Friday, April 26, 2013


--> Ahhh the Gili's.
It's paradise.
Sandy paths.
Snorkeling right off the beach.
Lounge chairs. swimming pools. Massages.
Snacks overlooking sunsets.
And some mean nasty ass shits.

Yep team, Bali Belly has hit hard. Not as hard as it did in Guatemala. But hard for a day. Whew. Yeah. Rough times. chills, shakes, fever, only a little puking and a lot of the other stuff...

but, as is the case when traveling (and probably with life) it's best just to go with it, rest for a day and jump back on that donkey-cart in the morning. :)

Sunset view looking at Bali from Gili T

The Gili's have been fun. We rented bikes the first day, for $3.50 a day. We rolled around the island. SNorkeled a little, but the water was too shallow at first. We also went for a scuba dive and saw sharks and lots of turtles. It was nice.

I've got to go because Right now we're waiting for the public ferry to cross to Lombok. It's supposedly what Bali was like 50 years ago. :) They only need 4 more people and we'll be on our way!


We're going to check out a waterfall and maybe more before the big Komodo sailing adventure. 4 days/3 nights on a boat with 10+ other folks. Snorkeling, adventuring. These things only sink... sometimes. So, keep an eye out for the next email and if it doesn't come in a week or so, start the search party.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013


That's right Team,

I'm in Indonesia.  Gili T to be precise. A small island off the coast of Lombok (itself an island) located near Bali (also an island...). In fact, all of Indonesia is 17,000 + islands of awesome.
This is the first BIG TRIP since Morocco in November of 2011, and I am glad to be on it. In fact, I've already extended the trip by almost 2 weeks!  (Thank you frequent flier miles for free flight changes!).

Ready to go!

I know some of you have been to Indonesia (notably Bali) and said it was one of your favorite places. It really is cool. Though it may be a bit overrun with tourism in the south, as we made our way to the east coast and Amed, things thinned out and it became much more the legendary "Bali of old" (Which seems to get brought up a lot. In fact, Lombok and other islands get mentioned as what Bali was like 10 or 20 or 50 years ago. So far they all seem cool to me, though different...)

For instance, Indonesia is the worlds largest Muslim nation. But Bali is not a Muslim island. It practices it's own unique religion found nowhere else in the world. A mix of Hindu and many other things. It also has it's own language, Balinese. Though they speak Indonesian and many speak English. 60 years of being a tourism hotspot will do that to you I guess.

So this trip is the first time I've been back to Southeast Asia since the massive 2005 Thailand/Laos/Viet Nam/Cambodia adventure...
Cambodia, 2005. Boo-yah!
...and I can say that it is every bit as awesome as when I left. There is something really wonderful about this part of the world. The people. The cultures. The places. The food. It was special then and it still is. Even though I (likely) won't return to any of those countries this trip, it still feels like the awesomeness is present here in Indonesia.  (Hopefully that will carry over to the other destinations for the trip).

This trip is also the first time in a long time that I'm traveling with a friend. Alicia was actually 2 weeks into her 3 week trip when I got here. We'd planned on overlapping for 4 days at the end of her trip and the beginning of mine.  Now we'll be traveling Indonesia for 2 1/2 weeks before she heads home and I'm off to the next countries. (This way you know who the "we" is when I type it.)

Ridin the donkey cart!

As for adventures so far...

15 hours flight from LAX to Hong Kong. 4 hours in Hong Kong airport. 4 1/2 hours to Denpensar, Bali. 1 hour in customs/visa. 45 minutes in a cab
which cost 100,000 to go 45 minutes!!!!!!!  (That's about 10 USD. :) (I love all the zeroes on the money, it makes me feel like a billionaire!).
And check into a hotel in Sanur. Had a pool (thank god, cause it's hot), and was close to the beach.

The next day it was off to Amed. A 3 hour drive. We hired a driver for 450,000 ($45) who took us to a Bat Cave temple (which was closed because there was a religious ceremony). We did get to chat with a nice family about the offerings the bring in and listen to
some traditional Balinese music. It's tonal. Hammers on metal. Flutes. Klanging and bonging. (Tom, you'd love it!).

We ate overlooking the ocean (which is pretty much what you do here. :). I had Manta Ray for the first time. Tasty, spicey, a bit
rubbery and I actually felt kind of bad because Manta Ray's are so cool!.

We headed to Tirta Gangga, which is this water palace built by the last Bali king in the 1940's. It looks like it's 1000 years old.
There are all these fountains and pools, some you can swim in. There were stone pillars you could walk along out in the water which
felt very much like Indiana Jones. (Don't worry, no flooded caves on this trip... yet!). It was a great place to chill out.

Tirta Gangga, palace of water pleasure

The next day we went SCUBA diving on a sunken World War 2 freighter, the USS Liberty. It was really cool. It's a walk in dive,
right off the shore, only 9 feet deep at the shallowest, maybe 70 at the deepest. Really fun to dive around. And there were ladies and girls
here who carried the tanks in and out of the dive sight on their heads! Nuts! Unfortunately I couldn't equalize my ears on the second
dive, so I had to miss out on swimming through the ship itself. Sucked. Never had that problem before, but I couldn't get 6 feet down
before the left side of my head was peircing with pain.I tried 6 or 7 times and had to call it. Oh well, there will be more dives.

For $40 a night we have an air con room with a pool right on the beach. This is a nice place and honestly much more than we have
to spend. We could do $30 or $20 or even $15 a night (though you wouldn't have a/c or a pool). But the cheaper place we stayed the
first night had a rude awakening of... ROOSTERS.
Lots of them.
Like, maybe 20.
Yeah, it was loud.
From 4am until... well, they never really stopped.
Thus the move to the $40 pimpin pad!

2 rooms. infinity pool. sweetness.

Our last day in Amed we rented scooters and zipped along the great coast road. It's barely a lane and a half wide, but is a 2 way street.
And you drive on the left.
And there are dogs and chickens that run out in the road.
And people.
People sort of hang out by and on the road. You can stop anywhere you want. Anywhere. Block half the road. That's cool. No one
honks. They just zip around you. It's pretty wild.

We cruised up this valley and found a random set of 5 holy springs in this village. A guide showed us around for $5. (The average
daily wage in Bali is 2 to 5 USD a day. )

Love me the scooters!

This is actually the first trip that is WiFi crazy. It has made it's appearance for the last couple journeys (Costa Rica/Panama and Morocco), but here EVERYPLACE has Wi-fi.
Your hotel. Wifi.
The restraunt. Wifi.
The food stall on the street. Free Wifi!
For me I don't love this, because it makes the temptation to use my iTouch to check email or whatever be present. But I resist.
It also makes it much less likely to find internet cafes. They're here, but they seem much less present than when I was here in
2005. Or in Africa in 2008. Guess the times, they are a changin!

Today it was the fast speed boat to Gili T. An island with no cars and no mopeds. The only vehicles are boats and the occasional
horse drawn carraige. Sort of like a horse Tuk-Tuk. There are lots of tourists here. (Very few in Amed). All of them seem to be blonde
and from Scandinavia... not a bad deal. :)

It's great to be on the road again!

Rock on
Craig O