10.07.2011 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!