Tuesday, July 3, 2012

From KL to the Beach

June flew by before I even noticed.  Looking back, I realized that my last couple posts have been on general topics rather than what we've actually been getting up to.  Here's what's been going on for the past few weeks!

After sixteen days in the Cameron Highlands, Eric and I started moving again.  We spent three quick nights in Kuala Lumpur.  Due to illness and the heat, we didn't explore the city much.  A few highlights were the delicious street noodles and satay, great nights with some new friends, and winning at beer pong and flip cup at the rooftop bar of our hostel.

I ate this dish at least three times in the three days we were in Kuala Lumpur.
This is a contender for the best chicken satay I have ever eaten.
From Kuala Lumpur, we took a flight to Bali, Indonesia.  Neither of us had been able to sleep the night before, and for whatever reason I had lost my appetite.  We were both excited to settle into our bunks and get a good night's rest in order to feel normal the next day.  Unfortunately, we each ended up feeling sick that night and for the next few days.  Since the mosquito nets in the hostel were more decorative than useful, neither of us got the sleep we needed until we moved to a less rustic (and more expensive) hostel in the center of Kuta.  The private room with a thick white comforter, four fluffy pillows and a private bathroom felt incredibly luxurious after our mosquito-filled dorm beds.  Five days after we arrived in Bali, we finally got to head out and see the island.  The beach was just as lovely as it is reputed to be. 

Sunset on the beach in Bali
Though we hadn't gotten to see much of Bali, we decided to move on to the Gili Islands.  Indonesia is a more expensive place to travel than Thailand, Cambodia or Malaysia, so a quick blitz through a few stops seemed to be the smartest way to visit without spending too much money.  The plan was to spend two nights in the Gilis, do some snorkeling, and try to move on to a different island afterward.  

Boats by the harbor - the water is so clear and blue.
After one night on Gili Trawangan, the biggest of the three islands, I was in love.  The water is stunning shades of blue.  There are no cars or motorbikes, so everyone gets around by foot, horse-drawn cart or bicycle.  Chickens cross the road between beachfront restaurants.  Boats rock out in the harbor and at night the lights from the neighboring islands flicker across the water.  I understand why people think of Indonesia when they think of paradise.

One of the many places to arrange a day of snorkeling
We spent a day snorkeling around the three islands.  It took me several minutes to figure out how to breathe without hyperventilating.  It may sound easy, but please consider that for twenty-three years I've learned not to inhale under water.  We spotted schools of neon fish, several clown fish, and a giant sea turtle.  Eric planned to hunt Nemo, but he let him get away this time.

The view of the island Lombok from Gili Trawangan.
After three nights, we decided to venture over to Lombok, the larger island by the Gilis.  We'd read in Lonely Planet that Senggigi was a beach town similar to the Gili Islands, but with fewer tourists.  Senggigi lived up to the reputation in that it had a beach and fewer westerners.  Aside from that, it was the third runner up in the beach town beauty pageant. Lombok itself was picturesque and mountainous, and I'm sure there are gems to find there, but it's hard to compare with the tiny Gili Islands.  We had planned to look into some hiking around Lombok, but since our time in Indonesia was limited we turned around and went back to Gili Trawangan for another two nights.  When there's a gorgeous tropical island a half hour boat ride away, how can you go anywhere else?

Eric reading on the porch of our bungalow
We booked a bungalow for two more nights and made plans for the rest of our time in Indonesia.  Today we caught a boat back to Bali and are set to fly to Java tomorrow.  (On a side note, the boat ride today had enough sudden drops and twists that I'm convinced Indonesia doesn't need any roller coasters.)  Indonesia has been beautiful but a little tough on our budget - more on that soon!

What are your favorite beach destinations?

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