Archive for June, 2009

Gili Air aka Paradise

Posted in Indonesia on June 26th, 2009 by Vagablonding – 4 Comments

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

Our complimentary breakfast at Kaluku Bungalows consists of fruit salad, toast and coffee. Not as much as we have been accustomed to eating but I for one have been packing on the pounds so a dietary change is in order anyway.

We walked around island, started heading north. We found a sweeto deserted beach in the southwest that we chilled on in the shade for a while enjoying the beautiful view. The other island in the pictures is Gili Meno, and the mountain in the background is on Bali.

me gili meno from gili air

gili meno from gili air

One the way back we went to Munchies for lunch. I got Urap-urap (a Sasak dish containing boiled veggies with grated coconut and spices with rice) for 15,000 which was AMAZING! This and Gado-gado are my favorite Indonesian foods so far. I need an Indonesian cookbook so I can make this stuff when I get home.

urap urap

Later we hung out in the pool at Blue Marlin Dive shop next door to Kaluku and read all day. We ate dinner at Munchies again, I got really yummy iced coffee for 6,000.

Ryan used the internet at Ozzy’s where you can use their moderate-speed connection for 400 a minute.

At 9:30pm I went to a “big” party at the Blue Bar on the south end of the island where I met a few travelers and lots of locals, most born and raised on Gili Air, but a few from Flores, Sulawesi, and other Indonesian islands. We hung out, drank a few Bintangs, listened to the DJ spin some rave-y music, and I spun fire poi with the locals! Afterwards I headed home and slept in a hammock outside under the stars, it was lovely.

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

I woke up to the Muslim call to prayer at 5am. I think it’s a pleasing sound to wake up to. Went back to sleep for an hour and then got up to watch a beautiful sunrise with Ryan.

We packed a daypack and headed to the southwestern beach we discovered yesterday, stopping to trade books and have a lassy and iced coffee at Munchies on the way.

On our trek to the beach we took pictures of these super sketch huge spiders that are all over the trees and bushes. Important warning: don’t wander off the main roads and go tromping through the bushes on these islands, you WILL face plant right into these palm-sized fuckers, they are everywhere. Ugh, gives me the creepy crawlies!

gili air spider

We spent the day lounging on the beach, soaking up the sun and reading. We found a huge pile of seashells and when they started moving we realized most were inhabited by hermit crabs. There were lots of fisherman out, some with nets and some with poles. I dig how this guy has a pack of smokes strapped to his hat.

gili air fisherman

When the tide got really low we waded into the water. Gili Air looks beautiful from a few hundred feet out in the ocean!

ariel gili air

Ryan also had an excellent photoshoot with this crab.

gili air crab

On the way home we stopped at a restaurant on the south tip of the island where they had baby sea turtles that were sooooooo cute!

baby sea turtles

We grabbed lunch at Munchies (now our go-to place because of the cheap lassies we are addicted to) where I got Tempe in a thick spicy tomato based sauce with rice that was fantastic! This was also a Sasak dish.

spicy tempe sasak

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

I woke up to a bright pink room and looked outside to see one of the most vibrant sunrises I’ve ever seen. We went out to watch and then I walked along the beach and gathered seashells.

gili air sunrise

gili air sunrise

In the late morning we snorkeled along the southeastern part of the beach. The current was incredibly strong, it just sweeps you along so the best way to do it is get in on the northeast beach and drift down to the southeast beach.

In the evening we watched sunset over the water from northwest side of island.

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Got up early to watch sunrise again. It’s so beautiful every morning and it’s a great way to start the day.

gili air sunrise

At around 10:00am we snorkled getting in in front of the Abdi Fantastik bungalows a few steps south of Kaluku. We floated down to around Manta Dive, then got out and walked along the beach back to where we started, stopping to play on the swings along the way.

gili air beach swing

We did this twice, and we saw turtles! The visibility and reef are much better in the morning. The only downside is the ruthless jellyfish. We’re both covered in little welts from their stings.

Ate lunch at the Green Cafe where I got a vegetable and fruit kebab with a carrot and cabbage salad for 30,000. The kebab was delish but there are tastier things for the price. Green Cafe is right next to Munchies so Ryan ordered a lassy and they brought it over to him.

We watched another beautiful sunset on the northwest side of the island before heading to dinner.

gili air sunset

gili air sunset

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

After breakfast we snorkeled again, getting in in front of our place and floating with the current down to Munchies. We saw turtles again and a giant spotted eel!

