The Clips and Trips blog was put together in preparation for our leaving the U.S. on an indefinite world travel adventure which started around August of 2009 and returned us home in December of 2012. If you want to see where it all began, read our mission statement from before we left.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Window Food, Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia

Local Indonesian food is sometimes referred to as window food. A bunch of dishes are prepared and presented in a window. You walk up to the window, point to as many items as you'd like to eat, and it's served on top of a scoop of rice all for 80 cents to a dollar. The local name for this type of food is called Nasi Campur, which translates as mixed rice.

Options are many and plentiful. You can choose from a variety of stir fried veggies, fried crispy foods (calamari, shrimp, dried little fishes), curries, and all sorts of tofu. We've been enjoying Tempe. It's like tofu, but it's firmer and made with whole soy beans.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Candy Currency, Indonesia

The currency in Indonesia is the Rupiah (IDR). The exchange rate is roughly 9,300 IDR to the dollar. So it's easy to do conversions, but at times, working with so many zeros can be confusing. The first time we pulled out about 300 dollars from an ATM, Eric and I suddenly felt rich. The machine dispensed a whole wad of 100,000 rupiah notes totaling to 3,000,000 rupiahs. The biggest note is 100,000 and the smallest note is 1,000. The coins are found in denominations of 500, 200, and 100.

Mostly, prices are in the thousands. However, when the 10% tax is added to the restaurant bill, or buying items at the grocery store, you'll see prices in the hundreds. For example, a bottle of Gatorade might cost 6,300 IDR. When you give the cashier 7,000 IDR for the Gatorade, you'd expect to get 700 IDR back. But, stores rarely carry the small denominations of coins. They may give you a 500 coin and in place of the two hundred rupiah owed to you, you get two hard candies.

When you look into the cash register, they actually have hard candies in the little section where the 100 coins should be. After a while, you end up with a lot of little candies you don't really want to eat and the cashier won't take candies as payment.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More Around Bali

Jimmy has been showing us all around, and here are a few more shots of the area.

Dreamland at sunset

The beaches around Nusa

A seaweed farmer's hard work

Jimmy ordering food at our free wifi cafe

A new Julia Roberts movie (Eat, Pray, Love) being filmed at Padang Padang, they built a fake pier

Indonesian girls never take their helmets off, Pam fits right in

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gourmet Comfort Food, Bali, Indonesia

I thought I'd have to go without homemade pasta while traveling in Southeast Asia. But, here we are in Indonesia, and we're having our fill of delicious homemade pasta in this beautiful restaurant that overlooks the ocean. Bali is home to many expats and has many western food options. You can even find things like Nutella at the Circle K. I'm still missing a good, authentic taco.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Nusa Dua, Bali

Eric and I are back in Bali. We are in Nusa Dua, a peninsula in South Bali. We rented a scooter for just over 2 dollars a day and have rented a room in a house just a five minute scooter ride from the beach. At the beach, you'll find surfers, swimmers, fisherman complete with spear guns and small paddle boats, locals harvesting seaweed from the ocean, and European tourists lounging under the umbrellas of the nearby five star hotels. We bought swim goggles, practice our swim strokes, and see colorful fish swimming right beside us. Occasionally, you'll find the odd tourist wearing her rented helmet on the beach snapping pictures.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chickens and Chanters, Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

Our place in Gili Trawangan is great. It's an upstairs room where we can catch a cooling breeze, that's nicely furnished with a shared outdoor living room area. We negotiated it for 80,000 rupias per night, roughly $8, which we were pretty happy about. It's very comfortable and restful, however we didn't sleep well during our first night.

Many chickens run around on this island, and at any point in the night (not just the early morning) if one of them decides to let off a cackle, it sets off a chain reaction of chickens cackling in turn across the entire island. The first one nearby wakes you up, then you hear it echoed over and over, growing more faint as chickens further away repeat the call. Then in a slow moving wave it comes back closer to home.

Some religious group on the island likes to do early sunrise chanting. In the haze of early morning sleep, the sounds build bizarre dream images. For some reason they use a P.A. system and broadcast their chanting. Thanks. It makes me think of scenes from Apocalypse now. But chickens and chanters alone don't complete the rhetoric of threes.

This is why there are the mysterious whirling whistles. Think of that kid's toy that was basically a piece of hose that you swung around faster or slower to get different pitches of whistling. Now imagine twenty of them cut to different lengths, harmonizing with each other and circling overhead, spanning two or three houses. I was stumped and unable to sleep in a puzzled stupor trying to figure out what it was. The mystery was solved at daybreak when I saw the flock of birds circling and singing their strange constant cries.

