Oh, Indonesia…I think you manage to capture every traveler’s heart. The raw beauty and serene landscapes are out of this world. Not to mention the locals and their contagious smiles and passion for life.
John was a bit confused when we hopped off the plane, and into a brand new airport. Denpasar is now a huge and beautiful new space. We hailed a cab and immediately headed to Uluwatu, a spot that John and his buddy Nick ventured to a few years back. Sandat Mas Cottages were the biggest steal, with a gorgeous outdoor lobby and pool overlooking the hillside. We rented a “bike bike” (moped) as the locals call them, and made our way to the beach to catch a gorgeous sunset. We met some Americans from Colorado- shoutout to Elliott, Kevin, and Steph. After sampling the most delicious PB milkshake, I knew Indo and I would become great friends. Before we ventured to Bingin beach, Johnny I also tackled Padang Padang on his surfboard yet again. The nice part about Bali is that the beaches are in close distance of one another. The next beach over is Bingin, and that was our resting place for the evening. The coolest thing about this stop was John finding the same hostel he stayed in 3 years ago. However, that goes without saying there were many changes to the place, and beach overall. We ate at an awesome vegan and yoga inspired cafe, along with John’s epic fresh snapper on the beach.
View at Uluwatu Temple
Our balcony at Bingin Beach
One of the many beautiful sunsets in Indo
The next day brought Kuta, a very different side of Bali. We were able to find a relaxing spot away from all of the tourism that seems to overwhelm the city. Not to say we didn’t purchase our $0.75 dvd’s and souvenirs 🙂
Easter meant Kuta, and no brunch for me. While I was a little homesick, the mood quickly changed when we decided to spend the day at the waterpark…best idea ever! We had a blast, screaming the whole day away. That evening we walked around the town and saw the memorial of the people killed in the Bali club bombing back in 2002.
After 2 days, it was time for a change of pace. That meant a week at a resort in Nusa Dua. Pure bliss! We spent our days at a gorgeous private beach and pool. The best part of our time there was the evenings where we walked to Daniel’s Coffee Corner to indulge in the most delicious food. Cue the BEST banana chocolate pancakes in the world. Thank you Daniel and Erni!!
Daniel and Erni supporting Cathy’s Crusaders
Nusa Dua WaterBlow
So close yet so far from a hole in one
Relaxation calls for adventure, and that meant it was time to take a speedboat to the Gili Islands. These 3 islands are teeny tiny, but full of beauty and charm. Gili T especially, which is not at all a party island like many make it out to be. It just offers the most nightlife and adventure for those who want it. John and I stumbled upon a fantastic “ladies night special” at a bar called Tiranog, and also had the pleasure to meet some great people. We moved around a lot, due to some lodging setbacks. Unfortunately, the village part of the island lost power for 2 days, so we missed out on a beautiful hostel. But you can’t win them all. We opted for a morning snorkel trip, where I surprisingly kept up for being an anxious snorkeler. 3 turtles and good conditions made it worth it. The two of us also biked around the island (one of the coolest things about the Gili’s is that no cars or motorbikes are permitted) so the whole pushing through the sand thing was necessary. We were lucky enough to see an incredible sunset that illuminated the sky with gorgeous colors. Check that out! The night was not complete without walking under the Milky Way. We live in one beautiful world.
Satay stand at the night market…mmm
Having fun down under
The walking portion of our bike ride
Our favorite of this whole trip
After dinner, we met lovely Sophie and Derek from JoBurg and danced the night away with them at a reggae bar. For our final day, we relaxed by the beach and did the normal stroll through the shops. When the evening was upon us we knew one thing- we were ready for a serious last meal. Thank goodness we were stopped by a group of chefs who showed us their fresh catches of the day. Hello, mahi mahi…meet my stomach. It was hands down one of the best meals I have ever had, complete with a full dinner and desert buffet, and a live band. At that moment, I don’t think anything could have been better! After we filled ourselves to the brim, we retreated to the beach, where they were screening Wolf of Wall Street on a projector, complete with bean bags. We throughly enjoyed ourselves on Gili T, and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in going. We also took a boat over to Gili Air (the medium sized island) to stay one night, mainly to experience the difference. It is easy to recognize! Gili Air has no nightlife, and is much more remote. Still beautiful, but it has a completely different feel to it. In the end, it all comes down to preference and what you’re looking for.
