Bali Travel Diary: Part 1

Bali Travel Diary: Part 1

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     I've just gotten home after spending 13 days across the world and warning this post is super long, but I wanted to be sure and cover everything :)  My mom and I journeyed to Bali, Indonesia for my graduation trip!  Neither of us had ever been to Indonesia, or on a flight as long as the 15 hour one from LAX to Hong Kong required to get to Bali.  We did some research ahead of time to get a feel for what we wanted to do and booked our hotels in advance.  

     We flew from Phoenix to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to Hong Kong (which actually ended up being detoured to Seoul, South Korea), and finally flew from Incheon/Seoul to Denpasar, Indonesia.  It was a lot of flying and we were super tired once we arrived.  There's a 16 hour time difference in Bali from Arizona so we ended up going to bed pretty early and waking up early for the majority of our time there.  In Bali they use the Indonesia Rupiah.  The exchange rate is a little confusing, but very good for the US dollar.  We used the app Currency Plus to make converting simpler.  Just be sure to add the currencies you want to be able to convert to while you have data access, then it'll work without any service!  




So wish we could've checked this place out at night, it claims to be the best bar in Sanur!  Doesn't it look crazy fun??

     We started out in Sanur, Bali, which is about 45 minutes from the airport in Denpasar.  It was the cutest little beach area on the Southern peninsula of Bali.  It's well-known for having beautiful sunrises, which we were able to catch between 6am-7am.  It also features a good amount of roof-top gardens that were so beautiful!  Our hotel had one we got to wander around one afternoon.  We came to realize over our time there and in other areas that this area has more of the "old Bali" feel to it.  By that I mean there was less traffic, less tourists, and less shopping, but not at all in a bad way, it just had a more relaxed feel.  We spent a total of three days there.  On our first day we walked the main street outside our hotel where there were a few boutiques and some street vendors selling clothing and souvenirs.  There wasn't a lot I really felt the need to purchase but it was enjoyable to wander.  I will say that even with it just being the two us of I felt very safe walking the street and beach areas, though we weren't out at night during our time there.


   These sandals were so fun to wear in Sanur because they fit right in with the pom-poms and charms!  The vibe was very casual so I was perfectly fine wearing sundresses or jean shorts and tanks like this.

     On especially clear days you can see across the water from Sanur to Nusa Penida Island.  We couldn't resist the urge to go out and see the world famous Manta Point dive and snorkel site.  Our hotel recommended Bali Diving Perdana for a half day boat trip to snorkel two sites on Nusa Penida for $80 each.  We booked for the morning of our second day and it lasted from 8:20am to about 1pm.  A taxi picked us up from our hotel and took us to the shop, where we filled out our waivers and walked straight across the sand to board the boat.  There were four crew members (1 captain, 1 first mate, 1 snorkel guide, 1 dive guide) and two other passengers (1 snorkeler, 1 diver).  From the beach it took about an hour to reach Manta Point, Nusa Penida.  



     While there were other boats around with snorkelers and divers, there was still space to look around without others being in your space.  All equipment was provided, but we used our own masks and snorkels since we'd brought them.  Once in the water there were good sized waves, but it didn't matter because immediately I saw a manta ray.  They are so huge and so gentle, it was surreal to actually be so close to them.  I'd say we saw one about every 5 minutes and they came up very close.  I saw prior to going that the water at Manta Point was very polluted with trash and after snorkeling it I have to say I completely disagree.  I really saw no trash in the area at all and there were tons of fish and deeper down the coral looked to be flourishing.  At one point a manta turned around and saw face to face with me, which was definitely my favorite part of the whole snorkel.  The water was comfortably warm, I just wore a bikini with a swim shirt over it.  Though there were some jellies present, it was quite bearable to be able to see the mantas.  We were served nice box lunches between site 1 and site 2 that consisted of egg sandwiches, an orange, a chocolate bar, and a soda or water.  The second site was a reef about 15 minutes away (as Crystal Bay was too busy).  It was blooming with life, from parrot fish to angel fish and a lot of very healthy corals.  Overall, I would highly recommend a trip with Bali Diving Perdana, I felt safe and the equipment was nice, and if seeing the manta rays isn't on your list it definitely should be!   


