Dive into a world between lifestyle and culture of Balifornia

Sarah wrote this blog post for another blog site which wanted to publish our adventures when have been traveling Indonesia, especially Bali, Gili Islands and Lombok. I will just leave this here, because I could not find any proper words than those.

“Follow us to Indonesia” is a blog by Tommy and me, Sarah,  about our travel to Indonesia in Autumn 2016 where we spent five weeks abroad and had the time of our life. Tommy is the adventurous photographer-type of a man and I would consider myself as the more chillaxed beach babe, who thought at first that traveling is just about swimming and eating and sunbathing and eating, because I have only spent holidays with my parents. But Tommy and Indonesia proved me wrong – You can experience so much pleasure, adventure, love and excitement, if you just open your eyes, be curious about things and stray from the track. 

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We really worked our asses off to afford this adventurous trip. Tommy was doing double-shifts while I was writing my master-thesis besides two jobs. There were times, when we saw our co-workers more often than ourselves and sometimes there was also  a lack of motivation to keep this whole thing going sneaked into our minds (If we only knew, how beautiful our holiday would be, we would never have complained a millisecond).

Long story short – we started our trip in Prague. It was much cheaper for us to start here than in Berlin or somewhere else in Germany. If you are living in East Germany and are about to plan a trip, check out the connections from this airport.

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After 30 hours of travel we finally landed in Denpasar, the capital of Bali. Bali feels like an own country, but actually is one of the, more than 17.000, islands (just think of this amount again!) of Indonesia. Bali is quiet small compared to other large Island like Sumatra, Celebes or Java. But it has more than 4 million inhabitants (like Melbourne). Therefore, Bali seems to be really crowded if you add the crazy amount of tourist, coming every year. But actually it isn’t if you know the right places to go to.

An interesting facet of Bali is its religion: Indonesia is the country with the highest percentage of Muslims, but Bali’s predominant religion is Hinduism.  Over the centuries the Balinese created their very own tradition, including various ceremonies from birth to death and for every item, you can think of. They even celebrate the birth of trees, have special celebrations for metal or wood and also celebrating their birthday twice a year (Balinese and common calendar). Because they believe, that God, or the divine spirit, dwells in everything.

Okay, enough Theory! Let’s go on with our adventure…

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When we left the airport, it felt like stepping in another world. And, dear readers, it was so fucking hot. In Germany, we have these kinds of temperatures for maybe one week in midsummer. But in Bali it is always this warm. Even at night the temperatures do not really drop. But you totally get used to it. Some great things about the high temperatures and the weather are, that you don’t care about issues like your make-up, your clothes or needless things like jewelry.

THE BUKIT PENINSULA

Our first destination was the Bukit Peninsula in the South of Bali. It is not far away from the Airport and the perfect base to discover a lot of pretty places.

We always woke up pretty early to be the early bird. Please do yourself a favor and do it like that, because the sun is going down so early and there a lot of things you need to see at sunlight. Additionally, you will get to know all the famous places of Bali without sharing it with tons of other tourists.

The first impression or place we have visited of was Blue Point View Beach in the near of Pantai Uluwatu (Pantai means Beach). This place is out of this world: you can see a lot of shops and bars, which are directly terraced into the cliff coast. This means, from every point of this area, you can see another cool spot and beyond that, you see the blue water. And by blue I don’t mean any ordinary blue, but the color of those dream beaches you can spot in travel magazines or Instagram.

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The path you must take down to the beach is an adventure and if you are lucky enough you will meet some sweet monkeys. The Babies have been the cutest, even if they look like tiny grandpas. Just bring some small bananas or peanuts (we always had them in our pockets since then) and you will have a lot of fun. First it was an awkward situation, because usually you don’t have interacting animals like that around you. But please do not touch or bother them. A lot of people think it’s funny to grab them and don’t remember, that these are animals and usually just don’t want to be touched by humans.

Tommy and I were sipping some fresh pineapple juices, that tasted like heaven and watched all the cool surfer boys and -girls, catching the big ass waves, which fascinated and scared us simultaneously. This spot is not the easiest one to ride some waves (thoughts of a pro surfer haha). The current is so strong, that sometimes you have the impression that the surfers do not move a single centimeter in one minute, when they try to paddle out, while also fighting the 3 meter waves, which smash against them.

