I sat on the beach of Padang Padang with my toes gently wiggling in the soft warm sand as I watched the crystal blue waves crash into the large rocks that framed the small hidden beach. I looked behind me to watch an older Indonesian woman prepare my lunch of Mie Goreng in a makeshift kitchen that she set up under a precariously propped umbrella on the beach. I attentively watched as she boiled the noodles, cut and sautéed the fresh vegetables, and topped it off with a freshly fried egg. I took one bite of the fried noodles and was instantly hooked; I couldn’t believe the depth of flavor these perfectly sautéed noodles had and I wanted more.
The next two weeks I spent eating my way through three different islands in Indonesia; Lombok, Gili Trawangan, and the obvious choice of Bali. Each Indonesian island offered a completely different cuisine and landscape that drew me in; it called to the depths of my soul. I had an immense desire to experience and taste everything that each of these beautiful islands had to offer.
Lombok, which literally translates to chili, had the spiciest cuisine of all. Every sinful bite left you crying yet craving the next bite all at the same time. Tears of joy would stream down my face as I devoured the most delicious green coconut curry with shrimp I’ve ever had while sitting by the ocean.
Most of my days I either spent in search of the perfect wave on a picturesque secluded beach to surf on or spending hours trekking through the forest at the base of a volcano stumbling upon the most beautiful waterfall I’ve ever seen. I floated on top of the crisp water in the plunge pool watching each drop fall down around me with monkeys swinging from the dense green vines while I was day dreaming of the grilled fish skewers I had before the hike.
Close to the waterfall sweet Indonesian ladies sat roadside with their bamboo fans over a small grill. They sat tending to the delicious fish skewers as locals on motorbikes stopped to grab some on the go. Small tender fish fillets were soaked in a blended mixture of coconut milk, hazelnuts, onion, garlic, and Lombok chili then skewered and grilled over a charcoal grill. They had a slight sweetness from the coconut milk and hazelnut, an underlying spice from the Lombok chili, a slight smokiness from the charcoal grill, and packed with flavor. After we gluttonously devoured about ten skewers I couldn’t eat anymore. We washed them all down with homemade lemongrass tea and our souls were happy.
Gili Trawangan, the small eco-friendly island, had the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen as well as some of the most delicious seafood. Each morning I would wake up to fresh banana pancakes and some of the best coffee I’ve ever had while watching the Indonesian waves crash on the beach in front of me from the porch of my eco-villa. My days on Gili T were spent diving the deep blue waters with sea turtles, watching the bright orange and red sun disappear into the horizon every night from a swing set perfectly perched in the water, riding on the back of the horse-drawn carts into the small but lively town, and eating as much delicious fresh seafood and noodles as I could.
The moment I arrived to Ubud, Bali something inside of me felt alive as I overlooked the bright green rice terraces and palm trees swaying in the warm breeze, I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be. I spent a week exploring the whole island, traveling from beautiful temple to beautiful temple, stopping for delicious food along the way. I ate everything that I could get my hands on; from small roadside stands I ate fresh jackfruit and juicy mangosteens and at local outdoor restaurants I ate everything from perfectly slow roasted succulent spicy pork to baked tofu with peanut sauce to the very flavorful Mie Goreng noodles. Everything I ate blew me away from the depth of flavor you don’t find in every cuisine.
Indonesia has forever left a mark on my soul and my stomach. I will never forget wandering around the picturesque rice terraces, exploring hidden beaches, sampling all of the delicious food, and meeting some of the warmest people on Earth. This country is not only beautiful, but delicious, and it left me hungry for more.