Picking up where we left off in Indonesia

Rob (Daddie Gizmo):

To Indonesia

On our first flight. At the beginning of my second movie. It hit me. Our travels have begun again. After a longer Winter season than we anticipated due to my broken leg, we return again to our Modern Gypsy life that we love so dearly. There is another 10 hour plane after this 12 hour flight, a car taxi to a hotel near the port to rest, then a fast boat and finally a second taxi to our beach bungalow on Nusa Penida, an island in a group of 3 off the SE coast of Bali. We will start this year on a sandy beach before we continue back into snowy Himalayan mountains.

Lacy is asleep beside me on our Qatar Airways flight. She has carried both our backpacks and daypack (aka Gizmo’s chariot) all along the way so far. We hoped I’d be further along in my recovery when we booked our flights, but we will make it. Perhaps a little slower than normal at first while I’m still getting my legs under me, but there is so much to come. We finally bought a GoPro. It will film Lacy’s snorkels in Indonesia then get strapped to the handlebars of a Royal Enfield Motorcycle to journey through the highest roads in the Indian Himalayas and Kashmir. This is what we have sketched out thus far. Much appreciation to Hunter Mountain, Scribner’s Catskill Resort and the Glaser Family for making our white winter an amazing experience. Stay tuned. What comes next is guaranteed to be one hell-of-a-ride!

Lacy: Exiting the airport after 20+ hours on two flights, we were wrapped in the familiar balmy weather that is akin to South Bali nights. Midnight struck, ushering in my birthday, as we drove to our hotel for the evening. Hopping out of the cab and gathering our unusually light backpacks, the stars and moon seemed to shine exceptionally bright above us as they welcomed us back to Indonesia. The aromas of incense and flowers surrounding us made us feel as if we had come home. After a Bintang beer toast to a long voyage well done and a second birthday celebrated in Indonesia we were all too happy to lay flat in a bed to sleep.

Giz also loves the local beer, Bintang.

Having our internal clocks thrown off after crossing at least 12 different time zones from NY to Bali, we didn’t sleep more than 6 hours. By 7am we were showering and all too eager to feel the sunshine. We booked a hotel on the beach in Sanur as we planned to take a fast boat this morning to the neighboring island of Nusa Penida. As we walked from our room through the courtyard gardens of our hotel towards the restaurant on the beach our smiles became wider. Bali is just as lush and beautiful as we remembered. It feels remarkably comforting to be back here, surrounded by cempaka and hibiscus flowers, altars at every turn and the never ending smiles of locals. The continuous sound of the Bali Sea that would become the background to our lives for the upcoming days began as we exited the floral courtyard and approached the buffet on the beach. Piling our plates with Mie Goreng (fried noodles with vegetables) we were deeply satisfied as this is a favorite dish of ours that we have reflected on for the last 7 months since we left Asia. We requested the local sambal (spicy sauce that is added to nearly every dish here) since the one offered on buffet was the “tourist version.” We learned last year that in a touristy place or hotel the local sambal isn’t usually offered since most visitors don’t enjoy spicy food. We love the spice and this is why we typically eat at local joints and not the western restaurants. This morning, however, was divine. With Balinese sambal on the table we enjoyed breakfast and took in the local Sanur scene while discussing how good it feels to back here.

Nusa Penida is a 40 minute fast boat ride from South Bali. We wanted to visit here last year, but simply ran out of time with our Visa and decided to move on to Cambodia. Having spent 7 months in the Catskill Mountains I was itching to be back on the beach and the accommodation we booked does not disappoint. A simple wooden bungalow, one of 3 on the property, 25 feet from the beach at high tide. It sounds like the waves are in bed with us. This is exactly what we wanted – crystal clear water and sunrise views. We easily and naturally adjusted back to sun time when we arrived. Our neighboring rooster wakes up with us as the sun rises. You simply wouldn’t be experiencing Indonesia properly if you didn’t have a rooster nearby. We have named him Rocky. In the late afternoon, when the tide is low, the local kids swim in the sea in front of our room and we both enjoy hearing their laughter as we rest our sun tired bodies before dinner.