Snorkeling, Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

We're in Gili Trawangan. It's part of a set of three tiny islands on the Northwest part of Lombok, Indonesia. We're on the largest of the three islands.

Yesterday, we scheduled a snorkeling trip/glass bottom boat tour that went around to all three islands. It costs us 7,000 rupiah, which is just about $7. I'm still amazed at how little it costs us to do these things. Anyways, the trip started on our island. The boat brought us to another part of our island where we did some snorkeling. The water was the clearest I've seen. We saw some colorful coral and all kinds of colorful fish.

Our next snorkeling stop was the middle island, Gili Meno. This time, the goal was to spot sea turtles. Since we were in a deeper part of the ocean, we were warned to stay close to our guide and to make sure our snorkeling equipment was on well. We mostly swam within view of the coral shelf. But sometimes, I would look towards the side furthest from the shore, and I'd see the shelf suddenly drop off. I wouldn't be able to see anything but dark water with no bottom in sight. It was right along the edge of these coral cliffs where we'd see the turtles. Our guide would swim down disturb the turtles slightly so it would move, and we'd be able to see the turtles more clearly when it swam away.

After, we headed towards the final island of the Gili chain called Gili Air. The attraction here was the giant clams. Our guides told us this would be the last snorkeling spot, and all of us snorkelers sat there without moving. We were pretty tired by the time we got to this spot. We begrudgingly got in the water after lots of commands to jump out of the boat and were taken to the two giant clams in the area. We watched our guide poke at the clams so that it would open and close its mouth. It was a bit anti climatic. They weren't too big. Eric and I both agreed that we'd seen bigger on the Discovery Channel and that Andrew Zimmern definitely ate larger ones on Bizarre Foods in Samoa. We joked that some local would harvest the clam for dinner one night, and all the tourist offices would have to take that attraction off of their snorkeling package.

It really was a great trip though. I learned how to swim as an adult and definitely haven't had much experience swimming in the ocean without some sort of flotation device. So, being able to navigate the water and see all the amazing sea life with just my fins and mask was a new and pretty cool experience.

Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

Gili Trawangan, Indonesia
We took a four hour boat ride from Padang Bai to the island of Gili Trawagnan, which is the furthest island in a small chain of three, known as the Gilis, off the north west coast of Lombok. For those of you mapping this out, Lombok is the next major island east of Bali.

We've been here for three nights so far, and yesterday we took an amazing snorkeling boat trip. It was aboard a glass bottom boat that toured the coasts of all three Gili islands and stopped at four prime snorkeling reefs. In some of the clearest bathwater I've experienced, we saw all kinds of tropical fish, sea turtles, giant clams, and beautiful coral reefs. It was the best seven dollars for five hours of entertainment I've spent in a while. The currents off the coasts of these isles are very strong and mostly the boat would dump us off in the water, then head down current to pick us up after we'd drifted in that direction. It made for some relaxing and effortless snorkeling, but was a little unnerving at the thought of what would happen without the boat as a safety net.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Diet Food in Asia

I'm an American

Here we are in Indonesia, and again I find myself confronted with the question of my racial identity. At least it's not like in Thailand, where most people assumed I was Eric's rented girlfriend. Here, people just want to know where I'm from.

I experiment with different answers, as we've been traveling. In Bangkok, I always responded with I'm from Los Angeles, or I'm from San Francisco. Usually, I'd get some confused looks. Sometimes, I'd let them stay confused, or other times, I'd follow it up with, "I was born in America. My family is from the Philippines." That usually seemed to satisy the asker. But, really all I think they heard from that was, oh, you're from the Philippines.

I also started experimenting with the phrase, "I'm an American born filipino." But, I find myself mixing the phrase up and saying, "I'm a filipino born american."

I've decided to simply say, "I'm an American." On the beach yesterday, three Indonesian ladies trying to push massages and sarongs on Eric and I laughed at that response.
"You Japanese? You look Japanese"
Again, I responded, "No, I was born in America."
" look Korean. You Korean?"
"No, I'm an American."
"Hong Kong?"
They point to Eric and say, "He from America.You look Indonesian"
"I was born in America. I live in America."
"Your mom? She lives in America?"
"Your dad? He lives in America?"
"Yes. Many Asian people live in America."
"Oh...You buy my sarong? Very cheap."

