Indonesia – Last Days in Bali, part 2

Days like today are the reason I travel. The beauty of some places can often take your breathe away – make you stop and think how much there is to actually see out there. It amazes me as to why more people from the States don’t really travel. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard on this trip, “I never meet American women traveling alone. From other countries, yes, but not American women…nor many Americans in general for that matter.” I hear it ALL the time. I decided today, that my goal in life is to see 50 countries. After this trip, I will be at 24.

Today, I rented a moped and drove around Ubud and the outer perimeters. My first stop was the monkey forest, a park that includes a couple of temples, amazing statues, and monkeys running around, likely outnumbering the people. There were literally monkeys everywhere. Vendors sell bananas in the forest, so the monkeys are very accustomed to people. I sat down to take a picture next to one and he came right up to me and tried to nibble on the beadwork on my dress. I was a little freaked out, but the woman taking my picture told me to relax and just not to touch him. When I started to get up and pull my dress away, he then started to bite my arm.  Fortunately, his teeth weren’t sharp at all. Still, I was pretty much done getting close to the monkeys. Last thing I need is an F-ing rabies shot.

Next I ventured off to the botanical garden, which sucked, but I was able to see some pretty cool puras (temples) and some decent countryside on the way.

I stopped off to do a little shopping and then decided it was too hot to walk around, so I got back on the bike and off I went.

I drove pretty far north of Ubud and saw one of the most beautiful countrysides I have ever seen. The rice-paddies are pretty amazing – set back off the road, extending for miles in this unique stairstep fashion. They are often surrounded by big swaying palm trees. I saw a number of fields being harvested. Small Balinese men and women were up to their knees in mud, gathering the rice I presume. I drove through some small villages – saw children playing in the street, dogs running around, women balancing baskets of goods on their heads, roosters and chickens walking next to the road, and men carrying goods with opposing baskets balanced on their shoulders via a long bamboo pole. It was like taking a step back in time, or at least taking a step back to a more simplified lifestyle.

On my way back, I stopped at a resort and ate a late lunch on a terrace overlooking the rice-paddies, an unforgettable view.

My evening ended at the Ubud Bodyworks Center where I received my final massage of the trip. You just can’t beat the prices here, and plus, it was a long-hard day of sightseeing 🙂

It saddens me to say that, tomorrow, my time in Indonesia ends. This is by far, one of the best places I have ever been to. Hopefully, I will find my way back here again someday.

Indonesia – Last Days in Bali, part 1

I arrived in Ubud, Bali today and it is absolutely beautiful. I am blown away by this place. Its inland, but is the coolest town. The streets are lined with quaint shops featuring hand-made crafts like jewelry, sculptures or paintings. And intermixed are these great little restaurants where you can dine by candlelight or at a creek’s edge. Everything is picture perfect.

The place I am staying at is something out of a fairy tale. By walking in, you would think it was once an ancient temple. The gardens are beautiful and there are these picturesque fountains and statues throughout the place. My room is on the 3rd floor of what almost looks like a Balinese castle (if there were such a thing). I have this massive vaulted ceiling, a huge poster bed, the best bathroom I have had yet, and a cute little patio with a view about a mile long of amazing Balinese architecture. All for $30 a night. There’s also a small pool here that I am going to try to take advantage of tomorrow.

Today, I walked around and did some Christmas shopping. I also bought a beautiful canvas and some jewelry for myself. I stopped for dinner at this great this restaurant and then went to the spa for an hour massage and a an hour-long hair cleanse/mask and scalp massage (the saltwater has been doing a number on my hair). I couldn’t have been more pleased with my choice of spas.
Total spa bill: $10.

Tomorrow, I am hoping to go on an elephant trek. But if they don’t have enough people, I plan to rent a moped and cruise around the country side to see the monkey forest and rice-paddies.

Indonesia – Endless Nights in the Gili’s

I have spent the last 6 days in the Gili’s and had the most amazing time. Gili Traganwan couldn’t have been a more perfect destination. The island is mellow, yet full of life and great people. There are no cars, just bikes and horse-pulled carts, which keeps things pretty quiet during the day. At night there are several great bars just steps from the beach and the biggest nights (Mon, Wed, Fri) keep people up til dawn.

