A Travellerspoint blog

The next chapter.

From East coast to Ontario.

I promised myself I would write one more entry before signing off on this blog.

Life since landing back on our sweet, red, island soil on August 4th has been anything but boring. It's actually been one of the busiest months I've ever had. From family reunions and weddings to several gatherings with friends and hanging out with dad frequently, I'm not complaining. But I feel like I haven't had the chance to reflect on the previous months so I'm going to go back through my blog entries and relive those days with the help of the few thousand pictures I have!

As we look back on the things we've learned about ourselves and as a couple, it's become very evident that this trip was critical for both of us. It's been one of the most eye opening and best experiences I've been through to date and the trip definitely served its purpose. As I move forward in my life, I realize (even more so now) what those critically important things are that matter to me. The things that matter to me are my relationships with family, friends and other people I'll meet down the road and not about spending money on 'stuff' or on events that aren't necessary. I have the best family, friends and that guy Derek isn't too bad either! Haha.

Thanks to all those who have followed this blog throughout not only this adventure, but this period of self discovery. Can't wait to do it again!

Laurie

Posted by lcmichael 14:09 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

The end is near(ing).

Bali, Indonesia

sunny 33 °C

It's Saturday afternoon and Derek and I are checking up on our lives outside of South East Asia before we catch a cab back to Jimbaran Bay for another delectable meal at the seafood restaurant we went to several weeks back. We have one full day left (tomorrow) and we are going to take full advantage of it.

Beach + Surfing + Indonesian food + Beach + Surfing + More food = one great last day on this 3 1/2 month trip!

We haven't been up to a whole lot. Other than me continuing to struggle with my choice of swim gear, everything here is fantastic. We've been checking out different areas of Kuta/Legian and went down the beach towards Seminyak which was really nice. Found an amazing food stall/court type of thing - it's an open area of restaurants that surround tons of long tables. You go in, the staff from every place basically pounce on you with menus and lots of encouragement to come to their restaurant. But we head straight to the back for the Turkish kebab spot. Oh my god it is amazing. I had a falafel yesterday that could win competitions. The garlic sauce... amazing! For some reason though, no one wanted to be close to me afterwards...

Shopping has also been on the agenda as we both had several people we wanted to get presents for. One thing is quite evident, I'm going home with hardly any of the things I left with! It's all been replaced by gifts which is fine with me! Of course... I had to "treat" myself to a few things... I mean... shopping is HARD! (Did I justify it enough?)

Derek's in his glory on a surfboard. He's out there forever and is getting pretty good if I do say! I suckered out yesterday when I caught sight of 6 jellyfish (no stingers evident but couldn't take my chances) and there goes Derek... swims out past all of them no problem... didn't even phase him. Surf guarding does that I guess. You have to be in the water, regardless if there are jellyfish. Apparently the risk of getting stung by a jellyfish is outweighed by the importance of a human life... hmm. Whoever is with me at the beach, just hope you don't get caught in a current. I'm kidding... of course I would save someone! But I will be requesting a full body wet suit to assist me if it is jellyfish season on PEI. We all know how insane those things can get! I swear they follow you around...

Also to add, we have noticed a bevy of - let's say - interesting fashion choices worn on the beach. Mostly worn by Russian tourists... from rubix-cubed speedos, string bikini bottoms on women who shouldn't be wearing them, feathers in hats, more speedos, tiny bikini tops leaving nothing to the imagination, more speedos, and really large men stuffed into tiny shorts. It's quite the scene. At least they're confident with themselves!

So that is our past week in a nutshell. We're getting really excited to start the journey home but also dread it. From Bali - PEI (Monday - Thursday), we will have been traveling for 65 hours... I apologize to anyone who may see me within the first few minutes of my return as I will be... (how do I put this?) disgusting. But it will all be worth it!

This will probably be my last post until I return home (I want to write one more on our trip back to Canada) so thanks to everyone for keeping up with our travels, it means a lot!

Laurie

Posted by lcmichael 02:02 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

The Road to Bali.

Bali, Indonesia.

sunny 32 °C

Bali. What a place. More specifically - Legian, Bali. Just north of Kuta, away from the ever-crowded zone for trendy tourists, backpackers and many things like a Hard Rock Cafe, Pizza Hut, McDonald's that IS Kuta... you get the picture.

