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Health

6 At-Home Fitness Fixes


According to recent studies, an active lifestyle lowers your risk of getting a communicable disease. By getting more exercise, you can help ward off viral and bacterial infections.

Can’t get out? Not a problem. You can get a full workout even if you’re home all day, says Sylvia Nasser, an NASM-certified personal trainer.


Stream It

If you love group gym classes, try the next best thing: live online workouts. “Follow your favorite instructors or fitness media channels,” Nasser says. “Many now host Zoom, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube livestreams.”

Look online for gyms or personal trainers offering live workouts that you can join on your computer or on your smartphone. Or, try prerecorded workouts on YouTube or one of many fitness websites.


Go Social

Schedule a Zoom workout with friends or family. Having exercise buddies is great for connection and socialization, Nasser says. Plus, it keeps you accountable. If you know everyone’s jumping on the computer at 8 a.m., you have extra reason to show up.


Play Cards

In a pinch, Nasser says, reach for a deck of cards and let it be your fitness instructor. Each suit represents one body-weight exercise, like squats or lunges. Each number represents the number of reps. If hearts represent squats and you pull a 10 of hearts, you do 10 squats. Jokers can be dealer’s choice or one-offs like 60 seconds of jumping jacks. “You can do this with very simple exercises,” Nasser says. “Have fun with it.”


Use Your Stuff

“Get creative with things around your home,” Nasser says. “One of my favorites is taking a school bag and filling it up, then wearing it while you do lunges and lower body exercises.” Get your arms involved by holding onto the straps and doing bicep curls or wearing it as you do pushups.


Devise a Circuit Workout

Create stations around your home and move through each one for a full-body workout. Your home is filled with exercise-ready objects. Think stairs, chairs, and walls, Nasser says. Run up and down the stairs. Use chairs for tricep dips, pushups, and step-ups. Lean against the wall for wall sits.


Try Rep Challenges

Pick a number and challenge yourself to complete that amount of reps for a variety of simple exercises. For example, aim for 50 or 100 reps of four to five body-weight exercises. Start with 50 squats. Then do 50 lunges, 50 pushups, 50 mountain climbers, and 50 sit-ups. When you reach your goal, your workout is done.






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Music

Get Your Red, White, and Blue on with Our 4th of July Patriotic Playlist – EDM.com



It’s Independence Day and that means American flags, barbecues, fireworks, and people decked out in red, white, and blue everything. To add to all that patriotic spirit, we’ve compiled a playlist of all the songs that are fitting for what the Fourth of July is all about from the worlds of electro, house, dance pop, and more electronic sub-genres. 





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Health

Tracking The Spread Of The Outbreak : Goats and Soda : NPR


This page is updated regularly.

Since the new coronavirus was first reported in Wuhan, China, in December, the infectious respiratory disease COVID-19 has spread rapidly within China and to neighboring countries and beyond.

The first confirmed coronavirus cases outside China occurred on Jan. 20, in Japan, Thailand and South Korea. On Jan. 21, the first case in the U.S. was identified in Washington state.

On Jan. 24, the first two European cases were confirmed in France. By Feb. 1, eight European nations had confirmed cases of COVID-19, and a month later that count had risen to 24 countries with at least 2,200 cases, most of them in Italy. On March 11, Italy eclipsed 10,000 cases and the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic — the first since H1N1 in 2009. That’s also when China, the original epicenter, began seeing drops in daily counts of new cases.

March also saw exponential spread of the virus throughout the U.S., with all 50 states reporting cases by March 17.

This particular virus, officially known as SARS-CoV-2, is only the third strain of coronavirus known to frequently cause severe symptoms in humans. The other two strains cause Middle East respiratory syndrome and severe acute respiratory syndrome.

Click here to see the state-by-state breakdown of cases in the United States.

This story was originally published on March 30, 2020.



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Music

Lil Wayne Releases ‘Glory’ Video



Lil Wayne

Hallelujah. The “Glory” has finally come.

Five years after dropping his Freezy Weezy Album, Lil Wayne unleashes the long-awaited video for “Glory.” The monumental clip, directed by Eif Rivera, finds the Young Money legend climbing to the top of a mountain as he flexes his lyrical muscle.

“No snakes, no rodents, no ad-libs, no chorus / No stress, no worries, took you to a respiratory / It’s self-explanatory, the glory is mandatory,” raps Tunechi.

On Friday, Wayne celebrated the 5th anniversary of the Free Weezy Album (FWA) by releasing the project across all digital streaming platforms. The album, which was previously only available on TIDAL, features the bonus track “We Livin’ Like That.”

