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Lessons Learned on the Road

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

When you’re the only customers on the beach…

Lessons Learned on the Road – Indonesia

  1. If you have to ask “Is that smell us?”  it is.
  2. It’s always Happy Hour somewhere.
  3. Always carry toilet paper. Yes we’ve learned this one before, but it bears repeating.
  4. Expect a power outage at least once a day. Like right now, for examp….
  5. Bug spray – don’t leave home without it. Ditto for malaria pills, Immodium, 30 factor sunscreen and Gravol.
  6. The amount of weight Mel loses is directly proportional to the amount of weight Brendan gains. He really will eat anything.
  7. Eat local. Hamburgers in Flores, Indian food in Gili T, pasta in Tokyo – all bad ideas. Local interpretations can be very, very scary.
  8. Lie about your age to fellow travellers. B can pass for 30. Mel likes to think she can pass for 27. Enjoy everyone’s surprise that we married so young. (If any of you are reading this, sorry, but we’re actually 36 and 38.)

 spinning the old fashioned way an afternoon shower mon chichi

Best of Indonesia


  • Ubud – the countryside, the rice paddies, the people
  • Escaping the Flores tour and performing the Happy Dance to celebrate the return of electricity, toilets and all the good things in life.
  • Dancing at the Jazz Cafe: from salsa to disco, we managed to be so memorable that upon our return a few days later, we were welcomed by the staff with ‘Welcome Home!”
  • Healing and purification – from temples, to massages to random healers – Bali really is the massage capital of the world.
  • New Year’s eve fireworks on Kuta beach.
  • Our private villa in Bali, and some other spectacular spaces.
  • The coffee. The micro-brew.
  • Being grown up and finally buying local items that don’t fit in our backpack – and sending a container home via ship – real furniture!
  • Good time on Gili T

mel in her element B at his best

Moments we’d rather forget

  • Our series of near-death experiences – from winding sheer-drop roads to scorpions to killer night snakes to the world’s largest bees to hungry komodo dragons to bomb threats
  • Showing up at 3 pm for our New Year’s eve reservation in Kuta – and finding out it’s for next year.
  • Christmas.
  • Failing miserably at the 24 hours of silence. Over and over and again. Then just deciding to go into town and have some beers instead.
  • A lot of the food.
  • Accommodations in Flores and Gili Meno – from cockroaches to bedbugs to filth and mould we won’t even try to describe.
  • Early morning wake-ups – from roosters, to motorbikes, to the call for prayer.

the loo …with satellite

who wants breakfast?

By the Numbers

  • Bintang barometer  (price variance of beer throughout Indonesia) – 23,000 – 60,0000 rupiah for a large beer ($2.50-$7)
  • Number of massages: 12 each (price range: – $7-$35 an hour)
  • Books read: Mel: 18, Brendan: 3 (which we are actually kind of proud of)

gili-meno-057.jpg lombok-108.jpg gili-meno-012.jpg bali-elysian-069.jpg flores-day-5-bajawa-465.jpg

Quotable Quotes

“She looks heaps proud”. (Georgia, commenting on Mel’s reaction to Brendan’s disco moves).


Sorry Lombok, we didn’t think you’d be this great. We’ll be back.

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Lombok Traffic

We spent the last 2 days of our adventure on Lombok – def not enough time to appreciate all this island has to offer. From tiny pottery, weaving and woodworking villages to stunning turquoise beaches, to traditional villages where the locals live in huts polished with cow dung (seriously), there’s something for everyone. And did we mention the monkey forest? Yay! More monkeys!!!!

Lombok coast  Rambutan Mel making friends again Roadside wedding procession

Lombok is years behind Bali with respect to tourism – though the locals here still do their best to get you to part with your $$$ as quickly as possible. There are some beautiful, unspoiled, undeveloped beaches here – and a new international airport will surely guarantee the growth of tourism. We can’t help but consider the real estate opportunities here. Lombok is certainly on the short-list for the first international BREL property.

