Category: Indonesia

Couple Of The Week: Dominique & Théo

By , May 5, 2011 2:30 am

Running alongside with us, as we are being chased by Komodo Dragons on Rinca Island in Indonesia, was the lovely couple, Dominique and Théo. We shared an unforgettable experience together and we are so happy to have met them.

In addition to being great people, what amazed us the most about this couple is that when they decided to take a break from law school to travel, they made the most out of their small budget and turned it into an 7-month tour of Southeast Asia. They are living proofs that amazing travels DO NOT require large budgets.

Dominique and Théo

Dominique and Théo

Relationship Status: | Dating.
How long have you been together? | 2 years.
How long have you been traveling? | 5 months.
How long is your total planned trip? | 7 months.

How do you organize world travel among the both of you?
Dominique & Théo: We did not really organize this trip before leaving Quebec. We often change our plans and I think it’s what made our trip more exciting, but sometimes it puts more stress on us and it’s difficult for a couple.

What did you learn about each other?
Dominique: Théo is more patient than me. He can tolerate more dirt than me. He is also a very calm person. I knew that before, but I just realized it more.
Théo: I was surprised to see how well she adapted herself to difficult situations.

Would you do it again? What would you change?
Dominique: Yes, more organization.
Théo: Yes. Next time I would like to concentrate my trip on specific activities, so there is a goal.

What did you like least?
Dominique: The smell in India and the harassment of people who work in tourism.
Théo: The people who work in tourism.

Do you have any tips for traveling with your partner?
Dominique & Théo: Try to have some time on your own and sometimes it is better not to speak with each other when you are tired to avoid shit talking.

What was your favorite country you visited? Why?
Dominique & Théo: We hope Nepal, but so far India. The landscapes in the north of India are amazing and it is so different than anything else we saw during the past 5 months.

Indonesia: South Bali

By , April 7, 2011 2:10 am
Sunset On Uluwatu

Sunset On Uluwatu

After relaxing in the Gilies, we have one last day to spend in Bali. With our favorite driver, Putra, we visit the south part of Bali.

Bhima Monument In Kuta

Bhima Monument In Kuta

As we drive up to Uluwatu Temple, there are bus loads of tourists with the same idea of seeing the sunset from the cliffs. As everyone is snapping pictures of the sunset, the innocent looking monkeys start to grab things off the tourists. The tourist who just got his glasses or cap stolen tries to get his stuff back, but finds it impossible. Luckily, a local selling peanuts is conveniently there to help. With a single bag toss of goodies to the monkey, the monkey instantly releases the stolen item. Now the tourist is so thankful and leaves a big tip to his savior, not knowing the monkeys are actually trained to do this.

Monkey Thief

Monkey Thief

Cliffs Of South Bali

Cliffs Of South Bali

Uluwatu

Uluwatu

One monkey almost gets Ben’s cap. If you happen to know our friend, Ben, you would also know the rest of this story. Let’s just say it is a good thing we are there to save one monkey’s life.

Sunset

Sunset

Really Enjoying A Massage

Really Enjoying A Massage

Balinese Moon

Balinese Moon

For dinner, we go to Denpasar to try out some delicious fried chicken. The place if packed with locals and it turns out to be some finger linking good. After that, we make a stop at a duck restaurant for a second round of dinner. The duck tortilla, duck pizza, and other duck deliciousness.

The Crew

The Crew

Duck Tortillas

Duck Tortillas

Another Yummy Duck Dish

Another Yummy Duck Dish

Duck Pizza

Duck Pizza

While in Kuta, MuiMui and I find a spa package that includes ear wax candling and an hour massage. The experience turns out to be painless and fun. We are not sure if it really removed any wax.

