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A round the world trip in more than 80 days.

Why this blog ?

Our aim : travel and discover the world during 353 days and through some fifhteen countries. We are hoping that this blog will allow us to share the experience with our family and friends thanks to the posts and photos that we will be publishing and also thanks to their comments.

Currently ...

now. For the moment, we are gently readapting from nomadic to sedentary life.


The places visited in Indonesia

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Photos : Indonesia : Bali, Komodo, Flores

Click on the picture below to see some pictures of the second leg of our trip in Indonesia

Indonesia : Bali, Komodo, Flores

Indonesia : Flores & Bali

We happily left Sanur, since it was geared toward Ozzies in their mid 50s looking for a cheaper version of the Gold Coast without crocodiles and stingers.

Landing at Labuanbajo, our base for a week in Flores, we were greeted by goats and chickens patrolling the main street. Even if the city lacks some charm, the people are nice and the setting gorgeous. Nested on the side of a mountain, the town opens-up on a beautiful bay with hundreds islands. Watching the sunset from the balcony of our room was almost a daily activity.

We primarily visited this area for the Komodo National Park, famous for its dragons and its marine life. The dives we did there where the best of our underwater life, out-ranking Sipadan or the great coral reef. But the area is far from being a play ground for the beginners : the current is strong and sometimes it might even give you the impression to be stuck inside a washing machine. It was the first time that I saw my bubbles, instead of rising up to the surface, going horizontally before dropping down. Even the Napoleons, usually looking very «phlegmatic», were struggling with their buoyancy. But still, it was better than diving in an aquarium : we saw a constant parade of sharks, turtles, eagle-rays, tuna and barracudas. The best was the manta ray that went back and forth, fashion-show-style, in front of our wide open eyes.

The varans were also easy to spot. They were in the shade at the entrance of the national park, although not really waiting for us, but rather because the smell of what was cooking in the rangers hut attracted them. They reminded us of their far-cousins the Galapagos iguanas, except that you have to be careful approaching them as their length reaches 3 meters and their bite is venomous. It will take 15 days for a buffalo to die from it, and the dragon will follow him all that time.

We left Labuanbajo, wishing we would have stayed longer in Flores. Initially, we were thinking about using buses and boats to go back to Bali but when we learned that it might take 3 days and remembering our journey out of Java (see the previous post), we decided to take a flight that shortened the trip to 1 hour. Even if nearly all the domestic airlines are black-listed, it sounded as the best option.

During my high-school years, the body-board was quite popular. From time to time, we went to spots around Casablanca trying to rid some waves. At the end of the session, we used to seat on the beach talking about the day waves and the moves each one supposedly did, while looking at surf magazines. The most beautiful shots we often came across were taken in Bali. Since then I wanted to visit this place. For a long time, I thought it was an Australian or an American city, as most of the surfers were blond with a western type. I felt ashamed when I learned that it was an island in Indonesia.

Unfortunately, Bali was far from what I had in my imagination. The traffic and the concrete is heavily spread across the southern part of the island. The inefficiency of the public transportation makes you an easy pray for the taxis unless you stick to the «gringo trail». Our answer was to rent a motorbike and for as little as 3.5€/day (after bargaining), we regained our freedom.

After taking advantage of all the cultural activities in Ubud, we left our big backpacks in the hotel and went to explore the island for 8 days. On the east coast, we did some fine diving and snorkeling. Around lake Bratan, we walked in a New Zealand like scenery and back south, we visited the touristy temple of Tanah lot.

We enjoyed this journey through nice scenery and meeting the locals while discovering the unique Balinese Hindu culture. But as the rest of Indonesia, you have often to scrape beneath the surface to be rewarded with the country beauty.

We leave this country with a bitter-sweet taste. Indonesia has some true gems and offers a nice change of scenery. But we did not like all the attempts to rip off the orang-asing (foreigner). Most of the time, the «tourist» price is from 2 to 10 times the local one. Even if you are always greeted with a big smile buying a basic item, such as a banana or bottled water, could be close to arm wrestling.

That closes the south-east Asia chapter of our trip. Unlike South America or India, the magic did not work but we will definitely come back, at least for diving and maybe exploring less touristy areas. We are now flying toward the middle-east, the last stop of our trip, which after 15 days in this region will be just a memory.


Photos : Indonesia : Java

Click on the picture below to see some of shots taken in Java :

Indonesia - Java

Indonesia : Java and a bit of Bali.

