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December 23rd 2014
Published: December 31st 2014
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Ubud and Gili Trawangan - Tuesday, December 23, 2014



Both Curtis and Jen were done with haggling and deciding on transportation options so we had the hotel arrange it for us. They expertly scheduled our shuttle to the dock and the speedboat to our next destination where we would spend Christmas - the largest of the Gili Islands, Gili Trawangan. The tickets included the return fare from Gili Trawangan and shuttle to Seminyak on Bali and cost 2.4M IDR. The price seems steep at first, but after calculating how much we would pay if we haggled each fare individually, we would probably save about $20 USD. While using the service, it was surprising to see how many other tourists utilized the same option. The Gili Islands are about a two hour speedboat ride north east of Bali and very close to the island of Lombok. Long known as a hidden paradise, we found their reputation to be true. Motorized vehicles are not used on the tiny island and we found that refreshing since both Java and Bali's streets are so over crowded with passenger vehicles, buses, trucks, and motorbikes.

The trek to the Luce d'Alma Resort from the boat dock was not an easy one, especially carrying additional luggage - our purchases from the Ubud markets. We could have taken a horse drawn cart, or horse taxi, but we didn't think it was that far. It was. By the time we arrived Curtis was tired. Being the gentleman he is, he carried a majority of the things we had picked up at the markets so he was a little grumpy by the time we checked in. Thankfully, the room was running both air conditioners so it was cool and very comfortable. There were two sliding doors, one in the bedroom and one in the living room, both leading directly to the salt water pool. The resort was beautiful and service was great. The food could use some improvement, but it seemed like all food on Gili Trawangan could use help. It was bad, just not the dining you'd expect from this secluded paradise.

After a short rest, we opted to hike back to the perimeter road where all the bars and eating establishments were. We sat in big chairs on the beach at a place called Bamboo Bar and read our e-readers and drank cocktails till the sun set.

Gili Trawanagan - Wednesday, December 24, 2014



The walk from the perimeter road to the hotel is only 7 minutes but feels like an eternity. Our hotel provides bikes to borrow while out and exploring the island. Jennifer was immediately concerned about her safety if she had to ride a bike on the pothole laden dirt roads. She was great though, handled it like a champ. No accidents or incidents the entire four days stay.

We had breakfast then went out into the pool to hang out for awhile. About noon (or later?) we decided we'd ride out to the west side of the island. The west side was quieter and had less beachcombers. We walked out to the beach to jump in the ocean but there was too much dead coral washed ashore. Jen cut her toe trying to wade out to the water. We packed up and worked our way south to find a neater beach. We came across one beach where the algae and grasses made the bed soft on our feet, but was too shallow to play in. We killed much of our day on our bike ride and and our bike riding muscles started to hurt so we rode back to the hotel.

Back at the hotel, we played in the water a little more, showered, and rested. We then biked back to the main strip for a pizza dinner. Pizza here is great, if you like experiencing an island Asian version of pizza. We placed our order, but since they were out of salami they asked if it could be substituted with spinach and egg. Strange idea of what would be an equivalent replacement but whatever, it was good. We had a couple more cocktails, then called it a night and rode back to the hotel with the only light being from Jen's headlamp.

Gili Trawanagan - Thursday, December 25, 2014 - Merry Christmas!



We got up incredibly late. Barely enough time to make it out to the lobby for breakfast. Our goal was to do as little as possible which we quite possibly succeeded. After breakfast, we played in the pool a little more. Later in the afternoon, we rode into town and ordered two more pizzas take-away, got a bottle of vodka, and some juice and Red Bulls. The rest of the night consisted of lounging by the pool and watching Indonesian television. Merry Christmas!

The Last Five Days



After celebrating Christmas on the island, it was time for us to say goodbye to paradise and start making our way back to Jakarta for our return trip back to Portland. Our plans were to take a speed boat from Gili Trawangan to Seminyak on Bali. While there, finish up any remaining shopping we had planned to do while here, then fly back to Jakarta and on the last day, back to Portland.

Around 11 am, we arranged with our hotel to have a horse-drawn carriage take us to the boat dock. The speed boat took us and the other 1,000 tourists visiting the Gilis for Christmas back to Bali. When back on Bali, they directed us to several air-conditioned shuttle vans destined to different areas of the island. We took the Seminyak//Legian/Kuta bus. The ride took about an hour longer than it should have due to traffic. Traffic on Bali is even worse than it is in Jakarta. There are no freeways, there are rarely more than two lanes for a road, and there are no shoulders. While in Seminyak, we asked a taxi to take us south about 2 miles to a store so we could get some flip-flops and he told us he wouldn't take us for under 350K IDR; that's the equivalent to $30 USD for 2 miles. He said it was cause traffic would have him stuck for hours. The traffic near Denpasar (the capital city and airport) and Kuta makes traveling to the island kind of a turn-off. Future visitors beware!

We arrived at Seminyak and stayed at the IZE Hotel right off Jalan Kayu which happens to be one of Seminyaks most popular high-end shopping streets. At first we enjoyed how lively the area was but the business and crowds quickly wore on us. The hotel was unusually humid and the bedding always felt damp. The bathroom had no fan and was partitioned to the rest of the room by a glass wall, albeit frosted, it was still a little awkward.

On the 27th, we headed out to finish our shopping. The sun was unbearable this day and the heat wore on us quickly. We ended up at a handicraft warehouse that held all sorts of souvenirs from all over the island - convenient. After shopping, we got back to the hotel and napped till late evening. We had dinner at a Japanese restaurant and returned back to pack for our Jakarta flight the following day.

On the 28th, we caught our flight from Denpasar to Jakarta. When we landed, Jen noticed a lot of reporters outside the airport. As soon as Curtis' phone got signal, there were messages about a missing aircraft from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore operated by the same airliner we used, AirAsia. On our last nights in Jakarta, we stayed at the Kosenda Hotel which turned out to be a really nice hotel. The room was a little small but the breakfast and dinners were outstanding as well as the service.

On the 30th of December, we concluded our trip with our final flights back to Portland via a layover in Tokyo and San Francisco. In San Francisco, we had an opportunity to spend the afternoon with Jen's family, who treated us to a burger from Super Duper and homemade fondue. We would like to thank them for their hospitality! With that, we end our blog for this trip. We hope you enjoyed reading this blog and much as we enjoyed writing it!

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2nd October 2015

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