I’m back! Well I got back on Monday but this week has been… um… slightly crazy?! Besides just the jet lag it has been a rollercoaster in BC Education (for those of you from elsewhere we won’t even get into it on here, if you are curious there are plenty of blog posts and news articles out there).
Ryan (my boyfriend) and I went on a three week trip to Indonesia at the end of August; we went to Sumatra, Bali and the Gili Islands. So the question of the week has been, “How was your trip?!” And then my brain quickly racks through the three weeks of amazing memories and tries to find a word to sum it all up, failing that it searches for a phrase, and then failing that I tend to sputter off about how it was “amazing and beautiful and challenging and I am happy I’m home but want to go back.” Or some other nonsensical string of words…
I’ve decided to sum up my trip with a few photos and ten memories that I will hold onto forever.
This was our main reason for going to Sumatra and it was incredible! We did a two day, overnight jungle trek from Bukit Lawang into the Sumatran Jungle and saw these unbelievable creatures swinging from the trees, feeding their babies, and just hanging out. I will never forget our experiences there and the first time I got a glimpse of that red furry body in the tall green trees… There really are no words.
2. Jungle Trek
I went into the Jungle Trek thinking that it would be kind of cool to hike around, pretty awesome to see the orangutans, a little surreal to stay over in the jungle, and then we would leave with some good pictures and that would be it. The entire Jungle Trek experience was the highlight of our whole trip! We hiked with two other travelers from Holland and Korea, and our two guides, Joni and Dylan. Our guides did a fabulous job of finding the orangutans for us to see – WITHOUT disturbing the natural environment! They were also funny, relatable, and interesting! Camping overnight by the river was the very best part – we stayed up singing songs and playing games from all of our different cultures. My heart was so incredibly full from all of the cultural sharing and laughter. The next day when we were tubing down the river as the sun came out, surrounded by the almost untouched jungle, singing songs with our new friends from around the world – it was an absolutely perfect moment for me.
3. Our Little Angel
This is such a brief and simple story from our trip but it is a story that neither of us will forget and it is a perfect example of why we came to love the Indonesian people so much!
When we got back from the jungle, Ryan notice a weird bite on his arm but couldn’t remember being bit. By the time we had showered and cleaned up the bite was very red and swollen, and there was a red streak making it’s way up his arm. By this point we were both pretty scared, being three days into our trip, in the middle of a jungle, five hours away from the nearest hospital, and having very little knowledge of the spiders, ants, and insects that we had been seeing around. We walked down to town to take a “Tuk Tuk” down to the village doctor, at this point both of us had been running through worst case scenario’s in our heads, although not sharing them aloud.
When we were about to go in the Tuk Tuk the drivers daughter jumped on the front and refused to get off, so he laughed and started driving. This little girl had the brightest smile and kept dancing and laughing with us to keep us entertained the whole way, she even came into the doctor’s office with us. It turned out Ryan was just having an allergic reaction and would be okay with some allergy pills and a cream to reduce the swelling. I honestly believe I would have fell apart on the way to the doctor if it hadn’t been for the little girl. All we have is a blurry picture of her (she was constantly moving) and the memory of the smile and laugh, but this little girl will stay in our hearts forever!
We did yoga at the Yoga Barn in Ubud everyday that we stayed there. It looks like this, enough said.
While we were on a long, and quite unpleasant, drive in Sumatra we became friends with a couple from Holland. We ended up crossing paths with them throughout our time in Sumatra and Bali and shared some great laughs over delicious food, bad car rides, and beautiful places. Meeting people is hands down my favourite part of traveling and meeting them became one of the best parts of the trip!
6. Gili Air
A father and daughter looking through tide pools
So the Gili Islands are small islands with no motorized vehicles – no cars or busses, scooters or tuk-tuks. We decided on Gili Air because it has the greatest population of Indonesian people who live there (re: less touristy!) On the first night we wandered around the main tourist strip and then rented bikes and took off through the middle of the island, winding our way to the other side through more residential areas. On the other side of the island there is a beautiful beach, a few restaurants, lots of local people roaming the beach and the tide pools, and one of the most unbelievable sunsets you will ever see! This was one of our favourite stops and we both agreed we could go back to Gili Air and live happily for quite a while…
Another one of the best parts of traveling is the food and we were not disappointed! We ate so well pretty much everywhere we went. Some of the favourites being the food on the Jungle Trek (they bring in a local cook for the camping part), and the fresh fruit every morning for breakfast. Ryan loved the seafood on Bali and Gili Air (I’m vegetarian and don’t eat seafood but it did look pretty tempting!) One of our favourite meals was at this little local spot around the corner from one of our guesthouses in a residential area of Bali – we were served by the sweetest, middle school aged girl who seemed delighted to practice her English and the food was delicious! We also went to a restaurant that is overlooking the Ayung River Valley and is one of the most amazing views I have ever seen – the food was delicious, the view incredible, and we felt so lucky to be there!
Lena and I in the waves at Ulu Watu, Bali
My friend Lena recently got a job in Indonesia and was able to come meet us for one of the weekends we were in Bali. We had so much fun and it was great to be able to catch up and hear about all of her adventures! She is the friend that I visited in France (read about it here) and although I would love for her to live closer, at least she keeps choosing awesome places so I get to visit her around the world!
9. Sunsets, Sunsets, Sunsets
Bali and the Gili Islands have the most incredible sunsets! There are beaches where you can watch the sun dip below mountains creating cool effects. There are spots where the horizon seems endless and you watch the sunset over the ocean. I couldn’t get enough of the sunsets and wanted to watch every night – our poor eyes were probably hurt from constantly staring directly at the sun though!
10. Traveling with Ryan
This was our first big trip together (besides local holidays and family vacations). We had a blast and it was so much fun to explore a new culture together! In many ways we are great travel companions and balance each other well, especially when it comes to meeting new people. In some ways we are not – we both get overly anxious about certain things. But we got through all the good and the bad together, and there was way more good then bad. All in all, I couldn’t really ask for a better partner in travel or in life…