Dear Diary #4: Bali Hotels, Bali Fashion, Mount Agung + more!
So apparently my weekly update for you guys actually turned into a monthly one this time... whoops!! Sorry about that! Who knew month #2 ((can you believe we’ve actually been away from home for 2 months already!?)) would get so incredibly hectic!! Since my last post about our trip to the Gilis, life has seemed to move at record speed! Which is pretty crazy given the fact that we are always on island time and rarely even know what day, much less what date it is... haha!
Believe it or not, December is in full force and we are officially well into the holiday season! It will be our first Christmas away from our family and also both of our first tropical Christmas’s! It definitely feels a little strange to be honest, especially since most people in Bali don't celebrate Christmas, but we are excited for the new experience. Our "white christmas" won't be full of snow by any means, but sand instead. I'm not mad about that one bit! ;) We are currently looking for a long term rental in Bali, and will try and find some Christmas decorations as soon as we have a place to decorate! As I mentioned before in a previous post, we were renting a place for one month which was really awesome. We were still collaborating on and off with hotels, but always had a "home" to come back to and a place to leave our large suitcases, etc. That rental ended several weeks ago now and we have been true nomads ever since. We went straight from collaboration to collaboration in Bali ((4 to be exact)), and then flew to Singapore for a night, Thailand for 4 nights, Langkawi for 3 nights, back to Singapore for 3 nights, and then will FINALLY be back in Bali around midnight on the 12th!! Whew! We've learned this month how important having a home actually is. I'm sure some travelers get used to roaming around from place to place, which we love the adventure side of it, but we both really appreciate having a place to come back to and call home. We are so excited to get back to Bali and find just that!! We've been really praying for the perfect place— something affordable, in a good area, and spacious enough to be able to host any guests who come and visit us. We will see what we can find... I’ll keep you posted for sure! ;)
Alright, so let me update you guys with the many highlights from this month! Here we go!
1. Collaborations with fashion brands! I had no clue what to expect about pretty much anything when moving to Bali, but especially as far as fashion goes. In NYC, I was making a steady income by consistently collaborating with brands, and was receiving packages every week with new products to share with you guys, post about, and shoot. Unfortunately, most US brands that I had been working with aren't down to ship all the way to Bali, which is totally understandable because it is not cheap by any means. So I knew I would basically be starting from scratch in that area once we got here. I am super passionate about fashion and so it was definitely a hard pill to swallow, but what I didn't realize was that there are actually TONS of incredible brands right here in Bali! This month I've had the opportunity to collaborate with a few of them, and I couldn't be more thankful to be building clients and relationships in the fashion industry. Bali has a lot to offer!! Check out these amazing brands— all of which ship worldwide!
BALI BOAT SHED
2. Hotel Collaborations! Again in the US, Zach and I worked quite regularly with hotels, and mainly with Marriott owned properties. We weren't sure how long the process would take to be able to start shooting for hotels in Bali, although we had already worked so hard establish our portfolio of work before we moved. We have been so blessed to already collaborate with so many amazing hotels, most of which have been exactly what we are best at highlighting, which is luxury hotels! This month alone we have worked with several, and I wanted to be able to tell you a little about each one to help you plan your next trip to Bali! We've had such amazing experiences with them all!
This resort sits right in the middle of the jungle, with the most epic balcony view! Also, these guys win for having the most romantic dinner set up ever... a candlelit dinner literally ON the pool! Total Bachelor/Bachelorette vibes. ;) #couplegoals
This place... a 7 star luxury resort worth every single star! The pools alone are worth the stay! Not to mention, you get up and down the resort from an outdoor cable car instead of an elevator! This place was unreal.
The staff at Alaya were among the nicest and warmest people we've met in Bali! And if you're anything like me, the people who you encounter during your stay can really make or break your experience. Alaya's prime location in the heart of Ubud was so ideal, and the resort sits right on top of a gorgeous rice field-- it was the perfect spot to enjoy a sunrise!
A sister hotel to Alaya Ubud, Alaya Jembawan's staff was just as friendly and kind! However, this property is a wellness retreat-- and a super unintimidating one at that! The restaurant attached to the resort, Herb Library, has some of the most delicious healthy food I've ever tasted-- and is full of herbivore and omnivore options to please anyone's palette!
Our stay here was much needed because it felt like we had an actual 'home' for a couple days! You can rent an entire apartment villa to yourself- complete with a kitchen, pool, and even a garage to park your motorbike! We enjoyed going grocery shopping and cooking our own meals here for a change. And you can't beat staying in the middle of Canggu!
