The following day, Esti and I ate breakfast together at another local spot—just a front room with plates of food already set out for you to choose buffet style. I am pleased to say that Balinese food is very vegetarian friendly! Lots of vegetables, rice, eggs, and tofu! I may be the only vegetarian who does NOT like tofu typically, but the way they cook it here is actually good! My favorite is called "tempe." After eating, we walked to the main road together and then parted ways for Esti to go to work and me to catch the bus to Nusa Dua.
Nusa Dua is a beautiful beach resort area for the wealthier of travelers (not the backpacker scene). It's one of the nice beaches on Bali mainland itself. I didn't realize this, but most of the nice beaches are actually on the small islands off the coast of Bali. I'll get to those later. Anyway, the bus ride was great. The busses are clean, air -conditioned, never crowded, and idiot proof. They only go on the main road, one straight way back and forth. It's the same price no matter how many stops you go (3500 Rupiah=35 cents), and the attendant gives you change and a ticket and alerts you to your stop when they arrive. The ride to Nusa Dua took about 1.5 hours so my bladder was bursting when we finally arrived. Luckily, the bus stop was at a mall was I was able to go straight for the restroom.
Relieved, I wandered around the beaches some and then saw the famous "water blow" area which is a blow hole spot over-looking a cliff. As I was sitting, enjoying the views, a guy came and sat RIGHT next to me. Like, completely in my personal space next to me. As I looked up to see what was happening, I realized his friend was taking a picture of us. It was completely harmless and we all took turns with our cameras getting shots after that. Esti had warned me that the Balinese people can be "too friendly" sometimes, wanting photos with you. I thought for sure it wouldn't happen too much since the area is so inundated with tourists, but I was wrong!
My next stop was to see Turtle Island. To go, I had to get to the next town over, about 5 km away to catch a boat to the island. I tried to find the local shuttle but had no luck. I managed to negotiate a motor taxi down from $20 to $1---not too shabby! Once at the pier, I negotiated the boat ride down from $55 to $25 - -I think I'm finally getting the hang of this bartering thing! Although this was good, I was a bit disappointed because I could have paid $35 for an all day tour to the island and other sites but I was raised to believe that it's always cheaper to go own your own than a tour. Unfortunately, I keep forgetting that most times in Asia the opposite is true. Nonetheless, I had fun figuring out the transport and all else on my own so the adventure was worth it.
Plus, I got a private boat! As I road over to the island, I felt a bit ridiculous looking at all the other packed boats heading over as I cruised along in my private one….oh well, probably the only private boat tour I'll ever be able to afford so I tried to live it up : ) My private boat may have tipped others off to my celebrity status because as I departed my boat, I was bombarded by school kids who wanted their photo with me. I appeased my fans and took several shots until my boat captain finally told them it was enough. Ah, the life of the famous.
Turtle Island was established years ago to protect the sea turtles from Indonesian poachers. It was really neat to hold the babies and pet the giant ones (some over 70 years old). Besides turtles, the island also has toucans, eagles, bats, and snakes. I was not too eager to hold most of these but my "private guide" decided I needed to so I obliged and got some nice photos of my "fake, holy s**t get this off me, smile. They tried to sell me a photo (this one with an actual smile since I was only holding a baby turtle) but I chose to donate to the cause instead since 100% of donations go to the conservation effort.
On the way back, we stopped to feed the fish bread and check them out. It was a glass-bottom boat so I was also able to see some of the coolest star fish I've ever seen. Massively giant ones in all colors, orange, purple, spotted—really amazing! I tried to snap photos but they didn't turn out great—sorry.
Back at the pier, I had a fun trying to find a local spot to eat as opposed to the expensive tourist restaurants. I eventually found one although it was still 14 Rupiah ($1.40) and not the 30 cents I paid with Esti. I managed though. Afterwards, I tried to find the shuttle back to Nusa Dua but no one seemed to have any idea what I was talking about. So after 30 minutes in the blazing sun (I did at least have an umbrella), I gave up and took a taxi back. That was 25,000 Rupiah (a whole $2.50)!
I had intended to check out Uluwatu, a famous cliff-side temple, for sunset but was too tired so I called it a day and caught the bus back to Esti. After about 20 minutes on the bus, the same woman who was on my bus in the morning got on. She was a vendor selling wooden goods and didn't speak English but we had a good laugh when we recognized each other.
That night, Esti and I researched the surrounding islands trying to decide where I should head next. The choice was between Nusa Lemognan and the Gili Islands, all of which were recommended to me. I couldn't choose from our internet research so we decided to just head into town the next day and I'd make a decision on the spot. The next day was a public holiday so Esti rode into Sanur with me and helped me bargain with the tour guide selling the boat tickets. After comparing all the islands, I decided to head to the Gilis. I bought my ticket and then filled out a questionnaire for the guy for his English class. I had to come up with American sayings and explain them. I came up with "Your eyes are bigger than your stomach," "Shoot two birds with one stone," and "Better to be safe than sorry." Besides the stone one, I'm not sure if those are things all Americans say or just in my family….anyone??
We had an hour to kill before I had to leave so we grabbed some local breakfast (9000 Rupiah = 90 cents) and stocked up on snacks in Circle K where I ran into another lady from the bus! I departed for the Gilis while Esti went kayaking in Sanur. I was sad to depart from her yet hopeful I'd see her in a few days. I am SO grateful for her kindness and happy to have a new friend!