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March 28th 2009
Published: March 28th 2009
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Ulu WatuUlu WatuUlu Watu

view from the top of the cliff
In keeping with our decision to make our time in Indo as relaxing and chill as possible, we decided to spend our last week or so in the country close to our home base of Kuta, Bali rather than spending hours upon hours on buses and ferries trying to cram in as many sights as possible. So, we arrived in Kuta after a long day of travel from Lombok and tagged along with the Spanish/Polish couple (an odd combo you'd think, but they were awesome together) to a hotel they had stayed at previously, the Hotel Lusa. It was a bit nicer than where we had crashed our last time in Kuta and we were happy with the comfy bed and nice pool area. We went for dinner together then headed back to the hotel to crash as we were all exhausted.

The next day we spent our morning taking care of business-Kuta proved to be perfect for taking care of the essentials (shopping, laundry, internet, etc), but wasn't so great for just relaxing or hanging out as it is seriously touristy and trashy. So, midday we arranged our second rental car, another jimney, but white this time, and headed out of Kuta to the nearby Bukit Peninsula. The Bukit Peninsula is home to the famous surf spots of Indo that you see in all the surf mags and movies, so we spent our afternoon checking out Ulu Watu, Padang Padang and Impossibles. While all were breathtakingly gorgeous spots, the waves weren't exactly "going off"-as you would say if you were a surfer. We took the requisite pictures, fought off the women selling Ulu Watu t-shirts and evaded the five year olds charging for parking, then continued a bit further up the coast to Bingin beach. Most of the coastline of the peninsula is taken up by huge fancy resorts, especially on the east side where the resort complex of Nusa Dua runs for about 10km along the coast with it's perfectly manicured lawns and disneyland-like atmosphere. However, there are small pockets of guesthouses where the local vibe still holds, and after much exploring we finally found Bingin Beach. The first place we stumbled across was an incredible resort, Mick's Place, perched on the edge of the cliff. We found the Australian owner, who informed us that the Balinese open-air bungalows were a bit out of our price range (though at a $100/night would definitely be worth checking out if any of you with jobs ever make your way to Indo), but happily pointed us in the right direction of the budget-digs, which were actually situated in a prime spot halfway down the cliff to the beach. As we were climbing back into our car to pull round to the spot where you access the cliffside guesthouses, we came across a group of German surfers who had shared our guesthouse in Kuta, Lombok. They, their 10+ backpacks and 7 surfboards had been dumped by their taxi at the entrance to Mick's Place and they were puzzling over how to get themselves and all their stuff down the street to where the path down to the guesthouses started. Our car proved the perfect solution and so bags were shoved into our backseat and boards strapped five feet high on top of our tiny car. Finding the guesthouses proved a bit more challenging than it should have now that we were 7 people with different ideas about which direction to go and how to get there, but after a few hours of some shannanigans, we were all settled in at the neighboring Surya Bungalows and Sunset Cafe GH. The guesthouses are literally built right into the side of the cliff and are connected by a series of ladders and steps. There are about 10 of them all with similar accomodation offerings, but after our thorough search of them all I think we ended up with the best. Our room was probably one of the best ones we've had yet on our trip-you'll have to see the pictures to get the idea-but we had our own private little balcony with french doors that we could leave open all night to listen to the surf crashing below. We had views all the way down the coastline to the surf breaks Impossibles and Padang Padang.

Our first morning at Bingin, Matt headed out with the Germans to catch a few waves at the break in front of our place while I did a short yoga session on our private balcony and then enjoyed a banana smoothie while watching the guys surf. After our breakfast of peanutbutter, banana and honey jaffles (toasted sandwhiches), we jumped back in our jimney and decided to explore the rest of the peninsula. We quickly found ourselves over in the Nusa Dua resort complex and ended up spending the afternoon doing what we do best...lazing on the beach and enjoying some of the beautiful hotel beaches. We made it back to our place just in time for sunset and a Bintang on our balcony and then a delicious curry chicken dinner prepared by the Surya cook, Wyan.

The next day we headed back into Kuta to pick up a rental board for Matt-he had borrowed one the day before from the Germans, but needed one that fit his exact specifications-and then continued on north from Kuta to check out another break we had heard good things about called Canggu. Within seconds of arriving at the beach, Matt realized he had found his favorite wave of the trip. There was a nice beach break, with both lefts and rights peeling off and a handful of different peaks, meaning he could find his own wave and not have to compete for a ride. So, while Matt had a blast in the water, I sat under the mid-day Indo sun on a black sand beach with no shade and fried myself for a few hours (luckily between our coppertone sunscreen, hat and Matt's shirt I didn't burn at all) all the while trying to take pictures of Matt surfing. On our way back to our GH, we stopped off again at Nusa Dua for some more beach time (like we don't get enough of it!) and another surf session for Matt.

