EPIC 6 Month NEW ZEALAND Road Trip Part 2: Jeep Arrives, South Island

The EPIC Family Road Trip: Episode 14 // In Part 2 of the EPIC 6 Month Road Trip In NEW ZEALAND, we pick up the Jeep in Auckland after it finally arrives after shipping from Toronto, Canada. We set off en route to the South Island and once we arrive we are whisked off on many unexpected adventures like a whale beaching rescue in Farewell Spit, and crawling through ice caves in a glacier. Join our family of five as we explore the world, living simply and comfortably in a rooftop tent and overlanding outfitted Jeep Wrangler.

Thanks for watching, don’t forget to join the adventure and subscribe! The van Stralen family

Instagram: @EpicFamilyRoadTrip: https://www.instagram.com/epicfamilyr…
Blog: https://workplaycare.com/

Vlog Edited By: Caroline van Stralen (@Caroline.Abroad)

My Snorkeling Adventure!

By Daniel van Stralen
The boat left the harbour at 8:15. We needed to be there ahead of time to get geared up and store our snacks and lunches in the boat. We camped the night before at the Tutukaka Holiday Park  which was about 1 km from the harbour. We got up early so we could pack our bags with snacks, wetsuits and camera gear.  When we were all packed up we walked the 10 minute walk from our camp ground to the boat.
On the way to the harbour we passed a couple of stores and I saw that one of these was an ice cream store. I asked my Dad  if we could stop to get some ice cream for on the boat but he said it would be best to have it when we come back and I agreed. Yes!
It’s 8:10 and we had arrived at the harbour to see a big black van that said Yukon Dives which was the company that we were going diving with. We also met the family that will be diving with us today.
We had heard about the Poor Knights Islands diving area from some friends we had made during our travels and it is rated in the top ten snorkeling and diving areas in the world.
The islands are a 1 hour boat ride from the mainland and are whats left of a huge ancient volcano that collapsed leaving some huge spires of volcanic rock jutting out of the South Pacific Ocean.
The waves hit the south side of the islands and then eddy around to the calm north side carrying with them a plankton and nutrient rich soup that attracts tons of fish and underwater sea life. This area is also a part of the EAC – East Australia Current which is a warm subtropical flow which attracts all kinds of sea life. (Remember “Finding Nemo.”)
On the way to the islands me and my Dad went on to the roof of the boat and we watched as the islands loomed closer and closer.
 The captain had warned us that there was large swell today on the ocean and about 20 minutes before arrival I felt a little sea sick so I lied down and fell asleep.
I woke up suddenly to see that we were only 5 minutes away from the island so I climbed down the ladder to the lower level of the boat and grabbed my wet suit.
I also picked out a set of snorkelling goggles and flippers. This spot that our guide picked for us is one of two spots that we would be snorkelling at today.
We put on our flippers and defogged our goggles and the jumped in to the ocean.
When I opened my eyes I was in awe. When you see the ocean from the surface it is beautiful but it is mostly blue and grey.
As soon as you go under the surface it’s like a portal into a new world. Endless fields of kelp bright colours of coral and schools of hundreds of fish. Its hard to explain what you see as empty and grey when it turns into a hole new world of fish and other sea life and I guess the only way to explain it is jaw dropping.
I was swimming along and watching the fish when I saw something gliding through the water beneath me. It was a big beautiful Sting Ray so I started to follow it. It was a thrill to watch it gliding across the ground with such grace and speed. I lost sight of it when it swam into a big patch of kelp.
I swam back to my family who were swimming amongst a huge school of bright blue fish.  While I was swimming our guide called us all back to the boat. Before we started to go to the second snorkelling sight we had soup  I got creamy chicken and the rest of my family got chicken noodle soup.
The boat ride to the second spot was only about a 30 minute ride but a lot of amazing things happened in the 30 minutes.
Our guide told me that we would see lots of arches and caves before we got there so I climbed to the roof of the boat to get a better view.
About ten minutes after I had seated myself on the roof we saw are first arch. It was big and very beautiful.  I was surprised to see that our boat was turning into it. We started to move under the arch it was scary because there were big waves crashing on both sides.
We made it through safely and started heading toward the second spot. We saw lots of arches and caves before we arrived at the diving spot.
Our guide told us that at this spot we would see more fish then we did a the first and that they usually swim near an arch that was next to the boat.
I defogged my goggles and jumped in. There were jelly fish everywhere. Our guide said that these jelly fish don’t sting but I still kept my distance because I had just been stung by a jelly fish a week before while I was surfing and I didn’t want to go through that again.
When my brother jumped in the water we began to swim to the arch. On the way there were some spots were we had to dive under the water because there were so many jelly fish.
When we arrived I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were fish every where! Schools of little brown fish, bright blue fish and even some large King Fish. There were also some snapper, scorpion fish and some sea urchins.
Some of the scuba divers saw Moray eels. My brother noticed a great big sting ray. It was at least double the size of the one I had seen before and seemed to have some white spots on it.
Since the fish at the Poor Knights Islands have never been fished they weren’t afraid of us – you could swim right next to them.
I found it super fun that I could swim in big schools of fish with out them swimming away.
We had swam around the arch looking at different fish and sea life for about 3 hours before our guide called us back to the boat.
I was sad when we had to leave the beautiful undersea world, but our guide said that he had one more surprise for us.
I was trying to think what the surprise could be when I saw a huge cave in the side of the cliff. It was one of the biggest caves I had seen in my life and our guide told us that it was the biggest sea cave in the world.
Our guide drove the big boat right into the cave then dropped the anchor.
I was looking around at the cave when I heard a beautiful sound. It was our guide playing a wooden flute.  I was mesmerized by the sound as it echoed though the cave.
Our guide told us that different kinds of bands had came into this cave to record songs  because of the beautiful acoustics in the cave.
He also told us that a big Sperm Whale had died in the cave and it’s bones are still at the bottom.
We had about 15 minutes to look around and film before our guide played another song then started the boats engine to head back to the harbour.
On the way back home I remembered all the pretty things I had seen. I also was thinking about how yummy the ice cream was going to be when we got back.
Please leave me a comment if you enjoyed my story  🙂
https://youtu.be/p7OJd6-4Oio

