Seems like ages since our last blog so i've a bit of catching up to do but we've basically just been relaxing in Bali with Rebecca and taking it easy for a while. We arrived in Bali on Thursday 12th Feb. from Oz. It was a bit of a shock to the system when we arrived after spending a month in Australia. The taxi drivers and 'baggage handlers' are all over you as soon you come through the airport. You can pre-pay for a taxi on the way through arrivals and they give you a ticket otherwise you have to barter with them to negotiate a price as they will try and overcharge you. We probably paid a bit more than we should have as we never knew what the price was but it was still only about £12.00. Should have been about £7 or £8, it's so cheap here compared to Oz! The traffic was absolutely chaotic with bikes and scooters everywhere. Normal road rules don't seem to apply here, its a bit of a free for all!! We had booked a cheap hotel on the Double Six road for a couple of nights just to suss the place out as we knew it was in a fairly central location between Legian and Seminyak. We decided to avoid Kuta which is the most touristy and more lively part of Bali apparently. Seminyak is slightly quieter but still plenty of nice bars and restaurants. Our first impressions of Bali weren't too great as the area around the hotel was a bit of a mess and the beach looked pretty dirty. To be fair it was raining when we arrived and they had recently had a pretty bad storm come through which had washed a load of crap up onto the beach and created a bit of a mess. It did get better though!
We got a taxi driver to show us around a bit on our first night and show us a few hotels and villas so we could pick somewhere to stay for when Rebecca arrived. We ended up booking into The Hotel Legian which is one of the top hotels in the Seminyak area. Definitely not the cheapest but a really nice hotel and we absolutely loved it. I managed to lose one of my bank cards on our first night in Bali. I think I left it in a cash machine, probably after the excitement of getting 1 Million Rupiah out of the bank, which is only about 50 quid! So far I've only lost 2 bus tickets, a tee shirt, a phone charger and a bank card, which is not too bad for about 6 weeks on the road!
We just had a wander about the next day to suss everything out as it's a pretty big place. There's taxis everywhere and they are constantly stopping to try and get you in and honking their horns to get your attention which gets a bit annoying after a while. It's never a problem getting a taxi when you need one though! We got the same driver to pick us up on Saturday to move hotel. We had him for most of the day as he was going to give us a bit of a tour and show us some of the sites but we ended up just going round different workshops and factories trying to get us to buy hand made scarfs and jewellery and carvings and stuff! We got a bit fed up with that and got him to take us back to the hotel for something to eat. He did offer to take us to the Zoo but it was starting to rain so we gave that a miss. He also offered us a tasting of the famous Luwak Coffee which is only produced in Indonesia and is apparently made from coffee berries that have been eaten by some sort of asian cat (a Civet I think). They then use the cat poo to make the coffee…nice! We might give it a try when we get to Ubud.
We picked Rebecca up from the airport on Saturday night. Her flight was about an hour late arriving from Singapore so we sat and had a Bintang and negotiated with the taxi drivers! Was great to see her arriving safely after her long journey from the UK and it was quite an emotional reunion! The hotel was a nice surprise for her as we had a massive two bedroom suite with two huge ensuite bathrooms and a big balcony with an amazing view of the beach and the sunset. We just spent the next couple of days relaxing at the hotel pool and on the beach. The hotel had a private stretch of Seminyak Beach which was really nice. Ku De Ta was just a couple of minutes walk along the beach which is a popular bar / restaurant and a really busy spot for sunset cocktails. There's loads of really nice restaurants and bars in the Seminyak area just a few minutes walk form the hotel, and loads of shops which I think we have probably now been into every one…twice!
After a few days in Bali we got a boat over to Gili Trawangan which is one the three Gili islands just to the North of Lombok. It takes about 2-3 hours to get there by boat from Bali. Gili T is the busiest of the three islands with pretty much the entire East side of the island taken up by bars and restaurants and different types of accommodation. Gili T has a bit of a reputation as a real party place and has become really popular over the last few years and is a popular backpacker spot. The other two islands (Gili Air and Gili Meno) are a bit quieter. We stayed on the north west side of the island which was much quieter but still within walking distance to a few nice restaurants on the north side. There's no cars on the island so the only way to get about is by bicycle or by horse and cart! A horse and cart sounds pretty cool but they are the most uncomfortable things ever. The journey from the boat to our hotel was pretty hairy as we were probably overloaded in this tiny cart with all our baggage and it felt like the thing was going to topple over going along the bumpy dirt tracks. I think we were all relieved to make it to the hotel in one piece.
The resort we were in was fairly new and was really nice, although a little out of the way from the main town. The villas were pretty basic but they all have their own pool so we spent most of our time there. The outdoor bathrooms took a bit of getting used to! We got bikes one day and cycled around the island which is a great way to see the place as you can go round the island in less than an hour. We did a bit snorkelling one day as there's some amazing snorkelling right of the beach. I even managed to see a Sea Turtle which was pretty cool! There's a load of good dive spots around the three islands and loads of companies on the island providing diving and snorkelling trips. We spent three nights on the island and then got the boat back to Bali on Friday. The boat trip back was horrendous and one of the worst boat rides I think i've been on. We had heard that the boat crossings can get a bit rough sometimes but it looked pretty calm when we set off. The boat was about an hour late in sailing and after picking-up from Gili Air and Lombok we hit some pretty bad weather. The boat was bouncing about all over the place and poor Rebecca was pretty ill. At one point Rebecca was being sick, the girl in front of her and the girl sitting to my left all being sick at the same time. The crew were struggling to keep up with sick sick bags!! We ended up getting off the boat at an earlier stop in Padangbai which was about 1 1/2 hrs from where we were planning to get off. The company did provide us with transport to our hotel but it was about a two hour bus ride back to Seminyak. It was still a much better option than staying on the boat and I think quite a few other people decided to do the same.
We got to our villa in Seminyak at about 6pm. We had booked a two bedroom villa on Seminyak road which we had seen previously and it was in a good central location. The villas are set back down a private road off the main street so its really quiet and peaceful. The villa was amazing with a massive private pool, two huge ensuite bedrooms and a big outdoor lounge / dining area / kitchen. I think Rebecca would have to been happy to stay there for a few more days. Rebeca's flight was leaving at 9:30pm on the Saturday so we were able to spend the day chilling out at the villa and some time for a bit of last minute shopping. It was sad to have to say goodbye again at the airport as the week had passed so quick but it was great to have her here with us for a while and for her to experience a part of this trip with us.
We are now just getting ready to head up to Ubud for a few days, which is about 1 1/2 hrs north of here, before we leave Bali for Malaysia on Thursday 26th Feb.