Borobudur, Indonesia


We wanted to see Borobudur at sunrise, however the forecast predicted that it would be cloudy and rainy so we decided to leave at 9:00 AM instead. I was secretly relieved because I wasn’t relishing the thought of leaving at the unholy hour of 3:45 AM.

It took about an hour to get to Borobudur by car. On the way we saw numerous little mosques with shiny silver domes, testament to the fact that we were in an Islamic country. In many respect, life here seemed quite sedate.

The price of arriving at the temple at a more tolerable hour was the fact that it was inundated by tourists. It being Saturday, the place was full of locals as well as tourists. We saw many schoolkids walking in their uniforms in big groups. It was pretty cool to see hijab-wearing Muslims thronging to see a Buddhist site. Actually, what was even cooler was seeing hijab-wearing little girls laughing and taking selfies and asking us if we would take photos with their group (since we were “exotic looking” tourists to them). They seemed endlessly amused to get their picture taken with us. :P



Yogyakarta, Indonesia


We got an early morning flight (a very, very, very early morning flight) to Yogyakarta on the island of Java. This little city is known as the cultural center of the island.

We landed at the airport and wandered around to find a taxi. Almost as one, we followed our noses to a wonderful fragrance emanating from a little stall that sold these fresh baked buns that were stuffed with butter and topped with some kind of coffee flavored cream. Yummy! At a princely sum of 9,000 rupiahs each (less than a dollar) they were delicious.




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Kuta, Indonesia


We took a return boat from Gili Trawangan to Kuta. Here our group separated into two. Three of us checked into a small villa in Legian which was adequate to say the least. We checked in, left our bags and went out to get lunch with our friends. I got some duck that was surprisingly tasty!

After this, we dawdled quite a bit looking at little tourist shops looking for souvenirs. In hindsight, this was a big mistake. We should have headed out to the beach as soon as we could. However, all the photos I had seen of the beaches were crowded and full of tourists and not something I was super interested in seeing. By the time we found our way to the beach, darkness was falling. We crossed a last busy street before going around a wall to the beach and…. my jaw dropped open when I saw a beach that stretched for miles, the water churning in the distance, crowned by the most fantastic sunset I had ever seen. A sunset in Bali has to be seen to be experienced. Everything about that place and time was magical – the fiercely bright colors in the sky, the sand that stretched out as far as the eyes could see, the distance lights of the city on the other side, the few lingering people dotted here and there, all of us witnessing this marvel.

At that moment I kicked myself for having only one night in Legian and swore that I would be back to fully experience this place again.


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Gili Trawangan, Indonesia


The taxi we had reserved the previous evening picked us up bright and early at 8:30 AM. We bumped and jostled our way along the narrow road, picking up other passengers along the way. They deposited us at the building that housed the boat company. We paid up our $30 one-way fare, placed our packs among a pile of luggage waiting to get transferred to the boat by the porters, and waited until they were ready to set sail.

When the porters did start picking up the luggage, it was a little sobering to realize that they were almost all women! They took all the heavy luggage and carried it on their backs or heads. It was hard work and we felt really guilty about standing around and watching in spite of being able bodied. For the first time, the realization of how hard these people worked to make a living sunk in.

Before we got into the boat, we were asked to take off our shoes and toss them into a big bucket that was carried on to the boat after we all got on. We had to walk a few feet on pebbles in the water before climbing in. It was a very tiny boat with seats along both sides separated by an aisle. The seats were extremely cramped with not much leg room. I opted out and  elected to sit right in the back so that I could get some fresh air and have some space to stretch my legs. This meant that I was sitting right in front of the motor which was very loud but thankfully my earplug came to my rescue!



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Amed, Day 2


Our second day in Amed was quiet and lazy. Lots of pool time, a nice long walk and an entire pig for dinner! This last was a Balinese specialty. We must have eaten just about a quarter of it between the five  of us. We asked the staff to take the rest and bring it to their families. :)

The next day we would take a boat to the Gili islands – a tiny set of islands located close to Lombok. We had heard about how beautiful they were. Personally, I would have been happy to have stayed in Bali for the next two days but I agreed to go to Gili because hey yet another cool place!


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Amed, Bali, Indonesia


The taxi ride to Amed was uneventful. Luckily, the driver knew exactly where our next “hotel” was. This was yet another place that I was super stoked about. We had found it on Air BnB and it was a huge, incredible villa called Batu Tanngga, located on the edge of town with an incredible view of the sea.

It had looked beautiful in the photos but it was even more lovely in person! I think our jaws collectively dropped when we saw the view. :)

The staff was really lovely as well! For the first time, I could feel myself relaxing. Our rooms were enormous! From my room, I could lie in bed and look out at the sea. What a sight to wake up to! We unpacked and changed into our swimsuits super quick and got into the swimming pool. Our host brought us some fresh mango juices which he said were from mangoes that they had picked from a tree next to the villa! For a city girl, this was quite possible the most delightful thing I had heard! The juice was excellent. We sat in the pool for ages, looking out into infinity where the sky met the sea.

After we felt like were turning into prunes, we reluctantly got out and showered, and decided to go for a little walk. Our host offered to drop us off to town on his motorcycle (he called it that but it was really a scooter) and we had to refuse quiet a few times and assure them that we wanted to walk. And quite a nice walk it was! The road was lined with beautiful bougainvillea trees and the sea was always on our right. We passed locals who stared at us curiously and smiled back and responded when we said hello. Finally, a cool little non-touristy secluded part of Bali!