The view from our bungalow

We have taken it easy these first few days as Rob is still not up to long walks and hikes as of yet. The day we arrived on Nusa we lounged on the beach in front of our bungalow enjoying cold beers, the magnificent view and the sound of the waves. We didn’t hesitate to walk across the street to the conveniently located spa for our first of what I’m sure will be many $10 60 minute massages. It was the perfect way to end my birthday. Between the jet lag and the massage I was asleep within 30 minutes of returning “home.” The following day we hired a car and driver to take us to Crystal Beach 30 minutes away. It was a no brainer to have a driver for 5 hours for $20. The four hours we spent on the beach passed quickly as the scenery was stunning, the lounge chairs comfortable and the beer cold.

Feels amazing to be back in Indonesian waters again

I snorkeled and saw some good fish, but the coral was really bleached. We were so spoiled by the unbelievably colorful coral and fish on Kenawa island last year and that will forever be our benchmark for snorkeling. On day 3, after another breakfast of Balinese coffee, papaya, watermelon and other assorted fruits enjoyed on our patio overlooking the Sea, Rob was feeling confident and ready to ride a scooter. I was thrilled as I love riding on the back and taking in the scenery as the sun and breeze kiss my skin. I grew up always riding with full gear and it wasn’t until riding in tropical Sumbawa last year that I dared get on the bike in sandals, shorts and a tank top. And on somewhat sketchy roads at that. Sorry dad – but it sure does feel good when you’re riding along the beach. With the GoPro strapped to the Scoopy we took off east. Wow, the ride was so beautiful along the coast and through the bright green hills. Last year when we rode a 250cc Versys across 4 islands we often stopped for fresh juices at the stalls along the road. Dragonfruit is always my favorite. In our typical style, we stopped at a magnificent Warung (Indonesian eatery) with pondoks overlooking the sea where the papaya juice hit the spot on a sunny day.

Rob is in the last pondok in the row overlooking the sea

We were beaming. It feels so good to be on another adventure together exploring what the island has to offer. Our destination for the day was Atuh and Diamond Beaches. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. I have been on many breathtaking beaches and Diamond Beach is in my top 3.

Since Rob couldn’t climb down to the beach with me I brought Gizmo, who loved the view

Lovely jungle view with temple directly behind Atuh Beach

We learned last year that Indonesians LOVE a photo op. This swing over Crystal Beach was one of many such occasions

Rob couldn’t make the steep climb down so he enjoyed the view from above as I swam in the inviting waters below. Back at our place we looked through our photos from the day before Rob took off to have another massage while I relaxed on the beach and read. Once the sun went down we walked barefoot down the beach for the second night in a row to dinner. No shoes, no problem. What time is it? Why ask?! We have been constantly surrounded by sand and waves, living in sandals and sunglasses. My whole demeanor has slowed down since we stepped onto the plane in NY and being a beach bum is just right for us both after working all winter.

Our trip is off to a great start. We are already both a couple shades darker after only a few days. We only booked a place for the first 4 nights in Nusa Penida before heading to India on May 10th. We want to give ourselves the opportunity to discover things along the way that will shape our journey. This method was so successful last year, going with the flow and living in the moment, that there was never a desire to stray from it as we planned this year’s travels. The sensation of being in Indonesia is different than last year as we are familiar with the language, “rules” of the road (basically a free for all), food and customs. The initial shock has been replaced by a sense of belonging. It only took until the first day for me to begin throwing out the idea of moving here again, as I did last year. This country is intoxicating.

4 Comments

  1. Hi Valerie! We are in Indonesia until May 10th when we head off to India for what we are expecting to be a pretty epic motorcycle ride through the Himalayas. We were only in Bali less than 24 hours before heading to the neighboring Balinese island of Nusa Penida. It’s beautiful here! So happy to have you following along again 💜

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