After our two hour journey through the villages to our first Resort, we were greeted with helping hands and comforting smiles by the staff(whom we would soon become good friends with) at Nandini Jungle Resort. Iwan, the manager, immediately had our luggage taken care of while he explained all of the amenities to us and walked us to Hut 7. The best view of all the huts- the SUNRISE view! By now you should know my obsession with sunrises. They provided us with complimentary breakfast each morning, poolside service, shuttle service into the town, bicycles to explore the village, and an intimate candle-lit couples massage and bath.
While staying at Nandini, we got out for some adventure. Although relaxing is nice, Chad and I are very “on the go” type of people and don’t sit still for long, so I made sure to book us up with plenty of excursions. We first went to the Elephant Safari Park [Disclaimer: While booking this excursion, I had the notion that the elephants were RESCUED and roaming freely around the park, and that we would be feeding and bathing them.] To my disappointment, when we arrived,the elephants were all chained by one foot and separated from eachother,waiting in an assembly line to lug tourists on their back for a ride around the park. I nearly cried. None of the elephants looked abused per say, so we started asking a lot of questions as to why they were chained, how they came about living in the park, etc. According to their staff, the elephants are rescues(except for the babies born into captivity of course),and that they must legally be chained during work hours to avoid them fighting eachother and harming guests possibly. I cannot make any accusation on the treatment of the elephants, but I will say I would’ve much rather seen them in a more natural habitat then have given my money in support of captivity. My opinion, skip the elephant park if you are planning to go to Bali.
The next day we took part in much less controversial activities- cycling and white water rafting! We got to cycle for about three hours through villages near Mount Batur. It was extremely educational and enlightening. Every so often, the guide would stop and explain the area we were in at the time. We learned of how temples are hand carved out of black sand and that the process takes 10 days! We learned what a family compound consists of and that there is actually still one village left in Bali that has arranged marriages. After cycling and lunch, we heading to the Ayung River for rafting. This river is only a level 2 on the difficulty/danger scale so it is family friendly and available to raft year round. It was a blast and good for me(a beginner). I think Chad wanted a little more difficulty but we had a lot of fun. We even got to stop and get out underneath a waterfall for some photo ops.
On our final night at Nandini, there happened to be a special once a month event at the restaurant. A buffet is provided and all of the guests of the resort are set a table. The local young girls of the nearby village perform the traditional Balinese dance as well. Each guest is made to feel special as though they are the only ones there. Of course for our last night we opted for two bottles of champagne.
Not only did Nandini Jungle Resort exceed my expectations, but so did Chad. (cheesy moment alert-you can stop reading or just barf now) I couldn’t stop looking at him and smiling every second. He showed me patience(on a 35 hour flight), he showed me romanticism, he showed me teamwork on our excursions, and compassion for the less fortunate that we met. Although before this trip I loved him just the same, he showed me that I picked a perfect partner. Someone I can trust and be in complete content in any situation with and take on any adventure! My heart grew in that jungle and a little bit of that will always stay there.