Taipei (臺北 / 台北)! In some countries (e.g. Australia, New Zealand), the capital is simply the administrative center, not the biggest or most important city. Not so with Taipei! Taipei is not only the administrative capital of Taiwan, but also the largest city, the arts and culture center, and clearly the most important. So I was lucky to spent quite some time living with relatives in Taishan – part of New Taipei City, which in turn is basically the suburbs of Taipei City. From here, I visited the many cultural and historical sites and Taiwan!
Continue reading Travelogue: Taipei
After spending a couple days recovering from my Mount Rinjani climb in Mataram (the capital of Lombok), I decided that I was done with Bali and Lombok, and so decided to go to Java – by bus. It took me 30 hours of travel.
I’m not sure why I didn’t just fly over. It would have been faster, stress-free, and more comfortable. The only answer I can think of, is that I wanted the experience. And so, 30 hours of travel.
From the Mataram bus station, I catch a 20 hour bus to Surabaya, a city in Java. First, of course, I am forced to wait 5 hours, as the bus is obscenely late. At least the bus station waiting area is comfortable.
Finally, the bus arrives, and we’re off!
Continue reading Interlude: 30 Hours of Travel
After finishing up Kuta and Ubud, I spent two days in Padang Bai, a smallish town on Bali’s east coast, primarily known for being a pit stop before boarding a boat to the Gili islands. And so, every two meters, you would see a shop selling boat tickets. Other than that, I found the town quite charming – there were almost no long term tourists, mostly locals and a few travelers stopping over before heading off to the Gili Islands.
Continue reading Travelogue: Padang Bai
During my stay in Ubud, I ventured on a sunrise hike of Mount Batur, an active volcano! Practically speaking, this meant waking up and leaving the hotel at 2AM, taking an hour-long drive to Mount Batur, climbing for two hours in the almost pitch black darkness (with torches, thankfully), before watching the sun rise at 6AM. It was freezing cold at the summit, it messed up my sleep schedule, and I questioned my sanity all throughout the climb, but it was worth it:
Continue reading Travel Stories: Climbing Mount Batur
Indonesia is known for its rice paddies, and the rice terraces of Bali are especially famous. It’s really cool, how the Balinese people have taken a hillside, transformed it into a series of flat rice paddies, and then built a massive irrigation system to keep it all watered. The irrigation system of the terraced rice paddies are noteworthy enough to have been designated a UNESCO world heritage area!
There aren’t really any stories to tell about visiting the rice paddies (other than my two Swiss compatriots constantly telling dirty jokes), so enjoy these photos of the rice terraces of Bali!
This is a photo-filled and text-light post.
Continue reading Interlude: Rice Terraces of Bali
While staying in Ubud, I hired a car and driver, and spent some time traveling around Bali, all for $35 per day including gas. Split with my two Swiss friends, that’s about $12 per day to be driven around to wherever you want to go, much cheaper than taking a pre-arranged bus tour.
Our driver was great fun too – his full-time job was actually managing an IT / electronics shop, but his brother (who managed our homestay in Ubud) roped him into coming to give us a tour and traveling around Bali. Surprisingly, it was the first time he had toured Bali, so he had a whole ton of fun.
Continue reading Travelogue: Traveling around Bali
After entirely too much surfing in Kuta, I took a break to Ubud, the cultural capital of Bali. Whereas Kuta is filled to the brim with surfers and drunk Australians, this city is a more laid-back destination, with lots of European tourists.
As a result of Eat, Pray, Love book and movie (where the heroine comes to Ubud to practice Yoga and find love), this city is also filled with 30-some women fleeing from a midlife crisis and trying to find meaning in their life. I had the pleasure of chatting with one Californian gal who boasted of practicing Yoga with the very same Yoga instructor mentioned in the book, and I got the impression she had a really bad case of midlife crisis. I wonder though, was my own trip also inspired by a midlife crisis of sorts?
Continue reading Travelogue: Ubud, Bali
After my quick stopover in Singapore, I hopped on a last-minute flight to Bali, where I made a beeline for the backpacker mecca of Kuta. Twenty years ago, in the ’90s backpacker world, the most famous backpacker destinations were the three Ks – Khao San Road (Thailand), Kuta (Indonesia), and Kumatra (Nepal).
Since then, resorts, shopping centers, and restaurants have sprung up like weeds, making it into a general tourist destination, especially amongst Australians, but it’s one of the cheapest and best beginning surf spots in the world.
And like a moth to the flame, I came to Kuta.
Continue reading Travelogue: Kuta, Bali