Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

Meagan, Mandy and I (MGM) took a mini bus from Ubud to Padang Bay to catch a speed boat to Gilli T, which is right next to Lombok.

As Mandy says, “it feels like we just crossed the Bering Strait”. The swells were so rough and of course we were sitting in the back of the boat getting drenched because the waves were pouring over the front of the boat, but hey we made it and none of us got sea sick.

The island’s circumference is 5 miles, there are 800 people living here and there are no cars or motor bikes. The locals have a great sense of humor and they say “you’re welcommm” in the most sincere way. The island is over run with cats with mostly cropped tails. I was told the cropped tail meant they had an owner, but then I also heard that if they had a cropped tail it meant they were product of incest. Who knows what is true?

There are supposedly no police on the island, but we saw some men dressed in black escorting a handcuffed criminal around the island with a sign saying “I stole something, I’m a Thief” They should do that in the States!!

The way to get around is by foot, bike or horse chariot.  We took a horse chariot to a hotel that was suggested by the driver. We didn’t like it so we hoofed it on our own because we felt bad for the small horse that was struggling to pull us. We found a really nice place on the east side. The next night we stayed on the north/west side where you could see the sunset.

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Sunset

The last two days M&M were here we stayed at the Italian owned Dream Village. Very nice place!

For Meagan’s birthday we went on a snorkeling trip where we were taken by boat to snorkel sights off all the 3 Gili islands. Off Gili Meno we saw a turtle.

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We worked out on the beach and went for a run one day. But mostly we relaxed.

We went out to the beach restaurant to celebrate Meagan’s birthday. We all got excellent fish and they brought a dessert with candles and sang happy birthday to Megs.

3 Australian guys approached our table to ask if they could join us. Funny thing is we were making fun of one while he was walking up to us because of his big muscles and low cropped sides on his tank. He actually turned out to be the nicest guy and one of the other guys was a complete a hole. We ditched the Aussie crew and went next door to the Irish bar and went right onto the beach to dance with our feet in the water.

Mandy was really tired one night, so Megs and I watched The Beach in a theater that was right on the beach. When we got there another movie was already playing. Within minutes Meagan and I were crying because it was about the Australian family that was affected by the tsunami that hit Thailand. 

M&M left back to Bali and I stayed because they were going home the very next day. As their boat was coming to shore another boat was backing up and hit their boat. The boat tried to compensate by flooring it through another boats anchor lines. Thank god no one was hurt and the boats were OK.

After watching the boat take off, I ran/walked the whole island and it was very beautiful! There was a flock of chirping birds flying around that sounded kinda like wind chimes. When they were flying upward the sound was at a higher pitch and when downward it got lower. It was the weirdest sound.

I went to the west side to watch the sunset.

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I was staying at a really cheap place. There was the occasional cockroach in the bathroom. The third night there were 3 and one was a flying one which caught me off guard when I opened the door to go back to my room. I was praying the gecko in the bathroom would gabble him up even though the cockroach was about as big as him. That didn’t happen and somehow the damn flying cockroach made it in my room. I woke early and found a nicer place with air con.  Plus since Mandy was no longer around the mosquitoes started their love affair with me again.

That night I went out to the street food vendors and met 2 very nice Austrian girls in line and 2 Italian guys at the tables.  I went out to the Irish Bar with them and met 3 Californians that overheard my Californian accent. Two of them lived in Irvine and one was living in Bali, such a small world.  Then I bumped into a Artur, who was our Brazilian neighbor in Uluwatu.

He was nice enough to walk me back to my place at the end of the night. On our way a British bicyclist almost hit me. It was a couple and the guy had crutches in his arms as he rode his bike drunk. I insisted I help him and took the crutches so he wouldn’t crash and burn. Artur followed suit and took over the girls bike as I walk with her arm in arm so she wouldn’t fall over. They actually lived on the island, so we went far inland to find a pretty nice home. They were super appreciative and they insisted we have a glass of wine and an aperitif. We sat and talked for an hour. Oh and they had two cats (blah!) One had a big scar that was still healing. A monitor lizard had attacked it.

