Saturday, September 17, 2011

Time Flies!

Nate and I have been in Thailand a little over a week now and I am quickly realizing that we just don't have enough time! 4 months sounds like a long time to travel... but we are actually entering our 8th week already. Crazy! After meeting so many different travelers, I am hearing of hundreds of new places we must add to our ever growing list of places to see and things to do.

I know exactly where I get my urge to "do it all" - my mom. My dad has always had to tell her "pick two" because she always has a million things planned for them. I find myself in this situation quite often while traveling so in Thailand we picked two... or maybe three. We flew into Phuket and went straight to Koh Phi Phi. This is a big party island but is supposed to have some of the best diving in Thailand. Unfortunately for us, it rained the first three days. We managed to keep busy with reading, hanging out with new friends and, of course, eating! We made sure to find the best restaurants (with the biggest portions for Nate) and we enjoyed many delicious Thai meals. The weather finally took a turn and we were able to enjoy the beach and go diving. 

The second stop for us was on the other coast in a place called Nahkon Si Thammarat. We have been here for three nights visiting friends Jake and Emma. We have been spoiled staying in a huge house where we can take hot showers, do our laundry, check our email and eat home cooked meals provided to us by wonderful hosts. It has been truly amazing.

Next up is a small, quiet island called Koh Muk. This is an island that Nate went to with Jake, Emma and Peter two years ago and it was his favorite place. It's actually the only place he wished he was with a girlfriend, not Peter! ha! I am glad he is willing to go back as it sounds amazing and I would have forced him to anyways. It doesn't get much better than a quiet bungalow on the beach... 

Hope all is well at home.
Pictures coming soon - I promise!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ripped Off

It would not be appropriate for us to leave Indonesia without being ripped off one last time...

The ripping off is constant and I have been very fortunate to have Nate fight for every nickle and dime for us. Last night was one of my favorites... we were at a used book store trying to trade our Lonely Planet for a Thailand one. The only book they had was a ratty, photo-copied one but it was recent so we went for it. The man started at $14 and the bargaining went on and on long enough that I needed to take a seat. After going down and then suddenly coming back up on the price, Nate became so furious that he told the man, "Okay. 5,4,3,2,1. I'm LEAVING." Imagine him holding up the appropriate number of fingers as he counted. It was as if he was talking to a child and I burst out laughing. The man was perhaps caught off guard and in the end took our book for a trade and charged us a minimal price for the new book. Every time we bargain, we get the price we want and say from the beginning but it takes soooo long.

After paying a ridiculous airport fee of $17 each this morning, we go and search for a snack to bring with us. We find a box of Ritz crackers and think that sounds pretty good and different. The stories did not put price tags on their items so they would simply make up a price for each item you inquired about. Well the first place wanted $6. The next... $5. And on and on. We had to search all the stores before finding one that was $4. Nate tried and tried to bargain the woman down to $3 but she wouldn't budge. In the end, we paid her and started to leave when Nate decided he didn't want our box because there was a small tear from the top. He picked a new box which had a price tag and was less than $3! The woman was trying to rip us off and wouldn't even bargain. Nate was appalled, she was embarrassed and I was just happy to have the crackers!

The last story for today is a good one... in the Bali airport they do security a bit differently. You check through as normal but then there is an extra security check at your gate where you are not allowed to bring in ANY liquids. You cannot have water and you must purchase it on the airplane. A bit of a rip off? I think so.

Well, we are now in Thailand where things seem to be a bit cheaper and it is low season! We just finished  a deliciously spicy papaya salad and a green curry. Off to an island tomorrow - life is good :)

Hope all is well back home!

Love, Allison and Nate

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Last of Indo...

We have now been in Indonesia for 3 weeks and it's hard to believe that we leave on Friday! We have seen so many beautiful places here and shared some wonderful cultural experiences. Since my last post, we saw a shark diving(!!!), met a great group of people from Germany and Sweden, stayed in a place totally off the map, and of course, saw about 10 more beautiful beaches. Life isn't so bad :)

While in Kuta, Lombok, we found the most perfect beach that I have ever seen without a soul on it. Then we went to a remote place called Taun and there, again, we found the most perfect beach. The coastline in this country is unbelievable. At this second beach, there was beautiful sand, huge waves and warm water. However, on the second day, all of the locals came out to play. We were constantly stared at and harassed by young boys. The 15 kids running around naked didn't bother me so much but the rest was just too much. It was that day that we decided that, yes, it is better to have a beach full of foreigners/tourists rather than a bunch of locals.

We are 5 weeks or so into the 4 month trip and we are of course still enjoying each other's company. It's certainly been a learning experience and takes the relationship to a whole new level. For example, this morning we were in a taxi heading to our next destination when Nate leans over to tell me something... "Al, I took the most satisfying dump this morning." Gross. Disgusting. Do I really need to know that?? What I have learned from the start is that not only am I Nate's girlfriend, but I also have to fulfill the role as his best male friend. Since he travelled with Peter before, I am constantly trying to live up to those expectations. So when Nate makes these comments, I simply nod and say "wow, that's great..." it's a good thing my dad and brother act just like this so I am pretty used to it.

It always seems that it's time to leave a country just as you are finally figuring things out. We have learned a lot during our time in Indonesia and it will make our next trip back here much easier! Originally we were hoping to cover much more territory than we were able to. Indonesia is huge and traveling throughout is not that easy for the budget traveler. This trip we covered Bali and Lombok. Next trip will be Sulawesi! Countries like this are ones you can come back to time and time again.

Next up: Thailand. I am beyond excited. I dream of thai curry every night... I plan to eat my heart out!

Much love and prayers to everyone back home recovering from the hurricane.