Posts Tagged With: sunset

Nusa Lembongan: Another Island Paradise

For the last two nights of our trip in Indonesia, we were scheduled to be on Nusa Lembogan, a small island off the coast of Bali [and a part of Bali]. It is right next to Nusa Penida, another small island. Andrew set this part of the trip up and it was awesome! As you already read, the first day started in Ubud on our rather crazy, hectic, fun scooter adventure around Ubud. When we eventually made it back to Swasti Eco Lodge, we packed up our stuff, checked out, and grabbed our ride to the coast. When we arrived at the ticket office, we talked over our reservations, and then moved to the beach. When the speedboat appeared on the beach, the employees grabbed our bags and loaded them first. Then it was our turn. True to the island life, we took our shoes off, rolled up our pants, and walked through the water to the boat ladder. The boat was small- about 6 or so benches. It was covered on 3 sides with windows. We all sat down and took off. If you’ve never been on a speedboat before, let me tell you, it’s pretty insane. I don’t get motion sickness at all and I love boats, but this ride was crazy. I’m pretty sure I left a dent in the bench back in front of me from squeezing so tightly. The boat “FLEW” over the water, hitting massive waves where water would cover the boat. I don’t think I like riding under the covering of the boat… next time I’ll opt for the open air part. After an hour or so of too much crazy [I think it was actually a 30 minute ride, but felt longer], we pulled up to the coast of a small island. Boats everywhere. It looked awesome. Again the employees carried off our bags and then we followed in suit. We waited a bit until a truck with two long benches in the bed came over. Again we loaded our bags and ourselves up. On this island, there are very VERY few cars/trucks. In fact, I think the one we were on was one of about three. The truck drove us around dropping everyone off here or there on the island. We were the last to be dropped off. We were staying at Alam Nusa Huts and Spa.

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The first night on Nusa, we relaxed. We walked down to the beach [about a 5 minute walk] and enjoyed the sunset. We chatted with the owners of Alam who were so completely friendly and we dined on delicious Indonesian meals and tropical drinks. We also lined up a snorkel trip for the morning. In the morning, we ate breakfast at Alam [can’t get enough of Nasi Goreng!] and then we met up with our boat driver for the snorkel trip. He wasn’t very talkative but apparently knew the folks who owned Alam, so we happily followed along. He took us two different places; one a calmer place for snorkeling and the other on a drift. It was awesome. So many fish and coral. He also brought along bread that he crumbled up and threw in the water to attract the fish– they were everywhere and completely surrounding us. Just an awesomely amazing experience. To top it off, we went in a traditional fishing boat- just the two of us. What an awesome time.

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After the snorkeling trip, we changed our clothes and decided to try another place for lunch that was a few buildings down from where we were staying. Ah island time. We were the only ones in an open-air restaurant that had darts and pool tables. We ordered and were served and then the person working disappeared. As in, we could have gotten up, left, and never returned and no one would have even noticed. It was relaxing and fantastic, but we had sights to see! We paid our bill and then grabbed a scooter to explore the island. We drove all the way to one end and sat amongst mangrove trees, sipping out of a fresh coconut… then we turned around and crossed the bridge between the two parts of the island– only accessible by scooters and walkers. We watched on as workers farmed seaweed [the big economic focus of the island]. We  took pictures of seaweed drying and looked at plots set-up just off the beach using bamboo stakes. We drove by a cemetery where a large platform used for cremations was still smoking from the previous day. We walked through the small road-side shops, talked with locals, and purchased bamboo goods and batik fabrics. We explored every edge of the island under the beautiful sun, shaking our heads and laughing at what an amazingly awesome time we had on the trip. We finished our day with a delicious dinner at Alam. It was starting to sink in that we were leaving. But really, our adventure was just beginning– we were getting ready to fly to San Francisco, California, to embark on an 8-day, 525 mile bike ride from San Francisco to Santa Monica to raise awareness of Arthritis. A bike ride, that we hadn’t even trained for.

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Indonesia is a place of awesome culture and bountiful beauty. It is colorful and vibrant and full of love and passion. I would spend so much more time there if I had the chance. There is so much to see and do. I would recommend it to anyone craving adventure and one hell of a time. Andrew summed it up perfectly– “Never have I felt closer to death… and never have I felt more alive.”

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Until next time, my friends…

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In Search of the Great Komodo Dragon: Part II

Missed out on Part I of the trip? Check in out here.

Arriving on Rinca Island is like arriving on a deserted island. The boat pulls up and the boatmen secure it to the single small dock jutting out into the water. A park ranger or two stands at the end of the dock with a large stick [for scaring snakes and other animals, we find out later]. One of the park rangers welcomes us to the island and walks along with us to the entrance way. We had arrived. Komodo National Park. Awesome. Just Awesome.