I was ready to get off the island, so I went to book my trip back to Bali. I need to figure out my visa for New Zealand and Australia which will conclude my trip and I will also need to book my flight home.

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Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

From Uluwatu, we took a mini bus to Ubud. On the way we stopped in the art district to check out some paintings, kites and a temple.
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The temple required us to wear a sarong and tie around our waste. This temple was very different from the others I had seen in other countries. It was the first temple I saw that was made of red brick.
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We got an offering from this lady


After we stopped off to have dinner right by a beautiful rice field.

The first night we stayed in a mosquito infested room with an outdoor private bath that wasn’t so private. The building in the back had a view of our bathroom.

The next two nights we upgraded to the beautiful Champlung Hotel that is butted up against the Ubud Sacred Monkey Forest. We had many monkey sightings around the hotel grounds, which is why we think we all think its the best place to stay in ubud. 

Meagan and Mandy were a little shaken up from their Uluwatu monkey encounter, so we went to the Sacred Monkey Forest prepared. We wore tennis shoes to ensure that the monkeys wouldn’t steal our flip flops like they had done to Meagan in Uluwatu. The monkeys temperament was way more mellow and playful. We all held up a banana to coax them to climb up on our shoulder.
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There were plenty of babies holding on to their moms chest and tons of monkey line the walk ways cleaning each other’s fur and they are in search for bananas.
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Even though we were no longer scared of the monkeys, we still dreaded mosquitoes. Mandy is hilarious, before going to bed she would cover her head with her sarong so that the mosquitoes wouldn’t get her. Lol!

Oh and I almost forgot. Did you know that Meagan Holmwood is famous? A group of Asian tourists asked to take a picture with her. They didn’t ask Mandy and I; only Meagan. Lol! The whole group jumped into the picture then after some people took more pictures with Meagan. Other western tourists stopped looking at Meagan, trying to place what actress or singer she was.
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Next we went to a spa and got pampered. Forest Day Spa, is the bomb and has really good prices! I got a flower on my nails, because apparently that’s why I have no boyfriend.
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There are many art galleries on Monkey Forest Road. My favorite artist was Mohammed Harahap, an Indonesian painter who paints colorful oriental people with beautiful head dresses usually playing instruments. He has art that goes from $2k-5k. Of course I had to have expensive taste. Luckily Mohammed has an apprentice, Plisto, who has paintings that resemble Mohammed paintings. His paintings for for about $40-120. I got two pieces and had M&M take them home for me 😉
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I also liked Krijono, who paints very colorful ethnic paintings or people and animals. Very expensive as well.
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Arok is an Indonesian hard alcohol. We tried it straight up and it tasted like dirty socks. Yuk! Even putting sprint in it would make it better.
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Our next stop will be Gili T, an island off the coast of Bali.

Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia

From Seminyak we took a private van to Uluwatu. On the way there our driver bumped a motor bike and we had to stop to see if the drivers were OK. Luckily no one was hurt. The driver gave them money and we were on our way.

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We stopped off for a delicious seafood lunch right on the beach.

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We made another stop at Padang beach for a ripcurl surf competition.

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We stayed at Banjangi Villas, which was nice except for the sewage stench that would come and go. It was a Sunday and we happened to stumble upon Single Fin, which it goes off on Sunday nights. We came straight from the beach. We ran into 2 people that M&M met on their flight to Bali.

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The sunset was really pretty there and it was a good view of the surfers getting the waves.

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We ran home on the rolling hills. I was so sore the next day! As we got back our neighbors invited us to go back, but we were a pooped and in need of a shower!

The next day M&M visited the temple and a beach. I sat that one out and did laundry because I wasn’t feeling well.

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A monkey stole Meagan’s flip flop while she was walking. He began to bite it and it hissed at them as they tried to get it back. They got a worker to distract him with a banana and they got the flip flop back.

The next day I ran to the temple with Mandy. We didn’t go in, but I saw all the monkeys lined up on the sidewalk. Smart little boogers.

Off to Ubud next!