After that first touch point with surfing we couldn’t wait to try surfing on our own. If you continue reading, I will tell you everything about our experience some days later in Canggu.

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Actually, this was plenty for the first day and to go to bed like “Okay. This island is really beautiful, I never want to go home”, but Bali doesn’t allow you a moment to breathe or relax, because just around the corner you will see the next snippet of paradise. Seriously, Tommy told me some days later, that he might need a psychologist back in Germany, because of all the impressions your brain has to deal with.

Our scooter brought us to the Thomas Beach, which is now called Padang-Padang Beach. The original Padang-Padang Beach had too many visitors and Thomas Beach was always pretty empty, so the Locals decided to just change the signs to attract more visitors. Boy, that’s genius!

If you open Google and you type something like “Most beautiful beach in the world” I bet, that Thomas Beach will show up. At this point, I wasn’t an expert with dreamy beaches (But now I am. Thanks for that Indonesia). But even if you are very shortsighted, you will recognize the beauty of this place we have found: The sand is super white, the water crystal-clear and the palm trees just hanging down alongside. You can perfectly relax below them to prepare yourself for the huuuge waves, that will shatter you up to 7 meters over the beach if you do not stand stable enough or if you do not dive underneath them. We already had the first little bruises (that shouldn’t be the only ones) when our first day on Bali ended.

If you are around, check out the Bukit Café for their amazing breakfast. It will not be the cheapest food, but the Quinoa Bowl with Dragon fruit, almost looking unreal because it is so pink, will melt your heart and is absolutely nailing it!

In the evenings, you can visit the famous Uluwatu Temple, which is known for this crazy amount of monkeys and the stunning view for sunset. Be prepared, that a lot of people will be there to share this experience with you (the streets are totally crowded around 5-7pm, because they bring every single tourist from Bali there). But when you see the sun going down behind the rock (where the actual temple is on) you will not care about standing in the first, second or third row, but will just think about how beautiful life can be. Trust me.

CANGGU

Canggu is dope! The area itself is located North of Kuta and as hip and cool as Kuta, but you will have a better balance between the cool surfer way of life, parties and relaxing. Don’t get me wrong, we really loved it (we did not skip Kuta without reason). Nobody is driving the scooter with a helmet and nobody is wearing more than Beachwear.

We had super delicious breakfast at the Betelnut Café, where you can find super fresh Smoothie Bowls, Eggs or whatever you want to have (Just while writing about it, I’m getting ridiculously hungry). We also tried the Dandelion Restaurant, a place where you can pet rabbits while eating. The Garden is so beautiful and if you like animals as much as we do, you will love this place. They have like 20 rabbits, living and hanging around. Yap, That’s true. That means, you can enjoy super tasty dinner and you can pet the rabbits the whole time. PARADISE.

On Tuesday, the Deus Ex Machina, which is a Café and a motorbike shop, is having its “Tacos-n-Tattosday” which means, when you pay for Taco you can get a Tattoo for free. But you should be super-fast, because only 8 people are able to get one (there is like a race who will be writing his name on a wall first, with a chalk stick, which is thrown into the waiting masses). We were thinking about it. But as it was like the 4th day of our journey and you are probably not able to go into the water for at least 10 days if you get one. Because of that, we decided to just get a (paid) tattoo in the end of our trip, which we really did (you can read about it at the end of this entry).

If driving by scooter for longer than some minutes does not scare you, Canggu is a good base to go Lake Bratan and visit the Swimming Temple (Pura Ulun Danu Bratan).

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We went an hour by scooter to get to Bedugul. Be-du-gul. I love this name. Be-du-gul. Sounds like an ancient demon, bringing the plague. But this place is not as unfriendly as it sounds. It is a little colder than other places, because it is located in the mountain area of Bali. Don’t be naïve like us and just drive there wearing not more than a crop top and hot pants (no, not Tommy). Better bring a light jacket or just buy a Sarong on the way (a stop at the local markets is always worth it). A Sarong is basically a beautifully colored scarf, you unconditionally have to wear in a temple. But you can also use it as a light “wrap” when you are on tour (plus, you feel a little bit like Grace Kelly driving down the roads of the Cote d’Azur).

The most fun and exciting thing we have done in Canggu was our Surf-Lesson at the Old Man’s Beach.  Me and Tommy have never done surfing before, so we were really jumpy about it (okay, I was much more excited than him). My mind just kept turning around questions like:  Will we drown? Is it really this hard? Isn’t it dangerous? How is it possible that everyone is looking so cool while doing it? Will I look cool, too?

