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Next Destination: Freedom of Choice

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Next Destination: Freedom of Choice

So, what the heck are we doin’ out here? We have spent six months in South East Asia and are getting questions like, "Are you ever going to move on?" and "Where to next?"

Well, what we are really doing out here is getting PUMPED! We have big news: We are flying home y’all!

t-minus 10 days from boarding a plane and heading home!

OW OWWW! We couldn’t be more excited!

Our big day is rapidly approaching. Ironically, it also marks one year (to the day) since we hopped on our first flight leaving the Continental US on our #nuventures. We had already been road tripping four months at that point, but it was our first leg flying over sea water and banking out into the world.

We were no longer able to just drive the 24 hours home if we wanted. Terror and excitement had a good ol’ time wrastlin’ inside of me.

One year later on November 2, we will be boarding a flight from Thailand back to the States with  drastically different visions, goals and dreams than what we originally set out with.

Right now, we are at the end of a two month rental agreement in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

What are we doing staying two months in one spot? Shouldn’t we be going balls to the walls seeing every temple,  jungle, monkey and elephant we can in the countries we haven’t set foot in yet? We still have loads to do!

Pai, Thailand

Pai, Thailand

Well, our goals have changed.

After 15 months out in the world, our #nuventures have been stretching, growing and aiming for something new: Sustaining a lifestyle of freedom by working while we travel.

A year ago, I would never have anticipated the story I’m about to share with you. We have been evolving over each season we have found ourselves in.

Come on, sit down. Let’s have a chat and I’ll tell you about it.

SEASON 1: TRAVEL TIL EVERY LAST PENNY IS SPENT

We slid into the front seats of our Honda Accord at 9:16 am on June 26, 2014. We slammed the doors shut and looked at each other. We both took a deep breath. This was it.

Adam started the car and we rolled out. When we turned the corner onto Red Rock Ave, we both glanced in the rear view mirror to look one last time. Leaving our freshly painted hilltop cottage for our renter, we only had one thought in mind. We were embarking on our dream.

Our dream of leaving everything; our jobs, our home, our friends and family, temporarily. We were setting out to travel the world. We intended to be gone for two years (I secretly hoped I could survive six months).

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

We were excited to be free and to let the wind carry us to every corner of the world.

Our motivation came from seeing little, diapered babes on our horizon after a series of events. We both felt the pull from deep down. Our response may shock you, but we bolted in the other direction. Adam and I both felt our hearts yelling “Go, go, go! We gotta travel now or never!”

We only expected to return to the States when every last penny in our “travel fund” had been spent or we were pregnant (no, no baby Nubern, yet). We even planned ahead for when we would return without jobs. We have six months worth of “emergency funds” set aside just in case.

Well, our endurance failed us only a few months in.

SEASON 2: traveling is not our only passion

Let’s sprint ahead to month seven or eight in New Zealand.

We were doing one of two things constantly. We were either driving cross country in our camper/minivan Bernie or humping our packs up the Southern Alps for hours, days and weeks at a time.

Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand

Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand

We were mastering new physical feats by kicking our tails into major shape. However, our minds were on vacay and were roaming freely.

On these journeys into New Zealand’s backcountry, we constantly dreamed. We dreamed of the future. We dreamed up new ideas; new business ventures, how to make passive income, how to make more time for family, writing a book, and so many more ideas we were just pocketing away.

With each new idea stuffed away, our pockets started bulging. The seams holding them all in were growing thin. Finally, it became painful. We couldn’t suppress and tuck away any longer. We had to do something about these ideas!

We realized we were starving other pieces of who we are. Our imagination and creativity were getting fidgity and were itching to be used!

It was perfect timing, too. Our feet, calves and tails were exhausted, but our minds and hands were ready to get dirty and work towards something. Anything!

SEASON 3: Dipped our toes in TO TRAVEL & WORK

Whew. This feels so good to say out loud and finally confess. Traveling is not our only passion. We have so many other curiosities we want to question and explore.

Turns out, we can only handle straight travel for a few months. We had too many ideas. We saw so much potential in ourselves. There was so much to do!

Now, let’s take it back a step. Before we even left Colorado Springs, seeds of “another way” had been imprinted on our minds. Every night Adam would sit on the couch and research other bloggers traveling long term to learn their ways. While researching, Adam ran across “digital nomads.” Digital nomads are these crazies traveling the world while they work from their laptops.

