Rather than stressing ourselves about our wedding (6-ish months away?!) + splurging for a honeymoon, O and I decided to break out of cold and bleak NYC into the hearts of tropical Bali as our pre-wedding honeymoon. Except, it didn’t start off as dreamy as we thought; we landed in Denpasar mainly frantic about my missing outfit for our pre wedding shoot. Fortunately, the streets of Seminyak and Paulina Katarina saved us by delivering the breezy shirt dress to my hotel within 15 hours. Another plus – our hotel had everything we wanted: lush nature, gorgeous architecture and interiors done by our colleague Jess’s father’s firm, and a private beach front.
Oh, and did you know that Bali is known for its gorgeous waterfalls as well? After I saw gorgeous waterfalls online, I had to snag photos of us in one.
Jl. Ir. Sutami, Kemenuh, Kec. Sukawati, Kabupaten Gianyar,
Bali 80581, Indonesia
Thanks to our USC architecture colleague Jessica and her dad, we were able to stay at the hotel designed by her dad’s firm for 3 glorious nights, 3.5 heavenly days with morning yoga, lagoon lounges, and a private beach. The chic and contemporary hotel doesn’t need much introduction, but we love it for the beachside pool, views, and how all of this nests in nature. I visited it back in 2015 as my first trip to Bali and loved it with Jessica.
Photos don’t do justice, but seriously, lounging at the lagoon with nasi ayam and other delicious Indonesian dishes was nothing less than excellent.
Jl. Danau Tamblingan, Sanur, Kec. Denpasar Sel., Kota Denpasar, Bali 80228, Indonesia
This pre-wedding honeymoon was particularly mentally powerful for overcoming fears. While I just learned how to properly swim a month ago thanks to Coach Brian, I truly overcame my fear of water by completely submerging myself in all kinds of water, including sitting 35 feet on Nusa Penida’s ocean floor. A few lessons I’ve also learned (the hard way) from our two dives:
Lesson #1: Quickly figure out a way to adapt to the water pressure changes while descending/ascending or your ears and head will be in excruciating pain
Lesson #1: Do not drink seawater or you’ll feel nauseous enough to be projectile vommitting through scuba diving equipment or over the boat.
Lesson #3: Water can get damn cold; there is no shame wearing 2 wetsuits.
While I wanted to have pre-wedding photos of us taken by a waterfall, I wanted to also suspend myself off of a waterfall. While there are few waterfalls you can jump off of, the infamous Aling Aling and its jump-offable cliffs were on the other side of the island, 75 damn km away. I’ve never been so proud to be with a man who was willing to drive us up (literally, up mountains into clouds of wind + rain) on a motorbike for his first time. We only live once, right?
According to O, waterfall/cliff jumping was going to be “much easier” than scuba diving. But honestly, walking up to a cliff with a crowd of people watching me finally stand at the tip of a 10m high cliff to jump off of.. released so much adrenaline that my heart was beating as if I ran a mile and my body was trembling in anxiety. I had to meet that minuscule margin of error; over-rotating or incorrectly angling myself within the 5 seconds would hurt – probably badly. Yet as soon as our guide walked over to me, claimed that I wasn’t ready and suggested I skip it, I insisted that I was ready to jump off; I’ve been having an incredible year and we didn’t come all the way up here for me to just stand and walk away.
Before I knew it, I jumped off the cliff, somehow angled myself at a 15 degree angle and hurt my ass as I broke the water. Seconds later, I floated back up as gracefully as possible, more eager than ever to get back onto land, hug O, and move on to graceful waterfall slides. As Tupac says, “…life goes on.”
Lesson #1: “Anything that’s not straight up and down is really going to hurt.” -Orlando Duque
Lesson #2: Jump off with arms out left/right, then toes and arms as straight and close to the body right before hitting the water with feet first.
Jl. Raya Desa Sambangan, Sambangan, Kec. Sukasada, Kabupaten Buleleng,
Bali 81161, Indonesia
Aside from staying at Sanur’s gorgeous 5 star hotel, I wanted half of our trip’s accommodation in something more atypical of a honeymoon: a treehouse. Of course, you could find any accommodation via Airbnb. I found this gem that wasn’t only a treehouse that sits on a tree with branches protruding in/out of, but that was also in Ubud, another town that I wanted to explore. Showering in a treehouse immersed with lush leaves was one of the most bizarre feelings we’ve ever had.
Hars, the owner, manager, architect, landlord, entrepreneur of the property is truly the 21st century Renaissance man. Every morning he prepared and served us breakfast from below in another treehouse dining room. Starting every morning with home-grown fruits, vegetables, and potato patties that’s sourced just feet away brought us so much joy.
If you know me, you know that I am obsessed with visiting local cafes at every endeavor around the world. Once we learned that our photographer Nat and her aunt owned a pet project cafe, we slipped in some time to visit the cafe gem (snug within a car wash, next to Nat’s uncle’s barbershop) Their industrial and cozy cafe also embraces urban coffee culture overseas (their favorites being hole in the walls) while also respectfully using Balinese arabica beans in a humble way. While I am a huge sucker for arabica coffee, we could clearly tell that the cafe is clearly driven by nostalgia… from the delicate dainty ceramics (I couldn’t help but feel like I was at my grandma’s) and the photography books (literally, the same one I owned and referred to) …We just couldn’t ask for a sweeter, sentimental way to leave Bali.
And last but not least, every time I visit a country, I love swinging by at least one local cafe (who doesn’t know that?!). This time, we swung by our prewedding photographer’s cafe. Yeah, how cool is she?! Nat so happened to help start up this smitten cafe, Oli Kopi. – right alongside her uncle’s barbershop, within a car wash (we had to find a way to swing by, and we literally did just before we departed Bali)
To this date, Bali is the paradise trip that made me not even want to sleep-to an extent that I got sick as soon as I came back to NYC.
Kerobokan Kelod, North Kuta, Badung Regency,
Bali 80365, Indonesia