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Exploring the Oasis Spa and Resort in Chiang Mai

Exploring the Oasis Spa and Resort in Chang Mai
Exploring the Oasis Spa and Resort in Chang Mai
Exploring the Oasis Spa and Resort in Chang Mai
Exploring the Oasis Spa and Resort in Chang Mai
Exploring the Oasis Spa and Resort in Chang Mai
Exploring the Oasis Spa and Resort in Chang Mai
Exploring the Oasis Spa and Resort in Chang Mai
Exploring the Oasis Spa and Resort in Chang Mai
Exploring the Oasis Spa and Resort in Chang Mai
Exploring the Oasis Spa and Resort in Chang Mai
Exploring the Oasis Spa and Resort in Chang Mai
Exploring the Oasis Spa and Resort in Chang Mai
Exploring the Oasis Spa and Resort in Chang Mai
Exploring the Oasis Spa and Resort in Chang Mai
Exploring the Oasis Spa and Resort in Chang Mai
Exploring the Oasis Spa and Resort in Chang Mai

Right, so you find yourself in Chiang Mai Thailand and you are looking for the ultimate place to kick back and relax.

I have found the ultimate paradise. Oasis Spa Baan Saen Doi.

Located just outside of the city center of Chiang Mai with a round trip service this hotel and spa will leave your travel stress behind. Flying into Chiang Mai it's only a short 10-minute taxi ride to the hotel where you can offload and dive straight into relaxation (or the pool).

With one of the top Spa's in Chiang Mai and several branches across Thailand, the Oasis Spa will help you escape your busy lifestyle whether you are relaxing poolside or opting for a traditional hot compress massage.

The hotel has a striking interior with touches of the traditional hill tribe art throughout. Surrounded by beautiful gardens and water features the hotel offers privacy and elegance.

The rooms are large and spacious with a fully fitted mini bar and king-sized bed. (Yes Pease!!) The rooms are airconditioned and (my favourite part) offer a full sized spa bathtub. I couldn't resist having a giant bubble bath the second I arrived. Engulfed in luxury and pampering visiting the spa was high on my to-do list!

The Spa is one of the most professional spas I have ever visited with the most meticulous attention paid to every single detail. To ensure that you have an amazing experience you will be met by one of the staff that will walk you through your menu options whilst you sip on traditional tea. I can highly recommend the hot compress massage. This is a traditional wrap made of a mix of fresh ginger, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and peppermint, with additions such as camphor and a dab of essential oils to suit your needs. Receiving a massage with a hot compress made me feel like my body was surrendering to the relaxation and every bit of tension was being released. Drifting into heaven is an understatement.

Post massage you will be met with fresh fruits and tea to hydrate and nourish the body. If you are feeling adventurous you can take a walk up to the traditional rice fields that are part of the grounds and understand a little more about the rice they harvest or find your way poolside to soak up the final rays of the day.

The food is traditional and with beautiful flavours and a spice level that creates a perfect bite of Thai cuisine. I might have wanted to squirrel away the green curry and the spring rolls that accompanied it for a midnight snack attack.

In hindsight, I blame this notion on the euphoria of eating spicy food. The staff is attentive and nothing is too much effort.

Whether you stay poolside, adventure into town or simply melt into massages this establishment truly has something special to offer and I highly recommend that if you find yourself in Chiang Mai that you find your way there.

Did you know that there is a Thailand Tourism office located in Johannesburg? Don’t think only beaches (Phuket), as there is so much more to Thailand. So if you need info or digital brochures etc, be sure to contact them or better still follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

I would also like to give a big thank you to Singapore Airlines for flying me to this dream destination.

-Melissa

Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Staying at Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Take a deep breath in, now let it out. Repeat. Do you feel that?

A momentary grounding.

Now picture white beach sand, crystal clear blue waters, tall shady palm trees, mind-blowing food.

You've just imagined Zeavola Resort, Phi Phi Islands.

A place to feel connected and grounded. A place where you can exhale.

Hands down one of my favourite destinations in Thailand; this resort is truly magnificent. Not only because it is surrounded by the most breathtaking scenery but because the resort is aware of their responsibility towards the environment and making their establishment one of sustainability. Zeavola does everything they can to look after the majestic nature that surrounds them.

Getting there is half the adventure and a flight into Phuket, a taxi to the harbour and a gorgeous boat ride later you will find yourself stepping onto the beautiful beaches with waves lapping the shores of the island.