Tonight at 7 p.m. ET, Wayne will return with the 10th episode of his Young Money Radio show on Apple Music.



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Breaking New

Whose Lincoln Memorial Is It?


Then in 1963, the Rev. Martin Luther King gave his most famous speech, “I Have a Dream,” from its steps. To King, Lincoln was a flawed figure in certain ways, occasionally guilty of “vacillating.” But he brilliantly borrowed Lincoln’s rhetoric to weave the struggle of his people into the wider story of American history. The sight of thousands of peaceful supporters, listening on the steps, seemed to prove it. It remains the defining image of the Lincoln Memorial.

For all of these reasons, it was disorienting to see those steps blocked by National Guardsmen—who were there not to air out their views, but to prevent the public from doing so. The steps are important to the memorial: They lead visitors steadily upward, where they can approach Lincoln, read his words, and gaze back at the Capitol. The stunning visual panorama is a well-calibrated effect, consonant with Lincoln’s belief that our democracy must, somehow, spring from the people.

The wide steps—perfect for social distancing—are another part of the memorial’s appeal. In many ways, this is a monument to civility. But at times when Americans are deeply divided, the memorial can reflect that division.

Fifty years ago, that kept happening, throughout an embattled year that increasingly resembles our own. As 1970 began, a divisive president, Richard Nixon, was appealing to his base with racially coded dog whistles, while fighting an unpopular war in Vietnam and trying to contain protests over everything from the environment to women’s rights. Naturally, the protesters often found their way to Lincoln’s steps, where the oversize statue seemed, vaguely, to sympathize with the mandate for change.

But in the spring, as events spilled out of control, Nixon, too, began to daydream about the statue and the steps. In the first week of May, the country erupted after the invasion of Cambodia, and four students at Kent State University were killed by National Guardsmen on May 4. Predictably, huge crowds came back to the Mall, and their shouts could be heard inside the White House.

In the early hours of May 9, the president was having trouble sleeping and felt the pull of Lincoln. What Nixon’s chief of staff, H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, would later call “the weirdest day so far” began early. At 4:35 am, alarmed Secret Service agents began to report, “Searchlight is on the lawn!” The president ordered his limousine to take him to the Lincoln Memorial, where he found hundreds of protesters, and—amazingly—began to talk to them. He later bragged about how he tried to elevate them out of their intellectual “wasteland,” but in reality, he mainly rambled about the Syracuse football team. Still, he deserved credit for his courage in going there at all. American democracy was slightly less dysfunctional as a result.



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Dining News

Buttery Lemon Shortbread Cookies with a Glaze


Buttery Lemon Shortbread Cookies with a Glaze are light and fresh with vibrant sweet and sour flavors that are surprisingly easy to create! Every bite is packed with a burst of lemon flavor and the shortbread has the perfect dense, buttery texture that will make this your new favorite cookie!

For more of the freshness of lemon with the amazing texture of shortbread, try Lemon Tart with a Buttery Shortbread Crust. It is an easy and delicious homemade fresh lemon curd in a buttery shortbread crust.

A stack of lemon shortbread cookies.

Buttery Lemon Shortbread Cookies with a Glaze

Warm summer days call for light and vibrant desserts that are both satisfying and refreshing.  Classic shortbread cookies are a tried and true choice with their melt-in-your-mouth buttery texture.  Now, by adding in the subtle lemon flavor and the sweet glaze, this classic cookie becomes perfectly bright.  Calling these the best cookies ever would not be an overstatement. They are heavenly!

Lemon shortbread cookies are perfect for any occasion because of their soft and sweet buttery texture and their inspired lemon zip.  Best of all these crowd-pleasing cookies are simple to make and the dough is easy to prepare ahead of time.  Make a couple of batches at a time and freeze some of the dough until you are ready to bake them.  You will be asked to make these over and over.  So, go ahead and pre-heat that oven and see for yourself how perfect this cookie really is!

Shortbread Cookie Ingredients:

Since this recipe requires no special equipment and all pantry staple ingredients, it makes a great beginner cookie.  Shortbread cookies are tried and true cookies and adding the lemon glaze makes these a new favorite version of a classic cookie!

  • Butter: Binding agent and adds moist, smooth texture and flavor.
  • Powdered sugar: Adds sweetness
  • Flour: Helps thicken the cookie.
  • Salt: Just a pinch to bring out the flavors and balance the sweetness.
  • Baking powder: Leavening agent that helps the cookies rise.
  • Flour: All purpose flour is best for these cookies.

