The last few months have gone so quickly, I couldn't believe it was already time to meet Rosie and Jewel! It was an amazing re-union hugs and luckily no blubbing followed by an epic night out, consisting of strangely weird colour drinks in sport water bottles, and a late night McDonald's (the first one I've had in about 7 years). Let's just say it was needed! Our few days at Kuta was spent in the sun, getting very burnt (the boat ride over there burnt me even worse), shopping and chilling out. Kuta was filled with groups of loud mainly groups of auzzie lads, something which I was expecting on the Gilis. It was a 'holiday destination' type of place and the locals seemed to adopt the same attitude. The arm grabbing/stroking, staring and comments which the locals did on a regular basis got a bit much and was something I wasn't used to, especially coming from Cambodia. The beaches were lovely and it was a good laugh. Something I have realised in Bali is the availability of western food. It's everywhere! McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut, you name it! It makes it very hard to eat healthily or normally, but I guess when I hit Thailand it will be a very different matter so I'll make the most of my western lunches for now.
The next stop was Sanur which was a 20 minute drive from Kuta on the east coast. After over-paying our freakishly weird driver we rocked up at the doorstep of someone who Sierra had a connection with and he kindly accommodated us strange girls (not sure what he made of us ha!). He showed us around. We had a lazy day at the beach where I got burnt again, followed by a night of 'ring of fire' with vodka, red bull and beer plus live music. Dangerous! I actually think he liked having us around; he was 30 acting 23, along with his friends who joined us (one from Oxford way in a town one of my friends from college was from) so I guess he couldn't have been that embarrassed by our weird ways. We only stayed two nights as we were eager to get to our next destination and stop being beach bums and I'm so glad we did.
Ubud. Quirky, organic, arty, colourful. A breath of fresh air. The first day was spent being attacked by monkeys in the 'Monkey Forrest Sanctuary'; it was nicer than it sounds, trust me. The baby monkeys were by far the cutest! The next was spent hiring bikes and riding around Ubud and Bedulu town seeing temples called Goa Gajuh which consisted of a water temple and Relief Yeh Pulu surrounded by rice paddy fields. For some reason the town is surrounded by phallic symbols, most that I've found I've photographed. The one the locals seem to like is the pig mounting one - when I asked what it meant a lady replied 'I don't know maybe they make babies', which was a relief that it had no religious meaning.
Our major cultural day consisted of us, a driver and a weird van looking car - we looked cool. We started at 9 and came back at 5, shattered! We visited Tumpak Siring, the holy spring temple, Temen, coffee plantation, Penelokan, the view of lake and mount Batur, Besakih, the biggest temple and an art gallery which we was recommended to us. I tried lemongrass with honey and coconut sugar tea and their local coffee called……………… I never usually drink coffe so that was an experience in itself. I was so tempted to buy some for home but I had visions of the packets exploding in my rucksack so I had to give that one a miss.
Our next stop was Lovina, a place up in the north of Bali. The morning was spent overlooking a local peron blessing a puddle, due to the rainfall, and then having some kind of religious ceremony around it, laying incense and offerings around it. After the 2 hour nail biting, sickening, hair pin turning ride up to Lovina we had made it to luxury. For $6 a night we enjoyed an amazing pool near to the black beaches including breakfast and free internet in our room. Okay so our room consisted of a four-poster bed for two followed by a mattress on the floor and a tiny bathroom with cold water but we figured we wouldn't be in the room for that long and although, with our big rucksacks it may have been a squeeze, it was an offer of luxury around us which we just couldn't resist. On our only full day at Lovina a 6am wake-up took place; the first time I had seen this time of day other than when I was still up after a night out. It was stunning! My love for dolphins was rediscovered! They flipped and swam against the sunrise to then be surrounded by the 50 boats (bit touristy and amusing how they all chased the dolphins) that had congregated to spot them along with us, against the crystal clear and calm waters. Worth the early morning wake-up call - thank goodness!
After a four hour car ride, a missing purse (sierra's) and a very annoying nasty driver with a tattooed goatee we had arrived in Uluwatu. Renting out motorbikes had to be done here because everything was so spread out and not within walking distance. I was put off a bit, purely because Nan said not to get on one (sorry Nan I actually had no other way of getting around...) but they are pretty fun to get around on - instead of people honking at me, I could honk at others - brilliant! We found some spectacular beaches because we were able to venture further, one called Balangan, and some stunning sights…and the main thing was I could actually drive one woooo! This probably was my favourite destination in Bali itself, along with Ubud. The relaxed atmosphere, quiet, stunning beaches, as well as the busy ones, and the constant adventure of places we found on the bikes definitely made this place worth the visit, even if we all were broke after our tab from 'the gong' guesthouse….we sooo nearly got away with not paying for our motos - so close!
It has been an amazing and eventful last two weeks spent with amazing people. I've absolutely loved the adventure and the moving around. Now for our last night out in Kuta before my flight tomorrow…something tells me it's going to be a very emotional night!
My observations of Bali are that:
1) Pretty much every man smokes
2) Women walk carrying things on their head
3) The land is surrounded by palm trees and vegetation
4) They love banana pancakes for breakfast
5) Kites are flown everywhere
6) Surfer destination