Briefly. It was wicked!! We booked a 2-hour lesson and we just started laid-back with some theory on the beach. The boys explained us how to get up. There are just four steps you have to take care of (Easy… I forgot them a dozen times in the heat of the moment). After that, you just paddle outside and start. In the beginning, I felt awkward, but the teachers were the most easygoing persons ever and helped you in every way to feel comfortable.

Tommy was able to stand up at the second try and he smoothly rode forward like he was born surfing (he is used to ride skateboard and longboard). The guides and me went crazy.  After that, the expectations (just from my side, I guess) were really high, so I put myself together and boom! I did it!!! It feels amazing, when the power of the wave is released, you feel like someone is pushing you forward and then you are standing. I felt like conquering the elements!

But as amazing as it is, it is also very very very exhausting: You are moving the whole time. You paddle, you pull yourself onto the board and when you fall you have to get on the board again (repeat that 50 times).  After one hour, we could barely move and we had to stop (But Tommy was the first one, haha). After that, we just laid lifelessly on the beach  for some time and we agreed, that it’s time for a big rewarding (and one week in a surf camp as our next trip).

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So we just dragged us to a tiny bar right at the beach. I am not sure, if this place has a name, but it is on the way to Single Fin’s Bar. This place was amaaaazing! The guy, working there, just built it all up from some bamboo and like you can see on the picture, we were just lying there with a fresh coconut with the view all over the beach and the sunset. Bob Marley was singing about Redemption and I felt deep in my heart, that I have never been happier before.

UBUD

Have you ever watched “Eat, Pray, Love” with Julia Roberts? Me neither, but I have read that this movie had a major contribution to making Ubud this famous. Ubud is in the middle of Bali and the cultural center of the island. You can have fabulous food in Ubud. We have been at the Warung Bintang, which is located a little outside of Ubud itself. But the food is breathtaking. You can also check out the Wangga Madu, right next to the big statue in the South-East in the center of Ubud. Everything is super authentic and most of all: D E L I C I O U S !!!

Ubud offers some great accommodations (we stayed in a wooden Joglo; that is actually a huge open house with cabins in it).

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 Do yourself a favor and don’t book something in the city-center, because Ubud is really crowded and reminded us of Ibiza sometimes. We would recommend you to have a look on AirBnB as there are a lot of expatriates from Australia for example, who own nice places and Villas.

If you are not really into masses of tourists, try to accomplish all points of interest early in the morning, for example the Monkey Forest. Like I said before, there are some monkeys in Bali, that are super relaxed and gentle. But the monkeys in the Monkey Forest are not relaxed and gentle at all. These poor animals are stressed out as fuck, because there are hundreds of people yelling and bothering them. Just take care of your stuff (they want eeeeverything, which is not fixed) and treat them with respect and kindness and just enjoy the beautiful walk through this amazing forest.

Speaking of Strolls. A little outside of Ubud (you can see it on the map you can get everywhere) you can have a mind-blowing walk through rice fields. 

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Imagine walking 3 kilometers through lush and deep green fields. You will capture views for ages, I swear! If you like this (and you will), you can also go to the Ceking Rice Terraces, which are not far away. This place is absolutely crazy. You can have a walk through the really huge and majestic rice terraces and having views you probably would still dream about. 

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It is also very interesting to see how the whole irrigation system works (but with the support of some Wikipedia Entries) and to imagine that on some day someone had to build all those terraces up.

We have also been to the local market in the center of Ubud (right next to the Palast). It takes place early in the morning. Just make sure to visit it before 7 am. You can buy everything: Fruits you have never seen before, fresh vegetables, thousand spices (did you know, that the Balinese always use 5 different kinds of ginger to cook?), jewelry, skinned chicken just lying there, beautiful blossoms or Incense sticks (but try them, some do smell like toilet cleaning stuff).

Ubud is also a great starting point for exploring the Kintamani Vulcano. Watch out for the heat when you will go there. Because once you are arrived, there is really steep (REALLY STEEP) road going down to the bottom of the volcano (Please make sure your brakes on the scooter are working properly!) and you will feel like you are in a movie like “Mad Max” or something. The environment down there is totally surreal and totally worth being there once! From the top you will have a magnificent view over the Lake Batur 

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(if you do a trip to this lake, please tell us how it was as we just missed it, because of a shooting for a Hotel in Ubud.