Ate lunch at Munchies where I got Pelecing (water spinach with coconut and a spicy tomato sauce) which I had tempe added to, costing me 18,000 all total. It wasn’t bad, but not my favorite.


Later we tromped on some central trails to get the the southwest side of the island where we watched the sunset over Gili Meno.

After sunset we bought necklaces from a primary school teacher named Mustafa. He teaches ages 6-12.

At 10:30pm we went to the once-yearly Dark Moon Party at Legends Reggae Bar on the north tip of the island. There were mostly locals there and it was very rave-y. We drank Bintangs, talked with our buddy Rouling from the Munchies crew, and I spun fire again. There are lots more tourists here now, and, surprisingly, Americans. The island is getting noticeably busier and it gets into peak season.

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

We woke up late and went snorkeling a little later than we planned. We got in the water in front of Kaluku at 11:30am and floated south for an hour. The visibility wasn’t as great as previous days because the waves had been kicking up the sand all morning.

We had lunch at Munchies before walking back. We chilled at Kaluku for a while and then went on a new book hunt. We ended up buying one book from Kira Kira Cottages for 15,000, trading our Stephen King book for a 2008 copy of Lonely Planet’s Southeast Asia on a Shoestring (such a steal! this book is $26 at home) and trading 2 of our other books for Obedience by Will Lavender. I’m currently reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, the 4th book I have read on this trip (the other three were Stephen King’s The Dead Zone which I liked, How to be Good by Nick Hornby which was a quick and light read, and Angels and Demons by Dan Brown which was not good at all.)

gili air fish seller

gili air street

We watched sunset on the northwest side of the beach again, then headed to dinner at Munchies where I got a traditional Sasak fish dish called Ikan Parapek for 30,000. I thought it was pretty good, untill I found out that “fresh fish” means “caught sometime in the last month, maybe.” In fact the local joke is to say “Fresh fish, caught tomorrow!”

ikan parapek

I have gone mostly vegan here (had to give up lassies!) since dairy is hard to come by and I was already vegetarian anyway. So far I don’t really miss it and I feel great.

Yum, Lassy! To Gili Air by Perama boat

Posted in Indonesia on June 21st, 2009 by Vagablonding – 1 Comment

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

The only noteworthy thing about today was our discovery of the lassy, a ridiculously delicious drink made by thoroughly blending fresh fruit, plain yogurt, and ice to a creamy smooth texture. It’s like a cross between a milkshake and a smoothie. We’re SO making these all the time when we get home.

mixed fruit lassy

Oh also we goofed off with my underwater camera in the pool.

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

After breakfast we scrambled to get ready to leave for the Gili islands. I bought a sarong for the beach for 25,000, we changed some US dollars for Rupiah because there are no ATMs on Gili Air, and we bought snacks and tickets for the Perama boat ride to the islands.

bali atm

padang bai beach

Goodbye Padang Bai, you were a pleasant place to be sick in, now on to Gili Air!

Gili Air is the middle of the three Gili islands when it comes to land area and busyness. It has the largest local population, it’s the closest to Lombok, and it’s not too busy, not too quiet. Gili Trawangan is the largest, most developed, and most expensive island, and is generally just one huge drunken party day and night. Gili Meno is the smallest, quietest, and least populated island. It lies between Air and Trawangan and has a salt water lake.

The Perama boat ride to Gili Air lasted about 4.5 hours, cost 300,000 each, included dinner onboard, and made everyone pretty seasick. It was very cool seeing Bali, Lombok, and the sunset from the boat so we alternated lying down with taking pretty pictures.

perama boat to gili

sunset from perama boat

We arrived on Gili Air after dark and got a ride on a cidomo (horse drawn cart) to get to the Coconut Cottages. The ride cost 20,000. There are no motor vehicles allowed on the Gili islands so the only way to get around is by foot, bike, or cidomo. It’s not much to walk though; you can get around the perimeter of Gili Air by foot in about an hour.

We stayed at the Coconut Cottages for one night in a fan room for 250,000. After we got settled in our room we went out and got pineapple juice at Lombok Indah for 6,000 before going to bed.