We are finally in Indonesia, our last stop in South-Est Asia. Made of 18000 tropical islands with inspiring names such as Java, Sumatra or Bali, the country also includes big chunks of Borneo, Timor and Papua. Looking at it in a world map, sandwiched between the Asian and Australian continents, I always thought of it as a relatively small country. In reality, from one extremity to the other, there is a distance equivalent to the average width of the Atlantic Ocean.

Another curious thing is that it is the country with more Muslims in the World : around 85% of the 230 millions inhabitants follow this faith. To make sure that no believer risks oversleeping and missing the first prayer at dawn, muezzins start shouting their calls to prayer from well before daylight. The rhythm is slightly different from the one heard in Morocco but, curiously, reminds me a lot of Andalusian 'cante hondo'. It is actually quite charming, although I must recognize that most of the muezzins do not have Cat Steven's sense of tune and sometimes the loud speakers deform the voice and you wake up in the middle of the night hearing shadowy sounds that make you wonder whether your hotel is haunted.

As mentioned in our previous post, at 2 AM the day of our depart from Singapore we discovered that our host in Jakarta had a last minute impediment and could not host us anymore. We were lucky though, because as soon as we saw the e-mail, we wrote to the other two people who had accepted our couch-surfing requests in this town and one of them answered us shortly after inviting us once again to come to their place.

Vari and Rangga, our new hosts, are a really nice couple and definitely the best thing that happened to us in the capital. We shared some nice discussions and we went together to watch Tekken in a movie theatre located in a neighbouring mall. It seems that malls are the first choice for entertainment for locals and we understand why : the city is really not that pretty, we spent six hours in the public transport network just to be able to buy a train ticket (in spite that there was a single transfer and it was not even rush-hour) and after three hours raining there was more water running down the streets than in the Mississippi river. After our short stay in this town, that we finally left mostly unvisited, we understand why it is not part of any tourist itinerary.

Yogyakarta, in central Java, improved our perception of the island. The bicycles that the hotel landed us were the perfect mean of transport to move around, since the town is as flat as the banana pancakes they served us at breakfast. But the best is outside town : Borobudur and Prambanan, respectively a Buddhist and a Hindu temples that were built long before the spread of Muslim faith in the area. In my opinion, they are not only the most impressive ancient temples in Indonesia, but in all the countries of South-Est Asia that we have included in our itinerary.

The trip by train to Yogya was long but rather comfortable. What we have lost in comfort during the two days of journey to Bali, we gained in “authenticity”. Specially on the second day, when we travelled in a bus packed with smoking locals, hawkers hopping on and off and that broke down after a few hours on the road (Thanks God the driver managed to revive the beast and we reached Bali with just a few hours delay). As part of the journey, we stopped overnight near Mount Bromo and we woke up at 3 AM to walk the distance up to the Volcano's crater. From this vantage point, you can peep down the fuming crater and enjoy a beautiful sunrise. Groups of noisy Indonesian students add liveliness to the otherwise mystic atmosphere. Travelling in this country we experienced the life of the “rich and famous” : since 1 million of rupiah are 90 euros, each monetary transaction involves a lot of zeroes. Then, we got stopped continuously by young girls or boys, even by families on holiday, who wanted to take a picture with us, the “Foreigners”, to take back home as a souvenir.

We spent our first stay in Bali was a short stopover while waiting our flight to Flores island, in Sanur. As everywhere else in the south of the island, it is a tourist ghetto where Australians, Dutch or Japanese spend their holidays among nice hotels and fancy restaurants that serve dishes at a price well above the country living standard. An option that we do not necessarily despise, but that is not what we look for in this trip. After some investigation, we nevertheless managed to discover a street with a few fare restaurants with local patrons and prices. Using some kind of Indonesish, we got some chicken and tofu bathed in extra-super-hot curry that very proudly ate with the fire-fighting help of rice. To top that, we found a temple that doubles as the village square, where they had installed a giant screen airing the World Cup games. Indonesians love watching soccer (Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi and Torres are non-national heroes here) and they like even more to bet on the result of each match with their neighbours.

But we will leave the proper discovery of Bali for after our return from Flores. For the moment, we will be spending a week there, diving in the Komodo National Park and having a look at the dragons that inhabit the land.


The places visited in Malaysia

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Photos : Singapore

Click below to see some of our shots of Singapore :