Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Nusa Dua, Bali and on to Gili T

Amber:  After our two days of pretty much non stop bus travel, we arrived at the Courtyard Marriott in Nusa Dua, the rich people haven of Southern Bali.  The taxi ride from Kuta towards Nusa Dua became more and more sterile; huge resorts, surrounded by beautiful tropical trees, manicured lawns and swimming pools replaced the budget lodging, street food and bustle.  We felt a tiny bit silly, having dropped Mel and Kyle, our fellow travelers, in the shabby yet lively budget region of Kuta, only to proceed to a portion of Bali that normally would be way out of our price range.  But, being as we were staying there on points, thus, completely for free, we were happy to take advantage of the clean sheets, huge king sized bed, air con, and hot water shower (and bath!!).  It was about six am when we were finally settled into our room.  It was heaven to take a hot shower and crawl into bed.
We woke up mid afternoon and went down to our pool and enjoyed the last of the sun.  Food and beverage were not provided as part of our free stay, and being as breakfast started at $20 each, we assumed dinner would run a little steeper.  We opted to take a taxi back into Kuta in search of more reasonably priced food.  The taxi driver warned us that as it was the holiday season, traffic would be horrible and he would do his best to get us as close to the center of town, but we would be better off to walk once we reached the outskirts.  After an hour in the taxi, we were happy to hop out and carry on, on foot, into Kuta.  We found some dinner, walked through the many shops that line Kuta's streets, and made our way to the ocean.  Finally, after being in Indonesia for over a week, we found the ocean.  It was so nice to be able to walk along the beach, barefoot, and enjoy the surf and sand. 
After walking along the beach for about an hour or so, we decided to head back to our hotel.  We stopped in a IndoMart and grabbed several packages of Cup O Noodles and bottles of water before haling a cab.  The traffic had thinned considerably, and we made it home in a fraction of the time it took us to go into Kuta. 
The next morning, we woke up, had some Cup O Noodles and coffee for breakfast, compliments of our electric tea pot provided in our room, and took the hotel shuttle to our private hotel beach.  We received huge, fluffy beach towels upon the arrival of 'our' beach, and were escorted to beach chairs.  It appeared we were the only Marriott guests ambitious enough to venture away from the hotel pool and find the beach as we had our pick of beach chairs.  After applying sunscreen, we settled in for a very rough day of watching the locals surf, sun bathing, listening to some Pimsleur Spanish, and swimming.  I may have forgotten to turn over a few times, as Tim decided it was time to go when we realized my front may have not gotten enough sun screen and perhaps too much sun.  We enjoyed more noodles for dinner (we are so cheap!), and listened to a local high school choir sing Christmas carols.  It was, after all, Christmas Eve in Bali. 

Christmas day we woke up and took off for Gili Trawagan.  After doing research for hours the night before, we had finally booked a room via Kayak and gotten a package tour from Kuta direct to the tiny island paradise. We had read on line that Gili T was completely booked up for the holidays, so we were thankful to find a place for $37 a night.  We had heard amazing things about the Gili's, a group of three tiny islands that were car and motor scooter free.  It sounded perfect for us, and with the promise of beautiful beaches, wonderful diving, snorkeling and surfing, complete with a fun bar scene, it sounded like a perfect place for the two of us to enjoy our holidays.  The bus ride north was painless, and our fast boat across from Bali to Gili T was under two hours.  The cabin reeked of gas, and when the passengers complained about it, the crew went around and sprayed air freshener!  Interesting.  Once we started moving, the fumes cleared out a bit, and we saw porpoises, flying fish and far off whale spouts on our way.
So far in our travels, Koh Tao, Thailand has been pretty much my favorite spot. I wish all my family and friends could see it there!  With me, of course.  Well, Gili T definitely gave it a run for it's money!!  When we arrived on Gili T, there was no dock in sight.  The boat simply nosed its bow up to the beach, and passengers and luggage were unloaded.  We took off our flip flops and waded through the turquoise water up the sandy beach.  It was beautiful!

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