Friday, June 19th, 2009

For breakfast at Coconut Cottages I ate toast with pineapple jam, fruit salad, and Lombok coffee in the company of a super cute cat.

gili air cat

We walked around and looked at a bunch of different places to stay, most are along the East side of the island. We decided on the Kaluku Bungalows next to Blue Marlin Dive Shop which we got for 300,000 a night (down from 350,000) for an air conditioned room with a tv, minifridge, lovely open air bathroom with hot [salt] water shower, and a pool. The pool is a huge plus because this place is HOT.

gili air kaluku bungalows

We tried to go snorkeling but the visibility was terrible and the current was strong so we gave up and sunbathed on the beach instead. We’re told that the ocean has been rough lately and that it should settle down in the next few days and when it does we plan on doing a day long snorkel trip around the three Gilis.

ariel gili air beach

The power went out on the whole island sometime mid-morning and stayed out almost until sunset. For dinner we went to a place called Munchies where Ryan got some tasty chicken curry and we both got mixed fruit lassies.

gili air road

gili air beach

Passing time in Padang Bai and a trip to the BIMC

Posted in Indonesia on June 16th, 2009 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

We went straight to the Hotel Puri Rai in Padang Bai. We stayed in a nice air conditioned room with a large bed, but our hot water didn’t work. They have 3 swimming pools and a decent breakfast included. It cost us 400,000 for the night.

In the afternoon we wandered around the 2 road town in search of some food. When we found a place I got my usual Gado-Gado and we were entertained by the 3-4 year old daughter of the workers with songs and drawings, and not a bit of English though she enjoyed hearing Ryan say the word “monkey”.

ariel and a little balinese girl

After lunch we hung out near the beach and then walked to Blue Lagoon, a popular snorkel spot 10 minutes from town.

For dinner we went to the Kerti hotel restaurant where I had a fruit salad with yogurt and honey for 15,000, and Ryan got a pizza for 40,000.

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

After breakfast at Hotel Puri Rai we went snorkeling for an hour at Blue Lagoon where the visibility was great and the reef wasn’t bad, but the current was very strong, and we saw a sting ray!

We rushed back and checked out of our hotel at 11:00am so we could move down the road to an equally nice but much cheaper place called the Padang Bai Beach Bungalows where we paid 220,000 a night for an air conditioned room with a super comfy big bed and use of the brand new infinity pool.

We walked around town in search of lunch and a convenience store. We ate at the Kadek Cafe where I got Gado-Gado again for 15,000 and a chocolate milkshake for 15,000. We found a convenience store and I jumped up and down with excitement when I saw that they had my new favorite thing, COFFEE SODA!!! We shared a coffee soda and Ryan got an ice cream to sooth his swollen tonsils. His tonsilis aren’t getting better or worse, and since he’s been taking antibiotics for a few days now we are a bit worried and aren’t sure what to do next. Stay on Bali where the hospitals are in case it gets worse, or throw caution to the wind and head to the Gilis? Hopefully time will help us decide.

We spent the rest of the sunlight hours hanging out in the super sweet infinity pool. For dinner we went back to the Kadek Cafe where I got corn flakes with plain yogurt for 15,000 and a coffee for 5,000. Afterwards we went to the Topi Inn and used their wifi for a few hours to research what else we can do about Ryan’s tonsils. They charge 200 per minute for use of their wifi. We hear they have great food but it’s pretty spendy so we haven’t eaten there yet.

Monday, June 15th, 2009

I’ve come down with a cold so today was spent sleeping in, lazing about in the pool, reading, visiting the convenience store 3 times for coffee soda and ice cream, and going to bed early. Tomorrow we are going to the Australian-run Bali International Medical Clinic (BIMC) near Kuta to see what can be done about Ryan’s tonsils.

padang bai

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

We got a ride to Kuta to go to BIMC. Our driver was a local guy who charged us 300,000 for the ride, waited outside the hospital for us for the hour and a half we were there, and took us to the supermarket afterwards so we could buy peanut butter and jelly. People here are so nice!

At the clinic the doctors took Ryan’s vitals and asked him questions that were obviously designed to find out if he had swine flu or not. Then they got to asking about his tonsils and decided to prescribe him a 3 day course of a different kind of antibiotics, throat lozenges, multivitamins, and ibuprofen. The doctor wouldn’t give him an antibiotic injection because he doesn’t have a fever, but we tried our hardest to convince her. Oh well, hopefully these new antibiotics will fix him all up.

We’re planning to move on to the Gili Islands either tomorrow or the next day, depending on how the antibiotics work.