Arriving at sunset, the golden light illuminated the limestone cliff faces and rocky outcrops that surround and make up the Phi Phi islands.

Taking in the bright pink skies is a memory that will stay with me forever.

The resort is really something special. Firstly it is a barefoot resort - yes you read correctly. This resort encourages you to get your toes sandy and feel the earth beneath you. Every time you enter a facility there is the opportunity to rinse your feet off in cleverly placed foot baths.

The resort recycles their water (which is pretty impressive considering they are on a tiny island in the Andaman sea)

They omit all single-use plastics and promote being eco-conscious in all that they (or the guests) do.

A green resort? Be still my beating heart.

The rooms are tucked away and surrounded by lush tropical plants and give a feeling of absolute privacy. You might find yourself harboring a sneaky suspicion that you have the only room on the island. They are constructed from glass panels and space is filled with natural light. With an outdoor shower and lounge area, I felt as if I could live there forever!

The resort offers additional options of rooms situated higher up on the hill, perched on stilts overlooking the canopy. The honeymoon suite sports a beautiful white marble pool while for the more minimal tastes, a beach facing room might be just the thing.

There is certainly something to satisfy every occasion and desire.

If you have a wedding request, this is the hotel for you.

The resort also proudly caters to the LGTBQ community by offering same-sex marriages.

The only thing enticing enough to get me to leave my comfortable room? Diving. As an avid diver, I opted to take myself on an adventure. Joined by a private Dive Master we took a boat trip out into the marine reserve. Whilst we were heading out seahorses were mentioned and I was sold.

From sea horses to lions mane jellyfish I was in heaven! If diving isn't your thing then you can also take a private boat ride out to the marine park for the day and go snorkeling with baby black tip sharks or simply swim in the tropical waters and bask in the sun. With a gorgeous pool, you can stay in or even make your way to their sublime spa for a treatment of your choice. I lost myself in the music that is a traditional massage.

Making my way back to the resort I was met with staff that is ready to help with anything, cue cocktail in hand and of course someone to escort me to lunch!

Wow. The food was simply incredible and eating on the beach with a gentle sea breeze in my hair, heaven. I realized after the food that Zeavola was fast crawling its way into one of my favourite destinations out there.

This five-star resort is beyond the standard five stars you expect to experience with that rating. With every detail thought out and every taste catered for, Zeavola was exceptional.

Did you know that there is a Thailand Tourism office located in Johannesburg? Don’t think only beaches (Phuket), as there is so much more to Thailand. So if you need info or digital brochures etc, be sure to contact them or better still follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

I would also like to give a special thanks to Singapore Airlines for flying me in style all the way to this dream destination!

-Melissa

Truffle Journal Guide to Chiang Mai, Thailand

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

When the offer came up to experience Chiang Mai, Thailand as part of my travels I jumped at the experience without hesitation. I had previously spent several weeks exploring the south of Thailand and island hopping with endless sunshine and ocean. However, a part of me felt deprived after departure back home without having explored the cultural mecca of Thailand. Known for its beautiful temples and rich history Chiang Mai always called and I finally received the chance to answer.
Here is a list of some of the amazing experiences I had in Chiang Mai that I would highly recommend. They are in no particular order and can be easily achieved with a shuttle tour bus. I stayed in the center of town on the banks of the Ping River at X2 Riverside Resort. Chiang Mai is a city that captured my heart and that I would easily return.

Temples;

Chiang Mai is known for its elaborate beautiful Thai temples. When visiting the temples make sure to wear something that covers your knees and your shoulders. It is respectful to local monks who live within the temple grounds. When you are at the temple you are able to explore quietly appreciating the history and the culture on offer. You can purchase lotus flowers or incense and offer this to the Lord Buddha. If there is a local monk giving blessings then you can approach the monk and receive a blessing.