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When you arrive, you are shown a map and asked how long of a loop/walk you want to do– we of course, selected the longest walk. Literally about 2 minutes into leaving the sign, we saw a baby Komodo dragon. SO AWESOME. We also saw a group of Komodos hanging out in the shade under the “kitchen building”. Apparently they hang out there because it smells good and is cooler. Sometimes, they will wander into the kitchen itself to check things out. See how massive they are? Some of them get up to 300 pounds!!!

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On our hike through the hot woods and open to sunlight route, we saw monkeys, jungle turkeys, bees [literally a SWARM], and komodo dragons [including some protecting nests– two females] as well as giant ox. We learned that the komodo dragons have poison in their saliva. One adult komodo dragon will attack an ox and bite it once and then leave. The ox will slowly die– it will be unable to move and over the course of perhaps a week, it will lose its life. Once it dies, a pack of komodo dragons will come out and consume the ox. We did see an ox that had been bitten a few days prior. It was really sad because the ox couldn’t move at all– it was stuck in a mud pit. Circle of life, I suppose. The hike was phenomenal and seeing so many komodo dragons in their natural habitat was a true dream come true. We snagged a patch from the little store on our way out so that we could add it to our collection. This was a trip that I will never EVER forget.

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After our time on Rinca, we took a small snorkel off the island– most of the coral was dead from dynamite fishing and a number of other factors… but there were still a lot of fish and it felt great to get in the water. We then re-boarded for dinner and beer as we made our way over to another mangrove island to “see some bats” as our guide told us. We said, sure of course, we like bats. We parked our boat a bit off the island and saw a gorgeous sunset. There were a few other boats around us and we laughed to ourselves about the bats we were about to see– wondering why folks seemed to make a big deal out of some bats. A little while later, right as the sun went down, we saw a few bats take off from the mangrove island. Within about 5 minutes, there were literally THOUSANDS of bats taking flight from the island. The guys on our boat explained that they do this every day– going to search for food. The endless stream of bats must have lasted more than a half hour. We took as many photos as we can even though lightening and the fast beating of wings didn’t help. After a truly phenomenal show, we retired to our beds to get some sleep.

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In the morning, we ate breakfast before hopping back into the water for some more snorkeling. After what seemed 30 seconds [really over an hour], we hopped back on boat and packed up our goodies– heading back to the airport for our flight back to Bali. We arrived at the airport and the security line consisted of 3 woman asking us to put our bags on a belt, while they stared at their phones. We walked through the door frame, picked up our bags on the other side, and waited for our plane. We were delayed but eventually boarded and made our way back to Denpasar and Ubud. This trip was absolutely indescribable. It was crazy. It was awesome. It was a whirlwind. We spent a decent chunk of money on the trip, but the fact that we were by ourselves and we crammed in so many awesome things made it worth it 10 times over. If we had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

 

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North Bali: The Drive to Lovina and Some Downtown

When we departed from our seaside eco resort of Puri Dajuma [website here: http://www.dajuma.com/en/eco-resort], we headed towards Lovina. We knew that Lovina was going to be at least a bit of tourist trap. It’s a town that is frequented by beach tourism. Andrew had found us a place that was a hidden gem, so to speak, up on a hill with a view of the beach, but not in town. The name of the place was Puri Mangga Sea View Resort and Spa it consisted of rooms and houses and somehow Andrew swung a house with a private pool. The drive there was via Bunut Bolong Tree. Roughly translated, this means hole tree or a tree with a hole in it. It is a sacred tree in Bali- located near the area of Pekutatan. It is related to the Banyan tree is quite simply, a massive tree with a hole in it that is large enough to drive through… there is a clove plantation on one of side of tree [located on a hill of sorts]. In addition to tree, there were also two offering temples. We had requested that the driver go by the tree, as I had a lot of interest in seeing it– it really is quite cool, reminded me of a strangler fig. However, as you might guess, it also has become somewhat of a miniature tourist traps and locals are plentiful, willing to sell you anything and everything… or to take your picture with the tree. We declined and after snapping our own photos, moved on with the trip.

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The drive to Lovina was full of all sorts of great views and picture moments. We saw a ton of rice fields, which really do appear to be placed anywhere there is spare space. Many of the rice fields are in different phases of growth– some fields just being plowed, some with baby rice, some with full grown. Based on what we saw, it would be extremely interesting to do some research on how much water is used each year for growing rice on Bali… and where it comes from.

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We also continued our list of usefulness of bamboo for everyday purposes. On this section of the trip, we saw bamboo being used as a fence, as scaffolding [to hold the building up], and as a billboard sign stand. In addition to the bamboo views, we saw a number of other awesome sights, including massive bunches of bananas, massive bags of rice, street-side stores selling roosters in large woven baskets, statues, and temples, and beautiful architecture. We also saw roadside stands with what looked like homemade dishes in pots and bowls— I’m sure they contained something most delicious!!! Perhaps some Nasi Goreng [fried rice]?

