We made it to Bali! This is a destination that you always hear about, and in our experience it is kind of a mix between Hawaii and Thailand. Imagine the nightlife, shopping, and incredible restaurants you find in Hawaii, but it is still slightly dirty, broken down, which in many ways is totally OK. What Bali lacks in cleanliness it makes up in culture. In Bali we explored a few different areas, we started out in the popular and touristy area of Kuta/Legion Beach. Many people we talked to said this place is too crowded and that we should skip right past it, well that’s not quite true as we found out. To start it has a beach so long you cannot see either end fully, and great surfing parallels the beach all the way down. First things first we got some surfboards and went out for a sunrise surf. With a light rain falling, and the sun rising over the ocean we were sure we found paradise. We stayed at a great little hotel with a perfect pool, which was about 100 feet from the beach, so we stayed here for a few days. We surfed everyday and cruised the beach, and of course had some new food! Being in Thailand and SE Asia for so long we were really ready for whatever new food options might be available, and Bali has many more options, which we took full advantage of. After about five days we left, and headed north to a small “mountain” town called Ubud.
Ubud is a small bohemian town is a must see place. Ubud promises lush landscapes, exotic culture, Hindu temples and mischievous monkeys. I know it’s hard to say, “Come here!” considering it is about as far away from America as you could ever possibly be, but if you ever get the chance, go here. We rented a house tucked away in the jungle off a maze of small concrete paths that seemed to never end. When we got to our new home we were blown away. See the pictures and you will understand, this place rocked. Upon seeing our new found home we immediately extended our stay from a week to ten days. We relaxed, read, slept, and enjoyed our views. This was a nice open air, Balinese home, which means that you are living in the jungle. We had a giant 12-inch gecko that lived inside; we named him Theokoles after the legendary Greek gladiator. Sometimes at night our amusement was to sit still and watch these geckos eat all of the bugs, that might not seem that exciting, but add a glass or two of wine to the equation and it made for a great time. We explored the area of Ubud by scooter, we went to the rice terraces which were incredible, saw fire flies at night that glowed like crazy, and sipped tea at the temples. These ten days went by far too fast and just like that it was over and we were off to Uluwatu, Bali.
Uluwatu is a surfer paradise; there isn’t much down here except longhaired surfers riding scooters to and from the various beaches. In this area are some of the most famous surf breaks in the world, and it was simply incredible to watch the surfers glide across these fast waves. We were hoping to get a little surfing in but most of these surf breaks were really shallow reef breaks that seemed sketchy and too advanced for our liking. After some truly incredible sunsets we were on our way to Nusa Lembongan, a small island off the southern tip of Bali.
There are three islands in this area, and they are very nice, relaxed places to visit. We heard that the scuba diving around these islands was some of the best in all of Bali so less than 24 hours of getting to the island of Nusa Lembongan we were in the water for our first dive. We spotted the giant manta rays at Manta Bay and swam with the awkward and rare mola mola fish. We ended up spending nine days here and doing more epic diving. From Nusa Lembongan we took a ferry to Lombok, the very different island to the east of Bali.
Lombok is the island directly to the East of Bali. During our ferry ride to Sengiggi, Lombok it started to rain. And when rains in Indonesia, it rains hard. We arrived safely to Sengiggi and checked into a hotel. Our balcony overlooked Sengiggi Bay and from here we watched the rain come down for 2-3 days straight with only a few breaks in the storm. With this rain came the loudest thunder either of us had ever heard. Echoing around the bay the thunder would leave car alarms beeping in its wake. When the sun finally came out we were ready to see what Northern Lombok was all about. So of course we rented a moped. Mopeds in Asia are so incredibly cheap to rent, for the last month or so of our trip we had a moped everyday. We explored the Northern part of Lombok in one gloriously sunny day after the storm broke. We rode our moped along the coast and stopped at some of the most beautiful beaches we had ever seen. Remarkably these beaches were all empty. It was almost eerie to stand on such a pristine beach with no one around. When you travel you live for moments like those. This solidarity is the appeal that Lombok has compared with Bali. Lombok is still being discovered, and besides a few longhaired surfers you are fully immersed in Indonesia culture. The capital of Lombok is Mataram, which is a bustling city that made us almost feel like we were back in India. We made our way to the Southern part of Lombok, Kuta. Kuta is a surfer’s paradise. The beaches here have great surf and are much less crowded than those in Bali. The beaches here go for miles. We stumbled upon many picturesque beaches and spent our days laying in the sun and catching waves.
Being away from home during Christmas is always a little hard so we wanted to make it special even if we were in the jungle instead of in the snow back home. We have been hearing about the tiny but funky little islands off of Lombok. Gili Meno, Gili Air and Gili Trawangan or the infamous “Gili T”. These little islands are perfect for anyone seeking a remote island resort. On these islands cars and motorbikes are prohibited so you may either walk, bike, or take an adorable horse-drawn carriage from place to place. This is what makes the Gili islands so charming. We stayed on Gili T, which is known as the party island. There were plenty of Australians wearing Santa hats dancing around but we had a blast. The Gili Islands are famous for their scuba diving and snorkeling with turtles. On Christmas we ordered a fresh BBQed lobster and had a fabulous seafood feast. The Gili Islands are only a short ferry ride from Bali and should not be missed.