After celebrating Christmas and New Year’s in Bali, we headed to the island of Flores for a 2-week trip. Highlights included watching sunrise over the three colorful lakes of Mt. Kelimutu, exploring the unique villages of Bajawa, and getting up close and personal with Komodo dragons on an epic boat trip. Back in Bali we had a few visitors, which meant renting villas and partying on the beach.
It being Rachel’s birthday month, this one was obviously focused on her. The fact that it was her Dirty 30 meant we had to step it up a bit as well. Having a bunch of friends on the island during Chinese New Year allowed me to throw a huge surprise party for her at a beautiful villa out in Ubud. In the same month, we joined in the traditional Balinese holiday of Galungan and I was invited to a cremation ceremony in my teacher’s village. Yet another visitor came at the end of the month, so we got a beautiful place in Canggu and celebrated Rachel’s actual birthday.
We said goodbye to the village house and moved into a studio in Sanur just in time to take part in Nyepi, the Balinese New Year. There was the melasti ceremony on the beach, the wild ogoh-ogoh competition, and the reflective day of silence. Rachel’s folks also came to visit, so we took them on a tour of the island staying in three different towns. At the end of the month, we volunteered at the Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud.
Bali is great and all, but you can’t live in Indonesia and not explore other islands. We took a 10-day trip to Lombok which included the Burning Island festival on Gili Air, climbing Mt. Rinjani on a 3-day trek, and exploring Kuta (the good one) and its beautiful beaches. Other than going to class and working at home, we spent our free time checking off the few places in Bali we hadn’t seen yet.
Our time in Bali wound down in an exciting way. First, we took an east coast road trip, watching a surf competition at Kommune and spending a few days in Amed. My mom and sisters came to visit, so we took them to stay in three incredible villas in Seminyak, Ubud, and Jimbaran. The flight from hell brought us home, where we volunteered at Summer Camp Music Festival despite the worst jet-lag we’ve ever had.
Want to see what half a year in Indonesia looks like? Check out our highlight reel of the first half of 2016:
Most of June was spent staying with my family in Michigan. Rachel had started working with VIPKID, and she also got incredibly sick after our awful trip and the festival. While she suffered at home, I got to hang out with friends, go to soccer games, and stay up late. I know – great husband, right? We kicked off our epic month of music by seeing Phish at Wrigley Field and Deer Creek.
We made our way south in time for my birthday to see Dark Star Orchestra at an Asheville brewery. Rachel’s brother had his wedding the next week in Johnson City, and a week later we were off to volunteer at Lockn’ in Virginia. It was the best festival we had been to in a long time, and one of the highlights of our busy year.
The month of music was so much fun, we decided to have an encore. From Lockn’, we made our way out to Denver to catch Phish’s legendary 3-night run at Dick’s. We stuck around during the week and hung out with friends, then saw STS9 play two nights at Red Rocks to wind it down. The end of the month saw us in Chicago for a friend’s wedding, which was one helluva good time.
This month saw a new experience for the Gypsies, as we spent two weeks working on a farm in the Middle of Nowhere, Oregon. We lived in a trailer with a friend and had no bathrooms or hot water. It poured rain and was abnormally cold. And yet it was somehow just fine. After another short visit in Bend, it was back to Vegas (twice in a year!) for the 4-night Phish Halloween run. The Biscuits were also in town, making it one for the books.
This was a much needed quiet month for us. The first half was spent in Michigan, while the latter had us move down to TN/NC. We both worked, got a gym membership, and visited friends and family. It was our first Thanksgiving at home since 2009, so that was pretty nice. Of course, we started planning our next adventure.
After Rachel finished her first successful contract and decided to renew, I jumped on board and signed up with VIPKID as well. We were holed up in Asheville for the month, which was actually really nice. Christmas with her family was great, and we then headed to Atlanta to end the year with the Disco Biscuits for three nights.