Monday, July 25, 2011

Spicaaaaaay! Waffles.... dun dun duh

Another day in Paradise and I simply can't get enough of Bali. This island really does have it all. This morning we woke up at 7am ate quickly and were picked up by the driver. He drove us down to the southern most tip of Bali called Nusa Dua. It is the "ritzy" part of Bali and where all the really expensive hotels are. Nusa Dua is well known for their water sports. You can do everything there from "chubing" (tubing) to renting jet skiis. Today we had a great time with a glass bottom boat ride out to the reef where we snorkled. The fish were brilliant! They would school right in front of you and our boat driver gave us food to feed them. They would swarm around you as you ripped the bag open. It was amazing. Mina found a starfish and dove down and picked it up off the bottom. It looked fake but it was completely real. Being the Nerd that I am I had to look it up to see what kind it was. After a bit of time with Google I discovered that we had found a Horned Seastar. I included a picture of it. You can't really tell but the spikes are a dark purple. It was bizarre looking but fascinating. The reef was full of life including several varieties of parrot fish. I even happened upon Gil from Finding Nemo! Several blue goby fish were hiding among the coral as well. It was so neat to see them all. We had an underwater camera so hopefully some of the photos turned out. I'll be sure to put them up on facebook.

After Snorkeling we went to the Turtle farm. That was totally eye opening. They had several species there and all ages of sea turtles. The main species there were Loggerhead, hawksbill, and of course the Green Sea turtle. They were beautiful animals. We got to pick them up and hold them. Of course some were far too large to be held so we posed next to them for pictures. The turtle farm also had a few other critters. Don't worry none of the animals are abused. They are rescued from slaughter houses or taken off the reef and can only stay at the farm for 5 months before they are released into the wild again. The baby sea turtles that hatch there are kept for a year to grow strong and then released into the wild. We got to see some turtles that had hatched the night before. There were some large fruit bats and some cheeky monkeys too. The monkeys were fun to play with and they would grab at the straps of our cameras or my hair tie around my wrist. Definitely excited to go to see the monkeys up north.

After playing with the turtles we got back into the boat and went to go do the flying fish. I did it with my dad after Mina and Jared went. You get about 30 feet up in the air and hold on to these hand holds while standing on a platform beneath you. It is great! The staff guy helped to balance out the weight and really get us soaring. More pictures of that to come. We decided not to go rafting because it is the Dry season here in Bali and so the river that is normally roaring is nothing but a stream now. It was a great day though and we were tired by the time we ate lunch and headed back to the hotel. Tomorrow we are switching hotels and going up north to Ubud. We are probably going to the largest Hindu temple here in Bali in Besakih. I included a picture of it for you all to see. I am way excited to see it. We are also going to the Elephant Caves and surfing in the morning. It is shaping up to be a busy but great day. Hopefully Wednesday we are going to go climb the volcanoes and see the waterfalls. As for the title of this post you may be wondering about it. Jared has an obsession with waffles right now and so we say "Waffles... dun dun duh" a lot. Spicaaay is from an SNL Sketch that we all love. It means something is cool or sexy or just whatever we feel like. Well, Bali is beautiful and I really will miss this place.

Random Fact: In the early days, temples were used as banks and the first loans were taken out against rice.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hey Boss! Aston?

Bali is amazing! Today after breakfast we walked around and found a taxi driver who would take us around all day. We got an amazing deal and had him from about 11am to 7pm for only 40 dollars. Tomorrow he is taking us down south to go snorkeling, see some sea turtles and the best of all a water sport called fly fishing. Yes it involves a boat but no fishing poles are involved. You are pulled behind a boat on an inflatible and catch up to 30 feet of air! It seriously looks amazing so I had to include a photo because well words just won't do it justice. Pretty sweet, right?

Today was pretty cool but I was kinda drowsy from being up late last night. Yesterday was pretty action packed. We went to the beach and all got a little burned but it was so worth it. The waves here are great, pretty powerful stuff. They can knock you over if you aren't careful. It is perfect for surfing or boogie boarding though. We rented three boogie boards and traded off playing in the surf. Lindsey was having a blast until her arms got all torn up from rubbing against the board. I caught a couple of really great waves and rode them all the way into the shore. I'm working on a pretty good tan and by the time I get back to Utah I'll be dark.

