After the big city of Singapore I was looking for a country where I could do "outdoor-stuff" like hiking, swimming or snorkeling. I finally chose Indonesia because it has a lot to offer:
Stunning volcanoes to hike, nice idyllic beaches to relax with crystal clear warm water, rich in diversity of underwater species. Booked a flight to Bali and first stayed in the cultural capital of Bali, Ubud.
The first day I went to a park at the end of the city which is called "monkey forest". As the name already says it is a jungle-forest with lots of capuchins. You can walk through and watch the small playful monkeys. If you like you can feed them bananas but you really have to take care of your belongings. As this small animals are very smart and snatch things from your pocket searching for food...
Rented a motor-scooter together with a German girl and together we drove through Bali, visiting the most popular temples.
On the busy roads it was a hell of a ride and remembered me a lot to my stay in India... :-)
Nobody cares about any traffic-rules, everybody drives reckless and very mad and the most important content of the vehicle seems to be the horn.
But I think visiting the temples was worth the ride. Some of them are really beautiful and you pass by many rice-terraces which characterise the scenery.
Gunung Kawi for example is partly built into the mountain and lies in a secret valley surrounded by rice terraces. Or Tanah Lot is located on a cliff at the south-west coast of Bali. During low tide you can walk to the temple, while during high tide the ocean isolates the temple.
Beside the fine art (carvings and paintings) as well as religious dances and festivals (almost daily) offered in Ubud, there is much more to do:
I joined the first time of my live some Yoga-classes at the Yoga-barn and it was quite a good experience.
Tried out different typical Indonesian/Balinese food like Nasi Goreng or Mie Goreng (fried Rice/Noodles with egg) as well as Gado Gado (vegetables with peanut sauce) or the sweet dessert BurBur-SumSum (green beans in a sweet sauce).
And in the morning we always had pancakes cooked with banana-pieces and Balinese coffee.
I also tried the famous Luwak-coffee!! :-)
Luwaks are animals which looks similar than a marten. The animals get beside other food coffee beans to eat. Once the shit the beans out they are collected, washed and grounded to get the famous and very expensive Luwak-coffee.
Sounds disgusting eh? Drinking coffee made of the shit from another animal... But while the Luwak is digesting the beans they get more aroma (at least that is what the locals say).
For me the Luwak coffee tasted pretty similar to any other coffee back home. But I am not a coffee specialist. I would not taste the difference of a premium Arabica bean coffee and the one you get from the (fu^^ing!) vendor at my old company's break area... :-)
But the highlight for me on Bali was for sure the sunrise hike up to the volcano Gunung Batur.
The view from the top was amazing!! You could even see Gunung Rinjani from the neighbouring island Lombok. The only disadvantage is that you almost have to fight for a good sunrise spot as there are hundreds of other tourists. But it was fine and I met a really nice German girl... :-)
But before, I spent a few relaxing days on the Gili islands, which are close to the north-west coast of Lombok. From Padang Bai on Bali ferries are running to the Gilis every day. Spent a day in this small little fisher village before I got to the islands.
Padang Bai is also very remote and quite except in the morning and evening when all the tourists are coming from or to the Gili islands.
Gili Air is basically is a mixture of both other Gili islands. Whili Gili Trawangan is known as the party-island, Gili Meno is the relaxing-island. On Giki Air you have both!!
Came there to just relax for two days and used it as base to get to Lombok for hiking Gunung Rinjani.
The best on this island was the crystal clear water and the reef around the island.
There are lots of companies offering scuba dive courses or snorkeling trips. I just rented some snorkeling gear for one day and explored the reef by my own. Was pretty cool, saw lots of colourful corals fishes and even two sea-turtles.