Big Announcements & Birthday Celebrations

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Birthdays are nature’s way of telling us to eat more cake.  ~Edward Morykwas

It’s my (Carol) birthday today and the perfect time to announce our big news:  We are FINALLY starting our big travel adventure!  The last of the details here have come together as best they can and we have booked our first flights.

So where are we heading first?

[Insert drum roll here…] BALI, INDONESIA!

We’ve applied for 60 day visas at the Indonesian Consulate and we’ve arranged our first 5 nights of accommodations.  We leave Canada on a one-way flight at 1:40 AM on Tuesday Sept 4 and we have no return date planned (a strange feeling…).  To satisfy the Visa requirements, we’ve booked our onward travel to Malaysia on November 2 (59 days later).  Beyond that, we have no specific plans.  It’s exhilarating and terrifying all at once.

Today, I will celebrate my birthday with my family – Sushi dinner out and then a big family gathering at my Mom’s for cake afterwards – it will be bittersweet because it will also be my final farewell to most of them.  Tomorrow we say goodbye to our beloved car (sounds silly but we got really attached to our car and we’re anxious about being without wheels).  Friday we go back into Toronto to deal with final business and then we’re staying in a swanky hotel room downtown to enjoy the city one last time and we will drink a bottle of Champagne we’ve been saving to celebrate our new lifestyle.  Saturday we have one last dinner planned with Al’s parents and Sunday will be all about packing and freaking out about what we might have forgotten.  Finally, Monday will be about all the last minute things, final goodbyes and then heading to the airport.  It’s going to be a busy week without much quiet time but that’s probably good because it’ll keep me from over-thinking and becoming paralyzed by anxiety!

We would love to hear from others who have been to or are in Bali or other parts of Indonesia – please pass on your recommendations of what to do/see as well as general insider tips on travel in the region.  We also know we’ve got a lot to learn about how to travel slow and “travel as a lifestyle” instead of a vacation, so we would love to get some advice on this transition from all you experienced travellers out there!

Thanks always for reading, following and sharing.  We look forward to reading your comments!

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44 thoughts on “Big Announcements & Birthday Celebrations

  1. Bali is wonderful! You’ll love it there. Ubud was probably my favorite town to stay in. We hired a driver for the day a few times (costs about $30/30,000 rupiah) and they took us to temples and coffee plantations and the volcanoes. Be sure to go to Jatiluwih, it’s the largest rice field in the country. It has this amazing spritual feeling to it and is absolutely stunning. If you want to get around between towns you can check out Perama Tours. They do ultra cheap bus journeys around the island. Also be sure to check out the Gilis, they are truly paradise. Have fun, enjoy your last few days at home! I look forward to reading about your adventures!

    • Thank you for the suggestions! We’ve heard wonderful things about Ubud so we will definitely spend a good amount of time there as well as the Gilis. Hadn’t heard of the largest rice field — sounds intriguing! Thanks for the tour company recommendation as well – we were wondering about how to travel around cheaply so we’ll definitely check it out. Hiring a driver seems like a good idea too — certainly safer than driving ourselves, from what we’ve read!

  2. Hi Carol, we just spent one month in Bali and loved it. Be prepared for it to not look anything like you’d hoped when you’re in Kuta – which is the place you should leave as soon as you arrive. Also, driving from one place to the next can feel like it’s a packed island. Be prepared to have almost everyone ask you if you’d like to buy something – but they’re good at accepting ‘no thanks.’ Even better is ‘maybe tomorrow.’ 🙂 We loved Amed (even looked at buying land there) and Ubud. It’s the best climate you’ll find in SE Asia – so enjoy it. We’re now in Borneo and wish we were back in Bali. 🙂 A couple of people we met who are there now: Bridges and Balloons blogger Victoria, Further Beyond Blogger Hannah, and With Husband in Tow blogger Amber. They’re all lovely.

    • Thanks for your great suggestions. We’ve been warned by a few people to avoid Kuta so we’ve decided to head straight to Sanur area as our “getting over jetlag and acclimatizing” break as it sounds like it’s less of a party-zone. Amed is definitely on our radar and Ubud sounds fantastic too from all accounts! We too have found the “maybe tomorrow” or “maybe later” has been a helpful response throughout SEA – although we’ve had some who remember us and try to hold us to it the next time they see us 🙂 . Thanks for the great blogger contacts too, we’ll try to connect with them while we’re there.

  3. Congrats on the date setting, flight-booking and birthday!!! very, very excited for you!
    Step one…pack your watches away…you won’t be needing them much 🙂 Eating when you’re hungry, sleeping when you’re tired may take a little while to get used to (infinite glances on a bare wrist too) but removing the time-shackle from your wrists is an incredibly symbolic thing to do. Enjoy you two…see you on the road.

    • Thanks! Yes, pulling away from time-keeping will be very strange and challenging. We don’t wear watches often and weren’t planning to bring one, but not constantly checking the time on the smartphone will be a whole other matter! 🙂

      • Well, I have this nasty obsession with our new iPhone and Al will go through withdrawal if he can’t play Candy Crush during airport waits! So no, can’t leave home without the smartphone…. 😉

  4. Hey there
    I just returned from a six weeks long trip through Southeast Asia, which included seven nights on Bali. If you need some hints on what to do (if you didn’t already plan everything) make sure to let me know 🙂
    What I found important was knowing a few words in Balinese – this way you could communicate with locals in remote areas even if they don’t speak English…just ask your driver about the words you want to know.. ‘hello’ is ‘suasti astu’ or ‘thank you’ is ‘suk sama’, whilst ‘you’re welcome’ is ‘sama sama’ and so on. I had good times surprising locals with a bit of Balinese vocabulary 🙂

    Have a great time!