After playing hard at the beach it was time to head back to the hotel and get cleaned up. We were all tired so we thought that getting massages would be a great idea. Jared, Lindsey, Mom, and I all got foot massages for an hour. The cost? A whopping $6 a person. I love cheap massages! My dad got an oil massage and mina had a mixture of balinese and head/shoulder. Overall, it was a rather relaxing experience. I was supposed to meet up with Brigham but we hadn't had dinner yet so we walked back to the hotel where I could use the Wifi to contact him. Turned out he was running late too so we went to dinner nearby at this restaurant called the Grill Corner. The food was pretty good except for my Mom's. She ordered the Chicken Cordon Blue but when it came out it wasn't cooked in the middle. She ordered a club sandwich after that and luckily didn't get sick. After a short walk to the hotel I contacted Brigham again to tell him I was back. Turned out he went to the wrong hotel but within 5 minutes he rolled back up on his motorbike and we were off into the night.

We decided to go to the beach since it was so close. We walked around in the sand talking about everything from Utah to Thailand. There was a movie playing on a big sheet at a hotel so we stopped by and watched a few minutes, we think it was Beowolf but it wasn't that great so we kept walking down the sandy shore. It was a perfect night and you could see the stars super clear. I don't know if you guys have ever lived in a big city but you can never see the stars. If you are lucky you see a star. Fireworks started going off in the distance so we sat down and watched them for several minutes and talked for nearly 2 hours. Now the real fun begins... leaving the beach we got so lost! The road that we had taken to get there is one way and at night it is so easy to get turned around. We wandered around for nearly an hour and found 2 different Aston hotels that were not the right one. Luckily Brigham is not one of those guys who is afraid to ask for directions. Here in Bali everyone is Boss and so I would show them the card with the Hotel's address on it and then he would ask for directions. The people here are so kind and a guy took us on his motorbike and we followed him to the hotel. I was home a bit later than I was supposed to be but it was so worth it.

Probably the best part of today was going to the Rice Paddy. They are terraced into a deep ravine and it was gorgeous! We ate some fried banana and Balinese banana pancake while looking out over the rice fields. This old man with woven palm frawn hats came up to us and we took a picture with him. The only bad part about this area is because it is a tourist attraction it is swarming with vendors and people eager to sell you their goods for a "dollar". They really don't know what a dollar equates to in Indonesian Rupies and so the price drastically goes up after you start looking. It is pretty bad, if you acknowledge them at all they will hunt you down and stalk you until you buy something. I felt bad ignoring them but it is that or be accosted by them. I understand they have to sell their goods in order to provide for their families but it really can get annoying after 20 people have asked you or begged you to buy it from them. I would much rather just have the luxury of looking at my leisure. Bali has definitely been fun so far and I'll keep the blog posts coming.

Random Fact:  Karate actually originated in India but was further developed in China.

Friday, July 22, 2011

First Glimpse of Bali Indonesia

Kuta Beach, Bali Indonesia

Day one of our 2 week long vacation and we have arrived at the first of our locations, Bali Indonesia. It is an Island just south of the Java (the biggest island in the archipelago). It is beautiful here. We landed at the airport just after 2pm. It was crazy landing because one minute you are over water and the next you are on the ground. The airport is literally on the beach. The flight was rather uneventful I slept the entire way while Mina fell in love with Justin Beiber. She watched the "Never say Never" movie. Apparently, he is just a regular kid and now has gained her respect. I'll have to watch it on the flight to Australia and see for myself. In the airport itself we were able to make it through customs pretty quickly because of our handy dandy diplomatic passports :) They seriously are a huge time saver. The terrible thing about the airport here in Bali is the overwhelming smell of smoke. EVERYONE in Indonesia seems to be a chain smoker and it doesn't matter if there are a million signs everywhere saying no smoking people do it anyway. It is nauseating.  I'm serious! Just as I am writing this a guy just sat down next to me and lit up. Gosh... so bad!

Once we got into our taxis, which they spell Taksi here, we headed to our hotel. We are staying at Aston kuta hotel and residence. It is really nice so far. It is a bit too far from the beach from what I would like but that's ok, guess I will get some good walking in this vacation. We changed into some trekking clothes and went off to the beach. Words can't quite describe how beautiful it is so I'll just have to put some pictures up later. But seriously, the boats along the water with the sun and the crystal clear water is stunning. This is definitely paradise. Walking along the beach quickly turned into CHAOS though. Once you get into the "shopping" district you take your life into your own hands with the crazy motorbikes and taksis everywhere. They are constantly honking trying to get your attention so that you will get in their car. It is so annoying!

