Summer Vacation - Part One
Friday, August 11th - Hong Kong, China
Our long summer vacation started with Luke and I arriving in Hong Kong*. We couldn’t check in right away so we went and explored the area nearby. We saw a neat rooftop garden, The Garden of Stars, which honored Hong Kong celebrities with quite a few statues and greenery. It was a great place to see the ocean, the city buildings and the streets all at once. After check in, we of course had to make our first meal traditional Chinese food - Dim Sum. Luke found this amazing restaurant that was “Michelin Rated”, called Tim Ho Wan and it was one of the best meals of the whole trip. My favorite was the baked barbecue pork buns. They didn’t taste as American as they sound, but I could eat those any time of the day, they were so delicious! We ordered about 12 things because everything came out in small servings and it was so cheap. By the end of the meal, we both wanted to be rolled out of the door and into a bed where our food coma would be the most comfortable. Later that evening we walked around the street market area and saw lots of cool and funny things. At one point, there were three people karaoking under three different tents right next to each other. It was not the most pleasant sound in the world so when we realized it was pretty much a dead end we turned around haha.
The next day, we went to the Peak Tram which took us to the tallest 360 degree viewpoint of the city. After waiting about an hour in line, we made it to the top and got some great pictures and footage. Hong Kong's scenery was almost always a combination of the ocean, the tall city buildings, mountains, lots of plant life, and traffic-filled streets. I don't know that I've been somewhere where all of those things are in the same view. There were tons of people so it was fun to just sit and people watch up there as they came, posed for a few pictures, and left. When we returned, there was a huge botanical gardens across the street with an aviary inside! We walked through that and captured a couple photos. After lunch, we spent our last day in Hong Kong enjoying the views with some brewskies. We started on top of the mall terrace and made our way over to a small bar right on the water to hang for the evening and watch the sunset.
Can you tell he's excited? Streets of Hong Kong, featuring a few double decker buses Bottom of the Peak Tram View at the top of the Peak Tram and even higher, the Sky Terrace! View from the bar on the harbor in the afternoon Harbor bar view during sunset
Sunday, August 13th - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Sunday we arrived in Kuala Lumpur*, Malaysia and meandered with all of our bags in the rain unsure of where to go. After eventually finding our hotel, we checked in and walked to a nearby restaurant for some local food. Luke had beef and noodles while I opted for duck and noodles. (We like noodles.) Luke really loved his meal and described it as very similar to beef stroganoff but with a Malaysian grilled twist to the flavor...he's basically a food connoisseur. Instead of beers, we split a pot of tea which went really well with the food. On Monday, we woke up early and grabbed the complimentary breakfast with our hotel...spicy rice and cut up hot dogs. A meal I'm sure Luke's uncle Rich would have loved. And coffee. #AsianThings
We planned on seeing a cave temple which was a bit out of the way but nonetheless doable. That is, until we missed our transfer stop on the subway (that we didn't even realize we needed to take due to their lack of signs) and realized you can’t just get off and catch the one going the opposite direction. After lots of confusion and sitting on the subway, we weren’t able to do the cave temple at all and had to head back near our hotel. With about an hour left before we had to head to the airport, we walked to see a huge park with fountains and the beautiful Petronas Towers. It was a great way to at least see more of the city, but unfortunately we weren’t able to do that much.