Our next purchase

Gil Meno: 0 Gili Trawangan: 10

Monday, January 18th, 2010
Our taxi to Gili Meno We've moved on to the island of Lombok, where we'll be spending most of our time there on the nearby Gili Islands - 3 small islands that ... [Continue reading this entry]

Bali in Photos

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

bali-yoga-178.jpg bali-yoga-448.jpg bali-yoga-502.jpg bali-yoga-689.jpg


[Continue reading this entry]

Mel’s Monkeys

Saturday, January 16th, 2010
komodo-day-1-130.jpg One other resident of Komodo that we neglected to mention is one of Mel's favourites--monkeys! Long-tailed macaques, to be precise. Here are some of the new friends we made... komodo-day-1-420.jpg[Continue reading this entry]

More Dragons for Jack

Saturday, January 16th, 2010
komodo-day-2-222.jpg We had some strong feedback on our komodo dragon pics and video, so since we have a good internet connection now and lots of good pics I thought I'd put a few more up for ... [Continue reading this entry]


Friday, January 15th, 2010
Tirta Empul One of the most unique opportunities we had during our week of Zen was the chance to visit one of Bali's holiest sites: the sacred spring of Tirta Empul. B[Continue reading this entry]

The Balinese Ritual of Offerings

Thursday, January 14th, 2010
bali-offering-046.jpg The Balinese people's days are filled with ritual and ceremony - in fact it's said that a Balinese woman will spend 25% of her life performing rituals. There are rituals for pregnancy, birth, 42 days ... [Continue reading this entry]


Wednesday, January 13th, 2010
Downward Dog Yoga hurts. Forget what all those hippie types say about increased flexibility and mind/body connection - it just plain hurts. We start our days at the retreat at 7 am with 2 hours of meditation ... [Continue reading this entry]

Yoga in Ubud – how very Eat, Pray, Love.

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010
ommm Thanks to the Oprah book-effect, many of you have probably read Eat, Pray, Love, the story of an American woman traveling for a year hoping to find and re-invent herself. Her travels take her to ... [Continue reading this entry]

Komodo Dragons Are Scary

Monday, January 11th, 2010
dragon As we (way too slowly) made our way back to Bali, we had to oppotunity to spend a few days on Rincca and Komodo Islands - the only places in the world where the komodo ... [Continue reading this entry]

Can you believe the way Indonesians travel?!

Sunday, January 10th, 2010
I mean, take a look at THIS rickety old ship! You couldn't PAY me to get on that thing... boat

komodo-day-1-070.jpgUhhh, wait a minute, that was OUR ship. Our ... [Continue reading this entry]

By request from our fellow travellers

Thursday, January 7th, 2010
While staying in a Catholic mission in rural Flores, we were entertained one night by the local children. Some of our fellow travellers were dragged onstage to show their stuff. Enjoy... [Continue reading this entry]

Riung and the 17 Islands

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010
flores-day-4-riung-043.jpg A quick apology for being offline for a bit--it isn't always easy to get connected enough for things like uploading photos in this part of the world. It's not that we don't have lots to ... [Continue reading this entry]

Flores in Photos

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Maumere Market.jpg jackfruit.jpg  market fish.jpg salak (tastes like apple+walnut)

[Continue reading this entry]

Kelimutu: the Multicoloured Volcano Lakes

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010
flores-day-3-kelimutu-034.jpg The active volcano Kelimutu is probably the most famous site of any kind on Flores, and really it's the reason I (Brendan) had an interest in Coming to Flores, since my first visit to Indonesia ... [Continue reading this entry]

In The Land of The Betel-Nut Chewers

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010
Just outside the Flores Island hill town of Bajawa are hundreds of traditional communities living much as they did a hundred (or a thousand!) years ago. We were lucky to have the chance to visit a couple of these, home ... [Continue reading this entry]

Breaking News: Happy New Year!

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010
We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog (which, due to our recent weeks away from the Internet, is a few entries behind) to wish everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR! [Continue reading this entry]

Playing Hooky

Friday, January 1st, 2010
escape! Eight days into this road trip back in time, we’ve decided we need a break – Brel style. So we’ve hired a private car and driver and have separated from our group for a few days. We’ve ... [Continue reading this entry]