Boris Getting Ear Waxed

Boris Getting Ear Waxed

Wax Presumably Removed From My Ear

Wax Presumably Removed From My Ear

Thanks a lot Daveena & Ben for joining us during your vacation; we had a lot of fun as always with you both. Tai, it was great to see you and we hope to see you again in Bali. :)

Uluwatu Monkey

Uluwatu Monkey

Fat Monkey

Fat Monkey

South Bali

South Bali

Ramayana Statue In Denpasar

Ramayana Statue In Denpasar

What We Paid: IDR USD Euro
– Uluwatu Temple 3,000/pp 0.35 0.25
– Fried chicken at Ayam Goreng Kalasan 11,000 1.30 0.90
– Private double at Suka Beach Inn in Kuta [private bath, budget hotel, rooms are ok, great price, pool] 132,000/double 15.30 10.70
– Ear candling and 1-hour massage 90,000/pp 10.45 7.30
– Transportation to Denpasar airport or anywhere in Bali with Putra 35,000/hr 4.05 2.85

Our drive, Putra’s, contact info:
E-mail: gunkghost18@yahoo.com (find him on Facebook)
Mobile: +62 852 3809 2119

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Indonesia: Bali Coast & The Gili Islands

By , April 1, 2011 5:05 am
Relaxation In Gili

Relaxation In Gili

A visit to Bali will not be complete without some relaxation time in the sun and beach. Our next three stops accomplish exactly that, but each delivering a different vibe and experience.

If it was not for a popular shipwreck, the village of Tulamben would probably not exist today. There is little infrastructure, just a few diving hotels and not much else to see if you are not diving or snorkeling. Our hotel is just a short swim away from the shipwreck. While looking for a company to dive with, Boris runs into his first diving instructor from Koh Tao, Thailand, Alice P.! She recently relocated here; what a small world.

Local Woman Carrying Diving Gear On Her Head!

Local Woman Carrying Diving Gear On Her Head!

Boris and our friend, Ben, both sign up for a day and night dive. The day dive is ok, but it does not have the exploration feel Boris was expecting. However, the night dive with Alice, the divemaster, is different and a cool experience. The lack of lights gives it a more claustrophobic feel so exploring all the rooms of the wreck with a torch has more of a mysterious touch.

Lush Landscapes

Lush Landscapes

Trying to catch transportation to the village of Amed, which is only a short ride away from Tulamben, is not worth the trouble so we rent a motorcycle. Soon after taking a turn into the road that leads to Amed, the scenery becomes very lush with mountainous backdrops. We drive through several small villages mostly filled with hotels. As we make our way up the cliff, there is a wonderful view of the coast. This is enough to get us to change my plans and stay in Amed.

Frenchie On Moto

Frenchie On Moto

Welcome To Amed

Welcome To Amed

With so many accommodations here and being that it is low season, we get the pick of the best. We rent a small quiet villa with the pool to ourselves. For lunch, we randomly pick Kamara Resto Warung run by the super-nice Gede Sama and his wife. They cook up a Balinese dish, called Nasi Campur, a rice dish topped with various meats and vegetables. It is so good that this is the only place and dish we eat while in Amed! For dessert, we go back on our motorcycle and do a run for longan fruit. It is almost like lychee, but with a brownish peel and white flesh that is very tasty.

Our Mini-Villa In Amed

Our Mini-Villa In Amed

Inside Our Mini Villa

Inside Our Mini Villa

From Amed, we take a fast boat to the Gili Islands. The ride is very rough, but luckily it is short. I recommend taking this route since it is not yet mentioned in Lonely Planet. Also, dive companies in Amed go out to the nearby shipwreck and charge the same as in Tulamben so staying in Amed vs. Tulamben may be a nicer option.

The Gili Islands is composed of three small islands and for our first night, we try out the smallest of the three called Gili Meno. We enjoy the quietness and small number of tourists, but the hotel accommodations turn out to be a horrible experience. Unless you book the only one expensive hotel on the island, the rest are basic with lots of mosquitoes and the beaches are filled with dead coral.

Baby Turtles On Gili Meno

Baby Turtles On Gili Meno

The next day we head to Gili Trawangan. I expected a crazy party island but to my surprise, the island has a great balance of nice hotels, restaurants, bars, and various beach areas to enjoy. Being in the sea feels great, but there are lots of coral so it can hurt.

Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan

Frenchie

Frenchie

The Gilies is a great place to kick back. The islands are so small you can easily bike or walk around it. If there are too many tourists in one part of the island, just head the other direction. Just don’t expect too much out of the beaches in Indonesia as they are enjoyable, but we have seen better.