The first temple I visited was the magnificent gold gleaming Wat Phra That Doi Suthep found on Doi Suthep the 8th highest mountain in Thailand coming in at 1685 meters, bigger than table mountain. Considered a national park driving up to the temple is simply beautiful! The thick lush greenery engulfs you and then the temple stands tall covered in the most magical gold, overlooking the city with the most amazing view. It is considered one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Thailand. This awe-inspiring temple is crowned by an elaborate Chedi (Monument), 24 meters tall and gold plated from top to bottom. It is quite something to behold. Allow enough time for exploring the temple ground and to see the elaborate murals that adorn the walls as well as learn about the history. Make sure you have cash with you for the entrance and the offerings. If you have questions regarding the temple or in general about Buddhism then visit the Buddism Center. The Thai are friendly and helpful and would love to answer any questions you may have. This spiritual place offers retreats, meditations and lighting the candle at the offering was an immensely special moment for me.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

If you are feeling for more of an active experience that involves you literally getting into the ring then why not step up and visit the Buakaw Village. Set up as a sustainable village and training Gym by Buakaw, the K-1 Muay Thai World Champion of the World and Thailand title holder for over a decade. This establishment offers training camps whereby you can come and stay and train in Muay Thai. The accommodation is simple and the training fierce. With a relaxing area overlooking rice paddies, there are moments to relax and take in the beautiful grounds. We only did a day visit and minimal training however, judging by the number of muscles on site - this training camp means business. You can find them on facebook here.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Further up in the lush green forest of Chiang Mai you will find the Hill Tribe Villages. Showcasing a simpler and more rural life. These tiny little villages are so small that many are unmarked on maps. Some villages are as small as up to 20 households. We explored a little village taking in all the beautiful hand woven items created by the local tradesmen in order to make a living off the tourists that pass. The fabrics are beautiful and purchasing an item was a must. The site we visited had manicured gardens and a gaggle of small children playing outside. A very peaceful way of living. With some of the original huts and information about the tribes inside you can explore this foreign world. Just make sure to be respectful and ask if you may take photos. It is not an animal zoo but rather a place where you have the opportunity to step into someone's world, so vastly different from yours and see how they exist.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai has a variety of bustling markets filled with a selection of common and unique fresh foods and more. We visited the busy Warorot market place on the banks of the ping river. This market place is where the locals do their shopping and is an authentic experience that submerged me in the Thai culture. Surrounded by street food stalls and busy vendors the sights, smells, and sounds are an assault on the senses in a wonderful way. Getting there by tuk-tuk or going on foot is best. The market opens early in the morning and closes after dark. You can buy almost anything at the market from clothes, condiments, fresh fruits, meat and more! Visiting the flower and fruit market was my favourite and yes, of course, a coconut was had. The fruit section was my favourite with the display of so many unknown bright coloured fruits. You are going to want to get out and explore all areas so make sure you have the time and don't forget that cash is king. Don't forget the side streets where you can find hemp textiles and fabric woven by the hill tribe people.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Once the home of the Emerald Buddha (Thailand's most sacred and ancient relic), the Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Mai is one of the most iconic parts of Chiang Mia's skyline. This magnificent structure was built somewhere between 1385-1402. This beautiful chedi at its peak measured 60 meters across and 80meters tall. After a devastating earthquake, the Chedi remains but the staircase and elephants had some restorations done and one can only begin to imagine seeing such a magnificent structure in all its glory! With several culturally significant pieces on the temple premises, I would highly recommend taking a walk and exploring.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Dine at X-2 Riverside resort with Alex Dermard. This was one of my favourite experiences. To see this master at his craft was a true delight. His food is beautifully plated and each plate a complete work of art. The only thing to stand tall against the beauty of each plate is the flavours of the dish. Well thought out and elegantly executed whether you are staying at the resort or passing by making a reservation is a must!

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Stay at 137 Pillars, Chiang Mai. This establishment quite literally took my breath away. It was just beautiful from the moment we arrived. Each and every detail has been thought of in this colonial historic boutique hotel. The original teak house that has been restored to glory dates back to the 1800s. The details that have gone into the grounds makes it a dream destination for travelers. With different room options, you can choose to stay with a room that has a built-in lounge, bedroom, walk-in wardrobe, and private pool.