Three days in peaceful Amed and Sanur is a Sewer

Posted in Indonesia on June 12th, 2009 by Vagablonding – 7 Comments

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

We left Ubud for Amed at around 11:45am with our driver from the Jalan-Jalan tour company. The drive was through some lovely scenery on some not-so-lovely windy roads so we both got a little carsick. We went through the rice fields and small town of Sideman, then up to Amed on a road between Mt. Agung and Mt. Seraya. The drive took about 2 hours and cost us 250,000.

We found a hotel quickly, mostly because the first place we went was so nice and also I had to pee really bad. We stayed at Kembali Beach Bungalows in a one room bungalow with a big comfy bed, a nice open-air bathroom with a western toilet and hot water shower, and a deck with chairs, right on the black sand beach, all for 365,000 a night.

Kembali Beach Bungalows

In the afternoon I went for a solo walk down the East end of the beach to the bay of Jemeluk. On the way down and back I was met with hordes of local kids trying to sell me hand made baskets of salt and little wooden boats. At one point I had a group of 8 of them walking down the beach with me trying to sell me stuff while I distracted them with questions about what they were learning in school and how old they were. They’re very sweet kids but they are incredibly poor so I didn’t mind them hounding me for money, though I didn’t end up buying anything.

Amed, Jemeluk bay

For dinner we ate at the Three Brothers’ Restaurant and I had some delicious vegetable curry for 18,000. Ryan had the Nasi Goreng Special for 17,000 and we split a large Bintang for 23,000. We talked with a drunk aussie guy who was there on holiday with his mate and their Balinese dates.


Thursday, June 11th, 2009

We got up early to watch the gorgeous bright orange and pink sunrise, then we went to the complimentary breakfast at our hotel Kembali where we both had toast, scrambled egg, fruit, and of course, a pot of Bali coffee.

After breakfast we went for a walk around the one street very small town which consists of little hotels, restaurants, dive shops, and one small convenience store, where we bought Coffee Soda, a delicious concoction that I wish we had at home!

coffee soda

We arranged for a driver to take us to the Japanese shipwreck that was 20 minutes away for 150,000. Our driver was a nice young looking guy who has one kid and said this is his first job. The snorkeling was fun but the visibility was so-so to start with and just got worse the longer we were there. It was the first time I had snorkeled around a shipwreck and swimming down to touch the ship was a cool experience. I let Ryan use my fins so I was extra tired by the time we were done.

We went to lunch at Three Brothers’ again and this time I had Gado-Gado which was also very tasty, though it took them about an hour and a half to bring us our food. That’s a pretty good example of how time goes on Bali: no one is in a hurry and you shouldn’t be either, so plan your stay loosely.

In the evening we talked with three local boys for an hour or so who were walking the beach selling stuff. We talked about what they were learning in school and looked over some of the English lessons they had written in their little torn up notebooks. They asked us questions about America and Barak Obama (he lived in Indonesia for a while, you know) and about the airplane ride that we took to get to Bali. We didn’t want to buy anything from them but they said they were hungry so I made them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and brought them water.

Ryan’s throat and tonsils look like they are getting infected again like they did at home a few months ago, so he started on a course of antibiotics today. Because of this we decided to go to Sanur instead of Padang Bai (we were planning on heading to the Gili Islands off of Lombok via boat from Padang Bai). Sanur is a larger beach resort town with a pharmacy and doctor on call, and it’s right next to the big city of Denpasar and the airport, so we figured it would be smart to hang there for a few days and see if his throat gets better before heading off to the middle of nowhere on the Gili Islands where we would be a day’s boat ride and a long drive away from medical help.

Friday, June 12th, 2009

We got up early so we could go snorkeling in Jemeluk bay which is just a short walk along the coast from our hotel. The visibility was much better and we had fun chasing fish with my canon camera with the underwater housing for a couple hours.  I got stung by a jellyfish but we were having so much fun we just kept going.

Goodbye Amed, you were a peaceful break from the pace of the city. On to Sanur!

We hit the road at 11:30am on our way to Sanur. The drive was pretty and the drivers we shared the road with were crazy! Giant tour busses passing each other on these narrow windy roads while motorbikes dart between them. I would not drive here. We stopped at Candi Dasa for lunch on the way. We paid 250,000 for the ride and we’ve been tipping our drivers 50,000 in addition to the fare (which we usually bargain down first).

Shortly after we entered Sanur we nicknamed the place Sewer. It’s a boring town with no charm, a sub-par beach, and over priced dismal places to stay. We’re staying in a place called the Swastika. Yes, you read that right. Comically only a skip away from the German consulate, and filled with blonde haired Germans… The rooms are dark and dismal with annoying fluorescent lighting, stains on the bed and walls, and one of the worse bathrooms I have seen in a hotel, all for 300,000 a night. They do have free wifi and a decent pool, though.

