Bali, Indonesia

UPDATE: Managed to add some photos today – March 19, 2012

It’s been a while since I have had proper access to the internet so I apologize for the lack of regular updates. Even the computer I am using now is mediocre so unfrotunately I won’t be able to post any photographs but as soon as I get a chance I will. In the meantime there is a lot to catch up on!

The beach at Nusa Lemogan, Bali

After climbing Kinabalu Therese and I caught a flight to Bali where we would spend a week exploring the Indonesian Island. We started with a night in Sanur before catching a local ferry to Nusa Lemogan – one of the islands off of Bali. The boat ride was wonderful, salt water splashing onto our skin and some of the local children befriending us. We spent the hour trip trying to communicate, playing games on the bow of the boat.

Balinese dancers performing at the Palace Theatre in Ubud.

Lemogan is a beautiful island, but it still was not my favourite. I think in general Bali won’t be a highlight of the trip. Although there were amazing moments, like watching a traditional Balinese dance accompanied by a Gamelon orchestra on the palace stage in Ubud, in general the island feels too touristy. As soon as you arrive you are aware of how important you are to the island’s economy and  the demands on your wallet don’t subside. You’re constantly being hassled by taxi drivers, shop keepers, street vendors and hotel owners.

While on Lemogan we celebrated my 24th birthday with a snorkeling trip. This was a highlight of Bali as well. We arrived at the beach of the little bay we were staying at at noon and boarded an outrigger-style boat.

It was just Therese and I and the boat’s captain who didn’t speak a word of English. When we would arrive at one of the coral reefs (there were three stops to our tour) he would slow the boat and point and we’d jump in.

The fish were beautiful – all neon coloured and swimming in schools amidst the coral. At time I’d find myself chasing one that had caught my eye and I’d realized I’d wandered quite far from the boat.

By the second stop it had started to rain, making the third stop impossible but it added to adventure. We road the rickety boat home in the pouring ran huddled on the deck in our life jackets to keep warm laughing the entire way.

The rest of our time on Lemogan we spent embracing the resort-like nature of the island, eating, sunbathing (when the sun was out) and splurging on a massage (1 hour for under 10 dollars – quite the splurge!)

Ubud was a lovely change of pace, which was our next destination after Lemogan. We arrived in the morning and quickly found a great bungalow homestay with Mama Whinney,  near a football field in the centre of town. Mama Whinney was quite a character taking us under her wing and sharing tips on the city.

Jungle book is real! The Monkey Sanctuary Temple in Ubud.

Ubud is one of the inland cities in Bali and boasts a colourful display of Balinese culture with delicious (and incredibly reasonably priced) food, dance and fire shows, temples, the Ubud palace and wildlife a short walk away. It also is home to the Monkey Sanctuary Temple which looks like it is straight out of Jungle Book. Monkeys are everywhere and the jungle has grown around the ancient buildings.

Following our stay in Ubud we took a taxi to Kuta for our last night before flying to Phuket in Thailand. Kuta was horrible but spending a night is inevitable as it is so close to the airport.

The city is on the water, which looks stunning until you start wading in and realize the coast is full of garbage. Still the beach is quite populated, mostly by people learning to surf in the dumpy water. The rest of the city is this weird juxtaposition of total destruction (construction and development is happening everywhere) and western commercialism (Kentucky Fried Chicken, Billabong etc.) The place is overrun with young people cruising the streets in patching Bitang (the local beer) tank tops getting ready to hit the many night clubs.

Needless to say Therese and I were both unimpressed and relieved to get on the plane the next morning and head to Thailand.

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