At first we were amazed by these people living the real dream and making it happen. However, this concept didn’t fit our mold. We were so focused on the freedom from work, we filed the thought away and kept moving. However, the idea of working while you travel had been planted in our brains and kept nagging us on our tramps in New Zealand. Our dreams and thoughts continually flowed to one question: “How could we make it happen?”

We are on the journey to making it happen. It’s been a slow evolution through dipping our toes in and testing the waters.

FIRST, I started our trip working from the passenger seat

Blessing is the only word that can describe this part of the story. When I decided to leave my job in the Springs, I was invited to work three more months from my laptop on the road while my employer interviewed folks to fill my position. This was my first taste of working and traveling. We had to plan ahead for coffee shop time, but it was totally doable.

SECONd, NUVENTURE CPA was born

While my work was coming to an end, Adam’s was ramping up. He was already working as an accountant for a buddy that had started a new company. While we were in our first month of travel in Maine, a second client called, then a third was knocking on the door and boom: Nuventure CPA was born.

I remember driving through a canyon on our US roadtrip and turned to Adam seeing the dark grey walls flying behind him. “Why are you doing this?” I asked him. I was confused because we had saved up for five years for the freedom to not work and just travel. He was deviating from the plan. He simply replied, “Why not? If I’m going to try my own thing, this is the best time.”

There you have it. I can’t argue with that. Honestly, I have been blown away and admire Adam’s dedication, determination and innovation on his own journey of entrepreneurship.

THIRD, I finally threw myself out there, too

I took a bit longer to want to give the long-term work/travel lifestyle a full go. I foresaw the future of being stressed to the max working and hopefully juggling little ones. While in New Zealand, I was a free bird; no work, no deadlines, no commitments and… nothing to do (except hike). I loved it for the first few months, but like I said I started getting antsy. I was even hanging out in Burger King’s to get solid wifi to watch YouTube videos to learn how to knit. Turns out, I’m not going to be an etsy prodigy banking it from knitting.  Onward ho' to my next curiosity.

That's about as far as I can get! Ha! Purakaunui Bay, New Zealand

That's about as far as I can get! Ha! Purakaunui Bay, New Zealand

I saw potential for a travel company to improve their social media presence. I contemplated connecting with them for over a month. I finally went for it. I emailed them and was hired.

All of a sudden, Adam and I were both working part time and designating more WiFi time at Burger King (our second home in New Zealand). It didn’t take long for our excitement to be channeled into, “How do we make traveling while we work a sustainable lifestyle?”

From just dipping our toes in little by little, we started turning to the digital nomads we knew seeking their advice on how to solve our wifi problems, cloud storage solutions, sim card questions, and other frustrations we hadn’t thought about, yet. These digital nomads became inspiration for us. If they could do it, we had to give it a go, too.

SEASON 4: Revelation

Moving onto to South East Asia: Ubud, Bali to be exact.

Ubud, Bali

Ubud, Bali

We were spending more and more time each day diving into our projects and other curiosities instead of solely exploring our new location.

However, we were maintaining our travel schedule of continuing on to a new place every few days. We just couldn’t throw the internal pressure and mentality of “We have to see everything we can! We are only in South East Asia once!”

We became frantic. We were spending hours and hours researching where to go next, what to do next and how to do it because that is what we were supposed to do: keep traveling, keep seeing. But, with diverting our priorities to different interests, we didn’t have much time to fully explore our current location.

Forking banana pancakes during breakfast one morning it hit me- BAM! Revelation! We were the ones causing our own frantic states.

We had changed our goals and priorities to now invest the time to make this lifestyle sustainable. However, we hadn’t adjusted our timeline to follow suit. What was causing us so much stress was our original two year timeline.

By working hard to build our skills from our laptops, we no longer needed the two year timeline. We were now pursuing a dream of travel being our forever lifestyle by making money as we go.

Now that I really think about it, traveling forever is not our true destination. Freedom of choice is our ultimate destination. Whether we want to travel forever, settle forever or have a constant mix, we have the freedom to make the decision for ourselves.

Ubud, Bali

Ubud, Bali

With all this said, our perspective on returning home had changed. We didn’t see ourselves settling down and needing to find jobs right away. When we head home to the States, we will continue doing what we are doing right now: working from our laptops on our current projects and thinking creatively on how to start new ideas.

