Last days on Gili T

Our last few days on Gili T were spent on bicycles exploring the Island. I think we ended up renting bicycles for 25,000 rupiah a day, and there is a funny story about the whole process. When we first rented the bikes, we agreed on 25,000 rupiah for the day and were supposed to drop them off first thing the following morning. But we went out for some sundowners, and my bike got stolen, ‘mistakingly’ by another traveler on the Island. Now because I didn’t have the bike, I couldn’t realistically return the bike to the bike man, so we didn’t show up that morning. This is where it all went haywire. We choose rather to spend the day looking for the bike and luckily because all the bikes are marked , we eventually found the bike hidden in some court yard. So to get full value out of the bike, we took the bikes for the rest of the day and then back to our bungalow. Sometime that evening we got a knock on the door, from the man we rented the bikes from. He asked why we hadn’t returned the bikes and we told him the whole saga. Anyways, he seemed okay about it and said we should drop them off the next day, so we agreed. The next morning as requested, we took the bikes back and just before we were going to pay, the price suddenly changed from 100,000 rupiah to 150,000 rupiah. When we refused to pay the price he was asking, because this was not the original deal of 25,000 rupiah a day per bike, this guy went nutters. He starting cursing and shouting and threw the money back in our faces. I mean he was going wild, losing his mind. We dropped the money we owed him and quickly walked in the opposite direction. I think we could hear him screaming and swearing for the next ten minutes, while we slowly faded into the distance. That man needs anger management! Seriously!

What we discovered on our ride was really amazing though. Most of the Island is built up on the beaches, but behind all the expensive villas and guesthouses are small villages and farms, that must support the Island, with food and labour. I mean it was crazy to see, because for the whole time I was there, I didn’t even realize, that that part of the Island existed. It was also possible to do a full loop around the Island on the bicycles, which took about an hour. Some parts were super difficult though because of the soft sand and the bikes we rented weren’t anything special. We did however successfully make it around without any problems. The trip around the small Island was eventful, with frequent stops to snorkel and relax in the sun. We even found the most amazing sunset bar. It seemed like a really popular spot as hoards of people starting crowding in just before it was time for the sun to set. I must say, it was worth the trip! What a magical view!

Let’s get our fishing on

great pic on the pier

beautiful

another horse and carraige

nice shots from around the island

yes please

Ang chillin on the beach

view from our table for lunch

the sandy roads were super difficult to ride on

Bali in the background

a nice spot for a beer

nice shoe tree

Wow!

nice resort we passed

same place

stopped for a quick swim

sunset bar

there she comes

what more can I say

geting better

stunning!

What a sunset!

This guy was amazing! Had us laughing every time we spoke to him.

Goodbye Gili T

On our way back to Lombok. So sad!!!!

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Fun times on Gili T

Gili Trawangan is renowned for being a big party Island. I wouldn’t say I’m a big partier, but every now and then, I enjoy a big night out with my girlfriend and my mates. A bit of dancing and a little socializing is definitely a good way to make new friends and meeting people from all corners of the globe makes it even more interesting. Being on an Island in the middle of nowhere connecting with an array of diverse cultures is something very special.

During our one week visit on Gili T we got to experience some of the wildness the Island has on offer. Gili T has three main bars that hold parties every week. Mondays party is at  Blue Marlin. Wednesdays is at the ‘Tir na Nog’ Irish Bar and Fridays party is at Rudys. This is the weekly schedule, that doesn’t seem to change. On our first night we were lucky enough to get a feel for the island vibe. We arrived on a Wednesday, so the Irish bar was where it all went down. When we eventually found the place, it was relatively quiet, but the later it got, the more people arrived. Drinks were on special and we were having an awesome time. The music was good, the crowd was bubbling and we were on an amazing Island. Not much more to say! Great night!

Greg on his new bike

The party is getting started. Ang whats going on? A beer and a cocktail.

good to catch up my old friends

big smiles

making new friends

dont know who that guy is

Ang and her French buddy

Wow! A lot of people!

Rocking out!

man down!

what a fun night!

