Only 2 days late I arrive in Bali Indonisa. Due to purposely missing my originally booked flights due to food poisoning I was £500 down and feeling alittle shakey.
I hadn't worried myself too much as I had been blown away with the friendliness of Malaysians that I had decided I needn't worry about Bali until I got there. Hadnt even brought a guide book… not that I remember referring to one much just a map printed off the internet and a 1 line address of Poppies gang 1 and Poppies gang 2, Kuta.
The airport was full and I mean FULL of Australians. We were at the Arrival lounge queuing to check our passports. I got to the front and shes asking me for money I try to give her pounds or Malaysian money but it has to be Rupees. She barks at me to go to the security guard at the side. I say "Money??" He rolls his eyes and I have to leave everything with the guard my bag, tickets, passport everything apart from the corner. He also barks at me "Machine round the corner 150,ooo Rupee." So off I went to the hole in the wall thinking that's a lot of zeros ill just get 500,000 out. It was my first taste of paying arrival tax. After that was dealt with off I went to the back of a long line of another flight by then, to get my passport checked so I could claim my baggage.
The Baggage belt was hectic although strangely all the baggage has been collected off my flight already, then I found out why; BANG "This your bag? I help you! I help you! I carry to taxi! I carry to taxi! Good price, good price!" Im just about to protest its not necessary as he was a really old man, I would have to end up carrying him aswel as my bag, when he drops it straight on the ground and makes for the matching range of suitcases that belong to elderly middle aged couple, he seemed to of produced a trolley from his pocket and it was on there in a flash. The old couple were having none of it, I think they were seasoned Australian Bali visitors.
Outside the airport its hot and sweaty but I'm learning fast, that is to speak that I was totally expecting the 100 taxi drivers coming at me at once…. NOT. So I did what I did best and completely ignored them turned around and went back into the airport, hid behind a pot plant and watched what other travellers were doing and collected my thoughts and turned it into a strategic plan of action. I went to the taxi office and paid for my journey straight up; got a ticked and the taxi man came and claimed me. Phew.
So Poppies gang one please? He drops me off and its just an old lane that you can barely drive a car up, so naturally I get dropped off at the end of it. An me being me I check into the first hotel thing I come to which was 30 steps away. I checked in the guide book for this hotel and it said something like (CHEAP….) but after the bartering it was no where near that price and thus not a good deal. There was a shower which was a cold tap, but just above your head basically. The sheets were old but clean so it worked in the end. But there was a pool right outside my room so I was more than happy.
The rest of the day I decided to take a look around but that idea ended pronto when all I got walked down the street was "Hello darling" "Hello special price" "I have something for you special price." "Why you alone?" "Where is your boyfriend?" "Why are you so white?" "You English, you white." I think they hit a nerve with the being alone and being such a pasty milkbottle English style white. My next plan of action was to go from a solitary person to a pack of corkasions. So off I went quick march to the pool.
Here I met 2 English birds and a kiwi, Sophie Tracy* and Chris. The girls had already been in Thailand for months so they had the bartering thing down pat, they gave the locals a run for their own money. Over the next couple of days I hung around with these 3 we ate out went to the beach and went to a couple of s*** clubs. That was enough for me in Kuta. I didn't really like it there the beach was filthy you saw the planes come into the airport. Also I came to realise that Kuta was Australia's version of Ibiza a lot of stuck up unfriendly people there. So I decided to take Chris's advice and visit the Gili Islands. He was a funny one a surfer and he fancied Lauren so badly he was following her like a lost puppy and would get really frustrated when she kept turning him down because she had a serious boyfriend. That was quite amusing to watch.
So I booked a boat ride to the Gili Islands and would see what would happen. Chris went with me coz he knew the local guy who would give me a discount. Then all of a sudden I was getting my taxi ride at 6 in the morn and I still had one last night to party with the guys I had met. I literally got 1 hour sleep and I packed my bag pissed!
Pulling myself out of bed and Im strangely wired because if I forget anything im going to be really f***ed. Pay for my stay, which are nowhere near the guidebook prices so I feel like Im being robbed. Wait patiently for my mini bus taxi thing to come. So the harbour is in Padangbai which is on the east coast of the island facing Lombok and the Gili Islands are closer/right next to Lombok so the boat journey would be 2hours and that was a speed boat aswel.
When we arrive in Padangbai we go to the boat office and pick up our tickets and walk over to the harbour which is like a 2 minute walk away. From far away you can already tell that the jetty is busy but when you get nearer then you realise its busy! It looked like an airport but minus everything except for all kinds of people with f*** loads of suitcases! But mark my words there was refreshment, old local ladies walking around with big trays of fresh fruit which would have been really tempting if it wasn't that the trays were covered in fly's, I did by a orange soda off a lady though. The jetty itself was just a old narrow wooden pier that stretched out 30-40metres into the sea and had all kinds of sea vessels attached to it. No shade either so you had to stand with loads of luggage getting sunburnt, unless you had a hat which I didn't.