Derek and I are loving it though... you realize after being here for some time that the chaos is actually organized. The people are all-round fantastic in Indonesia, some of the most genuine people I've ever met. You can actually sit down with a stranger and have a "heart to heart". Plus they are beautiful (inside and out). We've seen a few tourists (will not name nationalities as this will only confirm a few stereotypes) who have just been plain ignorant and rude to the locals... I mean... come on! These people are probably working on their 4th or 5th language, (English is not even an official language here) and tourists are upset because they mispronounce a word or need to think for a second on the answer... there was one man who was so rude to a man who operated a tour company that when he left, I talked to the poor man about how not all tourists are like that as he had tears in his eyes... and he was only being nice to the man whose first language was English, and I would bet, did not know a second language.

To get here from the Gigli's was extremely painless and included a fast boat from Gigli Trawangan (1 hour on the fast boat with A/C, water, bathroom vs. 8 hours on the regular ferry - I'll pass on the 'bunk beds in the basement option' and seasickness this time). We paid $50 each for the fast boat (I struggled to part ways with that money but it was definitely worth it). Next stop, Padang Bai port where we met a shuttle bus who took us to Kuta, Bali (2 1/2 hours or so). Once we landed, we grabbed our bags and headed towards Legian which is the less crowded option to Kuta. After walking up the narrow streets off the main road, we found a great hotel (Rosani, $35/night) and stayed there for the past week - it had a pool, breakfast everyday included, A/C in the rooms, TV... we were living like royalty! We decided to splurge a little on these last few weeks... it's so nice after budget travelling for 3 months.

So. What have we been up to since settling in here? Surfing every other day... beach... pool... cafes... exploring this area a bit more... basically to sum it up - relaxing. A lot. It's really nice. Although my strapless top - as great as it is for tanning and just looking great on the beach (haha) - is not ideal for:

-Snorkelling
-Surfing (unless wearing the special surf shirt)
-Swimming
-Body surfing
-Beach sports
-Waving to people
-High fiving
-Exercising, any type
-Running
-Walking

But man, I have an awesome tan. So it's worth it... right? Girls... just bring a few other tops (I did but hadn't learned from the snorkeling incident).

Also, if you are going to surf, buy the shirt (or rent) and make sure you have appropriate bottoms. My bottoms were NOT cutting it and a couple times I was stuck riding the surf board in, yet again, giving the people "behind" me a show. Soon after, I had quit for the day and returned to the beach where Derek was doubled over laughing because, apparently, he also had seen my "misery on a surfboard routine".

That's another thing I have learned... I am not the soaring angel I thought I was on a surfboard... I'm a dying cow. Only imagine this on water. It's not pretty. Thank god I already had those 'uber professional-looking' surfing pictures taken. They will not happen again. Derek on the other hand, is a complete natural with water. I guess his 3 years experience surfguarding + many years of swimming have coupled into a very impressive surfing experience. He was up on the board the first time he touch it... ugh... don't you just despise those people? Who are great at everything on the first try? Haha I'm kidding. I love him, but was quite jealous of natural affinity for water sports. Before I knew it, he was out with the 'big boys' catching some larger waves... then... he was at the shore trying to put his lead on his ankle... and the board popped up and hit him in the face. He didn't turn around so I knew we was trying to be manly about it. I couldn't stop laughing... good thing he didn't see me or he might think I was insensitive! That is how us Michael's tend to react to pain... we laugh (as my sister can tell you).

We have 1 week left... wow. Our LAST week of this unbelievable trip... now to switch things up from 'this reality' to another reality for a while... we're getting really excited now about seeing everyone on PEI. Then Derek and I are moving to London, ON at the end of August so another adventure to come!

Will do another entry before we leave next Monday for Bangkok.

Laurie :)

Posted by lcmichael 05:02 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

To Indonesia, with love.

Gigli Islands, Lombok, Indonesia

sunny 35 °C

I'm having a deja vu... I'm in an internet cafe... sweating... which is actually strange for Indonesia. There's such a great breeze all the time from the ocean so you aren't sweating 24/7 - only when the A/C or fans don't work. Which can be often.

We have been on Gigli Trawangan for one week now and today checked into a really nice resort for 2 nights, called Pesona (thanks Jaclyn for the recommendation!). It's so we can celebrate our 5 year anniversary which is coming up next month. We're looking forward to it as our 'deluxe' room has A/C, a TV, DVD player, there's a really nice pool, an Indian restaurant (our favorite food), and a shisha lounge. Will be a nice place to round off the last few days of our time on these islands. And the kicker... my mom is treating us! So nice of her... we didn't expect that at all! Thanks mom! We love you! But of course, not just for the money ;)

Since the last time I had written, Derek finished up his Advanced Open Water course and got to do a night dive, navigation dive, nitrox dive, deep water dive (30 meters!), and photography dive. It was a busy few days for him but he loved it! He got to see several sharks, tons of fish, amazing coral reefs that stretched forever and some other really cool things that he'd be better off describing. Meanwhile, I have been living it up at the beach, walking around the town here, reading, life's been great! I had a great chat with a couple of the guys who work at our hostel, they told me they make a monthly salary of 600,000 IDR which is about $30 Canadian... he sends $20 of that home to his mother who can't work and lives off $10/month which he said is not enough... it's just unbelievable the difference in our societies, but then again, there are so many similarities... it's tough at times to justify trips like these to locals because we obviously have extra money to save and then can spend it on travel, which is a huge luxury in all cultures... but moving on with my update...

