Super Moon on Gili Air

Super moon rising over Rinjani volcano.

Super moon rising over Rinjani volcano.

Happy little beach bum.

Happy little beach bum.

Lately, Zev and I have been playing tour guide for my mother, who is visiting us in Bali for the month of June. Most of our time has been spent seeing the sights around Ubud (which I’ll share more about later) but we spent this past weekend snorkeling and diving on Gili Air. Gili Air is a tiny speck of white sand and palm trees east of Bali, ringed by turquoise water and brilliant coral reefs. It was the perfect setting for an ultra low key weekend at the beach.

Just being touristy with the mama.

Just being touristy with the mama.

We spent plenty of time lounging around our perch on the northern end of the island, reading books and watching the waves crest. We spent the afternoons wandering the beach and wildlife spotting in the tide pools. Each evening, we were treated to a 270 degree view stretching from the western sunset over the open ocean to the eastern full moon rising over Mount Rinjani, the volcano on neighboring Lombok. It was after all, a super moon and we had the super panorama for the big event.

Another great sunset on Gili Air.

Another great sunset on Gili Air.

Howling at the moon.

Howling at the moon.

During our stay on the island we also experienced a rattling 5.2 magnitude earthquake, centered about 5km from us. We were suddenly acutely aware of the active volcano lurking on the horizon. For the rest of our stay, my heart jumped into my throat at the slightest lurch or bump, and especially during the tiny aftershocks we felt.

Looking for creatures in the tide pools.

Looking for creatures in the tide pools.

Check out this little guy we dug up in the tide pools.

Check out this little guy we dug up in the tide pools.

Gorgeous sunset outside of Legends bar, on the north side of the island.

Gorgeous sunset outside of Legends bar, on the north side of the island.

Lounging around the beach shack.

Lounging around the beach shack.

Kuala Lumpur, Hiking Gunung Angsi

A perfect breakfast, teh tarik or 'pulled tea' in a bag. This is the most civilized way to recover from jetlag; with a sweet milky frothy iced tea.

A perfect breakfast, teh tarik or ‘pulled tea’ in a bag. This is the most civilized way to recover from jetlag; with a sweet milky frothy iced tea.

Upon leaving the states, we made a quick weekend pit stop in Kuala Lumpur, one of our favorite eating cities, to pick up visas for our current stay in Bali. While in town for the weekend we met up with Ana, owner of LaZat cooking school where we learned to make amazing Beef Rendang on our last visit. She offered to take us hiking in the outskirts of the city and we gamely joined in.

Ana took us on a monster of a hike; 9 miles up and down a jungle mountain! I survived with only one leech attack and some very sore legs.

Boozy rice porridge, apparently a traditional pre-trek breakfast full of energy and alcohol. ;)

Boozy rice porridge, apparently a traditional pre-trek breakfast full of energy and alcohol. 😉

All smiles before the big climb.

All smiles before the big climb.

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It felt like such an achievement to reach the top.

It felt like such an achievement to reach the top.

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IMG_1182 IMG_1181 IMG_1126After this day of hiking, I’ll admit we were hobbling around a bit…our fitness routine has been a bit lacking since completing our Divemaster program. So we recuperated with lots of tasty Indian food and Roti Canai. The food in Malaysia has become so familiar and old hat to us, I failed to take many photos of it. I promise not to make that mistake next time, and hopefully ‘next time’ will be right around the corner! Each visit to Malaysia finds us even more enthralled with the cuisine, the culture, and the people. And each time we fly out, we leave whispering in wonder at how much we love the place.

The gorgeous Petronas Towers.

The gorgeous Petronas Towers.

One of our favorite spots for Roti Canai, the fact that it's open 24 hours is a major bonus.

One of our favorite spots for Roti Canai, the fact that it’s open 24 hours is a major bonus.

Banana leaf meals, love these places, but sadly didn't find the time for it on this visit to KL.

Banana leaf meals, love these places, but sadly didn’t find the time for it on this visit to KL.

We even managed to discover a whole new neighborhood, Brickfields, which is a colorful tangle of roads with rows of bangle shops, sari stores, and restaurants specializing in South Indian cuisine.

A vegetarian banana leaf meal, one of my favs.

A vegetarian banana leaf meal, one of my favs.

A shop of technicolor deities, this was my fav.

A shop of technicolor deities, this was my fav.

Bangle shop in Brickfields, KL

Bangle shop in Brickfields, KL

Two Weeks in America

This week marks 7 MONTHS on the road. This is the halfway point in our trip and a big milestone. I can’t believe how quickly the time has passed, it’s a bit scary to be honest. It seems like just yesterday that we were nervously packing our bags and trying to explain to our friends our vague travel plans. Today we are confident in telling our friends that we have only broadest outlines of plans, and prefer it that way. Our travel style has become somewhat more relaxed, and the sense of urgency to cover ground has given way to a quiet contentment (and spending a lot of time in Bali).

Packing up for the first time was a bit chaotic.

Packing up for the first time was a bit chaotic.

I think back to our first weeks figuring it all out in China. We had no idea how to order food in restaurants, we stared at the menus printed in Mandarin and were overwhelmed with the sense that we may actually starve.

Through China and Burma we sorted out our various travel roles and have finally settled into a style of travel that suits us well.

In those first weeks on the road, we proudly told others about our grand scheme to be on the road for 14 months. We weren’t always sure we would make it the full term, telling ourselves that we could go home if it got to be too hard. It didn’t get to be too hard, it grew to be a tremendous amount of fun and a great adventure. There was no shortage of struggles or cranky moments, but I am more certain that we are capable of surviving for 14 months on the road. We have relished meeting a fascinating cast of characters and hearing their fantastical tales. We have gained a tremendous amount in both wisdom and backpacker street cred since those early days in China.

Holy camoly we’ve been homeless wanderers for a long time.

We’ve also been very sneaky lately, we were actually in America for the last two weeks visiting family. Zev’s brother recently graduated college (congrats Ezra!) so we headed home for the festivities.

Congrats Ezra!!

Congrats Ezra!!

Having the chance to see family again, recharge our batteries and restock our backpacks was refreshing. So much has changed since we left, and yet it is comforting to know that we will always have family and friends that make us feel at home. I might not have an apartment or house to call home, but there are many places that feel like home.

As you can tell by the slideshow below, we ate very very well for the last two weeks. It was a flurry of American food, more than it would be proper to tell you about. An embarrassment of delicacies. Perhaps it’s a good thing our trip was so limited, any longer and I might have done permanent damage to my arteries.

We’ve found it is really hard to hit the road again after seeing family, it takes a bit of time to adjust to the solitude of travel. There are no routines when you’re backpacking, every day is a new one requiring its own bundle of planning and logistics.

Although many heart wrenching goodbyes followed, we packed up our bags and hit the road again, making a quick pit stop in Kuala Lumpur to pick up fresh visas for Bali. My mother is arriving in Bali today and I can’t wait!

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