Legian and Kuta, Indonesia

I got to Bali a day before Meagan and Mandy (M&M) arrived, so I stayed at the nicest hostel I have ever stayed at in my life! Island Hotel’s dorm room was spotless and very comfortable. The decor is beautiful and there’s a little pool right outside that I fell in when I was just putting my feet in at night and didn’t notice the black bottom steps. There’s tons of people from everywhere and it is a perfect place to socialize.

I meet a huge group and we went out to Sky lounge on Legian. I wish I could have stayed longer, but I’d rather be with my M&M, so walked about 15 minutes to Puri Dewa Bharata Hotel. About 5 minutes after getting there they arrived by taxi. Perfect timing! It was so nice to see some familiar faces that I adore!!

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We settled in took a nap. We woke at 2 am and went out in search for food. Noodle soup dishes from the 24 mart had to do.

The next day we walked around to go shopping and walked down the beach. Such a beautiful sunset!

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Bintang sunset

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The next night we went to surfer bar where they had a live 90’s band playing anything between Nirvana and Rage Against the Machine.  We danced our feet off.

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Sipadan and Mabul, Malaysia

After hearing that Sipadan diving is one of the best in the world, I decided to take a flight to Tawau then catch a mini bus to Semporna to hopefully get a permit. Semporna is a pit hole of a city. For three days I waited for a permit. I was extremely lucky to get one. 120 permits are issued everyday for snorkelers and divers, but many people plan months in advance, so space is limited. I talked to many people who were unable to get a permit. Again, I was extremely lucky!

Semporna is not a place you want to stay. The town is so small and there’s not much to do if you aren’t out snorkeling or diving. The local woman can be extremely rude, the men cat call you constantly (even when you are covered up), and the street smells of sewage. Oh and trash is EVERYWHERE. I stayed a total of 5 nights here, but Sipadan was worth it!! I have to stay there two nights before my flight to Bali to meet up with Mandy and Meagan. Eeee, I really can’t wait to see them!

Back to Sipadan. It is a protected island, so you cannot stay overnight there. In fact, they shut down a resort in order to preserve this place. I’m very glad it is protected because I’ve never seen so many turtles in my life. These turtles lay their eggs on the island and they really own the water.

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People are not supposed to walk around, but I got away for a bit and got to check out the island. It was incredible.

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Roll call of our dive group: Oscar from Spain, James from Australia, Roslee, the Malay dive master, and of course me!  We dove 3 times around Sipadan. Barracuda point was the first and it was excellent. We saw many turtles and White Tip Reef Sharks. Oh and a maneray eel.

When we first got into the water two turtles were mating and another male was biting the male.

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The lasts dive was Turtle Cavern, which has a cave where turtles go to die. We were able to go into the opening, but you have to have special training to do further cave diving. The cave felt ominous even though I couldn’t see any empty turtle shells.

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We also saw a huge school of fish.

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After each dive we got to hang out at the island.

Once we were done with our diving, we headed to Mabul Island, which is right by Sipadan.  This island is overrun with shacks on stilts and a couple of nice resorts. I stayed at Scuba Jeff Home stay for two nights. The room was very open, so my mosquito net made all the difference for a comfortable stay.

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From the deck we saw rays swimming at night and turtles swimming in the morning.

I dove once in Mabul and it was so lame. Nothing could really compare to Sipadan.

There was a Swedish couple, a French couple and two dutch girls that also stayed at the home stay. They were great to talk to, so I’m really glad they were there.

I have to give some cred – all the under water pictures were taken with either Oscar’s or James’s go pro camera. Thanks guys! I got lucky to have you along for the ride.

When i get the chance, I will upload videos that they also took.

Pulau Kecil, Pulau Perhentian, Malaysia

From Phnom Penh, I took a flight to Kuala Lumpur then caught a connecting flight to Kota Bharu. As I got off the plane, Catherine, jumped  out of no where to greeted me. I wasn’t sure if she’d be able to make it, so it was a pleasant surprise.