Glaze

  • Lemon juice: Whisk together with lemon zest and powdered sugar.
  • Powdered sugar: A bit of sweetness in the glaze
  • Lemon zest: This is where the lemon flavor really comes from.  Zest in fine pieces and add more or less according to how lemony you want your glaze.

Homemade Cookie Recipe:

Shortbread cookies are one of the easiest cookies to bake! They come together so fast and you will amazed how simple and delicious they are.

  1. Prep: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line your baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mix: In a stand mixer or using a hand mixer add the butter and beat until fluffy. Add in the powdered sugar, zest of lemon and juice of lemon.
  3. Combine dry ingredients: In a medium sized bowl combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Slowly add it to the butter mixture and mix until combined.
  4. Roll out dough: Add the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll out to 1/4 inch thick. Using a round cookie cutter cut out the cookies and lay them onto a baking sheet.
  5. Bake: Place cookies in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until lightly brown. Remove and let cool.
  6. To make the glaze: In a small bowl whisk the lemon juice, powdered sugar, and zest of one lemon. Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze and place on a wire rack to set.

Steps to make lemon shortbread cookies.

Tips for the Best Shortbread Cookie:

This familiar dense shortbread cookie is so perfect with the unexpected bright lemon flavor.  My pro tips will help you achieve the BEST cookie ever are easier than you think!

  • Parchment paper: Lining your cookie sheet with parchment paper will save you so much time and help you create the perfect cookie. The parchment paper is naturally non-stick, so you do not have to use any sprays on your pan, and clean up will be so much simpler.  Moving your cookies off the tray and onto a cooling rack will be so much easier as well and your cookies will not crack or fall apart as you move them.
  • Use chilled dough: Once you prepare your dough, place it in the refrigerator to cool for at least 30 minutes before baking. Cooling the dough will keep your cookies from spreading out too much during baking.
  • Know when to take them out of the oven: Pull the cookies out when they start to turn to a light golden brown on the bottom or the very edges. They should no longer be white.
  • Add depth of flavor: Adding spices like rosemary or lavender creates an even more complex flavor in the cookie. Very finely chop these spices before adding them into the dough.
  • Presentation: Play around with different cookie cutters to make a festive display in star shapes or whatever coincides with your theme. Coloring the frosting with bright colors will also liven up any party!
  • Glaze: Apply the glaze while the cookies are still a little bit warm so the cookies don’t crack.

Storing Shortbread Cookies:

These cookies store very well and the dough can be made ahead too.  Keep some of this perfect dough in your freezer and pull it out as needed to bake a last-minute sweet treat!

  • Cookie dough: Roll dough into a log shape or cut go ahead and cut into cookies.  Then place them in the refrigerator or freezer.  If storing in already cut pieces, you will want to separate them with wax paper so they don’t stick together.  The dough will be good for 2 days in the refrigerator or 4-6 months in the freezer.
  • Finished cookies: Be sure your cookies are completely cooled, including the glaze before storing them.  Stack in layers with wax paper between each layer.  They will stay fresh at room temperature for about a week.

Close up on a stack of lemon shortbread cookies.

More Shortbread Cookie Recipes:

Buttery Lemon Shortbread Cookies with a Glaze

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 15 minutes

Total Time 30 minutes

Author Alyssa Rivers

Servings 24 Cookies

Buttery Lemon Shortbread Cookies with a Glaze are light and fresh with vibrant sweet and sour flavors that are surprisingly easy to create! Every bite is packed with a burst of lemon flavor and the shortbread has the perfect dense, buttery texture that will make this your new favorite cookie!

To Make the Cookies:

  • 2 cups butter softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of one lemon
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 cups flour

To Make the Glaze:

  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • zest of one lemon

Nutrition Facts

Buttery Lemon Shortbread Cookies with a Glaze

Amount Per Serving

Calories 327 Calories from Fat 144

% Daily Value*

Fat 16g25%

Saturated Fat 10g50%

Cholesterol 41mg14%

Sodium 185mg8%

Potassium 59mg2%

Carbohydrates 42g14%

Fiber 1g4%

Sugar 10g11%

Protein 4g8%

Vitamin A 473IU9%

Vitamin C 1mg1%

Calcium 14mg1%

Iron 2mg11%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.





