A lovely day in paradise

3 March 2014

As it was our last full day on the island we wanted to experience all of our favorite activities just one more time.  Also since it was my mom’s birthday and we couldn’t be with her in Yosemite we had to make sure we enjoyed the day to the fullest to celebrate her as well!

With an inspiration while watching yesterday’s sunrise, we decided to wake up even earlier, 4:30am to be exact for some early morning star gazing.  While it was painful to hear to the sound of the alarm so early once we got outside it was well worth the effort.  With clear skies we had the perfect setting for star gazing.  DSC_3985DSC_3994DSC_4000DSC_4006DSC_4009DSC_4015

As we sat on the beach, you could see so many shooting stars and as the sun began to rise, the deep reds along with the starry skies made for some seriously stunning views.  The irony of the day also occurred just as the sun began to rise, the camera battery died.  So we walked the short 60 meters or so back to our room to plug in the battery.  I decided to take the time for a 20 minute nap just to get the battery charged while Adam took out the point and shoot to snap away.  While a little more than an hour until sunrise, there was no harm in my quick nap!

Quickly woken but the sound of the alarm once again I was up and walking down to the water as the reds and oranges shown thru the palm trees on my short stroll.  But this time we were joined by a few locals out looking for fish in the low tide.  As they carefully navigated the shores looking for a fresh catch for the day’s meal, the sun rise began changing the sky from reds to pinks to yellows.

Photo assistant, sometimes art director and always skeptic when the lens unexpectedly comes my way

Photo assistant, sometimes art director and always skeptic when the lens unexpectedly comes my way

DSC_4024Watching the sunrise over the sea is something that will never get old and I can’t wait to see even more as we travel thru Southeast Asia.

It was then back to bed for another nap before we made it out to enjoying another delicious breakfast. We have truly become very spoiled with the meals at Damai. The breakfast here, with every bite homemade and the lovely views of the palms and ocean it doesn’t get much better.

Shortly after, again every meal here requires a good amount of lingering; it was off to yoga to really wake up the body. The scenic shoreline walk and sitting in the outdoor studio really make you wonder why more people don’t just get up and travel!

Not to rush thru the day to quickly and overexert ourselves, we did some lounging on our front porch before grabbing our snorkel gear. Once in the water we headed out toward the shoreline drop off check out some of the spots where we had found the best coral. With some strong currents once again, but perfectly clear waters, we saw so many varieties of fish and of course all of the bright colors of the corals.

With all the swimming we had worked up an appetite so we made our way back to shore for lunch. Not too far done the road we found a great lunch spot with some very good curries. This time though, I didn’t feel like working up a sweat eating the very hot curry (as in steaming/temperature) in the 90+ heat as I was already doing a enough sweating there was no need to warm up even more!

Somehow the day was just going by quickly as it was now time for my new favorite activity paddle boarding.  With the late day sun and strong currents the waters somehow became even more transparent and it was like we were snorkeling as we paddled over the water.  Although today was the strongest current we had all week so our normal relatively quick and easy paddle up the coast was one hell of a work out and we did even make it to the northern point of the island.  But it was very nice to drift south with the current and watch all the fish, especially the little guys that like to jump out of the water out of the blue.

Now that is was after 5 it was time to clean up and make our way out to happy hour and watch the sunset.  As we were getting ready out to the east on Lombok the skies were just getting darker and darker.  So before we left our room, I made sure to grab the umbrella as it is now a proven fact from our travels that when we carry an umbrella it does not rain.  But leave it at home and you will get caught in a downpour.  As the clouds covered most of our Western facing view we didn’t mind too much as we had our tasty rum, lime and honey cocktails in hand behind us we had a great lighting show. DSC_4043DSC_4052So while we didn’t see too much of the sunset, we did see plenty of cool lightning bolts.  Since we were the only ones that braved decided to head out in the evening we used the empty chairs as a tripod to try to capture the storm.  And true to form, every time you would see a bolt/multiple bolts the camera was in the midst of processing the dark sky.  We even ordered a second drink to stay around and try to capture some great photos.  But alas we only captured a glimpse of one bolt.  DSC_4060And thanks to me carrying that umbrella the rain stayed away from Gili Air (you’re welcome fellow tourist).

