They aren't really the worst place on Earth (everyone knows that's Yuma, AZ), but the Gili Islands would top my list of places you should never go to. In the end they're not even a real place, just a collection of paradise fantasies culled from decades of hippie travelers, scuba divers, honeymooners, and the rich, lost children of the West.
Drift snorkeling is like watching fish float by the window of an underwater train. And Indonesia has more marine life than anywhere I've ever been. Fish I have previously seen perhaps two or three at a time are swimming in massive schools. The blue depths are filled with dozens of Moorish Idols, schools of deep purple tangs, so dark they look black until you get up close, parrotfish in clusters, munching on the coral, bright, powder blue tangs, yellow-masked angelfish, countless butterfly fish, wrasses, triggerfish, pufferfish and even bright blue starfish that crawl slowly over the reef.
While Balinese temples look partly like Hindu temples in India, there are other elements that come from older religions. Bali is what happens when Hindu beliefs collide with animism. The Balinese seem to embrace the basic tenants of traditional Hinduism, but then add plenty of their own animist flourishes to the mix -- like frequent and elaborate temple ceremonies. We were lucky enough to be invited to a temple ceremony in Tegallantang, Bali.
Awesome as it was to be back on the Asian version of a motorbike, it wasn't quite the relaxing riding I did in Laos and elsewhere. You can never recapture the magic, and I wasn't trying.... Okay, maybe I was, but it didn't work. regrettably Honda seems to have phased out the Dream in the last five years, replacing it with something called the Nitro, which just doesn't have the same ring to it. But the bike is irrelevant, was always irrelevant. I missed my friends. It just wasn't the same by myself. Debi, Matt, where are you? There are roads to be ridden, locals with ten people on a bike to be humbled by. Six fingered men to be seen, by some.