Many Malaysians stared at us when we went to the night market. We were the only foreigners there. Malaysia has a lot of Muslims who wear the head dress and wear covering clothing or burkas.  Catherine and I were covered up in pants and t-shirts, so we wouldn’t draw attention, but they still stare because they aren’t use to westerners. We got Roti Canai, which is like a tortilla/pancake, one with bananas and another with chicken.  Both were delicious! This has become my favorite Malaysian dish especially with the curry sauce.

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Roti Canai yummyness!

The next afternoon, we shared a taxi with a Canadian girl, whom we met at the hostel we stayed at, to the pier in Kuala Besut to take a speed boat to Long Beach on Pulau Kecil (the small Perhentian island).

We were taxied in from our speed boat to the island.

The beach is beautiful! Such bright blue water. Even if you just walk out on the water you can spot several little fish.

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Long Beach

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Fishes

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Deep blue and light blue

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Crab

We decided to stay at Panorama because we heard good things about their PADI program (diving instruction) and they gave us a package deal with our room.

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Beer and homework is actually not a bad combo

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Left to right: Catherine, me, Jesse (instructor) and William (my new Dutch brother)

We had 4 days of both theory and hands on instruction. First we had Wayne as our instructor then we had Jesse. Both were great instructors. The first dive site was at 10m at Batunisan, which is right in front of Long Beach. We saw so many fish! Triggerfish, clown fish (nemo), snapper, longfin butterfish, parrot fish. There are no pictures because I didn’t want to have to fuss with my camera. I already had a bunch of other equipment to worry about, but that is OK because Jesse our instructor filmed our last two open water dives with his go pro.

The second dive was at 11.2 meters and was at D’Lagoon which is a short boat ride away. There were way more fish and coral.

The last two dives were about 18 meters. We saw all the same fish as before. No sharks, sting rays or turtles. Boo. But at least I am now certified and can dive anywhere in the world! Plus, it was in those last dives I felt very comfortable under the water.

Here are some links to the videos. I’m in pink and Catherine is in blue.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhuHpZj1zDs&feature=youtube_gdata_player

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zj4hATudro&feature=youtube_gdata_player

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOnmn1ATOpw&feature=youtube_gdata_player

http:// https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VA1CIRRKk_I&feature=youtube_gdata_player

We celebrated our cert with a bottle of Orang Utan (money juice/Malaysian whiskey) with coke for 20 ringet, which is about $7 USD. It tastes like vanilla coke with a little kick.

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On the other side of the island is Coral Bay, which is a quick 5 minute walk. We swam out to a floating dock where it has a great view of the maze coral below.  We swam back to shore to watch the sunset.

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Floating dock on the left and little island on the right

At night there’s a fire dance show. I’ve seen this before, but these people were tearing it up! Catherine and I swam almost every night and one night we watched the fire show while in the water. It was awesome! We were the only ones in the water and it cooled us down!

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Igbal and Amin, locals we met, were supposed to go on a hike to the windmill with us, but they were late, so Catherine and I decided to find it on our own. We just followed the power lines which was actually hard to find initially. At the top by the windmill there was an excellent view.

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View from the windmill

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Bathing suit, tennies and backpack

Tons of swallows were flying around in the ocean wind.

Next we hiked down to D’Lagoon which is a beach on the other side and only accessible by boat or by the hike. There was only a couple there, but other than that the beach was ours.

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I almost forgot to mention the animals I encountered. A giant fruit bat, a huge monitor lizard and a huge sea eagle.

There was a giant fruit bat that would fly to and from a tree in front of where we stayed. It was about the size of a full size seagull. At first I thought it was a nocturnal bird, but then I saw the shape of the wings.  It flew with perfect precision, definitely nothing like a small bat that flies sporadically in all directions.

There was a monitor lizard that gave us a visit.

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Catherine taking a pic of our friend

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That is a big water bottle btw

I don’t have a picture of the sea eagle, but I witness it catch a fish from the ocean. At first u thought it was a big toy plane taking pictures of the ocean. It was massive!

Off to Kota Bharu to catch a flight to Tawau so I can dive in one of the worlds best diving spots, Sipadan.