Birthday Plans in Bali

Let’s talk about expectations…

Today is my birthday, and since the only day Shelby has off during her yoga teacher training is Sunday, we decided it would make more sense to preemptively celebrate my birthday weekend yesterday. Similar to Shelby on her birthday, there wasn’t anything in particular that I wanted as a gift, so we planned a day full of adventures, experiences and meals that we’d both be sure to remember. Here’s the tentative itinerary we came up with over a few Bintang’s with some local friends the night before:

  • Morning scooter trip to Sekumpul and Tegenungan Waterfalls
  • Midday chill sesh with Shelby’s yogi friends at Jungle Fish (Situated in the middle of a jungle forest, this infinity pool lounge is easily one of the coolest bars I’ve ever been to)
  • Hit the rice paddies for some photo ops and dinner with a view
  • Homemade peanut butter banana smoothie to top off the night (Yes, Shelby bought a blender for the villa)

Photo by @thegingernomad

So there it is, the ultimate Bali birthday list. Explore, eat, repeat. Nothing too lavish or expensive, but just the right combination of adventure and relaxation to make for the perfect birthday abroad. So how’d it go? Take a look for yourself.


Passed out sick in bed… not quite according to plan to say the least.

I had been somewhat congested in the days leading up to this, but Sunday was definitely the worst I’d felt in a long time. Travel for over 2 months and the first time you get sick is on your birthday, go figure. In hindsight, the aforementioned Bintangs and getting caught in the rain the night before probably didn’t help. Regardless, the dream birthday schedule was wiped away and we were forced to make do with what we had.

So what exactly did we do for my birthday? Well once I had thoroughly slept away the morning, Shelby woke me up for a tall stack of pancakes with a side of dragonfruit and mangosteen. Satiating beyond belief, the hearty breakfast helped me recharge long enough to trek back to bed for a much needed nap (feasting ain’t easy).

To my delight I was woken up with food again when Shelby returned with some Mahi tacos and a potent Balinese Ayurvedic tonic called Jamu (there’s a strong chance Shelby will do a post about this soon but it’s basically a turmeric and tamarind juice that’s supposed to wipe out any head cold) from Dayu’s Warung. With the iPad fully charged and a VPN ready to do its thing, we saw this as the perfect opportunity to catch up on some Game of Thrones. A few episodes later and I was feeling good enough to head into town for a quick bite to eat and a slice of chocolate coconut cashew cake before bed.

So that was my grand birthday weekend in Bali. No waterfalls, no infinity pools in the jungle, no terraced rice paddy dinners,. Just a whole lot of sleeping, eating and more or less doing nothing.

Now I know a lot of you are probably thinking, “Wait a minute. If your actual birthday is today and you’re feeling better, why didn’t Shelby make you one of her smoothies this morning and couldn’t you try to hit the rice paddy dinner tonight after yoga training?” Despite these being valid questions, they’re not going to happen, and here’s why.

For starters, Shelby got sick last night and was more or less a zombie this morning. More importantly, I’ve decided to let my birthday be just another day. I think one of the biggest challenges with traveling is managing expectations. Whenever we go somewhere, especially during holidays and birthdays, we always have this perfect vision in our heads of what we’ll see and how our adventures will pan out. But the truth is that 99% of the time, reality doesn’t quite match those expectations, and even in those few moments when it does, there are still some variables that are left to chance that we can’t anticipate. I touched on this concept a bit in my Machu Picchu post, but most of my favorite adventures have happened when things don’t go according to plan.

Three days ago my friend Jack told another backpacker that no matter how long you stay somewhere, you’re going to miss out on something, so the sooner you accept that, the sooner you quit worrying about whether or not you’re going to the right place. So here’s my advice when it comes to managing travel expectations; instead of losing sleep over whether or not everything is matching what you thought you wanted to happen, try planning your adventure and then being okay with whatever happens after that. When you do this, you allow yourself to appreciate every aspect of a vacation as opposed to just the two or three moments that you have envisioned in your head. My birthday was nowhere close to what we thought it would be, but it ended up being the perfect day for me at the time, and that’s really all that matters.



3 Comments on “Birthday Plans in Bali

  1. Pingback: Not Exactly Home for the Holidays | Nomad Fuel

  2. Pingback: The Early Bird Can Have the Worm | Nomad Fuel

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