Bicycling Around The Island

Bicycling Around The Island

Our Bungalow

Our Bungalow

Dining For Two

Dining For Two

Movie Night In Bungalow

Movie Night In Bungalow

Cute Light Decor

Cute Light Decor

Surfers Done For The Day

Surfers Done For The Day

Private Treehouse Deck

Private Treehouse Deck

Fancy House

Fancy House

Poor Little Lionfish

Poor Little Lionfish

Where The Party Begins

Where The Party Begins

Drink On FIRE

Drink On FIRE

Where The Party Continues

Where The Party Continues

B+D

B+D

What We Paid: IDR USD Euro
Tulamben
– Private double at Paradise Hotel [fan, private bath, short swim to shipwreck] 250,000/double 28.75 20.35
– Diving 250,000/dive 28.75 20.35
– Motorcycle rental 25,000/half-day 2.90 2
– Meals at hotel 45,000 5.20 3.65
– Meals outside hotel 25,000 2.90 2
Amed
– Private mini villa at Pazzo Hotel [private bath, free wifi, pool, friendly staff, restaurant, highly recommend] 250,000/double 28.75 20.35
– Motorcycle rental at Beten Waru 30,000/full-day 3.45 2.45
– Nasi Campur at Kamara Resto Warung 10,000 1.15 0.80
– Amed Sea Express fast boat from Amed to the Gili Islands [75 mins] 250,000/pp 28.75 20.35
Gili Meno
– Private double at Perama Kontiki Bungalow [recommend getting something at least on the 2nd floor b/c of the mosquitoes, bring your own mosquito net if possible] 200,000/double 23 16.30
– Meals 16,000 1.85 1.30
– Water transfer to Gili Trawanga 20,000/pp 2.30 1.60
Gili Trawangan
– Private bungalow at The Beach House Resort [clean, pool, friendly staff, restaurant, recommend] 300,000/double 34.50 24.45
– Street food meals 10,000 1.15 0.80
– Local fried fish at Night Market 15,000 1.72 1.22
– Barracuda fish at The Beach House restaurant [by weight] 80,000 9.20 6.50
– Bicycle rental 22,500/half-day 2.60 1.80
– Single scoop of Gili Gelato [excellent] 15,000 1.72 1.22
– Fast boat [80 mins] + shuttle transfer [90 mins] from Gili Trawangan to Kuta [highly recommend buying one-way ticket in case of cancellations with company] 250,000/pp 28.75 20.35

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Indonesia: Road Trip Through Bali

By , March 25, 2011 4:02 am
Praying In The Water

Praying In The Water

With our friends joining us on their holiday and with limited time, we are going to experience the efficiency of having a local driver for the first time. While it turns out to be a lot of fun, our driver also ends up saving us some money as he bargains for us around Bali.

We Get Blessed And Our Car

We Get Blessed And Our Car

From Ubud, we pack up our bags and head to Tulamben with a few tourists stops along the way. One of our first stops is Tirtha Empul Temple. As we make our way inside the water temple, there are many locals praying outside and inside the holy water. We are invited to go into the water, but not having the proper attire, we decide to watch instead. As we observe, we see a couple going to each water spout and each time, they do a prayer with incents and then dip their heads in the water.

Must Cover Legs To Go Inside Temple, Men Included

Must Cover Legs To Go Inside Temple, Men Included

Holy Water Spring

Holy Water Spring

Praying At Water Temple

Praying At Water Temple

This temple is a fine example how beautiful the Balinese culture is. There is no question about their devotion to their religion, but the beauty in the way they express their devotion is admirable. From the flowers used in their daily blessings, to the ornate temples that make the main part of their homes, to how graceful their customs are carried out, it makes me start to question how I can add some beauty in the things I do regularly.

Tirtha Empul Temple

Tirtha Empul Temple

Along our drive, whenever we see a street vendor, we make a stop. For just a few rupiahs, which translate to change for us, we can get some delicious chicken skewers and fish meatballs.

There are also many fruit stands filled with exotic fruits to try, but mangosteen is still my favorite. We roll up our tinted windows and our driver buys it for us at the local non-seasonal price of 40,000 IDR per kilo vs. the tourist price of 300,000 IDR per kilo. Sweet!

Passion Fruit

Passion Fruits

Our next visit brings us to a coffee farm. If you have not heard of Kopi Luwak, it is coffee that comes from the excrements of civet-like animals called Paradoxurus (or Luwaks). The story is that these small animals have a keen nose and will only eat the finest coffee beans. Since they cannot digest it, it comes out in their excrements and it is collected, washed, roasted and sold for a lot of money. We sample other various coffees and teas in addition to the Kopi Luwak. While I do not really taste a major difference, the others do and really like it. For a hefty price tag of $11 a cup, I’m going to stick to my regular coffee.

