26th March 2012 - Monday 16th April 2012
26.03.2012 - 07.04.2012 30 °C
After the unexpected costs incurred through flights in Australia, I was looking forward to arriving in Asia where everything is cheap!!
My flight from Darwin went smoothly, although I had to satisfy myself with nothing but a packet of salt and vinegar crisps to eat, as evidentally AirAsia make you pay for anything food-wise and I had specifically made sure I'd spent all my Aussie Dollars so as not to add to my collection of wasted money in varying currencies!
None the less, the staff on the plane were lovely and I smiled as they put their hands in prayer and bowed their heads in greeting... A lovely Asian custom that made me nostalgic for Thailand days!
When we touched down in Bali the weather was warm and I was instantly emersed back into the Eastern culture and customs of religous offerings, incense, friendly smiles/bowing, symbols for writing and new languages! After discussing with Emily (from Byron Bay) where she was staying I had booked Kayun Hostel in Kuta... I paid 230,000 rupiah for my visa and smiled at the cash machine, as I noted that I was now officially a millionaire! (^_^) x
I retrieved my bag from the carousel and bartered with a taxi driver to take me to my hostel for only 50,000 rupiah. He was incredibly friendly and taught me how to say 'Terima Kasih' (Thank You- pretty much the only Balinese I learnt during my 3 week stay!)
When I arrived at Kayun I was pleasantly surprised to learn that, not only was internet included in the price, there was also free breakfast, towel and a swimming pool! MUCH more like it! I was shown to my bed in the female dorm which was a cute little cubby hole with it's own power point, light and shelf... the locker was also included and I unpacked quickly before donning my bikini and heading out to the pool!
I also met a Dutch girl called 'Bee' who was staying there, and whose last night it was in the hostel before flying home... as such we decided that a night out was necessary to celebrate... so after some rays we ventured into town for some dinner, an experience as the locals try to hassle you into their shops, touching you and shouting over the road... "Lady GaGa" was what they called me?? I had my first meal of Nasi Goreng (fried rice with chicken satay and prawn crackers) and my first taste of Arak, the lethally strong local spirit that apparently has killed some tourists!! (oops) It was in this restaurant that we met Sam, a Londoner who was working in Perth and over in Bali for a holiday... the three of us spent the night together, drinking the free cocktails in Sky Garden and then dancing the night away in Bounty, where they served cocktails in sports bottles and have colourful cages to dance in!
Emily arrived that night to a VERY drunken 4am wake up which resulted in a VERY hung over Skye the next morning! I just about managed to get myself out in the sun and slept/ re-hydrated most of the day! That even I also met Claire, Emma, Finn and Caragh and we went for another round of cocktails in Sky Garden before having an early night! (not as hard core as I thought)
Collected my washing from the laundrette, which smelt AMAZING and was washed, dried, ironed and folded into a neat little package... all for GBP3.00!
The next day we organised our trip to the Gili Islands for Rp650,000 each which meant we were being picked up at 6:30am the following morning, so I spent the day on Kuta Beach with Emily, shopped for some dresses at the local market and we all stayed in at the hostel to watch 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' and ordered TAKE-AWAY MCDONALDS!!! We packed our bags and set our alarm for 5:45am!
The Gili Isles
Thursday 29th March - Wednesday 4th April 2012
Bleary eyed we got on the minibus which would take us to Pandang Bai Harbour, the journey took around 2 hours and I slept most of the way! Once we arrived and checked in there was still a lot of waiting around, but we made it onto the fast boat to Gili Trawangan, the biggest and busiest of the Gili Isles, and when we pulled up onto the white sands and stepped off the boat we were inundated with locals trying to get us to stay at their hostel/bungalow... literally flyers, business cards and photos thrust into your face, as you struggle to balance with your rucksack on the tiny step ladder off the boat! Drama! Luckily, we had Emily, who's bartering skills were amazing, and we managed to get a private 5 bed house! Our breakfast of pancakes and fresh fruit was brought to our veranda each morning (which was greatly improved by my Nutella) and we had a fresh water shower and wifi access! Tres Bon!
As it was around 12pm once we'd settled in, we hit the beach for some lunch and found a spot in front of our house which became our beach camp for the next four days! Although we did manage to rent bikes one afternoon at a vague attempt at exercising and a desire to see the whole island, there were some great view points, but we did have to push them part of the way due to the soft sand! :-P
The sand is a marble of white and black and HOT! The sea is crystal blue with broken coral decorating the tide line and palm trees hang over providing shade in the afternoons... PARADISE! x
For the next few days we spent our days in the sunshine and our evenings eating some delicious meals, including the Mahi Mahi at Horizontal Restaurant which was AMAZING! Grilled fish with garlic potatoes and a salsa of peppers, tomato and pineapple! NOM NOM! as well as a LOT of Mai Tai cocktails during the never ending 'Happy Hours'
The best bars were 'Sama Sama' (you're welcome), a reggae bar and the Irish bar called 'Tir Na Nog', but with the long days of sunshine we were often sleepy and didnt stay out very late... plus we all had double beds in our house so had some AMAZING nights sleep!
This is also where I was introduced to 'Draw Something' an Iphone game that is basically pictionary and which I cant seem to stop playing! :-P
On Monday the girls had to leave and so Emily and I made our way over to Gili Meno, the smallest island in the middle of the three which was very quiet and CRAWLING with mosquitoes!! :-(
We spent the morning on the beach, where I watched a woman hack up a pineapple with a machete into a perfect spiral of fruity goodness!