Meet The van Stralens

Hi everybody – We are the van Stralen family. In 2015 we embarked on an EPIC family road trip around North America.

After 25 years in business, this was the fulfilment of a personal family goal that we had dreamed about for many years.

On the way we realized that

– Time is more precious than money,
– memories more valuable than things
– and experiencing new places, cultures, religions and people is a better education than you can get by just reading about it.

So  – we did what anyone else would do – we sold our house, packed up our belongings and hit the road full time.

In life just like in business it is easier to chart a course and stick to it when you have a mission.

So we took the motto that had helped us succeed in business and we applied it to our new journey.

– Work hard
– Play hard
– Care.

We know that you won’t achieve success unless you are willing to work for it.

We are grateful for the opportunity to play and have fun together, and we cherish every moment.

But caring for others and trying to make a difference in the world is what gives our lives and our journey meaning and purpose.

We invite you to come along with us on this journey as we inspire each other to work hard, play hard, and care.

After 12 months around North America we decided to keep going, so we shipped our jeep to New Zealand. Join us as we traverse Oceania with stops in Australia, Indonesia and beyond.

The challenges of traveling with Type 1

For the first fourteen years of my life, I didn’t have a worry in the world. I would pack my bags and leave with my family to a conference or go on a long hiking trip and only have to worry about having enough clothes along and maybe a book to read. If I didn’t pack enough undies or socks it would maybe make me a bit uncomfortable but certainly
would not be life-threatening!

canstockphoto71865801Since my diagnosis last April those days are no more. Now my very life depends on having a proper supply of insulin and other supplies at all times. You would think something this important would be easy to manage right?

Perhaps if I was living a more conventional life, spending most of my time in one house with my medicine in one fridge it would be a bit easier. We on the other hand are full time travelers and move from country to country and hotel to hotel. Sometimes we get up early and catch a shuttle to the airport at 5 AM for an early flight making it even more difficult to manage.

If you have type one diabetes and are struggling to adjust to the new lifestyle, and occasionally forget your medicine, don’t worry you are not alone. I guarantee you will feel better about yourself after reading my story.

I have had several “insulin management” challenges all over the world.

The first time was about 6 weeks after I was diagnosed. We were in Oregon and I left all of my supplies at a restaurant. I didn’t think about it until we got back to our camp almost an hour away.

We were able to retrieve it after a few phone calls and a few hours of driving.

We were visiting my Grandmother in Salem Oregon and as usual we put my insulin supply in the fridge. Insulin needs to be kept cold or it can spoil. After a nice visit we headed out to Bend Oregon about 2.5 hours drive away. When we arrived I realized I had left my supplies behind. My Aunt Arwen was kind enough to drive them all the way out to us! Thanks Aunty!

