Travel Betty

Encouraging Fearless Independent Travel For Women

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What Would Make YOU Hop A Plane To Bali?

May 30th, 2007 · 11 Comments

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Travel Betty: We’ve GOT to go to Bali.

Travel Boyfriend: You just want that pig.

Betty (drooling): So? Did you see it? It was succulent. It’s swabbed in coconut milk for an entire six hours as it rotates over an open fire. Did you see the crispy skin? Imagine what that tastes like!

Boyfriend: Yeah, I saw it. I’m just not going to travel 8,343 miles to eat a meal.

Betty: Your loss.

And that’s how I came to book one single ticket to Bali for October.

Travel Boyfriend and I were watching No Reservations and Anthony Bourdain was in Indonesia traipsing through lush forests, interacting with locals, eating wonderful and mysterious foods like durian and basically making me insanely eager to get on a plane. But to be fair, it wasn’t just the pig. I had made a secret plan two years ago that when I turned 33 I was going to reassess my life and either skip out and travel the world for a year or just put my nose back down to the grindstone and keep on living the way I had been (mostly by someone else’s rules). But instead of doing either, I decided to kind of split the difference. First of all, why wait until that magic random age? And secondly, did I really need to make such a drastic departure from everything I know and love in San Francisco? Couldn’t I just make travel a priority and fit it into my life whenever and however I saw fit? So for the past year I have put that theory to the test and have found out that surprisingly, the answer is yes.

Before this time there were two things I was always worried about. What will people think of me? And where will I get the money? By nature I’m not an irresponsible person and I’m also not independently wealthy. Not to get all cheesy ‘The Secret’ on you, but what I found is that when you decide to make something a priority in your life, the world starts to make room for you. And as much as you think they won’t, people make room for you and your newfound priority too. Yes, there may be a few sacrifices along the way, but they don’t actually feel like sacrifices. Sacrifice means you’re giving up what you want. But you’re actually working towards what you want most of all, so these obstacles are by definition no longer sacrifices. I found I didn’t even really want them in the first place. But from watching this one show I knew there were two new things I REALLY wanted to do in my life. First was to stay at Kampung Sampireun in West Java and sit on the balcony of my own lakeside bungalow being served hot-off-the-griddle serabi (aka Javanese pancakes with coconut milk sauce) from a man in a canoe. The second was to get my hands on that delectable swine.

Now I didn’t make immediate plans after seeing this show. I just did the appropriate Googling and put the information away in my ‘travel ideas’ folder. What put the whole crazy plan in motion was simply my desire to write and be warm (not easy to do simultaneously in San Francisco). Surprisingly, my first thought was not Bali (I figured that was a place I’d want to visit with Travel Boyfriend). Instead I started thinking about the South Pacific. Fiji. Vanuatu. Cook Islands, maybe, my dream has always been to go to a fiji resort. I wanted beauty without a lot of distractions. I also wanted to stay for a month. That seems to be about the right amount of time away for me when I can get it. Because of that, it didn’t make sense to stay in a hotel so I went to Vacation Rental By Owner to see what looked good. Turns out not a lot of owners of vacation rentals exist in the South Pacific. There are a few, but not the plethora I imagined. But I did notice that Bali had no shortage of options. Can’t hurt to look, right?

Within five minutes, I’d found the perfect place. I know that pictures usually oversell a location, but as soon as I saw the first one, I knew it was for me. I KNEW it! Then I saw the second and third. I tried to contain my excitement while reading and rereading the posting and then while scrutinizing their website and then doing online searches for reviews and recommendations and especially once I sent an email to the owner inquiring about availability. Luckily, I didn’t have to contain excitement for long. Within a week, I was sending off my deposit and booking a flight on Singapore Airlines for a one-month stay in Bali.

Now back when the economy was absolutely shitty, I would have turned down an opportunity like this because I would have been afraid to miss out on an opportunity. Huh? What? That sounds dumb. What I realized I had been doing was rejecting the things I was naturally drawn to out of fear of missing out on the things I thought I SHOULD be drawn to. So, the opportunities said to each other, “Let’s move on. This girl isn’t going to put us to use.” And so somebody else got them. And I kept sitting there. Picking up the unringing phone and saying hello. Peeking out the mail slot to see if a great opportunity was there. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t because I wasn’t fearless enough to put myself out there. But now I am. Maybe not completely (I’ll write about my terrifying hot air balloon ride over the Namib desert some other time), but I’m a heck of a lot more fearless than I used to be. And that’s also why I decided to start writing this blog, because I wanted to help in some small way to encourage other people of similar inclinations to do the same.

I have a friend who recently on a half-day’s notice flew up to Portland from San Francisco just to sing onstage with one of his favorite performers for a single song. Impetuous? Yup. A little risky? Perhaps. Luckily his boss made room for his priority. But, it is a memorable experience that he’ll cherish for the rest of his life. And maybe not so much for the actual five minutes that he sang, but for the fact that he decided to do it at all. So why not go to Bali for the pig? Whatever your own personal aspirations are, going to Bali for the pig is what we’re here for.