When looking back on our journey, our most impressive experience was a hinduistic ceremony in Ubud, where Cokie, our AirBnB host, has taken us to- Galungan Ceremony. Galungan and Kuningan are some of the most important holidays in Bali. To keep it short, at Galungan, the Balinese celebrate the victory of the Good (dharma) against the Bad (adharma). They also symbolically take their ancestors at home with them. The whole festivity lasts 11 days, and Galungan is the beginning. Cokie told us, that the people collect offerings in their Panjors- maybe you have seen them before. They are made from Bamboo, being decorated with many colors and standing right next to every house. On Galungan, the people collect all these offerings and every village moves from temple to temple to get them blessed for the “get together” with their families afterwards. Cokie gave us ceremonial clothes: Tommy was wearing three layers of Sarongs and an Udeng, the traditional head piece. After that we went to the Pura Sabaang Daat, a really old temple, which has nothing in common with a temple you would usually think of. It is not built from bricks, but rather a grove inside the forest consisting of an inner and outer circle. We were not allowed to enter the inner circle, but we could hear the polyphonic and spiritual chants coming out of it when the offerings have been blessed. 

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The people were praying and got blessed with a blossom, wetted in holy water. We both are no religious people, but to be honest we felt more spirit, energy or whatever you want to call it, than when being in a church ever. The other difference to religious ceremonies we experienced before, was the openness. I guess we said “Hello” like 500 times this day. The people did not show a wisp of unfriendliness or uncomfortableness, because of us foreigner/atheists, who took part in their ceremony and religion. It felt so good being welcomed and treated equally, even if we are not Hindus at all. Tommy just made a comparison: Imagine an Hindu going to church on Christmas Day, who just wants to look, does not speak the language of the country, is different looking and showing his respect to the place by wearing a cross around his neck…..Just imagine what could/would happen or how the people would treat him.

We will never forget this day. It also reminded us, that being open-minded, friendly, respectful and unbiased is something everyone should try to afford.

PLACES TO SKIP (OR LOVINA AND CANDI DASA)

If you are travelling you go to places, that seem interesting and nice in guidebooks, but if you are there, they suck. Lovina is located in the north of Bali. I think, it would be the best, to stay there for 2 days because you can do two great things: visiting the Waterfalls in that area (like GitGit or Sekumpul) and do a trip to Menjangan Island. Menjangan is the perfect spot for snorkeling and diving and if you are lucky, you see the deers living there (just google it, they are even bathing). We actually wanted to go there, but unfortunately my knee spiked our guns, while doing the first interesting thing, visiting the waterfalls. At first, we were at the Git-Git Waterfall. This place is a little bit scary, because it is deep in the jungle and everything is weathered and wet. There were some incense sticks burning and you just hear the thundering waterfall.

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We have been there so early, that even the ticket office was not open. But be aware, guys: A legend says, that if a couple goes swimming together, the love won’t last forever. This is why I decided to stay outside while Tommy was taking a refreshing bath in the morning. I love Tommy too much to let everything be ruined by a damn waterfall.

Some Kilometres away from GitGit-Waterfall is the famous “Aling Aling” Waterfall and three small ones next to it. You can just visit it without a guide for 10.000 Rupiah (which is like 70 cents) or you can book a guide, who accompanies you. This allows you to jump down the waterfalls or slide down one of them. I am so glad we booked the guide, because I jumped down the three meter waterfall, but slipped off, when climbing back, because the rock was too wet.

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While falling down, I saw my leg dislocating. When I was paddling in the water, I recognized that something went totally wrong!!! Tommy recognized it too, jumped in like a hero and brought me outside. Everyone (including me) was really nervous, because we were in the middle of the jungle. The guides had the “fabulous” idea to carry me in the Indonesian Flag, that was still there from National day on August the 17th or to just try “Balinese massage”.  Honestly I didn’t like both ideas so we were waiting for the ambulance for one hour. Uff.

I was lucky enough and had just a slipped out knee cap. While lying down, the cap fortunately slipped back on its own (I guess that is a good sign). Back home, writing this blog, I am wearing a bandage and I am looking like a Cyborg. Could be worse (Halloween is just around the corner and I don’t have a costume yet).

