#SURFYOGADIVEbike #IndonesiaSingaporePhilippines #BikiniKindOfLife
Flying from Malaysia to Jakarta, train to Yogya just to reach Bali for less than $100. Only because I failed to book a promo round trip ticket from KL-Bali for the same amount last August and by the time decision has been finalized, it was already $100 one way. It’s not too bad, after all, it was fate that brought me to Java before setting to Bali.
Bali, the budgetpacker lived a flashpacker’s life. Enjoyed the familiar in the uncharted zone.
There are many ways to reach Depansar from Jogja like taking an expensive flight or some cheap stake bus/train ride for 18 hours. I chose the latter (before flashpacking starts), train to Banyuwangi then bus to Depansar (with ferry connection) with total expense of 90000IDR ($9). It was not a journey for the weak but those who’ll risk it are rewarded with a magnificent countryside tour of Java. Maybe I was lucky too, got seated to a bunch of kind locals who fed me with chips for the entire trip. Food was also available from the train’s restaurant. My seatmates talked to me in local language, of course I looked like one of them. But the moment my mouth started to move, they were all surprised and started interviewing me, instant celebrity feels, lol. Anyway, everything went well until one of my seatmates asked me to follow him to his house. I thought it was kind but didn’t realized it was something else. duh. He was so persistent that it felt awkward already. Although I knew that nothing worse can happen to me, declining it in a nice way repeatedly was my manner of shouting NO WAY and just GO. He got the message and apologized then left. Whew, that was close! It did not end with that man, there were others too who helped me first then tried to take advantage. Bali, sadistic. Despite the series of mishaps upon my arrival, surrender was not in my vocabulary. Arrived in Bali around 4am with no transportation heading to the airport except a $20 cab ride. No, not yet. Asked around and some guys gave me directions to the terminal where I can get a local bus to the airport to pick up my surfmate, Janine. So I did but there was nothing yet. First trip to the airport was scheduled 6am. Instead of waiting, I just slept. Yes, slept in the street of Bali, who cares, nobody knows me there. My body was too harassed,so off to dreamland in a few minutes. Woke up to the honking of the vehicles and the sun was up! Went directly to the airport, that for the record was a better place to relax. Enjoyed the free wifi and comfy seat to sleep.Airports are my favorite accommodation,almost everything is free except food.
BALI (Indonesia)–where everything is more expensive except surfing items (yep with outlet stores for brands like roxy, quiksilver, billabong, volcom etc). All my expenses skyrocketed. But no regrets, every penny spent was worth it. All because this trip was for a dear sister. She owned this time. Yes, her name is Janine Jose, the culprit, lol. A chance for some luxury after living in budget-conscious life on the road.
This is an island that most of its places to see are crowded with tourists coming from different parts of the world.Best to rent a motorbike/car to explore the entire island. We opted to do it with style, get a tour company to see some of Bali’s best for one day at $50/each with free buffet lunch and plated dinner. We wanted to go to Ubud but when we were passing by the center, we saw a huge crowd of tourists and I just said NO. We went shopping for some surfing items like bikinis, boardshorts and shirts. We also asked our driver to bring us to a traditional healer (aside from Ketut) but when we arrived at the place, she was no longer practicing.
Surfing– $10/hour with board and guide. Board rental $20 for whole day. The main beach for surfing is Kuta while Legian and Seminyak are better for hangout and drinks. According to some friends, Uluwatu beach is good for intermediate level. My surfer friend Wayan Sneper and his brother teach surfing for beginners and can serve as guides too.
Food/Drink– Warung vegan rice meals are cheap for $1. Fried rice would cost $1.5. A bottle of beer in a bar $5. Steamed/Grilled Corn $2. Plate of onion rings with big portion at $3. Fruit shakes ranging from $3-5.
Accommodation- no comment, lol. $35 for twin bed AC room with free wifi, welcome drinks, dryer and all demands from my surfmate 🙂
Transportation- everything in the beach and shopping area are walking distance. Going to the airport, best to take bluebird taxi or hassle yourself and take the public transport. From Airport to Kuta, we paid $5 whereas Legian to Airport $8.
