Jakarta Adventures: Sleeping Cab drivers and bubble tea 

There were a few days in between our Borneo trip and our Bali trip, and then between the Bali trip and the Jogja trip, where we stayed at Sam’s apartment. As it was the work week, Sam, Vriz, and Grace would leave us in the morning, and we were on our own. The first day after the Borneo trip, we just kind of relaxed and watched downloaded Netflix episodes. But we didn’t want to miss out on some of the things Jakarta has to offer, so we made a plan (with Sam’s help, of course) to go out and explore the next day… by ourselves. 

The plan was to wake up, eat, and head to Kota Tua or Old City, and then meet Sam in the Starbucks in her work building and go to dinner. The idea of going out alone was pretty intimidating, but I knew we could do it. Sam gave us some pretty fool proof instructions, and armed with my very limited Indonesian language knowledge (hello, thank you, here, I would like [insert food here], I need to pee, can you speak English, wait a minute) we were ready to go! 

We gave ourselves a pep talk and headed out of the apartment. Alone! Ah! The first challenge, it turns out, was getting out of the complex… we got off the elevator and then tried to exit the doors that said ‘pull’ but wouldn’t open. We struggled for a minute and then some nice guy came buy and pushed a button next to the doors that allows them to open. COOL thanks dude! We hoped this wasn’t a sign of how the rest of the outing would go. Next step was getting a taxi! Which was pretty easy – there is a taxi pickup/drop off loop right outside of the lobby, and there was an employee who snagged a taxi for us. We hopped in, told the driver where we needed to go, and were off! It was a pretty long drive and Jakarta is sooo massive and densely populated = heavy traffic. We drove by Sam’s work, the national monument, the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, all three things we would end up visiting. The ride was fine except for the taxi driver who legitimately kept falling asleep… 🙄 I didn’t think we would make it, but we did! We arrived at Kota Tua, paid the driver and went to explore. Kota Tua, ‘Old City’, is comprised of the remaining buildings from the Dutch Colonial Era. The buildings in the square now are various museums, art, History of Jakarta, etc. 

It was so hot! The square was really cool – lined with colonial style buildings, and paved with cobblestone. There were a bunch of brightly colored bikes with hats available to rent and a lot of vendors selling toys, drinks, and snacks. There were various street performers, including living statues. The living statues were great and hilarious – in the US, the living statues that I’ve seen rarely move.. but these statues were on their phones and relaxing until someone paid to take a photo. Then, they took the photo and went back to their business. It was awesome. There were also a lot of students there; many asked to take selfies with us, and some interviewed us to practice their English. They were all so sweet! Although it’s still pretty intense to be asked for selfies with strangers frequently here. 

 We decided to hit the art museum first. We paid 10,000idr ($0.75) each and went in. There weren’t a lot of people there at all… and all of the lights were off. We walked through and tried to look around but couldn’t see much because the lights… were off. We walked by some maintenance/employee guys who didn’t seem to be worried about the lights.. so we just kept walked. We saw a lot of cool pottery and some pretty weird but awesome paintings. We went back into the square and decided to go to the History of Jakarta Museum next. We paid another 10,000idr each, and went in. Grace/Sam thought we might be able to get an English speaking tour guide there, because without a guide we wouldn’t be able to know what a lot of the stuff was, but we couldn’t find where one would get a guide and entered the museum but didn’t see anyone with a guide. So we wandered around by ourselves and read what we could. The museum was mostly furniture, but it was cool! 

We decided to head over to the Bank Museum, which was basically a telling of Indonesian history but from the perspective of the banking system. We had to cross the street, which sounds easy but is actually super dangerous and terrifying! There is sooo much traffic and you just kind of decide when to cross, stick your hand out and pray that no one squashes you. We found some local people that were waiting to cross and tagged along with them and made it safely! We approached the museum and saw that there were chains on the set of doors we were in front of… and while we were thinking, a group of teens got up and starting coming toward us shouting in Indonesian so we ran away 😂. we couldn’t find another entrance to the museum as we were sooooo hot and sweaty, so we decided to grab a taxi and head to Starbucks to wait for Sam.  The taxi driver drove us to Sam’s building where we had to go through security twice to get to the Starbucks. Fancy fancy Embassy Sam. 

We had some drinks ( fun fact: Starbucks is just as expensive here as in the US) and waited for Sam to be done with work. We were there for a little more than an hour when she came down to get us – YAY! We told her all about our Jakarta adventures while we walked to a Sulawesi restaurant where we would have dinner. The restaurant was really good! We had a lot of new and different foods, including this soup that was called tinituan, which was a porridge with cassava, sweet potato, rice, and vegetables. It was delicious!! We got a ton of food  After the meal, we tried to get an Uber home but it was taking forever, so we decided to get a taxi. Sometime between getting a taxi and walking down the street, we decided to take a bajay which is kind of like a petty cab but it is powered by a Motorbike. Now, these things are small and probably best for two people… but we stuffed ourselves into the back and were off. It was fun/scary but also hot and there was so much traffic, we were stuck in the bijay for 45-60 minutes. I didn’t think I was going to make it, but I did! 

And that was our first outting alone in Jakarta!! We felt much more confident when we went out alone two more times after our trip to Bali. One day we took a taxi to the mall (we were also supposed to go to a cool cafe Sam reccomenddd so that we could blog/dissertate but we woke up too late both days so we skipped it). The malls here are so biggggg – 5+ floors and any kind of store you can think of. We had been in this mall earlier in the trip, where we had the sushi, but didn’t walk around very much. Liane and I decided to go alllll the way up. There was so much food and many stores! We found a bubble tea cafe and treated ourselves to some a delicious tea – then met up with Sam when she got off work. We were going to a store where Sam got a really cute kimono style cardigan that I wanted to buy… but when we got there, I tried it on and hated how it looked. FAIL. Why didn’t I try Sam’s on before going to the store to buy one? No one knows. We left the mall and headed to get ‘Bebek Goreng’ which is fried duck. This meal was one of my favorites that I had on my last trip, so I was excited to have Liane try it. I ordered duck that is smashed and then flash fried – you get the meat and all of the bones and anything you can bite with your teeth, you can eat! So bones, organs… whatever is in there. It’s so good I want to cry. So crispy and salty!! Ah! Liane got fried duck breast and it was sooo juicy and amazing.  Ughhh I could live off of bebek goreng. Oh, and for Liane and I to both get duck with rice was only around $4.00 👌🏼👌🏼👌🏼.Sam had the same thing that I did, and ordered some to take home to Vriz. So. Good. I think we will try to get it again on our last day here. After duck, we walked back to Sam’s apartment. BUT on the way, we stopped at a Bakso stand to get some meatballs for the next day. Which, of course, turned out to be amazing. 