Candi Dasa

Candi Dasa is also a nice place to stay, but only for a short time. You can visit Amed and have a beautiful snorkeling trip. We also could not do this, because Tommy had a really bad infection attended by high fever and heavy body pain. We still don’t know where it came from (he always has a pineapple shake in mind, he drank at the White Sand Beach). Please be attentive to what you eat and drink, and of course what it looks like! Besides that, we visited some nice beaches around Candi Dasa, for example the Blue Lagoon Beach, White Sand Beach and Virgin Beach. But no one came close to the Thomas Beach on the first day!

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But please make sure to keep away from Padang Bai! I mean it looks really good first, if you want to go Gili Islands next, by Fastboat. But seriously: The place is a shithole. It is actually the harbor from where you can get to the Gili Islands or Lombok. It is REALLY dirty and it really looks like a place snipped out of “The Walking Dead”- series. Furthermore there are a lot of scammers, who are pushy. You better do not sleep there, just catch a boat and get off (Don’t look back).

Speaking of boats: When we were in Candi Dasa, driving around and exploring our area, we just arrived one hour after a terrible accident. We saw injured and crying people who were brought to the hospital. There were also a lot of shocked people at the pier, who witnessed the disaster that happened to a speed boat. If you plan to go to the Gili Islands or Lombok, you will find a lot of agencies who offer cheap prices and short durations. Transporting People is just business and the companies try to transport as much people as fast as they can. This is why a lot of providers do not pay a lot of attention to security standards for the passengers and themselves. The boats are overloaded and they hit the waves like crazy! BOOM BOOM BOOM! We read a lot of bad shit on Trip Advisor about this and unfortunately the nightmare became true: The battery of a speedboat had an electrical short and the spark inflamed the gas tank. The boat exploded. Two girls died and a lot of people got hurt badly. Words cannot describe the extent of this tragedy. I just want to say, that Tommy and I are sending all of our love to the people who got affected by this incident.

This is why we decided to take the ferry to go to the Gili Islands. This means, that we had to go a long way around. Instead of going directly from Bali to the Gilis, we took the ferry to South Lombok, headed North by car and took the small public boat. It was a long way, but we arrived safely on Gili Meno.

Gili Meno – Lying around on the Honeymoon Island

There are three Gili Islands: Gili Air is the smallest and quietest one. Gili Trawangan is beautiful, but it is also very crowded and known as party Island. If you are into Party and a lot of activities, Gili T is perfect for you. But this is exactly the reason why we have chosen Gili Meno for some nights.  The locals call it the Honeymoon Island. Yap.  

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We can confirm that! Even if we are not married (YET), Gili Meno is just about hanging out, relax, enjoy yourself and the hot body of your partner and eating (Which was not good. Shame on you, Gili Meno) on a ridiculously beautiful island. The water was the most amazing we have seen in Indonesia; Crystal clear and warm. During our snorkeling trip, we saw old ass turtles, clownfish (Hello Nemo) , a creepy shipwreck, corals, that look like Christmas trees and loads of friendly fish, which you can be fed. It was so funny to have some old bread in a bottle, that you can splatter right into the water and feeling like being in fish tornado surrounding you.

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Gili Meno is so small, that you can walk around in one hour (okay, me as the invalid needed much more time) or you can just rent a rusty bike for a lot of money.  When you are in Paradise, even this feels great!

I can’t tell you more about Gili Meno, because we really didn’t do anything else there. After three days, we inhaled enough of Paradise and we felt like we are missing all the great things, which need to be explored. So we left for Lombok and got on our beloved Scooter and went EXPLORING!!!

LOMBOK

We decided to stay in Kuta, Lombok. Don’t mistaken it as Kuta in Bali. The Kuta in Bali seems like a place for 20-year-old Bros, who just want to party and surf (No offense, Bro!)

Kuta is located in the South of Lombok, which actually has the same size as Bali, but is a totally different place. Some people say, that Lombok is like Bali 15 – 20 years ago. You don’t find masses of tourists and the nature is almost untouched. You can trust us – check out Lombok! The beaches are magnificent and sometimes you are the only one around. If you just get on the scooter and get off the beaten track you will find places, that look like no one has been there before.