With all the diving we were doing, we only had two big party nights (thankful for that). Our first night went down really well, so a lot of expectation was held for the full moon party we were going to attend. Normally full moon parties have a little more on offer than a normal week day party. I mean usually if nothing else there should be a fire show and some drink specials, but this party had none of those. The moon made up for all that though. When we arrived just after 11, the place was packed to the brim. There was a bonfire at the rear of  a crowded dance floor (I’m surprised no one fell in, or maybe they did, who knows) and a bar full of anxious customers waiting to be served. In the beginning it was slow going for all of us, maybe because of the fatigue from all the diving, but thanks to some red bull, we eventually got our party shoes on and had a great time. I think the turning point was when we ran into Gavin and Adam, two American friends we had made while diving. They seemed to have good energy and put us all in good spirit. During the night I think we left the party at least three times, making our way to Rudys for a better deal on booze. It was good to take a breather every now and then anyway. Rest those burning legs a little! All in all, I think we enjoyed both nights out. For me the people you are with make the experience worth while and lucky for us, on both occasions, we had a quality crowd. Everyone seemed to connect with one another, so all that was left, was dancing the night away.

great photo with everyone. love the guy in the background

Our new friends Adam and Gavin we met while diving

making more friends

rocking the dancefloor

breaking it down

who knows what time this is

Adam doing a Micheal Jackson impersonation

Dj still going strong

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Scuba diving on the Gilis

One of the main reasons we wanted to go to the Gilis was for the scuba diving. There were a few other reasons, but mainly our love for the water had got us really interested. We had heard the diving was spectacular and that turtles were in abundance. Like I said in an earlier post, we had always wanted to see a turtle, but had been unlucky on our previous nine dives. Hopefully this time would be different. The water was to be crystal clear, with excellent visibility and dive sites close to the island meant you didn’t have to sit on a boat for 2 hours. Sometimes this can be good though as you get to meet new peeps, chat and hear some interesting stories, but when there is a lot of diving to be done and a limited amount of time, close dive sites make more sense. After walking the Island and speaking to a few dive centers, we settles with Trawangan Dive. On an island like this, all the dive centers have basically the same rates, so your choice of a dive center, depends solely on the person you speak to. Our instructor Adam said all the right things, and we felt very comfortable with his knowledge and personality so we we signed up immediately.

Trawangan dive. Thank you!

a great little pool bar for after dive beers

We had chosen to progress up a level in our diving certification and do the Padi advanced adventure diver course. The course consists of five adventure dives, of which two are mandatory (deep and navigation) and the other three are open for you to choose. So there are actually a few options to choose from: Wreck, photography, nitrox, buoyancy, night, identification and a few others. We ended up going for the night dive, the photography dive and nitrox, only because they didn’t have a decent wreck to explore. Once we had signed up it was going to be a busy two days. We would do three dives our first day and two the next with a bit of knowledge review in between. Our first day would start at 8am with a deep dive (basically going down to 30m), then a nitrox dive at 2pm and finally a night dive around 6pm. Hectic schedule, but doable!

so ready to get in

heading out for our first dive at Shark point

the ocean was such a beautiful blue!

the dive crew for the day

i cant explain the clarity of the water. something else!

everybody’s getting prepped

Our first stop was ‘shark point‘ for our deep dive. All I can say is ‘WOW!’ What an experience. The visibility was like nothing I’ve seen before and the colors were just out of this world. It wasn’t called shark point for nothing, as we saw two white tipped reef sharks and of course on our first dive a majestic turtle was floating about. Unbelievable!!!! To top it off, we saw a banded sea snake. I had never seen a sea snake before, so this was a first for me. It had black and white stripes like a zebra and was just so beautiful. The way it moved through the water was like poetry to your ears. The snake was the water and the water was the snake. Great stuff to see!!!!

a few busy dive spots

Dive 2 was going to be the ‘Nitrox dive‘ or as some people call it ‘enriched air’. I’ll try explain a little bit about nitrox, but my knowledge of it is very limited. Nitrox refers to any gas mixture composed of nitrogen and oxygen. This includes normal air. However, in scuba diving, nitrox is normally differentiated and handled differently from air. The most common use of nitrox mixtures containing higher than normal levels of oxygen is in scuba, where the reduced percentage of nitrogen is advantageous in reducing nitrogen uptake in the bodies tissues and so extending the possible dive time, and/or reducing the risk of decompression sickness (also known as the bends). So basically the main reason people use ‘enriched air’ is to simply gain more bottom time, have shorter surface time intervals and reduce the chance of getting the bends. Our Nitrox dive was something we hadn’t expected. All I will say is ‘drift’ baby. I remember him telling us to get in, quickly decend or we were going to miss the site. At first I didn’t realize what was going down, but quickly understood what he meant. We went down, got on Current Gili and had a thrill of a ride. We were moving so fast across the ocean floor the whole time. The feeling was unbelievable. Fish, coral and everything under the water was flashing by, like when you are a passenger in a car and you look out the window and everything around you is changing second by second. Wow! I loved everything about the drift dive. I mean in the beginning it was a little scary, because you’re moving so fast, but when you get the hang of it, it’s a lot of fun!

oh yeah!