Foreign Exchange Etc– Most establishments accepts Visa and Mastercard but with minimal fee. For the money changers, take extra caution as most of the smaller shops have better rates but with a dirty scheme. I tried this. Went to a smaller shops and asked if they can give me 100000 bills but most of them refused and asked if its okay to change with 20,000 bills, of course no. Its harder to recount the bills so when one shop agreed to change with 50000 bill I agreed. When he was preparing the money for $100 in front of me, I was checking his hands. And when I told him to put all the bills by twos for faster checking, he refused. And I insisted that I recount the bills before completing the transaction, he then asked if I can wait and he’ll talk to his boss. When he came back, he told me he can’t change my dollar because it was an old version. I just smiled and walked out of the shop.Their trick is to count the money in front of the client then by the time they hand the money, its not the same amount as what they were previously counting. Just go to the licensed money changers for safer transactions.
Then we have to part ways again. She had to fly back to Manila while I decided to stay for one day then proceed to the Gili Islands. Just one day, because I refuse purchase the ferry ticket in advance.So there I was, walking away from Legian trying to find my way to another hostel in Kuta, where I was meant to meet someone who would be part of my future life (nothing romantic, okay?!).
GILI AIR (Indonesia)-One of the three Gili Islands closest to Lombok, the other two are Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno. Trawangan is known as the party area while Meno is a place for the green turtle sanctuary. So why go to Air? It was just some random thoughts, lol. The idea came from some friends’ plan to visit the Gilis on 2015. As of this writing, this remains to be a plan, right Gwen? Moving on, the journey to Air was posh, instead of taking the public transport, took the shuttle ferry for $25 (250000IDR) for an hour ride. As this island is small, it was just a few hours of walk to see the entire silent and chill hideaway. After fixing stuff at 7SEAS Backpacker Hostel (70000IDR fan bed in a mixed dorm), it was time to explore and eat. Thirty minutes of walking led to a beachside restaurant (Warung) with a beautiful view of Meno and cheap food, it was time to feed the hungry soul with vegan rice meal and Mango shake without milk and sugar at $3. Then it happened, again, food coma, off to dreamland under the cold breeze and whisper of Gili air. Life is better in bikini. The sun was not happy about this so, it hit the sleeping body with a powerful kame hame wave, boooooom time to get back on track. It was almost sunset when the trail was completed, back to that dorm bed, dinner and meeting the roommie.It’s a four bed mixed dorm with only me and a Belgian banker named Amaury who had a heavier bag. What a mix, really, bankers in one room. So the entire night was about, darn, corporate professional life and so on.
It was supposed to be a one day layover, but then, the last boat to Lombok and Bali left just before we decided to stop snorkeling (gear rental at $2.5). We can’t stay in the same hostel though, so we moved to a bungalow for $15 with fan, double bed, wifi and breakfast. Like cash and stock transactions, we both had to go our separate route, him to Bali, me to Lombok.
Senggigi beach (Lombok, Indonesia)– bigger than Bali and the Gilis with an International airport that has flights to nearby SEA countries, also multiple domestic fleet. Lombok is less touristy as compared to Bali with popular trekking and surfing areas located away from each other. Senggigi beach is none of both. Another brain freeze decision. From Gili Air, take the public boat to Lombok for $1 for an hour cruise. From the port in Lombok, follow the locals, as they will be walking towards the bus terminal 300 meters away. From the bus terminal, there are public buses, mini vans and private cars that go to Kuta, Airport, Senggigi and other destination within the island. Always bargain as the fare highly depends on this particular skill. Nothing spectacular except the peace from the beach next door. Another two days spent swimming, reading and meditating. Birthday blues.
Two books.two nights and an early two hour trip to the airport. Yes, it could have been shorter if I had stayed in Kuta. Sauce. Anyway, originally, the first trip was scheduled at 6am yet the bus came ten minutes before 7 and ETD of the Airasia flight was 9:50 AM. Another chasing flight story. Nothing serious, made it just before the check-in counter closed. Went directly to the departure lounge passing through that cute Indonesian Immigration officer, who greeted me with, “happy birthday and enjoy.” Blushed, too much anxiety erased the fact that its almost the 27th year. Sigh, flew to Johor Bharu, Malaysia for $15, crossed to Singapore on the same day.
