And so another winter vacation ends. A full twenty-four hours later than expected, I arrived back in Aomori late last night from a two-week journey across northern India and Nepal. It was nothing short of amazing and I’m sure I’ll be spamming you, dear readers, with tales of my adventures for at least a month or two to come. (A giant middle finger to China Southern, though, for canceling my first flight without any sort of explanation, which made me miss my flight back to Japan. Were I part of the Targaryen clan, I would lay siege to you with my dragons in grim satisfaction.)
Between jetlag and sheer laziness, I almost let this Thursday slip by without a throwback post…until I read an awesome post by one of my favorite fellow travel bloggers, Sally, who runs A Breath of Foreign Air. Her post about the defining moments of her 2013 made me think of my own highlights of this past year. So without further ado, here are the experiences that made 2013 a year to remember. Continue reading Throwback Thursday: 2013 in Review→
Kuta, a tiny town on the southeast coast of Lombok, was the last stop on my Indonesian getaway. Kuta’s famous as a surfer’s haven, and there are tons of tiny beaches whose beauty is matched only by their world-class reef breaks. Incidentally, there’s also a Kuta on Bali. It’s also famous for surfing, but the similarities stop there. Bali’s Kuta is overloaded with tourists. Lombok’s Kuta, by comparison, still retains the charm of a tiny seaside town where traditional life still reigns.
Once my few days in Senggigi were up, I headed up north to Gili Meno, a tiny island off the western coast of Lombok. There are actually three Gilis: Gili Air, Gili Meno, and Gili Trawangan. (Calling them the Gili Islands is technically a bit of a misnomer, since “Gili” means “island.”) Collectively, they’re famous for their amazingly white sand and crystal-clear blue water, but each also have a distinctly separate atmosphere. Air is the most traditional and least visited. Meno is the smallest, least populated, and arguably most beautiful. Trawangan is the party island, with tons of bars, parties, and clubs.
It’s no secret that one of the things I love most about traveling is trying new foods. Give me some piping hot street food made with ingredients I can’t pronounce, and I’m a happy camper. However, until the last two years or so, I was pretty woefully inadequate at recreating those dishes when I returned home to my own kitchen. My culinary skills have developed by leaps and bounds since I moved to Japan, and during my trip to Indonesia, I decided to take a cooking class for some hands-on experience.
It’s funny how you can be totally set on a plan for months on end, only to have it flipped on its head in the space of an hour or two. Such was the case two months ago. For the better part of a year, I’d not planned on going on any vacations until I headed off to India and Nepal for the 2013 winter holidays. And that plan stuck in place…until my traveler’s feet got itchy. (Incidentally, that saying has always made me wince a bit. It makes it sound like some sort of foot fungus causes wanderlust.)
One day in July, I glanced at my work calendar, and saw two consecutive three-day weekends in September that meant I could take four days of paid leave and get ten days off. Cue a few hours of gleefully frenetic Googling, Orbitz-ing, and WikiTravel-ing, and I was set on spending a week on the gorgeous island of Lombok, Indonesia. Continue reading Senggigi, Lombok: Spices, Sunsets, and Sarongs→