SEASON 5: ALL IN

Sitting across from each other with our banana pancakes, we both looked at each other again and took a deep breath. This was it. We officially decided to scrap our “two year timeline.”

We're all in! Koh Tao, Thailand

We're all in! Koh Tao, Thailand

We were officially giving the “work and travel” lifestyle a full, concentrated effort.

As of today, Adam is working with several clients as a Certified Public Accountant as the owner of Nuventure CPA. I am currently writing a book, travel writing and managing social media communities.

To set these solid foundations, we are hunkered down in Chiang Mai, Thailand investing hard work and time on our projects until we return home.

SEASON 6: THIS IS HARD!

We are going to be honest with you. No, we aren’t covering our expenses, yet. We are on the way, though!

What we have learned along our journey, is why not? Why not give it a go? We have a curiosity in this type of lifestyle, so we have to try. We know we may discover that this is not what we expected or we don’t want this lifestyle or certain aspects that come along with it. That’s okay. For now, we have to explore our curiosity and see for ourselves.

What’s encouraging is Buddha says “It’s better to travel well than to arrive.” Now, we aren’t just traveling to new parts of the globe. We are on a journey seeking a new lifestyle and learning so much about new fields of work, new ideas, and ourselves.

We are in for a big challenge! It has been hard work. Every day we are walking into new scenarios we have never encountered before. Ey! I have never published a book before. How do you even do that? Just wait, soon, I will have some insight to provide.

The first print of the book It's actually a physical thing, not just a digital file in Word!

The first print of the book It's actually a physical thing, not just a digital file in Word!

We have quickly  come to admire and respect all small business owners and entrepreneurs. It’s a whole ‘nother ballgame when you strike out to do things on your own and by yourself. You can’t just swing by a co-workers desk to ask a quick question any more. On a positive, this has given us more incentive to network and reach out to the experts.

It seems like we have more frustrations than success right now. When we take a step back, we find ourselves excited to get up each day and eager to solve these obstacles and unknowns. We are excited to solve our frustrations because we see the bigger goal coming in the future: Freedom. We have a vision and are working toward it. That’s a cool place to be.

The big question: Is this it for #nuventures?

Hang En, Vietnam

Hang En, Vietnam

No way, Jose! We see returning to the States as another leg of our journey.

What makes this leg so much sweeter is reuniting with our family and friends in real time. It will be so nice to give bear hugs at the door and have conversations without the guaranteed, “Hello? Hello? Are you there? Yeah, I can hear you now. I don’t know what happened to the connection. Oh, no. Hello? Hello? Are you there?”

so, What’s next?

A glamping we will go! It’s camper van time, y’all!

We hope for a proper camper this time. A toilet and shower would be a great addition!

We hope for a proper camper this time. A toilet and shower would be a great addition!

We can’t wait to shout #homeiswhereyouparkit as we honk our horn and swing into your driveway! I can just imagine Betty Joe's annoyed look through her blinds from next door with our grand entrance.

Here is our tentative US road trip schedule:

  • 1st stop: Minnesota: Early November
  • 2nd stop: Georgia: Mid- November-December
  • 3rd stop: Colorado: January-mid February

Starting mid-February through April we are crossing the US on a road trip with our pals KimblesinBits. They left everything in Chicago to travel the world, too!

We are so PUMPED to see you on U.S. soil!

We are so PUMPED to see you on U.S. soil!

We are really looking forward to shooting the breeze and chatting with you around the kitchen table. We do miss a good ol' kitchen table. It's been a while!

We have no idea what it will be like coming home. We are preparing for a bit of culture shock.

Any words of wisdom as we RETURN to the U.S.?

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Never Did I Ever Expect I Would Ever Do This

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Never Did I Ever Expect I Would Ever Do This

20141205_180624-e1443483402663.jpg

But, I did.

There we sat in a grimy bus station on navy blue plastic chairs. The chairs were all connected in rows like ones you would expect to see in any government office’s waiting room. We sat in the second row staring at a blank white wall well worn with scuffmarks from countless travelers coming through. The only fixture on the wall was a tiny clock up to the left.