To pass the time in this crappy town we decided to go get massages, which were lovely. Ryan got an hour long foot massage for 30,000 and I got a half hour back and half hour foot massage for 50,000.

The only other noteworthy thing about this town was the multi-level Hardy’s supermarket we visited that had a nasty fish smell to it. I bought a pear, a snake fruit, peanuts and gum for myself, and a tub of neapolitan ice cream for Ryan which was promptly devoured outside the store. The best thing about this supermarket was the girl giving out free vodka samples!


This town is lame so we are leaving tomorrow to go to Padang Bai, which we wish we would have done in the first place. Ryan’s throat isn’t getting better yet but we figured we should at least be in a place we’re enjoying while we wait to see if it’s healing.

Goodbye Sewer, on to Padang Bai!

Campuan Ridge walk and central Bali tour

Posted in Indonesia on June 9th, 2009 by Vagablonding – 4 Comments

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Today we set out on the Campuan Ridge walk, listed in Lonely Planet. The first section of the walk was uphill in the sun through elephant grass fields. We saw workers cutting down the grass and enjoyed some stunning views.


The next section of the walk was through rice paddies where we also saw workers. We met a painter named Wayan Rana in Sebali Village and stopped to chat with him for a while. His paintings were much cheaper than we expected – first price 50,000 for a small framed one. A local guy on a motorbike stopped and tried to sell us some carved bone buttons. We politely refuse and he went on his way, hassle-free.

rice fields

rice field worker

houses and rice fields

Then we walk on road back to Ubud and saw some residential life. On the way home we stopped at the big Bintang supermarket and got our first beers of the trip for 11,300. The cashier tried to shortchange me but I corrected her. Ryan resisted buying a 5 gallon bucket of strawberry ice cream for 22,500. We went to a super cheap street in middle of Ubud – Jl Goutama, and ate at place called Biah-Biah where I got Sayar Urab for 3,000 and steamed rice for 4,000. It was so good and filled me up. We were lazy for the rest of the day and just used internet and Ryan ate dinner at Pundi-Pundi again.

Monday, June 8th, 2009

Today we took a tour around the central / eastern area of Bali with a company called Jalan-Jalan for 150,000 each from 9am-4pm. We had a driver and car which we shared with one other american guy who was unfortunately an annoying complainer.

The first stop was Goa Gajah (elephant cave temple) which was alright, kinda lame, not bad as a stop on a larger tour but I wouldn’t make it a destination. There were lots of school kids there, we took pictures with them throwing gang signs, it was a riot.

bali kids

Next we went to Tampak Siring (the Holy Spring Temple) which was prettier and more interesting. There were lots of school kids there again and a group of boys followed us around asking me for kisses! The temple has a hot spring that worshipers bath in. You can see the spring and it looks cool – black sand bubbling up in the water.

On the way to the next stop we went to a local coffee roaster / spice farmer’s place called Sai Land where we sampled some of THE BEST coffee I have ever had. Our favorite was the chocolate and coffee mix but we also tried ginger tea and pure coffee. While there we talked for a while with the owner about the harvesting and roasting process of the regular coffee and the civit cat poop coffee, as well as more personal topics like the upcoming naming ceremony for his almost-3-month-old child! I bought a box of ginger tea from their shop for 35,000 because I thought it was so delicious and I’m sure it will be glad I have it the next time I have a cold.


After the holy spring we went to Penelokan where we stopped for a lovely view of Mt. Batur and Lake Batur.


Next stop, Besakih (mother temple), the biggest and most important temple in Bali, located on the slope of Mt. Agung. It was pouring rain the whole time and I was car sick from the windy drive up, but it was beautiful so I enjoyed it. Because this temple is so important only worshippers are allowed inside but tourists can go on the outside stairs and peek in the doorways. There are a fair amount of ‘guides’ trying to scam people around the temple, telling you that you need their services when you don’t, or telling you they can get you in the temple when they can’t (if you do get in you risk being slapped with a huge fine). It’s no big deal, just say ‘no thank you’ to everyone and keep walking.