  

If you do venture into the water, be sure to pack some reef-friendly sunscreen to do your part to protect them!  This Australian Gold line worked really well for me without any greasy residue.

     On the third day we moved from Sanur to Ubud.  We chose to call the same taxi driver who had picked us up for the snorkeling trip since we enjoyed our ride with him.  He picked us up from our hotel at checkout time and asked if we would like to stop anywhere between Sanur and Ubud.  We didn't really know what there was between the two areas so he suggested we see the Batuan Temple, a luwak coffee plantation called Ubud Mesari Coffee, and the Tegenungan Waterfall.  If you choose to take a taxi between areas I highly, highly suggest asking if they are willing to stop at some places along the way because it will save you money from having to go back later if you did want to see it.  I also found this great site to check the prices of popular attractions so you can plan ahead!  



     We really enjoyed these three stops.  The Batuan Temple had a lot of tourists around, but it was very inexpensive (about $2 in donation each) and they provided a sarong for you to wear.  The temple was incredibly detailed and there were even women making offering baskets in one of the areas.  Ubud Mesari Coffee was interesting because they show you the whole process of how luwak coffee is produced.  In case you aren't familiar; coffee cherries are fed to luwaks, then they are collected once the luwak has processed them, cleaned, and ground into coffee powder.  The luwak's partially ferment the coffee in their intestines, which gives it it's unique flavor.  We were able to sample 13 different teas and coffees, the best part was everything was free unless you opted to buy a full size of one of the products sampled!  There is also a super trendy Bali swing on the grounds that you can get on for five minutes for about $10.  





                                                                   

     The last stop we made was at the Tegenungan waterfall.  It's one of the few waterfalls that isn't located in the mountainous areas of Bali.  It is a huge tourist attraction and was very busy when we went.  There are stairs with various viewing platforms to stop at all the way down to the waterfall, with a swimming area just in front of the falls.  We opted to only go down two levels of stairs since it was super hot out and we were getting tired, but there were plenty of people trekking down to swim.  The entrance to the waterfall area, which also features some souvenir and food shops, was only about $1 each.     



     We arrived to Ubud in the afternoon and it was instantly so different from Sanur.  There were big, gray, puffy clouds out and our hotel faced out to a jungle gorge split by a river.  It looked like a monkey's paradise.  To start the day we went to see the Tegallalang Rice Terraces.  We forgot to think about when the rice was harvested, since the terraces would be brown rather than green then, but fortunately our driver had scouted a field that hadn't been cut yet for us!  It was incredible to see how intricate the terraces were, they're all cut into the ground by hand, yet they all look perfectly even!  


This dress wasn't super practical for sightseeing, but since we just went to the rice terraces I had to break it out!  It was so fun to wear, though I would suggest a brighter color to stand out more against the green.

     We ventured into Ubud center during the afternoon and it poured rain pretty much the whole time.  We brought raincoats and had umbrellas, but mistakenly left them in our hotel room that day.  Even so, we explored the shops all the way down Ubud's main street, Ubud Market, and had yummy fruit smoothies with lunch at Oops Restaurant right across from the market.  The Ubud market was larger than I expected, it was about two blocks in length and a full block in width, with two levels.  It is mostly filled with jewelry, straw bags, clothing, and trinket souvenirs, though we did buy a suitcase to take our souvenirs home in there as well.  Haggling was definitely prevalent at the market, so don't be shy!  


  
     Our second day in Ubud was much sunnier.  We opted for spa treatments at our hotel in the morning, then went back to Ubud center for the afternoon.  We first stopped for a snack (smoothie bowls of course) at Binar Health Food.  Then onto the market, which was much more open since they didn't need to cover their items from rain.  I decided to buy a headband and it was life changing.  The humidity wasn't unbearable anywhere in Bali, but my hair still hated it and I didn't feel like fully doing it every day so using a headband was a great option I hadn't thought of.  If you're planning on going soon, check out these cute options: 1, 2, and 3.    