Tea & Coffee Time

Tea & Coffee Time

All Of Us

All Of Us

Drinking Kopi Luwak

Drinking Kopi Luwak

Boris Touching A Fruit Bat

Boris Touching A Fruit Bat

Where Kopi Luwak Comes From (Civet)

Where Kopi Luwak Comes From (Civet)

We arrive at the Mother Temple of Besakih. Our driver tells us what to say to avoid the absurd fee of hiring a “mandatory” guide. His suggestion works and straight into the temple we go. It is overwhelming at first since it is composed of many little temples. Our driver shows us his family temple from the entrance and we make sure that we do go inside any of the temples since we are not there for prayer. At the top of the hill, there is a larger temple with a great view of the area. It is wonderful to be able to see all this since it holds such high importance for the local people.

Mother Temple of Besakih

Mother Temple of Besakih

Statue

Statue

Dragon Stairs To Temple On Hill

Dragon Stairs To Temple On Hill

Views From Top Of Hill

Views From Top Of Hill

Later on the road, we are surrounded by many locals that are dressed up in ceremonial attire. We jump out of the car and follow the parade of people down a small road. The entire procession is breathtaking with many of the women carrying baskets on their heads filled with various fruits. I’m amazed how they can walk so casually with so much stuff on their head and still carry a big smile. The walk soon ends at a grassy area where everyone seems to be giving their offerings. Our driver explains to us this is an Odalan, a temple festival held for each temple on its anniversary.

Procession To Temple

Procession To Temple

Women Carrying Offerings On Their Heads

Women Carrying Offerings On Their Heads

More Offerings

More Offerings

There is a last request for some local Arak liquor. Our driver comes back with some bottles and score some free local palm wine. The Arak tastes a little like vodka so I am more a fan of the palm wine, which is lighter in my opinion.

We have seen so much in a short time and I give credit to our driver, Putra, for all this. He has truly enriched our experience with his kindness and sharing so much about his culture with us. Being educated in Indonesia and in the states, he can speak fluent English, so he comes highly recommended by world travelers.

Putra’s contact info:
E-mail: gunkghost18@yahoo.com (find him on Facebook)
Mobile: +62 852 3809 2119

Big Smile

Big Smile

Child With His Father

Child With His Father

An Old Woman Attending Festivities

An Old Woman Attending Festivities

Elephant Cave (Goa Gajah)

Elephant Cave (Goa Gajah)

Boris Inside Cave

Boris Inside Cave

Almost Like A Dog, The Bat Of Course

Almost Like A Dog, The Bat Of Course

Adorable Wild Turkey

Adorable Wild Turkey

Boris Grinding The Coffee Beans

Boris Grinding The Coffee Beans

What We Paid: IDR USD Euro
– Driver in Bali 35,000/hour 4 2.85
– Goa Gajah, Elephant Temple 15,000/pp 1.75 1.20
– Tirtha Empul Temple, Water Temple 16,000/pp 1.85 1.30
– Mother Temple of Besakih 15,000/pp 1.75 1.20
– Mangosteen fruit 40,000/kilo 4.60 3.25
– Chicken Skewers (street food) 4,000 0.45 0.32
– Kopi Luwak at Amertha Yoga Coffee Farm 100,000/cup 11.50 8.10
– Arak liquor 8,000/bottle 0.90 0.65

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Indonesia: Experiencing Beauty In Ubud, Bali

By , March 21, 2011 11:57 pm
Rice Paddy Fields

Rice Paddy Fields

In our travels thus far, we have been fortunate to see wonderful landscapes, experience cultures that truly embrace harmony, and be touched by selfless people. It was not until our arrival into Ubud that I will come across all these feelings at one single location.

Just before going to Ubud, we have a few planned surprises waiting for us at the Denpasar airport. Our friends, Ben and Daveena, from San Francisco are coming to join us in Bali for their holiday. Also meeting us is Tai, another SF friend who has recently moved to Bali. With a group of familiar faces, we head to Ubud together.