After the mother temple we were taken to a restaurant at Bukit Jambul for an amazing view of the rice terraces – and an amazingly expensive buffet lunch (I skipped the food and Ryan ordered something less expensive al la cart).

rice paddies

Our last stop was Klungkung, aka Semarapura, which used to be the center of an important kingdom in Bali. We didn’t see many other westerners here so we were getting some funny looks, but we did see more police and military than we have seen anywhere else.  Here we opted to skip the temple and instead sat on some stairs at the Puputan Monument and watched school kids learning drill-down type exercises and an informal soccer game.


We headed home pretty worn out. For dinner we wandered to Pizza Bagus which had fast wifi, a mellow atmosphere, and cheap not so great pizza, but we hung out and split a big Pizza Ricotta Spinaci with chicken added to Ryan’s half for 45,000 and two small Bintangs for 23,000.

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

For breakfast at Artini 3 today I had an egg Jaffle which I originally assumed was just waffle spelled wrong, but it’s actually egg or banana between two pieces of toast. It came with fruit and was pretty yummy.

We got a ride to Ganesha Bookstore but didn’t buy anything because it was much pricier than we expected. We walked around and found another bookstore and bought a used copy of Stephen King’s The Dead Zone for 35,000. We needed a book to read because tomorrow we are leaving for a very sleepy town called Amed on Bali’s East coast where we hear there is great snorkeling and diving and… peace and quiet!

We bought a t-shirt each at the market for 35,000 total, and then I bought a beautiful dress in a shop for 180,000 which is spendy for Bali but this dress rocks and would cost a ton at home. It looks fantastic on me so I figured what the hell.

We ate lunch on our favorite cheap street again, this time at a place called Dewa Warung. I got Gado-Gado (mixed veggies with temphe and peanut sauce) for 8,000, Temphe Satay for 10,000 and a coke for 4,000 which turned out to be waaay more food than I needed but I ate most of it because it was delish. The place had a nice expat backpacker vibe to it and the food was great and dirt cheap.

The evening was spent lounging in the pool, doing laundry by hand in our bathtub, and hanging out at Pundi-Pundi drinking coffee for a couple hours while we researched hotels in Amed for tomorrow. We booked the same driver from Jalan-Jalan that we had for the tour yesterday for 250,000 total for the drive.

I have enjoyed Ubud a lot and plan to come back at the end of our trip. Now on to Amed!

Ubud Monkey Forest Sanctuary and Kecak Dance

Posted in Indonesia on June 7th, 2009 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

Friday, June 5th, 2009

The most hilarious thing happened this morning. We were woken up at 1:30am by two stray cats outside our room making really loud drawn out angry meowing sounds at each other, inches from each other’s faces. I peeked out the window at them while Ryan filled a water bottle to throw at them like a grenade? A man in another room threw his trash basket at them while a woman watched out their window. The cats ran 5 steps down the stairs and kept up the growling. The man threw something else and cats finally stop. Maybe you had to be there but the noises those cats were making had us laughing for the rest of the day.

For breakfast at Artini 3 I had toast with strawberry jam, fried egg, fruit, and more of that godly coffee. I swear I am going to buy this stuff and ship it home by the ton.

After breakfast we went to the Monkey Forest Sanctuary, which is this lush jungle with 3 temples that is inhabited by a band of grey macaques. It costs 15,000 to get in for adults but then you can keep using your ticket pretty much indefinitely, so I’ve heard. Going through the forest is one of the only ways to get to another side of town, so this can come in handy. There at the same time as us was a horde of over a hundred well-off well-dressed school kids aged around 10-14. They were cute and friendly kids, all saying hello to us and asking ‘what is your name.’ Lots of shy girls who clearly wanted to ask me something and kept egging each other on to go up to me, but never did. It was SO fun seeing the monkeys with them. We got all into it too taking pictures and running around and screaming when the monkeys chased us. A monkey jumped on me and hung from my purse when it saw my water bottle. On our way out we saw a tourist with bananas for the monkeys and it didnt take long for a sneaky one to snatch the whole bunch of bananas from him.





For lunch we went to the Puri Garden restaurant because they had free wifi. We played on the internet and ate some pretty good Mie Goreng (fried noodles, veggies, chicken) for 25,500 but it was very greasy and after a while it made my stomach upset. I’m not used to eating meat or greasy food anymore. Ryan walked me back to the hotel and then went an bought me a diet sprite from the Circle K down the road. That and some tums fixed my stomach right up.

mie gorang

We ate dinner at a place called Pundi-Pundi where they also had free wifi. I had a delicious plate of Jukut Urab (mixed vegetables with shredded coconut and sambal) for 15,000 and bali coffee for 7,000.