Okay... for ultimate apartment inspo, you absolutely must stay here!! I think I took at least 50 pics of the decor alone because I was just so inspired! If you follow me on Instagram, this is the place with stars on the floor... AH! It was pure interior design magic! Crisp whites, bamboo details, with accents of royal blue, I was in heaven! Not to mention the attached restaurant made the meanest smoothie bowl of all time, in a wooden pineapple bowl of course!
PS-- Stay tuned to read about each of these properties in much more detail on www.leaguetravels.com if you are interested in booking a stay at one ((or all...)) of them!! ;)
3. Mount Agung! So obviously the fact that this volcano-- the largest one Bali!-- has been erupting hasn't been something I am trying to highlight in a positive way, but I do want to update you guys on what has actually been going on in my experience. It is so sad because there are literally countless people that have been forced to evacuate their homes, and their current living situation is not ideal by any means. ((We visited a few of these evacuation camps several weeks ago with Social Impakt to help donate water filters. Read this!)) On top of that, Bali is down over 100 million dollars in tourism because everyone is freaking out and assuming that the whole island must be ((or will soon be)) covered in lava— which is of course not true. The eruptions so far have only affected the red zone areas which are around 10kms from Mount Agung, and all other areas have remained safe. I will say that the airport has had to shut down and cancel flights several times, which is a big deal, due to volcanic ash in the air that would not be safe to fly in. So in this case, it can be dangerous to those who are visiting Bali. But it has just been one of those situations that is terrible and unfortunate for all sides. The media has been portraying Bali way worse than it actually is. The Balinese people are staying calm, despite the chaos that has been portrayed otherwise. However, many of them are being laid off because so many hotels are empty and they cannot afford to run like usual. My heart is mostly hurting for all of those precious people that are STILL evacuated from their homes and are having to live in fear with the looming thought that they have no idea how long they will be displaced for. I cant imagine how hard that is… especially after feeling the weight of the importance of having a home lately. Please pray for these people! **If you are interested in donating to a great organization who is bringing supplies to these people, read more here!**
4. SISTERHOOD!! As most of you guys already know, Zach and I were heavily involved in our church back home in NYC, called Hillsong. Hillsong actually started in Sydney, Australia and has TONS of churches all over the world! We are so thankful to attend Hillsong Bali now, which is so much fun because the church just became a Hillsong campus a few months ago! Something our church does globally is Sisterhood— which is a night to have all the women gather and be together, just the girls. It has always been my favorite, and I was beyond excited to be a part of the very first Sisterhood a couple weeks ago at Hillsong Bali! What a special night! ((Read more about what Sisterhood actually is here!))
5. Island getaways! So like I mentioned in my last Dear Diary post, we attempted to get our visas sorted last month in Kuala Lumpur, and failed pretty miserably, haha. Which meant of course that we had to leave Bali again within 30 days to try and sort it once more! This time we decided to make a full trip of it, instead of just a one day getaway like last time. We are learning from our mistakes guys... which is the most effective way to learn in my opinion! ;) We've been dying to go to Thailand as soon as we landed in Southeast Asia because we've always had such a special place in our hearts for Thailand. It is one of the places we went on our honeymoon and also where we went for our 2 year anniversary! This time we planned to go to Koh Lipe-- a tiny island that we had never even heard of! We were searching the cheapest flights from Singapore to Thailand, and that it how we found it. It is called "the Maldives of Thailand" which completely sold us. Along with Koh Lipe, we also spent some time in Langkawi and Singapore--which is where we currently are now! I will be highlighting this trip in my next post for you guys, because there is just so much to cover! So stay tuned...
Again, I apologize for the delay in my "weekly" update, haha! Trying to learn a new way of life, finding work, and keeping up with our instagrams/blogs has been way more challenging and more time consuming than I thought! We have both learned so much in these pasted two months and we are so excited for more to come! There is so much we miss about our home in NYC, but it's been so much fun creating a new home across the world. Even though that home doesn't have a roof yet... but that will change very soon!
I also wanted to thank you guys so much for following along our journey! Every nice comment and encouragement you guys send to me goes way further than you know. Having support from all over the world is something I do not take lightly and I wish I could personally thank each of you face to face, but since that isn't possible, just please know that I am so so grateful!!
I hope you all are enjoying this holiday season, and wherever you find yourself, with sunshine or snowflakes, I hope you are finding true joy in the little moments this beautiful time of year!