The last outing that we went on by ourselves was to a fancy mall to a store called Tulisan, where I got a beautiful hand made wallet! It was a pretty uneventful trip- just there and back! 









Borneo: Orangutans, House Boats, and Tarantulas

HEY Y’ALL!!! I’ve been trying really, really hard to get this blog going and to get the pictures uploaded.. but it’s been a 3+ day challenge and I’m pretty much at my wits end SO… here is a post with only like 1/3 of the pics. I’ll post the pics another day – probably when I’m back in the US and have time/reliable wifi.

Our first trip within our trip was to Kalimantan in Borneo, where we would spend 3 days on a house boat, cruising down the river and hanging out with orangutans. Now, this trip was long and rich, so this post will be long but alsoooo so much will be left out! Boo! Sam went on the same river boat trip a few years ago, and she had to work so she didn’t join us, and Vriz had to work, so it was just Liane, Grace (who lives with Sam and Vriz), and me. We left early on Friday, got a taxi and headed to the airport. We all only had a backpack and one extra bag so we didn’t need to check anything. Last time I was here, Sam introduced me to Beard Papa, which is a little shop that sells fresh cream puffs. You can pick what type of ‘shell’ and what type of cream that you want, and they stuff the puffs right then! I was really excited to get one for myself and for Liane. Next to the Beard Papa shop, there was a Roti’o place. I had never had Roti’o before but Grace said she loved it, and described it as a sweet bread with a glaze and butter in the middle. Um, DUH we wanted to try it. So Liane and I each got a roti’o and a cream puff. Treat yo’ self, am I right? Let me tell you about the Roti’o, ohmagosh it was so good. It was this round bun with a COFFEE flavored frosting/glaze situation, it was warm, fluffy and light on the inside but kind of crispy on the outside. But what pushes it over the edge is the butter in the middle. Not frosting, not cream, just melty, delicious butter. I could only eat Roti’o for the rest of my life and be happy… ok maybe not but you get the point. Liane loved it too! I think they were kind of underwhelmed with the cream puff after the Roti’o but so was I! We hung out and ate our snacks and then boarded our plane. The flight was only an hour long and much to our delight, we got little snack boxes! Inside was a little bottle of water, a piece of cake/bread, and a fried snack that is similar to an egg roll but with a thick crust as opposed to a wonton wrapper. The snack tasted ok but it was room temperature which kind of freaks me out, so I ate the bread and drank the water, and Liane had my egg roll thing.

When we landed in Kalimantan, we were greeted with blue skies, big fluffy clouds, and 100000% humidity. Jakarta is a big smoggy city that has a whole lot of pollution and haze so thick you can’t see the sky. It was really nice to be somewhere with blue skies and fresh air, even though we had only been in Jakarta for one day. Kalimantan is beautiful! We were hot and tired, but excited to start the trip. We left the airport and found our tour guide for the weekend, this really sweet, badass woman, Rini. She put us in our taxi and off we went! We drove about 15 minutes into town and to the river, where we would board our home for the next 3 days!

When we got to the docks, we had to cross/jump/climb through two other boats to get to the one we would be staying on. Our house boat was awesome! We were all pleasantly surprised by how nice it was, and were immediately greeted by the crew: the (goofy and attractive) captain, first mate (seemed super young and was SO shy and adorable), cook (a wonderfully sweet woman), the cook’s adorable 2 year old son (who we had so much fun with!), and our tour guide. We were offered local snacks and treats, and given glasses of fresh juice. There was a big bed on the deck of the boat, along with a table and four chairs, and 2 beach style chairs in the front. The bathroom was on the lower deck, and had a Western toilet and a shower – the shower water was water from the rivder. After chatting and introductions, we were off to the jungle! I was really concerned about someone getting motion sick on this boat, specifically myself, so I came prepared with Dramamine, some ginger chewable pills, and a motion sickness patch, just in case. I grew up going to our lake and have always loved water and have never been sick on a boat, but I was unsure about how choppy and rocky the waters would be. But, even on the way to the river, the water was surprisingly calm! There was some swaying, but nothing that would make me sick. Yay! We were served lunch soon after starting our adventure; Nasi (rice), some prawns with veggies, chicken satay (chicken kabobs with peanut sauce), Kangkung tumis (cooked greens – swamp cabbage – with garlic and who knows what else but it was AMAZING), bananas, tempeh with some really delicious sauce, and a fried tempeh fritter type thing. We were all wondering what the food situation was going to be like, but if this lunch was a preview of what was to come (which, turns out it was), then we were happy. We munched away, chatting and taking in the scenery.

When we got to the entrance of the river where there was a really cool statue of an orangutan holding some bananas, welcoming us to Tanjung Puting National Park. When we entered the river, I was in awe. The (salt) water was so calm and the vegetation was amazing! We were finishing up lunch when the boat suddenly stopped and Rini popped up and started looking at the trees through her binoculars. We got up from the table and went to the sides of the boat, and saw an orangutan and her baby up in the trees! Rini said that we were really lucky to see orangutans so early on in the trip and not at the feeding stations. We stayed and watched for a bit then continue on our way. We learned that the river was a brown, murky color due to pollution from the gold mines. A lot of the vegetation and wildlife was struggling because of it. To the right of the river, the jungle was protected, while the left side was ‘public’, and at risk of being destroyed to make room for palm oil plantations. The palm oil industry here is creating a huge threat to the river, jungle, and wildlife. The jungle had also suffered from a large fire in 2015, and over 50 acres of land was destroyed.