Jukut Urab

We stayed for a while struggling to stay awake, made it to about 9pm. Also at the restaurant we saw a middle aged white dude with a very young dolled up balinese girl as his date. And by very young I mean like 12, maaaaybe 13. The first of many similar ‘couples’ we will see here, I’m sure.

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

For breakfast at Artini 3 I had french toast with honey, fruit and coffee. Ryan has been having the ‘American Breakfast’ every day which is 2 eggs, 2 pieces of toast, bacon and coffee. We had 4 cups of coffee each this morning so we were pretty jazzed up and decided to hit the market, but first we changed rooms at Artini 3 to one with one big bed instead of 2 twin beds. We like this room better except the hot water doesn’t work.

We got a ride to the market from one of the hotel staff (free ride but we tipped 4,000 anyway). We tried on clothes forever at one lady’s shop, then haggled for too long trying to get a good price on everything we wanted. We ended up just getting Ryan a shirt because we couldn’t come to an agreement on the price for everything else.

balinese woman

At around noon we got comfort food for lunch because we were hot and frustrated. We ate burgers (veggie for me) on giant buns with mayo, fries and strawberry milkshakes, all for about 140,000. It was by far the most expensive meal we’ve had but it made us feel better so whatev, gotta splurge sometimes, right?

After lunch we went back to the market. I bought sunglasses for 20,000 and we each got a sarong for 30,000. Now we can go in temples!

In the evening we went to a Kecak and Fire Dance  performance that lasted for about an hour and a half and cost 75,000. It was VERY cool. There were over a hundred performers, most of them were the men who made all the sounds for the show with their voices and some clapping, no instruments were used. The outfits on the girls were insanely intricate with beautiful cloth and detailed gold headdresses and jewelry. The first part of the show was a story about a girl getting kidnapped by a huge ugly dude that looked like Wario, but was then saved by her friends and the monkey army? The lead girl was strikingly beautiful. The second part of the show, the Sanghyang Dedari dance, was two very young girls, maybe 7, who danced in unison for 20 minutes, their eyes closed the whole time. They are said to be in a trance and are woken up at the end of the dance by the priest who gives them holy water. The last part of the show, the Sanghyang Jaran dance, involved a guy riding on horse made of sticks with a gold head. He kicked burning coconuts around and stomped on them with his bare feet! He was also in a trance and was woken up by the priest at the end. We enjoyed the show a lot and will probably go see another traditional dance soon.

kechak dance

kechak dance

kechak dance

Getting to Bali and first day in Ubud

Posted in Indonesia on June 5th, 2009 by Vagablonding – 1 Comment

Tuesday and Wednesday, June 2nd and 3rd, 2009

We started out leaving Portland, Oregon in the morning on June 2nd and flew to Vancouver, BC, Canada. From there we flew to Tokyo, Japan, and then on to Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia. From Denpasar we took a taxi to Ubud. Including layovers, we traveled for about 26 hours. Our flights went much smoother than we expected, thanks in part to the first class upgrade we got on the flight from Canada to Japan because the kind Japan Airlines counter lady thought Ryan was so tall that he needed a seat with more leg room! It was definitely the best flight I’ve ever had, with delicious food, lazy boy style reclining chairs, private tv screens with remotes, and free drinks!
The Denpasar airport was also much easier to deal with than we expected it to be. We did have to go through a chemical spray gate thing that was meant to disinfect us… I think. The spray left me feeling a little out of it and I had a weird taste in my mouth, but it wore off in not too long. The customs and visa on arrival process was painless. The visa cost $25 for a 30 day stay. We exited the airport and got a taxi at the taxi counter which can be found just to the right of the exit. The ride to Ubud took about 30 minutes because it was the middle of the night and there was little traffic, and our driver was hauling ass. The ride cost 195,000rp. The taxi driver was super friendly and asked us our first ‘Are you married?’ question. The polite answer is ‘Not yet.’ The driver is married, has 3 kids, and makes $150/month. We tipped him 50,000rp (a lot!)
We got to our hotel, the Artini 3 Cottages, at about midnight. The reception was just two guys sleeping outside on a deck. We were taken straight to a room, no questions asked. It tipped the guy who carried our bags $1 and we promptly passed out.

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Our hotel room at Artini 3 is fan cooled and has 2 twin beds, western toilet, hot shower with removable shower head but no curtain. This is very nice for $40 a night! The hotel grounds are beautiful and lush with flowers and statues of Ganesha, the Hindu god with the head of an elephant. There are rice fields that can be seen from the door of our room. Breakfast comes with the room. The coffee is strong and tastes fantastic. I ate a pineapple pancake with fruit, it was quite yummy.