With my mind on the clock, I realized it was noon. We were sitting there waiting to start a six hour-long episode of transport, and we hadn’t had lunch yet. We would be hopping from a bus to a boat to another bus to reach Cat Ba Island, Vietnam. From much experience, we have learned in South East Asia the ticket counter folks always tell you the journey will be a certain amount of time, but you should always take the estimated time with a grain of salt. You just never know how long it will actually take you to get to your destination. You can definitely bet you won’t be early!

Well, I knew we were guaranteed at least six hours of transport and we had no idea about our access to any food in the coming hours. I have learned being without snacks is not a good idea. Our hangry monsters are sure to sprout their awful heads!

We had twenty minutes before the bus was to depart, so I set off on a mission: food.

The bus station

The bus station

I squeezed between several men lounging on both sides of the front door to the waiting room. The door opened out into the bus station’s chaotic entry off the main road. Huge tourist buses rolled in one after another. Taxis came swooping in dropping people off, motorbikes were everywhere and at least 30 taxi drivers in light blue shirts were sprinting around lining up for every bus yelling, “TAXI! TAXI! TAXI! TAXI!”

To stay on the outskirts of the chaos, I followed the building to the left and found a tiny convenience store. The shelves were packed solid from the ceiling to the floor with plastic packages of manufactured food; chips, instant noodles, candy, etc. Essentially, just junk. Wincing, I grabbed the best option of chips: Hot Chilli Squid Flavor. "Oh, yum." Then, I noticed cups of popcorn hanging in the madness to my right. “Huh. Well, popcorn sounds more appealing and is healthier,” I thought. My brain didn’t listen to my hesitation when I felt the dust on the container cup. I even stopped and took a second to try to feel if the popcorn was hard through the plastic. I knew I was making the wrong decision, but I was trying to think positive. As I was paying, I thought, “I will probably regret this.”

I squeezed back through the lounging men at the front door to the waiting room feeling like I failed in my mission. I glanced up and saw Adam laughing at me. This further affirmed my failure. He already knew while I was still 20 feet away I had made a terrible decision with the popcorn. “Want some?” I asked. He declined with a shake of his head still chuckling.

I rolled back the plastic and the stale air escaped from the cup. Seeing, feeling and smelling all these warning signs, I still moved forward and popped a piece of popcorn into my mouth. Just as expected: Styrofoam taste and texture. Glancing around the cup, I couldn’t find an expiration date. Most likely, the popcorn was a year overdue. Great.

So this is where packing popcorn comes from!

So this is where packing popcorn comes from!

Without seeing a trashcan, I set the cup down under the seat in front of me. Not wanting to see anything go to waste, Adam grabbed the cup and began offering the Styrofoam to the travelers behind us on the third row of seats. They weren’t dumb. He even asked the locals behind the ticket counter. No takers. I was the sucker. Dang it.

I put my hands on the arms of the plastic seat as if to make a statement to myself. I stood up again, pulled up my big girl pants and thought, “Okay, I gotta find something.” I was determined this time. I squeezed through the same lounging men in the doorway for the third time and stepped out into the chaotic world of buses, motorbikes, taxis, and taxi drivers. Honk! Honk! “Taxi! Taxi! Taxi!”

My mission became finding a tiny Vietnamese lady. “Where is she? I know she has to be here.” Tiny, powerhouse, beautiful, little ladies in Vietnam walk the streets carrying their own restaurant on their shoulders.

And fruit markets!

And fruit markets!

So impressive!

So impressive!

When these ladies find a customer, they set up shop right on the sidewalk and prepare an egg sandwich or other snacks. You can find these women with five or six people circling her on tiny plastic chairs. These ladies are brilliant and have figured it out. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Find the customers where they are.

We loved these little ladies. Many days we had our eyes peeled for them for lunch or dinner!

We loved these little ladies. Many days we had our eyes peeled for them for lunch or dinner!

Her sidewalk kitchen!

Her sidewalk kitchen!

Knowing a little lady was my only hope for a substantial meal here, I scanned the edges of the bus station. “Where is she? No. I don’t see her.” I found a break in the buses, taxis and taxi drivers and ran across the bus station toward the entrance to scan the other nooks and crannies.

While I was scanning and looking, men started yelling at me, “Motorbike! Motorbike!” After months in South East Asia, you get yelled at all the time, so the yelling becomes background noise like the television becomes the comfortable background at home. It didn’t register they were yelling at me, until two men grabbed my arms. “MOTORBIKE! MOTORBIKE!” they yelled in my face.

