The Travel Ahh…

© Stephanie Glaser

Even at our hotel in Sanur, Bali, we saw a lifeguard place a “Canang Sari” and sticks of incense on the cement pool deck near the waterside. These simple but beautiful baskets are traditional offerings meant to thank the Hindu gods, and you see them everywhere in Bali.

The baskets, made out of coconut leaves, contain flowers, rice and sometimes money. It is a comforting sight to see the Canang Sari and these offerings remind everyone, including tourists, the importance of following traditions and being thankful.

Ditching the Strollers in Bali

At the Denpasar Airport. No car seats
© Stephanie Glaser

No kid car seats. I convinced myself this was no big deal as I looked in the eight-passenger seat van that had arrived to pick us up at the Denpasar Airport. Calm down. This is Bali and things are a bit different here. I asked the driver, Waylan, if there were some seats lying around that needed to be set up.

“No, I am sorry, we don’t have car seats for the little ones,” Waylan said as he hoisted up my three-year-old daughter Kasey and tickled her chin. He then leaned over to give her five-year-old brother, Eddie, a high-five.

“They will be fine,” he reassured my husband Kurt and me with a smile displaying the most reflective set of white teeth I’ve seen aside from a Crest White Strips ad. “I am an excellent driver.”

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The Friday Travel Ahh….

Even holy men need a break!
© Stephanie Glaser

As anyone who travels knows, there are missteps, mishaps and misadventures, but then there are those perfect moments when we say: “yeah, this is why I travel.” A Travel Ahh..

When we visited Tanah Lot, a sacred Hindu temple in Bali, Kurt and I were excited to get a rice blessing at the site of a holy water spring below the temple. The Hindu holy men brush water on your forehead and then they adhere a few rice grains. After the rice cluster is secured, the priests place a plumeria behind your ear. It’s lovely event. I snapped the top photo while waiting for our turn. Even holy men need a break! The bottom photos are of our kids Eddie and Kasey getting their blessings.

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Ballistic Bali Belly, a Squat Toilet and the Perfect Sunset

The sunset we almost didn’t see.
© Stephanie Glaser

I knew it would happen. We were in Southeast Asia; it was inevitable. I just didn’t think that our encounter with a squat toilet would take place at Bali’s spectacular Tanah Lot right as the sun moved in for an incredible and blazing appearance.

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Leaving our kid with a stranger in Bali (But it’s Putu!)

Eddie and Putu, best buds.
© Stephanie Glaser

Steph’s note: This story is more of a Travel Oops when I tell it in the United States, and I see people’s reactions. It still doesn’t seem truly like an oops to me. 

Everybody on the island of Bali treated Kurt, my kids Eddie and Kasey, and me like VIPs  — Brangelina even. Asian tourists often asked to take photos of the kids, who are blonde and blue-eyed, or even pose for pictures with them. We happily consented.

There were no strangers in Bali. We made friends with everyone we met and even flew kites with local boys at a beach in Sanur. Each driver we hired to take us sightseeing instantly became our best friend. Putu, a young, skinny man who had spiky black hair and wore a mint green button down shirt, was our favorite.

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Drinking poop coffee in Bali

Our kind host gives us the Kopi Luwak — gulp!
Photo © Stephanie Glaser

Coffee – to me, is a delicacy wherever I am.  I love it brewed any way, shape or form. However, I didn’t realize this standard philosophy would put to the test in Bali.

When given the opportunity to visit a family compound outside of Ubud where they grew and harvested coffee, I didn’t hesitate to go and neither did my husband Kurt.  “Awesome!” was my only thought.

After touring the grounds with our kids in tow, we were invited to a tasting — essentialy heaven. Sitting at a picnic table, you leisurely sipped the many varieties of teas and coffees offered by one of the family hosts. Near the table, a hyper mongoose paced in its cage. It seemed rather random, but there was a purpose for this creature as we would soon find out.

At this particular compound, the family offered a highly prized coffee, Kopi Luwak, which is processed in the stomach of the mongoose. The coffee beans are fed to the mongoose and while he or she is digesting them, the enzymes and acids in the stomach break down the coffee, thereby eliminating bitterness.

The catch: the only way to get the processed beans is by waiting for the mongoose to poop them out. Once that has happened, someone gets to pick the beans from the dung and remove the outer layer of the bean so it is finally ready to be roasted. Our host explained this to us and gave us a brochure to read.

Frankly, it sounded like something my son Eddie made up. Like any five-year-old, most of his revelations and stories involved poop, farts, boogers or any other gross products that shoot or drain out of an orifice.

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