     We then moved from Ubud to Seminyak.  This is another beachy area, but it is a much more popular area and has a lot more tourists than Sanur did.  This area is known for its beach clubs, so that gives you an idea of the atmosphere.  We had dinner at The Elysian Hotel by their pool (super yummy!), then wandered to Seminyak Square at sunset.  The sunset was beautiful, though the buildings hid some of it, it is on the opposite coast from Sanur, which is why sunsets are visible.  The square had many boutiques and restaurants, along with a vendor area that had already closed up for the evening.  We somehow stumbled upon MadPops Ice Cream shop just passed the main square (I'd been following them on Insta forever and had no idea they had a shop in Seminyak!).  I tried a coconut blueberry cone, and even though it was non-dairy it was still as good as any other ice cream I've had!  Not to mention they have the cutest neon sign to take pictures with.  



   
     The following morning we walked from Seminyak Beach all the way to The W Hotel.  There were lots of joggers, dogs and some surfers out on the beach with us.  After about 2 hours we ventured off the beach for breakfast and found the cutest restaurant on our path back to Seminyak Square called Strawberry Fields.  It is a John Lennon/The Beatles themed restaurant with beautiful chandeliers, hanging plants, velvet couches, and neon lights.  We had the most delicious acai bowls and they even served water with bamboo straws, great for the turtles!!  It's just as chic and trendy as their Instagram makes it seem.  In the daytime Seminyak Square is still very lively, and the vendors market in the middle has lots of fun stuff.  That's where I picked up my new fav purse!



 These style shorts were a must in Seminyak!  So comfy, but fit right in!  





  
    Seminyak is only about 45 minutes from the airport, but there was some traffic the morning we left so it was more like an hour.  I wish we could've stayed longer there since the vibe was so trendy!  I loved the three areas we saw because they gave us a good view on the different aspects of Bali; quiet beach, bustling town, and trendy beach.  If I were to go back I would also add a stop in Canggu since it is really up and coming and seems to be similar to Seminyak.   



Check back for Part 2 of my Bali series soon, I'll be going over all our hotel details!


XOXO, Cierra
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Undergrad Coming to an End

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     Lately I've been reminiscing a lot on my time at the University of Arizona since I graduated about a month ago!  The past four years flew by and I feel like I've grown so much, experienced so many new things & met amazing people.  I was always one of those people that said "I never want to graduate" and it was so true, the thought of leaving Tucson & campus made me so sad!!  But I'm also excited to go out and see what the future has in store for the next four years, too!  The U of A was like it's own little world, want to walk around in a bikini?  No one cares.  Want to have a marg at 10am?  Better hurry, Pete's is probably packed already.  It's a crazy, fun place and honestly the best university in the nation (not that I'm bias or anything).  In honor of graduating, let's take a trip down memory lane and see the top 5 things I learned in the past 4 years (it was so tough to narrow it down from all the things I've learned!).  
                                        


     1.  Choose a major you're really passionate about.  Yes, making money and having a stable career is important, but when you're stressing about an exam thinking about that isn't what's going to get you through it.  College can be really hard at times and pushing yourself for something you don't care about will make it that much worse.  If you aren't sure in the beginning what you want to pursue, it's okay to just take the general requirements for the first year and try out different things to narrow it down! 



     2.  Branch out and do new things.  Join that club you saw a flyer about, go to the free events (usually they have free food anyway), and don't immediately disregard any opportunities because you never know you might end up discovering new interests.  I tried to take advantage of everything I saw and I think it really helped me have a well rounded experience and not feel like I missed anything. 

     3.  Find a way to balance yourself and your schoolwork.  Studying is obviously important, but so are you!  Maybe venture out to the gym and take breaks when you need it.  If a bunch of people are going out to eat, take some time to join them!  Networking is a huge part of college, too and it'll help you create your home on campus! 
       

