(Day 188 to 199)
29.05.2010 - 08.06.2010 38 °C
After leaving Nigeria and Mauritius, Martin & I met up in Dubai for our last flight together to Bangkok. We spent a night in a Bangkok Airport hotel and departed the next morning to Bali.
Bali has great surf, emerald green rice terraces and is the only Hindu society in South East Asia. We spent our first few days in Nusa Dua (South of Kuta) relaxing and catching up. As our hotel was not on the sea like all the 5 star hotels, we didn’t do any beach time but visited a couple of nice places instead. Every house and shop in Bali places a small offering at their entrances which is to bring them good luck, good health and good fortune. This offering is usually made from palms or bamboo and contains some food, flowers and burning incense.
Whilst we there we visited a temple on a cliffside overlooking the sea called Pura Luthur Uluwatu where we were asked to wear sarongs and ceremonial sashes, and where the resident monkeys are inveterate thieves. In the time we were there we saw the daring creatures steal reading glasses off a terrified Japanese tourist’s head, another a bottle of water which he took, edged away ever so slightly and casually drank in front of another startled group! The rest of the time was spent walking with our backs against walls and exchanging warnings with people who like us were half-amused and half-worried!
We also had a lovely afternoon spent in Jimbaran Bay. There you find 3 sections of casual restaurants with tables in the sand, which serve very fresh seafood – each one having a vibe of its own: The North stop is more touristy and little more expensive. The Middle one: Rustic and not overpriced. The one in the South is a mix between the 2. We chose the middle one as was recommended to us by our hotel as the nicest. We had a very pleasant afternoon watching the sunset, with our table right on the beach. When the sky had turned beautiful and pink, we selected our fresh seafood which they weighed and cooked up for us with plenty of accompaniments. We had a kilo of crab, 500g of king prawns and 1kg fish for a smashing $20 bill – drinks included!! I’m still kicking myself for not having lobster.
Our next destination was Ubud. Set inland, near some scenic rice paddies this little arty town was to be our home for the next 3 nights. Ubud is known for its painters and sculptures and some great furniture shops nearby. Martin and I hired a motorbike and raced around the nearby towns (the successful one being Mas)searching for some pieces of typical Balinese furniture (which is actually all made in Java and shipped over to get finished in Bali). We bought a few things which are to be shipped back for us in a tiny cubic metre! The place to shop for furniture is apparently Kuta, which we had avoided because of its touristy nature..
From here we moved far north east of the island to Amed, an area stretching 11 km along some clear blue coastline, black volcanic sand and piece and quiet, it’s also a great area for diving with a few wrecks to discover. We took our time to fully relax by the pool overlooking the sea and having ‘cheap as chips’ lunches and dinners watching the sun set over the sea. The road to Amed was really beautiful, passing small villages with local shops and work benches on the side of the road, beautiful rice fields behind every turn in the road and green lush vegetation.
After Amed, we moved down south to Paddang Bai where we were to catch the boat across to Lombok and the 3 Gili islands which are situated just off the northern coast of Lombok.
Bali was an interesting island, where we feel that sadly we had to spend most of our time planning the next stop instead of really appreciating what was on offer. Things are quite disorganised, transport fairly expensive and it becomes quite exhausting to bargain everything down as the locals try their best to get the maximum money out of you for everything. The scooter-crammed Bali, with its run-down but pretty buildings (all with smart little carved details) has however been a pleasant first stop in our discovery of Indonesia.
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