We ate dinner/late lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe here. Now, for those of you who don't know it is about 8400 RPs to a US dollar. Our entire meal was over 1 million RPs. It sounds kinda crazy right? Guess that just shows you how bad inflation is here in Indonesia. So I kinda got to feel what it would be like to be a millionaire for a few minutes. Now, here is the fun part of our day, and by fun I mean endless walking in kinda circles. Seriously, I think we traipsed across the entirety of Kuta Beach. Don't get me wrong it was fun looking at all the shops and running across a few "questionable" items but after a few hours of that it gets a bit tiresome. The culture here is so different from Bangkok and it was interesting to see the architecture. It is a mixture of Hindu and Muslim art. Indonesia after all is predominately Muslim. By the time we got back to the hotel it was about 7:30 pm. We were all quite tired and now I do believe it is time for bed. Early to bed, early to rise, am I right? Tomorrow is hopefully surfing lessons and a beach day. I'm pretty excited for that after seeing the waves today they look awesome! I'm looking forward to all Bali has to offer and am hopeful that this vacation will turn out to be the best ever. No worries, I'll blog about how surfing goes or how I fail at it, most likely the latter. That's all folks!

Random fact: The Cigarette lighter was invented before the match.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans

Many of you have probably heard of this terribly appetizing and disgusting Wizard treat. When I was at Harry Potter World at Universal Islands of Adventure in May I picked some up. It was about $11 dollars US which I thought was kinda outrageous for a pound of jelly beans. Boy was I wrong... probably the best money I have ever spent! Today I was cleaning my room and came upon the package which I still hadn't opened. It just felt right so I opened up the bag of colorful beans and poured them out into a bowl. Of course the sound of candy falling into a bowl attracted the attention of my younger siblings. When I told Jared what they were he got really excited and grabbed one right away. As he started chewing his face quickly turned to horror as what he had thought was a rather harmless toasted marshmallow was actually a soap flavored one. I tried one as well and yes indeed it tasted of sweet soap. Blegh!

Don't worry it gets better... We went on exploring and Jared dared me to eat a rather dark and scary looking one. Popping it into my mouth it didn't taste bad then suddenly I was sputtering and choking. It was black pepper. Not only was it foul tasting but it was spicy to boot! I found the list and we began trying the nastiest ones we could find. There it was, the killer of all killer jelly bellies. The winner? VOMIT... yes, I kid you not there is a vomit flavored jelly bean, or bertie bean rather. Jared and I counted to 3 and then popped it in. Faces contorting, stomachs churning we ran for the trash can. We both gagged and well, it got the best of me. Guess the vomit should be called the vomit inducing bertie bott bean. It was the most disgusting thing I have ever tasted and I did it of my own free will. What is wrong with me? My mom was laughing at us and Mina became curious and started sampling the candies. Lindsey came over and started eating them too.

It was a party! Though I'm not really sure the food was the best. Jared and I discovered the Rotten Egg flavored jelly belly and I nearly lost my dinner again... I don't like eggs much to begin with so yeah that was the end of my brave streak. Mina and Jared sampled the earthworm flavored bean. No, I'm being completely serious, earthworm. I am not sure who got to the trash can first, it was a blur of hurried motion and guzzling water to get rid of the taste. Overall, it was really fun watching every one's facial expressions as we figured out which ones were tasty and which ones we should avoid, or give to our Mom who didn't know what they were. Haha, I guess it is a good thing she loves us so much. Just for fun I've added the complete list of the 20 flavors that were in the pack and color coded them for Good and bad... I think you are smart enough to figure out which one is which.

Banana- This one was quite delicious
Blueberry- Lindsey liked this one
Candyfloss (cotton candy)- Too sweet for my taste
Cherry- Always a safe bet
Green Apple- We kept mixing up this one with Grass.
Marshmallow- Easily mixed up with soap, earwax and rotten egg but quite good.
Sherbert Lemon- Very well.. lemony?
Tutti-Frutti- My favorite and I used it to cleanse my pallet between really terrible ones.
Watermelon- Another yummy one.
Bogies- I didn't eat this one but apparently it wasn't terrible.
Black Pepper- This one was spicy and had me sputtering and coughing.
Dirt- Well, it even smelled like dirt. Nasty!
Earthworm- nearly got the best of Mina and Jared.
Earwax- Very Repugnant indeed!
Grass- Wasn't terrible but wasn't great either.
Rotten Egg- Tasted strangely kinda like onions, either way gross.
Sausage- My mom and Lindsey braved this one and said it was not good at all.
Soap- sweet and soapy, not one to fight over.
Vomit- Yeah well it made me vomit so I guess it deserves its name.