I left it again a few months later in a restaurant in Texas this time we got it back more quickly but the problem had yet to be solved. My Dad is a systems guy and he said to me “we need to develop a system to help us manage this better”. I agreed.

My next big “Insulin management” challenge came when we went from New Zealand to Australia. We decided to leave our main supply of insulin at our friend’s place in New Zealand.

We packed enough for the 25 days we were planning to be there and carefully placed the package in the fridge at our hotel room – ready to go for our 5 am shuttle ride to the airport. When we arrived at the airport and began checking in for our flight we suddenly realized that we had left the package in the fridge at the hotel. My dad quickly called the hotel. They ran up to our room, found the package in the fridge, gave it to the shuttle driver and instructed him to deliver it to us in departures. He made it on time and we still had time to get through security and make our flight to Australia.

We had a lovely “incident free” time in Australia. We visited some lovely places and met wonderful people.

A month later, just as we were about to fly back to NZ, we received news that our Jeep wasn’t going to arrive in Auckland for another 24 days as the ship was delayed due to a large Hurricane.

We made a quick last minute decision to stay in Australia for another 24 days. This of course left us short on insulin. I was able to visit a doctor’s clinic, get a prescription or “script” as they call it and then buy a backup supply of for Lantis, Humalog, test strips, needles and lancets. One nice thing is that in Australia they actually sell the AVIVA brand of tester supplies like I was used to from Canada. Some countries like New Zealand will carry different blood glucose testers which makes it a bit difficult to manage your BGL because you get used to your system and it’s hard to change. We bought enough to last 3 months just to be sure of no further issues.

Because of the length of the delay of our jeep we decided to visit Bali now rather than after our trip to NZ as originally planned. A few days later we packed our bags and headed to the airport.

An hour into our flight from Adelaide to Denpasar, Indonesia, my Mom jumped up and yelled “KEVIN!!” actually she said “oh no! we left your insulin supply in the fridge! Not much we could do, there was no turning around now.

I did a quick calculation and figured I would be ok with the partial insulin pen I had in my backpack. Our visit to Bali was for about two and a half weeks and I had enough to last if I were to eat a very carbohydrate conscious diet.

A week into our trip and I realized that the Balinese diet was anything but low carb and soon I began to get low on both Lantis and Humalog insulin. My Dad began calling and dropping in at local pharmacies to see if he could buy some more. Finally after much searching we were able to visit a remote hospital where the very helpful doctor sold us some of their supplies. The applicator pens were different than the ones I am used to, but after reading the labels and documentation it appeared that the product was the same. We had enough supplies to make it back to Australia safe and sound.

Now what have we learned from all of this?

Here are the main challenges:

One. Leaving my daily insulin bag under tables at restaurants.

Two. Leaving my main insulin supplies in friends’ and hotel fridges.

Solution 1:

The first thing we thought of was to buy a bigger better
bag to carry my daily insulin and supplies. The one I was leaving behind was a very small fanny pack style bag. Initially we thought the smaller-the-better, but all that did was make it easy to leave behind.

To solve the problem, we chose a “Patagonia Atom Sling”. Any brand will do but this bag is made tough, has lots of room and is comfortable to wear.

 

I have been happy with this solution. The larger bag easily carries my gear, is comfortable to wear even on long hikes and doesn’t make me feel like a tourist carrying a fanny pack.

 

Solution 2:

The next thing we thought of was to pack all of my insulin the
night before we leave removing it from the fridge and placing it in my luggage with an ice pack. This prevents us from accidentally leaving it in the fridge of the hotel before an early flight.

Solution 3:

The third system we implemented was to use the alarm system on my iPhone. We normally set an alarm to alert us of an early flight or departure. Now we name the alarm “REMEMBER TO CHECK INSULIN SUPPLIES”. Before turning off the alarm we are reminded to check our supplies.

All three of these systems have really helped me manage my insulin supply better and have made traveling with T1D a much better experience even though I still forget from time to time.

A few weeks ago I forgot my bag in a restaurant in the town Te Anau and didn’t notice until we were 3 hours south in Bluff NZ. We called the restaurateur and he went looking for it and found it. He said hang on there for a minute and left the phone.. a few minutes later he came back and said “you’re in luck. I caught the last truck out. The driver is a friend of mine and lives near where you are staying. He is going to deliver it to you”. What a relief, I was so thankful! Along the way we’ve met some very kind and caring people.

