Our journey to Indonesia started off a bit rocky as we almost weren’t aloud to board our flight from Singapore to Denpasar, Bali. To fly into Indonesia, you need proof of onward travel leaving the country. Our flight from the Philippines to Italy late you in May had already been booked, so we did not foresee any problems; however, the man checking us in for our flight didn’t seem to think the fact we would be flying to Italy from the Philippines proved we would be leaving Indonesia. Fortunately his manager understood our future travel plans and soon after we were on our way!
We originally thought we would see a lot more of Indonesia than we did. Countries with so many little islands are tough to travel around unless you have a lot of time to take the ferries or money to fly everywhere. We chose to spend the bulk of our time in Bali and Lombok.
The first thing we learnt in Indonesia was that the people like their coffee strong! It was not uncommon to have the bottom third of your coffee cup filled with coffee granules. We discovered it was best to let it settle after adding milk and sugar and stirring as otherwise you’d be drinking a thick tar like paste. If we stuck to drinking the top half of our cup we were fine!
We really loved Bali and felt almost like it was a country of its own as it had a distinct Balinese culture. The scenery was beautiful and the people were very friendly. Our first few days were spent on the beach in the Seminyak and Canggu area.
The town of Ubud was a highlight. It was made really famous by the Julia Roberts movie Eat, Pray, Love, so was fairly touristy, but we rented a scooter and managed to escape some of the crowds. The rice terraces in the area were beautiful. We biked to a few different terrace areas and hiked passed some as well. While in Ubud we also checked out a chocolate factory and the Tegenungan waterfall.
On our last day in Ubud we did a sunrise hike up Mt. Batur. Our tour van picked us up at 2:30am and drove us to the base of the mountain where we met up with the other 200 people we’d be climbing the mountain with! The hike up the mountain was painfully slow as the path was narrow and it was hard to pass the slower groups. Luckily, once we reached the top, there was lots of space and it felt a bit more like you had the mountain to yourself. The incredible view made the early morning and slow hike worth it.
From Ubud we spent one night in a little village called Amed before catching a ferry to the Gili islands. We only booked a place in Amed because we couldn’t take the bus and catch a ferry in the same day, but we ended up loving our stay there and wishing we could have had more time. Our little hut was done up very nicely and we had our own private infinity pool overlooking the ocean!
We ended up being disappointed with the Gili islands. Our experience was mostly tainted because of the rainy weather we experienced, but we found the islands (Gili T especially) to be dirty and full of drugs. We couldn’t walk anywhere without being offered mushrooms or meth, and many of the restaurants even advertised the drugs on their menus. The cool thing about the Gili islands is that they are all so small you can easily walk around them in a couple hours. We attempted this a couple times and rented a tandem bicycle to drive around one day, but always ended up getting rained on. The best part of our Gili island experience was a snorkel trip we did between Gili T and Gili Air where we got to see lot of colorful fish and coral, some turtles, and a shipwreck. Gili Air had a better atmosphere for us than Gili T, but again the rain kept us from exploring too much. Any rain on the Gili islands also meant no wifi and likely no power. We spent lots of time reading and playing cards!
We took a small local boat to the main island of Lombok (the Gili islands are a part of Lombok) along with chickens, propane tanks, water jugs and locals.
While on Lombok we continued to get rained on. We stayed in a place called Senggigi and on one of the nicer days were able to rent a bike and tour around the island a bit.
The forecast around Lombok was not looking like it would improve, so we decided to take a ferry back to Bali, and when we arrived, the sun was shining.
Our final days in Bali were spent riding around to different lookout points and beaches in the Ulu Watu area, taking in a sunset Balinese dance, avoiding monkeys, and learning to surf on Kuta beach.
As with each country, there were lots of spots we missed or wished we could have seen, but it was nice to see so much of Bali and to not be on the move quite so much.