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As I mentioned earlier, we were headed for a house with a private pool. We got there fairly early and it was absolutely gorgeous. I highly recommend Puri Mangga if you want an awesome time away from the crowds [website here: http://www.puri-mangga.de/en/]. Our house was beautiful. Complete with two bedrooms [next time, we’ll have to take a friend!] and two outdoor bathrooms that each had toilets, sinks, and shows. I have mentioned lately how much I LOVE outdoor showers and bathrooms? I’m not sure I have in a few posts– I love love LOVE them. They’re so nice and there’s so much space, and it’s just awesome with the sun shining down. I digress… the pool was also phenomenal. The “resort” itself [I put that in quotes because it’s not like a Sandals resort… it’s much cooler. By that I mean, it’s smaller and remote and just beautiful]. Anyway, the resort itself has a pool and tub that were beautifully sculpted, but we instead, turned our attention to our own rectangular infinity pool that looked down into a valley and you could see the coast. On either edge of the pool was a giant papaya tree and to finish it off, there were lounge chairs to sit in and watch the hours pass by… We swam for a while and read a bit before deciding to head down into the town of Lovina.

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A driver was around almost immediately and told us he would drop us at the Dolphin statue and when we were ready to be picked up, just give them a call and they’ll meet us back there. Easy enough. We stepped out by the “dolphin” statue… I put that in quotes because most of the dolphins on the statue, appeared to have had a run in with the Queen of Hearts [as in, OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!].

We also noticed immediately, that we were no longer in seclusion. We were immediately approached by three different people wanting to sell us things– fruit, jewelry, and paintings. We assured them that we would look again later but that we were looking to get lunch and had other plans. We happened upon a thai place in Lovina called Jasmine Kitchen. I highly recommend it– fantastic fresh dishes and drinks. It was down an alley of sorts and well, away from the mayhem of the beach. We were the only ones at the restaurant and as we found out later, since it was the off-season, we were hit up by all the locals trying to sell goods [fewer tourists to take them on]. Our lunch was amazing… really. We sat upstairs on giant pillows on the ground around a low table and we ate, admittedly, way too much but it was sooo good! They also have homemade ice cream on their dessert menu which a little different from our Western-style ice cream, but still worth the taste. They also will fill your water bottles for a low price, so it’s worth the stop even if just for water [why not grab a snack, too?] After stuffing ourselves, we walked around a bit more [avoiding the beach] so that we could hopefully avoid the sales. Eventually, close to sundown, we decided to head back to the beach because we wanted to watch the sunset. It was worth it. True, we came out of it with some jewelry, a bag of fruit, and a painting that we hadn’t planned on initially… but we also made three locals very happy and took some AMAZING shots of the sunset on the water.

After sunset, we decided to look for a bar with some music for an hour or so before calling Puri Mangga to pick us up. We found an open-air spot [Kantin 21] with not a soul inside other than the bartender and a few waiters. There was a stage and a banner outside said there would be music. We stepped in and were seated at a table with an umbrella. They gave us a MASSIVE drink menu– the second they gave them to us, it became apparent once again that Lovina is not “true Bali”… it is built to appease the tourists– a fact that is made obvious by the multitude of cuisines in town as well as the bars themselves and the extensiveness of the bar menu. Most Bali folks don’t drink at all or at least not a lot. The fact that this drink menu was larger than most American bar menus is saying something. But we didn’t care. We were excited to grab a crazy drink and maybe some food and some music. One of the drinks we ordered was called the Kantin 21 Level 17— 17 alcohols mixed together. We figured, why not, right? I’m not sure the bartender even knew they made that— but they mixed one up for us and we drank it down– bright green, really funky, not sure I recommend it :). We both ended up ordering pizzas [they had an outdoor brick oven]– although I got their special pizza which ended up being a square pizza dough covered in greens and veggies [delicious]. The live music turned out to be a main singer and some back up band. The main singer was apparently a massive America fan– as he kept giving us shout outs and yelling “Obama” and “I love your movies”. Needless to say, we had a great time- as always everyone is super friendly. By the time we left, a few other couples had joined us– representing France, Australia, and Germany. Our driver met us as promised, by the dolphin statue. All in all, a great day and night!

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Summary of Day:
Route: Pekutatan to Lovina [Southwest to North-central]
Breakfast: Puri Dajuma Hotel [included with room]- delicious and fresh, fruit and hot, cooked food
Lunch: Jasmine Kitchen [Thai Food], Lovina Beach; Cash Only; Fresh and Delicious; 5 Stars
Dinner: Kantin 21 [Open Air Bar], Lovina Beach; Small Food Menu/Huge Drink Menu; 3.5 Stars
Hotel: Puri Mangga Sea View Resort and Spa, Lovina; House with Private Pool; 5 Stars

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