Bye Bye Bali

Trip Start Jan 19, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Wednesday, May 11, 2011

So, we took a taxi down from Lovina to Sanur on the south coast of Bali so we could catch the fast boat to the Gili Islands.  This small set of 3 islands is technically a part of Lombok, another small province of Indonesia (there are 17-20,000 islands that make up Indonesia) to the east of Bali.  White sandy beaches, palm trees, warm aqua-marine waters... paradise.  Felt like we were back in Fiji.  The water wasn't as warm, but that was actually a good thing.  Definitely more refreshing.  In Fiji, it was so hot outside and then we'd try and cool off by getting in the water to find warm bath water.  It's pretty hard to complain about such a place,... Fiji was fantastic... the water on Gili T was better. 
 We actually only went to the first island, Gili Trawangan, and stayed for about 7 days.  It felt good to just stay in one place for a week and get to know the area and locals.  Trawangan was a funky little island with no cars or motorbikes either (only horse-drawn buggies and bikes) so it felt a lot less chaotic than the mainland.  And the snorkelling was fantastic!   I'm not a snorkelling pro by any means... but I can't imagine it being any better than this.  The water was so clear... we could see so far, AND we swam with huge sea turtles!!!  A definite highlight of the trip so far, for sure.  They were so beautiful.  The ones we saw were probably around 3 to 4 feet long... gliding through the water with such grace.  I enjoyed just watching them chew on the coral and swim around.  We must have seen a dozen of them.  I swam with a couple for as long as I could hold my breath, then diving back down to join them again.  It was one of the coolest things I've ever done.  
 We met some cool Brits who were excited about watching and celebrating the Royal Wedding on the big screen TV on the island, so we followed them to the bar to watch.  That was actually a great experience.  I wasn't really that interested in watching it at first, but Colin remembered watching Princess Diana getting married when he was about 5 yrs old and enjoyed comparing the details.  It was actually an open-aired Irish bar, jam packed full of Brits and Aussies, all with paper masks of the royal family (the Queen, William, Kate, Harry, Prince Charles, etc) and decked out with red, white and blue paint.  They went all out... flagged bikinis and capes, banners and noise makers.  They were all singing in unison to the songs..."...God save the Queen", and standing up and cheering when they'd show the royal family.  Alot of energy in that place...I had more fun watching them than the wedding.  Maybe I shouldn't admit that. :)  During the celebration, we also met a really great American couple there from D.C. (Matt and Allison) and spent the rest of the night frolicking around the island with them.  Great night. 
 Then I got sick.  We had both managed to stay healthy on our travels thus far and were definitely feeling pretty good about that.  We were still being what I thought was "overly" cautious ... buying bottled water all the time, taking no ice in our drinks, and even brushing our teeth with bottled water, ... but somehow it still got me.  Until then, I didn't know it was possible to be in heaven and hell at the same time, but I was there... in tropical paradise, locked in the bathroom for 5 days.  Yikes!  Luckily we upgraded to the nicer hotel (thanks Matt and Allison) that had A/C and a flatscreen to watch free movies. Geckos still roamed the walls at their leisure occaisionally,... but hey,... atleast they're cute and supposed to be good luck, according to the locals. Anyway, the last thing I wanted to do on a beautiful island was to spend my days locked inside, but it could have definitely been worse.  Colin took very good care of me,... and lucky that he did,... because the day I got better, he got sick, and the tables were turned. We didn't spend the entire time inside,...I did alot of reading and listening to audio books on my IPOD (thanks Mark) in the shade and we did manage to rent bikes one day and ride around the island,... finding a secluded beach to swim in.  It was a nice week of down time.  
 A couple of the days while I was sick, Colin took a freediving beginner training course, which he loved.  I can't speak to it as well as Colin could, but pretty much it's a form of scuba diving without the equipment.  He has a mask, snorkel and fins,... but no air tank.  They taught him specific breathing and equalizing techniques so he can hold his breath for longer and dive deeper without having the bubbles and expensive diving equipment.  It's a meditative and peaceful way to be in the water.  And he dove down 60 feet on his second day on one breath of air!  I thought that was impressive.  His instructor could hold her breath for upwards of 6 minutes... and I think the record is over 11 minutes. That's crazy.   Supposedly, they train their bodies to operate on less oxygen and are able to ignore the bodys natural response to expel the carbon dioxide.  Pretty cool stuff.  Colin, being a lifelong fish, was in heaven.  
