Slice of Paradise

A few hours after my last post, I was 25m below the ocean, drifting along above a reef filled with tropical fish, cuddlefish and a moray eel. After my dive I headed back to meet up with Greg and we returned to a beachfront hut, munching Indonesian food in the shade. At 3:45 we boarded a small and tippy boat for Gili Menos the least populated of the three Gilis. With our packs and hammock tents, we began hiking around the island, looking for a perfect spot to set up camp. We found our spot just as the sun was about to set, and hung our hammocks, then watched the sun set, enjoying the cool ocean breeze.
As soon as we settled in to our hanging beds, that breeze ceased, leaving us hot and mostly sleepless for the night, waking up heat exhausted and feeling weak. A short walk and boat back to the largest Gili (gili means island) we planned our return to civilization and scarfed down a quick breakfast. Once on our fast boat, we could tell we were in for a ride, with the boat pounding through big waves. The rocking added to our already sick misery and we dreamed of solid land. Once back in Pandang Bay, we checked into a backpackers hostel and slept and rehydrated, starting to feel better as time went by.
From here our time is starting to end, so a return to Sanur to enjoy the beach and sun before our return to NY.

Peace and chow,
Jacob

The Great Adventure!

Hello from Gili! A set of three small and peaceful island off the coast of Lombok. Our trip here was rather unorganized and not well planned but ended up working out wonderfully. From Sanur Greg myself and the wedding party headed out to Ubud, a more remote inland village made popular by the book and film Eat Pray Love. There we saw plenty of monkeys at the monkey forest one of which climbed on my shoulder for a ride! We also were able to get a bit more off the beaten track, walking down a dirt road lined with rice paddies. After a night in Ubud, Greg and I departed for Lovina, a smaller area in the north of Bali known for dolphins and black sand beaches, high hopes in hand we braved the 3 hour ride up winding roads and mountain passes. After settling in to our hotel we headed for the beach, to be sorely disappointed, a thin strip of black sand 5′ wide then sea which remained at knee deep for a long way out.
The next morning we got up for 5:30 dolphin watching, which was much more exciting than the beach, we saw countless dolphins jumping and swimming up by the boat! We then went snorkeling at the reef by Lovina, seeing tropical fish and star fish.
On from Lovina we headed to Pandang Bay, the harbor town to get to Lombok and Gili. One uneventful night there and a fast boat ride later and we finally found what Hollywood portrays as an island paradise, white sand beaches, light blue water and cheap, fresh seafood! After I went snorkeling off the beach and saw a sea turtle eating coral and countless beautiful fish we attempted to camp by the beach in our hammock tents, however a strong downpour forced us to take up more conventional accommodations for the night.
Today I’m going to try and get a dive in and then give camping by the beach another shot.

Peace and chow,
Jacob

The first two days

I just woke up from the third night here in Bali and thought it’d be a good time to take a few moments to fill in my avid readers.
After a painfully long time in a plane we landed in Hong Kong for what we were worried would be an awkwardly timed lay over, 5 hours. Being adventurous we decided to take the rail shuttle to the city at 5am and see the sights. The city and surrounding areas is quite unlike any city I’ve seen before countless tall buildings duplicated at least five times.
In the city we walked around to get the feel of the city and spent a few HSBC marked bills to get breakfast from a hole in the wall shop, ramen with beef, spam and eggs. Then we went back to the airport and continued to Bali.
Once in Bali we took the most frightening taxi ride of my life to the hotel, playing chicken with buses, passing cars passing other cars and seeing how close we could get to killing a motorcyclist.
Feeling refreshed after a shower and a jump in the pool Greg and I met up with Chris and got dinner, then put our feet in the ocean before heading to bed.
The next morning after watching the sun rise over the beach we went to Kuta the most famous and touristy area in Bali where we felt like a piece of bread surrounded by hungry gulls, locals fighting over who would offer us this or that. A few hours of fending off offers of cheap tours, surfing and countless other things, we returned to our hotel to enjoy the lack of hawkers and the quiet of the pool.
A brief rest later we woke just before midnight, hopped in a van and started a long and dangerous drive up the side of a mountain to a temple, where at 2am we began to hike up Mount Agung, the tallest mountain in Bali, almost 10,000′ above sea level. In the dark we treked up and up, hoping to reach the top by sunrise. As we drew close to the top our group decided to stop as the path was transforming into a thousand foot free climb, too dangerous for our tired and blind selves. We found a flat area near the top, and watched the horizon lighten, sipping on coffee and snacks brought up by our guides. The pictures and view were breath-taking, seeing the mountains of Bali spread before us. On the way down we spotted some monkeys and other wildlife. The ride back through the rice paddies and small villages was amazing and felt much more real than the touristy beach areas.
Back in Sanur, we caved to the multitudes of people offering massages and I got a 45 minute foot massage for about $8 (this was a more upscale place). We then went to Chris’ hotel for a rijstafel and traditional Baliese dancing and then finally, bed.

Off to Ubud!,
Jacob

T-2 Days

This time in two days I will have begun my trip to southeast Asia. I have mostly finished packing and am starting to feel ready to depart. Directly from work, we drive to Chris’ parents house for dinner, and a ride to the airport. Once in Bali, we only have the first 3 nights planned in Sanur, on the eastern shore, after that we will try and get a bit more off the beaten path, exploring north and central Bali (Ubud) and perhaps flying to Malaysia or another Indonesian island. I will be using the SPOT fairly frequently and you can keep track of my travels here (I hope to find wifi and update as I can) and on the tracking page. I also will be uploading pictures to here and my Flickr account as I go. Any comments of places to check out would be great and I’m thrilled to be off again!

Peace and chow,

Jacob