My Indonesia adventure began with some scandalous activity as when I arrived at the Jakarta airport the person at immigration wanted to see a ticket leaving Indonesia and since I had no idea how long I would be here, I didn’t have one. His eyes lit up and he licked his lips in delight at hearing this. He showed me the regulation (that they sometimes decide to enforce and sometimes never ask to see) saying that I needed a ticket leaving in order to enter the country. However, he had a solution which he let me know in the least discreet way possible of winking his eye repeatedly and telling me, “I help you if you help me…”
After looking around to see if I could spot either the cameras as he was putting on quite the show, or to see if I could find the sting operation waiting to pounce if I tried to bribe this person to get into the country and then be able to get me for a lot more money …
After delaying for a bit while I sized up the situation, I opted to give this guy some money to get in..and it worked and I was in the country and my Indonesian adventure began with some unfortunate feeding into corruption, yet excitement.
After a failed attempt to CouchSurf (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CouchSurfing) in Manila and having not tried again in the Philippines I had decided I wanted to change this and do some CSurfing in Indonesia as I have learned from many years of both surfing and hosting people that it is an amazing way to meet open minded people and learn about cultures. So I was lucky enough to have 2 amazing girls (Tisa and Putri) from Indonesia host me in Jakarta. I had my own nice room and key, and they even took me around a whole day to see sights, a musuem, get local food, and a day filled with conversation about our countries and cultures and laughs, and I even had the chance to play some futból in the park 🙂
I also had the pleasure of having a friend from Australia, Ebony, who I had met in Bolivia many years ago be in Indonesia at the same time and we both wanted to do a trek to Mount Rinjani (more details later), and she didn’t have much time so I got a cheap ticket to Bali in able to catch up with her. But before my flight I got up early to go to the Malaysian embassy to take my application to request my visa as that was the country I though I would visit next. Long story short, after 2.5 hour taxis back and forth in Jakarta traffic and back and forths, I found out that Colombians can only apply for visas to Malaysia…in Colombia! So it looks like no Malaysia for me on this trip! After that I flew to the fabled island of Bali, famous for its Hindu influence of beautiful temples, statues, culture, and nature
and waves that draw many surfers to this lovely, yet overly touristic island.
I arrived and looked for other people heading to where the town I was heading, Ubud, (a more mellowed out option in the mountains someone had recommended)…to share a cab as it was quite expensive, like $25 bucks for a cab which late night was my only option. So I made a sign that said “Share ride to Ubud!? ” and soon found 2 Swedish girls heading in that direction so we all shared the cab.
Ubud in central Bali, is a very chilled out town that his highly developed, but surrounded by beautiful nature, monkey forrests, temples, volcanoes, and beautiful Balinese culture such as statues, flower offerings and incense all around, here is an explanation of the flower “offerings”
as seen in pictures below.
As I woke up one morning in the dorm room and said hello to Thomas and asked him what he has up to that day and he told me exploring some Bali by motorbike and invited me so I went with. We had a funny experience of avoiding a police roadblock to check for International drivers licenses (and ask you for money if you don´t have it) by pulling over the motorbike and walking past them and when they asked how we got there and asked if by scooter we pretended to only speak Spanish and then hitch-hiked the rest of the way, and did the same process on the way back from the Mount Batur Volcano lake we were going to see.
We also stopped at a Luwak coffee place that offered “Free Tasting.” It turned out you could taste a few coffees and teas for free (including an amazing Mangosteen Tea), but the Luwak coffee was not free. After enjoying the delicious coffees and teas and feeling bad about it, I gave the guy who was explaining to us the process what I had left in my wallet, like 3 bucks.
Luwak Coffee. Which is coffee made with coffee beans that
have been picked out of the shit of the Luwak (Raccoon type cat) and after going through the Luwak´s digestive system undergoes a change and the coffee (I didn´t try it here) is more robust and less bitter.
Some of the nicer views of Kuta, Bali below and a traditional Kecak fire dance I went to go see in Uluwatu which was amazing.
As I was rushing to get out of Bali I learned that my friends Niki and Chris, a lovely Chilean couple that I had met in a hostel in the Philippines were also in Kuta, Bali I was delighted and even more so when I learned my friend Geoff, an Australian who I had met at a hostel in the Colombian Pacific coast was also in town. We all went out a few nights, including this one where we had a great time at the Bounty nightclub, but Chris and Nikki got their cell phones stolen! And the night before I was leaving Kuta, I left my debit card at an ATM machine (yes, I know!) and had to wait 2 more days to recover it, so I took advantage and went surfing a few days and hung out with Niki and Chris and their nice friends.
Memorial site at the Bali Bombing of 2002
Sign of our boy being the real deal!
Below images of Kecak Dance in Uluwatu, Bali.
A few years ago in one of my favorite movies, Baraka,
there was a scene of a ceremony that mesmerized me.
