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Indonesia

Indonesia: Bali: Sad Goodbye to Indonesia . . Hello India!

January 25th, 2011

sunny 75 °F

We got up to the sound of roosters crowing and Ruby would like all of you know that we would like you to eat more chicken! :) We’ve been diving everyday and usually save our showers till the afternoon but today had to get out of bed and in with NO hot water. That will wake you up better than coffee, but maybe not in the best of moods! Thankfully most of our stuff was dry so we packed our bags and got down to the Perama boat back to Bali. We were sad to go and as we sailed off looking at the glassy crystal clear water with Mount Agung looming in the distance. We know that this is one of the locations we’ll be coming back to soon! When we arrived back to the mainland we were greeted by every taxi driver in town saying “hey boss, where are you from? USA, Obama, Hotel California!” We had some time before our flight so we decided to get hour long massages, two 15 min head massages, and one manicure all for $19 including a good tip! We took a taxi (we think that’s what that unmarked van was) back to Roma’s on Jimbarran beach for delicious seafood BBQ before leaving. Tony picked out some live shrimp from the tank and Ruby ran to our table so she didn’t have to see them swimming around before heading to the grill. Then we arrived at the airport and off we go on another adventure next destination: India!

  • ***Travel tips on Bali*****: Buy alcohol at the airport, when you get out the only thing you can buy cheap is the beer. If you are paying ++ (Tax and Tip) you are in a tourist location and it’s time to move! Always ask if your room has A/C, hot water, and self flushing toilets (these are not standard items when you get out of the big hotels). If you are on an island or by the beach don’t forget to ask if the water in your room is saltwater or fresh. Always ask for the sweet soy and the sambal (hot) with your food because they may not bring it initially. 150,000RP airport exit tax cash only!

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 04:26 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

Indonesia: I think a Manta Ray was Swimming in Our Room!

January 24, 2011

rain 70 °F

Tony was up bright and early today ready to go diving while Ruby was enjoying the rooster-proof walls in our new room. After dragging Ruby out of bed we loaded our gear on the boat and made our way to Manta Point. This was a bumpy ride over to the south side of another island called Nusa Penida and we didn’t know if we would even be able to get in the water when we got there. Luckily the wind was coming from the north and the large cliffs helped shelter the bay where we would be diving. Jaya (our dive master) told us that mantas are almost always at this location because there’s a cleaner station (where they come to be cleaned by cleaner fish). There were four or five of these giant manta rays swimming around the rock. It was like a scene from the Discovery Channel, large manta rays swimming into view over a rock then turning and slowly swimming back into the deep blue water. One of them with about a 12 foot wingspan even swam a circle around less than 2 feet away! This was something we will never forget and we wish we had photos or a video to show you. As our boat sped off we could see rain falling at the dive site and we realized that we were very lucky to see these rays and not get stuck in a storm. After another delicious meal of Nasi Champur we dove between the two islands at a spot called Crystal Bay. This dive spot has thermoclines or junctions of salt and freshwater currents and as we swam through them we could see and feel the hot and cold water in the channel as we swam along the reef. This area also has HUGE colorful coral formations including mushroom and table corals. We really had some amazing dive experiences here at Nusa Lembongan—definitely the best so far. When we finished our dive all we could think about was a hot shower and some soup. Unfortunately we didn’t have hot water at our hotel so soup would have to do. When we stopped to eat, the rain came in horizontally and so hard getting just about everything in the restaurant soaked. We walked back to our room in the rain and took cold showers before curling up in a ball on the bed to warm-up! By the way there are no ATM’s on the island and most hotels, restaurants, and dive operations don’t take credit cards. The only way to pay is with cash and the only way to get that cash is using one of the two credit advance locations. We used the cheaper one and were still charged 8%, ouch! On the way back we stopped at a small restaurant called Waroeng Boemboe Bali located on the main street. They had a dish called Urap Bali made with long beans, bean sprouts and cabbage that was so good you forgot how healthy it was! We will have to look for it when we get back home. . . When we arrived back at our room we realized that it was NOT waterproof and all our bags and most of our stuff got wet in the rain storm this afternoon. We did our best to dry things off and hung our bags and clothes from every hook in the room. We hope our stuff will be dry by tomorrow or we are going to have some stinky, wet, heavy bags going to India. :)

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 00:39 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Indonesia: Nusa Lembongan: Superheroes Adrift