Let me know if you have found this post helpful and please share any tips or tricks that have worked for you in the comment section below.

Peter Jr van Stralen @petervanstralenjr

The Sky Couch

Hi my name is Daniel I’m 12 years old and have been traveling for a year with my family.

My family and I have flown in lots of different airplanes since we started our travels and have had many different experiences in each one. 

Each place I’ve gone to has a different idea on how to make their passengers flying in the plane more comfortably. They all do a great job but in my opinion the Air New Zealand airlines are one of the best. 

That is because of an option they call the Sky Couch. 

skycouchNo, It’s not a flying couch but it sure feels like it. The sky couch’s bed-like padding and fluffy pillows allows the passenger to fall right to sleep. 

The sky couch is a lot like first class but not as expensive. I don’t know the exact prices of sky couch but you can find out on the Air New Zealand website. I do know however that the prices of the sky couch but it is basically the cost of three regular coach economy seats but shared by two people. 

From my experience on the sky couch I would say it is the most comfortable airline seating option for those who want to sleep on a super long flight next to first class. Here is a picture of what you can expect if you book sky couch.

You can use it as a bed or sit comfortably with others. While you sit or lie down on the sky couch you can also watch movies on your own TV screen. Air NZ has a large selection of Every seat on air New Zealand has a TV but not all seats allow you to lie down and watch tv like the sky couch does. Since you have three seats for two people you have the extra elbow room while seated, but the real benefit comes when you are really tired and just want to lay down. 

At this point you reach under your seat and pull up the handle transforming your three seat row into a full size bed. The flight attendants provide you with pillows and comfortable blankets and you stretch out and fall asleep. For someone my size it’s a nice big bed. For someone 6′ 4″ like my Dad it’s a bit small, but it’s still a lot better than sitting upright for 12 hours. When my dad straightened out his legs they went right across the aisle. Most of the time however he lay on his side and was quite comfy. 

That’s why I think that air New Zealand’s sky couch and costumer service makes them one of the best airlines I have ever been on. 

I definitely recommend that if you’re going to New Zealand and make sure to book yourself the sky couch for a comfortable ride to a beautiful place. 

You can ask more questions about the sky couch in the comment section or on the air New Zealand website. Also leave a comment if this blog was useful or if you have any ideas for future blogs.

Thanks for reading! Follow our journey on Insta @workplaycare

Our Bali Adventure & How You Can Plan Yours

We booked our flights and tours with Flight Centre in conjunction with Infinity Holidays in Adelaide on January 1st, 2017. Our travel agent Hailie was very insightful and within a few hours, we were able to book our tickets with Tiger Airways, 6 guided tours, and 3 hotels for a duration of 2 weeks from January 7th-20th. Afterward, we immediately began researching more about the climate, currency, and culture of Bali since we had never been to Southeast Asia before. We were given a compact waterproof folder that held all the papers and information we would need during the trip including brochures, flight tickets, and an itinerary. The itinerary included; Confirmation numbers, emergency contact numbers, important times, and location information. With all of this confirmed information, we were able to have seamless travel but still not knowing what to expect every day, allowing us to still have a great experience and adventure. We would be taking 6 guided tours throughout the first week of the trip with Buffalo Tours. Our guide for the majority of the tours was named Ariani, she was wonderful and an incredible source of information. All of the tour drivers were friendly and trustworthy. Exceptional customer care with a helpful, kind, and always positive attitude was clearly evident in everyone we met in Bali.

Before we left, we gathered enough basic information to know what to pack. It’s important that no matter what time of year you go to bring sunscreen and bug spray. Both are available in Bali but make sure to bring your own just in case. A sunhat of your choice and sunglasses make the days out and about in Bali a lot more comfortable, especially when it’s sunny of course! Not wearing inappropriate footwear or wearing too hot of clothing is a common mistake no matter what time of year you go.

Swimwear is essential. We spent 99% of the time barefoot or in sandals, but tennis shoes or hiking boots are good to have for hikes, biking, and other activities. A travel umbrella or raincoat can be useful as it was for many tourists walking through the streets of Ubud when the occasional but brief rainstorm would pass through. A money wallet/pouch is pretty important since you never know when you’ll want or need to spend it. My dad carried an “Undercover Eagle Creek neck wallet” which held all our passports, some of our money and other small papers. If you’re planning on capturing your trip for memories than be sure to bring your necessary or desired camera and electronics gear. I would recommend a GoPro camera for your travels since they not only take 4k quality videos, they are also small, lightweight, versatile, and have waterproof housing. This makes capturing your adventures so much easier, more fun, and you can capture moments that most cameras can’t!