 After Gili, we took the boat back to Sanur and a bus to Ubud, the cultural center of Bali.  Art, music, culture... slower pace and fewer motorbikes... Ubud was definitely our kind of place.  We could actually walk the streets without constantly being harassed to buy stuff.  We were only there for a couple of days, so we went to the Sacred Monkey Forest, did a little shopping, went to another cultural performance (Legong Dance), ate our fill of Indonesian food, and since Colin was sick,... stayed around the hotel researching stuff on Thailand and catching up on emails.  It was a great way to wrap up our stay in Bali.
 The monkey forest was crazy.  I mean, I knew there would be monkeys, hense the name of the forest, but I had no idea there would be so many.  Hundreds and hundreds of little grey-haired monkeys everywhere,...mostly eyeing the tourists to see what they could be fed.  It was just like in Ulu Watu, where they would steal stuff, hoping to trade it back for a banana or two.  They were definitely not shy, by any means.  I saw one woman offer a banana to a monkey and the monkey look at her like, "really? that's it?", throw down the banana and then steal her purse to see what else was in there.   The park workers were selling bunches of bananas to feed to the monkeys... I was in no way interested, but Colin was curious, so we bought some bananas. He held one out to a monkey,...and without hesitation, he climbed right up his back and sat on his shoulder and ate it, and then waited with anticipation for the next one.  He even motioned like a human for Colin to give him another banana, like, "come on buddy, I don't have all day".   I got some great photos, but was still very much uninterested in participating. :)  The males were huge and had massive and sharp teeth.  No thank you.  The babies were pretty darn cute, but were normally attached to the underbellies of the males, or being fed by protective females, so I kept my distance.  I also had the story of a good friend of mine (Vanessa), engrained in my mind of her being bit in the butt by a monkey in Indonesia, so I found myself guarding my ass at all times. :)  I did enjoy just watching them though,... grooming each other with their human-like hands,  babies clinging to the adults, arguing over bananas, and swinging from the trees.  I even saw two having sex.  Nice.  Could've done without that one, but it was all part of the observation process, I guess.  Made me laugh atleast.  And at one point along the trail, I saw a guy walk past with a huge steamy pile of poo on his shoulder, ... a good reminder to not gaze up in the trees with my mouth open. :)   Once a group of about 20 monkeys got in a squeeling brawl that sounded worse than ferral cats fighting, ... I was out of there.   Glad we did it and got out unscathed.  
 So, our two and a half weeks in Bali were great!  Beautiful country with even more beautiful people.  Extremely heart-centered and loving.  Colin joked that maybe they should send missionaries over to the US  :)  Seriously though,... such loving spirits and always willing to help.  I actually had a motor bike with 2 grown women and a child on it, stop me as I was walking back from town to ask me if I wanted a ride.  I chuckled, thinking they were joking, but they meant it.  They would have totally squeezed in to fit me on.  Amazing.  I'm a little sad to leave Bali, but I'm thankful for experiencing that culture.  We are now flying to Thailand...and we'll be there for a month.  It's crazy to be on another airplane already.  It is such a cliche, but time does fly.  We've been on travel for about 4 months now... time and money are zipping past.  I try not to think about that though and just take it all in.  One day at a time... one moment at a time.  For now, I'm just excited for the Thai food. :)  Bring on the red curry!  Mmmmmm...
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Christa on

You two never sis to amaze me! Colin's experience with his monkey reminds me of my Koala experience in Australia where he took the the leaf, clawed my stomach to stay on and then peed on me. Not quit the same but you know. Then there was this time in London in that big famous square with the gigantic lions at the four corners when we where feeding the pigeons for topins a bag (get it, Topin's a bag, marry poppins....Nah...ok) Anyway, a pigeon landed on my head and had my sunglasses up holding my hair when all of a sudden, the bird started slipping. Oh yeah, he rode my glasses all the way down right on my face. He flew off and I tell you, they where perfect. I should of won America's Funniest Home Video with that shit. Funny...I am sorry to hear fo your bathroom stay's, I know how that goes too. Keep up the amazing monologue with great stories. I don't answer all of them just because I think you get so many responces but, I had to share my animal stores with you. Hey, if you get arrested in a foreign country, you will join my club as well. Staty tunned for a Chec Republic fright and cuffs story. Don Don Don... Next episode. No really I don't recommed it. I love you both. Take care of each other. Love Christa

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