Our Friends' Arrival

Our Friends' Arrival

We naturally make our way to the popular Monkey road where there are more hotel and restaurant options. Tucked away among rice paddy fields right off the main road is where we find no other tourists, only the sounds of butterflies, and our home while in Ubud. We got our hands on the only two private mini-villas. While each comes with a mini-pool, the best was the foam mattresses. This is an extreme luxury for us as I come to learn nothing can replace a good night sleep on a clean comfortable mattress.

Our Mini-Villa

Our Mini-Villa

In The Middle Of Rice Fields

In The Middle Of Rice Fields

They Brought Us Wine & Cheese

They Brought Us Wine & Cheese

Priceless Relaxation

Priceless Relaxation

By day, we explore Ubud by foot. Every few feet, there is a temple. The Balinese are very spiritual and in addition to having a temple at each house, they do prayer twice a day for everything, including their car and scooter. You can see the small baskets filled with flowers they use for prayer along the sidewalks, in front of each hotel, restaurant, and shop.

Water Temple

Water Temple

Our Friend Being Silly

Our Friend Being Silly

We look forward to eating as Balinese dishes are super delicious. While they seem simple at first, they are filled with spices just enough to give it flavor but not over do it. We even try the very popular suckling pig and yes, fatty pig meat and crunchy skin is yummy. We try to find street food vendors in Ubud, but since the complaints from the local restaurants have shut down the night market, the options are limited. We decide to drive 12 miles to the nearest night market and it is well worth it as we get to try out more local dishes in an environment without the fancy decor and tourist prices.

Popular Tourist Destination

Popular Tourist Destination

Suckling Pig

Suckling Pig

Getting Dessert At Night Market

Getting Dessert At Night Market

Our friends also remind us about leisure. They set a target for the number of massages to get while on their holiday. We decide to join in the fun with Boris getting a well deserved massage and me going all out at a spa. In the middle of my treatment, I was so overwhelmed with the service that I thought I may have mistakenly ordered the honeymoon package. Then on a second thought, who cares.

Rose Petals Just For One

Rose Petals Just For One

Early one morning we go visit the nearby Monkey Temple. It is so early that no one is at the collection booth. Once we enter, there are groups of monkeys all around us. I am happy not to be alone as they can get very close. Ben gets his hands on some fruit and the monkeys are coming aggressively towards him and show their fangs to intimidate him. Overall the temple is a nice leisurely stroll but I would advise to go early in the morning, not to skimp on the entrance fee, but to avoid the large bus crowds that come later.

Extreme Trees

Extreme Trees

Look Up

Look Up

Baby Monkey!

Baby Monkey!

In our next post, we will explore more of Bali and its beauty, but with the leisure of a driver.

MuiMui Inside A Vintage

MuiMui Inside A Vintage

What We Paid: IDR USD Euro
– Lunch at Starbucks at Denpasar airport [free wifi and clean] 67,000/pp 7.70 5.40
– Driver from Denpasar airport to Ubud [drive took 60 mins but had driver for 3 hours] 150,000/car 17.25 12.10
– Harmony Villas behind Wardani’s Warung [built in 2011, foam mattress, private mini-pool, large shared pool, middle of rice fields, hotel restaurant, free wifi from restaurant, peaceful location right off Monkey Forest Road, great staff, highly recommended, contact: harmonyubud@yahoo.com, wardani-restaurant.blogspot.com, (0361) 970932] 250,000/mini-villa 28.75 20.15
– Breakfast at Wardani’s Warung Garden Restaurant 21,000/pp 2.40 1.70
– Lunch at Ibu Oka for Babi Guling (suckling pig) 35,000/pp 4 2.80
– Dinner at Bollero Restaurant [nice, touristy, inside Ubud] 77,000/pp 8.85 6.20
– Driver from Ubud to Gianyar night market and back [2 hours, you can find many drivers on Monkey Forest Road] 80,000/car 9.20 6.45
– Gianyar night market outside Ubud [we tried fried fish with drink, fried chicken, crepe, pastry, local dessert] 20,000/pp 2.30 1.60
– Entrance to Monkey Temple [free at 7:30 am else 20,000 IDR] 0 0 0
– One hour massage 80,000 9.20 6.45
– Full spa treatment at Asia Prophecy Spa [promotional price, nice owner, speaks English and Japanese, contact: 081 353 099 74 744, www.asianprophecy.com] 270,000/pp 31 21.75

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