Singapore– the safer home. Not to mention, the more expensive city life. With one heck of a story! Been here before, with my beautiful familia, cousins Andrea and Ello, grammy Lola Hely. We did the usual, Sentosa, Orchard and Little India. Another opportunity to reconnect with the past. The catch: staying at a friend’s (former boyfriend) place for four nights, enough time to celebrate the 27th. No, don’t try to judge. Not being defensive, it was purely platonic. Nothing romantic. I know what you’re thinking: ITS IMPOSSIBLE. I say, it’s possible. At least for me it was staying at a friend’s house shared by his other friends. Who wouldn’t stay in a posh condo unit with Olympic-sized pool near the beach and the airport. The swimming pool that confirmed something: panic can either save me or end my bikini kinda life. Yup, ME almost drowned, on the day of the 27th year. Beautiful almost disaster. Other than hanging out at the pool, it was the chance to meet with a good friend and chat the day away. It was a memorable reunion that started in HarbourFront Center that culminated in the Christmas themed Orchard road. Until that day, for the first time, I got kicked out of a house, without a fight, nothing but these words: my girlfriend is upset/crying. Good sh*t. Brokenness appeared like a ghost of the past, smiled and it went away. No time to waste, packed and booked ready to leave for Melaka where Nacho mucho was waiting to rescue a rain-wet soul.
Pardon for not talking about the kick-out issue, may be soon.
After a healing week in Melaka with Nacho, the inevitable was bound to happen. Flight back to Manila, for more bikini life. It was a pseudohomecoming, the comfort zone.
Anilao (Batangas, Philippines)- Got this post from Couchsurfing that someone wants a diving buddy, signed up. From the airport, went straight to the bus station to meet this stranger named Celine and her friend. Didn’t really understand that she was not Filipino but Malaysian working in the Philippines, hahaha clueless. Turned out, she’s a mermaid trapped in a human body. Her friend’s name is Abi, who became my buddy under the sea until upland. This acquaintance led to many more like our Padi instructor Jeroen Elout (Dutch by passport), classmate and self-defense teacher Jerry (German by nationality and language but a Filipino blooded skater) his cousins, our Dutch classmates Kuya Mauricio,Kuya Koen and Kuya Mark with one more Pinay power Aileen.
Anilao is known for its beautiful underwater world. We had to do it, no I have to do it. They were all doing it, me, undecided. The non-swimmer me was scared. Not of the uncertainty but of drowning. Nevertheless, tried it for one dive (that eventually led to more dives) at P1800 which included beginner open water skills, equipments,dive log,lunch and free use of shower facilities. The experience was beyond words. Can I actually breathe underwater, more to say hangout with the corals, fishes and creatures I have never seen before. Being a non-swimmer, the support of my classmates made a difference. They all got their licenses except me and Abi, we were not ready to go down some more. Until recently, completed my Padi Open Water Diving course under Jeroen Elout.
Cebu (Philippines)– For the infinite time,I am back. Still, reconnecting with the past. Met with a few good friends from previous job, Crissy, Franzel and Kuya Onat. And my parent by forced choice (dated seven years ago in Busan, South Korea), Ramces. What’s there to do? Babysit my parental while exploring Cebu like going to Mobydick again and hiking another waterfall. Plus the Mactan and Cebu city tour with my onscreen partner, lol, Daniel. That Kathrine Bernardo feels. Oh Cebu, with so much love from Dungog family, sigh. Oh Cebu, you made me feel insecure too. Those strolling escapades with Daniel that led to “you’re so lucky to have him,” conversation with strangers that crushed the ego of this wanderer.
Cebu, totally still in love with you. For all the imperfections and beauty, you have been surprising this soul in every visit. Temporarily ending this trip with your embrace, see you again.
Too much drama. Who says its over? No, just had to take another flight down south. Back to the comfort of a simple life. To that warm embrace and infectious laugh. The existence that is forever ME. Spirits who look like ME. As I walked out of Tandag airport, a banderole in the form of a green kia SUV emerged and three angels came rushing to welcome this tripper with smiles and unique dialogue (their own version of Surigaonon). There at that instance, the flashpacking and volunteering continues with Sir Ninoy and Tatay Fuds, crossing Lanuza to Madrid Surigao del Sur. Never-ending traipse of a rambling life, covered and no bikini sighting this time.