There were lots of little huts and tiny shops along the way. Men worked on the sides of the road painting a house or making up decorations for a festival that was to happen two days after. Children ran around and played on the street.

After we had walked a couple of miles, we turned around. We found a small “café” a little before our villa. And when I saw café, I mean an open air structure with a view of the sea. And free wifi. And coffee. Does a girl need anything more?


We connected to the wifi, logged in, and saw that our friends had landed and were en route to Amed. They would arrive in a couple of hours. We stayed in the café for a while and then went up to the house and requested dinner to be ready by 8.

8:00PM rolled around, they arrived, happy greetings were said and we all had dinner and retired. S. and I couldn’t wait to see what their reactions would be when they woke up and it was light enough out for them to see the view. :)


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Candidasa, Bali, Indonesia


Our flight from Bangkok to Bali via Thai Airways was rather pleasant. This airline has to be one of the prettiest I’ve been in with its red and lilac upholstered seats. The food and the service was also very good! I highly recommend flying by this airline, if possible.

We touched down to Bali, got through immigration really quickly, and emerged from the airport. I needed to get some Indonesian rupiah, so I used my debit card at the ATM. The exchange rate was a little mind-blogging at 12,000 rupiah for a US dollar. The maximum amount offered in the ATM was something like a million rupiahs. The ATM spit out a wad of 100,000 rupiahs. For the next day or so I went through the disorientation that I go through in every country, trying to mentally convert the local currency to dollars and gauging how much a certain thing should cost.

We asked around a few of the taxi agencies (and haggling is a necessity here) to find a taxi that would take us to Candidasa, the little town that was an hour northeast of the airport. We found one that would take us there for 450,000 rupiah which we would split between us.

Our driver was a friendly guy with a very charming Balinese accent. I love hearing new accents! He filled us in a little about the area. Bali is a Hindu island, while the rest of Indonesia is predominantly Muslim. We could see evidence of this as we drove alone and saw huge religious statues erected in the town squares and on the sides of the road. By the end of my time in Indonesia, I saw more Hindu statues than I have seen in all my life living in India, where we simply don’t erect too many religious statues in public. The ones in Bali were all gorgeous and I wished I could get out and take pictures.

When I had researched the route earlier, it had looked like a single road that wound close to the water. I had assumed that would be a pretty little coastal road with sweeping views of the water. Instead, we drove along a small road with shops and houses along both sides pretty much during the entire route. I guess this part of Bali is pretty well developed. I have heard that the northern part of the island is a little less developed and I hoped I would get to go up there.

It was really neat to see all the tropical flora, complete with banana plants and rice paddy fields. :) Everything was lush green and soothing to the senses. Nary a tall building in sight! I knew I was going to like Bali.

We found the little community where we were supposed to stay that night. We had found this listing on Air BnB and I’d been excited to see it ever since I had booked it. We had got a small house close to the sea. It had two levels with the living room and bathroom on the lower level, and the bedroom on the upper level. The best part about this place was that it was built in a typical Indonesian style but all the walls were glass!  You could see the Bali sea from bed or from the little balcony. All around us were beautiful trees, and right below us was a little fish pond with gorgeous fish swimming around it.

By the time we had arrived, it was dark, so we decided to walk out to the main road and get some food and so some light shopping. We had spied a couple of shops on the way which had really gorgeous cotton dresses on display, which would be perfect for the hot, humid weather. Oh yeah, did I mention that it was extremely muggy? You just get drenched in sweat if you’re out in the open. The last time I experienced such humidity was on the United States east coast one summer. It was so bad that after a while I gave up on even trying dresses on and needed to flee to a place with a fan or air conditioning.

We found a restaurant a few paces away and ordered some food. I got some grilled fish which turned out to be okay. I also ordered a banana daiquiri which I didn’t care for very much. It turns out that the daiquiri was made with a local liquor called arak, which I guess I didn’t like.

The one annoying thing that I feel like I should call out is that we kept getting harassed by people all over the street who kept calling out “taxi?”. It got a little too much after a while, especially after a guy who seemed like the owner of the restaurant came over and started chatting with us and within a few minutes it was obvious that he wanted to find out where we were going next and whether we wanted to get a taxi for there. We politely said no and left. I expected that this would happen everywhere in Indonesia but it turns out that it only happened in Candidasa, so I hesitate to recommend this place to anyone unless they are particularly thick skinned. It’s a shame because the place itself is beautiful.

We walked a few doors down to a local grocery store where I bought some picture postcards and stamps. The people who worked there were really lovely and friendly. It looked like the sort of place where the local shopped and everything was priced very reasonably.

When we returned to our house, we found that the downside of sleeping on the upper floor was that it was very hot and we had to keep the windows closed to keep the mosquitoes out. There was a ceiling fan but it didn’t do much to cool things down. It was quite a bit uncomfortable falling asleep. Also, I woke up the next morning covered in bug bites. :( So much for keeping them out!

The next morning, I got some breakfast when I woke up. Then S. and I walked down the main road to find a shop that sold fresh fruit. We found a tiny shop owned by an ancient woman who sold us mangoes and apples. Score! On the way back, we found a taxi rental place where we arranged for a taxi for 350,000 to take us to Amed, a town further north and about 1.5 hours away.


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