    4.  You'll find your place eventually.  I know everyone says that and it's so cliche, but it's really true.  I went into U of A thinking you had to be in a Panhellenic sorority or your life was just really boring and I was terrified when I realized I didn't actually like it during recruitment, but I found my people and an organization I love more than I ever expected to!  So just because what you had planned doesn't work out, that doesn't mean something even better won't come in its place.  

     5.  Those four years are some of the fastest and most fun years of your life so take advantage of them, don't just let them go by!  I didn't think it was true until suddenly I was counting down less than 10 days left and realized I was really almost done.  Even with everything I did I still feel like I missed out on things, this just goes to show how much there is to experience in such a short time.  


First day of freshman year, first day of senior year. 

XOXO, Cierra

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Newest Craze: Kombucha Tea

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     Recently I joined the bandwagon and started drinking Kombucha Tea.  If you haven't heard of this it's a drink made by fermenting tea with yeast and bacteria cultures.  I know that might now sound super appealing, I didn't want to try it at first either, but trust me it's worth all the hype.  Just a few of the benefits of drinking Kombucha Tea are improved digestion, immune system stimulation, energy enhancement, weight loss, & cholesterol reduction!  It can do all this because it's packed with probiotics, which are good for your gut, and antioxidants, which are good for your body as a whole.  



     I've tried five brands of Kombucha Tea so far and really liked each of them.  The first was the Health Ade Kombucha Pomegrante (this one made me realize Kombucha isn't that scary!), then the Simple Truth Raspberry Hibiscus Kombucha & their Blueberry Ginger Kombucha, the Bucha Raspberry Pomegranate, and GT's Orginal Kombucha (this one is very plain, but good to mix in smoothies and other juices!).  The fruity ones were delicious, I sip about half a glass each day and they're so refreshing!  

     Since I've been drinking Kombucha each day I really have been noticing some things.  Even if I eat a ton and should feel overfull, after drinking half a glass I feel back to normal.  Plus, I have noticed some weight loss, I thought I was pretty plateaued where I was even with exercise, yet I've lost a little.  I also seem to have more energy throughout the day now, too!  


   
     This week I decided to mix it up a little and try out different ways to use Kombucha.  I took the GT's Original & the Simple Truth Blueberry Ginger and decided to make two smoothies.  The first I made with the original flavor had a frozen banana, a cup of strawberries, and 3/4 cup of the Kombucha.  It was so yummy and light (it's the glass with the orange color).  The second one I made was with the ginger blueberry flavor, it featured a cup of frozen pineapple, half a cup of blueberries, and 3/4 cup of Kombucha.  This one was great because it toned down the ginger flavor from the Kombucha, but still had a little spice (it's the glass with the purple color).  Both of these are so refreshing for summer (maybe even to replace a cocktail??), while still getting all the benefits of the Kombucha Tea, I highly recommend them & trying new mixtures to taste!  




Have you given Kombucha Tea a try yet??

XOXO, Cierra        
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Apartment Shopping

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     Exciting news everyone!! I have signed a lease on my first real, solo apartment! I'm looking forward to decorating and really making this space my own, and of course updating you all on how it comes along. But for now, I thought I would share the things I looked for in this apartment based off what I liked and didn't like in my last apartment. I found all the listings on Zillow and either made tour appointments in advance via email or just walked in and asked for tours.  

     To start, I knew I wanted to be close to my new campus since I've gotten so used to walking to and from classes each day. I don't always want to walk, but I think having the option is really great. I only looked at communities within 10 minutes of driving to my school and actually landed on the one that is about a 10 minutes of walking away, even better! 

     The next thing I focused on was have way more light in this apartment than I did in my last one. It drove me crazy that our living room and kitchen were so dark, even with lamps.  I chose an apartment with a large sliding glass door to the patio and lots of overhead lights to counteract this issues. It is just so much more welcoming when it's brighter.


This is as bright as it would get, windows completely open & lamps on.