Oh, no you didn’t!” A new side of me was immediately unleashed. “Don’t you dare touch me!” I yanked my arms back from them and stared them straight in the eyes. I gave them a forceful, “NO!” like I would yell at a dog I’m reprimanding to show who’s the alpha here. “NO! NO MOTORBIKE!” I saw them back down, so I added, “I want FOOD!” As I said this, I motioned shoving food into my mouth. They got the point. Since I wasn’t going to be a customer, their attention turned to the next person. “Motorbike! Motorbike!”

I returned to my mission. “Where is she? Where is the little lady?” I decided to turn left to head out onto the main street’s sidewalk with no hope in sight. As I started walking, I saw tiny, blue plastic chairs to my left. In America, you would expect to see these chairs in the four-year-old room at the local day care center. Not in Vietnam. These are the seats adults sit on everywhere.

One of our favorite ladies!

One of our favorite ladies!

She was our favorite breakfast spot and we had to wait in line, because she was everyone's favorite!

She was our favorite breakfast spot and we had to wait in line, because she was everyone's favorite!

“Ah ha! Bingo! I found it!”

I locked my sight onto these teeny plastic chairs and made my way back into the bus station to the seats. Under a tarped roof, I started analyzing my surroundings. “Okay, what am I working with here?” I saw a clear plastic bag of bread rolls hanging from the front of the counter. Then, I saw a stove behind the counter. “An egg sandwich looks like potential here! Alright!”

I walked up to the counter. As I approached, the man behind the counter stared at me blankly. I pointed to the bread rolls to explain, “I would like a sandwich.” Suddenly another man stood to my right and handed me the entire plastic bag of 12 bread rolls. “Oh, no thank you,” I said. “Just one,” putting up my index finger to indicate one. Understanding me, the helpful man to the right grabbed one bread roll from the bag and handed it to me. I looked down at his bare hand wrapped around the bread and was aghast! Just like a mechanic’s covered in black grease. Well, the helpful man’s action created reaction in me. So, of course, I took the bread in my hand and then handed it on to the man behind the counter like the three of us were working on a bread roll assembly line.

The man behind the counter reacted the same as I did. He took the bread in his bare hand. I looked down at his hands and they weren’t much different than the man to my right. “What am I doing?” I was thinking. The man behind the counter looked at me like, “So, what do you want me to do with this?” My Vietnamese went as far as hello and thank you, so I started explaining a sandwich with my hands. I’m sure he interpreted my charades as I was trying to open a book or the Bible. His confused expression didn’t change. Needless to say there was a lot of confusion going on. I started channeling my mom in this interaction, “Just keep smiling Lindsey.”

Suddenly, I was shoved from behind and had to take a step forward to catch myself. A little lady pushed past me in between the two counters to get to the stove. The little lady! She had arrived! Victory!

The man behind the counter stood there holding my piece of bread in his hands as the lady started to prepare the stove. Then, it was like time turned to slowmo. In one motion the man released his index finger from my bread roll like a British man would release his pinky from a cup of tea. Slowly, the man’s greasy hand moved up to his nose. “No! No!” I screamed in my head. His finger continued on and his first knuckle vanished into the depths of his nostril! "NO!" Then with a flick of his finger I was back in real time, and he simply passed my bread roll to the little lady.

“No WAY! I just saw that.” I said to myself. “I cannot believe I am still standing here.” My bread roll had passed between four sets of bare hands and through a nose picker. To my amazement, instead of walking away and forfeiting my order, I grabbed a second roll and handed it to the nose picker to make a second sandwich for Adam! “What am I doing?”

I hadn’t realized it, but I had obviously caused some drama in this little nook of the bus station. I glanced behind and saw everyone staring at me from their little plastic chairs. One of the girls got up and approached me. “I speak English. Can I help you?” She tilted her head down with her ear toward me as if she was trying to hear me in a loud bar. As I was trying to explain myself to her, I noticed her gold earrings. “Oh, those are cute. Wait, what? Do those say…?” I was in disbelief. I was in Vietnam and this helpful, beautiful, sweet girl had gold earrings spelling f*$@. “Wait, that can’t be right.” I blinked and took a double look. Yep, they said f*$@. Well, this girl who spoke English with explicit English earrings only understood the word “two” out of my, “I would like two sandwiches.” She just looked at me in confusion with a, “Sorry, but I don’t understand,” expression. Still channeling my mom, we both politely giggled, bowed to each other and parted ways in a failed attempt.