The couple from Holland we met traveling from Kuta, Lombok to the Gigli's were staying on the North part of the island so we ended up having dinner with them 2 nights in a row - first at an awesome Italian spot and afterwards we grabbed some drinks from the convenience store and sat down at the beach. The next night was their last night here so we walked up to their hotel where the restaurant is known for their amazing tapas! They did not disappoint... we sat in a little hut built above the ground and hung out for a few hours drinking sangria. We had so much fun! It was too bad they had to leave the next day, but we made them promise they have to come to PEI sometime to see us...

The next day, we rented snorkels and took advantage of the crazy current that runs parallel to the shore and started up the beach and floated down, checking out the amazing coral reefs and fish on the bottom. So cool! I was struggling though... kept kicking against the current and wore myself out pretty quickly. Plus I wore a strapless top... let's just say the fish got a show. A few times.

Yesterday was a solid beach day. Crystal clear blue skies, incredibly warm water... Derek rented snorkelling equipment again and took some pictures of the coral reefs/fish once more... unfortunately my underwater camera went a little too deep and is toast. I can't believe it made it this far! I'm hoping the pictures are ok!

We're getting a little antsy to go surfing, which is not ideal around here, so decided to head back to Southern Bali on Monday and spend the last 2 weeks traveling around and checking out some cool towns while brushing up on our stellar surfing skills (trying to get the lingo down too! haha). Derek's planning on doing his Rescue Diver course when we get there which will take about 3 days and then who knows!

Wow... almost 2 weeks left... although we aren't homesick, we can't wait to see our family and friends! This has been a long trip but worth it in every way. Our perspective on life has changed a lot and we feel much we have a much more clear sense of reality... I think it's important for both of us to have done this, especially at our age as we're making many decisions about our future as individuals and as a couple. It's just been amazing! We are definitely not ready to 'settle down' with a house, permanent job, etc. so I feel I'm pretty lucky to be with someone who feels the same way about these things as I do. We're just going about things a different way and so far, it's working extremely well for both of us! I'm also lucky I have the friends that I do, we have been friends for a long time (going on 20 years for some of us) and are all very similar in the way that no one (to date) has taken the 'traditional' route to life. It's so nice to have that support system to know you can do things differently!

So, we fly into the Charlottetown airport on August 4th at 10:55am (cough cough... in case anyone is in the area...). On the way, we stop in Seoul, South Korea for 9 hours where Derek is taking me to see his old apartment, the school he used to teach at, his favorite restaurant before we have to be back at the airport. Then we stop in Vancouver for 5 hours and Mark Yammine is hoping to make it out to have lunch with us, THEN we fly to Toronto and have a 7 hour stopover (11pm - 6am) where mom and Rick are going to pick us up and get a hotel room for us to shower as we will be traveling for 2 days straight. Ugh! Then to Montreal and finally Charlottetown! Woohoo!

I'll have a few more blog posts in the meantime!

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend :)

Laurie

Posted by lcmichael 22:47 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Sand, sun and attempting to surf.

Indonesia

sunny 34 °C

According to our travel map we are at our 45th stop of this trip. It's a little shocking to tell you the truth... looking back on this experience so far is a tad overwhelming (in a good way).

We only have 3 weeks left and although it feels like this trip has gone by quickly, in other ways it feels like it's been a really long time! We are at week #11 of 14 and that is a good chunk of time to be backpacking. So what are we doing with our last 3 weeks? Well I will tell you!

After making it to Kuta, Bali, Indonesia, we parked ourselves for 3 nights right in the middle of the action. Kuta is a cool spot. Yes, there are tons of tourists but it's a different vibe compared to other touristy cities that we've been to. There is so much to do and it's really chill although there are thousands of people milling around. The 2nd night we were there, I HAD to take Derek to this seafood restaurant that Steve, Jamie, Jaclyn and I had gone to 3 years ago... it's on Jimbaren Bay (about 20 mins from Kuta) where there are a ton of beachside seafood restaurants. You choose your own seafood right from the tank, how you want it cooked, etc. - we decided on crab, calamari, and snapper fish. We sat at a candlelight table closest to the shore and enjoyed a bottle of wine while watching the sunset... you look down the beach and the other restaurants are set up the same way so all you see are candles... that meal was one of the best we've had... ever! It brought back so many good memories from when I was there with my friends! I'm so happy I got to share the experience with Derek.