I had an amazing little bungalow in the heart of the island and on my first night, after coming home from the bars, I met a group of Irish guys who had a bungalow next to mine. The next day, I ran into them again and we went for beers. That night, another girl from our bungalows joined us at the local Irish bar and so it began…

We ended up down the road at a small bar called Sama Sama. It was late, but there were still plenty of people (mostly locals) drinking, singing songs, and passing the guitar around for all to join in. The whole bar was one big singalong and it was probably one of the most enjoyable moments from this trip. No matter where you were from, everyone knew the songs that were played and it made the world seem not so large after all.

We decided that night that, as a group, we would create a day called “Man’s Day” (after a German celebration) and do a number of activities in celebration of Man’s Day.

The following day, myself, Lucy (the Brit), Conor, Billy, Shane, Enda, and Ritchie set off on our adventure. We hired a boat and took a trip around the Gili’s (including Gili Air and Meno). We snorkeled, swam, and stopped for Bintangs (the local brew) at a small beside bar on Gili Meno. It was as if we were the only ones on the island. A local vendor came by and we all bought matching bracelets to remember Man’s Day and our adventure.

We raced back just in time to grab a couple of horse carts and were able to get to the southern end of the island for sunset. Quite the site.

That evening, we drank and danced, sangs songs on the porch, and stayed up until dawn.

There would be no Man’s Day without ladies of course, so we declared Thursday Ladies Day. We went to a local resort and played at the pool well into the evening. That night, we went to dinner, grabbed drinks and then went back to the bungalows where we laid out all of the porch cushions and spent the evening drinking, laughing and looking at the stars.

After a few nights of heavy partying, we spent Friday at the beach and played in the turquoise water. Probably the last time for some time for the majority of us. The boys head back to Ireland tomorrow and I am heading inland to a small town called Ubud.

Back in Kuta, Bali now, getting a pedicure. Tonight will be the last hurrah, but I am sure it won’t dissappoint.

Indonesia – Gili Traganwan

I arrived in the Gili islands today off the of the coast of Lombok. So far, I am in love. Gili Traganwan is supposed to be the “party island” but it’s the low season, so it seems to be the perfect amount of people. The island is lined with restaurants and bars with high platforms and cushions on the platforms so that everyone sits down family style. The only lighting is by candlelight and little twinkling lights. My place is nice, but simple. It’s associated with a dive shop and has a modest little pool. I walked around a bit and found a beautiful resort a few hundred feet away from my place. As I guessed, the rooms were out of my price range, but I asked if there was a “day use” fee for the pool, and the gentleman at the front told me 70,000 rupiah (the equivalent of $7 dollars). I’m sure I will take advantage.

Everything here is extremely cheap. It’s unbelievable really. Much cheaper than Thailand. There were rooms on the beach for $5.

When I arrived in Bali yesterday, I met some Aussie guys who were on my flight and were headed to Kuta – the big city in Bali. I ended up sharing a place with them last night and they were an absolute riot. We played pool listening to one of the best reggae bands I’ve heard in a while, then went to a club that was basically mimicked after a pirate ship. There were tons of young Australian tourists everywhere. I’d say it’s similar to Cancun for American’s on spring break. It’s a quick flight for most Aussie’s.

So the island I’m on is famous for diving and snorkeling. There are no police…I think the law is more of indigenous people and a head master….or something similar. There are no cars and a handful of horse-drawn buggies. There are signs at a few of the bars for “mushy shakes” so I’m gathering that mushrooms are legal here. Overall, Indonesia as a whole is incredibly hot. Last night in Kuta, it was brutal…it’s a little nicer here on the islands.

I think I will likely stay here for a few days. I’m pretty stoked to finally found what I’ve been looking for. Thailand was similar 5 years ago, but it’s pretty crowded now. I think Indonesia is one of my new favorite places.