When our luggage was chucked on the top of the boat and we were safely inside off we launched into the Bali sea. The windows only opened 6inches so you couldn't get a brilliant view I suppose it was to stop us from sticking our heads out the window. But all over the blue sea were jagged rocks just randomly sticking out of the water. Beautiful I managed to keep my eyes open for the first hour and then lack of sleep pervaded me.
I woke up to find the skippers shouting to his crew as they were getting ready to dock I got to watch everyone's luggage being tossed off the top of the boat to the shore and we were pretty much tossed off the boat ourselves.
So I had arrived in Gili Trawangan.
The island looked like paradise! I needed to find beds fast as I was tired and couldn't handle any communication with anyone… especially banter. So I did the same trick as I did in Kuta took 30 paces up the strip and chose a fancy hotel with lounge cushions all around with low coffee tables with a massive cinema screen and little swimming pool in the bottom. Idyllic. They had the most gorgeous fresh curries too. So two nights at the Pesona Resort was 412,000 IDR that's £28.84. Oh no £15 a night? That was not on at the time; so I moved to the Ruma Kumdun which was still beautiful and clean and peaceful but as it wasn't on the beach front so wasn't as expensive. I ended up staying there for two weeks, mainly because a pregnant cat called Cheeky had adopted me and I had to look after her. It did get out of hand when I was buying abit of food for her every evening when I brought my meal.
CATS! Loads of cats on that Island! Where the gene pool was so inbred they all had stubs for tails. Lucky for me though Im a cat person and not a dog person.
So I arrive and a cyclone starts to set in. Apparently its to last a week. True to the locals word the rain clouds set in and after a day I decide I might aswel achieve the art of Scuba Diving, Open Water Course at Manta Dive. I thought Id jump on the bandwagon and see what everyone is fussing about. Did 2.5 days in a pool and 2.5 in the sea. First dive was incredible! Never forget the complete novelty of being able to breath under water. I saw underwater marine life! My favourite was and still it the big giant clam, moray eel and I was very lucky to sea two round nosed sharks 3m long on my third dive. I haven't seen sharks since. We did have one dive in stormy weather and had to hold each others hands, also described as a family dive.
So that meant a full week of hanging around with my new diving buddies and diving instructors sure know how to party. They were really friendly and took us under their wing and looked after us. So not only did they teach us to dive they took us out to dinner and showed us where was good to dive. That doesn't mean that they let there standards drop, I had to retake my test as I didn't pass the mark. Manta Resort Developments > 4,260,100.00IDR that's £297.45 to do my open water. Not bad at all.
Gili Trawangan can definitely be described as a party Island so I wasn't short of people to hang out with. I was entertained by a crowd of girls batting for the same side the first two nights. By pure chance coincidence I bumped into Dave a mate from Bristol but he couldn't hang around and needed to leave the Island. Then an hour later Chris Evans strolls up to me! Two people from Bristol within hours of each other! Not so big after all this planet of ours. Again there were night markets where you could get a massive plate full of good for 6000IDR incredible. My favourite were the fresh pancakes and the chicken satay. Incredible. There was even a popcorn stand, you could buy some then stroll along to any of the screens in the hotel gardens order a beer and f***ing CHILL!
You can walk around that Island within an hour easily I took a stroll when one of my instructors convinced me there was a little theme park round there and a Mc Donald's. I felt like such a twat! I had convinced Chris Evans too. LOL
My last night on the Island just happens to be St Paddy's day, I had made preparations this time such as packing my bag before I went out and booking a speed boat to Jakarta across the way and then a small flight from Jakarta to Densapa airport. I had checked and double-checked again my wake up call with the guys on reception. There was so way in hell I was going to miss my flight to Oz. St Paddy's was a lot of fun drunk these shots where you eat sugar sherbet first then a shot of vodka. I remember betting a diving instructor 5000IDA to not talk about diving for an hour, Im not sure he managed it.
Well I be damned no wake up call means a late Camilla. I discover Im only 45min late. Not bad. I have my bag packed so I just chuck it on and race out the door. To my surprise and shock Cheeky the cat who had been my companion for 2 weeks had given birth to 4 kittens! I had no time to say hello to them!
I run to Manta Dive they radio back the speed boat guys and then Im off on my very private speed boat. Get in the taxi and say as fast as you can go to the airport…. He laughs in my face and pulls off so hard that it takes me a full 5 mins to put my seatbelt on.
Speedboat check, Taxi check, Flight to Denspepear check, on time to my flight to Sydney….. CHECK! Exit Asia, Enter Australia.