The Adventure Continues
We know it has been awhile, but we’re still adventuring in our kigos!
After Japan, we rounded out our Asian journeys in the Philippines and Indonesia. At the end of June we sadly said goodbye to the Far East, but excitedly hopped a plane to Switzerland to begin the European leg of our trip. Below are some quick highlights of the past 2 months and a bunch of pictures, which often speak louder than words.
Manila was a maze of madness and energy. Exploring the walled streets of Intramuros, the Spanish influence was unmistakable in the architecture. While the buildings were a bit rundown, their beauty was easily appreciated. After long days in the sun, our Manila visit was made complete as we grabbed rides in the jeepneys, brightly colored old army jeeps converted into shared taxis, honking up and down the streets. Our final night in town, we were lucky to have the sister of a friend from Atlanta sweep us up for an evening in the Makati District, where we enjoyed a dinner of traditional dishes and drinks at a rooftop bar overlooking the city. From here we headed to the beaches of Boracay. We preferred Puka Beach, a quick trike ride from the main White Beach. The sands were largely deserted, the waters beautiful and clear and there was a great restaurant where we enjoyed fresh fish and beers after our days in the sun. Marco also had the opportunity to sample the local delicacy, balut, but more on this in a future post.
Our time in the Philippines ended with an adventure. We wanted to escape to one of the smaller islands off of Boracay for a few days and chose Carabao Island. After much asking around, we finally discovered we could catch a boat that went once a day at 5pm. Loading onto a small wooden vessel packed with all sorts of provisions and supplies, along with locals returning to their homes, the ride over was magnificent. We were able to see rock formations, caves, the deep blue ocean and the layout of the islands from a very different perspective. Arriving on the island, with no taxis or trikes in sight, we hired two guys to drive us the twenty minutes to our hotel on their dirt bikes. We pulled up to a very quiet and seemingly deserted place. After about ten minutes the owner appeared, looking very surprised to see us. He explained that he had shut down for the season earlier in the week and had not received our reservation through the booking site. Luckily, he graciously made up a room for us and arranged for our meals. Outside of a few small general supply stores, which had very limited options, there were no restaurants or places to buy food. Another twist, the entire island only had power from 4am – 6am and 1pm – 11pm.
We embraced all of our circumstances as another great part of traveling and spent two quiet days relaxing.
Then the storms started the evening of our second night, becoming stronger and more frequent into the early morning. Although we had booked a third night, with only one boat out per day, we were worried about getting back to the mainland to catch our flight to Indonesia. A quick decision landed us on the 6am boat, when the weather thankfully cleared for about an hour. Despite all of the bizarre circumstances, it was very beautiful and interesting to see an island like this and by most definitions be cut off from the world for a bit.
Successfully making it out of the Philippines, we weren’t sure what to expect as we flew into Jakarta. We’d heard all sorts of stories about the craziness of this city and with two days to check it out, we were ready to find out for ourselves. The city itself was large and modern with statues, squares and shopping. Where we really made our memories was the second evening. Our friends Ryan and Matt, who have been mentioned in both our Thailand and China adventures, were in Jakarta for business. The four of us headed out for a night on the town, which turned into a series of memorable moments. A quick rundown…..
- dinner and drinks at a fun local bar
- befriended two local guys who took us to a popular club
- fitted in her kigo flits, Kristin was denied entrance because her shoes did not have heels (naturally, then they would not be a comfortable minimalist shoe
- cab we took home was stopped by the police, we were threatened with jail for not carrying our passports, but a quick bribe negotiation had us safely on our way
- ended the night happily dancing with the full staff of a nice relaxed place
With all of the excitement of the big city, we said goodbye to our friends and arrived in Bali. Our first few days were spent in the overwhelmingly touristy area of Kuta Beach, but after discovering the Bukit Peninsula we fell in love with the island. Originally planning to stay one week, it quickly turned into three. Back on a trusty moped, we scooted all over the area, finding incredible food, festivals, temples and beaches. Our favorite beach, which we’ve dubbed our ‘secret beach’, was a fantastic accidental discovery. Attempting to find a surfer hotspot, we asked a local woman for directions. The communication reverted to hand gestures and we understood to follow her.
Where we arrived was not the popular beach expected, but instead a breathtaking stretch that required a 300+ step trek down and of course back up.
We enjoyed many peaceful days on the secluded sand, soaking up the sun, admiring the beauty of the waters, exploring the ocean creatures at low tide and braving the crashing waves that threatened our retreat at high tide. We met wonderfully warm people, from the family who ran our hotel to the Peruvian brothers who served ultra fresh seafood at their funky restaurant to the local guy who served delicious rice, meat and potatoes topped with curry sauce. This last one became a staple lunch for us. We fell in easily with the relaxed way of life and had a very hard time leaving. Unfortunately, there is currently a ban on moving dogs onto the island, or we may have found our future home.
First stop in the European leg of the kigo World Tour! Stepping off the plane in Switzerland was surreal. After seven months in Asia, Switzerland definitely smacked us with a different vibe, one more familiar to home. Our first day we enjoyed Zurich, walking along the lake, watching people swim, picnic in the parks and stroll the streets. After sipping frozen coffees to cool down, we anxiously searched for Kristin’s mom, dad and aunt who were joining us for two weeks. We easily found them in the train station, excitedly catching up on travels and news from home before hopping on the train.
The next week was spent between the beautiful towns of Interlaken and Zermatt. The definite highlights were traveling up into the Swiss Alps for a spectacular view of the mountains, specifically the unmistakable Matterhorn that marks the border of Switzerland and Italy, as well as taking the scenic Glacier Express from Zermatt to St. Moritz. The landscapes were truly breathtaking, changing from bright green valleys to rocky snow capped peaks. We also witnessed the most beautiful aqua rivers and waterfalls. Absolutely incredible. Zermatt was also where we spent the fourth of July, grilling brats for dinner and lighting sparklers off of the deck, which was probably not our brightest idea as the embers drifted down to the patio and grass below.
We moved by efficient and comfortable train into Austria, spending time in Innsbruck, Salzburg and Vienna. In addition to a continuation of beautiful mountains, we explored impressive churches, palaces, gardens and many facets of music. In Salzburg we learned about the musical genius, Mozart, visited areas where the Sound of Music was filmed and took a very long and steep cable car ride into the mountains, where we gingerly walked on glaciers. In Vienna we attended a fantastic opera performance, enjoyed sipping coffees in the cafes and wandering through the shops. We sadly parted from the family, as they headed home to Philadelphia and we were left to figure out where to go next.
We were impressed by the abilities of our three guest trotamundos to travel like backpackers, quickly becoming hostel savvy, experts at popping on and off trains, saving on meals by grabbing food at the grocery stores, and attacking it all with an adventurous spirit.
It was really great spending time with them and we can’t wait for another exciting trip.
Eastern Europe is calling our kigo-clad feet. Stay tuned!