And the day could not be complete without a delicious meal and a Bintang.  So we found a table at Zip Bar and Restaurant to once again enjoying the perfectly prepared whole grilled black snapper with chili sauce and a nice cold Bintang.DSC_4070

A very successful day of enjoying paradise indeed!

Today’s Travel: Walking around Gili Air, snorkeling and paddling from the south to the north (with a bit of the west side) end of the east side of the island

Accommodations: Damai Homestay

Sunrise or sunsets

2 March 2014

With the alarm calling us to rise at 5:45, we sleepily put our clothes on and were out the door for our short 70 meter walk to the beach.  As we walked out the front door the rich reds that were shining thru the palm trees soon made me giddy and I was no longer sleepy.  Once on the sand I was excited to see that the clouds had finally lifted from the volcano on Lombok and the tide was out creating a beautiful reflection on the water.  Taking in all the colors as the reds turned to pinks and yellows just before the sun revealed itself over the peaks of the mountains, I think the beauty of the sunrise has outshone the stunning sunsets.DSC_3895DSC_3899

And to think it was even prettier in person

And to think it was even prettier in person

DSC_3936DSC_3938DSC_3941With a few more hours until breakfast we took a quick cat nap before starting our day with banana pancakes for me and eggs and homemade bread and jam for Adam and of course a big cup of Lombok coffee.  After breakfast we had some time to linger before it was time for our yoga class.  With the sun shining, a gentle breeze and low humidity (a first!) we happily walked to yoga and with the breeze were still treated to the lovely views of Lombok as the clouds had not had a chance to roll in just yet.

Now feeling nice and limber and ready for the day, somehow it was 11:40 and time to head towards town for lunch and some beach side lingering.  After lunch we headed back to the hotel before taking in some afternoon snorkeling.

And since we had to make it a complete day of watching the sunrise and sunset it was back to the west side of the island and a new sunset location (read: bar) for the evening.DSC_3944DSC_3956DSC_3958

Today’s Travel: Walking around Gili Air

Accommodations: Damai Homestay

Making plans

1 March 2014

With a late start to the day, I guess those margaritas were stronger than I thought, my idea of taking the mid-morning yoga class was soon a fleeting memory as we were ordering a second pot of Lombok coffee about ten minutes prior to the start of class.

While sitting around and enjoying the view, we started chatting with some other guests here at Damai from Switzerland who have been traveling for the last seven months.  We have been debating on whether or not we should get off the island here for a few days and head to Lombok.  But after chatting and looking at the time and cost of travel to head to another beach we decided we should just stay here until the fourth.  Our original idea of staying on Gili Air for two maybe three nights will now be an eight night stay.  But when you find a beautiful place and it feels like a home it really does draw you in and makes it hard to even think of leaving.

Not to make the day a complete waste I did spend the rest of the morning turning my short hand notes about the last few weeks of traveling into a something more than bullet points so hopefully, if the internet/power cooperated we can actually get caught up on our postings.

After making some good progress we were heading out for a late afternoon lunch.  As with most meals here on the island, where time really does move very slow, we had lingered over a two hour lunch it was time to do something active.  With the mid-day sun and heat now gone and full of electrolytes thanks to the coconut I had, we were ready for some stand up paddle boarding.  This time as we headed to the northern end of the island we moved a bit faster making it around the northern edge of the island with views of Gili Meno in the forefront and Bali off in the distance.  As it was nearing 5pm and with limited clouds we knew we were going to see a great sunset.  So we turned our boards around and made our way back south.

Making a somewhat quick stop to clean up and put away laundry (I still feel so spoiled just dropping off laundry and picking it up clean and folded!) we were on our way to find the Mirage bar for sunset drinks.  This time I made sure to look at the map and look to see what other bars were located next to it so we would not have a repeat of the night prior.  But with such a late start, the sun was setting as we walked out the door.  However, sunsets here only get better once the sun goes down.  So in my opinion we made it to the beach bar just as the sunset was really putting on a show.  The various colors of reds, yellows, oranges, pinks and blues are absolutely fantastic and just when you think it can’t get much better it does!DSC_3857DSC_3861DSC_3868DSC_3874

After sunset and my new favorite cocktail of rum, lime and honey we headed back to our room to drop of the camera and figure out where we wanted to grab dinner.  As we headed back out towards town, we ran into Amanda, a girl staying at our hotel so we all decided to grab dinner at Caballito De Mar (yep, two nights in a row at the same place, already getting into habits).

