Bali felt like a vacation. After hot hot northern Australia, it was a relief to get to a place that was a tad cooler and a tad more exotic; it was great to meet up with Yvonne, whom I’d met in New Zealand.  She had been in Bali for three weeks when I arrived, so I had my very own personal guide.

Even though we climbed an active volcano at two in the morning to greet the sun (that was the idea, anyway, the reality was more like rain and cold and fog), took an amazing cooking class in the countryside where we picked our own tapioca, and rode a scooter across a rickety suspension bridge, I don’t feel that I saw or did very much in Bali.

But if a vacation includes sitting on the beach, swimming in the infinity pool in the middle of the night, getting massages, letting fish eat your feet, having an all-fruit dinner, and the only worry being which warung to eat at next… I’m ok with having a vacation from travelling once in a while!

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My first meal was the perfect meal: satay and watermelon juice. Hot top: when ordering juice in Bali, make sure to ask for no sugar. Man, do they love their sugar over there. Sugar packets are twice the size of North American or British sugar packets. Though some people do have two packets per coffee. The question becomes: is it better to save sugar or paper?

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Mossy wall in the alley going to our hotel.

On our second day, we signed up for a cooking class. We were picked up and got a little tour of the local market, picked our own vegetables and greens in a garden surrounded by rice fields, then ground and cut and mashed things and ate like we’ve never eaten before.

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Fruit in the market! Mangosteen was my consolation surprise after I learned I’d completely missed mango season. But, as my father said, mangosteens are the Jewish mangos, so that made me feel better.

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Goldfish in the market.

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Rice fields of Sidemen.

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Just your run of the mill Nigella at work. Making sambal tomat.

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Reaction shot to our Green Kitchen cooking course.

The next morning (and by “morning,” I mean 2am), we woke up to meet our transport to Mount Batur. This is how we felt:

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Reaction shot (with flower) to waking up at 2am.

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At the summit of the volcano, this is pretty much what we could see. The rest was cloud and fog.

Then we decided to escape to an island where there were beaches and not much else to do. We decided to escape the constant “Yes, taxi?” “Yes, massage?” “Yes, transport?” calls that played like a soundtrack during our walks in Ubud.

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Luckily Yf knew how to drive a scooter, so we travelled around the island (Nusa Lembongan) and found a refuge on the beach with the mangroves.

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A woman making an offering.

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A pigeon eating that offering.

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If I were a lace or wedding-dress dress designer, I’d use these as my inspiration.

As happy as our time on the island was, we had to get back to the mainland. We should have taken a hint when our capitain refused to come pick us up as planned and all the other speedboats were cancelled due to weather. Somehow, we still thought it was a good idea to take the merchandise boat back to the mainland. With waves crashing on top of us and conversations about how far we could swim and if we’d leave our passports or not, we were relieved when we made it safely.

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We made it… just. When the men meeting the boat seemed to be panicking, though, we realised we’d really taken a risk.

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Fish spa: where little fish eat your feet. It was hard to keep a straight face, especially when the wormed their way between your toes.

Time went by in blink of an eye and it was time to go.  Things you can get at the Denpasar airport for 27,000 rupiah: a bag of weird corn Cheetohs, a packet of wafers and a can of pop.

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