The part of the river we started on was Crocodile River but because of the pollution and the boat traffic, they aren’t usually in parts of the river where we can see them. But over the course of the trip, we saw three different types of monkeys and one primate, the orangutans, birds, bugs, and even a bonus crocodile on the last night. Shortly after lunch, we docked the boat and walked through a really small village on the river. While we were on the boat, it wasn’t too hot because of the breeze.. but when we got off the boat, the heat and humidity was almost smothering. I’ve been hot before, but this was totally different. I don’t think I’ve ever sweat that much! It was interesting to see the village and get a small sense of how the people lived, but it felt kind of intrusive and weird to be walking through just looking and taking photos. I’m sure the people are used to foreigners just walking through, but I didn’t really like how they were somewhat of a spectacle, and while our group was mindful of this and respectful, I wondered what other tourists thought about the village and hoped they act respectfully. There were a lot of cute cats though, and at the end of our walk through, we came across another boat captain, who had a little tiny kitten in a box. It was tooooo cute.

We boarded the boat and traveled a little farther down the river to the first orangutan feeding site. The park is home to around 6,000 orangutans! The feeding stations were about half of a mile into the jungle, and had benches for people to sit on, and a large platform where the orangutans would come and eat bananas that the park employees put there. When we arrived, some orangutans had already arrived! Now, the first feeding site was cool, but the platform was the farthest away of them all, so I did not get any good photos, but luckily, Grace had a nice camera and took some really amazing photos. So, any orangutan photos that are posted are courtesy of Grace! Let me tell you, it was incredible to see the orangutans in person, in the ‘wild’. I’ve seen orangutans in zoos, but this is so much cooler. Watching them move through the trees so gracefully was really something. The trees are pretty thin and the orangutans are sooo big, when they would move from tree to tree, the trees would bend really far and then snap back up. I don’t understand how they don’t break! It was amazing. Some of the orangutans would come and sit on the platform and eat the bananas, and some would come down, stuff as many unpeeled bananas into their mouths as possible, and retreat back into the jungle. We were really fortunate to see a lot of babies with their mamas throughout the trip. SO COOL. Also, hot. Did I mention that it was hot? CAUSE IT WAS. The orangutans came and went for about 45 minutes, and then we hiked back to our boat. The treks in and out of the jungle were really cool but also scary. There were so many bugs, sounds, animals… lots of things to take in. There is a video below of us walking to one of the feeding stations – in which you can hear all of the sounds of the jungle in the day time. It was also unbelievably hot and humid… but luckily the boat crew provided us with plenty of cold water and beverages when we arrived back on the boat. We even got snacks, pop, and cold, wet wash cloths every time we came back from a jungle adventure. Such amazing accommodations!

Now to talk about Liane’s favorite adventure of the trip (MAJOR SARCASM), the night trek through the jungle!! Rini asked us if we wanted to do a night trek, and Grace and I were down…. but after she said we would be looking for tarantulas, bugs, etc, Liane was less than thrilled (of course, Liane’s biggest fear is spiders.. we had seen a tarantula in a jar earlier in the day which I lovingly hid for them). But, Liane is not one to back away from a challenge, so with some coercing, they agreed to come! It was really interesting to just go into the jungle, at night, with our guide, without signing any kind of waiver or doing any kind of learning of like… what to do if… situations. I mean, if this had been in the US, it probably wouldn’t have been allowed, or there would have been extensive waivers to sign. But whatever, we just did it and it was fine, ish. We all bundled up in long pants and jackets with hoods because we did not want any bugs to crawl/fall onto us. It was still extremely hot and humid out, so I was super excited to put my jacket on.. .not! We got off the boat and followed our guide, and were led through the jungle by a park employee. Of course, 2 minutes into the trek, the first thing that we saw was a fairly large tarantula. Poor Liane was pretty terrified, and didn’t look at it or anything else really for the rest of the trek. It was scary to be in the jungle in the dark, but really cool to hear all of the different night sounds, and see some cool bugs. We also saw glowing mushrooms which we really cool and scattered all around the jungle. The tarantula, a huge millipede, some spiders, glowing mushrooms, and a fuzzy caterpillar later, and we were back on the boat, where another bed had been brought up to the deck for Grace, and large bug nets were hung up around them. We took turns showering (cold showers, which were SO refreshing) and settled in for some ghost stories, then off to bed. We slept right next to the jungle, and frequently heard some animals fighting… which was kind of stressful. There were tarps covering the open sides of the boat, but it was kind of scary to be sleeping right there, and I felt pretty vulnerable! But, all was well! We woke up pretty early the next morning and started day 2 of our journey.

Our table had been moved to the upper part of the deck to make room for Grace’s bed, and we had a really nice candle lit dinner the night before, and a nice sunny breakfast the next morning, all while going down the river. After we ate, we showered and got ready for the first feeding site of the day. It was the hottest day of the trip, and we had a pretty long trek through the jungle. I was not feeling the greatest but tried to stick it out. We got to the feeding site and the platform was WAY closer to where we were standing than the last one. I mean, really close. The orangutans came again, some staying to eat the bananas and some stuffing their mouths and then leaving. Grace was taking photos and I was sitting on the bench, trying to not pass out from the heat. I tried to stick it out, but I finally caved and needed to go back to the boat. I was having some… intestinal issues, if you catch my drift, and needed to get to the boat ASAP. I told our tour guide, and she walked us back to the boat – leaving Grace behind to watch the orangutans, under the eye of another tour guide. We hurried back to the boat and I ran to the bathroom. Don’t worry, I didn’t poop my pants in the jungle, THANK GOD. And I felt better after having a cold wash cloth on my face and some water. I was chilling on the boat with Liane, when our goofy and attractive captain came over and told me there was an orangutan chillin on the doc. I clumsily climbed through the other boats with his help, and peaked around the corner. Much to my surprise (our captain was a big teaser… so I did not know if I believed him), there was an orangutan laying on the doc with her baby! Captain and I sat on the doc and watched her play and roll around with her baby. It was wonderful! Definitely worth leaving the feeding site 30+ minutes early. Another group walked up behind the orangutan, and she jumped into the trees. I went back to the boat and was feeling kind of sad that Grace missed it, and hoped she was getting good photos at the site, but luckily the orangutan and her baby were still chillin in the trees right next to the doc when Grace walked back! We took off on the river again, and finally made it to the Black River. There is a spot where the Crocodile River meets the Black River, and you can see the distinct split of the water. The crocodile water was brown, polluted and thick, while the Black river water was clean, fresh smelling and crystal clear. It was incredible! The air smelled different, the vegetation looked brighter and healthier… but it was also really sad to see what the water is supposed to look like, and what the reality was of the polluted water. Check out the pics!

