Lombok to Bali
04.10.2010 - 17.10.2010 31 °C
I arrived in Denpasar to find out that all the buses stopped about 30 minutes earlier so had to get a taxi to Kuta – I thought I would stay there as its easy arrange a lift to the Gili Islands the following day. I had decided to go and see my fiend Helen that I had met in Sydney a few months back who was on the Gili islands just off Lombok – about a 2 and a half hour fast boat ride from Kuta.
I had heard a lot about Kuta being a party destination where the aussies go on holiday and it wasn’t wrong! My god it was like being in Magalouf – ok when I was 18 maybe but not so much now – it was crazy. Now Kuta has no street signs – ok so how am I meant to find a hotel that I heard was cheap and good? The taxi driver dropped me at the end of a dark ally and said it was just down there – obviously he lied as it wasn’t so I set out to find a hotel – now it wasn’t hard as there everywhere but they all charge by the room – fine if four of you stay there but me on my lonesome looked like I would have to pay more then I wanted. It was getting late and not wanting to walk around all night decided on a cheap place I settled on one – ohh my god it was a dive – but needs must! On the way into the room I saw the biggest cockroach I have ever seen in my life run by – it was bigger then my hand! I did end up sharing my room with quite a few of them – but I gave them names and decided to think of them more as pets.
I had a walk around Kuta and decided I would head straight to the Gili Islands getting out of Kuta at 6:30 am in the morning. Now I should have gone straight to bed as it was almost midnight but I was starving and needed a drink – big mistake – ended up bumping into these aussies and went out. It really is crazy there – definitely more like an 18 – 30’s destination rather then a relaxing place to stay. So the next morning I was picked up and headed out on the boat to Gili Trawangan one of the three islands that make up the Gili islands. These islands are like paradise – just what I was looking for. No cars or motorbikes are allowed on these small islands so no noise – it was bliss. I knew instantly that I would like this place – and I wasn’t wrong!
Me and Helen decided to take a walk around the island – its pretty small so only took around 2 hours to do so. The first night we went out with a few guys that Helen had bumped in to – they were a really good laugh. Basically every two nights there is a party on the island in a different bar – I quickly discovered the reason for this – it was to get over the night before! I bumped in to some Dutch girls Jeanine and Bob (it wasn’t her real name but I couldn’t pronounce it so she settled for Bob) they were a really good laugh and joined our group over the next few days. Most of the days were spent on the beach – I did promise myself I would go diving as it was meant to be really good but I couldn’t pull myself from the beach.
Helen and a few of the guys left on the Saturday so I found a cheaper place to stay – they didn’t leave without a final goodbye though – the Friday night was party night in Rudy’s – I wont go into details but it was a lot of fun. With the guys gone I thought I d spend some time to start planning my trip through Indonesia and of course get some diving in.
Going off topic a little bit here – as I m writing this I can here two Girls from England that I have to say make me ashamed to be English. First of all they are bitching really loudly about the Wifi not working on the beach from the café we are in – come on your on holiday on an island – Im sure it can wait…. Second of all they have been really rude to the locals that are selling bracelets on the beach – I know they can be annoying but they are only trying to earn a living and they were so rude to the guy. Now they are complaining about being given the wrong change – when they realized it was actually themselves that were wrong and not the waiter they said ‘well we have been in like 6 countries in the last week – how am I supposed to get used to all the different money?’ argghghhhhhhhhhh people like that drive me crazy… Ok rant over lol
I booked myself on a snorkeling trip for the day which was good as it took us around all three of the islands and we had lunch on Gili Air. The coral isn’t the best around the islands – nothing spectacular but you cannot say that about the marine life, its amazing – there are turtles everywhere.
Duncan a guy from England that I met was training to be a dive master so I thought I d go with him as he gave me a quick run through of everything again saving me having to do a refresher course. I went diving at Shark point hoping to see some sharks, I saw loads of marine life, huge (and I mean huge) turtles, octopuses, some huge fish, moray eels, etc. I was glad that I went diving – its been over a year since I did it last and I love it. Over the next few days I had met some guys from Essex and we spent most of the time on the beach – I had found a dirt cheap room which was clean and I couldn’t really see myself leaving the island – this place is seriously one of the best places I have been. The locals are really friendly and the island is beautiful – never more so then when we went to the other side one evening to watch the sunset – there was a group of about 10 of us – we spent the time having a few drinks, listening to Bob Marley watching the sun go down. I had been trying out the new panoramic setting on my new camera and got some awesome pictures.
So I had been on the island for a week and a half – most people just stay for three or four days so I was getting to know a few of the long termers on there – which got me thinking about leaving – everyone talks about how beautiful Indonesia is and I didn’t think it was fair to spend all my time on the Gili Islands. I was thinking about a boat trip to Komodo island to see the dragons but it was pretty expensive so instead I decided to head west through Bali, Java and Sumatra. Now, I didn’t plan on heading off this soon but it was one of the party nights on the island at the Irish bar and I bumped in to Eva that was on my diving trip the day before and she said she was heading off the next day in the same direction – perfect, as I didn’t fancy going to Sumatra on my own to be honest – not many tourists go there so it will be nice to travel in a pair. The only problem I could see with this was that she was leaving the next day at 10am – bear in mind this we agreed this at about midnight when the rum was flowing… So dragging myself out of bed the next morning, I checked out and went to meet Eva at the Jetty. We were first heading to Ubud – its meant to be very cultural with lots of temples and dances so I was pretty excited to see some of South East Asia that wasn’t all Beach life. The only problem was I would have to survive the 2 hour boat trip and a 2 hour bus ride - I survived (only just though).
