Lovely Lombok and Taipei

After the adventure through Bali we moved over to Lombok for the 2nd leg of the trip which found us on a 5 hour ferry ride without any food (or money at the time) which was not so super but we eventually made it. Quite a drastic difference between the 2 islands. Bali has evolved into a tourist haven that is so geared towards visitors that eveywhere you look there is somewhere to eat, shop or drink, but Lombok was a different story all together. Our drive from the ferry took us through some rather poor areas and really nothing resembling a town that might get visitor. Lots of corn farms, cattle and rural scenes were around us for the trip to the Santai Beach Inn which was just north of Sangiggi, the only real touristy area on our side of the island.

We arrived late afternoon at the hotel which was nice since we were both starving at this point and dinner would be served soon. The hotel was made up of a series of individual cottages that featured front porched adorned with hammocks and pillows for lounging, a nice sized bed, chaise lounge and a bathroom that had an open air ceiling and a shower who’s spout came from a flower pot. The one thing that was missing was the air conditioner but a fan in the room kept us relatively comfortable. Dinner was served family style with other guests and the owner who was a nice older British woman who although a bit odd in her approach to people, was extremely helpful and prompt with everything during our stay. At dinner we worked out the next days plans with another guest who informed us on how to get to the Gilli’s island for some sunning and snorkling.

Thursday we booked a boat to take us on a 45 minute ride to Gilli’s island which is known as a hot spot for beach goers due to its sandy white beaches and crystal blue water so naturally, we decided to follow the crowd and check it out. Needless to say, the rumors were true and the place was magnificent. The water really was like nothing i’d ever seen before and the island was very conveniently laid out with beachside restaurants and sorkel rental shops at every corner.

We grabbed lunch and some snorkel gear and spend the rest of the day lounging and eyeing the tropical fish on the ocean floor. I was particularly proud of Nicole for gettin the guts to snorkel on her own by the end of the day. On our way home the local ferry was just about full but we managed t squeeze on and although my seat consusted of a few empty soda crates, we made it back to lombok and got ready for dinner. The hotel arranged for the Asmara restaurant ( a sorta german, indonesian food joint) to pick us up at the hotel and drop us off after dinner which was nice and extremely convenient. I will admit however that as Thursday was thanksgiving, it was a little sad to be away from friends and family but we both felt pretty thankful nonetheless.

Friday we rented a motorbike for the day at a whopping rate of 50,000 ruphias which is about $5 in the states. We cruised the island up to a nice restaurant overlooking a volcano valley, saw some monkeys as we weaved through the costal mountain range and nearly drove the bike through a storefront thanks to some less than stellar roadway design but with the exception of my sunburnt thighs, the day was awesome and we saw some gorgeous scenery. That night we actually went back to the same restaurant as the previous night but this time Nicole had the honor of being serenated by a 4 piece Lombok band who even improved a special version of Lady in Red to the Nicole version of Lady in Black (she was wearing a black shirt) for the occasion.

The next day we left the island uber early and caught a plane back to Bali (in lue of another 5 hour ferry ride) which only took 25 minutes. We arrived at the Bali airport with about 4 hours to kill so we ventured over to Denpasar to check out the scene and some of the areas cultural showcases. I should mention though that we bargained a half price cab ride to get there which I was personally very proud of.

So anyway while in Denpasar we checked out the Taman Puputan and the Museum Negeri Propinsi Bali which were very cool. We only stayed for a bit though because the locals that were trying to sell us guided tours and wood carvings were being a little to relentless for us at that point of the trip. So we headed back to the airport and set off on our jet plane to Taipei, Taiwan for the night.

The journey to Taipei was about 5 hours. We were greeted by cabbies in suits which was a stark contrast to Indonesia and so was the hotel! Not that we didn’t love both of our hotels in Indo, but the Taipei spot was really cool and for the $70 we spent on the night we felt like we got a really great deal. And as an added bonus, we even got to watch a Taiwanese penis enlargment ad! Even in another language we got the idea pretty quick 😉

So we passed out semi early and since we had a half day to tour the city we figured we’d get an early start to see as much as we could of the downtown area in 5 hours.

We started out on a city bus that took us to Taipei 101 which is currently the world tallest completed building at 1,670.6 ft and 101 floors. The nice part about the bus ride was that it was free since we were tourists looking to see the massive building. Unfortunately we arrived to early to go up to the observatory but it was quite a building and really neat to see up close. We then hopped a cab to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall where we saw a very cool memorial and the National Theatre and some beatiful gardens. After that we made our way to the shopping district and while there we stumbled upon our greatest find in 6 months…yes.., a subway. And as expected we endulged quite heavily. (For those just joining us, they do not have any Subway restaurants in Gwangju)

We then headed back to the hotel where our super door guy Jeffrey set us up with a sweet ride to the airport before out decent back to Seoul.

I’ll save the details for another blog but Nicole’s brother Brandon met us at the airport all the way from Florida and will be chillen with us and takin in the Korean sites for the next 2 weeks so stay tuned for more on his experience direct from him!

So another adventure in the books and I can honestly say that this traveling business is unreal. It’s mind blowing to step foot in each new country and discover all the amazing aspects of each new culture and the natural beauty that each land holds within. I hope you enjoyed some of our shots and rants about the journey. Thanks for reading!!!

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