Sorry it's been a while since our last blog, been very busy as you are about to find out.
On the 9th we were reunited with Becca in Singapore airport, this sounds like a simple affair. Predictably it wasn't. Hadnt specified where in the airport to meet her and Singapore airport is one hell of a big airport. This led to a tour round all 3 terminals by a slightly stressed Hannah and Laura but we somehow managed to run into Becca just as she came through baggage so that was lucky. Was great to catch up, a weeks a long time to be apart when you've been used to spending every second together and Hannah and laura made becca talk at them about home for about 2 hours before she was allowed to shut up. Our hostel of choice (the cheapest possible) was an interesting one and a bit of a shock for bec who had been used to her nice comfortable bed and duvet (unheard of in asia) for the last few days. Our room wasn't actually a room, more of a roof terrace packed with dorm beds, luckily it didn't rain so all was well but the wind sweeping through the 'room' and the road noise led to a slightly dodgy nights sleep.
Were all really excited to get to bali and as usual enjoyed our luxury flight the next day, the films are a special treat when we're used to no TV. Slight visa issues, a bit of a recurring theme it seems. Turns out you do need to have a visa to get into Indonesia which we didn't realize until we got to customs. Luckily bali airport has what has got to be the worst security in the world and they allowed us to traipse straight through customs and security checks to get to the ATM where we withdrew a million rupiah each. Definitely the first, and probably the last, time we've ever seen that many noughts on the end of our bank balances! All was well in the end andwe were allowed into the country (just as well really). In case anyones forgotten after all the times we've gone on about it, this is where we booked 4 nights in a 4 star hotel for 4 pounds a night. Petal strewn courtyards galore. Or maybe not since they were actually flooded since it seems Bali's going through a bit of a monsoon. Was a lush hotel though, complete with a pool and a double bed each (the selling point for us). Also had AC a TV and an amazing breakfast included, needless to say we were very content here especially after the Singapore fiasco. The 4 days we spent in kuta were kind of like a holiday for us, we weren't really doing proper traveler stuff but it was nice to have a break. Spent a lot of time lounging by the pool and watching the surfers on the beach. After we found it that was; got horribly lost the first day thanks to some terrible directions from the lady in the hotel and walked for about an hour in the wrong direction. Had a couple of really good nights out, Bali definitely beats India on the nightlife front! The 4 days went quite quickly then it was off to Ubud to see a bit of Bali that was actually Bali and not just a big tourist resort. Was really nice getting into the countryside. Bali is very very green and jungly and lots of rice paddies which are really beautiful. Staying in a lovely homestay with just 4 rooms, the family looked after us really well. Breakfast was included in our very cheap price, didn't quite live up to expectations as we discovered it was a furry doughnut. Hannah didn't discover this until laura had already eaten half of hers. Lovely. The highlight of Ubud (especially for geography geek becca) was the active volcano we went to see. Was very impressive and was even smoking, much to becca's excitement. On this trip we also got to see, to much less excitement, the worlds biggest kettle drum. Wow. Visited a coffee plantation which was actually really interesting especially for Hannah the caffeine addict since it included lots of free samples. We were even offered to try mongoose poo coffee, a local delicacy made from beans eaten by the mongoose and deposited whole from the other end. Surprisingly we declined this kind offer, not least because it cost $30. Visited lots of temples but we're a bit templed out now after the rest of asia and there was a lot of pestering for donations which we got a bit sick of after a while.
Becca wanted to dive because it's supposed to be some of the best in the world so we headed to Amed described in the guidebook as a sleepy fishing village so we weren't expecting much in the way of entertainment. Cue Rasti Rastafarian the slightly eccentric owner of our hotel who took it upon himself to teach us the bongos (not an easy task) and serenade us all day (and all night) long with bob Marley songs on his guitar. He got very excited when Hannah presented him with her ipod so he could listen to the likes of the beatles and bob Dylan (he played these songs on his guitar but had never actually heard them so was pretty out of time). He discovered a love for the band scouting for girls which is something that cant be said for many Balinese people. Laura made the mistake of offering to write out the lyrics of Mr Tambourine man for him which ended up taking about half an hour, it's a really long song. The people definitely made Amed, they took it upon themselves to make sure we had a good time. Everyone seemed to know us after 3 days there, we felt like celebrities, people we'd never even talked to knew what we'd been doing. Made good friends with a Balinese guy called Geordie who was absolutely lovely, he knew everyone and used his contacts to get us a swim in an amazing pool in a posh resort that went bankrupt last year and is now deserted so we had the pool overlooking the beach to ourselves. We were taken to see live bands every night most of which involved a lot of Bob Marley (much to Rasti's delight). This was a great way to get talking to people and we seemed to be constantly surrounded by groups of locals wanting to talk to us. One day we did a dive trip to see the liberty shipwreck, Beccas always wanted to do a wreck dive and it didn't disappoint. Hannah and Laura felt like proud, and very nervous, parents stood on the beach watching her disappear into the sea- didn't want to lose her again! One of the best things about this dive was that the wreck was really near the shore so Hannah and laura could snorkel to it. We were told it was 20m from the shore so we confidently set off in what we thought was the right direction. Even Laura (who is known as compass woman coz of her amazing sense of direction) failed to find the wreck and we ended up swimming about 200m out to sea before deciding that maybe we'd gone the wrong way. All was good in the end though coz as becca went for her 2nd dive we followed her and finally stumbled across the wreck. Absolutely amazing, lots and lots of fish, becca even saw an eel garden which is something not everyone can say. Both Hannah and laura have decided they want to do a dive course as soon as funds will permit it.