Driving through the country side was beautiful – very green, lots of rice fields and very crazy driving! We arrived in Ubud checked in and went out to explore – luckily it was Thursday and once a week on a Thursday they have a dance night for visitors, it was pretty cool, but it did go one for a long time – by the end I was getting a little bored I have to admit but it was definitely worth going. We had a quiet one that night planning what we could do over the next few days in Ubud.
Ubud really is gorgeous, its got a very tropical feel, its really green and there are rice fields everywhere. To be honest I was expecting a lot more poverty but it looks beautiful and the people are among the happiest and friendliest I have met on my travels so far. They actually want to speak to you and aren’t always after money. Don’t get me wrong there are still people in need here – evident went a begging women saw me and Eva coming I caught her out of the corner of my eye shaking the baby to make it cry in an attempt to make us feel sorry for her no doubt.
We decided to spend two nights in Ubud and after reading the lonely planet decided to follow a walking tour that was about 9km long. First stop was close to our place the Mandala Wisata Wanara Wana (known as the Monkey forest sanctuary) it was crazy. At the entrance there were people selling bananas for the monkeys I was just about to buy some when I saw the monkeys all over someone that was feeding them - usually I like monkeys but these really didn’t look so friendly. We put all our things in our bags and started walking. When I read about the sanctuary I thought it would be caged off but they are free to come and go and there is hundreds of them. I saw one guy that had one jumping on his head which looked pretty cool until another one jumped on and they started fight whilst clinging on to him, he had a cut arm which didn’t warm me to the monkeys. They were crazy they were literally everywhere. I had just bought a new big bottle of water before going in and one of the bigger monkeys decided he wanted it wrenching it out of my hands. I went to try and get it back quickly back pacing when he snarled at me showing his big teeth – I decided he could have my 30 cents bottle of water. It obviously wasn’t his first time stealing one as even though it still had the seal on it he had it open in seconds. I was chatting to one of the locals and he said that quite often they steal cameras – once they realize the camera isn’t food they are willing to trade it for a banana. It was hilarious.
Now all through my trip you always get people trying to sell you drugs – you always get the whisper when you walk by ‘coke?’, ‘majhurana?’ you learn just to ignore it instead of this in the monkey sanctuary it was ‘banana?’ they did it in the same whispering voice – I found it hilarious.
We walked on through some rice fields and a few hours later had completed a loop of Ubud. Its funny as because that route is listed in the lonely planet the locals have gotten wind of this and point out the way you should be going when you look lost (and also try to sell you things). It was a great day we also found ourselves a taxi driver for the following morning – because a lot of the temples are a distance around Ubud its easier to rent a driver for the day. It was 30 bucks but split between two it wasn’t so bad and we didn’t have to get a bus to Munduk our next destination about two hours north as he agreed to drop us there after seeing all the temples.
I was sitting out on the porch and bumped in to two Austrians that I met in Kuta when I first arrived in Indonesia so we arranged a time to meet and went out for a good feed and watering.
The first temple we visited was Pura Taman Ayun which means Beautiful Garden – it was really pretty and probably the best temple we saw that day, we also visited a plantation – if could call it that – and tasted a few spices and drinks. We also visited Pura Luhur Batukua which was a temple high up in the mountains and boy did it rain. It was ok, not as impressive as the first but it was still worth a visit. As soon as we arrived in Munduk we realized that its not the kind of place you stay long so we headed straight out in search some waterfalls that we heard about. So we headed out into the jungle following a very sketchy map. My god it was a trek, it only took around two hours but we basically had to climb up and down the side of a mountain – steep is not the word! Every now and then we would stumble along a few locals and they would point us in the right direction. We made it out of the jungle just before it got dark which was lucky as I didn’t fancy trying to find our way out in the dark.
Keeping moving we headed to Lovina having negotiated hard with the local Bemo driver to get us there. If I wasn’t good at negotiating I am now – they try to really rip you off – he started at 100,000 but managed to get him down to 20,000 which was still expensive, but we didn’t have a lot of choice being in this little town. So Lovina was our base for heading to the national park specifically to Pulau Menjangan to dive as I’ve heard amazing things about it. And we were not disappointed one bit – we headed out in the morning at 8am and we out at the dive site by 11. The first dive was awesome – saw a few turtles but the most notable was the thousands of fish – I looked up and I could hardly see the top of the water through all of the fish. The second dive goes down as my best dive yet – we dove the wall – which is a drop off and you cannot see below you just this amazing coral and all kinds of fish – it was really something special.. . and to top it all off I saw a shark! My first one I ve seen diving – it was a black tip about 1.5metres long – ok not quite a killer but still all the same it was my first shark sighting diving – I was over the moon.
I was shattered but I was on a bit of a tight schedule if I was to fit Java and Sumatra in as my visa expired in a couple of weeks. So straight from the dive sight we headed to Gilimanuk on the west coast of Bali to get the local ferry to Ketapang in Java and the journey east continued…