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Kuta is the perfect place for Surfers. The waves depend between low and high waves, which is totally perfect for beginners as well as for professional surfers. You can also find a lot of cool bars (check out the Bus Bar) to hit after a exhausting day surfing your ass off! You like great food?! Kuta Lombok is definitely the place to be for you then. El Bazaar for example offered us the best hummus we ever had. What a great time to be alive, if you can have such a good Hummus in Indonesia. Great fact: Everybody seems to have an original Pizza oven there. If you figure out why, please drop us an Email!

If you do it like us, you can explore plenty of beaches around Kuta. Mawi Beach was the best one. BEST VIBES, BEST WAVES, BEST VIEWS!!!

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 It is a stung-out and bumpy way down, but if you finally arrive, you can enjoy a jaw-dropping beach with plenty of cool surfer boys and girls, catching the big waves. ACEEEE!

We also checked out the Tanjung Aan Beach, east of Kuta.. It is very spacious and on the swings you can do some pretty pictures for Instagram.

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Selong Belanak is also a very pretty beach, where you can find a lot of shops, food and surf schools. If you get there, you urgently have to check out the beach right next to it. This hidden beach is the next one after Selong Belanak and pretty hidden. You just have to find the little path and follow it through a small village and you will find the BEST BEACH ON EARTH. It is usually completely empty. 

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Just get rid of your clothes and enjoy the beauty of that beach completely naked (What a feeling). If you have more guts than us (no just more than me) you can also swim, but please be careful, because the waves are pretty high and strong.

If you are in Kuta, you will see a lot of kids selling bracelets. After some days, we knew some of them by their name, they are soo funny! I think it is very hard for them to work after school and to stay up until late in the evening. We saw a lot of people sitting in a restaurant and spending a lot of money, who did not even look at these kids when they were heading to their table with a smile on their tired face. THIS IS NOT COOL! SHAME ON YOU! It got us really upset and encouraged us, to be even friendlier. It is not a big thing to face other individuals with kindness and respect, especially if these other individuals are children. We always talked with them a lot, played rocks scissors and paper ( we ALWAYS lost) or asked them about the capitals of every country you can imagine (they knew MUCH MORE than us, it was great). You definitely don’t have to buy something, but sometimes a Coke, that costs barely nothing, is a great way to cheer them up. We did that a lot, and the smile of those kids was priceless for us!

Kuta is not far away from the Rinjani National Park (like a 1.5 hour drive with an organized transport). Here you will find the beautiful Rinjani Vulcano. During our travel, the baby volcano, which is located in the lake of the crater, erupted and spit a lot of ash. As far as we know, luckily no one got hurt. It was really surprising for us to not have noticed anything about it, even if we have been 30 kilometers away. Neither raining ash, nor an earthquake or something was noticeable. It was also very strange, that the locals don’t talk about the bad things, that happen. If you want to start a conversation, they just smile and try to distract you. We think, that these things are harmful for business. Too bad.

It is possible to climb up the Mount Rinjani. You need 2-3 days. We also wanted to do it, but it was not possible with my knee.

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But visiting the waterfalls in the National Park was knee-friendly. You can visit 5 stunning waterfalls and you can even jump down. Tommy did the 12m jump and I pretended that jumping is bad for my knee (actually I was just too afraid).

We have been there on a Sunday. Actually it is always a good idea to visit the sights on a Sunday, because a lot of locals spending their day off there with you and amazing encounters can be made. We met a wonderful group of kids being there for an excursion and we had so much fun while swimming together in the springs, talking, answering tons of questions (“What is your hobby?”) and taking pictures (we felt like Kim and Kanye being spotted in a Louis Vuitton store in Hollywood).

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We also booked an overpriced trip to the “Secret Gilis”. “Gili” just means “small island” and we went to see Gili Naggu, Gili Tangkonk and Gili Sudak in the North-West of Lombok. After this experience, we would recommend to just book a transport to the North-West of Lombok and finding a company that provides the boat and the snorkeling gear on your own. Unfortunately, it happens a lot that you pay pretty much and the trips are organized without love and would be 50% cheaper, if you would organize yourself. In our case, nobody was talking to us. We didn’t even know where we have been exactly and what to do next. But I think, you will find a lot of nice and friendly companies, if you just look around a little bit. But to be honest with you guys, also the Gilis themselves have not been the best option for snorkeling as you can still see the impact of bombing the corals for fishing some years ago. We would rather recommend going to Gili Asaham and the Islands next to it as we met a lot of people who were in love with those destinations!