With the Gili’s crossed off the list, next up was Kuta Lombok. To put things into perspective, Lombok is the next island to the east of Bali. They are almost identical in size, but are drastically different. Bali is much more hustle and bustle, significantly developed, and Hindu. Lombok is more laid back, less populated, and Muslim. We honestly had no idea what to expect, other than many people recommending it and making it a stop among their travels. So we added it to ours. Boy, are we thankful we did. This small beach town stole our hearts and surprised us with each new day. From the beaches to the people, it was nothing short of amazing. We made home at the Surfer’s Inn (side note: Lombok is popular for surfing) after meeting some new friends, Ed and Nadja. We immediately rented a motorbike, anxious to see what the island had to offer. The gorgeous (not to mention empty!) beaches were about a 30 minute ride away from Kuta. However, those 30 minutes flew by with the sights along the way. Everything was so green, it looked like something out of a movie. The other thing that makes Lombok so special is that is still very undiscovered. Don’t get me wrong, people are making their way there, but it is not seeing anything near the level of tourism Bali sees. People say it is Bali 30 years ago. And we loved everything about that.
Our favorite kids showing us their funny faces
Cathy’s Crusaders to a whole new level
John and I spent much of our time hanging out with Ed and Nadja, whether it was cruising along the picture perfect landscape or surfing the beaches, we enjoyed it all. The four of us met up with another couple, Toby and Amy, and decided to spend the day at the beach. This just so happened to be J’s 25th birthday. Surf.Food.Nature.Good Company. It was an awesome day! I was psyched to get up on a board for my first time, and enjoy the waves with everyone. All six of us then celebrated John with dinner and drinks. The best part was having these people come together to wish my love the happiest of birthdays. Thank you!
One of the sights cruising along on our moped
She’s a natural
Birthday celebrations called for a couple Bintangs
Our final morning was left for one special boy, Tommy. We met him the night before, when he was trying to sell us bracelets. The kids also do this in Indonesia, especially Lombok. They make bracelets, or some kind of jewelry and try to sell them to the tourists. The money is used to help pay for their schooling. So, this young man not only convinced John to buy a bracelet, but he impressed all of us with how much he knew about this world. From US states to jokes, you name it. The kid was good. He got on the topic of surfing and asked if he could show John a popular surf spot. We agreed, and picked little Tommy up on the bike and headed to Gerupuk- a beach where you need to take a small fishing boat to the surf breaks…pretty cool. The deal was that we paid for Tommy…a small price to pay when we saw just how happy he was to be out on those waves. That was a wrap for Kuta Lombok, an unexpected love that we are very fortunate to have seen prior to being developed. We can only hope it will remain as picturesque as it is now.
Tommy you rock little man!!
Nice mellow waves in Gerupuk
Before leaving Lombok, we spent our final night in Sengiggi. Honestly, a very skippable location in our eyes. It was a “resort town” lacking in all things beautiful. The beaches and overall feel of the town were very disappointing. Next!
Nusa Lembongan, a very small island, very close to Bali. John had been before, and we decided it would be nice to stop at for a quick stay. So cute! It is tiny indeed, but full of character, which I enjoyed. We found a great room at the Mainski Resort along the beach. As usual, the bike was a must. We were able to find some great eats, hikes, and scenery this way. I agreed to check out the cliff, and even surprised myself when I decided to jump off of it. Gorgeous teal water, where I was able to see the bottom. Why not?! The island was a great stop before heading back to Bali (on a dreadfully bumpy speedboat ride)…I’m done with boats after this trip!
One of our many Bike-Bikes
It’s time for me to sum this up…Indonesia blew me away. Whether it was the people, beaches, scenery, or chicken satay, I may never know. But the one thing I do know is that we’ll be back. It carries a very special place in John’s heart. And now I can see why.