The interior is colonial and elegant with warm finishes that will make you feel at home. With giant trees towering over the walkways you feel tucked away from the world. I stayed for lunch and it was a very good decision. The authentic Thai menu was utterly delicious and I enjoyed every bite full! I could very easily have moved in and never left! Especially with the look of the private pool.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

For those of you that are down for the spa treatments and being swaddled in a happy fuzzy bubble then I have the place for you. Oasis Oriental Secret Spa offers traditional treatments such as the Thai Hot Compress massage. Of course, I dived into experiencing this amazing offer and it was fantastic. With scents of lemongrass, ginger kafir lime, salt, and camphor oil, a hot compress is an aromatic escape from reality. You will be in a relaxation coma post-treatment with an offering of herbals teas and fresh fruit. They believe in being so much more than just a massage spa and that is exactly what they have achieved. Owners Pakin and Toby Ployphicha and thought of all attention to detail and have had a hand right down to the interior. I couldn't help but recognize traditional hand-woven textiles that had been included in the design of the hotel. With amazing products and an array of treatments, this is my must visit Spa of Chiang Mai. With mountains as a backdrop, Oasis Baan Sean Doi Spa Resort has spacious rooms that are elegantly decorated. Situated on a quiet street this hotel will make you want to sleep, spa, eat and repeat! Did I mention the heavenly pool? They have several branches so if you find yourself in Thailand look them up and treat yourself.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Lunch at Organic Cafe Ohkajhu. A local and sustainable organic farm that is being run by three friends that have a fierce love of food and farming. Situated on the outskirts on town this was one of our first stops after we landed in Chiang Mai. This restaurant has it going on with one of the biggest salad menus I have seen to date. Each and every bite was scrumptious and just so fresh. But how could it not be? It is grown on site and made into beautiful meals that are healthy. It is so amazing to be able to travel and eat healthy fresh whole food. It is a top priority for me and I loved experiencing a place away from home that allowed me to eat healthy and fresh organic food! Look them up if you are in the area or if you are in Bangkok or downtown Chiang Mai as they have branches there too.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Feast on Thai colonial cuisine at The House by Ginger. Possibly my favourite lunch whilst I was visiting Chiang Mai. The food is perfectly made and the flavours are out of this world. With a menu filled with traditional items I highly recommended the Pad Thai. The food was so moreish that I couldn't help myself. Each dish was just better than the last. To top it off? They have a gorgeous store.

I am sure you will find your way there - just be prepared to swipe the credit card because the clothing is so beautiful you will find yourself defenseless.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai has so much on offer that I only touched the surface in my short stay there. I love offering up guides but I am a firm believer in going and getting lost. Let the music find you, meet new people and explore new paths. Each experience is unique and taking in the sights and sounds of Chiang Mai is something I will never forget.

Did you know that there is a Thailand Tourism office located in Johannesburg? Don’t think only beaches (Phuket), as there is so much more to Thailand.  So if you need info or digital brochures etc, be sure to contact them or better still follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

-Melissa

Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chiang Mai

Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai

Situated on the banks of the Ping River in the heart of Chiang Mai is a place that not only will envelop you in luxury but an establishment that makes you feel like a King or Queen. 

X2 (Pronounced cross two) Riverside Resort on Chiang Mai is part of a luxury resort chain that has the finest attention to detail coupled with modern design and impeccable service. With Ewan Taylor appointed the head manager and Executive Chef Alexandre Demard serving up delectable dishes this boutique hotel is a gem to explore in northern Thailands Chiang Mai. 

Getting to the hotel was fairly easy. Just a short half hour cab ride from the main airport of Chiang Mai this boutique hotel is really central. Making excursions really easy and allowing access to all Chiang Mai has to offer. 

The rooms are spacious and overlook the restaurant and the Ping River. With a large balcony and a full set up mini bar with coffee, I was in heaven and simply had to have an ice cold drink in the balmy weather on the balcony. The beds are king sized beds and each room is uniquely decorated with koi fish on the walls. The design element is modern and welcoming. The bathroom is large and with white fluffy bathrobes, you will soon feel like a million dollars. 

If the room doesn't make you feel that way then the Spa surely will! A five start spa offering traditional, as well as aromatherapy massage, is on the property. A mere few feet away from your luxury bedroom.  After your relaxing massage you can make your way to the beautiful rooftop for sunset and sip on an ice-cold cocktail and take a dip in the pool. My favourite thing about the pool was the fact that it was designed to look like a galaxy and is speckled with mosaic tiles and lights that come on after the sun has dipped below the horizon! 

The food in the resort is spectacular and well thought out by executive chef Alex Dermard. The tasting menu is something I would highly recommend and the flavours were spot on. He is a true artist displaying each bite with flair and passion. We spoke about wandering into the local markets and losing ourselves in the amazing fresh produce that Thailand has to offer. I must admit a dream for me to cook with! 