As we walked home we could not help but notice how many stars we could see.  So of course we just had to stop and stare.  And of course once we made it home, Adam was soon out in the field snapping away.DSC_3881

Before we fell asleep we had decided earlier in the day, that we have been on the island for much too long and the east side no less, that we have to make sure we see the sunrise.  So with the alarm set for 5:45am, it was time to get some rest (since we have been so active! ha).

Today’s Travel: Walking around Gili Air and paddling from the south to the north (with a bit of the west side) end of the east side of the island

Accommodations: Damai Homestay

Loving island life

28 February 2014

The slow pace of island life is really starting to rub off on us.  We find ourselves checking the clock to realize it is almost noon when we haven’t left the loungers we first occupied for breakfast.  Our life on island time is fantastic, lingering over meals, reading, snorkeling, yoga and stand up paddle boarding make up most of our days here and we couldn’t be happier.  It really is nice to get into a routine and know where everything you could need is located. One of the fun challenges of travel is the sometimes constant quest for accommodations, food and the ‘what do you want to do today?’ But here none of that is involved and it is pure relaxation!

As part of that relaxation and by some miracle I did not know was possible, in the last ten days I have finished three books, which is more reading than I have done in the last 10 years.  Without TV, very limited internet and super-hot or rainy humid afternoon’s where all you want to is lay in an air-con room, reading is a great way to pass the time.

But fear not, even on an island that you can walk in just over an hour you can still have an adventure. Have you ever walked an entire island looking for a bar?  Well we can now officially say we have done that.  Just before sunset we wanted to make our way to the Mirage Bar, which had been recommended to us as a great bar to take in the sunset.  Since it is a small island, we thought we could easily find it just knowing the general area.  Turns out there are a handful of bars in the area and the signs are mostly hidden so even when trying to look, we somehow missed it and ended up walking all the way around the island back to a spot we had previously taken in the sunset and ordered up some margaritas.  With the island being so small it was only about an hour’s walk and quite enjoyable at that as we had a view of the sunset the whole time.  After taking in the sunset we continued our circumnavigation of the island to grab dinner at Caballito Del Mar, a very modern and posh restaurant (because we are fancy when the USD is strong)  before heading back to our hotel.

Today’s Travel: Around Gili Air

Accommodations: Damai.

Snorkeling Fun

27 February 2014

While sitting out in the common lounge area reading my book, Amanda popped over and wanting to see if we wanted to go for a snorkel.  And of course I could not say no!  So after a yummy pancake, a few chapters in my book it was down the road and into the water.

It was truly amazing heading out into the beautiful blue waters as you could see so many different types of fish, bright blue star fish, turtles and intriguing corals that just cause you to float and stare in amazement.  I am not exaggerating when I say that the visibility easily approached 100 feet.  Coral outcroppings that were 50 feet down appeared as if they were only 10 feet away and as you swam out to where the coral dropped off you could see deep down to the seafloor below.  It was easily some of the best snorkeling we’ve ever done and I have a feeling we’ll end up out there a few more times during our stay.

Later that afternoon we headed back to the yoga studio to take two classes back to back.

Just one of the many friends we found along the way

Just one of the many friends we found along the way

First up was an introduction to meditation class followed by Hatha with alignment focus.  The meditation class was exactly as the title would suggest and provided a good introduction and overview of some of the more common types of meditation as well as recommendations on how to help clear your mind.  I think I really could have used the meditation class in the crazy 9-5 life I used to lead, but it was still great to learn and will continue to help me overcome my fears, since apparently this trip is all about doing that as well.

Today’s Travel: Around Gili Air

Accommodations: Damai.

So I think we will be staying here for awhile

26 February 2014

We knew we wanted to explore more and enjoy the extremely relaxing vibe of the island, but as it turns out the hotel we booked couldn’t offer us the rates we were playing for those first two nights.  So we packs our bags and headed north east on the island to Damai Homestay.  And it turns out that was the best decision we made while on the island.  As soon as we arrived, we immediately felt like we were at home and Rosa the owner gave some great tips on where to eat/watch the sunset/get drinks.  We quickly made ourselves at home in the breakfast/lounge area and settled into our books.