This day, we stopped at 2 feeding sites, the first one mentioned above, and one more. The last site had a lot of waiting around for the orangutans to show up, but while we were waiting we saw a Gibbon and a wild boar and two baby boars. Then the orangutans finally came, and walked right next to where we were sitting.. and some people were trying to touch them, even getting down to their level and attempting to hug them… We were taking a tour that was focused on preservation and safety of the animals, so we were told repeatedly not to touch them, especially because if we have sunscreen or bug spray on our hands, it can hurt the orangutans. There is also a fine for touching them… but there wasn’t a ranger present when it happened. But really, holding your hand out is one thing, but squatting down and trying to hug a giant, wild, orangutan doesn’t seem super safe or smart. ANYWAY. We watched the orangutans and then left, off to adventure down the river some more.

We traveled down the river and just hung out with each other and enjoyed cruising, and played with Dimas (the cook’s son), and talked with Rini. It was really great to just relax and enjoy the river. Our captain was so great and fun – when we were cruising down the river, he would sing different songs and was actually quite good! I liked laying on my stomach at the front of the boat, above where he was driving the boat, and listening to him. There is a video below where you can kind of hear him – it was definitely a part of the whole river boat aesthetic. We read, relaxed, had dinner, and then it was dark. We went on to the top part of the deck to admire the stars. It was so dark and peaceful, and with no cities or light pollution, there were an unbelievable amount of stars, I’ve never seen the night sky like that! It was breathtaking, and for the first time, I kind of appreciated my astronomy course, but only for a split second. 😛 We stopped the boat for the night at a spot where fireflies lit up the trees like Christmas lights, and settled in for our last night on the boat. In the morning, we headed back down the river, and just like that, our time on the boat was over. SO SAD! At the beginning, Liane and I thought that 48 hours on the boat might be too many, but I was actually really sad when it was over! It was so nice to spend time getting to know our tour guide and some of the crew, and SO great to get to know Grace in person!

The last day, we got off the boat and went to explore the city. We visited the Yellow Pallace and an English Learning Community. The Yellow Palace is the residence where the Sultans lived. We got a tour from this cool, quirky, old Indonesian guy who was a descendant of one of the Sultans. He even showed us a mystical sword that would follow its owner out of the house, so it would always be by their side when they needed it. The sword had human hair coming out of a carved bird head, the hair coming from the people the sword has beheaded. The guide asked if we wanted to hold it… we passed. After the Yellow Palace, we went to a local fabric shop and purchased some really beautiful prints, went to lunch, and somehow ended up at a bird singing competition on a military base. Here, the contestants called out to their birds and the judges ranked the birds based on how many times they sang in a given amount of time. It was super weird and cool. Our presence was definitely noticed – we took pictures with a bird singing team, and with the organizers of the entire event. We only stayed at the competition for a small amount of time, as it wasn’t a planned stop and it was almost time to go to the English Learning Community. The ELC recently opened, and currently only has a class of young kinds. The kids come once a week to this free class to work on their English. It was really great to talk with the kids and watch them learn – Grace immediately jumped into ESL teacher mode and began to interact with the kiddos and teach them. It was cool to see her spring into action!

After a fun, exhausting day exploring, we went to our slightly questionable hotel for the night and head back to Jakarta the next morning. Yay! It was a fun trip but it was kind of weird to be in Indonesia and not be with Sam so I was excited to get back, and really excited to sleep in a bed that wasn’t going to be swaying all night. 🙂

Indonesia Round 2: The Adventure + First Day 

Hello!

I am so excited to get this blog up and going again, and to share my experiences with you while visiting Indonesia for the second time. This time is obviously better though because Liane is with me! YAY! It’s so nice to be together.

So let’s start with our voyage here. Do you remember how miserable my flights here last time were? Well, this time they were amazing! Long, of course, but I was not sick and had Liane to keep me company and to sleep on! It was great. We started last Tuesday, May 9th, and flew from Denver to LA, LA to Japan, Japan to Jakarta. Flight time was about 23 hours (not including layovers). There is not much to blog about because the flights went without a hitch! We had a couple of delayed take offs but we had long enough layovers that it was ok! We ate the airplane food, watched some good movies (Hidden Figures, Collateral Beauty, Julie , and tried to sleep. Gosh, I never imagined that the voyage post would be so boring and uneventful but I’m glad that it is!

Our first day in Indonesia was pretty relaxed but still fun. We went to a traditional market with Sam and Vriz to pick up some things, and then got food from the side of the road. Liane’s first experience with Indonesian food! We got Ketoprak which you can see pictures of below. We went back to the apartment to eat and hangout. Oh, the apartment! The apartment in Jakarta is great – it has AC, a kitchen that is inside, a western toilet, a shower with WARM water, 2 bedrooms, and a great view of the city. So great!

After lunch and hanging out chatting for a bit, we went to Tamarind City, which is a huge textile mall. It was really cool to see all of the fabric and clothes and jewelry! I may need to go back and get some cheap costume jewelry for myself! We only ended up buying really cool postcards from the fancy mall that was next door. We ate dinner at a Japanese restaurant in the fancy mall, and went home and crashed. We had a pretty calm day because we needed to save our energy for the Borneo trip that we were leaving for the next day.

Indonesia is just as incredible (and hot) as I remember, and I can’t wait to experience new and different things! It

Here we go!

Papaya! 


Smoggy Jakarta

 


Caitlin and Sari Roti… reunited and it feels so goooooood

Monkey Forest: Bananas, Monkeys, and Fear

Ubud Monkey Forest!!!

Going to the monkey forest was something that I had been looking forward to since before my trip. I absolutely love monkeys! I think they are so funny and cute and weird. Sam told me about the monkey forest, and I searched the hashtag on instagram, and was ready to meet some monkeys! We went to the monkey forest on Sunday, in the afternoon because we read that the monkeys are less aggressive later in the day, because they aren’t as hungry. Sam and I went alone, because when Vriz was little, she went to the monkey forest with her family, and had some bread with her, and was attacked by a monkey that stole her bread so she is now, understandably, quite afraid of them! Sam was hesitant too and pretty nervous, but she knew how much I wanted to go, so she pushed through it. Thanks, Sam!!