Moral of the story: When braving Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans do it in a group and it is bound to be a great laugh for everyone involved. Also, don't do it right after dinner... or you may look like the baby above.

Random Fact: The average coach airline meal costs the airline $4.00. The average first class meal: $50.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Where Did It All Go?

Today got me thinking as I was looking through some old photos, Why do friendships end? Of course there are some obvious reasons such as distance, changing interests, or a bad fight. Still, it doesn't always have to be that way. Personally, as school approaches I am full of apprehension. Most of my friends are gone. That doesn't even begin to cover it... I'm basically starting from scratch. They all left to go on their Missions and while I love reading the letters/emails/blogs I miss them and hope the clock will go by just a bit quicker. Guess I can't help but feel a bit lonely. Now don't get me wrong I'm practically dying to go back to school but it really does feel like freshman year all over again. New roommates, new ward, new classes, and a heck of a lot of uncertainty. I mean I really took the plunge and I don't know a single girl I'm rooming with. Seriously, I don't even know the girl who will be 2 feet away from me in our shared room. Kinda scary! But back to my original question, why do friendships end? Sometimes it is for the better of the two parties. Sometimes it is better for one person and not the other. Above all else the memories cannot be erased and so I find myself questioning and wondering how it all went so wrong. Well, that's my little rant and now that I feel a bit better I'm off to watch some Modern Family. If you haven't seen that show I highly recommend it. You'll find yourself in tears because you are laughing so hard. It never fails to lift my spirits when I am feeling particularly blue.

Random Fact: 68 percent of a Hostess Twinkie is air!

The End of Childhood

 Yesterday I was in attendance as the lights dimmed and Harry Potter led the fight against the Dark Lord for the final installment of The Harry Potter Series. It was a mixture of emotions as the final credits began and it struck me that the Boy who lived was over. The magical story of witches and wizards had come to a close. Is this what it feels like to realize that your "childhood" is gone? Before the movie began there was also a preview for the final movie of the Twilight series. The stories that I grew up with are all ending. The books written, blockbuster movies finished, sold out premiere's over. All and all it was quite strange to see that door close. What will step in to fill the abyss? Part of me believes that there never really will be another great series like Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling stole my heart from the first few pages of book 1 and kept it all the way to the end. Now, the movies weren't perfect but come on they can't really do justice to the number one selling series of all time. It really was great though seeing them come to life and the special effects that I had seen in my head jump off the page and onto the screen. When the time comes I definitely want to read these books to my children like my mom did to me when I was young.

Yes, I have fond memories of staying up far past my bedtime reading about Hogwarts and He who must not be named. The adventures that they went on took me to a place where anything could happen and the characters were just real enough that I felt maybe my letter to Hogwarts had been lost in the mail. Summer was spent awaiting the arrival of the next Harry Potter book and then seeing just how quickly I could finish it before passing it off to my sister or my mom. Yes, those were the days. A bit of that magic is lost now but still I will always be a Potter fan. I've been to Universal Studios and walked the streets of Hogsmeade. They really spared no expense and did a wonderful job with Potter World. I still have cravings for the Butterbeer. It simply was delicious! The best I can do to describe it is creme soda with butterscotch flavoring and cream on top. 

Last night for the first and last time I dressed up as Hermione Granger. It was fun using things I had around the house to make my outfit. My robes were my graduation robes from High School and I had a Gryffindor shirt I had bought from the theme park. I was quite impressed with how the ensemble came together. This wasn't the first time though that I had dressed up in Harry Potter style.

One Halloween when I was young I was Harry Potter himself. Pretty Great don't you think? :) Yes, although the series is now over it will live on forever in my heart.

                                              Long live Harry Potter, the boy who lived.

Random Fact: Even a small amount of alcohol placed on a scorpion will make it go crazy and sting itself to death.