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Health

Hospital ratings often depend more on nice rooms than on health care



The study, “The Cost of Satisfaction,” appeared in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Oh, the irony. The most satisfied patients not only died in greater numbers but racked up higher costs along the way. Plus, health-care providers receiving the top satisfaction scores were rewarded with higher reimbursements by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which administers the patient survey.

Lead author Joshua Fenton, a professor of family medicine at the University of California at Davis, had set out to measure the relationship between patient satisfaction and hospital resource use, drawing on the CMS Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey. Ultimately, his research raised questions about whether CMS is dangerously off target in collecting patient satisfaction data to drive health-care improvements.

That was 2012. More research published this year by two sociologists likewise found that a patient’s hospital recommendation had almost no correlation to the quality of medical care received or patient survival rate. The researchers looked at CMS hospital data and patient surveys at more than 3,000 U.S. hospitals over three years. The hospitals where fewer patients died had only a two percentage point edge in patient satisfaction over the others.

What’s going on? Cristobal Young, associate professor of sociology at Cornell University and lead author of the study, calls it “the halo effect of hospitality.” Young found that what mattered most to patients in ratings were the compassion of nurses and amenities like good food and quiet rooms. It’s why hospital managers are being recruited from the service industry and we’re seeing greeters in the lobby and premium TV channels in rooms, he says.

Patients tend to value what they see and understand, but that can be limited, Young continues. They give hospitals good cleanliness ratings when they observe waste baskets are emptied and sheets are changed. “They can’t see a virus or tell you how clean the room is in ways that matter,” he says.

Similarly, patients can tell you if a physician communicates well. But most people do not have the medical skills to assess whether a physician provided the appropriate diagnostic test or made suitable recommendations, Fenton says.

In his study, patients receiving more medical interventions, treatments and hospitalizations were more satisfied with their experience. Yet, after adjusting the 26 percent mortality rate of the satisfied patients with data about their baseline health and comorbidities, their death rate soared to 44 percent over the patients who weren’t as happy with their care.

One possible explanation is that every surgery, procedure or medication carries the potential to leave you worse off. While a patient may perceive that more aggressive treatment is better, “overtreatment” can hasten death, too.

There is a more insidious reason satisfied patients did not track with better medical outcomes, though. The majority of hospitals and medical practices today are rewarded with higher compensation, promotions, bonuses or increased CMS reimbursements for attaining high patient satisfaction scores. The twist is that the path to keeping patients happy can run counter to best medical practices.

A patient may give an unfavorable rating to a physician who refuses to write an unsafe opioid prescription or order an unwarranted CT scan. A doctor may not bring up a patient’s obesity or cognitive impairment to avoid the person’s ire on a survey later.

In a 2014 study of 155 physicians by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health, close to half said that pressure to please patients led to inappropriate care including unnecessary tests and procedures, hospital admissions, and opioid or antibiotic prescriptions.

“Time after time, studies show that physicians who accede to patient requests have higher patient satisfaction,” Terence Myckatyn and co-authors wrote in a 2017 article exploring how patient satisfaction scores affect medical practice. Keeping patients happy is not always the best strategy for patient wellness or physicians, however, says Myckatyn, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Washington University School of Medicine.

“Directly tying financials to surveys as a metric to evaluate physicians can be shortsighted and unfair. It’s a difficult calculus,” says Myckatyn, stressing that patient surveys should be only one measure in the toolbox for assessing health-care providers.

CMS posts patient satisfaction data on its Hospital Compare website along with medical statistics about surgery complications, infection rates and mortality. But it’s the hotel-like amenities that seem to drive ratings, so that’s where many hospitals have invested, Young says.

He points to the new $2 billion Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto that offers private patient rooms, each with a 55” television and iPad so patients can stream Net­flix, order a burger from the cafeteria, or video conference with family. This is how hospitals are competing with each other in a consumer market where medical quality indicators can take a back seat, he says.

Whether the 29-question HCAHPS survey has led to better medical care, Fenton credits public surveys for keeping hospitals and physicians accountable for treating patients with respect and dignity. What he objects to is the harm done by conflating patient satisfaction with the technical quality of medical care.

Likewise, Nancy Foster, vice president of quality and patient safety policy at the American Hospital Association (AHA), sees patient satisfaction and medical outcomes as apples and oranges. They are each important and don’t have to correlate. In addition, whether a nurse responds quickly to a call button is not just about hospitality, Foster maintains in reference to Young’s study.

“If a patient needs to use the restroom and a nurse doesn’t arrive in a timely fashion, patients [who go on their own] can fall,” she says. “[The nurse’s responsiveness] becomes a crucial clinical outcome issue.”

