Monday, October 29, 2012

Lombak and Gili Islands

Right now Lisa and I are back at the hotel we started at in Bali 11 day ago :/. But hey, HBO is a powerful draw...

Haha but really, the place (Ari Putri) is cheap and nice (ignoring of course the cockroach we found the last time in our room here). So we are here to recharge and get ready to tackle the monstrous island of Java... Home to the Indonesia's biggest cities, volcanoes, and amazing temples and maybe even an ancient Hindu city in ruins.

The last five days we were on the largest of the three tiny Gili Islands, Gili Trawangra (sp?). We were told this would be less touristy and a little more quiet... With some partying as well.

So we took the slow boat and got hassled nonstop about our decision to not spend 40 extra bucks on the fast boat to Lombak. All in all, it was about 4 hours total of driving, and another 7 hours total on boats, one boat being infested with cockroaches and other interesting critters. If only I had a picture of Lisa's foot with her cockroach friend resting so lovingly on her. But I was glad we stuck to it and got to Lombak the local way, and not some speedy cruise boat.

Once we landed on Lombak, we drove to another port to take a very tiny and rocky boat to the Gili islands, which are very small. There's no motorized traffic, only horse drawn carriages and bicycles. We could walk around the whole island in two hours. The ocean is full of coral around these, which made for some excellent snorkeling. It was still very touristy but cheaper and in the end, much more relaxing than Bali. Oh and it was hot. So damn hot. And I've got my fill of Bob Marley for the next couple of months.

But ya, Gili Islands. Good cheap fun. The locals are cool there, too. One night your getting served by a cool guy, the next day day your back at the same restaurant and he's telling you how much of a different person you are after drinking, and thank god for for the kindness of the locals, cuz without them, nobody here is remembering the night before!

pics: Sunset on Gili T. and the beach in the day

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Got to our hotel in Bali last Thursday, the 18th. It was nice to have a full bathroom with hot water, HBO, and a pool with a swim up bar... good life! We bounced around to different hotels as we saw fit. The first two hotels were in a an area full of old people in vacation. Not quite what I've been looking for.

We hired a driver for a day and were able to tour around the island, seeing Mount Bromo, some Balinese temples, and Ubud and the monkey forest.

We moved over to Kuta Beach which was beautiful. However, I have found Bali overall to be way too touristy. You get hassled all the time to by things, constantly saying no thanks on the beach. And there is tourists everywhere.. But, the weather is sunny, food and beer is still cheap, so I can't complain too much!

Pics: a monkey cracking a coconut and sunset on Kuta Beach

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Last week I spent two nights in Singapore. Lisa and I met up with a couple from Thailand who we know from mutual friends in Korea. It was fun being in Singapore again, I have so many memories from Semester at Sea there. It's also a clean and beautiful urban oasis with great planning, public transport, and architecture everywhere.

I stayed at A Beary Good Hostel, which was in the middle of Chinatown.We also did a good job I sampling the local foods, like fried carrot cake (nothing like the desert), laksa, and Indian food in Little India. There were amazing bars and clubs everywhere...but not for our budget! Lisa and I have in and a pitcher with just over two pints worth of beer cost us about $25. Hot damn!

Currently I'm in Bali, Indonesia, which I'll post about soon ..

Pics: some cool buildings, Clark's Quay entertainment dist., and an awesome open air public bathroom.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Banaue and Batad's rice terraces

On Friday night we left Palawan and headed back to Manila. From Manila we took a 14 hour overnight bus to the small town of Banaue. We could already see the rice terraces that made this area of the Philippines famous.

We immediately grabbed lunch, put away our big bags in lockers, and started the two hour hike to the tiny village of Batad. We stayed the night here at the Batad Pension (highly recommend it). The rooms were spartan but had a homey feel. Anyways, Saturday was very foggy and hard to see the terraces. Luckily on Sunday we the sky was clear and we had magnificent views of the terraces. Pictures will never do the sight justice, but hiking through them and then going on to see Tiappa Falls was incredible. It was also fun to see the small villages lifestyle. The farmers grow just enough rice to feed their families here, but undoubtedly tourism now helps the city a lot.

As Sunday came to a close we boarded the overnight bus again and today arrived back in Manila. Tomorrow morning I'll say goodbye to the Philippines and hello to Singapore!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

El Nido bay

The weather this week finally became sunny for our last few days in El Nido. Island hopping and kayaking around the bay while lounging on random beaches all over has left me feeling more relaxed than I may have ever felt. Had a much better chance here to meet more locals who definitely live up to the island lifestyle vibe. One guy took us out on his work's boat, and I finally went snorkeling for the first time in a beautiful lagoon surrounded by cliff faces. Completely unreal.... We changed lodging to Rico's Cottages, and I was able to capture a beautiful sunset last night from our balcony. Friday will be another transit day, and on Saturday morning I'll wake up in Banaue.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

El Nido

Well there's no pretending now. We are definitely in the Philippines at wet season. It's still gorgeous, but definitely getting a little cabin fever here.

Boracay's rain stopped just long enough on Friday to let me enjoy cliff diving off of Ariel's Point. Took a booze cruise out to the bungalow area with the cliffs. By far the coolest set up I had ever seen. Multiple layers with sun chairs and gorgeous palm tree covered cliffs. Got to jump off a 15 meter cliff, which still has me bruised up today. So worth it though.

Saturday was a day we spent in transit from Boracay. Two flights, and the bumpiest, most painful 7 hour bus ride of my life from Puerto Princessa to El Nido on Palawan Island. We got in at 1am and finally today are set up and we are staying at the Alternative. The door to our room is about 5 feet from where the water touches our hotel (bungalow?). BEAUTIFUL! Much less touristy here and it's gonna be so chill the next few days. Hopefully the rain clears but regardless, we are going to do some island hopping these next few days.

Oh and what do you do on a beautiful island like Boracay when it rains all day? You drink. Cheap, wonderful beer all day long. I'll be doing a little detoxing here in El Nido haha.

Life is good people!

Picture: The Alternative's bar/ restaurant, just above our room.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


So made it through Manila, which I had low expectations of, so there wasn't any kind of disappoint on my part. We checked into our hostel and just walked for most of the afternoon. Manila definitely is the poorest place I've been since India. Being in Korea I forgot about being hassled from people. The kids asking for change is always heart breaking, but it wasn't nearly as bad as it was in India.

We got into Boracay yesterday, which is beautiful. Unfortunately, it started raining about an hour after we got here and hasn't stopped yet. The food I've had is basic yet good. Mainly beef marinated with soy and fried veggies and fried rice. Delicious!

We've met up with our friend Kieran, who brings that special Irish charm to everything. So despite the rain we are just relaxing and enjoying the fact that we are all jobless wanderers!