    • Thanks so much for your comment and language lesson. We always try to learn to say hello, yes & no, please & thank you and goodbye in the local language right away and then expand the vocabulary while there so this will definitely come in handy! We haven’t planned much beyond our first 5 days in Sanur so we appreciate your offer of hints – we will likely take you up on that!

      • You’re welcome!
        I suggest you don’t sleep in the New Kuta area as it is very remote (I made this bad decision with my best friend) and it has nothing to see but Padang Padang beach.
        If you wish to see wild dolphins, try to get to Lovina Beach in the North of the island. I highly advise you to get to the East of the island to go wreck diving in Tulamben (USAT Liberty Wreck) near Amed. ‘Adventure Divers’ was the dive school we chose according to their TripAdvisor reviews, and our decision definitely paid off!
        Our trip through the Southeast of the island brought us to stay in Sidemen for one night, between rice paddies, jungle, pure nature and wonderful people. Hire a private driver and tell him you don’t want to see the mass tourist places..also make him stop at street food stands – the local food is pretty spicy but sooo tasty 🙂
        Don’t – just don’t – miss out on Ubud, it is a very special experience to see this place.
        I must say that I regret only having planned one week of Bali during our six-weeks trip..I will surely return to this fantastic piece of Earth!

        Cheers from Switzerland & have fun, guys!

      • Thanks again, Alessio. More great suggestions! We’re excited to try the street food for sure and, from what we’re seeing, we suspect that even 60 days won’t be enough time! It sounds like most people plan for repeat visits.

  5. Happy birthday, Carol! Welcome to my country, and hope you’ll have a good time in Bali, one of 17,000 islands we have. You must visit Ubud, the best city in the world (according to Condé Nast Traveller). It’s far more relax and calm rather than busy Kuta. And if you love getting stranded on a beautiful tropical island, don’t forget to visit Gili Islands in Lombok (neighboring island).

    Have a great vacation in Bali 🙂

    • Thank you for the welcome and suggestions. We are looking forward to seeing your country! We don’t plan to stay in Kuta as everyone seems to be warning that it’s too much partying and too busy! The Gili Islands definitely sound like a place we will enjoy!

  6. Awesome news! What a great birthday treat! Can’t wait to hear about your Bali experience, we’ll be there in March next year so I’ll be picking up tips from your posts! Best of luck and wishing you safe, inspiring and memory making travels! Xx

  7. Hi Carol! My name is Kevin and I’m Indonesian. Kuta is overcrowded with tourist and you shouldn’t trust the guy on the road selling things (service or goods). In Kuta at night and dusk is full of hookers and not-so-nice people, so you may want to avoid walking at that time or avoid Kuta for long time stay. Bali people are nice, but Javanese people comes to Bali to earn a living and they are usually the problem. Nusa Dua is nice, you could also take a ferry to Lombok for couple days to enjoy the view. If you need a transport, you could hire a driver and car for under $5/hour (Rp 50.000). You could go to Tanah Lot (tourist spot), Ubud (monkey forest, don’t come there if you had your period), ask your hotel reception for recommendation, they are helpful. Be careful with your belongings, make sure you leave it in a safe place (thief could broke your door if you stay at cheap hotel), in street I rarely heard report about thief, so I may say it’s pretty safe. And most important is to have fun! I hope you have a pleasant journey.

  8. Hello Kevin! Thanks for commenting. Your safety tips are very helpful and your suggestions are great. We will definitely spend some time in Ubud as it has been highly recommended by many people. We also hope to check out the other areas you mentioned. We appreciate your help and we are looking forward to discovering your beautiful country!

  9. How exciting! Bali is on my list…I haven’t made it there yet but will enjoy reading about your adventure and picking up tips from you. I’m just heading back to Chiang Mai which feels like a home from home 🙂

    • Thanks Ellen! We will share any Bali tips we learn as we go along. At some point we will be back to visit Chiang Mai and hopefully we can have chance to meet up! We loved Chiang Mai so it’s a great choice for your “other home”!

  10. Hi Carol & Al – No suggestions on Bali but I just wanted to say “Way to Go!” My husband and I took off on September 11, 2012, for Mexico and (now) we’re in Central America (Honduras). I can honestly say that retiring early, selling everything and becoming perpetual travellers is the best decision we have ever made. After years of planning each day compulsively it’s a hard thing to let go but NOT having a firm itinerary let’s you enjoy each day at the pace that’s right for you. Can’t wait to read about your adventures! No regrets! Anita @ No Particular Place To Go

    • Thanks so much, Anita! We are looking forward to taking our time and really exploring in Indonesia, and yes, there will be a learning curve to travelling without a planned out itinerary! Thanks for following. We will continue to follow your adventures too. Safe & happy travels!

  11. Hi Carol & Al,
    Thank you for following my blog back. I’m the guy from HK, who met you at Toronto Pearson Airport. Still remember me? LOL!! Bali is a good place and I hope you have a wonderful holiday there. 🙂

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