Dive 3 was the night dive at Biorock. We were all a little nervous about this one, but in the end it turned out to be really amazing. Just being under the water with only a flash light, always sounds a little scary, but when you’re under, it’s really beautiful. You see what you point your light on. It’s a little different on a night dive as you have to really stay calm, not move as much and really get up close and personal with the sand to get your worth. So many things to see down there at night. The colors are totally different and the sea creatures you don’t normally see, come out to play. Another strange thing you see is sleeping fish. Yes, fish do sleep. There was one point on the night dive, where we all settled down on the sand, turned our flash lights off and waved our arms and hands up and down. There were these glowing particles or I don’t what they were, but when you did the wave, all these creatures would light up around you and because there were five of us under at that time, the amount of glow was pretty significant. I was totally amazed. What a dive! On the dive we also got to experience some conservation efforts to preserve the dying coral. The whole project is called Biorock.How it works is, that these wire cages are built and placed in the ocean. They are then charged with an electric current which speeds the growth of the coral. We have been told the coral grows 5 times faster than normal. Apparently Gili T was one of the first places to use this technique and we’ve been told it’s working really well. Well done Biorock!

dancing under water

After dive #3 for the day, we were finished. We had a beer at the pool bar, then hit the sack. We were exhausted! We still had two more dives the next day, so we needed to conserve our energy. We woke up early, got some brekie and made our way to Trawangan for dive number 4. Photography at hidden reef! Yee-ha! This is one we had been really excited about, mainly for the opportunity to get really close in and have some memories on photo for life. What more can I say! There wasn’t much to the knowledge review. We were told a little bit about the cameras, and the best way to take photos under the water. Some advice we had been given, was to take photos at an upward angle, always looking up towards the top of the ocean. Another was to use the flash on close ups and to turn the flash off for topography of the ocean floor. Let me tell you though, it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. I mean when you’re under the water, you have a lot to think about. There’s current, there’s other divers, there’s your buddy, which you need to keep your eye on and stay together at all times and then there’s a camera which you need to handle. I actually got in trouble for losing my buddy. Hahaha! I remember snapping away and not even thinking about where Angela was. This is not good people. Always stay with your buddy! Lesson learned. To take really good photos, takes some real practice and understanding how the cameras work under water. Our first attempt was difficult, but we had a great time and got some decent pics. The dive site was one of the most beautiful I’ve seen. The coral formations and sea life were everywhere. Once again the colors were unbelievable, so I’m super happy we were able to capture some of it on camera.

surfacing after an amazing dive

Finally we had dive # 5. Navigation at bounty wreck. This was one of the mandatory dives you have to do when completing an advanced certification. You learn about using a compass, how to navigate underwater, plotting dive routes, and natural navigation. This basically means taking notice of the topography, looking for landmarks, things to help you remember where you are if you lose your way. It only covers the basics of navigation underwater, but when you move higher up the courses, and do your dive master, this gets covered in a whole lot of depth. Our skills were done in no time, so we had the rest to explore the area and a sunken pier. The sunken pier was the so called wreck and I must say it was rather interesting. There were loads of fish, and coral had starting forming on the pier itself. I’m sure in the next few years, it will be something amazing to see. All in all I think we covered a lot of different dives. We had only chosen five, but ended doing a ‘drift’ and a so called ‘wreck’, so we were over the moon with the whole experience. After 13 dives I will say Gili Trawangan has been the best to date. I would recommend all divers to go and have a swim.

One of the pics from the photography dive

Wow!

one of my favorites

trying to get that perfect shot

Ang and I doing our safety stop

Here are a bunch of photos I took on the photography dive. I hope you enjoy them!

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Snorkeling on Gili T

We spent a lot of our time on Gili T in the water, building up camera footage, using the underwater camera Ang bought me for my birthday. We had wanted to make a movie and you’ll get to see it soon enough. The snorkeling was truly amazing and we saw some awesome creatures. When we first heard out about Gili T, turtles had come up a few times, so we were really excited to see our first turtle. We had been snorkeling a lot around Thailand (mostly Koh Tao which actually means turtle Island and Koh Phangan), but had never seen one.