...and now comes car adventure number 3 (remember we've already gotten stuck in the sand and had a flat tire in Lombok). On our way back from Nusa Dua to Bingin beach, the car all of a sudden starts bucking like a bronco (you know the feeling when you're in too high of a gear and going to slowly and need to clutch, and the car starts jerking-well, it felt exactly like that, except Matt was in first gear and moving plenty quickly). We lurched down the road for a few seconds, then bounced into a Circle K parking lot where the car died completely. Luckily, there just happened to be a telephone shop nextdoor to the Circle K-they have these stores in Bali that are just filled with phones for people to use. We called the rental company, expecting them to rush out to our aid with a new
the Jimney shuttlethe Jimney shuttlethe Jimney shuttle

the Germans packed our car full with their surfboards and backpacks
car or mechanic or something. Instead, we were told to leave the keys at Circle K and pay for our own taxi back to our GH. Furious, we lock up our car, shove Matt's surfboard into a taxi and leave the key's with the Circle K employees. Well after dark, we stumble down the cliffside steps and finally make it back to our place.

The next morning, we call the car company who tells us they've picked up our car from the Circle K and that if we want another car we have to find our own way back to Kuta. Well, we didn't want another car from them, but now we were stranded out on the peninsula with no way to get around and having lost a whole day of car rental we were supposed to have. So, we checked out of our guesthouse and called our taxi from the night before (this adorable little man who assumed we could speak much better Indonesian than we actually can and chatted away non-stop in Indonesian with us understanding just about nothing). We arrived back in Kuta ready for a fight, which like with our other car proved pretty useless as things just aren't the same in Asian countries as they are in America. We succeeded in getting money back for part of the day we lost (after a heated conversation between Matt and the car rental company owner, during which I cowered in the corner), but were left without another car and no money for the two taxi rides we had to pay for.

So, we spent another night in Kuta, working up the energy to rent another car to get out of there. The next day we got into our third jimney (from another company!-who we assured would come get us in the case of a mechanical problem) and headed back up north to Canggu beach to Matt's favorite wave. It took a bit of exploring to find the one guesthouse in the area, Pondok Wisata Nyoman, as the area is divided into a few different beaches all connected by a maze of dirt roads. The area is an interesting contrast to Kuta, though only about half an hour north. It is in the process of being developed with huge villas and is a series of wind blown black sand beaches, with no shade. We spent only one night in Canggu, then went back to Kuta for our last two nights. We finished up our souvenior shopping, wrote a few blogs, bought some warm clothes for Europe at Indo prices and laundered the rest of clothes (we went the entire month in Indo without doing laundry-not that you really wanted to know that!)

Before I conclude our time in Bali, I have to mention one of the highlights of our time spent there...eating Nasi Campur. Nasi Campur literally means mixed rice and is a scoop of rice with an assortment of goodies around the edges-veges, fried tempeh, fried tofu, vegetable patties, corn cakes, fried noodles, fried egg, curry chicken, etc. The best ones come from Warung Makans, local roadside eateries, and are about $.50 for a plate full of goodness as Matt would call it. The dish quickly became our staple for both lunch and dinner (and would have been breakfast as well had I given in to Matt). It was a perfect meal for me because as it is served buffet style I could pick and choose exactly what I wanted-and keep it unspicy-and Matt could pile his plate high and mix it all together
Sunset GHSunset GHSunset GH

our room is at the far end
just as he likes. Check out the pictures of us thoroughly enjoying our last Nasi Campur meal.

On March 24th we enjoyed one last swim in tropical waters, I had my last $3 facial and we savored our final Nasi Campur. Then, about 6pm, we hopped in a cab and made our way to the Denpassar airport to begin our journey from SE Asia to Europe. We had a hassle free flight to Kuala Lumpur and were pleased to step out of the airport and see our hotel literally steps across the parking lot. We had booked ourselves another night at Tune Hotel and were actually able to enjoy our 5-star room at 1-star prices as we had sported up and bought the right to turn on the AC unlike our previous stay in which we sweltered in our steamy room. We slept in a bit the next morning and timed our arrival at the airport perfectly with just enough time to check-in, "enjoy" a McDonald's mc-muffin (I actually ate fast food for lack of a better choice), and board our flight.

And so our time in SE Asia has come to an end. There are definitely mixed
balcony at Sunsetbalcony at Sunsetbalcony at Sunset

looking over to the German's rooms at Surya GH
feelings that come with ending such a long journey. We could have easily spent another month exploring Indonesia and don't feel like we even scratched the surface of the country. Six and half months is quite a long time to be away living from a suitcase, but once we settled into the lifestyle we found it quite enjoyable. Luckily we happened upon the opportunity to take a short detour to Europe and extend our travels, so we're not headed home yet. Hopefully Europe provides a nice transition back to real life as well as an opportunity to see some of the awesome people we met during our travels.

*A quick thanks to capital one. Apparently someone from the company has randomly taken interest in reading our travel blog and has sent us an e-mail apologizing for the troubles we experienced with the card that Matt described in our Java blog.


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Bingin breakBingin break
Bingin break

Matt out with the Germans
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tourist

she cracked us up so much we had to sneak a photo


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