Lombok, Indonesia

Trip Start Feb 11, 2007
Trip End ??? ??, 2008

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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Greetings from Cambodia!

I arrived in Phnom Penh a few hours ago and have settled in nicely around the Boeng Kak area. My guest house is right on the lake and full of backpackers from all over the world. I am going to stick around the capitol tomorrow and check out a few spots in and around the city.  I found myself a nice local driver named Nim to take me around on a moto tomorrow.  One unfamiliar with Phnom Penh does not dare try to cruse around the city alone, as traffic here is not unlike bumper cars.  The key, I think, is to pick a destination and a trusty driver and close your eyes.

More on Cambodia as it happens.  Lets talk about Indonesia!

First let me say, traveling on the cheap often requires one to be creative with his/her transportation.  Indonesia is not famous for its air carriers, needless to say the budget air carriers.  However, flying with  Merpati was just an outright pleasure.  Merpati- where the planes are from the 1970's, you still get and in-flight meal, the cockpit door is always open and the pilots smoke cigarettes the entire flight - the only way to travel...

It has been quite a week, that's for sure.  I just finished up my stint on the island of Lombok, and it is quite possibly the most amazing place I have been to so far.  My friend Tanah from school suggested we go check out the island, as she has some family friends there, and it seemed like a place I might enjoy. Rosa, our host, informed me Lombok is much like Bali was in the 60's and 70's.  Few tourists and plenty of traditional culture and local flare.  We spent the first few days cruising around the northern part of the island on moto bikes, lounging at the pool and checking out the local markets. We were able to stay for free at Rosa's posh villa near Mount Rinjani. I had the chance to sampled much of the local cuisine, and now have quite and affinity for goat's feet.  I was also apparently quite a hit as several of the local children wanted to take pictures with me. I can't blame them. ha ha . 

We parted ways, and I worked my way down south to Kuta Beach.  Much to my chagrin, I found that I was no longer the star attraction, as Kuta attracts surfers from around the globe and for good reason.  I checked in to a guesthouse and found a local named Jan who would serve as my surf guide and newfound friend.  About fifteen minutes after I got into town, we had surfboards strapped to his moto bike and were on our way to get ourselves a boat to the surf breaks. 

Kuta has four major breaks, the largest being the reef, which I dared not attempt.  The first day, we settled for a sandy bottom, with beautiful 6ft glassy surf.  I will not lie, I was a little rusty, but after an hour or so, I was ripping it up, with only about five other surfers in the water.  The next few days, the surf increased to about 8-10ft. Crazy is a good word to use.  The crowds picked up, which became a bit irritating, but everyone got their share of fun. Paradise.

I spent the mornings in the water and spent the afternoons cruising around on my moto all over the southern part of the island.  I passed by ox carts and amazing little Sasak villages. I saw locals making and firing bricks and roof tiles and women drying seaweed.  Just driving around was an experience of its own- like nothing I have ever imagined before. The hours passed quickly on those narrow back country roads.  The local children would stretch out their hands to give you 'high fives'and the other moto riders would give a quick wave and beep of the horn.  I would return to my chalet with a smile and reserved sense of wonder. Lombok is a place where time has no meaning, everyone is welcome, and you never want to leave.  I hope it never changes, as I will be back someday.

My trip is now half over, and I plan to spend my next two weeks in Cambodia and Thailand.  I know I can't see much, but I know everything I do see will have merit.
Phnom Penh tomorrow, than i think I am going to catch a boat up the Mekong River.
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