Sunset at Tanah Lot, a Bali must-see

We landed in Bali not knowing where each day would take us. Something we found out quickly was Bali public transportation is not well connected or easy to use. What was easiest for us, and very affordable, was to hire a private driver for around $35 for the day and see multiple sites at our own pace. After asking around we quickly found out from locals and other travelers that seeing Tanah Lot at sunset was a must, so we put that on our list for the day!

Tanah Lot is rock formed just off the coast of Bali, Indonesia. At low tide, the temple is most easily accessible. Build on Tanah Lot is a Pura (temple) said to have been from the 16th-century. The temple is built in honor of the Balinese sea gods. 

Tanah Lot is one of seven sea temples that litter the coast of Bali. In addition to Pura Tanah Lot, we were also about to see Pura Batu Bolong. While this temple is not as iconic as Tanah Lot, it was a treat to be able to see another one of the sea temples. 

We made our way down to get a closer look at this beautiful Hindu site. We were not able to go onto the top of the rock to see the actual temple, just onto the stairs. However, before being able to enter the steps of the temple we had remove our shoes and receive a blessing to prepare us to enter the holy site.

The blessing is called a rice blessing. First, water is sprinkled across your forehead with a brush, then rice is placed on it and finally, a plumeria flower place behind your ear. Kevin decided to partake in the blessing.

Brad decided to sit it out to relax and do some people watching. It didn’t take long for Kevin to receive the blessing then walk up the 25-steps and see the ocean go off into the horizon. 

For the next hour, we wondered around the rocky coastline enjoying the views of the ocean. As we wandered around, waited for the sun to go down, we came across the best little spot to enjoy the sunset from. 

As the sun went down we realized why seeing the sun set over Tanah Lot is a must-see when visiting Bali, Indonesia. The way that the sky turned beautiful shades of purple and orange were a real treat. 

An added bonus to where we decided to enjoy the sunset from was there were stagnate pools of ocean water left by high tide which allowed for some of the most beautiful sunset photos. We love the way Tanah Lot and the sunset reflect off the water. We are so glad we listened to other’s advise and made it to see the sunset over Pura Tanah Lot. 

We are two en route for more must-see sites

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Thai Street Food, enough said!

Part of experiencing Thailand is eating the street food! Out of everywhere in the world we have visited and all the travelers we have had the honor to meet, everyone is in agreeance that Thai Street food is the best in the world. From hot and spicy to sweet and savory here is our picks for the best of the best in our Thai street food experience.

1. Tom Yum Goong Noodles

Tom Yum Noodle is a very popular dish in Thailand. With its intense flavor combination of sweet, sour and spicy it’s hard not to love.

2. Pad Thai

Probably the most well-known Thai dish, Pad Thai is a staple of Thai street food. It is a combination of stir fried noodles, fried egg, shrip, firm tofu, tamarind pulp, fish sauce, garlic, pepper, and red chilis poured over flat rice noodles. Often topped with fresh shallots, peanuts, sprouts and banana blossoms.

3. Chicken Stir-Fry in Oyster Sauce

This is a simple chicken and vegetable stir-fry tossed in oyster sauce and served with steamed rice. Anyone could make this is about 3 minutes which makes it the perfect on-the-go street food. 

4. Pineapple Fried Rice

Probably the second most well known Thai dish with expats. This dish is the perfect balance of sweet and savory. Generally this dish is served in a pineapple half filled with rice, shrimp, pineapple, cashews, garlic, onion, red chilis, raisins, egg, and peas that have been tossed in soy or fish sauce. 

5. Khao Pad Gong

Khao pad gong is another simple street food dish. It’s a basic stir-fry with the addition of tomatoes, cucumber and coriander leaves. Ofter served with fresh shirmp you have to open yourself. 

6. Thai Basil Chicken

This is the dish to go for in order to feel the heat! It’s a simple mix of chicken, basil, shallots, garlic and fresh cut red chilis tossed in a fish sauce and served with steamed rice. The fresh cut red chilis are everything you want for a powerful punch of intensity.

7. Mango Sticky Rice

At first we didn’t know what we were going to get when we heard we had to try “Mango Stick Rice.” However, this Thai dessert is so delicious in every bite. It is fresh cut mangos eaten with sticky rice topped with coconut milk and sometimes rice crispy or toasted sesame seed.

8. Thai Rolled Ice Cream

Ever since we saw a video of someone making Thai tolled ice cream, we knew we had to find some!  It is milk with you choice of flavors and fillings stirred and chopped with metal spatulas on a frozen slab. It is then spread into a thin sheet and scrapped off into rolls and packed into a cup. It was then topped with whipped cream, more goodies, and sauce. Delicious! 

9. Coconut Ice Cream

This is exactly what it sounds like! It’s the perfect blend of cream and coconut ice cream served in a coconut half and drizzeled with chocolate sauce and coconuts. 

10. Pint of Chang Beer

No street food list would be completed without enjoying a golden pint of Chang beer. It’s cheap, good and cleaner than the water, so drink up! Cheers!