Well, we were in for a delight as turtles seemed to be everywhere around the Island and Ang saw one on her first entry. When I went in, the green glider had disappeared, but I did get to see one later in the day. The turtle was really something to watch and not really phased by our presence. It was a beautiful thing to see, so close, right there in front of you. A pity they swim so fast otherwise I might have got a little stroke in. One of the main highlights though was seeing four sting rays sailing effortlessly through the water. I was so engaged watching these magical beings that when I finally came up, I was half way out to sea (well, just further out than I normally go). It was quite something though watching them flow through the water as if they were actually part of the water itself. Their motion was profoundly hypnotic. I was in total awe for the whole time. That moment seemed like an eternity and I never wanted it to stop. I reckon I could have sat there for days watching them. I think that moment changed me inside forever and Im super happy I got to see such impressive beings.

A big thanks to Ang for the excellent video. I hope y’all enjoy it!

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Gili Trawangan– A Photo Essay

no cars on this Island, only bicycles and horses

crystal clear water

a beautiful restaurant on the beach

Wow!

a turtle sanctuary

a beautiful spot we found past the turtle snorkeling point

the perfect place to relax. spent most of our days just lazying around

an abandoned boat on the beach

the boats they use are very different to anything Ive seen before

some deck chairs to take in all that sun

blue star (150,000 a night plus breakfast, with an amazing beach just on your doorstep)

our cute little bungalow

the view from our bungalow – we stayed at blue star for 150,000 a night including breakfast

just across the road there is paradise

i can see the bottom

the beaches were stunning

a lonely boat in the ocean

a sunset from a treehouse bar

a full moon rising

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Our First Night on Gili Trawangan

a map of the Gilis

After five beautiful days in Ubud it was time to say goodbye. We were certainly sad to leave, but excited about making our way to the Gili Islands. The beach and scuba diving were calling us! The Gili Islands are three atolls off the bigger Indonesian Island, Lombok. They are surrounded by white sand, crystal clear waters and supposedly many turtles. We really wanted to see turtles!

We had chosen to take the the slow ferry as it was a whole lot cheaper than the fast boat (150,000 rupiah compared to 400,000), but let me tell you it wasn’t our best decision. First of all, we were told the trip would take six hours in total, compared to three hours on the fast boat, which didn’t sound too bad, but that was definitely not the case. We were picked up from our guesthouse at 7:30, taken to Padang Bai and then ushered to an area where would wait for the ferry that was meant to be arriving at 9am. However, 9 o’clock came and no ferry, 10 o’ clock and still no ferry and then finally just before 11am the boat arrived. With the long wait we did make some new friends though, both English boys (Thomas and Adam), but one was living in New Zealand and working on those luxury yachts that travel the world (I hear it’s really good money). They were heading to Lombok to do some surfing, so at least we had good company to kill the time.

The moment the ferry left port, it was way past 11 and we still had 5 hours to go before reaching Gili T (should have paid the extra dollar). Anyway, we were still in for a big surprise. Not really knowing or even being told the process, we arrived on Lombok and didn’t have a clue what was what.

“Where was Gili T and why weren’t we there yet”. Six long hours had passed already and we were getting suspicious.

We started chatting to few people and discovered that we needed to take a mini bus to the other side of the island and then only from there, would we get another boat to Gili T, that would probably take another hour (sad face).

“Okay cool, lets do it, theres no other way”.

That mini bus ride took around two hours through the mountains of Lombok, which I must say were very scenic and we only arrived at the pier just after 6pm. We were then told to wait another 30min as we needed more people to arrive or the boat wouldn’t go. It had to be full or there was no starting that engine. I think we finally got onto to that boat just after 6 and made it to Gili T at 7. Oh my word! 12 HOURS! The flipping journey took 12 hours. I was exhausted, irritable, angry, and every other word you can use to describe being deceived. A twist of the truth, a lie, whatever you want to call it. They had made fools of us. The funny thing is I had actually read about it before arriving in Ubud. There had been a blog and someone had said “don’t take the slow ferry, it takes 12 hours and it aint worth it”. Silly me fell into the trap of believing anything I heard, so when the assistant at our hotel said:

