I know I keep telling everyone each year that we never celebrate Halloween around here in the way of costumes and candy, but I always think that aspect of it makes it such a fun holiday. It seems more people are getting into the Halloween spirit locally though, because I have been seeing more and more imported Halloween candy lining the supermarket shelves as the years go by. In Rustans’s there is an overwhelming amount of them in different shapes and flavours. Just seeing them tickles the kid inside me!
I’ve noticed that my habits right around this time of year are geared towards getting into the Halloween spirit as much as my life would allow: There would be cravings that make me nosh on a bit more candy than usual. My thing for sour gummy candies comes to life, or I get a real hankering for some caramel apples. Mostly it’s dark chocolate bars that fall victim.
Second is that I am always in the mood for reading something along the lines of ghosts and creepy creatures. Two years ago I read the hair-raising The Restorer by Amanda Stevens and looooved it. Last year I had purposefully sought out zombie-related books even though zombies don’t interest me much. Luckily I’ve discovered that sometimes zombie-stories can be utterly good, like Mira Grant’s Feed. This year I’m going with a dark fantasy story in the form of The Killing Moon by NK Jemisin.
And finally, I always have this overwhelming urge to make something Halloween-themed in the kitchen. What is it with Halloween and Christmas that makes baking and cooking seem more fun? My Halloween treats are often my own poor attempt at joining the festivities but an attempt nonetheless!
For this year’s Halloween treat I decided to go with something more cute rather than serious or scary. I guess you could say I’m feeling a little less gloomy compared to the previous year. In any case, this was a project I had been looking forward to since August. I haven’t made whoopie pies in a long time so I thought, ‘Hey, there’s a lot I can do with a Halloween-themed whoopie pie!’
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I woke up the next morning feeling strongly aware of the fact that it was our last day on this trip. Last day! Before I could allow myself to start feeling blue, we quickly got ready to head out. Our driver had arranged our itinerary for the day, deciding that it was best to go to the farthest location first before slowly making our way back down to the locations closer to Denapasar. And so it was with a rather heavy heart that I stepped out of our room to take on our last day in Bali.
I was still feeling a bit blue when we arrived at the Ulun Danu Temple two hours later. Little did I know that the trek toward the temple gates was going to be a mood-changer. Better known as the Floating Temple, the Pura Ulun Danu is located by the Lake Bratan, up in the mountains near Bedugul. You have to drive up a mountain to get there, thus the amount of time it took.
The weather is cool because a breeze is always passing through at this altitude, and it lifts my spirits somewhat. But the moment my feelings were really replaced with one of glorious bewilderment and wonder was the moment we stepped through the gates. Oh it was absolutely breathtaking! I took a moment to just stare dumbfounded at the scene before raising my camera to my eye to capture it. Or attempt to.
I admit to a fascination for temples but my heart has never really sang at the sight of one until this day. This is the very picture of how I imagine heaven might look like for the gods in Asian folklore and religion. There is a backdrop of clouds because we are so high up, giving the whole place the illusion of constantly being surrounded by magical mist. The silhouettes of the distant green mountain-tops plus the grass and flowers at the shore give off a lush and thriving feeling to the place. The water is a blue that reflects the beautiful sky. The temples themselves look as if at any moment someone in an elaborate Asian dress might glide out and greet visitors.
I love it because it tickles my imagination so so much!
Continue reading about my Bali adventure! >>
It was bright and early the next day when we took to the roads toward our next agenda located in Klung Kung. We were blessed with some lovely weather after the sky spilled quite a daunting amount of rain hours before the sun rose. It even kind of woke me up in the middle of my sleep. Anyway, with high spirits we set out after a quick breakfast of canned coffee and some bread from a nearby bakeshop.
The thing about our self-made itinerary is that we had very little idea exactly how far apart from each other the locations were. It’s a little hard to tell from a map, but to our surprise every place we visited required at least an hour’s drive from Denpasar, where we lived. We literally drove one to two hours from one temple to another, with roads that bumped and curved rather dangerously, but which our driver handled with much ease.
