Good idea: Traveling to a tropical paradise to spend the holidays with your beloved family.
Bad idea: Leaving said tropical paradise and beloved family to return home to 9 degree weather.
I think maybe I should have taken Jen (my brother's wife) up on the offer for her to "accidentally" misplace our passports. I mean, come on- what could they REALLY do? (wait- don't answer that question.)
The only negative thing- and I mean the only negative thing - about our magnificent vacation was the flight(s). After flying from here to L.A. (2 hours), then from L.A. to Taiwan (14.5 hours - where my little sleeping Kennedy laid sprawled out on her seat and kept flopping her limbs on the poor lady next to her...), and then from Taiwan to Bali (5.5 hours), we finally arrived. (I love the nifty travel maps they have on the seats of the airplane.)
In the airport, we encountered some of our first Balinese statues (the first of many).
My brother and his driver picked us up from the airport. I have never been so happy to see Brandon in my life. I think it's the longest time we'd ever been apart. (When we were teenagers, I think the extended absence would have been graciously welcomed. My how things changed once he realized I didn't have girl cooties.)
Driving back to his house, we saw tons more statues. They were everywhere.
And some of them were very beautiful. (Although sometimes strange...with random laughing pigs. )
When we arrived at his house, we were happily greeted by my 3 darling nieces, my wonderful sister in law, and my fabulous mother (who had arrived about 5 days prior). And there was much rejoicing.
(The 3 darling nieces, as well as my own darling daughter)
One might think that spending 2 weeks with my amazing family in a tropical paradise couldn't get any better. And then you add on an incredible view like this: (this is the view from their massage room, looking toward the swimming pool.)...and you think you may have died and gone to heaven. (Luckily I didn't die. And it wasn't heaven. But it was probably as close as you could get. Or maybe even better.)
And this is the view from the back door of the house, overlooking the rice fields. (Brandon is doing his daily practice of Chi Kung - some cool chinese meditation. thing.)
Brandon and his family live in the beautiful city of Ubud. It has such a deep-rooted culture, which is evidenced by many statues, festivals, parades, and the thrice-daily spiritual offerings by the Balinese people who live there. What surprised me, though, was that there were quite a few foreigners (Europeans, Americans, Australians) who lived there, as well. English is spoken by quite a few of the locals, so it was fairly easy to communicate and make your way around the city.
The day after we arrived, I got in touch with my inner-hippy, and we went to a hula hooping class. It took a few tries, but I learned some super cool tricks. I think I would fit right in at the hippy park down the street from my house. Perhaps I will join their drum circle next summer.
After the hula-hooping, we went to a dance class. Where they play all sorts of music, and you just.... dance. It was SO much fun. Please ignore the sweat under my boobs. (Or as I like to call it: swoobs.)
I of course had to get my picture taken (with swoobs) next to Ganesha, a very popular Hindu statue. (That's Jen and their friend Sabina, being very mature in the window).
Next on the agenda was to visit the Ubud Monkey Forest. Where they have lots of monkeys. No really. A LOT of monkeys. Monkeys who are not afraid of people. And actually, if you have food, YOU should be afraid of the monkeys.
SO cute. Doesn't this just melt your heart?
I'll bet this does, too.
Another thing that there is no shortage of in Bali is temples. They are everywhere you look. Even if you don't look, you can find one. Like in the Monkey Forest (I guess even monkeys need a place to worship, right?)
I can't seem to recall what we did for the rest of the day, but I'm sure it involved eating delicious food, singing, playing, laughing, and avoiding being defecated on by one of these little (big) guys who hung out on the walls/ceiling.
Next up- Christmas Eve. And our thirst for gelato.