     Lastly, I needed a kitchen that I could eat in so that I could put my desk in the dining area. I didn't have a dining area in my last apartment and it was okay because there was a bar with three bar stools to eat at. I was hoping to find a similar option and avoid needing a table. Luckily, all but one apartment I toured had a kitchen counter that worked great as a bar, with the one I chose having a great bar on the outer edge of the kitchen!  

     So far I have purchased quite a few items to fill up this new space, since I'm coming with mostly just bedroom and bathroom stuff. I purchased a three piece patio set for the balcony, an outdoor rug, a new painting, and a couch. I'll give you a hint that the living area will have a blue/gray scheme, the patio a blue/brown scheme, and the bedroom a black/white/gray scheme (yay!). Look out for updates with photos of everything in August when I move in :) If you're currently, or getting ready to apartment hunt I'd recommend making a list of things you absolutely need or want so that you can check them off as a you tour. Then just take a full day and go from place to place looking and comparing until you find somewhere you can see yourself! 


XOXO, Cierra 
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Getting the Perfect Summer Glow

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     I've been so excited to write this post for awhile now because I'm such a fan.  I got my first spray tan a few weeks ago and instantly realized I had seriously been missing out!  I was always so scared to try it because I had only heard horror stories of people turning orange.  I researched it a lot and realized that nowadays it's a lot easier to look natural & honestly I just didn't want to be pale on spring break.  I'm now about to get my third and thought I'd share my experiences :) 


Dress (similar) | Shoes | Bag

     Before I went for the first time I read the instructions on what to do and found I needed to shower, exfoliate & shave before going, but not apply any lotion or deodorant.  I did that all the night before my appointment.  The morning of the tan I wore a strapless bra, thong, running shorts, loose t-shirt & flip flops.  I was really intimidated when I was told to remove my clothes and put the hair net/foot pads on.  I left my thong on just to see the difference in color & the woman who did the spraying came back in.  She put lotion on my hands to keep them from being extra dark and started spraying.  It was awkward at first but this is literally their job, they really don't care about looking at you other than to tan you.  I asked her not to spray my face since my make up is so fair and the whole process took less than 10 minutes.  The spray is a little chilly, but totally bearable.  It's worth noting that bringing a bra was pointless because I didn't put it back on after so I wouldn't get marks.  I waited the recommended 8 hours to shower & I really loved the color it cured to (it was super dark while it was curing and I was really scared but after the shower it was the perfect color!).  I'll be honest that this tan didn't last long because I really didn't keep up with lotioning like I should have, but even with that it stayed about 5 days!

     The second time I went I did all the same things except the morning of the tan, rather than the night before.  I also opted to just wear a t-shirt dress, thong & flip flops this time.  The process was the exact same, except I forgot to mention I didn't want my face done and it was too late once I realized it.  After having my face done now I see it is kind of a lot for me and I'll be sure to opt out of it next time.  This tan was the day before my sorority's senior photos so I really tried to take extra care with it.  I waited the 8 hours required before shower and religiously put on lotion every morning and night to hopefully lengthen the lifetime of the tan.  The new dilemma I had this round was I workout every day when I'm home, an issue I didn't have on spring break.  I researched some more and found that you can definitely still work out with a tan, you just have to care for it a little more.  I've been trying to wear seamless leggings and put extra lotion on under my sports bra before each workout.  I really think lots of lotion has been a game changer because my tan is still super even basically everyone except my armpits, which I knew would be nearly impossible to avoid.  

Before:


 After:

  
     I love the convenience of being able to get a quick tan and not have to plan ahead to lay out.  It also has given me a huge confidence boost, especially when I had to wear a white dress for photos.  I can't wait for my next one in May!  If you're on the fence about it, definitely give it a try, and if you're local visit Beach Bunnie!  But also don't wait to do it right before a huge event if it's your first time, give some leeway in case it doesn't turn out how you'd hoped. 