We are two en route for more enjoying more of the worlds best street food

Discovering the Ancient Ruins of Polonnaruwa

Sri Lanka has been full of surprises. It was never on our “must visit” list of countries. However, when taking a gap year to see the world we knew we would have to be open to going where the cheap flights, busses, boats, trains or cars would take us. We are so glad that one of those flights landed us on this special tear-drop shaped island off the Southern coast of India. 

One of the major highlights of our trip to Sri Lanka was getting to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Polonnaruwa, we know, it’s a mouth full to try and say. Polonnaruwa is a city in the North Center Province of Sri Lanka. At one point, like many other cities in Sri Lanka, it was the capital of the country. In fact, it is the second most ancient capital. Today it is a mass of ruins crawling with cute little monkeys and travelers like us exploring the past. 

We decided the best way to explore this city was by our favorite means of transportation, the bicycle. We would recommend this. For only 300 lkr per person (about $2 USD) we set off to explore the ruins…or so we thought. At the entrance we were turned away because we did not have a ticket. It turns out that you have the by the tickets from the Archeological Museum 1km back into town. After shelling out 3750 lkr ($25 USD) each, we biked back to the entrance and started to discover the 5 areas of this wonderful ancient site. 

1. The Royal Palace Grounds

This part of the city contains the Royal Palace, Council Chamber and the Kumara Pakuna (bathing pool). They say first impressions are all you get and we were wowed. 

The Royal Palace was thought to have been a 7-story high palace in it’s time but now only stands as a three story ruin. Records saw there use to be up to 1000 rooms in this grand palace. A fantastic way to start our exploring.

The Council Chamber was where the King’s throne use to be. As you walk the few flights of stairs you are greeted by two stunning carved lions.  

We would not suggest taking a dip in the stagnant bathing pool, however, it was awesome to see the remnants of how this civilization would gather in communal bathing. 

2. Quadrangle 

The Quadrangle was one of our favorites. The entire area is sacred ground so we had to remove our shoes and hats. Shoulders and knees are not supposed to be shown either, so out of respect, people will wrap a scarf around their waist or throw a shawl over their shoulders. Sri Lanka is a hot country and the ground you are walking on is stone and gravel, so at times we would need to find a shaded spot to cool our feet off. 

The vatadage in the Quadrangle is an 18 meter round relic house. Their are four entrances that lead to the central chamber which houses four Buddha statues. At the base of the northern entrance is a moonstone that is the best in all of Polonnaruwa.

The Thuparama Image House is one of the few buildings where you can see a roof still intact. This building has survived for over 900 years and takes some maintenance to keep up appearances. 

Atadage Dalada Maligaya is where the Tooth Relic of the Buddha was kept in Polonnaruwa. This would have been a very sacred place where people would have come to worship and meditate. The Velikkara pillar of inscription tells the story of protection of the Relic of the Tooth. 

Sathmahal Prasadaya is the most popular square shaped stupa in all of Sri Lanka. It’s seven-stories high and is a defining structure in the Quadrangle. 

Nissanka Latha Mandapaya is a building featuring fine stone carved pillars shaped like a stork topped with a lotus flower. They are a fun and unique feature in Polonnaruwa. 

Gal Potha is the “Stone Book” which tells of King Nissanka Malla (1187-1196). It describes his life as the ruling king and why he was eligible to be king of Sri Lanka. The stone is 26’10” x 4’7″ and weighs around 25 tons. Pictures is the side showing a beautiful carving of two elephants showering the Hindu goddess Lakshmi. 

3. The Outskirts

These few sites were a little off the beaten path but we had bikes so it was not a problem hitting all the spots. 

Shiva Devale No. 2 is the oldest structure in Polonnaruwa and is virtually unchanged from when it was constructed.

Manik Vehera is one of the oldest stupas (a domed shaped structure erected as a Buddhist shrine) in the ancient city. It is small compared to the other stupas in Polonnaruwa but still packs a punch. 

The Pabalu Vehera stupa is one of mystery. It is unknown when and who built this unique shaped building. Traditionally stupas have only four image houses surrounding them, however, Pabalu has nine.

4. Northern City

The largest area in Polonnaruwa is the Northern City. Here is where you will find notable sites such as Rankoth Vehera, Kiri Vehara, Alahana Pirivena, and Lankatilaka temple.

Ronkoth Vehera is huge. It’s a 54 meter high stupa whos name translates to “Golden Pinnacle Stupa.” It is one of the most iconic stupas in Polonnaruwa.

Lankatilake temple houses a colossus size carving of the buddha. The power of it’s grand scale is matched by the remaining walls surrounding the sacred ground. Across are the monastic ruins of Alahana Pirivena where the monks would have lived.

Kiri Vehera, or “the milk stupa,” is only 30 meters tall but is hundreds of years older than the more recognized Rankoth Vehera. It is estimated to be from the 6th century BC. 

5. Gal Vihara

The final area of the ancient royal ruins of Polonnaruwa was a site to be seen.

Gal Vihara is a buddhist rock temple with four buddhas carved from a single piece of granite rock. It is considered the best example of carvings from it’s time. 