So, my new response, is, "I'm an American." I wait for the confused look and for them to look at Eric and then I respond, with, "There are many Asians that live in America."

Honestly, I really don't know why I care so much. It's not like I'm a flag waving American. I don't know why I feel the need to explain my racial identity so clearly. I should just respond with, "I'm Filipino" because that's what most people are looking for. I don't know why I've taken it upon myself to challenge people about the notion of race as a marker of identity and that even though ethnically I'm Filipino, that I'm an American too.

The funny thing is in the Philippines, the locals there have the same responses to me. They don't even claim me as their own. And in the states, it's important to hyphenate your racial identity: Filipino-American. In Europe, I got lumped in with the rest of the Americans and was an American. Interested Euros, politely ask about my family background.

I guess I'm a little bit of a novelty. I obviously am Asian, and I speak English fluently. But, there does always seem to be a "Guess my ancestry" game that people do with Asians. I admit play the same game too.

Padang Bai, Bali, Indonesia

After spending 3 days and 4 nights in Kuta, we decided to make our way to Padang Bai on the south east side of the island. This is the second time now, for us showing up somewhere and finding a place to stay on the spot. Although we did live in 3 different places in Bangkok, we had the advantage of having our first place booked ahead of time. There's an added thrill to traveling when you aren't sure where you'll end up, and a satisfaction after being resourceful enough to sort it out.

We're staying as close to the beach as we've been to date, but we plan to get closer. It's right across the street now. At $10 a night, the cost of lunch on a normal business day in San Francisco, it's easy to settle down to a different pace of travel. Less rushing from here to there in an effort to see everything before the cost of accomodation breaks your bank and drives you off.

The girl staying in the room next door told us about a blue lagoon just up and over the hill that was worth seeing, and a black sand beach on the other side of town. The lagoon was fantastic, so we rented gear and did some really nice snorkeling. Sweet local ladies tried to entice us with beach massages, but we passed. Afterward, we took quite a long walk through a heavily wooded farm-like neighborhood to find the black sand beach. We arrived just before sunset.

Seafood in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia

October 9, 2009

The food in Kuta has been a great experience. It's not like Thailand in terms of street food. Street food in Indonesia seems a thing to be avoided. So, we eat mostly at restaurants. It costs more than Thai street food, but the food is cheap and really good. There are tons to choose from on our street. They are mostly open air restaurants serving both western and Indonesian food.

Our first full day in Bali, Eric and I ordered a fish kebab and two small garlic crabs for $7.00. The garlic crabs were really good, but it involved a lot of intensive peeling.

We also had a fried snapper, with french fries, and veggies for a whole $3.50. While chowing down on our snapper, a retired British couple sat with us, ordered the snapper, and talked about how much they love eating cheap snapper in Bali. So, we were in good company.

A lot of the restaurants show American movies on a projector screen at night. You wouldn't think that a bunch of tourists would want to all sit around a screen and watch tv. But after surfing and playing in the ocean, a nice cool beer and a movie is perfect. Eric and I watched the Bourne Ultimatam and Dumb and Dumber.

Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia

We've been spending our first few days in Indonesia on the island of Bali at Kuta Beach. Accommodatons and food are slightly more expensive than in Bangkok, but still incredible bargains compared to the U.S. So we've been treating ourselves to beautiful seafood caught fresh in Indonesian waters.

Kuta is a very westernized beach town with surf shops, bars, and restaurants reminiscent of Hunington Beach. The locals aggressively hustle to sell their goods and services, which gets a little annoying. And every price is negotiable, usually starting price is more than double the actual price. Scooters drive recklessly up and down streets and tight alleys, narrowly missing pedestrians. You have to be on your toes at all times.

The beaches are a quarter block from where we stay, with
Waikiki style waves good for beginners. They rent surfboards, bodyboards, and give lessons up and down the beach. Yesterday, we rented a bodyboard and Pam and I had some fun catching waves. Today we rented a surfboard and I gave Pam some lessons. I helped push her into waves and she was able to get up and get some nice long rides. We like to stick around at the beach for the sunsets along with quite a few others. It's an intersting mix of people. Some like to watch quietly with a can of beer, religious groups gather and seem to pray to the sunset, and many locals are fully clothed taking lots of pictures and posing for each other with the ocean and sky, or other foreign tourists as a backdrop. Some would sneakily get us into their shots.