Our bungalow was on the same road as the monkey forest, so we walked down to it. It was so hot! I was dripping sweat the whole way there. When we got to the entrance, we bought tickets and went it. The moment we entered the forest and started walking down the path, there were monkeys everywhere! On the ground, on the ledge at the edge of the path, up above in the trees, on the fences, monkeys were everywhere. There were big monkeys, baby monkeys, scary ish monkeys, (cue the postcard song by BNL). I was in heaven!! I saw a little cart where they were selling bananas to feed the monkeys, but Sam seemed a little nervous so we waited on that and just walked around. I walked up to some monkeys that were on the ground and took some pictures. Sam said she felt really nervous being completely open so she went to sit down so her back was to a tree… not super helpful as the monkeys were in the trees to, don’t you think?

I saw a little monkey sitting on a very large rock, and another one playing in the drinking fountain right next to it. The monkey was trying to get water out of the faucet, which was turned off. Now, Priscilla does this at home. She will lick the kitchen faucet until me or L turn it on, and the she drinks the water. I thought I would help the monkey out and turn on the faucet. I quietly approached, reached for the handle, pressed it down, and the water turned on. I think I startled the monkey because it turned around really quickly and gave me a really scary look and showed its teeth. In my head I was like ‘oh s***’ BUT I kept my cool and slowly backed away. Then the monkey helped itself to some water. You’re welcome, bro.

I went to sit by Sam and we just sat and watched the monkeys in that area for a while, and then got up to walk around. The forest is quite large and there is a lot to see and a lot of monkeys to photograph. Some of them are so sassy looking and some even pose for pictures. Sam took one picture of a monkey that saw us coming and flattened itself onto its stomach and started rolling around! We also saw a mama monkey, eating some corn, with her baby hanging on to her tummy. Adorable!!

After walking around and taking a lot of pictures, we came across another banana stand. They were selling a small bunch of bananas for 20k IDR, and a large bunch for 50K IDR. I got a small bunch and there was a monkey guy that was going to help me attract monkeys. He asked if I wanted a big monkey or a small… I was a little nervous, so I said small. We walked away from the stand and had me put my back to the trees, and held a banana over my shoulder. All of the sudden, I realized how nervous I was! The only monkey I’ve ever had on me was this tiny little thing, on a leash, in Play Del Carmen, Mexico. A monkey approached, grabbed my shirt and hopped right up onto my shoulder. I was surprised at how light she was! She took the banana, and began to peel and it eat. She made some really lovely eating sounds right in my ear. The guy offered her another banana, and with one hand on my head, she leaned out and grabbed it. I offered for Sam to try the next banana, but she was too nervous, so instead, she handed the next banana to the monkey. It was great! The monkey jumped down, and another took her place and snacked on some bananas until they were gone. We thanked the monkey guy and went on to explore.

We saw a beautiful temple, over run by monkeys, and I had my next near death monkey encounter. Ok, maybe that’s a little dramatic, I’m sure my mom would say so (like the time I called her and told her the house was on fire, but really the oven was just smoking a little). We were going down some stairs to see the front of the temple, and there was a cool looking monkey sitting on the edge of the building. Sam and I took some pictures, and I was just looking at him. Apparently, I was looking for too long, too closely and with too much eye contact because the monkey kind of screeched, bore his teeth and smacked the side of the building. I don’t know what happened after that because I ran away pretty quickly. I just think you’re cool man, no need to be so angry.

After that, we took some pictures, imagine that, and I told Sam that she should try to feed a monkey. She was really resistant and didn’t want to. I said ‘Sam, this whole trip you have been telling me to get out of my comfort zone. And I have gone out of my comfort zone so many times, you can hold a monkey!’ She looked at me, shrugged, admitted that I was right and said ok! Yessss, I was so excited!!! We went back to the monkey guy and bought another bunch of bananas. Sam really wanted a little one so we walked over to where some little ones were. The little monkeys all ran away, and a medium sized monkey jumped up onto Sam’s shoulder, took the monkey and ran away. Sam’s face in this moment was pretty priceless. Round two: A monkey jumped up, grabbed Sam’s boob, then the banana and hung out for a bit. When it was done it put some of the banana in it’s mouth and ran away. But instead of just jumping down, it jumped on top of Sam’s head, and then ran away. I got an epic picture of the monkey on her head. After this, Sam was done and said I could have the rest of the bananas. I wasn’t going to turn down having more monkeys climb all over me! This time, the guide said I should try a big monkey. Sureeeee.

We went over to this little bridge, where a big bro monkey was sitting. The guide offered the banana, but he didn’t seem into it. A smaller monkey jumped up and took the banana, and left. Now the big guy wanted some so he walked over to me, grabbed the back of my shirt and climbed up. He was much heavier but still very graceful! Luckily, I couldn’t see what was happening, but he had giant fangs! I saw in a picture Sam took later that night and was like oh my god that thing was on my head he could have eaten me! But it was fine, and I was out of bananas. Sam and I stood and talked with the monkey guy for a while. Then, all of the sudden, this little monkey jumped up onto my shoulder, put his arm around my head and laid his head on my head. It was so cute and I didn’t even lure him with a banana. He just kept looking up, then resting his head on mine, sticking his leg out to pose, and being cute. He was my little buddy. This little monkey stayed on me for quite a bit, considering he wasn’t getting any food. But eventually, he hopped down, and we left the forest.

All in all, we had a great experience. I got to hang out with a bunch of monkeys, and Sam, who was afraid at the beginning, ended up having a pretty good time! Plus we go some awesome pictures, which is the only reason why we do things now a days, isn’t it? 😉

 

Saturday in Bali: Shopping, Beaching, and Hawkers

Saturday morning, we enjoyed (*kind of) the free breakfast that our hotel offered. The menu was very basic, fried rice, fruit, eggs and toast, jaffle (like toast with filling) and some other things. I ordered some banana pancake type thing, and everyone else got the fried rice. My pancake thing was ok. The pancake was thin and chewy, green, warm, had bananas, palm sugar syrup and coconut shreds on top. The fried rice looked pretty generic and as lacking salt. So, this was now two iffy meals in a row in Bali.

