Our next stop in Bali was Lovina Beach, located on the northern part of the island. Our grateful host Oka offered to drive us and we happily accepted. The distance to Lovina from Ubud was only about 75km however, it took us almost 4 hours to get there. During this road trip we encountered some heavy traffic and an intense tropical rain as we drove through the mountains and jungle. Nevertheless, it was a super scenic drive and an excellent way to see more of the island. Oka’s friend, who is also a boat captain in Lovina, met us along the way and helped us find our villa. Our new house was located 3 km from the beach. Once we arrived at the property, we were in a awe - it was a 3 story villa, with two swimming pools, beautiful garden, amazing living space and a rooftop deck with a 360 panoramic view of the ocean - in other words, a balinese heaven. Our hosts - Umi and Wayna manage and live on the property - once again, they sleep outside on the patio of the laundry room. Their family owns the villa and they all take turns watching over the property. Before driving back to Ubud, Oka took us to a local market where we did our grocery shopping. Once we got back to our villa, he helped us carry the bags, gave us hugs goodbye and drove away…He was a perfect host and if you ever plan on coming to Ubud, let us know and we will hook you up!
The next day we spent swimming in the pool, lounging around, playing ball with the kids, taking naps and simply being lazy. It felt sooooo good! Leo and Mila absolutely love this living space, they are constantly running around and enjoying all the room they have to roam. The property is fenced in, so they've been able to roam without mom & dad right on them. After dinner, we all went to the rooftop balcony and admired the stunning sunset!
The next day we booked Gede (boat captain) as our taxi driver and went to see the Sekumpul waterfalls, which are considered one of the most beautiful falls in Bali. We pretty much had a sleepless night since Mila is teething and experiencing pain, but we decided to go anyway. Right from the start we hit pretty heavy traffic. I am still amazed by the scooter drivers in Bali, they are everywhere and it seems as if they have the right a-way to the road. As a car driver you need to constantly honk and let them know that you are coming. Also the fact that the President of Indonesia happened to be visiting a nearby town was not helping our cause. We passed tons of school kids sitting along the road, dressed in red and white (the colors of the flag, same as Poland just in a reversed order) and were waving their country’s flags. After a good hour of driving on crazy narrow and bumpy roads, we arrived at our destination. As soon as we put our backpack on and started to walk towards the path marked for the waterfall, Gede told us we were at the wrong place and had to drive a bit up the hill. So we jumped back in the car and headed towards the "right" place. Here, as soon as we walked out of the car, we were approached by a tour guide who insisted that we need to buy a ticket and a tour guide to enter the waterfall area - are you freaking joking me!? We are going to a jungle and need a permission and a baby sitter...nice one Gede but we were not falling for that. We did our research the night before and every website warned you about those type of tricks. The first place where we stopped was the correct one, where you only pay the entrance fee and then you are off on your waterfall adventure. Here is what upset us the most - Gede was hired by us for the whole week, he knew exactly this area and was aware of this setup. We told him in the car that we were not going to pay for any type of organized trip, we were doing this on our own without a guide. Yet, he still drove us there and tried to make money off us. Sorry Gede but in the voice of Donald Trump - you are fired!!!!
We met a couple from France who was on the same page as us so we joined powers, walked away from the “tour guides”, and went back to our original lot. The hike to the waterfalls was about 40 minutes and it led through a paved pathway. After passing a small village we were in the middle of a jungle! Well, jungle with hundreds of steps going down...all I kept thinking was, this is going to be a long way up! But trying to live in the moment, I blocked that voice in my head and started to move down and once I saw the gorgeous waterfalls, I could care less about anything else. They were stunning! They were very long, powerful and ridiculously beautiful. In order to get to the bottom of the waterfalls, you need to cross the river, barefoot or with shoes - there was no bridge, no big deal. I think it was the most beautiful waterfall we have ever seen. We were hoping to swim in it, but it was way too rough for the kids there. We set up a little lunch in this gorgeous scenery and enjoyed every second of it.
Recently Leo has been hooked on the movie "Jungle Book". He even tells us that he is a jungle boy. He wants to wear red shorts like Mowgli (the boy in the movie), he loves to jump on the boulders and build things out of the sticks. Every night, after dinner, Leo and Mila sit on the couch and watch this movie. So when we told Leo we were going to see this waterfall, he was so excited and could not wait to be in the jungle, hahaha. I just hope he won't become too friendly with the wild animals in the open nature :-) He’s even now saying mommy, daddy, and Mila stay at the house, he’s going into the jungle on his own!
After spending a good hour hanging around this wonderful place made by Mother Nature, we decided to head back to the car and visit another waterfall. The climb back up was intense but not as hard as we expected. Leo kept climbing up like a monkey :-) Mila had the easy route since she was on Rick's back. She cracks me up, once we got back to the top, she screamed "we did it"!!! I could not agree more, it felt amazing!
Next, we headed towards another waterfall called Aling Aling. It was another one hour drive in the car, enough to catch a breath, take an afternoon siesta and simply rest. Once we arrived at the waterfall, we were approached again, by very pushy tour guides who tried to sell us the tour package. Since we know the drill, we politely explained to them that we were here just to see a waterfall. I guess they understood our body language and after paying a simple entrance fee we were walking towards another adventure. This trek was much shorter, only 20 minutes. The scenery leading to the waterfall was beautiful, very exotic and tropical but the waterfall was ok. I guess after seeing Sekumpul it was hard to be impressed by this one. However, we were very glad we did it. Interesting fact: if you are a female who is visiting the waterfall and happened to be during your menstruation cycle, you are prohibited from entering the waterfall! So if you plan your vacation to Bali, please be aware of that :-)
Gede is really getting on our nerves. We originally booked a few other attractions with him and he is insisting that we pay him for everything in advance. We tried to explain to him that we have two little kids and things can change any second, so we will prefer to pay one day at the time. He is still pushing and telling us that his boss is making these rules...I guess some people will do anything to get what they want. We already paid for a dolphin tour through Gede's company but I have a feeling it will be the last time we see him.