January 23, 2011

semi-overcast 75 °F

Did you know that roosters crow at all hours of the night? I would like to let you know that they do, and if you plan on getting an open-air room in Bali . . . make sure that there’s not a rooster farm in the backyard! We watched the seaweed farmers from our balcony for a few before talking to the managers of Linda’s hotel about local dive operations. They recommended PADI certified Drift Dive. We meet the dive master Jaya and both of us instantly felt comfortable diving with him. We started our dives about an hour later going out by boat to SD Point on the far north side of the island and drifted* to Ped a little further down the beach. This place had some of the most gorgeous corals we’ve EVER seen. . so many varieties and colors with tons of bright tropical fish too. Our divemaster (DM) Jaya brought us a lunch of tea with Nasi Champur which is a rice dish with chicken, fish, beans and freshly roasted coconut YUM! Our next dive was another drift* dive, this time at Mangrove and going to Blue Corner. There were also HUGE coral formations and so many colorful fish at this location, puffers, moray eels, giant sea anemones with clown fish just to name a few. The currents where much more powerful at this location and we felt like superheroes flying over the reef. When we arrived back to town we decided to take a little ride on our scooter up to the Mangroves (north side of the island) for some chill time. We read our books and watched the storms over Bali until they arrived at Nusa Lembongan and it began to rain. This was a great day and what we think about when we say paradise!

  • Drift Diving is when you use the currents to push you and the boat meets you at the new location to where you have drifted.

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 00:09 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

Indonesia: Nusa Lembongan: What’s Sarong with Us?

January 22, 2011

sunny 78 °F

We hopped onto a Perama bus to Padang Bai pretty early in the morning, and then we hopped on a boat to a small island called Nusa Lembongan which is to the east of Bali. The boat was running a little late so we stopped in to get Tony his first pedicure ever! Just to keep some of his masculinity he would like to let you know that it was only $3 and his toenails were getting a little long! Of course when the boat arrived there was no dock or walkway, you just walk in the sand to the water and climb on. I don’t think this is recommended just minutes after a pedicure but it’s the only way to the island! As our boat sped away from mainland Bali we didn’t know if we had made the right choice because it was so far away and the water wasn’t that pretty. . . but the closer we got to Nusa Lembongan the more excited we became. The island has the most amazing pristine crystal clear water. There are still people living in huts and seaweed farming is the main income of the island. They definitely welcome tourists though! We got a beach front open air room at a beautiful little beach hotel called Linda’s Bungalows ($27/night) and headed off to explore the island. We ran across a motor bike rental (aka moped) and decided this would be a good way to get around the island. He recommended visiting Pura Dalem for the traditional religious ceremony going on tonight. We think everyone on the island was there! They all had white shirts, sarongs, and headbands. Both of us also had to have a sarong on and Ruby thought Tony looked pretty good in his scarf/sarong getup. There were costumes, dancing, music, and singing. The ceremony was amazing and really something special to see and the music still reverberates in our minds. We decided to take our scooter over to the other side of the island and see what the other beaches had to offer. We stopped at a restaurant called Scallywags where Tony dropped his sunglasses in the pool. The only way to retrieve them was to get in and get wet. On our drive back we got stuck in the 5pm rain shower and stopped for a bowl of Tom Ka Gai. . the thai food is pretty delicious on the island too. We are starting to think that you can’t get bad food in Indonesia. When the rain stopped we headed back to our room and met Josie and Paige from Minneapolis. We chatted for hours over wine about our collective travel experiences. . they are just as addicted as we are! It was a great way to end the night!

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 00:07 Archived in Indonesia Comments (2)

Indonesa: Bali: 75 Shirtless Men and a Monkey!