What you pack really depends on your personal style, what you find comfortable, how long you will be staying, what the weather is like where you are going, and what type of activities you will be doing. For the clothing and footwear items on this basic packing list, you can add or remove the items you find necessary/unnecessary, or what you want to have based on your style, the activities you will be doing, and anything else you might think of. In Bali during our trip, it seemed to get a little cooler some of the nights or when it was raining so having a raincoat, long sleeved shirt or light sweater can be useful. Light flowy shirts, pants, dresses, etc were nice to have in Bali since it was pretty hot and humid.

*Keep in mind that there are two seasons in Bali, the wet season and the dry. Temperatures average around 31 degrees Celsius year round. The Wet Season which can be very humid is between October and April and the Dry Season between May and September.

Basic Pack List:

  • Passport(s)

  • Any Important travel documents/information

  • Foreign exchange money (In this case IDR)

  • Sunscreen (SPF 30 +)

  • Bug spray

  • Sunglasses

  • Sun protective hat

  • Camera gear

  • Sandals

  • Hiking boots and/or Tennis shoes

  • Swimwear

  • Shorts

  • Long pants and/or Hiking pants

  • Short sleeved shirt and/or Tank top

  • Sweater and/or Long sleeved top

  • Raincoat and/or Travel umbrella

  • Phone/Charger(s)

*Tip: In Bali, you can expect to see 2 pin socket and plug as used in larger parts of Europe. We brought a universal travel adapter to charge our electronics and camera gear. Some hotels do provide adapters.

* Tip: If you are planning on taking tours or visiting sights and attractions that require booking, you can very simply book them through a travel agency or at your hotel when you arrive. And, it makes your travel experience more seamless and fun to book ahead of time!

There are many tours and attractions to choose from, and many tours visit multiple sites in one day which is great! It’s important to find what you will want to see within your time frame but don’t always plan everything, it makes it more interesting and fun.

*(Keep in mind when we booked our trip with the travel agency we specifically told our travel agent that we wanted to avoid luxury, resorts, or too touristy attractions. So if a luxurious holiday is what you were looking for then this guide may not be for you.) If you were looking for a guide to a more borderline luxury accommodations, action packed, culturally immersive experience then keep reading!

The Tours We Took:

Farming & Daily Life Tour:

“Bali’s natural beauty never ceases to amaze, and this tour explores some of Bali’s best-untouched landscapes. Explore Taman Ayun, a royal Hindu temple amidst the lush scenery, and journey to Rumah Desa where the discovery continues with palm readings for all and a hike through rolling countryside. Spend some magical time in the heart of a Balinese rice field, farming the crop alongside the farmers and water buffaloes. Enjoy a hot, delicious lunch and a relaxing afternoon exploring the beautiful surroundings, including a stop at Jatiluwih to observe the breathtaking views of expansive rice fields.”

*This tour was probably my favorite, and a great way to start our trip in Bali. The description of the tour doesn’t even begin to describe the actual fun and incredible once in a lifetime experience that this tour provides. We ate passion fruit fresh off the tree, drank from coconuts, climbed palm trees, planted rice and prepared a rice crop riding behind two water buffaloes, walked through enchanting jungle and over bamboo bridges, learned how to prepare coconut milk and shavings the traditional Balinese way, tasted delicious Balinese food, treats, and drinks in a serene garden surrounded by lush plants and Balinese traditional architecture, to say the least it was unforgettable!

IMG_0204.JPG(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/08/17)
IMG_0152.JPG(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/08/17)
IMG_0092.JPG(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/08/17)

Besakih Mother Temple Tour:

“It’s an early morning start for today’s tour; we make our way along the eastern coastline of Bali. First stop is at “Kerta Gosa” Hall of Justice located in Klungkung, the artwork and architecture is what makes this site famous.Continuing on we head to Bukit Jambul, perched on top of a green hill with beautiful views of rice terraces and encircled by fertile tropical trees.Making our way to the highlight of this tour, Besakih Mother Temple, it is located over a thousand feet up the side of Mt. Agung. Besakih is the largest temple in Bali, comprising of 23 separate but related individual temples. The impressive backdrop will have you feeling as if you were in the clouds.”