My attention turned back toward the counter and the sandwiches. The lady at the stove had cut open the rolls like you would a sandwich. She turned to me holding up an egg with a questioning look. I nodded with a, “Yes, please!”

Woohoo! If I had a cowboy hat in Vietnam, it would have been flying. The little lady understood my charades! We were moving along and heading toward an egg sandwich, folks!

As I waited for the sandwich, I stood there standing in disbelief at my reality. I so wanted to take a picture to capture the moment and remember this ridiculous situation. My internal battle became, “Should I stick out even more and take a picture?” “No,” I told myself. I had stood out too much already. So, I waited. Finally, both egg sandwiches were steaming hot and placed in a plastic bag. My mission finding a tiny lady was a success! I was on my way.

In my before South East Asia life, I would never, ever, ever, have eaten anything from this grimy, nasty, greasy bus station. I would have said, “Oh, never mind. No, really, no thank you,” and would have politely bowed out. But when in South East Asia, your standards drop on food preparation and you fight for two egg sandwiches made with greasy bare hands from nose pickers. I was fierce to make the next six hours more comfortable no matter what! I didn't want to add hangriness to the experience of lugging our backpacks from bus, to boat to bus in the unbearable Vietnam humidity.

I couldn’t take it any longer. I would never be in the bus station again (hopefully) and I just had to record this moment for my memory. As I was walking back for the fourth time to the lounging men at the waiting room door, I turned around and snapped a picture.

This lady had been watching me during the entire sandwich fiasco. She says hello!

This lady had been watching me during the entire sandwich fiasco. She says hello!

Full bellied, happy campers on the bus! Onward ho to Cat Ba Island!

Full bellied, happy campers on the bus! Onward ho to Cat Ba Island!

Your turn now! What are the lengths you have gone to get some food in your belly?

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Definite Top Experience of Nuventures

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Definite Top Experience of Nuventures

If you were to ask us, "What is the coolest thing you have done recently?"  Adam I would both yell out, "Flying kites!" Well, we weren't even flying the kites, we were only watching! Then, we would argue over who would get to tell the story.

Hands down, seeing kites take flight in preparation for the Bali Kite Festival has been one of the coolest experiences we have had on our nuventures. We even have a video below so you can see one getting launched! You need to see it to believe it!

Background: The Bali Kite Festival is an international festival where teams from all over the world come to fly their kites in the seasonal strong wind. These aren't just any kites. We were hearing of, "Kites being so big, 14 men are dragged down a beach trying to control them!"

Over our month long stay in Ubud, Bali we were seeing the daily preparations of men and boys working on building these enormous bamboo structures in their banjar centers each night. As the nights progressed, we were starting to see the men working to fit beautiful fabrics over the bamboo frames. Then, we started witnessing these kites causing traffic jams because they were bigger than the trucks carrying them! The transport of these kites require police escorts to ensure the kites don't get caught in overhanging trees or electrical wires on the narrow streets.

For the entire month, we were waiting in anticipation like Christmas was coming! On July 18, the date of the festival, we were off to Sanur Beach with our hearts full of excitement to see these enormous kites in flight!

After the hour ride, we stepped out of the car and our hearts were immediately deflated. A parking attendant said, "No, it happened three days ago." What!?! I checked five internet sites for the date! We hurried to the beach to see for ourselves. No kites. I was heartbroken. I had been waiting in anticipation for an entire month and we missed it! I edged away from the group and pouted like a five year old. Seriously.

Adam was the man, stepping up to the plate and persevering in asking more people to get a better understanding of the real story. We are continuing to learn  you can't trust to get the real facts about visas, kite festivals, or anything from one person or the internet in South East Asia. You need to ask tons of people and read many internet sources to get a big consensus on any issue.

A few people pointed down the beach and described a 15 minute walk. As we were heading that way, we asked a few more people just to make sure we were headed in the right direction and they said, "It's not today." Ugh! We kept on hoping for the best!

Then, with our ears perked, we heard the kites before we saw them! It sounded like we were approaching a small airport!

The walkway opened up into a huge field and kites were flying! I was so excited I felt like I was racing onto the field jumping and doing somersaults in celebration. Yes, we missed the festival, but we got to see some of the teams practicing for their future competitions!