The Kertha Gosa Pavilion was empty when we arrived. We spotted only the groundskeeper, but other than that we were the only ones there. I kept expecting it to feel eerie in the way that most ancient historic places are, but it was a pleasant sort of quiet that greeted us. It offers the kind of feeling you get walking in a garden during a pleasant spring day. There are pavilions within the compound and a small museum housing artifacts and old paintings that tell a bit about the history of Klung Kung.
Looking at it, I find it hard to believe this was built in the 18th Century. It was built to serve as a place where the king could meet his ministers to discuss matters of justice and the law, like an olden day Supreme Court. They even set up a long table with chairs just to help the imagination going along. Now that I think about it, it’s a bit ironic that this place feels rather relaxing considering many life and death decisions must have been made here in the past.
For a 3-day trip, my visit to Bali last February was quite possibly one of the most exhausting trips abroad I have ever had. I think it even beats that time I went to the US and had to battle some jet lag plus sleep deprivation thanks to a delayed flight and a tight touring schedule. Our itinerary had us jetting from one side of Bali to the other on a mission to maximize our stay. Then there is of course the inevitable sleeplessness that comes with travel adrenaline (amounting to approximately less than 12 hours of sleep in 4 days), and the fact that I had to lug around my camera gear that weighed a ton in sweltering Balinese heat. By the end of our trip I was so tired I was dreaming about my bed as I slept in the plane on our flight back. I think all three of us were, for that matter.
So I suppose your question now would be: Was it worth it?
I remember arriving in Bali half-groggy from my airplane nap and a little drunk on the excitement of what was to come. Since our flight was at 4AM it was early in the morning when we arrived, which meant we had a full day ahead of us to frolick under the hot Indonesian sun. But first, we were in need of a little freshening up. A little facial cleanser and mouthwash never hurt anyone, agreed?
Our driver Mr. Karyu of Bali Agung Tours was already waiting to drive us to our hotel when we exited the airport. Since this was the first time ever I traveled without family and with friends only, I was pretty darn psyched. And what’s even better is that I got to travel with my two besties in the world, Gilbert and Marga! I don’t have any words to describe how happy I was that this trip turned into a reality. All those times we spent talking about going on a trip together were just daydreams until we finally buckled down and booked our flight! Now we must make it a yearly thing hehe!
Where we stayed in at Denpasar wasn’t technically a hotel. Called Nakula Familiar Inn, the place was more akin to a bed and breakfast than anything else. It felt like an oversized residential lot where the owners decided to build additional smaller living quarters to rent out to tourist right beside their own. You are literally living in the owner’s backyard. And of course that also means it’s a rather cozy location to live in.
Ibu Adi (roughly translated that’s something like Madame Adi) is the owner of Nakula Familiar Inn, and she was such a nice and accommodating lady who personally made sure we got settled into our room well. What I love about this place, aside from the fact that it is super affordable it was a little unbelievable, is that it’s clean and very basic. It has all that you need in a room you will use for sleeping and bathing in (yes there is air-conditioning), and it is spacious! The bedroom is big, the sheets are clean, the bed is comfy and I slept like a baby the three nights we stayed here, plus the bathroom is decent. (Though it is not the best-looking bathroom, I must say.) There’s even a vanity table which was mostly used as a food and water table by us.
I forgot to mention there’s wifi, which works excellently when you sit out on the porch.
Once we washed our faces, brushed our teeth, and got a little food into our systems, we were good and ready to go. I got lots of pictures you guys, so you best settle into your seats.
Now before we proceed to part one of my travel diaries, I would just like to say that if you’re looking for beach locations you won’t find it here. I enjoy a good beach trip to, but this one was more of a cultural discovery sort of trip, filled with interesting monuments and a few jaw-dropping temples. If you’re interested in that sort of thing then I invite you to read on.