Hmmm...I'm trying to remember what I have done since my last blog...a lot happens in a week when you are travelling, so I'm struggling a bit!!!
In my last blog I had just got back to Bangkok for a couple of days before coming to Bali....oh yeah, I had booked myself into one of the broom cupboards (aka single room) at the Wild Orchid Guest House...and for my last days in Bangkok I thought I would try to find something different to do other than the usual shopping, temples then bars in the evenings. So on my last night I booked to go and see the Calypso Show which is a cabaret show supposedly performed entirely by lady boys...it was very entertaining!!! It was hard to believe they were all Lady boys as some of them were quite stunning, so i found myself looking very closely to try and work out if they were...I had a front row seat, and they were wearing quite revealing outfits for some parts of the show, so I had a very good view...and I have to say, if they were all lady boys, some of them were definitely 'post-op'!!!
For my last day I went to 'Jim Thompson's house' near the shopping centers in Bangkok, and that was a really nice place to visit, it is set within 1/2 acre of garden and is really peaceful considering it is in the centre of the city, so it was quite a chilled morning...and the restaurant was really good!
Then onto Bali.......Bali is beautiful... and compared to Thailand and Cambodia, appears very civilised, and a lot wealthier in general. My lovely big bro had booked us into a lush resort over looking the Tanah Lot temple on the South West coast for the first two nights. The hotel was entirely different to what I had become used to...it was like heaven, and I really chilled out once I got there. There were brilliant views of the coast line and the Tanah Lot temple, which is on a rock just off the coast, from the hotel, and it just a really relaxed resort. I felt thoroughly spoilt there, and it was like a proper holiday compared to the travelling I have been doing. Unfortunately, my brother's flight had been cancelled so he couldn't join me until Monday, and would miss out on this hotel!!
After Tanah Lot I moved onto Ubud, which is inland Bali, and known as the Arts and Culture capital of Bali. We are staying at another lovely hotel, it is much smaller than the last hotel, with just 20 rooms, but the service is brilliant. The room is amazing, it's a little private villa, with a sun terrace and a plunge pool, set amongst trees over looking the surrounding hills. On our first day we went into Ubud and wandered around some of the hundreds of art galleries and craft shops in the center. Then we decided to take a look up one road and it turned out to lead us to the lush countryside, with local farms and rice paddies. It was beautiful, walking beside rippling streams, through forest and then out onto the terraced rice paddies. And one of the best things was, there were virtually no tourists, other than the odd local farmer, we saw about 5 other people...it was my highlight of Bali so far. The people of Bali are so friendly and accomodating, they apear to be genuinely pleased to meet you, and not only the ones that have something to sell you, even the local farmers we met while out walking all smiled and greeted us.
Next to the town of Ubud is the 'Sacred Monkey Forest' and is what the name suggests....a Forest with Monkeys in it!!!!...hundreds of them in fact, they are everywhere!!! They are wild monkeys, and really cute, and all come to see you hoping for some food. I made the mistake of putting my hand in my bag to get some water out while standing beside them, and before I knew it my hand and bag were being grabbed by several little monkeys!!!! They are not agressive though, so you can just pull away and they will leave you alone....they are just very cheeky!!! There are lots of babies too, which are super cute, with little black tufts of hair on their head, and when they get together they are really playful and jump and roll around as if they are performing for the tourists. I took loads of photos of them, but I think on nearly every one the monkeys turned around at the crucial time and I managed to photo 100's of monkey's bums!!!
I will finish this later......
Part 2! Sorry about leaving half way through the blog, but our transfer to the next hotel had arrived and I had to go! On our last full day in Ubud we arranged a day tour, which took us to the mountains in the north of Bali. We visited some temples on the way, including the elephant cave and a really impressive temple which is carved into the side of a mountain, and set in the middle of a small forest with a waterfall and river...it was really tranquil there. I am not sure how old it is though...our quide wasn't the best and when we asked him he replied 'very old...more than 100 years!'...well it looked very old to us, and we are sure it was quite a bit older than 100 years!! After the temples we drove further north into the mountains and had lunch over looking Mount Batur (i think!) which is an active Volcano, and Lake Batur. The views are fantastic, and you can see exactly where the lava reached when it last erupted.
When we left Ubud we moved North West to a hotel in a small fishing village called Pemuteran. Pemuteran is now starting to develop itself into a tourist resort and there are a few hotels and villa complexes popping up along the beach. But as soon as you get away from the hotels it is still a traditional fishing village. The locals all look excited to see a foreign tourist and want to say hello, and not just one of two of them, everyone we saw, adults and children alike. We had soon explored everything Pemuteran had to offer as it was so tiny...and there were no neighbouring villages, it is pretty much in the middle of nowhere! But it didn't matter it was a good excuse to chill out for a day or so, and the setting was great, calm coral sea, nice quiet beach and mountain backdrop...not to mention the sunshine and 30 degree temperature...not bad at all!
My big bro left Bali on Sunday, and I moved down south to Sanur a small beach resort on the east coast. Sanur was nice, it has a lovely beach and a few more shops to explore, but on Monday I decided to venture into Kuta to do a spot more shopping! I had avioded staying at Kuta because of the travel warnings in Bali at the mo, and it seems everyone else had as well....it was so quiet there. Everyone in Bali is saying how quiet it is and the tourism industry is really suffering at the moment. It was nice to see Kuta beach without anyone on it, it is a lovely beach, and it is probably quite rare to see it like that...but I do hope the tourism trade picks up for them. The shopping is good in Kuta too!
Next onto Singapore.....