All the kites flying! They are huge!

All the kites flying! They are huge!

A team bringing in a kite to launch! Check the dragon face!

A team bringing in a kite to launch! Check the dragon face!

The team starts tying on the tail of the kite. 

The team starts tying on the tail of the kite. 

We are so PUMPED! Look how big this kite is!

We are so PUMPED! Look how big this kite is!

We met Laura in New Zealand and reunited in Bali! So cool experiencing this together!

We met Laura in New Zealand and reunited in Bali! So cool experiencing this together!

We met Rich and his wife, Danielle, in Bali and we're all from Colorado Springs, Colorado! Small world!

We met Rich and his wife, Danielle, in Bali and we're all from Colorado Springs, Colorado! Small world!

The dragon launches into the sky!

The dragon launches into the sky!

We are seeing this! OMG!

We are seeing this! OMG!

Containing our excitement for a photo:)

Containing our excitement for a photo:)

It's huge!

It's huge!

The 20+ man team works together to control the flight. 

The 20+ man team works together to control the flight. 

They were constantly shifting and adapting to the winds. 

They were constantly shifting and adapting to the winds. 

They used exposed sand bags on the beach as a base to hold the rope. 

They used exposed sand bags on the beach as a base to hold the rope. 

So awesome!

So awesome!

Watch the kite being launched here!

Have you ever seen this? If not, you have to! Put Bali on your bucketlist and make sure to go for the Bali Kite Festival, whenever it is! We still wouldn't be able to tell you!

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A Birthday Like None Other

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A Birthday Like None Other

Adam's 28th year was brought in with a Balinese bang!

Our Balinese friend, Guli, invited a couple of bules (white people) to his family's temple ceremony. Thankfully, we were two of these lucky bules along with our new Colorado Springs friends, Rich and Danielle. The date of the ceremony was scheduled for an auspicious day on the Balinese calendar and just happened to fall on Adam's 28th birthday.

This kind of invitation is the ultimate travel experience for Adam and was quite the birthday gift to start off a new year!

Guli

Guli

This ceremony celebrates the birth of the temple and is celebrated every six months through two cleansing ceremonies in the clan temple and again in the family temple. We had no idea what this meant and what we were in for, so cheers to another #nuventure!

After arriving at the family's compound, we sat chatting with the men. 

After arriving at the family's compound, we sat chatting with the men. 

We sampled sweet Balinese coffee, rice cookies, purple sweet potato and spicy chicken. Yum!

We sampled sweet Balinese coffee, rice cookies, purple sweet potato and spicy chicken. Yum!

All six senses were bursting with new and foreign stimulus all day. From our first step into the compound, we were constantly adjusting and soaking in all the new visuals, sounds, and smells that come with preparing for and taking part in a Balinese ceremony. Just imagine this scene: roosters constantly crowing, incense burning for the offerings being sent to the heavens, constant ringing of the priest's golden bell as he prayed,  the tonal pitch of eastern hymns, mischievous boys running and screaming around the temple,  and the vibrant colors in the decorations, the attire and in the fruit and flowers.

We were soaking all of this in whilst being creative in our communication with Guli's family through broken English, laughing, and enormous smiles. We wanted to make sure his family knew we were so thankful to be there with them on such a special day!

The family temple decorated for the second ceremony. 

The family temple decorated for the second ceremony. 

The family temple located right in the compound next to the bedrooms. 

The family temple located right in the compound next to the bedrooms. 

The ladies started taking the offerings to the clan temple. 

The ladies started taking the offerings to the clan temple. 

Everyone preparing the offerings in the family temple. 

Everyone preparing the offerings in the family temple. 

While waiting for the ceremonies, Adam learned how to massage and condition cocks for cock fighting. 

While waiting for the ceremonies, Adam learned how to massage and condition cocks for cock fighting. 

We made our way to the clan temple for the first prayer and cleansing ceremony. As we were sitting on the bamboo mats in the clan temple, Guli was guiding us through the Balinese prayer ceremony we were about to experience. Just before it started he said, "I hope after today you will be better Christians."

The family slowly trickled into the clan temple. The priest had started ringing his bell and the singing of prayerful songs had started. 

The family slowly trickled into the clan temple. The priest had started ringing his bell and the singing of prayerful songs had started. 

How beautiful are these women? Waving flower petals and wafting their prayers to heaven. 