I don't have many pictures from "KuLu" but this just sums up our day there. Breakfast of Champions Petronas Towers
Tuesday, August 15th - Bali, Indonesia
Indonesia is a country made up of islands, one of them being Bali*. On Bali island, there are multiple cities. We arrived in Denpasar* late Monday evening but just got some pizzas and spent the night at our hotel getting some r&r before meeting up with Luke's family the next day. By late Tuesday morning, we met up with his family. After their full day and a half of traveling, little sleep and the time change, we spent the time in Denpasar on the beach right outside their resort! The resort they stayed at was incredible! There were multiple infinity pools (including a swim up bar), tons of fountains, at least one or two waterfalls, and there were staff members all over the place ready to grab you a drink or a towel or anything you needed. All we had to do was raise a flag. We knew the rest of our trip wouldn't be like this, but it was nice getting to start it out this way! We had some drinks, I boogie boarded for the first time, we watched the gorgeous sunset and ate some seafood on the beach. Pretty positive Luke got some sweet footage of us boogie boarding so I'm super excited to see how it turns out! The next day we traveled to Ubud, Indonesia. We walked through a local street market where we were reminded of the bargaining methods that we learned in Thailand. Don't point to or touch anything that you aren't interested in buying, and never settle for the initial price which is usually 3x higher than it should be. Women were grabbing my arm, pulling me back and telling me to buy their scarf/sarong/dress/pants because of how pretty they were. As pretty as many of them are, I was uninterested in buying some so I continuously smiled, said no thank you, and kept walking. It can sometimes be an intimidating and/or uncomfortable experience - at least for me - but I've learned how to handle it and if interested, bargain for a much lower price.
I mean...can it get any better? Candid: family bonding Yet another gorgeous sunset Fountain in the front of the hotel
When we arrived to our guest house in Ubud* (same island, different area), we were starving! Per the owner's suggestion, we walked a few minutes down the street as cars and motor scooters were zipping past us in the dark. It was crazy watching the traffic flow past each other with no regards to the direction the traffic lane was supposed to be. We found a very nice Thai food restaurant shortly after which made for an excellent end to our night. Then it was Thursday. And Thursday was superb. We woke up to a lovely breakfast right outside our rooms, went to get a one hour massage for less than $7, and then we went rafting! There were no crazy rapids but the views were unbelievable and our guide, Monkey, was great. We made our way down about 400 stairs to get onto the raft, we were taking in as much of our surroundings as we could and noticed just how tall the trees and rocks were. We were about to raft through a ravine with all of this gorgeousness around us! Unfortunately, I did not have my phone or camera with me so pictures are on other cameras, but trust me...it did not disappoint. Along the river, we saw tons of waterfalls! At one point there were about 4 of 5 right next to each other. And towards the end of the ride, Monkey guided us right underneath a VERY heavy waterfall. It was such a fun activity, and Luke's sister Leah had never gone before so she was able to cross that off of her bucket list. So, a massage and rafting in the same day? I could get used to this.
Friday was our last day in Ubud so Luke, Leah and I woke up at 2 AM to go hike a volcano - Mount Batur! We went with a tour group which we probably could have gone without, but overall it was amazing! We made it to the top juuuuust in time for sunrise! We were above the clouds and could see the volcano we were standing on as well as the one we were right next to. Our feet sank into the volcanic dust that was at the top which made it more difficult to hike up. And my sports induced asthma mixed with the steep incline did not bode well for me. Lesson learned - get an inhaler when I'm back in the States. But all of that aside, the views were remarkable! We took lots of pictures and ate our provided boxed breakfasts (2 pieces of white bread, a pack of jelly, 1 hard boiled egg claimed to be "boiled over volcanic steam", and a banana) while enjoying the view. Once finished, we headed back down where we saw dogs and monkeys along the volcano, picking through people's bags and lunches that were left unattended. We felt the steam coming through the cracks of the volcano, and we each had a slip or two...or three from the crumbling, rocky incline.
We met back up with the rest of the family, searched for a lunch spot, failed (but got to see a very cool traditional residential area) and ate ramen from the convenience store instead, and then headed to the airport! It was a fun filled time in Ubud, but we were heading to the beaches in Lombok so on to new adventures!
At the peak of Mount Batur I tried to get as many pictures of Luke GoPro-ing as possible :) Residential area in Ubud Residential area in Ubud
*For those of you who don't know where these places are (no shame, I didn't either), here it is on a map.
Southeast Asia Bali, Indonesia