The plan for the day was to go back to Denpasar to the silver shop, where Vriz forgot her jacket, and then go to a souvenir shop, then relax on the beach. We drove down to the shop, and stopped at some others along the way, because I wanted to get a long silver necklace to put my pendants on, but didn’t have any luck. People were either trying to charge too much, or they didn’t have anything long enough.

We did some shopping, and headed to the beach. At the souvenir shop, I bought a beautiful, huge Balinese fan to hang on our wall, a little Balinese fan, some gifts for other people, a new batik bag, and some really awesome ‘Aladin Pants’ in purple. Sam bought some of the pants too, but it red. I was skeptical but it turns out they are the most comfortable thing I’ve ever worn. There were so many awesome souvenirs to buy, but I tried to be good and save some money for the next trip, to Jogja, where Sam says I will be able to get some really cool things. I was surprised at how cheap everything was, which seems to be a theme for this trip!

Next up was lunch. We didn’t really want to have another sub par meal, so Vriz wanted to go somewhere that she knew was good. Where did she choose? Drumroll please… MCDONALDS!!! So, in Indonesia, McDonalds is a fancy fancy place. You tell people you are going to McDonald’s and it’s like ohhhhh!! We pulled up, and there was a Coldstone and a Starbucks right next door! Was I going to get coffee or ice cream? or both!

Walking into the McDonalds was kind of a trippy experience! It was clean and pretty fancy! And there was stuff on the menu that we don’t have in the US, like KFC style friend chicken, rice, and different desserts. McDonald’s usually doesn’t sit too well in my stomach, so I just got some rice, and a McChicken mean with fries and Sprite. Vriz was so excited to be at McDonalds and honestly, Sam was too! I don’t think I have ever actually seen her eat McDonalds before… Anyway. We ate lunch and honestly, that meal may have been the highlight of Vriz’s trip! We finished up and headed over to Starbucks where I ordered a tall green tea frapp, all by myself. #Skills. We hit the bathroom and were off to the beach.

We got to the beach and bargained with a stick thin, Indonesian surfer dude, whose swim shorts were hanging dangerously low, for one lounge chair and an umbrella. It was so hot and the sun was burning full strength, so I actually put on sunscreen! Amazing right? Most people know that I like to just burn once and then get tan… but I didn’t want to spend the rest of my time in Bali, burned. Plus, L isn’t here to lather me up with aloe post burn. While we were lathering up, the hawkers began. There are a ton of people on the beach selling things to tourists; sunglasses, ice cream, bracelets, pedicures, massages, speakers, selfie sticks, cotton candy… just about everything! I was sitting on the end of the chair, looking out at the water, when Sam said ‘Caitlin… don’t turn around, but there is a woman selling sparkly sarongs right next to you.’ Um, hello.. SPARKLY SARONGS?? Of course, I turned around and saw this old Indonesian lady holding a beautiful white and light blue sarong, with silver sequins. Oh hell yes I’m buying one!! She had a really big bag, so I began to look. They were so soft and big! Sam originally told me not to look, because at the souvenir shop I had just purchased myself a sarong, but when I put it on the beach, realized that it was super small. The woman offered me 1 sarong for 100k, which was quite a bit more than I spent on the one I bought previously. I was choosing between two, when she offered both for 150k. Sam still thought it as a bit much, and somehow got the lady to give us 3 for 200k! So I got 2, and Sam got one. I chose the original blue and white one that I first saw, and a black one with silver sequins and multi colored patterns. We thanked the woman, and she then offered me a massage, which I declined. Later, there was a young, french couple that was next to us, and they seemed to be struggling to tell the hawkers to back off. A different sarong lady approached them, and the woman bought 1 grey and white sarong, with no sequins, and a second one, for 300k. Perks of being with people who speak Indonesian and can bargain!!

I was really glad to be with Vriz and Sam, because to the other tourists that were on the beach, the hawkers were invasive and relentless. They will not leave you alone even if you say no thank you a million times, and if they see you buy one thing, they all kind of swarm you at once. The offer pedicures, and just jump in and start giving you one before you can say no, or offer you a massage and touch your shoulders.. At one point, while Sam and Vriz were down by the water, I saw a woman with a baby and a little girl probably around 10, being pretty much attacked by hawkers. The little girl was getting her hair braided, and a bracelet sales person and a foot massager and a pedicure person, just swarmed her. She kept saying ‘no, please, I just want to relax and enjoy the beach, please’ and seemed really stressed. They even kept bothering her while she was nursing the baby. I felt so bad! So when Sam came back up from the beach, I told her what was happening, so she went over to the hawkers and told them, politely, that the woman said no and that she was nursing and to leave her alone. The hawkers packed up their things, ridiculously slowly, and left. The woman was extremely grateful!

BUT, SPARKLY SARONGS FOR THE WIN!!!!

At this point, I had my sarong, had been sitting in the sun, watching uncoordinated people getting surf lessons, and was ready to swim! The waves were beautiful, the sun was hot, so Sam and I walked down to the beach. Sam didn’t get in initially, because she has this really intense fear of being eaten by a shark, so I went in alone. I have never in my life been in water this warm! It felt soooo good. The water was crystal clear and the waves were perfect for wave jumping, so I waded out farther, dove under big waves, until I was far enough out to just float over the big ones. It was so much fun! While swimming, I was really appreciating my short hair, because when it is long and in a messy bun, and then you add salt water and crazy waves, you end up with a lovely birds nest type knot hair ball to try to detangle when you’re done. I loved that I didn’t have to worry about my hair!!

I bobbed around in the waves for a while, and saw Sam walking back toward our stuff. I figured she was hot and done watching. But a little while later, she came back down the beach and got in the water with me!! We swam for a bit and she went back up. I am a water baby, so I stayed in.

