Saturday, May 2, 2009

Lombok -Last but not least!

We did a one day rafting trip in Bali before flying back to Bangkok.
Everything is so beautiful and green here right now. Aside from getting a little car sick on the way because we were recovering from a late night with some Swedish travelers we met the night before, the ride was fun, and we got a delicious Indonesian lunch with it.

View of low tide and sunset at Gili T (small islands off Lombok) the last stop in Lombok. The shores are so shallow that when tide is low it can be 1/2 a Km away! At night you'll see hundreds of lights on the ocean from fishermen out in their boats.

View of the lake from our camping spot. Locals hike down here

all the time to go fishing for a day or 2.

This water fall is coming from the lake... if you look in the bottom right corner you'll see the hot springs that we relaxed in. The hot water was coming from inside the rock and the pools were built by locals. They were pretty clean and didn't have that typical sulfur smell. Needless to stay they did little to ease our pain/soreness despite the local belief that they have healing power. I still don't know how I had the leg strength to hike 8 hours out of there the following day... maybe they do have power ; )

Like I said after 12 km of hiking straight UP! (about (8000ft elevation change)
We were exhausted but happy...next was to hike 2 hours down 2,000 feet into the crater and stay overnight at the lake.

On the second day of the trek we hit the rim of the active volcano which last erupted 100 years ago and now a lake inside thousands of feet deep. It took my breath away it was so beautiful. This picture hardly does it justice. The second volcano you see steaming inside formed in 1994 and a third smaller one is beginning just below that.

Mount Rinjani Trek

We decided to do some hiking for the last bit because Indonesia is so beautiful and we through originally we could hit the volcano in Lombok by ourselves...turns out the rules had changed and we ended up having to get a Porter (An pictured above). This guy was AMAZING! He carried all of our stuff shy some water, clothes and sleeping bags on his bamboo stick and in flip flops! for three days we covered a total of 25 km and 18,000 feet of elevation change! oh and it rained days so it was slippery too. He didn't speak much english but he knew "slowly slowly" or "hati hati" in Indonesian and kept saying that to us as we walked.

Same beach near Kuta Lombok...

This is our favorite beach break for surfing - while you can't see in the pic I just finished surfing a massive wave!! haha, no this is actually a great beginner beach about a 45 min scooter ride from where we stayed. We actually hit some nice waves here, good size for us. (and bigger then this white water I swear!)

This pic is from a remote beach in Lombok... there are so many coves with these beautiful beaches... one family might live here and do farming or earn money by charging to park in the area. Most of the smaller coves had great reef breaks (we stayed clear of those though).
We LOVED Lombok. Quick geography lesson... Indonesia is one of the largest counties in the world but is so broken up into islands people tend to forget about it's size... additionally, each island has it's own make up of people, religion, culture, character, and food. While the locals may notice more so then the tourists we found immediately that Lombok was far more remote and even more chill then Bali. There was little available internet, ATMs only in the largest towns and limited public transportation... Oh and the electricity just shut off mid day if the place didn't have a back up generator it meant no shower power and no blender power for our Arak Attacks! (Arak is the local hard A used in most drinks).

Ubud Bali

(Brandon's picture choice) This pig was freshly delivered to a very popular restaurant we had lunch at. The only food choice was rice and... you guessed it PORK. I asked specifically if they had vegetarian and that didn't go over well.. so we both enjoyed a delicious plate of this guy.

We took a bike ride through the beautiful rice fields around Ubud. Ubud is known as an opportunity to see the "real Bali" because most of it is so touristy... We saw a house for rent on our ride - did a quick calculation on how long we could live here on our savings and and were very tempted! ... But instead we opted to stick with the plan on moving to a cold rainy climate - oh and pay a lot more in living costs for it too : ) haha


Brandon's friend was cute in the beginning, but Monkeys are sneaky. We had a great time watching them at the temple overall.



The monkeys started off innocent enough. This was the first one the climbed on me.

video


We visited the Monkey Sanctuary in Ubud Bali... The monkeys seemed innocent enough until one turned on Brandon... What the video doesn't show is how the monkey proceeded to do a chin-up, grap a chunk of Brandon's hair in his mouth and hang from it. Unfortunately I was little help between trying to turn the camera off to get to him and laughing hysterically! soooo funny!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bali

The sunsets are amazing on Kuta and a lot of people come out for them because the temperature actually drops moderately to a comfortable level. The locals always play soccer, the volleyballs come out, and the surfing is great right up until you loose visibility. I haven't seen Kelly Slater or Andy Irons out there yet but I'll let you know when I do...




Bali is a really great place that I would say is best described as Mexico for the Australians (only not quite as shady as modern day mexico) and it's waaaay cheaper. Great beaches, shopping, nightlife (as if every night is Friday night), and eventually we'll get some white water rafting and volcano hiking in as well. We just haven't made it past Kuta beach yet since we arrived 3 days ago. We also have plans to visit the neighboring island of Lombok for about 10 days while we are down here. Now that we have an uninfected camera card we will be able to post more pics again.

The F1 race turned out to be a little bit disappointing due to the heavy rain cutting the race down from 56 laps to 33 laps. We were glad that we saw the cars so much during the couple of days before the race both in practice and qualifying. Jensen Button grabbed the pole and ended up winning the race (that's 2 in a row for him). Pit strategy played in a lot less with the shorter race so it's not much of a surprise that he won. Definitely glad to have witnessed these cars running though, very incredible machines to see in person! I hope all of the practice session photos aren't corrupt...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Sihanoukville & Sen Monorom - F1!

After our fun ride to Kampot & Kep down on the coast, we did some easy riding up the coast to the slightly larger beach town of Sihanoukville for a couple of days. This was a great vacation from our vacation where we pretty much chilled out on the white sand beach for three days and ate bar-b-qued fish (literally, whole ones) and frequented the beach bars.