After breakfast we walked to Pasar Ubud (market) on the corner of Monkey Forest Road and Jalan Raya Ubud. For sale were tons of wood carvings and masks, paintings, little trinkets, jewelry, clothing, bags, shoes, and penis bottle openers? I bought a purse for $3 after some haggling down from 75,000rp.

There are little offerings all over the street and anywhere there is enough space to place one. They are on statues, restaurant menus, entryways, sidewalks, etc, and it’s hard to not step on them accidentally.


There are amazing temples everywhere, we need to buy sarongs so we can go in. Everyone is required to wear a sarong to enter the temples, including men.

We didn’t get hassled too much while walking, just lots of guys offering you a taxi ride and when you say no they reply with ‘ok, how about tomorrow??’

On the way back to Artini 3 we went to an internet cafe and wrote emails. It cost 10,000/hr but we found a cheaper place for 6,000/hr down the road when we continued on. It was very hot so we returned to Artini 3 and lounged in the pool for a few hours.
The hotel staff are very sweet and kind to us, they call us ‘my friend’ and always ask where we are going when we leave and if we enjoyed ourselves when we come back.
Later in the afternoon we went out walking again and got lunch at Kafe Suri. I got a really tasty huge plate of Nasi Campur for 30,000. Ryan got pad thai for same price but mine was yummier.


There are stray dogs and cats all over the city. Lots are mangy looking but some are very cute. You don’t want to pet them though, they aren’t friendly and grow at you if you get too close.


We crashed at 7:30pm and it had already been dark for an hour. It was a very good day, I love it here so far!



Indonesia pre-trip

Posted in Indonesia on June 2nd, 2009 by Vagablonding – Be the first to comment

Ready or not, I’m off on my first big adventure trip! My friend and I are headed south of the equator to the Islands of the Gods, that’s Bali and Lombok in Indonesia. We’ll be there for exactly 30 days, June 3rd to July 2nd, since that is all our visas allow. I’ll be making infrequent but detailed posts on our adventures there, including handy info on food, lodging, prices, sights, and cultural observations that I hope other travelers may find useful someday. And of course, lots of pictures.

Here’s what I’m packing, hope it all fits!


Passport, Passport photos, ID, Cash, Credit/Debit cards, Traveler’s Checks, Tickets, Travel Insurance paperwork, a list of important phone numbers and addresses (since my cell phone is staying home)

Copies of everything above. Make at least enough copies to have one for yourself, one for each of your travel partners, and one to leave at home with family or a friend.


Canon PowerShot SD790IS 10MP Digital Camera
Canon WP-DC24 Waterproof Case
Transcend 16 GB SDHC Class 6 Flash Memory Card
Energizer Rechargeable Batteries
Money belt (neck variety)
Sleep sack
Locks for baggage
Ziplock bags to keep stuff dry
U.S. Divers Snorkel Gear
Journal, pen / pencil
Guide book and a novel
Travel towel
Bug spray
Protein bars
Deck of cards
Birth control pills


Flip flops
Water shoes
Walking shoes
4 pairs Socks
10 pairs Panties
2 Bras
1 Sports bra
2 Bathing suits
1 pair Pants w/ buttons to roll them up and make them shorter
2 pairs Yoga pants for comfy traveling, sleeping, or modest swimming
2 pairs Capris
5 T-shirts
1 Long-sleeve lightweight shirt
1 Dress
1 Hoodie
1 Rain poncho


Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, 50 SPF sunscreen, chapstick w/ SPF, after sun lotion, comb, shampoo, soap, 100% DEET bug spray, deodorant, makeup, toilet paper, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, shaving razor, tweezers, nail clippers, nail file (hopefully these last few don’t get confiscated at airport security)

First Aid Kit:

Neosporin, hydrocortisone, Gold Bond medicated ointment, iodine, hydrogen peroxide, Pepto and Tums chewables, aspirin, ibuprofen, anti-diarrheals, motion sickness pills, ice pack, gauze, bandaids, superglue, alcohol wipes, medical tape, qtips, Doxycycline for malaria, Amoxicillin for infection, Ciprofloxacin for traveler’s diarrhea

All of this goes in my super awesome Osprey Waypoint 60 backpack and the detachable daypack it comes with.

On to Bali!