Yes you read that right, I have been on a reading kick the last few days and that is probably one of the reasons (that and pinterest) as to why I have been slacking on postings (or maybe because we spend our day napping).  And even a bigger shocker I am almost done with my third book and it has been about a week since I decided reading is my new favorite past time.  That or I really decided that with limited use of my brain on a daily basis compounded with the fact that in many places the fewer words the better to get your point across, I am slowly regressing to the mental capacity of a 5 year old.

We only booked our room for two nights, but once we arrived we made sure to book and extra night with the possibility that we might want to add on another.  Hanging out in the common area, we met a fellow traveler from the states, Amanda.  And since it really is a small world we soon realized that we played lacrosse for competing high schools (she played at Berkeley High) and she knew a handful of people that were in my brothers’ class.  Proving once again that everyone in the East Bay really does somehow know each other and it shouldn’t be six degrees of Kevin Bacon, but six degrees from the East Bay!

We then headed out to the water with snorkel gear in hand.  I unfortunately didn’t make it out too far as my skin was itching like crazy.  Turns out there are these little sea slugs that will attach to you.  They are harmless, but they do itch.  While I went back to shore, Adam continued out past the sea sand to the coral and the huge shore drop off.  As Adam came to shore, he had tons of sea slugs attached to his back, but clearly he is much better at ignoring the itchy buggers than I was.

Back on land, we cleaned up then planted ourselves in our hammocks to catch up on some afternoon reading. Then it was time to grab lunch and lounge some more.

Loungers/lunch tables are a pretty dangerous combination

Loungers/lunch tables are a pretty dangerous combination

That evening we made our first trip to H2O Yoga.  That evenings’ class was the ‘Candlelight yoga with singing bowls after Savasana’  With the class taking place at dusk, I think all the local mosquitos, knew this was the place to be as it was group of people staying relatively still making for a nice snack.  Even with that minor annoyance, it could not take away for the peaceful and lovely studio space.  And in a first while the class was coming to an end the call to prayer was just beginning at the local mosque on the island which made for an interesting, but beautiful combination.h2o_v4

Today’s Travel: Around Gili Air

Accommodations: Damai.  Well we decided to move a few hundred meters down the Island to the quieter area.  Not to say where we were last was loud, it was just closer to the main area of town (aka the 5 restaurants, 3 dive shops and snorkel and SUP rentals.  Once we dropped out bags in our super comfortable room with hammocks on the patio, we walked to the kitchen/breakfast/lounge area for our welcome mixed juice drink.  The ever gracious host Rosa and a few other guests, gave us highlights on where to eat the best spot to catch the sunset.  And while enjoying our juice and the view of the field of palm trees with the ocean just beyond, we knew we had to add on another night to our stay. Oh, and the breakfast with the homemade bread and pineapple and papaya preserves makes the visit even better.DSC_3826DSC_3821DSC_3822DSC_3823

SUP bro

25 February 2014

After breakfast we took a walk down to the beach to rent stand up paddle boards.  In a little less than an hours’ time we had toured the east side of the island from the southern end up to the northern part of the island.  The water here is so teal and clear that as we paddled along you could easily see many fish and the bright coral below.  And as we paddled along a group of small fish decided swimming in the water was for chumps, and started to jump right in front of us creating large arches as they jumped from point to point.  As we continued along the stunning coast with endless ocean views as we headed north and jaw dropping views of Lombok as we headed back south, I think I found a new favorite sport and will be making sure to seek out SUP rental places as we continue our endless summer chase.

After our morning adventure we thought we would take the rest of the afternoon to be productive and catch-up with posting to our blog.  We made our way down to Scallywags as the night before at dinner I had eyed up some seriously comfortable looking chairs which had views of the water and Lombok.  Settling into the ‘lazy chair’ as our waiter called it I was ready to get to ‘work.’

Yes, we really did spend 4+ hours hanging out here

Yes, we really did spend 4+ hours hanging out here

Unfortunately the internet didn’t really want me to upload the last few pictures I needed so it took a little over two hours to get up one post.  Lucky for me I had my book and lunch to enjoy while the pictures slowly uploaded.  On the upside it did give me a chance to order and enjoy my first coconut.  I was a bit hesitant as I don’t like plain coconut water, but it was so much better than I expected.  Clearly in the processing of store bought coconut water they do something to make it taste gross as the real deal is very enjoyable.

Yummy!

Yummy!

Later that evening we headed over to the west side of the island to enjoy a cocktail and the sunset.