“No sir, it only take 6 hours, I said ” are you sure?”, and he said ” yes sir, 100 percent”, I crumbled and went for it! It actually wasn’t that bad though. Looking back it was all part of the experience! It’s a learning journey and I loved all of it. The good and the bad. When we did get there, everything was forgotten. This is what we were greeted with.

the three gili islands: Trawangan, Meno and Air

goodbye sagatarius and kadeka

The ferry trip was long but it had its charms. We met some cool people and had some interesting conversations. If we had just been told from the beginning that it would take such a long time, we could have been mentally prepared for what was ahead of us, or we could have just taken the fast boat and been there in two hours. Another problem we had was that we were meeting friends on Gili T. We had convinced each other that because we were on the slow boat (poor teachers from Thailand) and leaving at 7, we would probably arrive on Gili T around 1. They were taking the fast boat (pounds go a long way in Asia) and would be leaving at 11 and probably be arriving at the same time, so surely we would run into each other. But as you now know this was not the case. When we did arrive, six hours later, we booked into the first room we could find at 100,000 rupiah a night (not the greatest room, but we were too tired to look for anything better), got cleaned up and went on the hunt to find our comrades.

time for the 6 hour journey (so we were told)

a view of padang bai

the big blue ocean

lost at sea

the long journey ends

the new journey begins

a tight squeeze

nearly there

making new friends

a tired face

im surprised we are even smiling

totally amazing

what a beautiful moon

After coming back to life with a shower and a couple shots of arak (local palm wine, that I had dodgily bought on Lombok), we walked the street a few times looking for the crew but no luck. Greg and the girls were no where to be found. A quick stop in at the net cafe, and I was able to send a message telling them we had arrived and would be going to the famous wednesday night Irish party. We had heard on the way, that Gili Trawangan has three main parties. One on Monday at Blue Marlin. Wednesday is at the Irish Bar and the Friday party is at Rudy’s. This seems to be the weekly occurrence, which was in our favor. It was wednesday, there was a party at the Irish bar and surely we would run into them there. Where else could they go? We found a restaurant along the road leading to the irish pub, started drinking mojitos and waited. After our second round and a pizza, who did we see, but Mr Greg himself. Success! We had found our friend and now it was time to experience what Gili T had to offer.

finally found Mr Greg

party time!

getting a little tipsy

ran into another saffa from cape town

Ang and her lovely French friend

feeling the pain

who knows why we were laughing, but it don’t matter

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A Sunset at Tanah Lot

The main reason we ended up going to Bali over any other destination was that I had connected with an old friend (lovely facebook) that I used to live with in London (back in 2004) and he had said he was off to Bali and I should make a plan to get there. There wasn’t much to it after that. Bali was always on that list. We checked flights (airasia.com was extremely cheap) and there was no turning back. We arrived on the 30th and were initially meant to meet them on the 2nd I think, but problems with their flights had changed their arrival times, so they only made it to Ubud on our fifth day. We were ready to go to the beach (after 6 days in the country), and had told them it would be our last day in Bali. That was all good though, as everybody seemed happy to head to Gili Trawangan (the famous island just off Lombok) the following day, which gave us just enough time to do one last tour in lovely Ubud. We had mentioned a sunset tour to Tanah Lot which included a view of some rice terraces, a coffee plantation, a monkey park (different to the scared monkey forest, which we didn’t even go to) and lastly a sunset at Tanah Lot. Tanah Lot is home to the Pura Tanah Lot which basically means Tanah Lot temple. It is a pilgrimage temple which attracts thousands of people each year, some for religious reasons, others just come to take pictures of the holy place. Tanah Lot is also famous for its sunsets, and all I can is “WOW”. They (Greg, Candice, Laralyn, and Julie) had organized the tour and we were told to be ready at 2pm. What a reunion it was! I mean I hadn’t seen Greg for nearly 6 years, but that hadn’t changed anything. It was like we had not been apart at all. A few things were different though. We both had girlfriends and he was engaged to be married so there would definitely be none of the shenanigans we used to get up to in the Uk.

An assortment of cacao and coffee beans

Thats one big mortar!

we got a few tasters of different coffees and teas

Myself and Greg (haven’t seen the boy in 6 years)

knocking back some arak (local palm wine)

the girls turn!

the road to nowhere

rice terraces

more rice terraces

a reunion with old friends

those clouds are looking scary

tanah lot

nice rock formations

an angry ocean

this place had some big waves

awesome power

beautiful

somethings trying to break through

its all about the sunset

magical

the endless coastline

a couple of beers with old friends

i dont remember what this was, but it was great. maybe nasi campur

This was a indonesian potato dish. Very tasty!