*Just as you begin to get used to seeing all of the hundreds of temples around Bali on every corner, and every street you then get to see the beauty and uniqueness of the Besakih Temple.The views, incredible architecture and cultural experience this place and tour provides is unlike any other. On the way back from the Besakih Temple we did a side stop at an amazing place that makes Kopi Luwak Balinese coffee. We got to walk through a beautiful pathway surrounded by dense jungle vegetation and was home to many of the different coffee beans and natural ingredients that are used to flavor the coffees and chocolates such as vanilla. We got to try grinding the coffee and tasted many different amazing coffees, teas, and cocoa. My favourite was the coconut coffee, and their “Bali Dark Chocolate” which was delicious!

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IMG_0519.JPG(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/09/17)
IMG_0531.JPG(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/09/17)

Balinese Blessing & Cooking:

“Blessing rituals and offerings play an important part in Balinese daily life. Explore and partake in traditional rituals, cleansing yourself mentally and physically, eliminating bad energy and expressing gratitude through an offering that you build. In the afternoon, travel to a flourishing garden to pick fresh ingredients for a cooking lesson, and learn to cook a classic Balinese meal. Enjoy the fruits of your labora delicious, fresh lunch while taking in the stunning natural scenery.”

*This tour was extremely immersive and fascinating. My favourite part was eating the food we got to prepare from scratch and with all organic and freshly hand picked ingredients because the meals were beyond delicious. The dining area and kitchen had a stunning view of rice fields right outside!

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img_0582(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/10/17)
img_0572(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/10/17)

Elephant Safari & Lunch:

“There’s no better way to appreciate elephants than to jump into their bathing lakes and take part in their morning bath. This exclusive interactive experience is a once in a lifetime opportunity, ride through their bathing lake bareback. Once you have finished bathing the elephants sit back, relax and enjoy a gourmet breakfast in the Park Restaurant overlooking the lake.”

*As an animal lover I couldn’t help but feel guilty pretty much the whole time, especially riding the elephants, but as long as our money is going to help the elephants in some way then I think it was a very fun experience. It was a great getting to wash, feed, and hug the elephants up close.

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img_0716(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/10/17)

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Tanah Lot Sunset & Cocktail:

“First stop on this tour is at Alas Kedaton, home to one of Bali’s famed monkey forests. Featuring towering nutmeg trees that are unique to this area and sacred to the Balinese people, it is also home to some of the cheekiest temple monkeys. Megwi is our next destination, making a stop at the former Royal Temple, Pura Taman Ayun. Built in 1634, it is arguably one of the most beautiful temples on the island surrounded by a moat. Purah Tanah Lot is the last temple we visit, perched on top of a rock just offshore. At low tide,  it can be reached by wading out and at high tide, the waves create mesmerizing rainbows as they crash against the temple.”

*This was definitely what we needed after a very busy last four days of tours. The luxurious resort surroundings, cool ocean breezes, beautiful view of the temple from the comfortable lounge, chill music, delicious food, and the most incredible sunset I have ever seen…not a bad way to relax in Bali. The monkeys were cool, but to be honest, I wanted to leave pretty soon, and we had to try bargaining with a lady over a dress and tank top that we ended up spending $45 on which we didn’t plan on having to do. And we didn’t end up stopping at the Pura Taman Ayun temple on the way since we had already been there on an earlier tour and we were all pretty tired.

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img_0972(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/12/17)
img_1005(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/12/17)

Mountain Cycling Tour:

“Your cycling tour begins with the stunning views of Mt. Batur Volcano in Kintamani. Start with a journey downhill through 26km of lush valleys, passing Balinese villages, century-old temples and rich green rice fields along the way. Your expert guide will explain the history of the land and its culture to make your experience unforgettable. Your adventure ends at the Bali Adventure Tours Elephant Safari Park where lunch awaits.”

* This was a really fun tour! But if you are a mountain biker/cyclist and you’re used to your average to really nice bikes then be prepared to use not very new or exactly comfortable bikes. It wasn’t like we were riding in agony for the entire tour, or that we were completely uncomfortable but it definitely made us thankful for our own bikes! The ride was beautiful and easy, though we had to cut the ride short because my brother was experiencing a very low blood glucose level (T1D) it was still nice to enjoy lunch at the Elephant park.