The moral of the story, when something blocks your path, just make a new one

The moral of the story, when something blocks your path, just make a new one

 

The local taxi service

The local taxi service

 

Making our way past the harbor

Making our way past the harbor

 

And the light house

And the lighthouse

 

Stopping for a photo-opt

Stopping for a photo-opt

And as we sat watching the ever changing colors in the sky, we were quickly reminded that the sunsets in this part of the world are amazing and it is after the sun has gone down when the great sky light show begins. We are very excited that for the next few months we will be treated to many of these great sunsets.DSC_3794DSC_3805DSC_3806

Clearly this is a place for divers

Clearly this is a place for divers

Today’s Travel: Around Gili Air

Accommodations: Omah Gili

On our way to the Island

24 February 2014

We started the day with a reminder that things run on their own time on the Islands, as the 7:30-7:45am pick up window really meant sometime around 8:15.  It’s my kinda pace, since I am always late, but with Adam he is always ready at least ten minutes beforehand, so it really just more of a change for him!

Again we got to drive thru town and pass the market which is alive with locals at this hour in the early morning and it looked like the day’s special was spinach.  And for all the parents out there, seeing the families pull up on their Honda Scooters, with kids in tow, even the ones having breakdowns, it was interesting to watch how the parents took it in stride and just carried on.

Our drive was an interesting one to say the least.  Our driver had a penchant for driving slow and at a moment’s notice slam on the gas.  You could say his driving style leaned towards bi-polar.  When we gently gave a little love tap to the women on a motor bike shortly after a light turned green (she was fine, but did give the driver the best stink eye ever), I became much more leery of driver and only hoped we would soon be at the harbor.  As it turns out we still had a good distance to cover and sections of open road where he felt the need to get the led out of his foot.  Oh and the whole, lanes are optional/just make your own lane as you drive approach to driving here really makes you appreciate fully understanding the rules of the roads as there were many times I thought we would run over some more motor bikes. We both thought it was due to the fact that we needed to make our boat, but once we arrived at the dock and waited about 30minutes we realized it was just our driver being crazy.

Once on the boat, we were given a slice of cake and water.  There were more crew members on this boat then passenger so it was a very comfortable ride.  DSC_3727

See ya soon-ish Bali

See ya soon-ish Bali

 

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Look at all that power

Look at all that power

So much so that after the coastline of Bali was behind us, I was fast asleep, only to wake up as we were pulling ashore to pick up passengers on what I thought was Gili Meno, turns out it was a very sleepy section of Lombok.  Lucky for me I was now awake as our next stop was Gili Air.  Being the youngest people on the boat I was shocked we were the only ones getting off on this sleepy little island, but maybe everyone really wanted to go rage on Gili T, which is known as the party island.

Once we found our way to our hotel, just a short walk from the harbor, we settled in quickly and made our way out to find lunch.  We found a hut on the water and settled in for a surprisingly tasty meal.  While I thought I could fall asleep after my meal in the bean bag chair, I did make it back to the room to enjoy a nap in a nice air conditioned room.  Adam says he stayed awake a read, but I really don’t believe him.  Once feeling refreshed, we just lounged around reading our books before it was time to head out that evening for dinner. DSC_3745DSC_3748DSC_3753After a walk up the beach, we found a spot on the southern end of the island, so while we didn’t have a perfect view of the sunset we could still see all the beautiful shades of reds and pinks as the sky lite up in these stunning colors after the sun had gone down.

In an ironic twist, as we were walking back to our hotel, we noticed three guys with a ladder climbing up a power pole.  As we could see some stars in the night sky, I was curious if the light pollution was blocking out even more.  No more than a few meters from the power pole the power goes out and as I look up the sky is lit up with even more stars.  Unfortunately it didn’t last too long, but it was so nice to see so many stars.

Today’s Travel: Ubud to Gili Air via shuttle to Padang Bai and the GiliGili Fast Boat

Accommodations: Omah Gili.  With a great deal thru Agoda we were able to secure a room for two nights.  With plenty of space, our room included a loft with a twin bed and a spacious sitting area next to our bed along with plenty of storage space in the room.  The front porch also featured plenty of space and seating, while the outdoor bathroom was nice, it could have used some more space and a little bit of distance from our neighbors.  All sides of the bathroom walls were shared with our neighbors.DSC_3755

Outside our hotel on the busy streets of Gili Air.

Outside our hotel on the busy streets of Gili Air.