When it was time to get out, I went back and grabbed my stuff. We sat on the beach and dried off a little. I saw a woman sitting on a chair in front of us, getting a massage/scrub down from one of the people selling foot massages. I saw the woman using a nasty sponge to scrub down the other woman’s legs and feet, and was immediately glad that I didn’t get one. How many nasty, sweaty people has that sponge cleaned off?! I mean, she only had one sponge and you just know that it is not cleaned or sanitized in between people. EWW. Sam and I were so grossed out! Anyway, we packed and headed back to Ubud for dinner. When we got back to our hotel, we decided we wanted to swim in the pool for a bit. Sam, Vriz and I played in the pool for quite a while. The water even in the pool was really warm! I was in water baby heaven for sure!

We got out, showered, and headed to a fancy restaurant that was across from our hotel, for dinner. Sam and I had mie goreng  (Fried noodles), and Vriz had nasi goreng (fried rice). Again, the food was ok, but everything I had in Malang up to this point was way better. Except, we did get some bread and greek garlic dip for an appetizer and the bread was so crispy and delicious.

After dinner, we walked around the town for a little, and then headed back to the room for bed. The sun really wears you out! The next day, we had a lot of stuff planned, and I fell asleep pretty quickly, while staring at the ceiling watching a lizard run around.

I apologize if some pictures are doubled.. it was hard to keep track of what driving around picture was what day and where 😛

 

Turtle Island: Sea Turtles, Babies, and Snack Time

When we were researching things to do in Bali, I found a place on Turtle Island where you can hold the sea turtles and take pictures with them. I was so excited to hold a turtle!! But when we pulled up to the place that the GPS sent us, we were at a Turtle Conservation and Education Center, and we seemed to be the only people there. I was a little skeptical, but open to the experience! We entered the center, which was still outside, and saw a giant pool with filthy water and probably 10 large sea turtles. I was a little mortified and worried about their health, but the guide told us they were getting ready to do a water change today. I was then concerned that these turtles would live out the rest of their lives in this small pool, never to swim freely again, but the guide explained to us that at this center, their main goal was rehabilitation and release. All of the turtles in the pool were sick or injured in some way, and had been taken in to heal/recover, and would be released into the ocean when they recovered. I felt so relieved! The turtles were amazing and beautiful. They all had different markings on their shells and obvious personalities. It was great. Next up was seeing the babies!

We walked over to a different pavilion and saw rows and rows of smaller tanks. I felt like a little kid, and ran over to the little tanks and put my face really close to the water. The babies were so cute!! There were little tiny babies and then a tank full of teenagers. I was in heaven. I wanted to hold one, and Sam told the guide that we were originally trying to get to the place where you can take pictures with them, and he told us that turtles like this were protected and it was really unsafe for them to be picked up and held. This mostly applied to the larger turtles, but because the new babies were going to be released into the wild, they didn’t let people hold them. I was disappointed, but glad that we didn’t go to the other place, because I would never want to do something that would not be safe for a turtle. I was totally content just learning about them and watching them swim around.

We moved on to some more turtles, and saw big turtles in the smaller pools, alone. These were sick and injured turtles that needed special care and attention. There was one that they think was stuck in a boat propellor, and the bottom of his shell was jagged and torn, some chunks missing, and he was completely missing his right front leg. It was very sad to see, but the guide was optimistic that he would be able to be released some day. Another turtle we saw had a skin condition and had maggots crawling on him, but was also being treated. We even saw a beautiful albino turtle, but it seemed to be having a rough day and was flopping around a lot in the water so I didn’t get a very good picture. Turtles have always been so magnificent to me, and I in some ways, feel really connected to them. I felt a deep sense of respect and admiration and love for these creatures.  Next up was feeding some turtles! I didnt get to hold any, but feeding them was so fun. There was a variety of breeds in the pool that we could feed, but some of them I recognized as red-eared sliders, which was the kind of turtle that I had when I was little. The guide gave Vriz and I some greens to feed them, and we went to town! The turtles were so excited and climbing all over each other to get the food. They would bite down on the stem of the green with such excitement, you could hear a pretty loud crunch. It was adorable. I walked around and tried to give everyone a bite, especially the little guys that were getting trampled. It was great!!

This was the end of the little tour, so I went to look at souvenirs. They had quite a few turtle things, but I chose a turtle carving that has a removable shell that is made from a coconut, and a little wooden keychain! Afterward, we saw a sign that said ‘adopt a turtle’ where you can pay for a little baby, ‘adopt’ it, and then take it out and set it free into the ocean. Unfortunately, none of the babies were ready to be freed yet, so I guess I’ll be making another trip here, someday. We headed out, and saw the first big pool being drained and prepped for cleaning. Yay!! You never really know with places like this, so I was relieved to see the dirty tank being cleaned. And that was it! The end of Turtle Island. It was definitely a highlight of the Bali trip, and my trip as a whole!!

 

Do Some Traveling While You Travel: Transit, Hotels, Friday

We have returned from our 4 night trip to the island of Bali, which was just a quick 40 minute plane ride away! Well, 15 minute bike trip to the bus terminal, 2 hour bus ride, 10 minute cab ride to airport and then a 40 minute flight. We left Thursday night and returned Monday early evening.

When we got to the bus terminal in Malang, we parked our motorcycles in this huge parking lot that was filled with hundreds of bikes. We got on the bus first, and chose the seats in the very front. Sam and I on one side and Vriz on the other. The bus and the terminal were not much different than they are in the US. The bus had comfortable seats, not a lot of leg room, and had that weird, rubbery, bus smell. The biggest difference that I noticed? The hawkers. They come on the bus, and sell things to the passengers, before you leave. Then, if you stop at a stop, they will get on the bus, sell, then get off at the next stop. Seems fine, in theory. Except these people are the most aggressive sales people I’ve ever seen. They will be selling a variety of things; gloves, socks, beverages, snacks, stickers, etc. They don’t just stop by ask if you want something and then leave, or walk by and wait for someone to wave their hand, nope… they will set the product on your lap and walk away, then come around and pick up the product or their money, or kneel on an empty seat and hang the snack inches from your face, talk about what they are selling very loudly, and if you make the mistake of making eye contact with one of them, you will earn yourself an extra 30 seconds of selling. It is intense. But, once the bus starts moving, they all get off and you can finish your trip in peace. That is, until you get off of the bus and have to fight off taxi huskers that follow you around trying to get you to take a taxi.

