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Sweet: Bali has it all; fantastic resorts, warm weather, affordable villas, massages, and food. After a short six night stay – all I know is that we want to go back, and that there is so much more to see!

Sour: We stayed at three resorts for two nights each, which doesn’t leave very much time to enjoy the property with its amenities, and to experience the areas nearby.

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Sweet: The villas’ and mega-resorts’ grounds were perfectly manicured, and swimming pools in abundance. We enjoyed numerous long massages, and ate like kings. Our first stay was in Nusa Dua at Amarterra Villas, where we had a pool villa that was only a two minute walk to a groomed white sand beach.

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Sour: Each morning at Amarterra we heard the staff ringing room service bells to the villas. I didn’t mind though, because that also meant that our breakfast was on its way too. Western and Balinese breakfasts were served with fruit, coffee, juices, breads, and cheese.

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Sour: Our first dinner in Nusa Dua at Bumbu Bali was incredible! We ordered the rijsttafel, consisting of several flavorful side dishes. We didn’t make a reservation, and they were very busy. Luckily we were able to get into a second location down the street.

Sweet: I loved the variety of satay, beef rendang, and dessert tray! The chef even let me in the kitchen to help prepare the satays!

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Sour: Our first long drive from Nusa Dua to Ubud, took just under two hours. There’s a new toll road near Nusa Dua, but aside from that, we had to navigate through several small streets for the remainder of the ride.

Sour: Taxis and private drivers are very inexpensive in Bali. You can save yourself a headache by hiring a private driver for a full or half day at a set price. Cars and motorbikes ride in a cluster, and I felt carsick during each ride.

Sweet: Street vendors sell meals and snacks out of small carts. The scent of roast pig, spices, and burning of leaves was typical.

IMG_8149IMG_8147Sour: Locals work hard to make a sale, and like most of Southeast Asia, the key is to bargain. I couldn’t believe the number of stonework shops. In Ubud, we drove down the road dedicated to selling stonework. There were tens of thousands of fountains, statues, and other carvings.

Sweet: I was surprised by the shopping in Bali, boutiques everywhere, especially in Ubud!

Sour: Roaming the streets is typically safe, but you should carefully consider where you step; the sidewalks are usually crooked, especially in Ubud.

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Sweet: Beautiful temples make you feel like you have stepped into an Indiana Jones set. Whether walking or driving, there are curiosities around every corner.

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Sour: The economy lives off of tourism, and so there are tourist traps, like expensive Luwak coffee, rice terraces, expensive seafood restaurants, and monkey forests. We visited several of these, and although locals may not visit these places, they were still fun to see.

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Sweet: Just north of Ubud, we visited the Tegalalang rice terraces and enjoyed a crispy duck lunch, while listening to locals play the gamelon.

Sweet: Back in Ubud, it was time to check out our villa. We jumped into our private swimming pool, took a bubble bath, and enjoyed a romantic candlelit dinner.

 

Sour: Our villa, Royal Kamuela, and the massages in Ubud were so affordable, making me only want to have stayed longer! I’d also liked to have taken a cooking class here at Cafe Wayan, made famous by Eat, Pray, Love. Don’t be like us and rush…enjoy Ubud!

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IMG_8078IMG_8001Sweet: One snack not to miss in Bali is babi guling (roast suckling pig), and the best place to try it is at Ibu Oka. After filling up on pork, we walked around the Monkey Forest and tried some Luwak coffee.

 

 

 

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Sweet: Before we knew it we were on our way to Jimbaran Bay for our last couple of nights, but first, for dinner. Menega is the most popular of the several seafood restaurants that line the bay, and usually a reservation is necessary. The seafood is marinated in a special chili garlic sauce that will make you want to lick your fingers without any shame.

Sour: The restaurants all fill up by sunset, so get there a little bit sooner and enjoy a few beers. Plus by getting there early, you will likely get a better place to sit. This area is a great place for dinner, but not the nicest beach to book a hotel at. Jimbaran’s nicer beaches are further south.

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Sweet: After dinner we wanted to release sky lanterns. So we walked down the beach a little ways and lit a few off over the ocean.

01c5cc632c71fff661db4658af52aa74d8bfe4c7d5Sour: When lighting the lanterns, completely let the body fill with hot air, so that it doesn’t take off only to crash into the ocean after a few seconds of flying time. Good thing we had two!

Sweet: The Jimbaran hotel we booked was Rimba, a modern and edgy new hotel that shared the world famous amenities of its sister property, Ayana Resort & Spa.

 

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Sour: Rimba was a great value, and the breakfast buffet was outstanding! A shuttle arrived every 15 minutes to and from Ayana. If your budget is big, then you can’t go wrong with a cliff front villa at Ayana.

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The Rock Bar Bali, located on the beautiful Ayana resort draws travelers from all around Bali. Grab an oceanfront lounger, possibly an umbrella for shade, and watch the sun sink into the Indian Ocean with a refreshing cocktail.

Sour: It gets hot at the Rock Bar, so be sure not to wear jeans and a black shirt (lesson learned)!

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Sour: Next to the Rock Bar is one of Ayana’s 5 pools, the Ocean Beach Pool, which is even a cooler (literally) place to watch the sunset.

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P1080995Sweet: I can’t rave enough about the amazing pools in Bali, which brings me to my favorite pool at Ayana, the River Pool. Here you can lay on the edge, jump down into another pool, and enjoy complimentary watermelon brought over by the staff.

 

Sour: I could have used more time at the River Pool. It was very relaxing, between napping and wading in the pools the feeling of vacation really sunk in!

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Sour: Our last dinner at Ayana was at the oceanfront Kisik. While the restaurants here cost more than what you would pay outside of the resort, the experience is worth the extra money.

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P1090051Sour: To get to Ayana’s Kuba Beach you must go down 197 steps, or shall I say it’s 197 steps back up!

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Sweet & Sour: There’s no doubt that we had a great time in Bali. While it seemed like paradise…most of all, it felt like an adventure.