As for the pancakes, for now I’m saving West Java for the return trip. Maybe the one where Travel Boyfriend decides he actually WILL fly 8,343 miles for a meal.

Travel Betty Basics

The Roast Suckling Pig (Babi Guling) Featured On No Reservations
Ibu Oka (Located just across from the Ubud Tourist Information Center)
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Download Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations Season One
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations - Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Season 1

Villa Naga Maya (Villa of the Illusive Dragon!)
(please note: I have not yet stayed here and therefore cannot yet vouch for it, so it’s important to do your own research before you book)
Their listing can be found here
Kuta, Bali, Indonesia

Look here for the recipes for serabi and the coconut milk-swabbed pig.

2nd Opinions: Nomad4ever recently visited Ibu Oka and writes:

Hordes of foreigners and locals alike do the pilgrimage every day to check out what’s the fuss about – and you won’t be disappointed! It’s now more like a Mekka for pork lovers. (Hah – what a paradox!)

Feeling impetuous yourself? Find Cheap Flights and Discount Hotels from and take your own spur of the moment dream trip.

Travel Betty Banter

What was the most impulsive trip you’ve ever taken? Give your fellow Travel Betties some good ideas for their own trips in the comments section.

Tags: Bali · Food and Drink · Lodging · Travel Insights

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  • 11 responses so far ↓

    • 1 aymbereye // Jun 14, 2007 at 10:49 am

      Oh my god..I found this post while googling “Bourdain/Bali”..very psyched to read this..I’m going (first time ever and certainly longest/biggest trip abroad ever) for my honeymoon, in January!! can’t wait to read your updates!! Fell in love with the idea after reading “Eat Pray Love”…and of course, tickets booked, I was very smug watching that anthony bourdain episode!!!! (I hate to fly, too..I must be insane). We’re staying in Ubud for 6 days, and Seminyak for 3)…not a month, but still!

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    • 2 Travel Betty // Jun 14, 2007 at 3:19 pm

      That’s so GREAT, Aymbereye! I read “Eat, Pray, Love” as well, although after I’d already booked the trip. It certainly reinforced that I’d made the right decision.

      Congratulations on your upcoming wedding and honeymoon! Stop back and let us know how it all went. I’ll be posting a lot on Bali I’m sure in October and November.

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    • 3 April // Jun 19, 2007 at 3:33 am

      Oh, thank you so much! I’ve been trying to remember the name of that roast pig place cause I’m going there next month. I had the episode recorded but got deleted somehow. Ibu Oka, I’m gonna eat your pigs!

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    • 4 Travel Betty // Jun 20, 2007 at 4:14 pm

      Come back and tell us how it is, April! I’m DYING to try it.

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    • 5 eric // Jan 23, 2008 at 7:05 pm

      I am going to Bali in a couple of days. Staying at the Amandari in Ubud. The pig restaurant is in Ubud, no?

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    • 6 Travel Betty // Jan 26, 2008 at 11:00 am

      Wow, the Amandari is supposed to me AWESOME! Enjoy your trip. And yes, the pig restaurant is in Ubud, right across from the palace. Go early though because once they run out of pig, that’s it for the day!

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    • 7 eric // Jan 28, 2008 at 11:40 am

      just arrived. Already have had Nasi Goreng. Love it. Tomorrow I am going to shoot for the Ibu Oka tomorrow.

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    • 8 eric // Feb 7, 2008 at 4:51 am

      Ibu Oka WAS da bomb! Can’t wait to go back to bali. I did so much while I was there. Spent some time in the rural parts of bali and went to many temples. Also attended a cock fight…very interesting.

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    • 9 amanda // Dec 31, 2008 at 10:33 pm

      I realize this is a very old post, but it gives me a great background. I’m in a similar spot (mid career, also determined to fit travel in ). I have fit it in ! I’ve done a week in Costa Rica, over a week in Jamaica , and a few weeks in Hawaii.

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    • 10 cokorda agung krisna dalem // Jul 29, 2009 at 2:32 am

      Although the post is kinda old but nonetheless, it’s actually interesting.
      I’m a family member of Peliatan Palace, the origin of Ubud Palace, and I found your post while googling for ‘what will bali be?’
      I’m currently studying (by myself ofcourse) the current attractions that brings younger generations of travellers to Bali.
      Recently because of ‘eat pray love’ I believe, but the more interesting thing is, it’s caused by one of my fav. Show: ‘no reservations’.
      Personally I’m interested in the impact of tourism to the island, and currently finding solutions for transportations, traffic congestions, and parking problem throughout the island.
      If you have some spare time, please send an e-mail to me about your views on these matters after your visit to bali.

      Lots of smiles from bali :)

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    • 11 Johnny // Dec 14, 2010 at 5:27 am

      I booked a plane ticket to Bali to try the same pig! Also I thought it would be pretty epic to spend new years eve there, but the pig is first priority, wish me luck!

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