It is a little sad, that we missed the opportunity to stay some nights in Senggigi. It is located at Lombok’s west coast. Just by passing it, we saw a lot of nice beaches and great surf spots. I think it is a cool place to stay some nights and to enjoy the environment around that area, discovering lost villas in the mountains or just sneaking into big resorts for a swim in the pool.

NUSA LEMBONGAN, NUSA CENINGAN AND NUSA PENIDA

After one week in Lombok, we decided to visit the Nusa Islands, which can be found in the South between Bali and Lombok. It is not possible to travel straight from Lombok to these islands as you always have to stop in Bali. The best thing is to fly from Lombok to Denpasar, Bali. These flights are pretty cheap and from Denpasar, Sanur or Padang Bai (the shithole I told you about) the Nusa Islands can be reached by boat. By doing it like this, you avoid the creepy speedboats. Or you just take the ferry back to Bali. Unfortunately, all flights were cancelled, because of the eruption of Mt. Rinjani and so we had to take the speedboat option. I think I have never lost more sweat on Tommy’s arm ever, because of being afraid of the ride, and I also think that Tommy never had more fun on a boat trip!

From Bali, we took a boat from “Marlin”-Company to go Nusa Lembongan. Maybe you recognized, that I am not this comfortable in the water, but this trip was really great. The ride was safe and fast (like 45 minutes).

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Nusa Lembongan feels like paradise.  The whole island has a lot of cliff coasts and great spots like the “Devil’s Tears” where the water crashes right into the rocks and comes out splashing. What a blast! If you are patient enough, you can also spot a lot of turtles, coming out of caves for taking a breath. I have never seen such big turtles before (even the turtle, which was like 100 years old on Gili Meno was not as big as those fellas).

You can also enjoy your travel life and the sunset at numerous beautiful beaches (just visit them all, I can’t tell you my favorite).

Nusa Lembongan is famous for its sea-weed farms. Damn, these chessboard looking fields look really pretty in the crystal blue water and make you enjoy your next Seaweed meal a little more.

Insider advice: Mahagiri Resort. This resort is pretty new and they just opened some of their rooms, but It is already possible to enjoy their great pool and the beach, if you eat or drink something for 150.000 Rupiah (it’s 10 Euros). We spent them really fast, because it was Happy Hour and a Cuba Libre tastes like heaven, if you enjoy it in a pool with the temperature of a bath-tub.

Nusa Ceningan is right next to Nusa Lembongan. You can actually go there by crossing the famous yellow bridge.

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After some days being back home, we heard that this bridge collapsed during a ceremony. A lot of people, including children, died. Horrible news. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the family members, friends and of course the injured people!

If you read our story, you will recognize, that a lot of shit happened during our time in Indonesia. But we evaluated that this is probably normal as we were doing a lot of stuff (12h a day for 36 days). Imagine doing all this stuff and being that active in your country…you would also witness a lot of shit going on, probably.

Nusa Ceningan is smaller than Lembongan, but not worse.

Tommy and I did this zip-line thing here.  I told myself 100 times, that I am not going to die and we just did it and would have done it again, if our pockets would be a fuller in the end of our journey. I read on Tripadvisor, that it is “not really special”, but for us it was totally special. Just imagine riding over a little bay with water, which is so blue than everything you have ever seen before. Furthermore, you are 40m above the water and the waves crashing into the huge cliffs. It all just lasts 20 seconds, when you feel pure adrenaline rushing through your body. After that hell of a ride you can really bring yourself down with a relaxing swim in the infinity pool, which is provided by a small and good (I have read about it) restaurant next to the cliff-side.

Nusa Ceningan is the best place for people, who love Adrenaline. Pretty close to the Zip-Line you can find the Mahana Point. This place is dope! You will find yourself sitting above sea-level and with the surfers just in front of your eyes. This view is pretty awesome and unique as you will be able to see the surfers from the side and behind while they are taking huge waves like it is nothing. After paying 25.000 Rupiah (like 2$) you can do a cliff jump. It is 10 meters high and you are jumping right into the open ocean. Because of the strong current, a guy is throwing a little rescue-ring you can hold onto and pulls you back to a ladder to climb up for jumping again. Pretty adventurous, huh?