Akin Demehin, AHA’s director of policy, also believes patient surveys have a place in improving medical care. “Patients have unique insights that only they are in a position to convey,” Demehin says.

Several hospitals were able to reduce their readmission rates after taking a close look at patient comments regarding problems in care coordination and hospital discharge, he says.

Collecting patient feedback began its ascent in 1985 when Press Ganey Associates introduced a survey to measure health-care provider performance. Ten thousand medical institutions today still use it. By 2006, CMS was distributing the HCAHPS survey to randomly selected patients around the country.

Once the Internet exploded, consumer-driven health care was out of the gate. Online ratings for restaurants, electronics, and the patient experience became “part of our modern day currency,” says physician Raina Merchant, director of the Center for Digital Health at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and associate vice president at Penn Medicine.

Merchant studied the impact of patient ratings on Yelp and found they were strikingly parallel to HCAHPS results. The significant difference, she says, is that Yelp reviews cover a broader range of concerns than standard surveys. You’ll find more detailed patient-to-patient information about billing, comfort care, medical costs and the experience of family caregivers, for instance.

Health-care providers “miss an opportunity to learn about consumers if they don’t pay attention to social media,” says Merchant, who sees online reviews as “democratizing.”

Will covid-19 change how we rate physicians and hospitals? “Think about how much we spend on the health-care system in the U.S. Then when we need basic things like swabs [to test for coronavirus] we don’t have them,” says Young, “. . . or nurses and doctors straining to have [personal protective equipment].”

“It’s mind-boggling,” he says. “Maybe the coronavirus will help reprioritize everyone’s thinking about medical quality. Nobody is thinking about how nice their [hospital room] views are anymore.”



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Music

CMG Boss Yo Gotti Celebrates Being ‘Recession Proof’ in New Video


Yo Gotti is now a fully independent artist and he is celebrating the achievement with his new single “Recession Proof.”

The single’s cover is taken atop one of Gotti’s birthday gifts to himself, while the single is produced by Tay Keith and signals a turning point in Gotti’s career.

Gotti is now an independent artist, departing Epic Records and now solely under his own CMG imprint.

Following up on the release of the single, Gotti has dropped the “Recession Proof” music video, which also highlights his new physique. Gotti has shaved off 40 pounds and chiseled his body. The three luxury cars – a turquoise Rolls Royce truck, turquoise Ferrari F8, and turquoise Lamborghini Truck Urus – also make an appearance in the video. Also making cameos are CMG members MoneyBaggYo, Black Youngsta, Lil Migo, and more.

You can watch it below and add the single to your collection here.





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Health

Florida State University Child Care Policy Draws Backlash


Florida State University appears to be walking back an announcement that suggested it would not allow employees to care for children while working from home during the coronavirus outbreak.

“We want to be clear — our policy does allow employees to work from home while caring for children,” the university said in an email to staff members and in an announcement posted on its website on Thursday.

That message followed a barrage of questions and criticism that started last week, when the university, in Tallahassee, Fla., emailed its staff to say it would “no longer allow employees to care for children while working remotely” as of Aug. 7.

The move was an attempt to reinstate a policy that had existed before the outbreak. But the idea that employees might suddenly be required to make other arrangements for their children even as they continued to work from home led to an immediate backlash.

“Initial responses over the weekend were of despair, shock and feeling disempowered,” said one professor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because discussions with the administration were continuing.

“We’ve all been doing our jobs and performing our caregiving roles,” the professor said. “And it’s been really hard, but everybody has been pulling their weight, and that could have just carried on.”

The university’s announcement on June 26 attracted attention on social media and from news outlets over the weekend, turning one institution’s internal debate over its work-from-home policies into an example of the conflicts that can arise as schools, businesses and caregivers across the United States grapple with how to return to a sense of normalcy amid a pandemic. Those conflicts have been amplified in recent weeks in Florida, where the number of known infections has surged.

There have been more than 169,000 cases of coronavirus in Florida, according to a New York Times database. As of Thursday morning, more than 3,600 people had died. Over all, the state’s Covid-19 cases were up fivefold in the last two weeks.

The university shared the latest memo but otherwise declined to comment on Thursday.

In response to the objections that surfaced over the weekend, the university tried to clarify its email in a memo that was posted online Monday. That memo suggested that faculty members would not be affected by the change — and it elicited another backlash because it seemed to suggest that the policy would hurt lower-paid workers more. That memo was later taken down.