So the next day Derek decided to go to Tulamben (on the east coast) for the day to do the famous Liberty Wreck dive. It only cost $90 for the whole day including food, transportation, 2 dives, gear, etc. and he said it's his best dive to date. A United States ship sank during WWII and was resting at a 90 degree angle. Derek said it was absolutely incredible... he saw over 100 species of different wildlife and got to actually go through some parts of the ship! That same day, I decided to put my body through the first time experience of surfing... well, Kuta is definitely the place to surf. I went with Big Kahuna Surf School and they were awesome - it cost me about $35 for a 2 hour lesson and they guaranteed you would be surfing by the end or you get a free lesson. Well... 2 hours later... lots of falls... lots of salt water swallowed... I was surfing! Not incredibly well, but I definitely was! It was one of the most fun experiences I've ever had. I didn't want to leave the water! The school even took pictures of our group while we were surfing which was hilarious to look through but there were some pretty deceiving pictures which made me look semi-decent for my first time!

Another cool thing about Indonesia is the history with the Dutch... well maybe the history isn't so cool as Indonesia was colonized by them but the remnants of that still exists through food, language and some culture. There are tons of people here from Holland and like Derek, they are loving the frequency of Nasi Goreng and other of those types of dishes on the menu which are Indonesia dishes adopted by the Dutch. They are delicious!

Derek and I were thinking about going to Ubud but decided against it at the last minute as we were saturated with temples at this point. We wanted the beach. We booked a ticket to Kuta Beach, Lombok (not to be confused with Kuta, Bali) and started the 7 hour trip over to Lombok which is the next island east of Bali. Strange and funny story - we get on the 4 hour ferry to Lombok... are sitting in some chairs when this guy comes up to us and sort of whispers "Cabin?". We have no idea what he's talking about and he comes back around again, sits in a chair in front of us and like he's telling us something confidential or illegal, he asks again "Cabin?". Apparently there are bunk beds in rooms literally in the underbelly of the ferry they rent out. We were up at 5:00am that day so payed the equivalent of $6.00 to travel down 3 flights of stairs to the creepy 'basement' and slept until we got to the wharf. Weird experience. From there we got to Kuta Beach and stayed for 2 nights - it's a very small place with not many people. A cool spot but we found the beaches were littered with garbage (surprisingly enough for a small place) which ruined it for us... Derek spent most of our time on one of the beaches picking up garbage from the ocean and putting it in a pile on the beach... disappointing! But during that day, we did rent a motorbike and explore a little bit which was cool! I was terrified to be on the bike but Derek was a great driver and took his time... whew!

The two nights we were there we ended up going to Friendly's Cafe which is a restaurant right on the beach. Little did we know the first night we'd meet a new friend! The owner, Kiem (pronounced Kim) sat with us and made us Lombok drinks of Arak, lemon, and honey. Oh my gosh these are good! Too good! We ended up staying there both nights for hours and on the 2nd night, he brought out homemade rice wine... oh no! It was also too good! After several drinks, we ended up inviting Kiem to the Gigli islands with us for one night - and he came! He's 22 years old, is married with a 1 1/2 year old son named Henry Friendly (the parents give both the first and last name, last names aren't passed down through families), has a house and this new restaurant. So the next morning he was at our hotel and made the trip with us to Gigli T that day. We went to the beach (he can't swim so he floated around), hung out at our cabin, went for dinner and hung out on the beach that night! The next day he had to leave to go back to Kuta but we had such a great time with him!

So after he left yesterday, Derek and I walked around part of the island and checked out different spots. We found a cheaper hotel which is basically the exact same as our first one so moved over this morning. Derek just started his Advanced Open Water dive course today which runs 2-3 days (with Trawangan Divers company) and then is going to do his Rescue Diver Course + First Aid/CPR... he's so excited! I guess the Gigli's are one of the best places in the world to dive so I'm sure he'll have amazing stories to tell when he's back this afternoon! The beach on one part of the island is beautiful but is riddled with coral, right to the shore... which makes for very painful swimming attempts (as evidenced by the cuts on my knees) but there is a spot about a 10 minute walk away with great surfing and a sandy beach/shore. I am definitely going there soon! Snorkelling is on my list too as the coral is unbelievable!

Anyway, I'm going to go to an awesome Mexican restaurant for lunch (apparently it's my obsession) and hang on the beach until Derek is back in a few hours!

Until next time!

Laurie

Posted by lcmichael 20:17 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

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