How beautiful are these women? Waving flower petals and wafting their prayers to heaven. 

We are so bad. We're supposed to be praying! I'm not a good influence:)

We are so bad. We're supposed to be praying! I'm not a good influence:)

We loved how the boys could just play and be themselves during the ceremony. 

We loved how the boys could just play and be themselves during the ceremony. 

The women, the colors, the offerings. Ah! All are so lovely! 

The women, the colors, the offerings. Ah! All are so lovely! 

Big contrast to Adam's Southern Baptist upbringing. This would be begging for a good switchin'!

Big contrast to Adam's Southern Baptist upbringing. This would be begging for a good switchin'!

Guli's uncle chummed up with Adam all day. He's holding a grilled chicken with the head, beak and talons still intact. It's snack time after the ceremony. Dig in!

Guli's uncle chummed up with Adam all day. He's holding a grilled chicken with the head, beak and talons still intact. It's snack time after the ceremony. Dig in!

Small piece of Guli's family. 

Small piece of Guli's family. 

While waiting for the second ceremony, we sat and chatted again. Everyone was amazed by Rich smoking his pipe. Never seen a pipe before!

While waiting for the second ceremony, we sat and chatted again. Everyone was amazed by Rich smoking his pipe. Never seen a pipe before!

Everyone's watching curiously!

Everyone's watching curiously!

The men were preparing a fire cracker to explode during the next ceremony to scare away evil spirits. 

The men were preparing a fire cracker to explode during the next ceremony to scare away evil spirits. 

A fire was lit under three bamboo stalks right outside the family temple. Everyone laughed and made fun of each others' shock when each one exploded.  

A fire was lit under three bamboo stalks right outside the family temple. Everyone laughed and made fun of each others' shock when each one exploded.  

The women are still bringing in more and more offerings for the ceremony in the family temple. 

The women are still bringing in more and more offerings for the ceremony in the family temple. 

And more...

And more...

The entire family squeezed together on the ground for the ceremony to begin. 

The entire family squeezed together on the ground for the ceremony to begin. 

The priest prayed, rang his bell, led us through prayers and drenched us with holy water. 

The priest prayed, rang his bell, led us through prayers and drenched us with holy water. 

Guli's uncle led the songs of prayer and guided us through the singing. 

Guli's uncle led the songs of prayer and guided us through the singing. 

So many offerings of cakes, fruit, flowers, rice and chicken. 

So many offerings of cakes, fruit, flowers, rice and chicken. 

The camera just can't capture it all. Heaps of offerings were on the tables, in the temple's nooks and crannies, and on the ground. 

The camera just can't capture it all. Heaps of offerings were on the tables, in the temple's nooks and crannies, and on the ground. 

After the ceremonies, it was time to eat! Guli presented Adam a cake from the offerings as a birthday cake. Balinese folks don't have birthdays, but are familiar with Western traditions.  He asked, "Should we light the candles?"

After the ceremonies, it was time to eat! Guli presented Adam a cake from the offerings as a birthday cake. Balinese folks don't have birthdays, but are familiar with Western traditions.  He asked, "Should we light the candles?"

The family all followed us out to wave goodbye. Ah! What an amazing day!

The family all followed us out to wave goodbye. Ah! What an amazing day!

The day ended and we crashed into bed with yet another day of our minds exploding from all the learning and our hearts full from the love we received from another beautiful Balinese family.

Family photo!

Family photo!

The next morning I woke up in a groggy stupor and realized I had no idea what had happened on Adam's birthday. I was in absolutely every moment. I saw it all, took in all the noises, smells, tastes, brilliant colors and smiles. We even took part in the same ceremony twice. I still had no idea what was sang, what was prayed, why certain colors were chosen, why they have three ladies praying instead of four, etc, etc.

Before I started googling the heck out of Balinese human temple ceremonies, I had a revelation. I was there. I don't need to google it. I don't need to know absolutely every intricate detail of what was said, what was sang or the purpose behind every small hand movement. The purpose of the day, the temple birthday and Adam's birthday, was celebrating life. Even though we all come from such different lives and backgrounds, we came together to celebrate. We united in celebrating life living in a world of the seen and unseen, the known and the unknown. To what we see and know, we all give thanks and for the unknown and unseen, we all get on our knees and pray.

Cheers to another year, Adam, of new, unknown adventures!

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