In its latest email on Thursday, the university sought to clarify the policy once again.

“We are requesting that employees coordinate with their supervisors on a schedule that allows them to meet their parental responsibilities in addition to work obligations,” it said. “This may be different for each employee based on the specifics of their situation.”

The school said it regretted that its initial communication “caused any unnecessary worry and concern or oversimplified a very nuanced issue.”

Matthew Lata, the F.S.U. chapter president of the United Faculty of Florida, a union representing faculty members there, was among those who criticized the university after its initial email announcing the policy change last week. In an interview on Thursday, he said the issue seemed to have been resolved.

“I’m glad that the university has taken a step back and looked at this situation and realized that the old normal cannot be the new normal,” he said.

It is not clear when schools and day care centers in the district that includes Tallahassee, Leon County Schools, will reopen. In a letter, the superintendent said he would ask the school board to make Aug. 19 the first day of classes for students. The superintendent also said he would be open to discussing the idea of delaying the start date until after Labor Day.





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Travel

Discover the Top 10 Must-Visit Attractions in Bali


If you are looking for a new rhythm and an experience with many favourites, a visit to Bali should appeal to you.

Indonesia, with its more than 13,000 islands and hundreds of ethnic groups, has so much to offer! But for 15 days, we chose to focus on Bali, this island with its unique Hindu culture in the middle of an archipelago with an overwhelming Muslim majority.

The must-visit attractions in Bali

Kuta

In Kuta, for 3 days, our lifestyle was slower than usual. Our days were mainly spent swimming in the swimming pool, walking on the beach and in the commercial alleys and improving surfing skills for the boys.

Kuta Beach

Munduk

On the way to Munduk, we stopped at the beautiful Ulun Danu Beratan temple. Dedicated to Shiva, built on a lake and surrounded by mountains, this temple is renowned as one of the most beautiful in Bali.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

For 4 days, we took refuge in Munduk, in the remote areas of the island of Bali, amid mountains, rice fields, waterfalls and breathtaking vistas.

Melanting waterfall

Melanting waterfall

Red Coral Waterfall

Red Coral Waterfall

Munduk Waterfall

Munduk Waterfall

Rice Terrace Munduk

Rice Terrace Munduk

Twin Lake Wanagiri spot

Twin Lake Wanagiri spot

Waiting Line at Handara Golf

Waiting Line at Handara Golf

Lovina

We stopped by the famous Lovina Beach, where tourists take excursions to watch dolphins. But in order to do that, you have to get up early! And since we are late risers, we preferred to go on a snorkeling excursion during the afternoon. It’s too bad I didn’t bring my GoPro, because we rarely saw as many corals and fish as we did that day!

Snorkeling Trip at Lovina

Snorkeling Trip at Lovina

In the vicinity of Lovina, Brahmavihara-Arama is a Buddhist monastery with a strong Hindu influence. It was a beautiful discovery that was recommended by a local.

Brahmavihara Arama

Brahmavihara Arama

Brahmavihara Arama Gate

Brahmavihara Arama Gate

Ubud

While driving from Munduk to Ubud, I saw a huge snake on the side of the road! As I was the only one who saw it and no one in the car believed me, I turned around to find out about it. It was the right decision to make, because we met a man who was running a refuge and who presented some of the injured animals he rescued. And how unexpected when we saw these impressive snakes, iguanas, a giant bat, civets and an owl! Mateo, who loves animals, was delighted! Luka, on the other hand, was more suspicious but still very satisfied!

Flying fox encountered at a refuge

Flying fox encountered at a refuge

Owl encountered at a refuge

Owl encountered at a refuge

Ubud is a very special city that gives the feeling of being in the countryside. Its streets are very busy and traffic is chaotic. However, you can find yourself in the middle of a jungle or a rice field after a 10-minute walk. We spent a great deal of time watching a group of young people fly their kites in the middle of a rice field.

Kite Flying in Ubud

Kite Flying in Ubud

Ubud is the epicenter of Balinese culture and tradition. Spirituality, and Hindu temples by extension, are omnipresent. And the least we can say is that it is reflected in all the actions of its inhabitants! Their daily lives are dotted with a host of superstitious gestures and rituals featuring incantations and processions, in an attempt to invoke spiritual protection, blessings and luck.