Then we had to carry our bags in the BLISTERING heat to the harbour to get on the Island Hopper boat... when we finally arrived on the island we were shocked by how quiet and deserted it was, but we found a man who promised us a good deal on his bungalows which actually turned out to be a 10 minute trek into the jungle with no air con and a broken mosquito net! There were also CRAZY numbers of cockerels on the island which cock-a-doodle-doo'd consistently at all hours! GRR! We later found out that they keep cockerels for fighting, so no wonder they're so angry!
As the island was small we thought we'd walk around it and watch the sunset... however, after about 15 mins we were in the darkness, in the middle of no where and were being eaten alive by the mosquitoes so we hitched a pony-taxi (something we didn't want to do as the horses always looked so small and hot and tired!)
We ate dinner under a beach hut and went to bed to be eaten even more, so spent the next few days itching like mad! I literally wanted to hack my leg off to stop the itching!! :-(
The next day we were going over to the last island, but the boat wasn't until 4pm and so we hung out at the beach huts, where I ordered toast with honey that came with CHIPS?? and bought Jade and Ria a bracelet each as a pressie!
We were glad to see that Gili Air was marginally livelier! Again we carried our back packs for a "5 minute walk to the village" that actually took us 15 mins and completely across the island! (Indonesians evidently are not very good at telling time or counting!) so by the time we got there we were just happy that the bungalow had air con, and it wasn't until later that we realised it also had a salt water shower! (not ideal), then to add insult to injury, there was a fish eye in my dinner (which I tried my hardest to ignore) and washed down with some more Arak Attack cocktails!
The air con was then WAY too cold and I had the worst nights sleep ever... so by morning I was ready to get back to the mainland... ROLL ON UBUD! x
Wednesday 4th April - Thursday 12th April 2012
Another long drive from the ferry port at Padang Bai "about one half hour"... more like 3!
However, once we arrived at Monkey Forest road we found a BEAUTIFUL bungalow with the best bed I've slept in so far, and icy air con that blasted the heat away from your skin when you walked into the room... lush! The bungalows were called Ubud Permai, we had a few issues with black water? but there was a big pool with sunbeds, friendly staff and the cutest puppy called Piko!
Here we met up with Yas and Cat, two girls we met originally in Kuta who had been in Ubud for a week and LOVED it! We got on really well with them and went for dinner at Sagittarius restaurant, where the food was delicious (and cheap) but the service was APPALLING!
The next day we sunbathed in the morning and then went to the Monkey Forest in the evening... I was hoping for an array of different monkeys but instead they were all the same vicious grey species! I was happy that they roamed free and seemed to have territorial command of the forest and the surrounding areas... several times we saw them fighting on the roof of our hotel!
Within the Monkey Forest there were lovely statues and a beautiful traditional temple! A few people had bought bananas at the entrance but watching how the monkeys climbed up their clothes and snatched the bunch out of their hands, put me RIGHT off! Apart from that we also saw a very cute baby monkey and some monkey porn! :-S
Had a great night's sleep in our comfy beds, and Yas and Cat moved over to our bungalows!
The next day was another day of sunbathing and organisation... we booked our cycling tour and trip to the zoo as well as our spa day! LOTS of fun things ahead! (^_^)
That evening we had dinner in a restaurant which overlooked rice paddy fields, and, as it was Good Friday and I had PROMISED mum I wouldn't eat meat, I went for the vegetarian option of Tempe with rice and Balinese salad... Tempe is made from spiced soya beans in little chunks (like tofu) and is VERY tasty! x
We later met Ryan and Karen- a couple from Canada that we had met in the Gili Isles and got on very well with! We all went to the reggae bar where they played live music with a great Adele-esque singer and the bar man asked me "Are you sure?" when I ordered my third Mai Tai! YES I'M BLOODY SURE!!
Eco Cycling Tour
Saturday 7th April 2012
We had to wake up VERY early in the morning for our cycling tour! The bus came to meet us at 7:30am and we met our tour guide "Froggie" who was LOVELY, with great English and an ethusiam and passion for his home country of Bali, he had lots to tell us about traditions, customs, religious beliefs etc and was an incredibly sweet 21 year old!
Our first destination, once we had picked everyone up from their hotels, was breakfast at a buffet restaurant which overlooked a stunning volcano and lake... apparently the last erruption was in the 60's and you could still see the black, dead ground from where the lava had spilt! To the right of the volcano was a lake that was rich in fish and vegetation due to the fertile volcanic soil, and in the background were the largest mountains on Bali island... The sun was smiling down and the view was amazing! I munched away on black rice pudding (tastes like any other rice pudding), fried rice with prawn crackers and 3 chocolate pancakes with honey! NOM NOM! My excuse was that we would be cycling all day and I would need my energy, but in fact, 98% of the course was downhill and thus I think I peddled all of 5 minutes throughout the entire tour! (oh well) x
After breakfast, before the cycling began we were taken to a nearby plantation, where locals grew a variety of fruits, herbs, coffees and coco beans for export...
We were also given a variety of other samples of exports made at the plantation, including a delicious hot chocolate, green and lemon tea, ginseng coffee (lush!) and sugarcane tabacco that Froggie told us is mixed with marijuana! Never one to turn down free stuff, myself an my hilarious American friend Martin (the husband of the couple we befriended) attempted to roll and try a sugar cane joint... He might have 50 years on me, but my rolling attempt was 100% better! The joint was surprisingly pleasent, tasting very strongly of sugar... but was also very strong so after 2 drags, I decided that was quite enough of that! A funny experience and a good memory though!
I chose a sporty red bike, as it was one of the only big ones there were, but as Jade pointed out, it actually went very nicely with my bag and when I was handed the yellow helmet too, I became the official queen of co-ordination for the day! (^_^)
Posted by sdestecroix 07:27