XOXO, Cierra
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Styling Spring Espadrilles

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     Spring is finally here & with it is all of the fun new trends! My favorite one that's stuck around since last spring is espadrilles.  You literally can't go wrong with them; they're comfy, cute, & come in so many different styles! Plus, right now my favorite espadrille brand Marc Fisher is having a major sale!!!  I have three pairs that are crazy comfortable & so adorable.  This is a super rare sale, 20% off the whole site with code SS18 until April 23rd, so act fast to get your perfect Spring & Summer additions!!!  





     I also thought I would show you all how I've been styling my favorite pairs recently!  I like to mix in distressed denim, patterns, sundresses & graphic tees, along with fun statement earrings to create different looks.  The espadrilles I have are all super neutral so I can add in other trendy things with them and they don't take all the attention.



Top (similar, similar) | Shorts (similar) | Sunnies | Shoes




Top | Jeans | Shoes (similar) | BagSunnies


Shoes | Dress (similar) | Purse | Earrings


Top (similar) | Jeans | Shoes | Earrings

XOXO, Cierra
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Crock Pot BBQ Chicken

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     Crock Pots are my favorite cooking item now that I live on my own.  I don't really enjoy making whole meals from scratch and usually end up with pasta or tuna because it's quick and I'm tired, but Crock Pots make it way easier to cook up something yummy without a lot of effort!  



     This week I made BBQ chicken and it is the best because it literally requires two ingredients.  I added a quarter of a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's Hickory & Brown Sugar BBQ sauce to the Crock Pot, added three frozen chicken breasts (lying as flatly across the bottom as they could), then poured another quarter of the bottle of BBQ sauce over the chicken.  THAT'S IT!!!  I turned it on low and left it cooking from 7pm to 10am the following day.


     After it has fully cooked it should be super easy to pull apart with a fork.  The last thing I do is take all the chicken out and shred it with two forks and separate it out to be refrigerated or frozen (since I only cook for me I usually freeze about 3/4 of it to eat later on).  When I'm ready to eat it I like to add shredded cheese, peas, and black beans, all on little street taco tortillas.  The best part is it makes so much and the chicken lasts about 2 weeks in the fridge and a really long time in the freezer.  Pinterest has a huge assortment of other super easy recipes too if you're in the mood for something else :)    



XOXO, Cierra
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6 Things I Wish I Had Known Before My First Cruise

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     Hi everyone!  This spring break I did something I've never done before, I went on a cruise!  We did the Carnival 4-day Mexico cruise to Catalina Island and Ensenada.  I was super excited to go and relax for a few days, but wasn't really sure what to expect.  My parents had been on a cruise a few years prior and my friend I went with has been on a few as well so they gave me some tips.  I also googled and Pinterested a lot before I left.  However, even the most preparation can't make everything perfect, so here's what I wish I had known before now that I have gone!

1.  Everything you read about over packing is real.  I read so many blogs and my mom told me not to over pack and I really tried not to, yet somehow I brought probably twice as much stuff as I needed.  I only really ended up wearing a few casual outfits, like one nice dinner outfit, pajamas, and one bikini.  Everything else is just wasted space, seriously!


2. You probably won't actually get that lost.  I know for me this was a big concern because the ship seems so large and confusing, but I promise you get the hang of the basic places by the end of the first day.  Even if you do end up lost, just think of it as a nice little tour and maybe you'll find something you didn't know was there. 


3. The drink package is well worth its cost.  I was hesitant to get it, but while I may be bias as a 21 year old college student, I thought that having 15 drinks a day and not having them all already paid for was extremely convenient.  For reference, we both went through all 15 drinks each day.


4. Along with drinks, I was surprised by the food.  It's actually awesome and the selection is incredible.  While I may have eaten the tacos everyday for lunch, don't be afraid to try new things!  I had my first taste of escargot at dinner because why not, and I actually loved it!


5.  Not having phone service is not the worst thing to happen to you.  I thought I would be really upset to not have my phone working for part of the trip, but honestly it was so refreshing.  I spent more time just enjoying being with the people I was with and less time on Insta.  


6. Time goes by super fast.  Before you know it you have all these new friends and know where everything is, and it's the last day.  So make sure to get out and about, meet people, and enjoy your time!
  
XOXO, Cierra
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