Campuhan Ridge Walk

Campuhan Ridge Walk

Rice Fields in Ubud

Rice Fields in Ubud

Ubud Market

Ubud Market

A Temple in Ubud

A Temple in Ubud

Street Offerings in Bali

Street Offerings in Bali

Ubud Monkey Forest

Also in Ubud, we visited the Monkey Forest, in which more than 700 mischievous macaques live together almost peacefully. It is one of the most popular places in Ubud and with good reason! It was incredible to see so many monkeys everywhere.

Ubud Monkey Forest

Ubud Monkey Forest

Ubud Monkey Forest

Ubud Monkey Forest

Goa Gajah

Goa Gajah, or Elephant Cave, is another popular place in Ubud. The sanctuary that was built in the 9th century contains Hindu and Buddhist artifacts, but the main attraction is a cave-shaped temple with a beautifully carved facade.

Goa Gajah

Goa Gajah

Goa Gajah

Goa Gajah

Tirta Empul

On our way to Tirta Empul, we visited the beautiful rice terraces of Tegalalang, a very photogenic place like many others in Bali.

Tegalalang Rice Terrace

Tegalalang Rice Terrace

Tirta Empul is a temple that was founded in the 10th century, dedicated to Vishnu. It contains a purification bath filled by a sacred water source. It’s a highly spiritual site for Balinese people.

Holy Water at Tirta Empul Temple

Holy Water at Tirta Empul Temple

Gate at Tirta Empul

Gate at Tirta Empul

Pura Lempuyang Luhur

We took a day trip to visit the temple of Lempuyang Luhur. This temple is extremely popular because it is at the top of the bucket list of many Instagramers seeking recognition. It is due to a portal that points directly towards the majestic Agung volcano, which is still active and very often projects ashes. Well let me tell you that this place holds the highest prize for ridiculousness in the category of “Hypocrisy of Instagram”. First of all, it is a remote area where people have to drive 2 hours to get there (and another 2 hours to get back) from Ubud. Once at the temple, here is what you need to do in order to get the perfect picture and to generate thousands of new followers.

  1. Get to the end of the queue.
  2. Use the 2-hour wait to think about three photo poses.
  3. When your turn comes, hand your smartphone over to the guy who takes all the pictures.
  4. Run to the gate.
  5. Mimic your 3 photo poses. You have 10 seconds. Clic! Clic! Clic!
  6. Get out of the way! Next!

We didn’t have the courage to wait and we preferred to visit the temple. But if you want to know more about it, I invite you to type “lempuyang temple gate” on Google. The worst part of the story is that there is no water in front of the gate. It is the photo guy who holds a small mirror to simulate the reflection of the water, in order to make the photo even more fake.

View over Mount Agung from Pura Lempuyang Luhur

View over Mount Agung from Pura Lempuyang Luhur

Pura Lempuyang Luhur

Pura Lempuyang Luhur

Garuda Wisnu Kencana

We have moved to the small southern peninsula of the island for the last 2 nights. We went to Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park, where we saw a monumental Hindu sculpture, the 4th largest in the world if you include the pedestal. There was a traditional dance performance and a fire dance ceremony to close the evening.

Garuda Wisnu Kencana

Garuda Wisnu Kencana

Garuda Wisnu Kencana

Garuda Wisnu Kencana

Garuda Wisnu Kencana Show

Garuda Wisnu Kencana Show

Garuda Wisnu Kencana Fire Dance

Garuda Wisnu Kencana Fire Dance

Uluwatu

The temple of Uluwatu sits at the tip of a cliff overlooking the ocean. Monkeys are known to be particularly malicious, and we have witnessed the stealing of a handbag and a cell phone by these little thieves.

Pura Luhur Uluwatu

Pura Luhur Uluwatu

For a better preparation

Itinerary

When we arrived in Bali, we chose to relax for 3 days in Kuta, a city near Denpasar airport, before setting off on an adventure tour of the island in a rented car. We then chose Munduk (4 nights), Ubud (6 nights) and Nusa Dua (2 nights) as departure spots for day trips.

Transportation

Our rental car was all messed up and dented. You’d think it was 30 years old and yet it only had 100,000 km on the odometer! In first gear at over 3000 rpm, the car made so much noise that we couldn’t hear ourselves at all. In second gear, things were going well on flat ground but as soon as the hill became steep, it was struggling a bit and it had to be downshifted to first gear. But miraculously, it has always taken us to our destination. Anyway, since people are everywhere and even in the countryside, we always drove slowly. In other words, it was a pleasure to drive in Bali 😊

Our rental car could fit four in the trunk

Our rental car could fit four in the trunk

Accomodation

We spent our first 3 nights in a beautiful suite at Best Western Kuta Beach, where the staff treated us like royalty. Our Diamond Select status at Best Western (achieved through a Status Match with our Platinum status at Marriott) has earned us fabulous breakfasts, welcome gifts, afternoon teas with appetizers, and a 50% discount on the excellent food at the hotel. Jessica shed a tear of joy as she ate their Mexican tacos because they were so good. The whole family enjoyed the beautiful swimming pool on the rooftop overlooking the sea. And it just cost us 8000 Best Western points per night, a bargain! A value of more than 300 USD for the 3 nights.

