What a month it’s been! We traveled to Bali, Lombok, and the tiny Gilis, then unexpectedly came full circle back to where we began. This was the first difficult country on our trip: new food, a different language, very different culture. But it was also a very rewarding place, filled with friendly people and beautiful landscapes. Here’s what we thought of it all:
Top three experiences?
- Gili T! Such a beautiful, fun, quiet, amazing place! Just wish I could have seen Gili Air as well…
- Walking and biking around the countryside. Biking with the crazy traffic was a little terrifying, but I loved the scenery and I thought it was really interesting to watch the families work in the rice paddies. Totally eye-opening to see just how much strenuous, physical work goes into putting rice on your plate.
- The culture, especially of Bali. Fascinating and fun to experience.
- Gili Islands. They’re beautiful, totally laid back, and quiet. I had a great time there, and would have loved to stay much longer.
- Amed. The Liberty wreck was great, and there was so many fish and life all around. The town itself was also very relaxing, and the food was pretty cheap. Plus we had a beautiful view of the ocean from our room, and for a great price.
- Tirta Gangga. The water palace was stunning, a photographer’s theme park. And the hills with rice terraces on them were gorgeous!
Bottom three experiences?
- Getting sick in Senggigi. Not only was it a horrible day, but it also totally ruined Indonesian food for me. I can’t smell mie goreng without feeling slightly nauseous. (I’m hoping this aversion will go away, because I did really like the food here previously.)
- Kuta, Bali. It’s one of my least favorite places in the whole world. I can’t imagine why it’s a popular tourist destination.
- All of the garbage/filth here. Of course this is a problem in many developing countries and not at all unique to Indonesia. It’s just really sad to see gorgeous beaches and hillsides with trash strewn all over the place.
- Kuta, Bali. It’s not the noise or dirtiness that I particularly hated about this place. It was how the place has no spirit, no soul. It’s just fast food chains, Western brand stores, and overpriced restaurants and hotels. And the beach isn’t even that nice.
- The touts. Getting yelled at for “transport”, “massage”, and any other things got old after a while. This was maybe why I didn’t like Kuta, Bali and did like quieter places like Mataram, Amed, and the Gilis.
- Telephone connectivity. When we really needed it, we found out it’s almost impossible to make international calls cheaply.
Nikki: We’ve had a lot of good food, but I would say the grilled red snapper in Lovina was my absolute favorite.
Brad: The grilled white snapper we ate in Mataram. By day, Seafood 88 was just a parking lot. But at night the area came alive with tons of food stalls, and they were very delicious!
In general, I really liked the Indonesian food, especially nasi goreng (fried rice), bakso (meatball) soup, and satay meat with peanut sauce.
Nikki: That very first meal we had in Kuta, Bali. I can’t imagine how that lady stays in business.
Brad: Our first warung experience in Kuta, Bali. It was a small place with only one thing on the menu: chicken. I wasn’t sure if I was eating the skin or bone it was so hard. It wasn’t as bad as Nikki says it was, but we had much, much better later in the trip.
Favorite person we met?
Nikki: A sixteen year old boy we met in Senggigi when we were walking along the beach. His friends were pretty shy/uninterested in us, but he came right up and struck up a conversation. I think he just wanted to see if he could actually speak English, but we ended up talking to him for a while and he asked to have his picture taken with us. Then he politely said, “Thank you for your attention,” and walked away. Super random, but I loved it.
Brad: “Jimmy” in both Kuta, Lombok and Senggigi. In Kuta, we met him eating at a restaurant when he drove someone down from Senggigi. But we ran into him again (and again) in Senggigi, and he was always fun and friendly, despite being always intent on selling us something.
Nikki: Brad throwing away our voucher for a free drink at Starbucks! It was worth like 50,000 rupiah and they have fast Internet! Oh, and I guess being bitten by that cat was also pretty inconvenient.
Brad: When the cat bit Nikki and we had to come back to Kuta, Bali.
Favorite place we stayed?
Nikki: The bungalow in Jemeluk. It was right on the beach and we had a private balcony looking out at the ocean. Plus it was clean and had hot water. I think it was the best bargain we got in Indonesia.
Brad: “Bamboo Bali Bungalows” in Jemeluk. Not only did it have hot water, but a private patio overlooking the ocean! The price was only about $17 per night, the same as we paid at many other places.
Worst place we stayed?
Nikki: The nasty homestay in Senggigi. Boy, was that a bad idea!
Brad: Our homestay in Senggigi. Yes, the price was only half of what we paid elsewhere, but we also only got half a bathroom: there was no sink (just turn on the shower to wash your hands!) and only half a toilet (just pour this bucket of water down it to flush!).
Best thing we didn’t blog about?
Nikki: Some of the people we met in Kuta, Lombok, especially the owner of a warung we stopped in. She sat down with us for a little bit and we found out that she was 22 years old and got married and had a kid when she was 15. Apparently in that area it’s very odd to not be married by the time you’re 20, and it’s really bad if you’re not married by the time you’re 25. There was a pretty big language barrier, but she was still fun to talk with.
Brad: The water palace in Tirta Gangga. The water features were fun and all different, such as the pool with stone “lilly pads” to walk across. It was a cool place in the middle of the hills and rice fields.
Nikki: Oh gosh, we’ve seen countless weird things. To name just one, people selling gasoline in vodka bottles on the roadside is pretty weird.
Brad: The women who carried our scuba equipment on their heads to the dive site. It’s not strange when they have a basket of fruit, but something about a big steel tank precariously balanced on their heads with another over their shoulder was very odd.
Statistics for Indonesia
Statistics for the Trip