The trip back to Phnom Penn by dirtbike was really uneventful, mostly paved surprisingly, with much less dust inhalation. We did the trip early in the morning to avoid hot weather and get the bike back the rental place by noon. We had a quick night's turnaround and then we traveled northeast to Sen Monorom by "mini-bus." Nothing short of a 9 hour journey in a 90's toyota minivan with 15 people (meant to hold 11) and cases and bags of food, oh yeah, and the road was at best 50% paved. Much of it was "just being built," we have better logging roads in the states.

Sen Monorom was a great quiet (relative to tourists we'd been around) place in the countryside of Cambodia. We rented a scooter and did some extreme off-road scooting through the villages and hills of that area to some waterfalls. We also found one of our favorite viewpoints on a hill where you could see for many many miles (partially into Vietnam) and it was all just green lush emerald jungle that we caught at sunset. I would post some pictures but it appears that our memory card has caught a virus from these internet cafes and this particular one will not remove the virus without deleting all of our pics. We are optimistic that we haven't lost a couple of weeks worth of pictures but we are switching cards just to be sure we don't continue with this issue. The joys of traveling...

Anyway, our journey back to Phnom Penn was far more memorable than our trip out (if you can believe that). There were no "mini-vans" going back to town so we were put on a "truck." This was lifted early 90's extended cab Toyota that they fit 4 people in the front seat, 5 people in the rear seat (including us), filled the bed with huge ginger root & curry sacks, throw everyones bags on top of that, and then pile about 12 people on to hold everything in. This was truely "interesting" to us and it only lasted for 9 hours.

We are now soaking up the more modern city of Kuala Lumpur where we were excited to eat Pizza Hut this evening =) after the F1 qualifying today. It looks like we may get some rain during the race as we've had thunderstorms the last two days at the time that the race will be tomorrow. Also, the cars are very tightly matched and because of the new rules, it seams that the field has been quite mixed from the last couple of seasons (McLaren, Renault, & Ferrari not looking so good). Should be a great race!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dirtbiking through south Cambodia...

Rabbit Island, a some prime beach spot - rare for Cambodia which is primarily occupied by rocky shores. We had a nice day relaxing and swimming in a somewhat cool ocean. We took a short hike to the top of the island which had fantastic views at the old Khmer Rouge look-out point.
Kep (just outside Kampot) used to be a thriving colonial town occupied by the french back in the 1700s ( i think) and a favorite of the Cambodian King. Its apparent this once quaint beach town was hit hard during the reign of the Khmer Rouge... this building has bullet holes in the walls. Most of the gated plots don't have any buildings remaining. Those that do are now occupied by squatters (these squatters have apparently taken good care of the lawn??) . It's pretty eerie to drive through, and many natives still believe these places are haunted.

Brandon doesn't have a mustache - it just looks that way because he's coated in dirt from our trip from Phnom Penh to Kampot (148km) on a loaded XL 250. The roads are paved but very narrow and under construction so you're on the dirt nearly as much as the paved road...


Angkor What?

Floating Village outside of Seim Reap. Actually pretty cool. These fisherman live on the lake as the water rises and lowers through the season. However I don't recommend drinking the water. 12% of children here don't make it past 5 due to poor sanitary conditions among other things I'm sure.

Akiko buying food at a local Khmer market, so unlike her : )
The sellers sat up on the tables with their food to sell, pretty cool. And super cheap food.

Listening to a Khmer cover band at a bar in Seim Reap with Dave's friend Adam,
he was very helpful and he spoke really good english ; )




We meet a traveler who was teaching at an orphanage in Seim Reap so we decided bring the kids some balls to play with and spend some time with them. They LOVED us! and the adults thought we were volunteers (they didn't speak any english) ... we ended up playing with the kids all morning and were asked to teach english in the afternoon class. Akiko taught the younger kids while Brandon and I took charge of the "older" kids. While most kids we had encountered were begging and obnoxious, these kids were so sweet and pure of heart... it's was one of the best experiences we had. Too bad it's now illegal to adopt children in Cambodia (they were being sold into slavery in Thailand) or I would have come home with a couple.


We spent three days exploring the temples of Anchor by bicycle (very hot but avoids the high cost and annoyance of the tuk tuk drivers). Our friend Akiko joined us for a week It was nice to have a familiar face on the trip : )



First stop in Cambodia after our horrific boarder crossing was Seim Reap - home of the SE Asia Empire back in the day... now it is Cambodia's pride and joy, and the envy of Thailand.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ko Chang & to Cambodia






After the Elephant Conservation, we had a couple of days to kill before heading over to Cambodia to meet Akiko, so we decided we were in the mood for some beaches. We caught an overnight train from Lompang to Bangkok (12 hours) and then a bus (8 hours) to Ko Chang, an island on the southeast portion of Thailand. Very chill island with warm waters and beach bungalows. We did some kayaking one day and rented a scooter for a trip around the island the second day, a great mix of bars, jungle adventure, and fishing industry.

Ko Chang was a great last taste of Thailand... until we attempted to cross the border to Cambodia. The bus tickets that we bought to take us from Ko Chang to Siem Reap apparently ended at a transfer station in the middle of nowhere in Cambodia after refusing to pay the bus company double for the Cambodian Visas. We had heard about this scam and knew what to expect but didn't expect the Thais to attempt to sweat us out at the border so that we would miss our bus to Siem Reap. Luckily we weren't the only ones this happened to and the four of us bartered for a taxi and ended up making our way into Siem Reap in only 12 hours. After polling a bunch of the travelers here apparently this occurance is frequent.