Our Suite at Best Western Kuta Beach

Our Suite at Best Western Kuta Beach

Swimming Pool at Best Western Kuta Beach

Swimming Pool at Best Western Kuta Beach

For 3 nights in Ubud, we moved to the Best Western Premier Agung Resort Ubud, for just 12,000 Best Western points at night. We were able to check in at 11 am in the morning and were offered a beautiful room with a view over the infinity pool. Our Diamond Select status provided us with fabulous breakfasts, afternoon teas, 50% off the restaurant’s excellent food, a free massage for Jessica and me, as well as a late check-out at 4 pm. A value of 380 USD for the 3 nights.

Best Western Premier Agung Resort Ubud

Best Western Premier Agung Resort Ubud

Our Room at Best Western Premier Agung Resort Ubud

Our Room at Best Western Premier Agung Resort Ubud

Swimming Pool at Best Western Premier Agung Resort Ubud

Swimming Pool at Best Western Premier Agung Resort Ubud

In Munduk, Ubud and Nusa Dua, we slept in very comfortable homestays and bungalows with breakfast included, which were booked with Agoda for 300.000 IDR (21 USD) per night on average. Moreover, hotel rates in Bali are generally so low that it would have made sense to only use our points for accommodation.

Our homestay in Ubud

Our homestay in Ubud

Bungalow in Bukit Peninsula

Bungalow in Bukit Peninsula

The accident

One of our worst fears happened in Bali after 12 months travelling. Mateo fell on a slippery surface and broke two bones in his right wrist. We received good care at the hospital in Ubud by a very professional team. Mateo got away with a half cast for a month. Fortunately, it was more fear than harm, we did not have to shorten our journey.

Food

Nasi Goreng, Gado-Gado, Sate Ayam and Sate Lilit are terms you will find in ALL restaurant menus if you visit Bali. The island’s cuisine is not very diversified, but it has the advantage of being good if it is well prepared.

Nasi Goreng (fried rice)

Nasi Goreng (fried rice)

Gado-gado

Gado-gado

Sate Ayam

Sate Ayam

Sate Lilit

Sate Lilit

Sauteed Dish

Sauteed Dish

In the surroundings of Munduk Waterfall, we came across a very special coffee producer. He regularly travels his coffee plantation in search of excrement from the twenty or so civets that live peacefully in his sanctuary. Feces contain undigested but naturally fermented coffee beans, which gives the coffee a more subtle bitter taste. Kopi Luwak, as it is called, is simply the most expensive coffee in the world. And we drank it!

Kopi Luwak Beans

Kopi Luwak Beans

Expenses

Bali was undoubtedly the destination where we spent the least during our entire trip. The cost of our stay for our family of 4 is:

  • 14.663.000 IDR (1,011 USD);
  • 978.000 IDR (67 USD) per day;
  • 244.000 IDR (17 USD) per person and per day.

In detail:

Expense CategoryAmount Spent
Flight1.991.000 IDR / 138 USD
Accomodation2.867.000 IDR / 199 USD
Transport (including gas)3.025.000 IDR / 210 USD
Eating out4.282.000 IDR / 298 USD
Groceries698.000 IDR / 49 USD
Activities1.800.000 IDR / 125 USD
Total14.663.000 IDR / 1,020 USD

In a nutshell

Dates2019-05-15 to 2019-05-30
Number of days15
Cities we visitedKuta, Munduk, Ubud, Nusa Dua
InboundFrom Malaysia by plane
OutboundTo Singapore by plane
Mode of transportCar rental
Distance travelled (excluding flights)606 km
Number of photos taken5500 (367 per day)
CurrencyThe Indonesian Rupiah (1 USD = 14.379 IDR)

Conclusion

We were delighted by our stay in Bali, which many consider a paradise on earth. Its remarkable beauty, its luxuriant vegetation, its surprising culture and its low cost of living are undoubtedly the major assets of this island. 

It’s time to switch scenery. But we are not going too far. Singapore, here we come!

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