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img_1048(Caroline van Stralen Photography. @Caroline.Abroad, 01/13/17)

Our Accommodations/Recommendations:

*In Bali you have to be prepared to have a few harmless critters in your room! We only found two tiny geckos on the walls that never bothered anyone, they were actually pretty cute!

Tjampuhan Hotel & Spa, Ubud, Bali (January 7-14):

This hotel was incredibly beautiful, and definitely a wonderful place to stay when you first arrive or for the entire duration of your trip to Bali. We booked for two “Superior Agung” rooms which were beautiful, comfortable, air conditioned, clean, and in a traditional Balinese Architectural style. This hotel has many beautiful rooms to choose from that are placed amid lush Balinese palms, plants, and vibrant exotic flowers overlooking a tropical ravine. Through the trees and across a walking bridge suspended high above a wide river you can see a beautiful temple, and just down the stone pathway from our room was a beautiful swimming pool which was perfect for cooling off. The rooms feel peaceful and secluded and our rooms were a couple hundred stone steps down from the main lobby which sounds terrible but it was actually not that bad and a great workout! The Ubud markets, restaurants, and other shops are accessible right outside the hotel.

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img_0032(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/10/17)

Puri Saron Baruna Beach Cottages (January 14-15):

We had booked a “Deluxe Room” at this hotel which was a 3-hour drive from the Tjampuhan in Ubud. This hotel is located right along a northern Bali beach with extremely friendly staff, and great service and the pool was also enjoyable. For the price, it was a good place to stay the night and experience Northern Bali.

Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort (January 15-16):

*(We didn’t book this hotel with the travel agency but we decided after we had spent the sunset tour here that we would like to relax at this resort for a few more days since it was so beautiful.)

This resort is the perfect place to relax, swim in and amazing pools and water slides, walk through beautiful grounds and gardens, eat delicious food, and watch an unforgettably stunning sunset from your balcony or lying under a secluded open bungalow right next to the ocean. My family spent the duration of our time here swimming while I got caught up on homework. The rooms, service, and views were perfect and I am so thankful we stayed here during our trip!

img_0961(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad)
img_0994(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/10/17)

Rama Candidasa Resort & Spa (January 17-20):

After a relaxing and incredible couple of days on at the Pan Pacific on the southwest coast, we drove 2 hours to the Rama Candidasa Resort on the east coast. This resort highly exceeded expectations and was my personal favorite place we stayed in Bali. It was quite, secluded, beautiful, right next to the ocean, private little bungalows with beautiful gardens and pathways leading to a perfect and relaxing pool next to a restaurant with delicious food and friendly staff. This resort was the perfect spot to relax, do school, swim, and enjoy a magnificent sunset behind the mountains and was the perfect ending to our trip.

img_1117(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/19/17)

Our Transportation/Recommendations:

Since we booked our tours and pre-booked our transportation to hotels, and the airport with Buffalo Tours we were provided with private, air-conditioned, comfortable transportation with friendly driver and guide and complimentary water bottles. This was nice when we were doing our tours because it can get pretty tiring when you have a jam-packed week of full day tours and it was pretty warm and humid while we were in Bali. Whenever we wanted to go to the markets or the store we just walked because they weren’t far, and it was less hassle. But if we wanted to go to different attractions, or locations without a tour or driver then motorbikes are definitely your best choice. Everybody drives them here from small children to tourists, and they make travel through busy city traffic or long roads much quicker, and fun!

  • Motor Bike

  • Personal Driver

  • Tour Bus

Food/Drink:

There are many restaurants and cool food places to choose from with a variety of foods, drinks, traditional dishes, with international, vegetarian, and vegan options! I think that Ubud is a good place to explore your food palette and try new things.

The traditional Balinese food may or may not be for you, but there is always something for everybody.

If you’re coming from a first world country don’t expect to see pizza, fries, pasta, steak, or chicken wings on the menu. Or if it is on the menu, don’t expect it to look or taste the same as your used to. I personally used to not like to go very far outside my comfort zone especially when it came to food, until we started traveling a lot outside of North America. But now that we have been to places like Haiti, Cuba, and Bali I am so glad I went outside my comfort zone and tried the local and traditional foods because I now know I would have regretted not trying them. You just have to go for it!…and be careful  to know where the food is coming from.

Nine Of The Most Beautiful Photo Ops In Bali:

During our travels, I have been trying to find more off the beaten path and less mainstream places, especially since I love photography and it can be frustrating when there are millions of photographs of the exact same spot! But of course, I am not going to turn down the opportunity to photograph a place when we visit it even if it is touristy. *So here are 9 of the most popular and some less mainstream but breathtaking spots and photo ops for your Bali adventure!