We met a group of Danish guys who were also staying at Rasti's and therefore had no choice but to be friends with us thanks to Geordie's skill of bringing people together. Got on with them well and they asked if we wanted to go to the Gili islands (off Lombok) with them. Since we had no real plans for our last week in Bali and they sounded really good in the guidebook we took them up on their offer. Turned out to be an excellent choice as we arrived to paradise island, white sand beaches, blue skies and views across the bay to the rice paddies in Lombok. Definitely worth the horrible sweaty day long journey from Amed which involved a very precarious boat trip on what looked like a tiny wooden fishing boat which they crammed with about 30 people, their bags and about a tonne of fruit (for some unknown reason). Just to make things a little more interesting the boat ran out of petrol half way across and we were left drifting in the middle of the ocean for a while. Luckily a barrel of petrol was found buried beneath the fruit and we were on our way again. On the boat we met a Canadian girl called Steph who was traveling by herself and we all got on really well and ended up spending the next 3 days as a foursome. It was great having someone else to talk to and share travel stories with (she'd just come from Australia so we were pestering her for information). Our mission for our time on Gili Trawangan was to see sea turtles which we were told you couldn't miss if you swam off the beach. From our past experience with the wreck we should have known that if anyone could miss them we could. Set out excitedly with hired snorkels only to discover that there were no turtles in the vicinity and the masks were crap and lauras snorkel leaked so she ended up swallowing half the sea. The result of this turtle hunt was that one of the masks got dropped in the process of trying to fix it and we had to fork out 100 000 rupiah (not as much as it sounds, only about a fiver but still a lot to us) to the angry snorkel lady. Gili Trewangan is as close as Lombok gets to a party island but after koh phangan this didn't really mean much. There were a few beachside bars with live music playing, you guessed it, Bob Marley and one night we went to a party on the beach complete with bonfire which was quite cool. We earned the name of Charlie's Angels which was shouted after us wherever we went. This got a bit tiresome after a while. We were so excited to see the sun after all the rain in Bali that we spent the first day just relaxing on the beach then the second day becca went to do a dive. She saw turtles!! And squid and a bunch of other stuff including a huge aggressive fish (our fish vocabulary isn't the best, we usually point them out using characters from finding nemo). Would have been a perfect dive if she wasn't partnered with an absolute plonker named Herbert who was a beginner but the kind who had gone out and bought all new state of the art equiptment including 2 computers to moniter his air levels. He was also a complete hypochondriac and was popping all sorts of pills for various diving related heath issues. He was stressing out so much he used up all his air in half the time he should have and they had to go to the surface when becca still had half a tank left. She was NOT amused. Stupid Herbert.
Laura and Hannah were very very jealous that becca had seen turtles so we continued our mission to find some. Ended up booking a snorkeling trip round the 3 gili islands which was a great day and finally we saw our turtles. They were sooo cool. Becca debuted her underwater camera and we got some good shots of them and some amusing small head big body type shots.
Saying bye to Steph was actually quite sad, she had become like our big sister and we'd really enjoyed it being 4 of us. Was also really hard leaving Gili, we totally fell in love with this place. This was not helped by the realization on the ferry that we had somehow got our dates mixed up and come back a day early so rather than having 1 day in Kuta before our flight we now had 2. Worked out quite well though coz we had one day for shopping yesterday (making the most of Asian prices which we are all definitely going to miss!) and one day for nursing our hangovers today (thanks to the 5p beer and 50p cocktails we discovered last night). Shopping and clubbing are literally the only things to do in Kuta unless you surf.
We fly to Australia at 11 tonight and getting to Cairns tomorrow morning. Beyond that we have no idea what we're going to do for the next 2 months other than find a job wherever will have us. Still very excited though although none of us can believe that the Asian part of our trip is over! We've had such a good time and just hope it continues.
Will keep you posted as often as we can, missing everyone and love hearing from you. As always, loads of love from the girls xxxxx
Ps having major photo problems sorry! Sta site keeps crashing so we're going to try to get them on photobucket and will let you know of the address as soon as we can.