January 21st, 2011

sunny 75 °F

We wanted to take full advantage of the last few hours at our deluxe hotel so we got up early and went to the gym. They have the best machines and after working out the personal trainer offered to help Ruby with stretching. Instead of demonstrating how to stretch, he actually physically did the stretching for her. . like a Thai massage only better! After he did 30 minutes of stretches for Ruby he started on Tony. Definitely deluxe service! :) It was just perfect before starting our car ride to Ubud. Our driver Sam stopped at a few places on the way to check out the making of Balinese Batik fabrics and silver jewelry. When dropped our stuff off at the Panorama Hotel and headed straight over to Ibu Oka , a local spot, for the town specialty of Suckling Pig. Tony thought it was really good, Ruby ate some but enjoyed the spicy veggie soup with potatoes more, mmmm! After lunch Sam took us over to the Monkey Forest just down the road. We loved the "Indiana Jones" feel to the place with the old statues and moss everywhere. The monkeys were running around all over the place and it was really fun to watch them. . . until they tried to attack Ruby! We took some great shots and enjoyed watching them do silly things. Afterwards we went to visit the Ceking rice terraces. This place is beautiful but Ruby was getting bombarded by the local vendors trying to sell her everything from sarongs to wooden motorcycles. Back in Ubud the streets have the most amazing things for the home. . . we wanted to load a boat and send it back to New York! That night we went to a Kecak and fire dance (aka monkey dance) show. I’m glad we waited to do this in Ubud because it was the real deal where local Balinese would go to see the show. The night was filled with the sound of chanting, dancing, and a horse costumed man kicking flaming coconuts. The story is a bit complicated to explain so let’s just say that it was a bad day to have flip-flops on and I don’t think this show would meet fire codes in the US! On the way back to our hotel our driver took us to a local spot for mi goreng (noodles with vegetables). It was amazing and cost around 8,000 IDR each (that’s a little less than 1 USD). We took a short walk up the road to the Perama bus stop to figure out where to go next. . . the locals thought it was hilarious that we didn't know where we wanted to go (too many good choices) and that we had to "rock paper scissors" it to decide.

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 10:46 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

Bali:It’s Hard to Relax with Karate on My Back!—FOODIE ALERT

January 20th, 2011

semi-overcast 74 °F
View Around the World #1 on Tony.Ruby's travel map.

We started our day in our fabulous room at the Ayana Resort. It was so great staying some place that has soft pillows and a cozy bed with amazing bedding! After a few minutes of trying to ignore the daylight we hit the gym, and took a cab into town. By the way, every taxi driver in Bali has a tour company or a family member with one so don’t worry if you come here and don’t have a plan. The first cab you get in will tell you the prices of just about everything on this island. When we were in Australia Mic and Loz gave us a travel book for Bali and it has been a lifesaver. Thank you guys! Ruby picked a restaurant from it called Poppies and we had the BEST mi goreng EVER! After lunch we stopped for a massage at a place called Steiner Salon. We both got hour long massages and but like usual Tony got a man that wanted to do karate on his back for an hour. . . Ruby could hear this next door and started cracking up during her awesome massage! After Tony’s back recovered from our massages we headed to Ku De Ta for Happy Hour with another great recommendation from Mic and Loz (expensive but an amazing view at night). We hadn’t had Italian in a bit so we went to Ultimos in Seminyac. The food was ok but they did have an amazing rocket and mushroom salad that Ruby had two orders of. We finished our night at our hotel with a drink at the Rock Bar. Just like the name says this is a bar built on the rocks over the ocean. It’s an amazing place and one you have to see to believe! We will be sad to checkout tomorrow but with the limited time in Bali we would like to see more of the island.

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 10:38 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Bali:Eat at Warungs,Pray you dont get sick and Love the Food

January 19th, 2011

semi-overcast 72 °F

The Yani hotel was a great place to spend the night and included a breakfast with everything from fried chicken with potatoes to toast and jam. We were so excited to get to the Ayana Resort. Our friends Hong and Tony and stayed there, we loved their pictures and wanted a little bit of the 5-star luxury hotel experience for ourselves (although Loz and Mic's house was pretty close exluding the rain!). The staff was amazing receiving us with leighs, fresh drinks and going out of their way to help us in any way we needed. The grounds at the hotel were equally impressive with well manicured lawns, infinity pools galore and fabulous fountains and sculptures you have to see to believe! We decided to start our stay at Ayana in their beautiful spa. Their hot spa was actually in a cave that had an opening in the roof that allowed the afternoon rains to pour down on us while we relaxed. . . it was like something out of a dream! We're not sure if you can even see it in the photos but it was amazing. We ordered a couple drinks at the bar and instantly realized that we would be going outside the resort for dinner. We were so glad that we left the resort and had dinner with our feet in the sand on the beach. We went down to Roma one of the South Warungs (Small Restaurants) on Jimbarran beach for some BBQ prawns and fresh fish. It’s always crazy to walk up to a restaurant and pick out your fish from the tanks. It was really fresh and cooked to perfection with the best sauces and kangkung veggies on the side! You could make it as hot or sweet and you liked using garlic, sweet soy and indonesian chilli sauces. We met Sam our taxi driver on the way back to Ayana and made plans to have a tour of Ubud (in the middle of Bali) in a few days.

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 10:08 Archived in Indonesia Comments (3)

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