Breakfast is fresh and simple and the poached eggs made to perfection. A gooey yolk and perfectly cooked white is a thing of glory. Breathing in and taking a moment at breakfast whilst over looking the river made me think about slowing down and how I don't do it often enough. 

The staff are the heart and soul of this botique hotel. They were friendly and beyond helpful - which is also a Thai thing. Nothing was too much effort to arrange for us. A special part to me was that everybody just worked so well behind the scenes. Your room was cleaned and the hotel spotless yet no cleaning staff were in sight. It was as if fairies were on duty! 

As a five star establishment they are on the more pricey, however, if you are not looking to backpack but rather have a holiday where you do not want to lift a finger, then this hotel is for you! The spa offers an array of treatments and losing yourself in a full body massage is defiantly something I would recommend. After all, what is visiting Thailand without a Thai massage? 

I hope to soon return to this magical spot in the cultural heart of Thailand, Chiang Mai. A city that has so much to offer. Very much like X2 Riverside Resort.

-Melissa

Diving Bali - Nusa Penida

Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada
Diving Bali - Nusa Pinada

Diving to me is the ultimate form of mindfulness. I think because you are silent and you have no choice but to be right where you are. You are focused on your breath, your body, and your environment. The environment just happens to be under hundreds of tons of water in an alien landscape where you are the guest and the vibrant creatures of the ocean your host. For as long as I can remember, my dream has been this, to dive with Giant Manta Rays. These animals can get a wingspan of up to 5.5 meters and are placid gentle giants that glide underwater as if they are flying.

Getting to Nusa Penida can be done by fast or local boats off the coast of Bali. The most popular port to get a boat from is Sanur. If you use the fast boat the ride is about 30-40 minute depending on the swell. You can get tickets online or at the harbour. I recommend online because it just makes life easier and the boats can fill up rather quickly.

Approaching Nusa Penida looks like approaching the tropical island of Jurassic Park. With jagged cliffs and towering palm trees, the island looks like a movie scene. Once safely in the harbour, we arranged with Sanctum diving to collect us. They were going to do so by car which is a quick drive from the harbour but in the end, we rented scooters and made our way there following our guide. It was quicker and much less painful than sitting in the heat on the back of a pickup truck as we ended up in unexpected traffic due to a school parade.

I went to Nusa for one reason, in fact, I went to Bali for one reason. That reason was to see the Giant Manta Ray. To chase the dream of diving under the water with them and be in awe of their beauty. Sadly due to the traffic, we were late and unable to get out to the cleaning station with the dive boat. It seemed all odds were against me. First an earthquake, then a full boat, then traffic! The cleaning station is a dive where you are almost guaranteed to see Giant Manta Ray and not being able to get there felt like a major blow to my excitement. So we decided to dive one of the other points also popular with these gorgeous beasts.

Together with Ben and Lauren (my adventure buddies for the day), we had our first dive, desperately searching everywhere underwater to find them. These giant black flying fish were nowhere to be seen. I let it go and lost myself in all the other creatures of the ocean. 40 minutes into the dive I made peace that it just wasn't my time to see them. First the earthquake and then no Manta ray. Bali wasn't going to give me all I had hoped for. But then it happened. As soon as I let go I received. Perhaps there is a lesson there...

I turned around and over my head flew a Giant Manta Ray. I was so happy I think you could hear the screams of joy under the water. Out of nowhere came another - I turned to Ben and there he was shooting away taking these beautiful images of me and my dream come true. I could see Lauren in absolute awe and the energy the three of us shared is something that I will remember forever. I saw the giant Manta Rays of Bali. Although brief, I had my moment. A moment with an animal that is so majestic it leaves you speechless. Nusa Penida - it was a day trip which was way too short, I will have to return!

My hope is that the world over will see that the oceans are a magnificent breathing living being that needs to be protected from us! Below I have linked two organizations that are doing amazing work locally in Bali. If you have the time - hop on over and read up on them. Perhaps even donate. The oceans need us.

https://www.misoolfoundation.org

https://www.madistewart.com/donate

My vow this year is to use even less plastic in my life - it just ends up in the oceans and affects these amazing animals. It serves no purpose but to harm. Refusing the straw is great but the problem is much bigger than that. Single-use razors, plastic bags, and bottles are some of the plastic items used every day that end up in our beautiful oceans. Think twice before you use plastic and ask yourself, can I make a change?

-Melissa

p.s thank you Benj for the pictures