  1. Pura Besakih Mother Temple

  2. Pura Tanah Lot Temple

  3. Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Temple

  4. Campuhan Ridge Walk

  5. Gitgit Waterfall

  6. Pura Luhur Uluwatu

  7. Pura Lempuyang

  8. Ubud Monkey Forest

  9. Tegal Wangi Beach

Cost/Currency:

The currency in Bali is the IDR – Indonesian Rupiah.

The currency code for Rupiah is IDR, and the currency symbol is Rp.

The most popular exchange rate is the IDR to AUD (Australian Dollar).

Indonesian Rupiah banknotes come in denominations of Rp 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, and Rp 100,000.

IDR  to AUD:

1,000 Rp = $00.10

2,000 Rp = $00.20

5,000 Rp = $00.50

10,000 Rp = $1.00

20,000 Rp = $2.00

50,000 Rp = $5.00

100,000 Rp = $10.00

1,000,000 Rp = $100.00

5,000,000 Rp = $500.00

10,000,000 Rp = $1000.00

* There are a few different ways and places you can get your currency exchanged. You are more likely to get a better deal ordering currency from the top two options, it’s rare to get a good deal in airport stores or kiosks because exchange rates are high, and there are a lot of high fees.

  • Your bank/Credit Union
  • Order currency through a cash converter
  • Airport Kiosk/Stores

I hope the information this guide/Journal provided was beneficial to planning your trip! Good luck on your future adventures. Don’t forget to “live unbound, beyond the borders of your comfort zone and limitless to the possibilities of adventure. Live a life that makes you feel alive.” – C.S.v.S Follow me on Instagram: @Caroline.Abroad

 

My First two days in Bali.

By Peter Jr – 14 yrs

On January 7th we said goodbye to our friends and family in Australia and boarded a plane to Bali. When we landed, we picked up our backpacks and were greeted by our driver holding a sign with our name on it. After a hectic drive from the airport to the central village of Ubud, dodging oncoming traffic and more motorbikes than we could count, we arrived at the Tjampuhan Hotel. As soon as we walked through the reception area we were greeted by the friendly staff, and a peaceful jungle view, overlooking a steep river valley. 
peter-rice

After a good night sleep, we woke up early and went out to a remote village to see how the rural Balinese people live and work everyday. That was one of my favorite things to do. Working in the rice fields with the mud and the cattle really showed me how much work goes into something that I used to take for granted. I had the unique opportunity to drive the cattle drawn plow through the rice fields to level it of in preparation for planting.

We then were given bundles of rice shoots to plant deep in the mud.IMG_5669.jpg We were instructed to plant 2 – 3 three rice shoots in each area. At first I was very slow at it. The mud was deep and sticky and it held my bare feet in place like a suction-cup. I was thinking it would take a month to plant the field at this rate. Over time however I was able to move along fairly quickly.  Watching the locals I was amazed at their speed and accuracy, planting row after row in beautiful straight lines. The rice is planted in a flooded field and remains underwater until the grains begin to grow on the stems. As the rice ripens the fields dry up and become ready for harvest.

The next day we woke up early again to visit some very culturally img_7171significant sites. The first visit on our list was Pura Besakih also known as The Mother Temple. This is the largest and holiest temple in the Hindu religion in Bali. It sits about 1000 meters up the side of Mount Agung in the North eastern part of the Island. When we arrived, our guide explained to us that the Mother Temple was actually 23 separate temples in one. Out of respect for the people, we wore the traditional clothing which included a sarong (robe), a sash and an udeng (hat). Here is a photo of us all dressed up for the occasion, although I stuck to my traditional baseball cap because wearing a skirt was already as far out of my comfort zone as I wanted to go.

img_6058

Next on our tour was a visit to see Kerta Gosa, the ancient court of justice located in the center of Bali. This is where the supreme King used to judge and pass sentence on those who have committed a crime. 

courtroof

It was quite surreal. The original building was built in the 1600s which makes it definitely one of the oldest buildings I’ve ever seen. On the ceiling were hundreds of paintings depicting the crimes and punishments according to the law of the day. Rather than volumes of law books and case studies like today, this was their legal system. Not only were you punished for your crime, Karma also took care of you. Double the reason to be good.

Stay tuned for more stories from my adventures in Bali, Indonesia.

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