Not knowing what to expect as we rode the bus from Dambulla to Polonnaruwa turned out to be an awe inspiring experience. Even though the day was scalding hot and at times we felt exhausted by the sun, we had a fantastic time in Polonnaruwa. 

We are two en route to more ancient discoveries

Adventure to Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher

We started our journey waking up at 5:45am to get ready and head out the door by 6:15. Its times like this where we are glad to have perfected the “shower and go” routine. After walking 20 minutes to St. Andrew’s Church in Dublin to catch our coach we departed at 6:40am. 

On the way to the cliffs we passed by a large field where they filmed the scene in Braveheart where the Irish army runs down and join the Scotts! Where’s the blue and white face paint when you need it. As we continued or trek onward we had a proper Irish soundtrack in the background, fiddles, flutes and all. The tone for the day was set. 

A few hours later we made it to the Cliffs of Moher! It was a spectacular day with clear blue skies and shining sun. A day like this is a rarity in Ireland and one we would relish in. Upon arrival we set off on a 45 minute hike along the cliffs. 

  The view we were welcomed to as we waled up to the Cliffs of Moher
The view we were welcomed to as we waled up to the Cliffs of Moher
  The view we were welcomed to as we waled up to the Cliffs of Moher
The view we were welcomed to as we waled up to the Cliffs of Moher

The first stop on our hike was O’Brien’s Tower. It was built in 1835 as an impressive tea house. It is now the tallest point on the cliffs and is used as an observation tower. Near here the cliffs rise around 214 meters (702 ft.)

  O'Brien's Tower
O’Brien’s Tower

After a quick stop at the tower we continued on our hike. At some points we were hiking right along the edge of the Cliffs. Every now and then our breath was taken away with those picture perfect moments. 

 Brad hiking along the edge. 
Brad hiking along the edge. 
 Views as we hiked
Views as we hiked
 Came across this on our hike
Came across this on our hike
 Look how tiny those people are in the distant on the edge
Look how tiny those people are in the distant on the edge

The path was a slick and muddy so we both got a little mud on our hands, down the legs of our pants, and a good amount on our shoes. They say not to get too close to the edge because the cliffs can come crashing down, but we couldn’t resist. 

 Kevin dangling his feet over the edge
Kevin dangling his feet over the edge
 You wouldn't want to fall off the cliffs 
You wouldn’t want to fall off the cliffs 

Even with a slip here and there, we had such a blast. We made sure to take our time and enjoy the scenery. The end of our hike came to a crux with a view we will never forget.  

 The day was so clear you could even see the Aran Islands off in the distance. 
The day was so clear you could even see the Aran Islands off in the distance. 

After spending some time relaxing with a great view, basking in the sun, and listening to the waves crash against the cliffs, we made our way back to the start. It was time to hop on the coach and head off for more sightseeing. 

We are two en route for more Irish adventures.

5 Ways We Prevent Homesickness

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One of the fears of being abroad for a year is coming down with a bad case of homesickness. Prior to us leaving for our world tour we had not spent much more than 2-weeks away from home at one time, which really isn’t enough time to get homesick. However, when Kevin was 15 he spent a month in Germany visiting family and remembered at about week three he started to miss home. Well, lucky for us we surpassed three weeks and now start our third month homesick free. Here are five things we find ourselves doing often that we believe are preventing us from catching the homesick bug.

1. Texting

Before we left our home in Dallas, we changed our cell phone plans to Google Fi which offers free texting in over 130 countries around the world. It’s great not worrying about being charged every time we want to send a text to loved ones. It is the quickest and easiest way for us to connect. We just have to remember which time zone we are in.

2. Video & Voice Chats

Sometimes texting doesn’t cut it and we turn to Skype. Skype allows us to have voice and video calls for free over WiFi and allows for a good excuse to stop for a cup of coffee when we see a “free WiFi” sign in the window. There is nothing like hearing Mom and Dad’s voice or laughing with a friend. Skype has become essential for scheduling video dates with our friends and family.

3. Social Media

We do not know about you, but sometimes we love taking some time to scroll through social media. Whether it is Facebook stocking our besties or mindlessly reading news articles of what is happening back home, social media has kept home connected to us and us to home, so keep sharing photos of your lunch, we enjoy seeing it.

4. Meeting Friends Along the Way

While texting, talking, and video chatting with friends and family is good prevention for homesickness, there is no better cure than a hug from one of them in person. Being travel bugs ourselves it is only natural that we have other travel loving buddies. Along the way it has been nice to meet up with friends from back home and make new memories together abroad.

5. Each Other  

We decided to take this trip together. Not only is this a trip to see the world, it is a journey of discovery. We will have our moments of happiness and joy, we will have our moments of fear and frustration, and we will have our moments of relaxation and quiet. Whatever those moments may be we must always remember that as long as we have each other we are home. To us, this is the most important prevention to homesickness. Home is where we are when we are together, regardless of where that might be.

We are two en route for a homesick free journey

Our Copenhagen Pride featured on Brazilian Blog!

We are so honored to share our experience at Copenhagen Pride with Brazil’s number one gay travel blog, Viaja Bi! Click here to read all about our fun time! 

Here is a link to the English google translated version for those of you, like us, who can’t speak Portuguese.