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Sunrise on Mount Batur

Our adventures after the Monkey forest saw us taking a joy ride to the Sayan rice terraces, which was a point of interest on the map, so we went and had a look. The views of the mountains, palm trees and river were exceptional, so we got some coffee and took in the scenery. In the evening we saw a traditional Balinese Jegog dance, but unfortunately my camera died so I will have to turn you onto Angela’ blog for some pictures and a run down of the days events.

Mount Agung is on the far right, with Mount Batur in the middle with the biggest lake in Bali.

I will move onto to the next days affairs. The active volcano Mount Batur. Before even arriving in Bali, myself and Ang had discussed doing one of the volcano hikes. We both enjoy hiking and knew trekking up one if the volcanoes would be a fulfilling experience. There are two volcanoes in Bali, one being Mount Agung, the tallest standing at 3000m and the other, Mount Batur rising 1717m above sea level. Both volcanoes are still active. Mount Agung last erupted in 1963, causing wide spread damage to villages nearby and killing nearly 1500 people. Mount Batur, the smaller brother, last erupted in 2000 and from 1917 up until now, has erupted 22 times.

We choose Mount Batur as it was smaller and offered the option of doing a sunrise hike (we were also lazy and didn’t want to hike for 9 hours). We knew we would have to wake up early, but the idea of watching the sunrise from the top of an active volcano was too good to miss out on. We had actually tried to do the hike the night before, but bad weather had caused us to change our minds and wait until we knew it was the perfect moment. The hike wasn’t cheap and we didn’t want to be stuck on the top of a volcano in bad weather with no way to see the sun.

This was our itinerary. We would have to wake up at 2:30am, drive an hour and a half to the volcano, and then make our way up to the top, hopefully before the sun came up to catch a glimpse of first light. “Did this mean we would be hiking in the dark?” It seemed so. When we arrived on site, we were introduced to some people, but looking back it was hard to tell who they were and then we met our guide. His name was Ketut. Ketut would be responsible for taking us up and bringing us down safely and in one piece. We shook hands, were giving flashlights, as we didn’t have any and told to follow him. We walked a little and exchanged brief introductions. His English was great and the conversation flowed easily between the three of us. He told us a bit about the volcano and our intended arrival time on top and off we went.

It seemed that we were the second group of the day, with one light flickering far ahead of us in the distance. We had a long way to go! Step by step, sometimes sliding on the volcanic rock, we worked our way up the mountain, only seeing what our flashlights were focused in on. I mean, I didn’t know where I was half the time, but in a way I think it made it easier to climb. Because we couldn’t see the top, there was no time to waste on constantly thinking about how far we had to go. All there was, was the the next foot step. Nothing else!  Time flew by and before we knew it we were on top of the volcano. It took around 2 hours. It was amazing! A cup of steaming hot coffee and breakfast of a boiled egg and banana sandwich (we had heard that the egg was meant to be made with volcanic steam), came our way, and how happy we were to see them. It was super cold up there, and even though we both had brought jumpers, the nippy air made its way through the fabric easily. When the sun did rise, it was really something. The panorama was magical.

this is at about 5:30am

Myself and Ang on Mt Batur with Agung in the distance

needed a pic with our guide Ketut

the sun slowly rising

she still coming

there she is

beautiful

what a site

had to get one with the sun in the background

Wow! the cloud covered Mount Agung

love this pic

a view from the top with Lake Batur in the distance

a look at the crater where all the good stuff happens

you can see the black volcanic rock from the eruption in the 60's

high in the clouds

more monkeys

Ang making friends

a monkey found a coke bottle and seemed to enjoy every last sip

a special picture our guide took for us. How strong we are!

