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Catching the Surf in Bali & Wandering the Temples in Angkor

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Bali is a surprisingly large island with a lot to see and do. We decided to set ourselves up in the main beach town of Kuta first in order to get in some beach time and take a surfing lesson or two. Bali is a legendary surfing destination and Kuta in particular is a good place for beginners. On our first few days the beach time was severely limited by one ominous black cloud after another – it is unfortunately the rainy season on Bali. So in between downpours, we also checked out the town, enjoyed some local food, and even found a Cold Stone (we hadn’t seen one since leaving the States). I’m not sure if it was exciting or sad, but at some level you expect a place like Bali to be secluded and non-western, yet clearly visible from the beach are the ubiquitous gold arches. Most of the tourist population here is Australian, but I guess that is to be expected since Australia is as close to Bali as the United States is to the Caribbean.
IMG_1917.jpgSunset on our ferry crossing to Bali
IMG_1930.jpgA funky little street in Kuta Beach
IMG_1932.jpgThese cute kids put on a show for us in honor of their religious festival

After watching a few surfers from the beach, we decided to give it a try. It is definitely harder than it looks. We took two, really fun lessons through Odyssey Surf School. They gave us the most enormous, idiot-proof surf boards possible in order to increase our chances of standing. We learned some techniques on the beach first and then headed out to the water to give it a shot – experience is the best of teachers. After our two lessons, I now know why surfers are in such good shape – it is exhausting to paddle back out after each wave! All in all I think we did pretty well – I was excited – I stood on my very first wave! It took Jeff a few tries to get the hang of it, but he was standing by the end as well. We took some video of each other surfing, click here for the highlight video and here for the blooper video (it gives me a good laugh).
Jeff's Blooper Video
A Minor Victory

IMG_1966a.jpgGetting ready to hit the surf!
IMG_2014.jpgJeff with our enormous surf boards
IMG_2041.jpgThough not graceful- standing!

After three nights in Kuta, we moved on to a different beach, Jimbaran, in order to try and see what a more secluded Bali was like. Sadly, it was very disappointing – I have never seen so much trash on a beach in my life and it actually left us feeling just plain down. Locals said that during the rainy seasons, the frequent rains flush out the rivers on Bali and that the winds carry trash east from Java. Jimbaran was described in our guide book and online as one of Bali’s top beaches, but apparently all of the reviewers visited in the dry season. Thankfully, our little resort near the Jimbaran beach was very nice and had the “Bali” ambiance we were looking for – the sound of running water from fountains, lush landscaping, a turquoise pool with swim up bar, etc. – it was really peaceful!
IMG_1973.jpgReally, the trash was depressing
IMG_1987.jpgAt the resort
IMG_2011.jpgWe were able to catch some Balinese traditional dancing one night at dinner

After five days on Bali, we flew to Siem Reap, Cambodia via Singapore (fast becoming my favorite Asian city – clean, well air-conditioned, lots of malls). Siem Reap is the town that supports the “8th wonder of the world”, Angkor Wat. The town was a sleepy little place until the 1960s when Angkor Wat first became a huge tourist draw. The Temples of Angkor are coincidentally not just one temple, but several dozen spread out over a hundred plus square kilometers, one of which is Angkor Wat. They were originally created to honor Hindu gods, but were later converted into Buddhist temples. The temples, all of which were made of rock, were each likely surrounded by a village made of wood, but the wood has since disappeared.
IMG_2359.jpgA creative tuk tuk in Siem Reap
IMG_2361.jpgIn downtown Siem Reap
IMG_2369.jpgThis was great- an actual ice vendor- he would come by and saw off a piece for local businesses

Since we only had one day to sightsee, we hired a tuk-tuk for the day to buzz us around several temples. We saw a lot of temples but below I've only put pictures in of a few, or else you'd be reading forever. While spending just one day at Angkor is considered a sacrilege to some, it was unfortunately all the time we had. The Temples of Angkor are truly amazing and definitely a wonder of the world!

Angkor Wat
aw1.jpgThe national symbol of Cambodia. It was built between 1113 and 1150 roughly in honor of the Hindu god Vishnu.
aw2.jpgInside of the Angkor temple
aw3.jpgOne of the wall carvings named "The Churning of the Sea of Milk". It depicts gods on one side and demons on the other, both holding an enormous serpent that churns the sea to produce an elixir of immortality :)
aw4.jpgOutside the main Angkor temple

Bayon Temple
bay3.jpgDescribed as a basket of bottles, each of the 49 towers is surrounded by four faces.
bay1.jpgOne of the towers and faces up close
bay2.jpgOne of the carvings supposed to depict everyday Khmer life at the time
IMG_2284.jpgMonks in their fabulous saffron robes coming to the temple for prayer

Ta Phrom
ta1.jpgOne of the most atmospheric temples in Angkor as it has been left to the elements. It is also, coincidentally, where they filmed Tomb Raider
ta2.jpgEnormous trees and strangler figs have grown all over the site and in some places on top of or straight through structures
ta4.jpgJust outside the temple

We hiked up their small "mountain" for some sunset views. It was pretty cool to see the main temple of Angkor from a distance.
IMG_2332.jpgAngkor Wat
IMG_2338.jpgJust at sunset

With only eight days left in South East Asia, we are heading back to Bangkok in order to meet up with my PA school friends for some Thailand island hopping! We’ll write more soon!

Posted by geldere 08:34 Archived in Indonesia

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