (!!) before we got there. I was kinda freaking out, because there were no cars or people around and it was just all-around scary. Once we were about half-way there, another couple came walking up who were in the same situation as we were, so we walked together the rest of the way. After the concert, we decided to get a taxi to head back into the city. Awesome anniverary!!!

Sydney, Australia

Soooo much to write about. Talk about a total slacker here. Let's go back to May '07 and recap our 3rd anniversary trip to Sydney, Australia. M'kay?

We are so fortunate and blessed that we are able to do as much traveling as we have done. China, Australia a few times, New Zealand, etc., it's just all so amazing. For our third anniversary, we decided to head down to Sydney, Australia. We left on May 13 and got in to the Cairns airport at 11:30 p.m. Our flight to Sydney (on Qantas, such a nice airline!) left at 7 a.m. that next morning, which meant we had to be at the airport at 5 a.m., which meant we got about three hours of sleep. Suffice to say that we both slept very well on that flight down to Sydney.

We hit the ground running once we landed. Apparently there was a bunch of fog in the morning, so the airport was crazy busy with people. Our flight was the first of the day that was approved for landing, so we kinda lucked out there, but still had to deal with a mass of people. Argh. Once we cleared customs, we found our hotel transport, who whisked us away to the Swissotel.

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We were pretty lucky because we got to the hotel at 9 a.m. and fully expected for them to tell us that our room wouldn't be ready for a few more hours. That wasn't the case. We were able to check right in. Yay! I had made us reservations to do the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb
that afternoon, so we hightailed it to the check-in. It seems like all of our vacations are the "go go go" type, and this was no exception!

Once we got to the Bridge Climb offices, we were shown a short video about the adventure we were about to take part of; climbing up the largest and widest steel-arch bridge in the world, at 151.3 feet wide, and 440 feet above sea level.

We weren't allowed to bring cameras with us on the walk, so unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of us on the bridge (although that might be a good thing, after you see the dead sexy outfit we had to wear!). See proof:

We do have a souvenir photo and certificate that they gave us at the end of the tour, but no photos scanned into the computer. Sorry!

The climb was about three hours long and was quite a workout! It was an excellent experience, though, and one we'll never forget.

After getting down off of the bridge, we tried to find somewhere to get a late lunch, but soon discovered that most restaurants in Sydney close after lunch and then reopen around 6 p.m. for dinner. So, to soothe our grumbling bellies, we found a smoothie shop and got a smoothie to tied us over for a few hours. The rest of the day, we just wandered around and explored. We got some coffee at Starbucks, walked, and did a little bit of shopping. By the end of the day, we were beat and ready to get some sleep!