Mount Batur on the way down looking back up

another pic with the team

Lake Batur, the biggest lake in Bali

another look at the volcano

I really loved this place

some tomatoes being grown on the fertile land below the volcano

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There’s a Monkey on my Shoulder

Because we were staying on Monkey Forest Street we had passed the Sacred Monkey Forest a couple of times while walking around the Ubud area and this time we finally decided to pay up and spend an hour or two with the friendly creatures. You don’t actually need to go inside to get some play time with the primates, because there a few that spend their days lazing around on the streets, but there are some temples, holy water and other things to see if you do. The staff are also not so friendly if you don’t cough up the entrance fee of 20,000 rupiah, as I found out the previous day when I got a nasty stare and a “don’t touch the monkeys” remark, while attempting to make friends on the sidewalk. Once you go inside, you are free to walk around and the monkeys run freely and even occasionally jump on you for some one on one interaction. This doesn’t last long though, as jealousy prevails, and no monkey wants to be left out. For 5,000 to 10,000 rupiah you can buy bananas and treat the monkeys, but be careful, these monkeys love bananas!

a map of the sacred forest

 

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My Birthday in Ubud

Upon arriving in Bali we had heard something about a festival being held around Ubud. It was the Bali Spirit Festival. We didn’t know much about it, but what we did know was that it held yoga classes daily, so we thought we might as well go and have a look. We woke up early and started the day with a good breakfast of banana pancakes, fruit salad and a big cup of steaming hot coffee. After every last piece and been stuffed down our throats, we began to wander around to see what was about. The roads were still quiet with just a few shop owners beginning to open for the day. The shops that were open, invited us in with interesting and fresh designs of jewelry and clothing that were to good to overlook. After a few pennies were handed over we carried on up the street, looking for any sign of this so called Bali Spirit Festival. We finally made it to what we thought was the place, but when we got there it was just a shuttle bus pickup point taking people to the festival. The price for a one way ticket was 50,000 rupiah, a little pricey we thought, so we decided to rent a scooter for the same price and at least we would have transport for 24 hours. The process was simple enough. One piece of paper to fill out, no passport,no money and that was that. We had wheels for a day. Finding the festival seemed easy enough as we just had to follow people on scooters holding yoga mats. This seemed to work out and in no time we had made it the grounds were all the action was going down. We parked and made our way to the entrance only to find out it had been sold out and was more like a giant workshop offering course, talks and theory for those who wanted to take yoga and meditation to the next level. We were told about some music in the evening (200,000 rupiah for the night) and considered checking it out.

banana pancake to start the day

so many monkeys just roaming the streets

standing outside the the sacred monkey forest

hey buddy

great words

a rice terrace we found

an entrance to a homestay where we got information about the festival

the festival we never went to

cruising the streets

the people were really friendly in Bali

Having nothing else planned for the day we had heard about an elephant cave featured as a Unesca world heritage site that was meant to be pretty interesting. We made our way there with the map that had be given to us when we rented the bike. As our map reading skills aint that good, we ended up getting a little lost and driving straight past the place without even noticing it (blame Angela). Way off track, we needed some help so we made our way to the closest resort for some new directions. A local taxi driver was happy to direct us and we finally got there, understanding why we couldn’t find it in the first place (apologize to Angela). It’s official name is Goa Gajah (which I think translates to Elephant something, but don’t hold me to that one) and us silly tourists were looking for a sign saying the Elephant caves, which as you now realize didn’t exist. As you might be thinking, there were no elephants around, so don’t get your hopes up if thats what you were expecting. It seemed to be some sort of temple built in the 9th century and thats about all I know. We didn’t have a guide, so nothing was told to us. I thought it was worth a visit though and enjoyed the walk into the jungle and down to the river, passing various temples and meditation points.

some strangely piled rocks

an interesting fountain

the entrance of the cave which seems to be some sort of demons open mouth

consumed by the demons mouth

a view of the temple

crazy root system

a scary looking face

some more crazy faces

a ceremony taking place

Myself and Angela with what is meant to be a waterfall behind us

the gajah river

a small street off the jungle path

As it was my birthday we wanted to splash out and decided to go and eat at the lotus restaurant, which seemed to be very popular choice, situated in a prime location with views of  a beautiful pond and some sort of temple. However on arriving at the door it was totally booked out and with no reservation getting a table was impossible. We did have a backup, which was a Cuban restaurant called Cafe Havanna. We had passed it the night before and made a note of stopping by. There had been a live band and the atmosphere seemed vibey and energetic. We had a great time that evening listening to rhythmic cuban beats and watching staff salsa the night away. It seemed the staff members had been trained in the art of salsa and did the dance flawlessly every time. We ate (amazing food), drank (a jug of sangria and some beers) and enjoyed listening to the band and watching the staff and even some customers dance the night away. It’s definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in Ubud.

the live band was brilliant

mmmmm! Sangria

a veg fajita – delicious

some local fish with a name I cant remember

what a great night

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