When I realized in Bali that I could see this type of ceremony
I was obsessed with going and was lucky enough to see one at an
open air amphitheatre at a temple in Uluwatu, Bali that overlooks a cliff and takes place during the sunset!
Here is a clip from Baraka showing what the ceremony is like:
After leaving Bali the first time to meet up with my friend Ebony, on the Island of Lombok in a town called Senaru in order to trek up Mount Rinjani, I spent the day with vans and ferries, and avoiding transport scams, and shared a ride from with some friendly Germans from the port up to the town of Senaru and was lucky enough to find Ebony and her friend Hayley, and we also met Jack from the UK, and Dave and Paris from the US and we all ended up getting thrown together in the same group and we did the 3 day 2 night trek up to Mount Rinjani, Indonesia´s 2nd higest volcano 3700m, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Rinjani,
I had been warned it was tough, but it was even tougher.
There were parts that were extremely steep where you had to go on a sandy/pebbles ground that you would slide in…so you would take 2 steps and slide down 1… and it was freezing at times and at others it wouldn’t stop raining and everything we had was soaked, but it was well worth it with the views we saw, laughs we had and satisfaction we felt of getting up to the top and down (many people don’t make it to the top).
Absolute bliss of finding really hot natural springs when we were freezing, it wouldn´t stop raining and everything we had was soaked. We stayed hours at these blessed hot-springs. Photo by Paris Wells
After some tough, yet beautiful times getting up Rinjani and down and forming a beautiful bond between our group we vowed to go together to the Gili Islands, Gili Trawangan, to be exact for some relaxation and good times.
It was great meeting these guys. Paris, Dave, and Jack,
who we realized is actually a son of mine. Who knew!?
Nothing to see here.
Entertaining on our balcony.
It was interesting this muslim woman snorkeling with hijab and long sleeves/pants.
Our Mount Rinjani crew minus Hayley, with Simon a crazy and great guy from Germany in her place in Green. This was the night of the full moon party, not to be confused with the pub crawl, where we organized and led a pub crawl that ended in a party at our place.
After some great snorkeling, rest, good food and delicious debauchery on the Gillies as we recovered our sore muscles from the tough hike up and down Rinjani, I wanted to move further east to the Island of Flores and and was lucky to have Paris and Jack join me for the 35 hour journey, and next few days.
Another view from the Ferry.
We searched for and organized a 2 day 1 night boat trip we took to Komodo National Park and surroundings with 13 of us in total from Colombia, US, Sweden, Germany, Spain, Norway, Poland, UK, Holland. This trip was awesome. We snorkeled with huge manta rays, sea turtles, and I even saw a beautiful shark that I was so so excited to see I ended up following so much it went and hid under a rock and didn’t want to come out and play ! We also did some treks with monkeys, deer and of course Komodo Dragons! And on our last night we swam and played with bioluminiscent plankton, which is like if you were to see fireflies in the water!
Honestly, it was an amazing experience as the sky was full of very bright stars, and at times with the glow in the dark plankton it seemed like there were stars in the sky and in the water.
Our lovely boat and home for 2 days.
A sunset in front of bat island, where giant bats called “flying foxes” put on an aerial show as they awoke and started frlying above us and into the coming night where we slept on the boat, myself on the roof under spectacular stars.
After the boat tour around Komodo I stuck around a few more
days in Labuan Bajo and was lucky enough to do a few mind-blowingly beautiful dives. I hadn´t been diving in 6 years and it was quite the welcome back to diving. It will be tough to beat this place!
After Komodo National Park and Labuan Bajo I decided to explore the Island of Flores and spent around a week going east with Sofie from Norway, Gilian from Basque country Spain and later united with Liza and Peter from Holland who I had actually met at different passing points on Mt. Rinjani, until Maumere and we visited some amazing Indigenous villages, explored by scooter, visited hot springs that were more like hot rivers as hot water would come down on parts of the river, which was amazing.
Below are some images of a visit to the indigenous village of Tolosina where by coincidence they were having a celebration and the local people were incredibly friendly and inviting and we saw and heard beautiful music and dances and rituals.
This blood colored smile of this older woman is produced by the beet-nut many people chew. I tried this in the Philippines and it had some kick to it. Similar to the coca leaves our Colombian indigenous people chew.
After the villages we kept going east on Flores and tried
new fruit, went on hikes, explored by motorbike, visited waterfalls and hot springs and I extended my visa in Indonesia in Maumere, with some more slightly scandalous activity 🙂
Sunrise at Kelimutu in Flores. There are 3 volcano crater lakes that were formed from an eruption that are constantly changing color due to the flowing minerals, so you never know what you´ll get in terms of color. On our sunrise we got this milky- grayish blue for the big lake and next to it was a dark blue color. The third was almost black.