Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Meeting the family in Nusa Dua


After taking in the sights of Ubud and its surroundings, we found our selves in South Bali.  As Zim's Sister, brother in law and niece were holidaying in Nusa Dua, we decided to stay in a hotel close by.  The area didn't really have many budget options, however, we did find a reasonable hotel more suited for people on business rather than the beaches. It was a massive building among shacks and the place felt eerily quiet. However the room was spotless and modern, with a tv and air con included so we could hide away from the dirty streets.

Over the next six days we spent in Nusa Dua, our priority was spending time with Zim's family.  This was the first time I'd met any member of Zim's family.  In the 2 and a half years we've spent together, its one of the draw backs of living thousands of miles from each others families.  

As they were staying at a beach front resort, which was only a quick taxi ride away, we spent a couple of days hanging out at the pool side with  them, having a few drinks, eating and catching up. It was a very nice place, with a great pool and good for a relax. One afternoon the adults hired paddle boards (and one on a windsurfing board), which was a lot of fun. Another night we ate dinner together on a beach front restaurant. We also all went on a snorkel trip and boat trip to a 'turtle conservation centre' which was probably one of the worst cases of animal cruelty I've seen in a long time.   


But by far one of the best things we did was head to Waterbom park. This water park was quite simply, the best day ever!  No one can help but regress to childhood in a place like this. So if you do find yourself in South Bali - Go there!!!!



All the pictures in this blog post were taken around Nusa Dua beach. I had fun here in Nusa Dua but this had more to do with being in good company rather than the place. On the surface it all looks so beautiful. But even with the resorts cleaning the beach front each day, the waters were filled with rubbish. 
And if you leave the resorts, the place was just ugly buildings and squalor.  For me one of the hardest things was trying to find food within our budget close by, which in the end we had to give up on. 



On one occasion me and Zim headed to Jimbaran beach to watch the sunset and eat seafood.  The Prawns were delicious and watching the sunset was beautiful (no pictures I'm afraid as I forgot my camera), but It was the planes that I remember the most.  As the airport is right next to the beach, we just watched them fly down one after another, continuously heading into Bali as day turned to night.
    


Leaving south Bali was sad because hanging out with Zim's family was probably one of my highlights of the trip. They were the nicest funnest people and I'm so glad to have met them. Thank you for holidaying in Bali guys!!!

Friday, 30 May 2014

Ubud


With a boat and A bus ride we found ourselves in Ubud; Cultural darling of Bali that in recent years got alot of attention from that Eat Pray Love book. 


For four nights we stayed in a home stay right in the centre of it all.  If someone was to ask me what I did in Ubud, my first thought would be not a lot, just chilled. However, when I look through my pictures it tells another story....

We went to the Monkey Forest


This is where tourists come to take pictures of monkeys, whilst the gang of hooligans steal anything they can and fornicate amongst forest entrapped temples. And yep I bloody loved it! Monkeys playing in water, monkeys messing with bamboo, monkeys doing what the hell they wanted. 

They even had punk monkeys -check out the Mohawk on this guy.



Although my outfit choice of the day wasn't the best, as many baby monkeys liked my skirt so much that they kept trying to pull it down.


And it turned out the temples in the complex were pretty cool and definitely worth a look. 


We relaxed with a capital R


Watching the sunset and rise from our room's balcony was pretty cool.  Over looking several family compounds (turns out no one moves out here, only sideways and up) and hearing the sound of roosters, scooters, kids playing, temple prayers and dance shows from the palace, we got a good feel from Ubud. Although I didn't like the row after row of tourist clothing shops selling overpriced hippy clothes and their aggressive owners, I did enjoy getting a massage and just getting that chilled out feeling.


View of rice fields from an Ubud Cafe.

We went to a traditional dance show


These guys can put on a show.  Great costumes ,a little humour and fantastic choreography.



Only major annoyance was this woman raising her camera every two seconds into the view of those behind her and not actually watching the show. I mean sure, I too took photos but I spent the majority of the time watching the show I payed to watch. What a doughnut.

We got fat to help others


What's better than eating the best food in the whole of Bali? Knowing that all the profits of the restaurant go to a community hospital that's what!  Wandering the streets we came across Fair Warung Bale, a restaurant set up to give Ubud's neediest medical help.  The food wasn't good; it was amazing. I actually believe it was the best we tasted in Bali! We made multiple trips during our stay in Bali.


Mosquito dusting from our balcony through out the lanes of Ubud.

We took in the sights on our way down to South Bali


As we needed to relocate to South Bali to spend some fun times with Zim's family (more on that next time!), yet still wanted to see some of the countryside and other sights, we decided to kill two birds with one stone by hiring a driver to take us to Nusa Dua and stop and stop at some sights along the way.  Our driver, Edy, was a family member of our home stay and was really chilled and helpful.  Sights included a rice terrace, Goa Gajah (elephant caves) and a really wicked temple that to my shame I can't remember the name of. Yeah I really am that lame!  By starting early we also missed the crowds and had many areas to ourselves.



Offering over rice terrace.


Bali traffic.




Walking over bamboo 'bridge' to caves-I decided to crawl...



Ancient Caves





And that was our time in Ubud.  It was touristy, it was relaxed (Except for the stupid calls for taxi as you walk passed idol drivers) and it was fun.  Then it was time spend a few days in South Bali...

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The Gillis

After the wedding was over and the party had disbanded, we took a boat to the Gillis; a collection of three islands off the coast of Lombok, Bali's Muslim neighbour. After a 10 minute walk along the main street we got to our accommodation, Flush Bungalows on Gilli Trawengan. I know, I too was a bit sceptacle over the name. However, the place not only came with a recommendation from a friend, a group of people we had work with on the Milford track would be meeting us there. And our lodgings were fantastic; all the mod-cons and just opposite the beach. 

Our first action on the Gillis was to get on it straight away and order long island iced teas at the bungalows beach side bar.  



Our outdoor bathroom even came with a giant gecko. I named him Bob.









There is no question Gilli T is an explosion of tourism with signs that isn't coping; In a short space of time multiple bars, restaurants, resorts and bungalows have taken over the shore line. This little stretch of land is struggling to keep up with water and electricity demands. Power cuts are so regular that most businesses have their own generator. 

The Island was busy enough for me with holiday makers and backpackers, all looking for their slice of hedonistic pleasure. I would hate to go here in high season!

However, that all said my five nights of Gilli T were amazing and one of the highlights of our stay in Indonesia. 

I think the sunsets played a big part. Living under the gaze of mountains for a year, I'd forgotten how dramatic and beautiful the end of the day can be. 








On three occasions we made our way over to the west side of the island, to watch the sun hide behind Bali and its towering volcano, Gunung Agung. The natural light show made me feel so happy that I came to this place and it was the perfect spot for a beer or cocktail.





Another reason I really enjoyed the Gillis was the snorkeling. As my sinuses have stayed blocked from a virus pre-travel, diving will have to take a step down in my priorities. Now I knew from research that its coral was in bad shape, due to dynamite fishing a generation ago. But its fish life and abundance of turtles were worth putting a rubber tube in my mouth.

Although we did pay to go on a boat to snorkeling spots around the other islands, we were all a bit put out by this expedition. Note to other tourists to the area: a cheap price will mean snorkeling with 40 other people chasing after the same turtle. The best snorkeling I had was just off shore, from the beach, on the west side. I saw lots of pretty fish and at least six different turtles.










Our group even got to get some paddle boarding in, which turns out to be pretty addictive! After five nights it was time to say goodbye to our friends, Gilli T and the sound of Bob Marley ringing through our ears. We were off to Bali's mainland! 

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