Getting a taxi in Indonesia is much different than in the US. In the US, and even Canada, from my experience, there is a set rate and a meter to track your cost, and that’s that. Here, every hawker will be offering different price fare, meaning you have to bargain for a ride. Luckily, Vriz and Sam are both very good at bargaining so I think we got some good prices for our taxis. Bargaining for a taxi is an art form! Lot’s of fake walking away, acting super nonchalant about the whole thing, and not really making eye contact until you seal the deal. I wish I spoke Indonesian in these bargaining moment, so I could hear how it’s done! But anyway, we got a taxi to take us from the bus terminal to the airport (this taxi just had a meter), which was a pretty short ride (even though we come to find out after the trip, that the taxi driver took us the long way to rack up our meter).

We got to the airport, and boarded our flight to Bali! We were crammed into the three seats in the very back row, and Sam and I had -1 foot of leg room, but luckily it was a short flight. And of course, Sam fell asleep on me for part of it. Noticing a trend here? But, she didn’t sleep for long because as soon as we boarded, we were de-boarding and finally in Bali! I didn’t get many pictures from the first night, because we arrived at night and didn’t do much. We picked up our rental car, which was about $15USD a day, and went to find our hotel.

When we got to the hotel and tried to check in, the desk attendant informed us that the AC was broken in our room, which was a ‘family room’ for 3 people, and that they booked us instead, 2 separate rooms. One room had a kind size bed in it, so we all just slept in that one room. We didn’t even go into the second room, and the hotel still made us pay for the 2 rooms, even though it was their fault that we were moved, and they never gave us a call to inform us that our room wasn’t available anymore. The room we were in was fine, and we only stayed there for one night. We got some dinner, and headed to bed.

The next morning, we were heading from Denpasar, where we stayed and flew into, to Ubud, which is where we would be the rest of the trip. Bali is so different from Java, I was surprised! I knew it would be different, but didn’t realize that the landscape, architecture, etc, would be completely different. Bali is primarily Hindu, so there were a lot of beautiful temples and offerings every where you looked. There is no way to describe it, and because for most of the trip, I only took pictures while we were driving around, there are only a few pictures. Guess you will have to go to Bali and see for yourself!

Our first stop was the Alleyway Cafe, for breakfast. This cafe was adorable! It was super hipster-y. Sam and I both had a breakfast called ‘avocado smash’ which was a slice of sourdough bread with smashed avocado, two poached eggs, a little sprinkling of cheese, and a roasted tomato on the side. To drink, I had fresh pineapple and strawberry juice, blended together, and Sam had an espresso. The food was amazing! It wasn’t Indonesian, but the quality and taste of the food made up for that.

Next up we went to a silver shop. The shop was located next to a beautiful temple and a little orphanage. We walked in and started looking at all of the beautiful (and real) jewelry. I could barely focus on the jewelry though because I was so hot! I have never in my life, sweat so much like I did in Bali. Turns out that Malang, where Sam lives, is way cooler than a lot of parts of Indonesia because it is in the foothills of large mountains. Man, Bali was a different kind of hot! I had sweat pouring down my face and into my eyes. Luckily, I had a paper fan that I got in Malang, and cooled off enough to look at some jewelry. The silver was beautiful! There were hundreds of rings, necklaces, pendants, earrings, everything! The shelves were lined with a red material, and everything was just sitting freely on the shelves. The shop was a little dark, and when we took our shoes off before entering, the tile felt cool on the bottom of my feet. The whole place had an antique-ish kind of feel. We looked around, tried things on, for the better part of an hour, or longer. Sam and I both got rings, I got two beautiful pendants, and Sam got a beautiful pair of earrings.

After the silver shop, we went to *drumroll, please* TURTLE ISLAND!!!!!! Sounds perfect for me, right? Right!! I’m not going to write about it here, because it deserves a post all to itself. Keep an eye out!!

Then it was time to go get some dinner. We drove to have dinner on the beach, and watch the sunset. The beach restaurant we went to was of course, a seafood place. Upon entering the restaurant, I was like ohhh cool view. And then we went to our seat, which was in the sand, right on the water. Incredible! It was a great view.

At this restaurant, the food was admittedly, not bad but not amazing, so I won’t spend too much time on it. But the fresh coconut that I had to drink was the best that I’ve ever had, and the view of the water while the sun was setting was incredible. Once the sun was setting, there was a lot of cloud cover, so we left before it was dark, but I did get some amazing pictures. Plus, this was my first time being on a beach since I arrived in Indonesia, so I was sooo happy just to put my feet in the water. The water, by the way, was the warmest water on a beach that I have ever felt! It was great.

It was now time to drive to Ubud to find our hotel, which would be our home for the next 3 nights. We drove around for a quite a while, and finally found the entrance, marked by a tiny, worn out sign, behind a giant ‘LEMONADE’ restaurant sign. We parked the car on the street, pretty far away, and walked to the hotel. It was dark now so I didn’t get very many pictures, but Ubud was incredible! We were on a narrow, one way street that was lined with really cool shops and restaurants. Ubud is kind of the traiditonal arts and crafts town of Bali, which you could really tell if you peaked into some of the shops. It was really cool to see how much of an impact tourism has on a town. Ubud is a tourist destination, and is very well developed, compared to a lot of the places I’ve been on this trip. Even on the drive to Ubud, the sides of the streets were lined with every kind of art you can imagine. Stone carving, wood carving, giant statues, paintings, quilts, everything!

We stayed at ‘Jati3 Bungalows’. Our bungalow was awesome! We walked in and saw the bathroom to the right, a big bed straight ahead, and a beautiful little porch area. There was then a staircase which led up to a really cool loft, with another bed, a little seating area with cushions and a little table, and a big window that overlooked the pool. The loft reminded me of the loft we had at our lake house growing up. The wooden railing, the creaking stairs (granted, the stairs weren’t a creaky old ladder, but the sound was the same), and being able to peek over and see what was going down below. Plus, I would finally have a bed to myself!! It was great. The only downside was that there was no AC, but there were two ceiling fans that did the job. I was warm, but not hot, and fell asleep easy. The bungalow was also home to about a million little lizards. They were scurrying around the walls and ceilings, which was creepy at first, but then pretty cool! The bathroom in the room was not as pictured on the website, but there was a toilet and a shower with hot water, so I was happy! I unpacked my clothes and headed to bed, excited for what the next day would bring.