#10 – INDO PT. I

By the end of my trip through Cambodia, I’d started getting really homesick. Luckily for me, I’d be spending 11 days in Thailand, between Surin – where some Thai friends and family of mine live – and Bangkok, which – despite earlier in my blog I dismissed as lackluster – I’ve really grown to love. I’m always excited at the thought of returning to Thailand, even if it’s just for a few day layover. My friends in Surin never cease to remind me exactly why fell in love with Thailand in the first place: the warmth of the people and the unparalleled tastiness of the food. 11 days there turned out to be exactly what I needed to recharge a little bit and cure my homesickness.

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So after spending a week in Bangkok organizing my Indonesian visa and stuffing my face with copious amounts of Thai food, I set off for the famed Indonesian island of Bali. I started off in Kuta, which is definitely an exception to Bali’s allure for me. The surf there is good – but that’s about it. My buddy Justin met me a few days after my arrival and that was when my Indonesia leg of the trip really felt like it took off. We started out with a few days of (attempted) surf, then headed out to Nusa Lembongan, an island off the coast of Bali boasting gorgeous natural beauty. The majority of Bali and Nusa Lembongan’s residents are Hindu, as opposed to Muslim – Indonesia’s predominant religion. I’d never been anywhere like this before. Hindu offerings – usually little woven plant trays filled with fresh flowers, candy, lit incense, and small coins – lay everywhere; at the base of the stairs, in the restroom, in hallways, on the sidewalk outside of the house/restaurant, you name it…the offerings were everywhere and at all hours of the day. I was told that the offerings were set out, and that in exchange, the bearer wished for good things to come to their friends, family, and patrons. This ubiquitous aspect of Balinese Hinduism really adds to the island’s easygoing and warm atmosphere.

Balinese Canang Offering
Photo by Kokkai Ng

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Following Nusa Lembongan, Justin and I headed back to Bali for a motorcycle trip around the island. Unfortunately it’s difficult to find anything larger than a 150cc available for rent, so we settled for two KLX 150s – not too shabby 🙂

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Our first day’s route took us from Kuta to Ubud, a culture rich and evergreen oasis north of Denpasar. Our hotel was super close to the Monkey Forest, so early every morning we were woken up by these pesky macaques wreaking absolute havoc on the well-kept hotel grounds — super entertaining.

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Nasi campur – an Indonesian favorite

Our second leg of the trip – Ubud to Amed – was gorgeous. Open sweeping rice fields surrounded us, and there was much less traffic than on our first leg. We made it a point to take a detour to Gunung (Mt.) Agung, a 10,000 foot volcano located on the northeast side of the island. Turns out it was way too foggy to see a thing, but it’s all good, as we were plenty satisfied with the view from afar.

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Amed was easily my favorite place on Bali. It’s a sleepy little string of coastal villages with black pebble beaches, killer snorkeling, friendly locals, and this view of Gunung Agung that I’ll never grow tired of:

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Every night for sunset people head up to this viewpoint. The locals bring their guitars and sing some Bob to wind the day down. It’s euphoric.

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Fresh mahi mahi for 25,000 Indonesian rupiah (US $2) – my favorite meal in Indo right here.

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Soto ayam – chicken soup

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From Amed, we cruised north along the coast through Singaraja and on to Pemuteran – the base for exploring the rich waters of Menjangan island. Visibility was incredible and the coral and marine life was super vibrant. Plus, you can spot a few of neighboring Java’s massive volcanoes from the boat – really adds to the beauty.

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Babi guling – Suckling pig, a delicacy on Bali.

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After a couple nights in Pemuteran, we were ready to head out on the last leg of our trip some 160 km along the coast back to Kuta.

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More babi guling!

Justin’s trip was coming to a close – we planned to have two nights back in Kuta to surf a bit before he took off back to Seattle. But at 3 am, I woke up with a dislocated left shoulder. No clue in hell as to how it managed to slip out in my sleep, but I’m damn thankful that I had a friend there to help relocate it. Thanks Justin! I spent the next couple weeks between Ubud and Amed, resting and recuperating in order to get my shoulder back in usable condition. I’ll need surgery once I’m back stateside, but all is good so far as I’m here in the Philippines using my shoulder strenuously on a daily basis. Keep sendin’ the healthy vibes my way!

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