So, jumping right into the month of August. This was an exciting month for us – especially for me. I finally reached my golden country! At least that is what I’m going to call it.
You know how your golden birthday is when the date of your birth coincides with your age? Like, my 24th birthday was my golden birthday because I was born on the 24th of March. Anyway, in August we left the wintry weather of New Zealand for the tropical clime of Indonesia, and I reached my 29th country… and I’m 29!
I’m pretty sure when I was a mid-teen I made some goal of reaching 30 countries by the time I turned 30… so close! I have just under 6 months to go! I think I can make it. But where will we go?
29 Countries and Counting.
So here’s a sneak peak at what we got up to in Indonesia, and keep an eye out for upcoming posts covering it in more detail!
By the Numbers.
Where We’ve Been.
6 nights in Canggu
6 nights in Ubud
4 nights in Sanur
3 nights on Nusa Lembongan
2 nights in Sanur
2 nights Labuan Bajo
4 nights in Seminyak
3 nights in Auckland
9 nights in AirBnBs
18 nights in Hotels
3 nights in Homestay
Best and worst… and simply of note.
Hands down the best place we stayed this month was at the Maya Sanur. After being sick and holed up in budget guesthouses in Ubud, we splurged a bit on our first stopover in Sanur. The Maya, although a chain, was an absolutely beautiful resort and allowed me some much needed comfort while still getting over the first bout of illness I encountered on our trip.
The worst would definitely be where we stayed in Labuan Bajo – CF Komodo hotel. From beginning to end, it was an aweful experience, not made any better by my second bout of sickness. First of all, I didn’t want to stay here, but our options were limited as we decided kind of last minute to visit Komodo National Park. Obviously, it is a very popular destination and we were kind of stuck with this option.
They did not send our supposed complimentary airport pick-up, even though I had done as I was asked and emailed them with our flight information. The hotel was under construction, which was not mentioned anywhere on the booking site. Imagine loud jackhammering in the morning. A drainage pipe ran from the roof to the floor of our wet bath. I get it, its a wet bath, but that doesn’t mean the floor always needs to be wet! It was oddly overstaffed – one person would be working while another 5 or 6 would just be hanging out, kind of watching. And they were all incredibly young and extremely unprofessional. To top it all off, the location was terrible. If you are headed to Labuan Bajo, DO NOT STAY HERE. Book early and stay at Le Pirate.
The last hotel we stayed at, in bustling Seminyak must be mentioned solely for its bizarre decor. Giant red bunnies were scattered amongst pop art murals and industrial chic design elements. Lest I forget the pool, which was lined entirely with cherry red tile. Funky.
One of the highlights was simply setting foot in Southeast Asia. A first for both J and myself. Our time there certainly left us wanting more.
It was also really nice to meet some fellow expatriates who were making it in the “digital nomad” scene. Max, the French girl whose AirBnB we stayed at in Canggu has been living in Bali with her boyfriend for the last 3 years and working as a freelance translator and copywriter.
We also had dinner with a super sweet Dutch couple while on Nusa Lembongan – new travel friends are always a highlight. They were on a trip scoping out honeymoon locales – never met anyone who did a trial run of the honeymoon before the wedding, but the more travel the merrier, right.
By far the most squeal-worthy moment was releasing baby turtles with Bali Sea Turtle Society – expect a whole post on this in the coming weeks!
All in all, our time in Bali was pretty laid back. It was just really nice to enjoy the warmth of the sun and stick my nose in a book.
Illness. I suffered a stomach-churning illness while in Bali. It boils down to me getting a parasite and bacterial infection in my gut, simultaneously. In researching travel to third world countries, I’ve probably read “Don’t eat pre-cut fruit” or “Don’t eat any fruit that you don’t peel yourself” a hundred times, but when our sweet guesthouse hosts would bring us breakfast with little pieces of delicious looking papaya, pineapple and watermelon, I just couldn’t help myself.
Well, I no longer have a problem turning it down. The entire second half of our trip was shrouded with a black cloud. Just as I was beginning to feel better I got worse. Two days after finishing the THREE medicines I was prescribed, I had to go back to the doctor and begin another two rounds of meds. Lets just say most people get to leave Bali with a tan, but I left with a few days worth of pills still left to take. Not ideal.
We really only had one other problem during our time in Indonesia, and that would be getting around. Mostly on our first stop of Canggu, which is a bit less touristy than other areas. Initially our plan was to rent a scooter. Its just what you do in Bali. We would rent one, J would drive and I would ride on the back. When it became apparent that was not an option, I attempted to drive it on my own. If I could handle it, we could rent a second scooter and be good to go. Well, that didn’t work either. So we were stuck taking cabs everywhere. And it is hard to get them to come pick you up in a residential neighborhood. Indonesians don’t really get AirBnB yet. We had such little success in explaining it, eventually we gave up and just told them we were staying with friends.
The two times we tried to use Uber. The driver accepted the gig, then never left to come get us. Each time, after waiting probably 30 minutes without his GPS signal moving, we were forced to cancel because the drivers wouldn’t, incurring a penalty for us. That’s some bullshit, right there. Luckily, Uber refunded us when informed of the situation. Unluckily, they only offer refunds in the currency of the original transaction. So, hopefully there are some good Uber drivers somewhere in Indonesia the next time we visit.
What We Read.
So, I have not been reading as much as I would like and I am hoping to remedy that by making myself accountable here. This was not a heavy reading month.
I finished reading a travel memoir The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost: a Memoir of Three Continents, Two Friends and One Unexpected Adventure. I think it is probably very clear, but I am obsessed with travel. Even when I’m traveling, I like reading about other people’s travels. It inspires more travel – such a beautiful loop! This was a pleasant enough read, and one that had been on my radar for quite awhile, so I was glad to check it off my list.
I also picked up a copy of The Girl on the Train at our first AirBnB, which made a good poolside read. We watched the film adaptation afterwards and, per usual, it was a bit of a let down. It simply does not make as much since set in the US. I also thought the casting was all a bit off.
J finally read one of my favorite books about travel, Vagabonding: an Unconventional Guide to the Art of Longterm World Travel, by Rolf Potts. This book is more of an introduction to the philosophy of living a travel-centered alternative lifestyle and is something I’ve been trying to get J to finish since our honeymoon. This is not a long book. I am so glad I finally unlocked the key to his reading potential – get him the audio companion! I am not an audiobook person. I always just assumed they were for alleviating music fatigue on long road trips, but turns out they actually help some people read. I cannot fully express how excited I am that I can now share books with J. Hip, hip, HOOORAY!
Our second housesit. Which we are currently half-way through. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be posting more in-depth content on our trip to Bali. Travelogues of each leg of the trip, tips for getting around without a scooter and even a bit about dealing with disappointment if you get sick on your travels. Check back soon!
What are your favorite travel books? I’m always looking my next great read 🙂