Our next day we spent in our lovely villa, swimming, lounging around the pool, and catching up on sleep. Rick walked into town to do some grocery shopping and do some research about local tours. Here is the truth: Gede has been overcharging us for everything! Every single place that Rick visited offered the same type of excursions for much less. I know we are in a very touristy area and people will try to make as much as possible, but being dishonest, lying and making insults out of us is not a good idea. During his visit in town, Rick stumbled upon a hair salon...imagine the look on the faces of these Balinese women when a western bald man walks in, hahaha! Before you knew it, I was sitting in the chair getting a wash, head massage and my hair chopped off, all for $7 :-) Who would ever though that I will come to Bali and get a new hair style…
The next day was our dolphin adventure which we had rebooked with Gede. He picked us up in the morning and drove us to the beach where the boat was already waiting. During the car ride, we told him we would not be booking any more tours with him and that information did not set well with him. He was getting rude and kinda aggressive with his driving style but we just tried to ignore him. Once we got to the beach, he started to walk very fast and completely forgot about us. For a second I though getting on that boat with him would be a mistake. At least he was kind enough to give us life jackets! We rode about to sea for about 35 minutes entering the supposed dolphin dense area. We sat there for good 20 minutes with blistering sun beaming down and saw nothing. We tried a few other spots but besides seeing tons of trash floating in the ocean, we did not spot any dolphins, bummer : ( Maybe the dolphins evacuated due to the active volcano ;-) Of course Gede was trying to sell us another dolphin tour for the next day, but we were not interested. He apologized for the lack of dolphins, which was not his fault, seeing them is the luck of the draw and obviously we were not fortunate enough today. Once we got to the shore, he ran away to a boat parked nearby with fishes onboard. He just left us hanging in the boat, what a character I tell ya! We transported the kids to the beach and started walking towards town. We decided that we have had enough of this guy and would rather walk than spend another minute with him. On the way out his cousin stopped us and tried to sell us little wooden dolphins hahaha. Half way through our walk we heard someone beeping at us and yes, you guessed right, it was Gede, WTF!!?? He was so surprised we left the beach without him. We told him we were going to a local cafe to get a lunch and he insisted on driving us there. Once we arrived the the coffee shop, we told him that we were done with him. He did not argue this time, said thanks and drove away. It really felt as if someone lifted a heavy rock from our shoulders. After delicious lunch at the local cafe, we walked over to Hotel Dupa ( which means ass in polish, how fitting) and booked a snorkeling and island trip for the next day - they charged us half of the price offered by Gede, go figure. I just hope this trip won't be " do dupy" aka won't suck ass!
As it turned out, the snorkeling we booked through Hotel Dupa was amazing. We were picked up by a bus around 8 o'clock. Along with us, there were four other people. We drove to the pier which was about one hour away and then hopped on the boat to the Manjangan Island (about 25 minutes). The island is stunning, beautiful waters, surrounded by coral, and temples that stick out into the ocean. Simply beautiful! Our captain was awesome, super friendly and always making sure we were taken care off. We anchored our boat about 60 meters off shore and went snorkeling. We had one hour, so Rick went first and after 30 minutes we switched. The water was a beautiful turquoise color. What's even more, in the background between the clouds, there were two inactive volcanos which only added more mystique to the scenery. We were able to see plenty of exotic fish and other water species. Leo was snorkeling with me and kept telling me he saw Dory :-) lots of Dories hahaha. Mila was not too happy about the fact that she had to sit in the boat while we snorkeled, and as a result, she threw a tantrum, welcome terrible 2s! Towards the end, she jumped into the water with me and that calmed her down :-) We were served lunch on the boat - we were not able to go on the island since it was low tide and we would have gotten stuck on the coral. After lunch, our captain drove us to another snorkeling spot where, once again, we had another hour in the water. We absolutely loved swimming with the fishes and it was probably one of the best snorkeling adventures we’ve had. On the way back to the pier, both Leo and Mila feel asleep :-) We finished the day with a swim in our pool and Mexican dinner, haha! Although we love Balinese cuisine, we are slowly starting to miss our comfort foods such as pastas, pizzas and other goodies.
The last two days of our adventures in Bali we spent in Kuta. We arrived here on Sunday afternoon and checked into a small boutique hotel located right across the beach. Traffic is a nightmare around here…we knew it was quite popular but did not expect to be driving 5 kilometers in almost one hour. After we dropped our bags off in the room, we grabbed something to eat and went to the beach. This place definitely lacks the authenticity of balinese culture - the fingerprints of Western culture are everywhere from McDonalds to Starbucks, Quicksilver to Victoria Secrets. The vibe of Kuta reminds us a bit of Miami. The beach is very nice, super wide and long, packed with surfers and tourists from all around the world. Leo and Mila swam around and splashed in the ocean, and then we took in a beautiful sunset. Since it was getting dark, we headed back to hotel and took a quick dip in the pool. When we got back to the room, Mila gave us a nice surprise in a form of her famous throw ups, clogging the whole tub. We had to get some help from the staff. She is constantly putting everything in her mouth and eventually, she gets sick. I really hope she passes this stage of experimenting the world's dirt & rocks. Terrible 2s are almost here!
The best part of being in Kuta was meeting my girlfriend from Sokołów Podlaski - my hometown, Ula! How is it possible that I ran into people from my childhood in Bali! We went to kindergarten together and then we saw each other few more times here and then, and now in Indonesia, how crazy?! This world is such a small place!