The flight from Flores to Bali was easily the most stunning experience from the air!
Well, we have probably had way too much fun in Indonesia the last 90 days. Wow, only 3 months?! Looking back at everything we have done, seen, experienced, smelled and tasted it feels as if we have spent 6 months here. I just told Rob that this has been a once in a lifetime experience – traveling through Indonesia with such an adventurous spirit that just so happens to be my very amazing husband. Motorcycle trips across islands, hiking volcanoes, swimming in blue lagoons, more boat trips than I have been on before, endless massages (we estimate we have each had approximately 2 dozen at $7/hr or less) and “playing house” on 3 separate islands: earthship on Kenawa and rental homes on Flores (my favorite!) and Bali. We have spent most of our time in areas that are off the beaten path and not touristy at all. Being the only white people, needing to speak the language to get by and seeing how the country changes across islands has been more special than we could ever get across in this blog.
We spent a day hiking through the Sambangan waterfalls with our guide, Mahri. Eight waterfalls, swimming together in a blue lagoon with no one else around and both taking the plunge to make 16 and 32 foot cliff jumps made for one of our best days in Bali!
My advice to anyone planning a trip to Indonesia would be – Do not only plan to visit Bali! Yeah, yeah, I know it’s easy for foreigners – you can probably get by with never speaking the language or using a squat toilet, always having air conditioning, western food and the “comforts of home,” but why bother traveling 1/2 way across the world if it always feels like home?! Each of the main islands have such a unique feel to them from the religious traditions that vary, local food, topography and dialects. We counted 15 islands that we explored over the past 3 months and not one was identical to another. Everyone has their own way of traveling, but mine is not to take the easy route. Easy is boring. Test my limits, put me outside my comfort zone, and show me how much I never even realized I didn’t know. That’s what makes traveling fun for me. We are both absolutely in love with the random, crazy, unexpected things that are thrown your way on a minute by minute basis in this country.
These “little guys” hang out by one of Rob’s favorite sate babi stands (pork on a skewer) and we have to protect our food from their grabby hands. Snack and a show!
Someone cradling a wild monkey on the side of the road, walking a huge pig down the street, waking up to the sound of wild dogs and chickens every morning no matter what island you’re on, watching the bats come out at dusk and fly right in front of your face each evening, driving a Suzuki Katana rental that feels as if the wheels will fall off with every bump in the road (but heck it was $13/day), seeing homemade farm equipment and motorcycles on the road with you, families of five all riding on the same scooter, offering trays on the dash of your rental car, crossing the sea in a boat that feels and sounds like it is likely to die before you reach your destination, ….watching beautiful sunsets over the water more consecutive times than ever in my life, having friendly people welcome you no matter where you go in the country, eating a meal for $1, falling in love with the sea, swimming, snorkeling and the beach for the first time in my life, hiking volcanoes under a brilliant sky full of stars, wild orchids lining the street…The phrase “that’s Indonesia” gets used all the time between us. We have a huge repertoire of jokes, silly songs, and references that have all come to life over the past 90 days. We have met so many people that have helped shape our travels. Whether remembering the local lady who Rob visited 3 nights in a row at her Senggigi Warung to get us late night Mie Goreng (we still comment that hers is the best we have had here), some of the outstanding local guides who have taken us hiking through jungles, waterfall trails and national parks or the many ex-pats we have met that decided to move here, Rob and I remember each encounter fondly. We encountered so many people on every island who visited from abroad and fell in love with this country as we have except that they made the plunge to live here. I have really enjoyed talking with these people, most of which run their own business or nonprofit here, and listening to the challenges and rewards they have faced. Rob and I briefly discussed moving here, but don’t think that will happen now. Instead we will return and spend a lot more time here in the future. Who will join us?! And no, this is not the end of our SE Asia journey. We opted to continue our travels here through the summer and head to Cambodia next…
West Bali National Park and Menjangan Island…we woke up at 5am and drove 2 hours to the park to meet our guide, Idriss. We hiked 2 hours through the park seeing deer, beautiful birds including the gorgeous Bali starling and dozens of black monkeys. The monkeys were our favorite part as watched them eat, jump between trees and be shy of us in their natural environment. Truly amazing. Then we took a boat to the island in the park and had one of the best snorkeling experiences of the past 3 months. Rob couldn’t snorkel because his foot is still healing, but he was laughing at me when I came out of the water and ran up to him yelling, “there were so many big fish! I felt like I was in an aquarium! It was a amazing!” I didn’t realize I was yelling, but it was such a great experience and I was so excited that it all came out at once!
Hiking through monkeys & snorkeling through what felt like an aquarium is best followed by the completely unexpected legitimate Indonesian winery on the way home! And only the second bottle of wine we have had in 3 months!
Fun in Ubud
And more fun in North Bali…