My Sabbatical Story – Month #1 (July 2019)

Sabbatical Update - Month One

Date:

Today is July 31, 2019.  It’s the end of my first month (out of eight, I hope) on the road.

Current Location:

I’m in Canggu, on the island of Bali in Indonesia.  Tomorrow I’m flying to Bangkok for a long weekend, then I’m coming back to Indonesia for a few more weeks.

Places Visited Since Last Update:

  • Taipei, Taiwan
  • Ubud, Bali
  • Canggu, Bali
  • Nusa Lemongon and Nusa Ceningan
  • Canggu, Bali (again)

The Good, The Bad and the Bizarre

I’m bringing you all of the updates on the best, the worst and the weirdest experiences on the road since I last checked in.  Here’s what went down in July!

The Good

The Best Destination I’ve Visited

Canggu Beach in Bali, Indonesia

I’ve fallen in love with Canggu!  It reminds me a lot of old-school Sayulita (in Mexico) with great surfing, fantastic restaurants and a chill vibe.  I started off by staying for four days, then I decided to come back for four more… then I decided to come back for seven more days when I’m back in Bali later in August!

The Best Thing I’ve Eaten

Vegetarian and Vegan Main Dishes at the Ubud Cooking School on Pemulan Organic Farm in Bali

Honestly, the vegetarian and vegan food scene in Canggu is amazing (as it was in Ubud, too) but the prize for this category has to go to the Indonesian food that I cooked myself when I took a cooking class in Ubud.  We learned to make six different vegetarian and vegan Indonesian dishes, including the fritters, steamed dumplings and curry shown above!

The Most Amazing Experience I’ve Had

Scuba Diving with Manta Rays Near Nusa Penida, Bali, Indonesia

Easy!  Scuba diving with giant manta rays near Nusa Penida, an island off the coast of Bali.  I spent two days diving with Blue Corner Dive. The highlight was the first dive on our second morning, at the famous Manta Point dive site, where dozens of manta rays congregate to feed and clean.  I would have been happy to see just one of these huge, gentle, curious creatures, but by the end of the dive we’d seen too many to count!

Something Else That Made Me Smile

The cat at my hotel in Canggu, Bali

On my second trip to Canggu I stayed at Koming Guest House, and I fell in love with their fluffy cat, Disney.  I’ll never know if Disney also fell in love with me… she was a hard one to read.

The Bad

The Worst Place I’ve Visited

So far nothing has been bad, but I was disappointed by the atmosphere in Ubud.  I had expected it to be calm and relaxing (kind of like Srithanu on Koh Phangan in Thailand?) but it was super-busy, packed with people, zipping with scooters and just generally a bit too frenetic for my liking.  I find Canggu to be way calmer.

The Least Enjoyable Thing I’ve Eaten

Another easy one.  The spongy mock ham with a picture of a flower inside of it at Evergreen Restaurant in Taipei.  Read about it in my rundown of vegetarian buffets in Taipei.

The Most Frustrating Experience I’ve Had

Trying to get around Bali without a scooter hasn’t been great.  I actually tried riding a scooter for a few hours the other day, with a scooter instructor (aka some guy I found on Facebook) and it was a complete disaster.  I am so wobbly, I start and stop too rapidly, and I don’t understand the rules of the road in Indonesia.  Scooter life just isn’t for me, apparently.

Something Else That Was Really Unpleasant

In a random one-off, a bat tried to land on the strap of my purse the other night… while I was carrying it cross-body style.  I freaked out a bit (mostly due to the recent news stories about the Canadian guy who died after coming into contact with a bat… do not read this story if you’re prone to irrational fears!) and went to the doctor the next day.  The doctors said that because there were no signs of bites or scratches and because I’d just finished the three-dose pre-exposure vaccination series in May (something I talk about in my travel health post) that I wouldn’t need any booster shots.

The Bizarre

The Most Random Place I’ve Visited

Oh, here’s a good one!  When I arrived in Canggu I went out exploring and decided to have breakfast at a restaurant called Betelnut Cafe.  While I was there, I posted on Facebook that I’d arrived in Canggu, and one of my friends from back home responded, “I love Canggu!  Make sure to eat at the Betelnut Cafe!”  What are the chances that she’d send me that when I was already sitting in the restaurant?  A little spooky, right?

The Strangest Thing I’ve Eaten (Or Seen on a Menu, Or Been Served…)

See above re: the spongy meatless flower-ham.

The Most Confusing Experience So Far

It took me about three hours to find a SIM card in Taipei.  Overall, I found the city quite clean, organized and efficient… except when it came to finding a SIM card.

Something Else That’s Totally Unexpected

I’ve completely given up on my hair-washing schedule (for now, at least).  When I’m back in a more urban environment I will probably get a good shampoo schedule going again, but for now I’m spending a lot of time in hotel pools and/or the sea, and counting it as a wash…

Stay tuned throughout the upcoming months for more blog posts inspired by my travels!  Or, time travel to the end of August and read my Month #2 update!

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