boat-H

Three Perfect Days in Borneo

Borneo is home to more species than anywhere else in the world. Armed with that piece of knowledge and little else, my husband and I traveled from Guam to Hong Kong to Bali then to Borneo to explore this biological hothouse for ourselves.

orangutan-male-sit-H

Tanjung Puting National Park, Borneo

Day two on the klotok allowed for two hikes to feeding sites. We ventured to the heart of Tanjung Puting, Camp Leakey, another half-mile walk through the singing rainforest. A large female orangutan named Siswi was tucked under a raised house in near slumber.

santi-mandala-jess-waterfall-smile-V

Review: Santi Mandala Villa & Spa, Bali

Santi Mandala Villa & Spa was nothing short of magical. For $100/night we had a private villa with exotic outdoor bathroom at this quiet resort in Ubud, Bali. There’s nothing as serene as sitting on your private deck gazing at a waterfall and watching the birds flitter by. The grounds are lush, hilly, and floral with lots of stone paths to explore on your spa day in, which you’ll need after pounding the pavement for a day or two. The excellent breakfast spread included pink crepes and a pool view.

monkey-forest-baby-close-H

Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, Bali

Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is exactly what it sounds like — a nature reserve and temple complex with more than 340 long-tailed macaques roaming freely. These entertaining socialites do not hesitate to climb on, steal from, and perch from visitors brave enough to interact with them. We thought all our junk was bolted down, but alas a furry, klepto-maniacal macaque lifted some trash peeking from our bag.

rice-terrace-H

Tips for Enjoying Blissful Bali

It’s hard not to describe Bali in hyperbolic terms like “paradise” and for good reason. One of 17,000 islands in Indonesia, this home of four million people is only 90 miles (east to west) by 50 miles (north to south) but infused with ornate temples, picturesque rice fields, and fresh organic food. Eighty percent of visitors…

lake-dragon-H

Hot Springs, Bali

Contrast the fury with which Balinese drive to the languid charm of terraced rice fields, blackened temples, and impromptu gardens. After our sojourn up the enchanting mountain, I was irresistibly draw down. A steep descent through charcoaled lava fields was rewarded with this stunning lake view and a spontaneous dip in hot springs, eh hem, sans swim suit (no photographic evidence below). Hey, that’s why I always bring a scarf when I travel.

temple-women-H

Bali Rice Fields / Temple

Not for the faint of heart or flimsy of shoe, a visit to the idyllic Gunung Kawi temple in Tampaksiring requires descending nearly 400 steps, which is fine until you realize there’s no way out but back up. As Balinese never miss a merchandising opportunity, the steps down to the temple are lined with fierce hawkers (watch out for the women) of sarongs, jewelry, and all the standard Balinese bric-a-brac. Whatever you do, don’t buy until you’re almost out of the place.