Tommy’s favorite experience was our Manta Ray Snorkeling Trip. Manta Rays are huge majestic animals, which are floating through our oceans and absolutely harmless for humans. Every company on Nusa Lembongan is offering a trip to see them. But please, treat them with respect and do not touch them! Interesting fact: Never touch something, which is living in the ocean, because even when you are in the water you have oils from your skin and bacteria on your hands, which are very harmful for animals living in the sea. Touching animals like turtles for example can lead to destroy their shield and natural shelter. NOT COOL!

Due to the conditions of the sea, I wouldn’t do this trip again: The sea was very rough, the Locals called it “Magic waves”, which occure from time to time. It didn’t feel like magic at all, because even getting there was an adventure, or more a near death experience accompanied by groups of Dolphins. Our boat was crashing into the waves and we already saw some people on the other boats vomiting. Greaaaaat! The sea was so rough, that normally, you wouldn’t dare to go in, but when our skipper screamed “Manta Rays! There! There!”, my curiosity was stronger than the fear. At this time, Tommy was already in the water, armed with his GoPro to fulfill a long-cherished dream. Finally the friendly Mantas showed themselves to us!

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They just swam underneath us, smooth as fuck, totally unimpressed of the 3 meter waves, we were fighting with. Just imagine being on a snorkeling trip, 20m from the cliffs where waves with the size of a big truck are crashing in, you are fighting for your life or some balance and seeing those majestic and huge animals! WTF?! Tommy was the happiest human on the planet and I was the most scared one. After finally dragging myself into the swinging boat, all I could do was puking.  Sorry Guys, but it was too much.

This trip was actually awesome and I feel a little bit sad, that this experience was disturbed by the conditions of sea (if you ask Tommy, he will tell you, that the sea was not THIS rough and this trip was some of the best things he ever did).  If you plan to do it, just ask the locals about the upcoming conditions. They know the ocean very well and can tell you, if it’s going to be heavy or not.

Nusa Lembongan and Ceningan are the perfect place if your time is very limited, because all the great spots are close to each other. No long distances, but a lot of fun!

Nusa Penida is the biggest island. You can get there if you just go to the harbor right next to the Yellow Bridge. A local will definitely talk to you easily and provides you the transport to this unreal island.

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Nusa Penida is the shit. Unfortunately, we just had some hours to explore everything. But what we have seen in this short time was THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACE EVER (Yes, I’m screaming!). The Manta Point is epic. I don’t know, what you have seen before, but Manta Point will make you faint. It’s really hard to find words for this view. Nevertheless I will try: You’re standing 150 – 200m above sea level on a huge cliff and you see the ocean, which is 30 meters deep and can even spot the ground. Turtles are swimming around and if you are lucky enough there will be also Mantas to spot from up there. It is the most amazing feeling to stand on the cliff, which is looking like a flipper of a Manta Ray. Sorry, I can’t describe it. Just look at our pictures, they will explain everything. 

With our little time left, we also visited the Crystal Bay Beach. If you go there, make sure to stop at this beauuutiful palm-alley on the way. You will love it.

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Our last stop was the Artful-Ink Tattoo Studio in Seminyak. We were not really into Seminyak, because it is actually just a fancy place for tourists with a lot of shops and restaurants. Our money was already gone so we couldn’t afford anything special. But we still had money left (our credit card was burning) for some tattoos, we were thinking about the whole holiday. The Guys from Artful Ink are pretty flexible, we just booked the appointment 3 days before and sent in our ideas via Facebook. At Artful Ink you will have to pay the artist per hour, this means, you get more than one tattoo, if you have some time left. Everything is super clean and professional and they even give you after care packages for taking care of your freshly inked tattoo on the plane.

This five week journey was one of the best things we have ever experienced. It’s the best thing to explore the other part of the world with a person you love. You wake up together, you explore everything together, you can share the precious moments and this is something that really sticks together and will be burnt into your head forever. 

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Even if we just stayed there for five weeks, the life-loving people we met (I’m speaking of Locals) showed us, that our lives we live in Germany are not the ultimate way of living. It is not just about working and working and working and making money and getting further and reaching for the stars. Life can also be perfect, if you just have beloved ones around you, if you are healthy and if you always remind yourself, how beautiful life can be. Thank you so much Indonesia for having us and showing us your love in so many beautiful ways! We hope we have been able to express our love for you and were able to give something back to you by writing this blog and the edit Tommy did.

Just go out, Guys. Get to know the world and all its beauty. It’s worth it. Never stop exploring this beautiful planet. 

Love,

Sarah and Tommy