Indonesia: My Review

I really loved Indonesia.  I was able to visit three islands in two weeks: Java, Bali, and Nusa Lembongan.  Even though I didn’t love the vibe in Kuta or the tedium of Padangbai, there is something special about Bali. Although it has its pros and cons, it is undeniably beautiful and there are good reasons why it’s so popular. I want to go back and visit Ubud, Amed, and other towns along the coast.  I had a wonderful time in Java; there was so much to see and do.  Nusa Lembongan was a perfect island paradise.

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Nusa Lembongan and Kuta

Nusa Lembongan
On April 26th, I took a ferry over to Nusa Lembongan (Lembongan Island), just east of Bali.  Nusa Lembongan is beautiful, small, and relaxed.  It would be a fantastic place for a honeymoon.  It is also great for surfing, diving, snorkeling, and other water sports.  The water is clean and crystal clear.  Wikitravel lists its “attractions” as: Paradise Beach, Mushroom Beach, Dream Beach, Sandy Bay, Tamarind Beach, Scoobydoo Beach (no joke), Mangrove Forest, Seaweed Farms, and SUNSETS.  I mean, seriously… does it get any better than that?!  All of the attractions are just nature being nature.  It is truly an island paradise.

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Change of plan: Off to Indonesia


On April 16th I flew from Siem Reap to Jakarta, Indonesia to meet up with Lauren and Natalie, my travel buddies from Elephant Nature Park.  My original plan was to head up to Laos, but the idea of going to Indonesia was appealing because I would get to travel with the girls again, and because it was surprisingly $100 cheaper to fly to Jakarta than to Luang Prabang. Actually, I never had any plans to visit Indonesia on this trip. I made the decision three days in advance and booked the flight two days in advance.  Such is life on the road sometimes.  Spontenaity and flexibility can pay off.

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The Temples of Angkor

The temples of Angkor are ancient, massive, stunning feats of architecture.  Angkor was the capital city of the Khmer Empire from the 9th century until the 15th century and may be the largest pre-industrial city in the world.  “Angkor” is actually the Khmer word for “city.”  There were more than 1,000 temples that made up the Angkor complex, although now many of them are just piles of brick and rock.  The ones that still stand and have been restored include Angkor Wat (the world’s largest single religious monument & Cambodia’s #1 tourist spot), Bayon, Angkor Thom, and Ta Prohm.  They are now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Siem Reap & the Khmer New Year


On April 12, I took the bus to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh.  It left three hours late, and even though it was an AC bus (which are more expensive), the driver never turned it on.  So it was a long, hot eight hours, but I finally arrived and checked in at the Siem Reap Hostel well after dark.  My first impression of Siem Reap was that it was very smoky and smelled like a blazing fire.  I never did figure out where it came from, but it was indeed smoky the entire time I was there.  My second impression of the city, after exploring it on foot, was that I was going to like it.  It seemed fun, hip, easy to get around, and full of restaurants, markets, and bars.  I had specifically planned to be there for the upcoming Khmer New Year because I had heard that it was the only city in Cambodia that really celebrated the holiday with a bang.

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Phnom Penh: Other sites & sights

I used Phnom Penh as a jumping off point for getting down to the southern coast, the CPOC volunteering gig, and Siem Reap, so I was there a total of 3 nights, but never consecutively.  PP is incredibly hot in April, which made doing anything in the city a real drag.  It was almost unbearable to be out and about between 10am and 6pm.  Since those are the hours when I tend to be most active, I don’t have much to show for my time there.  But I did manage to make it to the Royal Palace/Silver Pagoda (which are part of the same complex), Sisowath Quay (the historic riverfront area), and I saw (but didn’t enter) the National Museum of Cambodia.

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